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Biological Imperative

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Xerostomia. Dry mouth. Common causes were aging, dehydration, chemo- or radio-therapy, side effects from a multitude of medications . . . and nerves.

Nerves it was, nerves was all she seemed to be as Angela fidgeted with the files held at her side, her fingers playing anxiously over the corners of the pages, shifting her weight back and forth between her feet as she rode the lift down, down, down into the bowels of Overwatch. She licked her dry lips to no avail and she thanked God when the others in the lift left at earlier floors, and no one followed her down into the research laboratory complex. No one ever came down here, even she would rarely visit. Dr. O'Deorain didn't report to her, she was assigned to R&D, and she would hear a general report of whatever progress O'Deorain may or may not be making on current projects at the bi-monthly meetings. She never had reason to come down. Besides, Moira O’Deorain made her nervous.

She had always been civil, to her and to everyone at Overwatch. While she had never been untoward, something about her cool, calculating demeanor had given Angela pause from the get-go, the way O'Deorain always seemed to be sizing her up, evaluating her worth with every word she spoke and every move she made.

Her talent made her no less intimidating; Angela had heard of O’Deorain before she had arrived at Overwatch, and to be honest she had been taken aback that someone like that would be brought on. Angela tried to remain objective. Dr. O'Deorain’s research itself was fascinating. It was novel, her methodology was sound, and the application was far-reaching and could help millions around the world suffering from genetically linked maladies. This could be the end of Tay-Sachs, the end of cystic fibrosis, an end to several types of cancer if they could manage to isolate the right SNPs. Hemophilia, Niemann-Pick, thalassemias, all could be a thing of the past if Moira’s research were followed to its probable conclusion.

As silly as she felt to admit it, Angela got a thrill when she read O'Deorain’s research, it truly excited her, that this woman was doing so much to help so many. But then had come the discussion section, and it had become clear in her discussion of future applications and possible areas for further research that O'Deorain’s interest in curing genetic disease was more a means to an end. No, she sought to do more. It wasn’t about curing, it was about changing. While her vision had never been fully articulated in any of her papers, Angela knew that for just that reason, that even O'Deorain would not put it to paper, that it was probably something she didn’t want to know.

Thankfully, Angela had very little reason to interact with O'Deorain. While her research had medical implications, she was assigned to research and development, and what benefit they could gain from one another's research was facilitated through access to shared resources on the Overwatch database. No, Angela had very little knowledge of . . . whatever it was O'Deorain was doing down here, and she had been happy to keep it that way thus far.

Angela exited the lift and in the long, dim hallway of the basement lab complex there was no sound but the dulled clack of her high heels on the perfectly clean floor. She knew O'Deorain typically worked alone, which was imperative for this meeting in particular. Not a meeting, really, Dr. O'Deorain wasn’t even expecting her. She had considered setting up something more formal, but she panicked at the very thought of O'Deorain asking her about the nature of the meeting, what they needed to speak about. And so she had opted for “just dropping by for a chat.” Truth be told, this also gave her the opportunity to back out at the last minute if her nerves got the best of her. She licked her dry lips again, no use.

She’d thought about this for a very long time. Not about involving O'Deorain, that wasn’t added into the equation until recently, but about the whole thing. She was resolved that this is what she would do, but she had always had her doubts. But with the expertise O'Deorain could bring, perhaps her concerns could be pushed aside, dealt with. Moira O'Deorain could be the missing piece to this puzzle.

The privacy shades were in place for the genetics laboratories, but a dim light was on. As Angela reached the door she stood quietly for a moment, willing herself to breathe slowly, trying to work up some saliva for when she finally had to speak. Standing up straight, she pressed the small call button on the door’s keypad.

A few moments went by before a voice responded, distorted by the small speaker, but clearly O’Deorain, “Yes? What is it?”

Angela stuttered for a moment as she found her voice, “Dr. O’Deorain? It’s Angela Ziegler, do you have a moment to speak with me?”

An annoyed grunt. “If this is about the lab budget, I included a rationale for every expense on the second sheet of the workbook.”

“N-no,” Angela shook her head at the speaker which could not see her, and her voice was a bit quieter as she admitted it to herself and to O'Deorain, “This is about, uh, a personal matter.”

Silence. What was she doing in there? A long silence. Was Dr. O'Deorain still considering her request, or had she simply decided to ignore Angela entirely and go back to her work? Angela nearly lost her nerve, and considered turning to leave when a small chirp was heard and the door slid open.

Angela stepped cautiously into the lab. She had been here early on, before O'Deorain had come to Overwatch, so she was familiar with the general layout of the laboratories. In fact, most labs were just replicas here; each lab had its own specialized equipment for whatever work was going on, but the cupboards, countertops, safety showers, eyewash sinks, fire blankets, and glass disposal were all in the same locations in every lab. It was safer that way, and it helped Angela feel less alien to this lab despite the fact O’Deorain had apparently colonized it for herself.

The lab was an absolute mess. The kind of mess that the person who made it can traverse perfectly, can find anything in, but a mess all the same. It was good O'Deorain worked alone, or else she’d have driven any lab partner to insanity. Books and periodicals formed haphazard piles on benches throughout the lab (safely away from the gas hookups, Angela noted with relief), used glassware in desperate need of Alconox filled three deep sinks along the near wall, and across the trays of implements lined up on the center bench was a row of cages on the far wall, each holding a single rabbit. Some looked at her when the door opened, some didn’t. O'Deorain didn’t either.

She was on the far end of the room, not far from one of the intercom and door release switches, sitting on a stool with her back to the door. The lab itself was quite dark, and the small desk lamp immediately beside her cast a warm light which illuminated her and cast her shadow back onto Angela as she approached.

“Dr. O’Deorain, I’m sorry to interrupt,” Angela said as her heels clicked against the polished, sealed concrete floor.

O'Deorain waved her hand dismissively, dog-eared her page in the text she was reading, and closed the book as she turned to face Angela. It was disarming, whenever O'Deorain would look at her. Angela sometimes wondered if the heterochromia was what had caused her interest in genetics. Someday maybe she would ask. But it wasn’t just the strange eyes, it was the way that O'Deorain’s gaze always seemed to be appraising her, sizing her up, like an animal trying to determine if you were a threat . . . or prey. Angela shivered in the cool lab, but kept her pleasant smile.

The stool on which O'Deorain sat was one of the models which could be spun up or down, and she had spun this one up so that her long legs weren’t cramped below the lab bench, and so even sitting down she seemed taller than Angela, especially as she straightened up upon turning. She smirked, “What brings you to the mines, Angela?”

The lab was cool, that was why Angela’s skin prickled into gooseflesh upon hearing her call her by her given name, something she never did in the bi-monthly review meetings. Was this the first time? Angela was fairly certain it was. But then, wasn’t this the first time they’d spoken one on one, alone like this? The gooseflesh wasn’t going away. Angela shook her head a bit, “M-Mines?”

She let out a single breath, a half-chuckle, and gave a small wave of her hand to indicate the lab itself, “I’ve heard that some of the recruits upstairs have taken to calling it the Mines of Moira.” She grinned a bit more this time, and Angela couldn’t help but giggle a bit herself. It was rather amusing, the jokes that some of the younger agents would come up with, and at least this one indicated they probably were getting some reading done in their spare time.

“Ah, I see,” Angela’s smile was easier now, her mouth not so dry. She’d never heard O’Deorain make a joke, and while this one wasn’t really her joke, it still put Angela at ease that she had shared it with her. But then, the subject for this meeting. She fidgeted with the files again. They weren’t relevant, she just brought them in case she needed something to do with her hands so she didn’t begin to wring them, “Well, I . . . I was hoping for your professional assistance on a personal matter.” Angela had no idea how to explain this to a near-stranger, and O'Deorain’s gaze was no less piercing even paired with a charming grin. Angela looked around instinctively.

O'Deorain raised a brow in curiosity, and motioned toward the cages, “The rabbits aren’t a very talkative bunch, they don’t gossip much,” she assured Angela, “But if you’d be more comfortable, I have an office?”

Yes, she would have an office. That was part of the default laboratory floorplan, a central office attached to the two divided laboratories for privacy and desk work. In Angela’s case, it was also the focal point of some couch-centric power-napping.

In O'Deorain's as well, it seemed. As Angela followed her lead into the office, the main difference between Angela’s office and this one was that her couch was much, much longer and made of dark brown leather. It looked comfortable, a look completed by the pillow and green quilt hanging off the side, which O'Deorain quickly scooped up and placed on an end table.

“The fluorescent lights make a noise,” was all she said in explanation as she turned on a series of small desk and table lamps throughout the room instead of the overhead light, and Angela found the idea interesting. The hum of the lights in her own office was sometimes deafening in the still, quiet nights. She'd always opted for music, but perhaps she should buy some lamps.

She sat gingerly on the couch, faltering a bit as she sank into it unexpectedly. It was soft, well-used. She wondered how often O'Deorain went back to her quarters. She pressed her knees together and smoothed out her skirt, then placed the files on her lap and looked down at them despite their irrelevance. It was nice to have something to do with her hands and her eyes.

O'Deorain had walked behind the desk and bent down, and Angela heard the sound of glass. As O'Deorain straightened again she placed two old fashioned glasses on the desk and held up a fat green bottle, “Drink?”

She was already pouring her own when Angela said, “Yes, please.” She normally wouldn’t be one to drink during working hours, but something to calm her nerves might be nice. If only it weren’t too late to back out now . . .

“Freezer’s peeled, so I haven’t got any ice right now, sorry,” There was a small clunk, and Angela presumed she had kicked one of the small Overwatch-issued refrigerators behind her desk. She poured a sizable amount of liquor into each glass, enough to make Angela raise a brow but not enough for her to complain at this particular meeting, and handed Angela one.

Angela took her glass with a nod of thanks, and as O'Deorain retreated to sit back behind the desk Angela found that she had exceptional taste in whisky. She took a decent-sized drink, then held the glass over the stack of papers in her lap. Dr. O'Deorain had settled in behind the desk, and Angela felt somewhat like she was in the headmistress’ office as the older woman’s appraising stare found her again. O'Deorain took a long, slow drink from her own glass, never removing her eyes from Angela. She was waiting for Angela to speak.

Angela cleared her throat and licked her lips, her mouth impossibly dry again for someone who had just taken a drink, “I . . . before I get into the specifics I want to ask for your discretion, Dr. O’Deorain. This matter is . . . very private.”

O'Deorain gave a single nod of her head in agreement, and motioned with her glass for Angela to continue.

Angela took a deep breath. Like a bandage, that was probably the easiest way to do this, all at once, out with it, rapidly spilling out, “I am a thirty-seven-year old woman who never leaves her job and hasn’t had a real date in three years.”

Whatever O'Deorain was expecting her to say, this was clearly not it, and she let out a half choke, half laugh and sat back in her chair. She gave a small sound of apology and covered her mouth with her hand briefly, but when she pulled it away she had an amused grin as she managed to push out the words, “I . . . I see. And, um, what professional assistance do you think I can offer you on this matter, Angela?”

Angela felt her face flush. Oh no, she didn’t think Angela had meant about the date part, did she? Oh no, oh no, this wasn’t good. Okay, the rest of the truth, before this goes further off the rails. All at once, one long spiel. Angela looked down into her drink as she explained nervously, “I’ve always wanted the life I have but . . . I’ve always wanted to have a child, too. I’d thought I would just let life happen and someday I would have children but—but that doesn’t seem to be coming my way, and time is running out.” She paused for a moment to look up, to gauge O’Deorain’s reaction. Her amused smile had given way to a look of quiet contemplation, and when she saw Angela look to her she motioned for her to continue. And so she did, “I have come to realize if it is going to happen I need to make it happen on my own. I’ve looked into it, into, ummm . . . using donation and it’s something I can do. But the more I’ve learned and, uh, taken stock of my own situation, I realized my window may be gone already.”

“You’d be very young to be already entering menopause,” she responded plainly, though of course they both knew that they both already knew this.

Angela nodded, enthusiastic that O'Deorain was engaging with her in this conversation instead of laughing at her, mocking her, turning her away. She leaned forward a bit in earnest as she continued, “Yes, it’s not absolutely too late for me, but the older I get the less likely any pregnancy will be viable. I need to do it soon, if I’m to do it at all. At the very least, I can't sit around waiting for . . . for someone else.”

O'Deorain nodded, her brow furrowed. They sat, regarding one another in silence, for several moments before O'Deorain finally said, “I am not sure where I fit into all this.”

And here it was, the request she’d come down to make. Angela took another drink, then continued, “I want to stack the deck in my favor, to be sure the time I have isn't wasted.” She raised a hand and began raising fingers as she counted off the aspects of her plan, “I can take fertility medications, make sure I’m healthy, pick a healthy donor,” She raised a final finger as she looked past her hand at O'Deorain, “But you can go deeper, can’t you? If given, uh, a sample you can modify it on a cellular level, increase the chances of fertilization?”

O'Deorain considered only for a moment before nodding, “Yes, this has been done before, but I believe most find it not worth the effort.” She grinned as she leaned back in her chair, “Then again, most people are happy to just keep shagging til’ it works." She spent some time looking Angela over before adding, "But I suppose that doesn’t really apply here.”

Angela blushed, never in a million years expecting to be sharing drinks and talking about ‘shagging’ with Dr. O’Deorain. She took another drink before smiling nervously, “No, no it doesn’t.” After a pause, “So . . . you can help me?”

Still leaning back, O'Deorain placed her long legs up on her desk, crossing them at the ankles as her chair tipped back. Angela was jealous of the ease with which she conducted herself as there Angela sat, a tense bundle of nervousness. The older woman held her glass up to the warm light of the lamps and watched the liquid swish around, clearly contemplating something. Angela was about to ask what, but O'Deorain angled her head back and finished the remainder of her glass, setting it down on the desk with a clunk and her own contented sigh, “Yes, I think I can help you, but I’ll need to look into it more first, I don’t know much about the actual procedures. Fertility is not my area of expertise.”

Angela’s smile was wide as she leaned forward, nodding happily, “Yes, of course, I understand. Thank you so much, Dr. O’Deorain, you have no idea how much I appreciate this.”

“Mmmmm,” O'Deorain continued, her face stoic, “I suppose we don’t have forever, though. What timeline are you envisioning on this, Angela?”

Gooseflesh. “I hadn’t known if you would say yes, I still have to look through the database for a suitable donor, and,” Angela found herself faltering for a minute, but pushed on as she assured herself this was a medical and academic discussion between professionals embarking on an endeavor, “Given my own cycle I won’t be ovulating for another three weeks.”

Dr. O'Deorain nodded and stood. Angela instinctively stood as well, recognizing she was about to be dismissed, “Less than three weeks then. I will look into the literature and the procedures. Let me know if anything should come up in the meantime.” She smiled down at Angela as she fell in step beside her. They walked to the door of the laboratory, and Angela felt warm inside. Perhaps the alcohol. (She would have to give that up soon, she hoped.)

“Thank you, Dr. O’Deorain, this means so much to me,” Angela said sincerely. She fought against the overwhelming urge to embrace the taller woman, and instead held out her hand. Professionals. Medical procedure. Colleagues. Science. Nothing more.

“Moira,” O'Deorain corrected her as she placed her cool palm against Angela’s and shook her hand with a smile.

“Moira,” Angela said softly, and she liked the way it felt to say Moira’s name, “I’ll talk to you soon then, Moira.”

Angela made sure not give in to her need to smile with excitement until after the lift doors had closed and she was on her way back to her own department.

Chapter Text

In the two weeks since their initial conversation Angela had not spoken at-length with Moira about their plan moving forward, busy spending most of her free time scouring the sperm donor database for a suitable specimen. She didn’t dislike her blonde hair, but perhaps she wanted something different for her child, if it could be managed? Someone tall, with angular features, someone elegant. And healthy, of course. While one day the work of people like Moira might rid the world of the more debilitating genetic diseases, Angela would take no chances with her future child, and she automatically discounted any donor that didn’t supply a clean bill of genetic health from both sides of their family to the bank.

She hadn’t yet found The One, and so she had left Moira to do her part, researching the procedures which would actually need to be performed. Moira had called up to her lab earlier, asking her to come down when she had a chance, and she sounded nervous. Angela had no donor chosen, she was not yet ovulating, and Moira was nervous. And so, as the lab door slid open in front of her, Angela prepared for the worst. What snag had Moira hit? Was it all going down the drain?

Most of the lights were off in the lab again, though a bank of fluorescent lighting was humming away above the rabbit cages and counters beyond, bathing it all in cool light. Moira had released the door from the opposite end of the lab, near her office door, and motioned Angela toward the cages as she made her way there from the other side of the room.

“Thank you for coming,” If anything, Moira seemed more nervous than she had seemed on the call. Angela chewed at her lip a bit as she nodded.

They stood where they met in front of the rabbit cages, filled with balls of fluff napping or chewing on pellets, and Moira seemed unsure where to start. With defeat, Angela prompted her to drop the hammer, “We can’t do it, can we?”

Moira’s eyes widened and she held up her hands as if to stop Angela, “No, no, that’s not it,” Moira moved one hand to her hip, the other to awkwardly scratch the back of her neck, “No, actually that’s gone very well. Here,” She spun on her heel and walked back toward the lit counter space, “Come here, I’ll show you.”

Now much less worried and much more inquisitive, Angela joined her to stand side by side over a different collection of specimens. Three mice, all perfectly white. Each were housed in a separate glass tank on the counter top. The two on the left looked a bit larger than the one on the right, and Moira immediately motioned toward the center mouse, one of the larger two.

“This is specimen 1F.”

“Did the other mice bully him at school with a name like that?” Angela grinned as she looked down into the tank at the little mouse. She heard Moira laugh, and it made her smile more.

She is the first female subject, so she is 1F,” Moira said instructively, but Angela heard the amusement in her voice. Moira reached over and touched her long fingers delicately to the top of the tank, “And she is ten days pregnant.”

Angela raised an interested eyebrow toward Moira, certain she would continue if allowed.

And she did, “1F being pregnant isn’t a surprise, mind you, Dr. Ziegler, I chose her specifically because she is descendant from a hyper-fertile line of lab specimens. But,” Moira moved her hand to the right, lightly running her fingers along the tank to the right with the smaller mouse inside, “Subject 1M is not so lucky. Subject 1M is infertile.” Moira turned her attention back to Angela, shifting a bit to rest her hand on the counter as she gestured toward the two cages, “It took me a few goes, but after a bit of trial and error, the procedure seems to have worked, and subject 1M’s first sired pups should be born in about ten days.”

Angela’s breath caught, and she felt a huge smile fill her face. She clasped her hands excitedly in front of her to avoid latching onto Moira instead, “So it works! You can do it?! You can really increase the likelihood of fertilization that much?”

Moira smiled down at her and nodded, “It works. Now, I haven’t done it in humans, obviously, but others have and I feel confident I can replicate it now that I have done so in the mouse models successfully. Though I suggest we don’t do so next week. I would like to check on the health of the pups,” She motioned toward the pregnant mouse, “Just to be cautious.”

Angela nodded. She did not have all the time in the world, but she would give up a month to know that the procedure would be truly safe. She would not be in danger if it went awry, she knew, it was the viability of the offspring that was being questioned. Yes, she could wait one month. In fact, she probably needed to.

“That’s understandable. Besides, I haven’t decided on a donor yet,” She gave a nervous laugh, “It feels strange, like picking clothing out of a catalog, but you’re picking people and mail-ordering their sperm.”

Moira’s eyes had fallen to the side, and she seemed nervous again, more nervous even than when Angela had first arrived. She reached into the tank and pulled out Subject 1M, holding him gingerly on her slender palm, letting the little mouse sniff around her spindly fingers. Angela watched Moira as Moira watched the mouse. “Moira? What’s wrong?”

“It was simple enough, helping 1M, uh, get the job done,” Moira rubbed the top of 1M’s head with the pad of her thumb, and she stared down at him intently. Angela got the feeling she was simply desperate to avoid looking at Angela, and she would have found the older woman’s anxiousness somewhat endearing if it weren’t also rather concerning, “So afterward I did some other digging in the, uh, related literature. About genetic engineering related to fertility and reproduction.”

Angela grinned and folded her arms across her chest, “You want me to have a genetically engineered super-baby?” She said it jokingly, but she had to admit she wouldn’t have been that surprised if Moira had said yes. In fact, it would have been less surprising than what Moira was actually about to explain.

Instead Moira shook her head down at 1M and placed him back into the cage, “Are you familiar with the work of Ng and Kaplan of University of New South Wales in the 20s?”

Angela shook her head, “They were geneticists?”

“Not quite,” Moira had shed her nervousness and her eyes gleamed, it was clear to Angela she relished sharing her new findings with her. As Moira turned away from the mice cages to fetch a stack of printed papers her dramatically long white labcoat whipped around and the only word Angela could think of was ‘dashing.’ Moira handed the papers to Angela, “For you to read, after, if you want. Ng was a biologist, Kaplan was a medical doctor who specialized in infertility therapies, though they both ended up with a fairly strong background in genetics by the end of it all, and their work must have required more than a few genetics-focused post-docs.”

“What were their findings?” Angela had adopted a more professional demeanor as she paged through the handout, though she was taking in no information from the pages, happy to listen to Moira’s take on the matter.

“The lab developed a technique, first imagined at the turn of the century but not pursued then, of modifying viable sperm cells. They created a method for stripping away the chromosomal DNA while still leaving the spermatozoa technically functional. It became like a vessel, and they were able to replace that chromosome with a chromosome from another organism of the same species.” Moira paused. Perhaps she was allowing it to sink in, perhaps she was waiting for questions, but either way she stepped again past Angela, back to the counter top.

“Soooo . . . that means they were able to use one man’s sperm to cause pregnancy, but the offspring were genetically those from a different man?” Angela restated for clarification. It was an interesting experiment, and she could see some application in the real world. Men with low sperm motility could still become fathers, survivors of testicular cancer could have children. But what did this have to do with her situation?

“Y-yes, they were able to do that,” A bit of Moira’s confidence seemed to chip away, and she rested her hand on the left-most tank, “But they were able to do other things too.” She reached into the tank and pat the head of the small, chubby mouse inside, “This is 2F. She is eight days pregnant.”

“1M’s been busy,” Angela quipped. She couldn’t say she wasn’t enjoying herself: Moira’s interest in her work was contagious and Angela found herself interested as well, and that it was bookended by Moira’s confidence intermixed with an endearing nervousness made it all the more enjoyable. But something very dear to Angela hung in the balance, and she could not be entirely patient as Moira showed off her science fair projects.

“No, not 1M.” Moira looked briefly to Angela, quickly looking back to 2F as she took a deep, shaky breath, “These will be 1F’s.”

“So, you, what? 2F is a surrogate for 1F and M’s offspring? I’m sorry, Dr. O’Deo—I’m sorry, Moira, I’m not following.” Angela had to admit she was becoming a bit exasperated, and also a bit concerned about what sort of things Moira might be subjecting these animals to.

Moira shook her head, “Ah, no. Using Ng and Kaplan’s technique—their methodology section is impeccable, by the way, a work of art, perfectly replicable—I obtained male gametes from 1M, stripped away the genetic material, replaced it with an X chromosome obtained from 1F, and used that to perform an in vitro fertilization and implantation with 2F.”

The room was silent except for the sounds of small animals munching away at pellets. Angela was processing, and Moira watching her do so, waiting for the click.

“She,” Angela pointed at the center cage, “Is the . . . other parent . . . of these,” She placed a finger on the rim of 2F’s tank, “Of this litter? These two female mice?”

“There won’t be a speck of 1M in the pups. They’ll all be female, even, since there was no Y involved.” Moira confirmed with a nod, her piercing eyes still digging into Angela, as though expecting an answer for a question she hadn’t asked.

Angela watched the three mice in the cages for a few minutes. It was truly fascinating, and she could see the value in this practice, but even her intellectual passions couldn’t completely push away the reason she’d come to see Moira in the first place, “This is interesting, Moira, truly it is. Very impressive. But I don’t understand, unless you mean to make this even harder on me. I can’t even choose a donor when I’m only choosing between men. More options is hardly the solution.”

“Actually, ah, that’s . . . why I wanted to talk to you,” Moira turned away, facing the mice tanks, drumming her nails nervously on the black countertop, and with a deep sigh she finally broached whatever subject had been plaguing her since she’d called Angela down that morning, “You’re not the only one who feels this way, you know?” It wasn’t accusatory, simply explanatory, and Angela thought she even sounded a little sad.

“I’m sorry, feels what way?” Angela frowned, turning away from the mice to watch Moira.

“Some evolutionary biologists feel we have a genetic imperative, beyond our biological imperative,” Despite the nature of the explanation, Moira lacked a lecturing tone, and simply tried to explain, “That we, and in fact all species, don’t just want our species to survive, but feel a drive that our genetic code be continued into future generations.” Moira sighed loudly and ran her fingers through her hair. She sounded exhausted, “Unlike you, I didn’t listen soon enough. I lost my chance.” A pause. A very pregnant pause. “Or, I thought I had, anyway.”

They were both quiet for a minute, and Angela was fairly certain Moira was holding her breath. Angela didn’t realize, but she was holding her own as well as her mind raced.  Before she could truly parse the words, she’d said them, “Moira, are you saying you want to father my child?”

Moira coughed and turned away, but Angela saw the blush move all the way up to the taller woman’s ears, even the back of her neck was brilliant red. For her part, Angela could feel her own face grow hot. Couldn’t she have said “provide the genetic material” or something at least a bit more scientific, a bit more professional? Oh well, it was out now.

“I, uh—“ Moira turned again to face Angela. Her face was still quite red, and she looked almost pained, “I suppose you could say it like that?” She ran her hand through her hair again, and Angela decided that as far as nervous habits went, it was one of the more attractive ones to have, “It’s not, I mean, it’s not something you must do, I just thought that if you had trouble finding a donor maybe, you might, possibly consider me? That is, since you’re going to do it anyway.”

Angela was at an absolute loss for words.

Moira’s eyes went wide, and so did Angela’s as Moira suddenly gripped her by the upper arms. She bent down just a bit, her voice earnest and pleading, “But you don’t have to, Angela, I promise. I’ll help you with this no matter who you choose, you don’t have to. I wasn’t trying to say you have to do this for me.”

Angela was more taken aback by Moira’s sudden earnestness than the entire conversation thus far; Moira was usually so calm and collected that seeing her in this light was fairly jarring, though not unwelcome. It was humanizing, and Angela’s heart went out to the older woman. She smiled softly, and both Moira’s worried expression and her grip on Angela’s shoulders relaxed.

“I-“ Angela licked her lips, her mouth dry, not sure exactly what to say, “I appreciate that you will help me regardless, Moira,” She reached her hand up to Moira’s upper arm and gripped it lightly, “But it’s . . . a lot to think about.”

Moira nodded, solemn, “I understand. And please, I mean it, don’t feel pressured. I simply thought . . . well, I hope you’ll consider me. But I know you can’t answer right now.”

Angela knew she should return to her quarters, think about this long and hard. Hell, she should probably just say no right now. The donor list was virtually strangers, no real risks, no ties, no feelings. That was safe. This . . . this wasn’t. She should go home and think about this, but she could not stop the gears from turning as she beheld a clearly emotionally exhausted Moira slump onto a stool near a lab station.

Moira waved toward the door, “I will let you know the outcome of the litters, Angela, thank you for coming, and for listening to me.”

Angela didn’t move. Neither of them did, for at least a minute by Angela's best guess.

“Are you healthy? You and your family before you?”

She heard Moira’s breath catch, and the woman turned mismatched eyes back to look incredulously at where Angela still stood, bathed in the cool, fluorescent light from above.

“Yes,” Moira nodded, “Except the eyes, and they work, they just look . . . different. That’s the only thing strange.”

“And the height,” Angela smirked, and it felt easy again between them as Moira stifled a chuckle and nodded, a bit of a blush across her cheeks.

“Yes, and the height,” Moira grinned.

“With the donor list . . . none of those men will ever know me, or that they fathered a child.”

Moira nodded.

“You would want to be involved, I presume? With the child? Once it’s born, I mean.”

Moira swallowed, and gazed into nothing for a while as she contemplated the question, before finally fixing her eyes back to Angela’s and nodding slowly, “And I understand if that is not tolerable for you, Angela.”

“This isn’t something I ever would have considered,” Angela explained quietly, and Moira nodded. “I’m not really sure what I might find intolerable, to be honest.”

Moira rose again from her stool and closed the gap between them with one long stride, this time placing one hand gently on Angela’s shoulder, “I understand, and obviously I haven’t been through this either. So please, just consider it. And no matter what you decide, I’ll help you see it through.”

Angela nodded, and decided that if a woman was comfortable enough asking to father your child then it probably wasn’t too out of line to hug her. She heard Moira gasp a bit as Angela threaded her arms underneath hers and around her impossibly thin waist, and Angela just closed her eyes and rested her cheek against Moira’s chest, “Thank you, Moira, for your help and for your offer. I will consider it. I promise.”

She wasn’t sure if she heard Moira whisper ‘thank you’ or if it was just the swish of the lab coats as Moira moved her own arms, more draping them over Angela’s shoulders than looping around her. She would have to remember not to wear flats again.

“Well” Angela said a bit too loudly as she pulled away suddenly, and Moira took a step back looking a bit embarrassed, “Lots to think about then, I suppose. Was there . . . ah, was there anything else you wanted to show me?”

Moira thought for a minute, then shook her head, “No, but if you need anything or if you have any more questions about, you know . . . me,” Moira trailed off as she led Angela back to the lab door, pushing the Ng and Kaplan article into her hand as they walked.

“I’ll ask,” Angela assured her with a smile. After they’d said their goodbyes and Angela made her way back to her office she found herself wholly unable to concentrate on the remaining work of the day, her thoughts filled with ideas of a tall donor, a donor with angular features, someone elegant.

 

Chapter Text

“What method do you actually intend to use, Angela?” Moira asked from behind her desk as Angela sat, far more comfortably this time, on the brown leather couch in her office. The room was dark, lit only by a few small lamps, and each woman had a glass of whisky. Most Overwatch employees had ended their day hours ago, not that it mattered down here. Time didn’t seem to matter down here, so different from the flurry of activity in the medical department.

“I have no reason to believe I’m infertile,” Angela explained. She was becoming more practiced at addressing the issue plainly, especially if she forced herself to see Moira as a doctor (and she was, of a different sort) assisting in a procedure, not a co-worker. She had spoken in a clinical fashion all her life, it just took a bit of practice to apply that to her own case as well, “And my research has led me to believe that intracervical insemination will be most simple and painless. Since I won’t be able to perform the procedure myself intrauterine insemination, despite its increased success rate, doesn’t seem as viable. I’d . . . rather not get anyone else involved.”

Moira nodded, but behind her steepled fingers she wore a frown.

“Not good?” Angela asked, taking a sip from her glass. Another week had passed; she knew she was ovulating now, she was tracking diligently. But they were still waiting on the two mice to birth their litters before moving forward. Planning was underway. Donor selection was still on the table as well. Neither seemed eager to bring that particular aspect up right away.

“Mmmmm,” Moira hummed quietly from behind her hands, looking intently at the dark corner of the room as she thought, “It’s not going to make it simple, but nothing would, really. The modifications that I must make to the spermatozoa make the sample more potent, but it also destabilizes the acrosome. Essentially I’m able to promote increased activity of hyaluronidase and reduce it’s specificity, but the reduced specificity causes it to break down portions of the acrosome itself.”

“Egg-piercing, self-destructing sperm,” Angela grinned, and Moira laughed as she grabbed for her own drink. It was nice to see Moira’s smile instead of her steepled fingers for a change.

“Essentially, yes.” Moira took a large drink from her glass, “Which means that the sample won’t survive long enough for you to take elsewhere, if you have an obstetrician you are employing to perform the intracervical insemination. They would need to come here, and thus they would need security clearance.”

Angela shook her head, both at the mention of having secured an obstetrician, and at the idea of bringing one into the depths of Overwatch for this purpose, “During my obstetric rotations I performed a few intracervical inseminations, it’s not difficult. It’s just a needleless syringe, really, anyone could do it.”

Moira nodded, “Yes, but if I understand the procedure, and believe me I recognize I may not, this is your area more than mine, there is some, uh . . . aiming involved, is there not?”

“Ideally the sample would be deposited adjacent to the cervix, yes,” Angela thanked God that she’d spent her entire life talking in medical specifics with countless friends and strangers alike. It was the only thing that kept the flush from her cheeks, “It is simple to do though, in many fertility clinics the patient’s partner even performs it, with doctor supervision and guidance, of course.”

Moira shifted somewhat uncomfortably in her chair, her gaze returning to contemplate the shadowed corner, “I can alter the sample in approximately 40 minutes here in the lab, but from then you would have probably a little less than an hour to take it wherever you would need to go with it.”

“Why can’t we do it here? In the lab?” Angela asked plainly, and she saw Moira swallow hard.

“Here?”

“You seem to understand the concept well enough, and I daresay you’re more qualified than most of the partners in the fertility clinics,” Angela explained with an encouraging smile. To be honest she would be turning as red as Moira was now if she hadn’t already gotten over the embarrassment of this idea several days ago when she had decided to propose it. The idea of asking Moira to do this for her had made her physically cringe with embarrassment when she had played this through in her mind, but the more she considered it the more it made sense. Moira was already involved in the entire endeavor, and Angela didn’t like the idea of asking even more colleagues to be involved. And that’s what they were. Colleagues. Professionals. This was a procedure, and she was asking a qualified individual to perform it, what was there to be embarrassed about?  After she’d played that through her mind for a few days the embarrassment had mostly subsided.

But this was the first wave of it to hit Moira, and she did not seem to take it in stride as she stuttered and looked down into her lap, “I- I mean, that is, I’m sure there is someone upstairs better suited—“

Angela shook her head, and the laugh she gave seemed to ease Moira’s flustered state, if only a bit, “Like I said, it’s simple, anyone can do it. You can do it, I know you can.” She made sure to meet Moira’s nervous eyes with a warm smile, and Moira smiled back, looking helpless, “Besides, it’s nothing, right? Just another procedure.”

Moira pursed her lips. Displeasure? Determination? Annoyance? It wasn’t clear. But she nodded all the same, “If that’s what you want.”

“It is,” Angela continued to smile, and Moira relaxed. With a sigh, Moira leaned back in her chair, and Angela could almost see the tension in Moira’s body release. A shift in subject matter, that would help, “How are 1 and 2F doing?” Angela had peeked at their tanks on the way through the lab and seen two very fat mice laying in dark cages.

“Very well,” Moira leaned forward again, resting her arms crossed on the desk as her mind shifted to the comfortable topic of work, “Presuming normal gestation the litters will be born in just a few days, and then we’ll know for sure, but I’ve seen nothing to indicate problems.”

“Good. Good,” It was Angela’s turn to purse her lips, but not from displeasure. Nerves, nerves, more nerves. She licked her dry lips to wet them, and took a drink to help it along, “I’m . . . very interested to know the outcome of 2F’s litter.”

Moira said nothing, her usual appraising gaze falling on Angela who sat mostly in darkness, lit at odd angles by the golden glow of the small lamps. The lighting cast dramatic shadows across both of them and onto the walls, and gave the small office an air of intimacy that Angela could find comforting or unnerving, depending on the moment. She really couldn’t place how she felt now, with Moira’s eyes upon her. “I’ve thought a lot about your offer,” Angela continued quietly, and while Moira didn’t move and her expression did not change, Angela noticed her shirt no longer moved with the rise and fall of her chest. Angela cleared her throat quietly, “I think—if there’s no concerns with the F2 litter, that is—I think that I would prefer to have you as the donor.”

The rush of air escaping Moira’s lungs, first as a sigh, then as a loud burst of laughter which she quickly stifled, stirred papers on the desk in front of her and made Angela jump with a start, but she smiled as she saw Moira tilt her head back to smile up at the ceiling, giving a groan of relief as she did so.

“Good news?” Angela had laughter in her own voice as well.

Moira lifted her head forward again to grin widely at Angela, raising from her seat as she passed both her hands through her hair and took a step toward Angela. She held out her hand, and when Angela stood she wrapped Angela in a tight embrace, both of them still quietly laughing, “Yes,” Moira said quietly, “Very good news. Thank you, Angela, thank you so much.”

Angela pulled away slowly, and Moira’s smile faltered a bit. Angela cautioned quietly, “Let’s not start thanking me yet, we don’t even know if any of this will work.”

“But we’re going to try,” Moira’s smile was warm, and sincere, and the wave of affection that welled up between the two women was palpable, “So thank you, Angela.”

“And thank you, Moira,” Angela’s smile was equally tender, “For trying.”


Things had been going well, and Angela spent most of the time she had been spending picking out donors instead looking at anything she could do to increase the odds even further. She had faith in Moira’s modifications, yes, but like many people aspiring to be mothers Angela was eager to do everything she could to help the process along. She’d started as any scientist would, with a review of the literature. She was eating well, sleeping enough, she’d even cut back severely on coffee, much to the chagrin of anyone who shared a shift with her over those first 48 hours. She was taking a pre-natal, and of course she’d been tracking her cycle for some time now. She was ready.

A tablet held under the table during the bimonthly meeting went mostly unnoticed. Surely most of the people sat around the table presumed she was looking at budgets or the agenda and not trying to determine the correct amount of time she should lay on her back after the insemination for maximum effectiveness. 

As the meeting was finally called to a close, each participant said their polite goodbyes to one another before heading off to their departments. “Dr. Ziegler,” Moira called earnestly as she approached, and when she arrived at Angela's side she stooped low, and her tone was hushed, “You had asked for an update on one of my experiments, the mouse models?”

Angela’s eyes were wide, but she looked around and saw no one seemed to be listening. Even if they were, what would they possibly know? “Ah, yes, it’s gone well?” Angela’s heart pounded.

“Perfectly,” Moira assured her, and they both shared a look, a smile both pleasant and excited, “Everything went as expected, and I think, if you would like to be involved with phase two, we can begin when you are ready.”

“Ah, of course,” Angela racked her brain and counted days, “I think, ah, we can move forward in . . . maybe 11-14 days? Give or take a few days?”

“Understood,” Moira gave a curt, professional nod to Commander Amari as she approached and gestured to get Angela’s attention for some after-meeting budget talk, “I will make sure that things are in order.” She took her leave quietly as Angela turned to speak to Ana, yet Angela’s heart fluttered as she felt Moira’s fingers graze her own resting at her side when the older woman moved quickly past.

Chapter Text

Over a month ago Angela had made her way down this elevator to ask a near-stranger to help inseminate her, and even then she did not feel as anxious as she did now as the elevator crept slowly downward. Night had fallen, and most people had found their way to their quarters or gone off-site; the lights were dimmed even in the most populated sectors of the base.

She knew why she was so nervous. No, not just because she was possibly, hopefully going to fall pregnant within the next hour or so. It was the . . . supplemental research she held at her side. This time the files she carried were not merely a distraction. They were evidence, in case she should have to provide it when she stated her case. She chewed anxiously at her lip. Would she state that case? She’d done quite well discussing the finer points of the process with Moira, but this? It’s why she’d left it until now, not told Moira of her findings over the past few days: Just as before, she did not want to commit to something she may not wish to follow through on. No, it was best to play this one by ear.

The elevator chimed and released her into a long, dim hallway, though this one was always so dim and quiet. It wasn’t as foreboding as it had been those weeks ago, though. Angela actually felt quite at home here. The hallway itself might not be much, but the little lab with the rabbits and mice, the office with the comfortable couch and the warm lamps and Moira, these were the comforts she found here.

She knew Moira would be waiting for her, they’d arranged this earlier via a private communication channel. Angela had been tracking her cycle with a calendar, temperature readings, and she confirmed this afternoon with one of the kits she had surreptitiously worked into her medical supply budget. Tonight was the ideal night. Moira had already told her days previously via the same messaging system that for her part, her donation, she had already been hard at work. She had secured for their purposes a significant amount of preserved sperm from a reputable research supply retailer, and had quickly stripped it of all of the original creator’s genetic markers. While it was quite beyond her, Angela did her best to follow the explanation of how Moira had isolated extremely large quantities of her own metaphase chromosomes to be preserved in RPMI 1640, using the same procedure Ng and Kaplan had used. Moira assured her there should be no shortage, and she had already treated a significant portion of the acquired spermatozoa.

All that would remain, when Angela was ready, would be the hyaluronidase modification, at which point the timer would begin. Angela had already sent down, in an unmarked and well-sealed box for inter-departmental deliveries, the appropriate equipment: A large amount of narrow, needleless syringes to which she had firmly affixed silicone guides meant to help properly position it against her cervix without causing much trouble for Moira, conception-friendly lubricant in case it should be needed, and several clean towels. She presumed Moira already had gloves in her laboratory, but she’d included some large and medium sized gloves in the box, just in case.

Her heart was pounding in her chest as she reached the door, and she absentmindedly patted her hair and adjusted her skirt before pressing the small call button. The door slid open instantaneously, and this time Moira was immediately on the other side, and she looked sick with nerves.

“Come in,” She said breathlessly, then turned quickly and walked back toward the only lit lab bench immediately adjacent to the open office where several lights already cast a soft glow into the lab. She rubbed her palms across her white lab coat as she walked, and Angela was somewhat relieved she wasn’t the only one on edge. Moira explained over her shoulder as she washed her hands and pulled on a pair of gloves, “I started about twenty minutes ago, I just have to keep agitating the culture and it should be ready in about twenty more. You can, uh, make yourself comfortable or . . . whatever you need to do.” Angela saw her shrug a bit, but Moira pointedly looked nowhere but the 100 mL beaker she was slowly swirling, holding it partially submerged in a lukewarm waterbath over a hot plate.

“Can’t use a magnetic stir bar? We could have a drink,” Angela smiled as she leaned against the counter, watching Moira work, her long fingers slowly making circles in the water bath with the beaker. The viscous white fluid swirled in motion, and Angela tried not to think of it as anything more than a medical procedure.

“Mmmmm, the cells are delicate to begin with, moreso with the modification,” Moira explained, finally looking toward Angela, not stopping the swirling of her wrist, “And I don’t want to put anything in the mix that might contaminate it. Besides,” Moira’s smile put Angela at ease, “You’ll need to give up drinking soon, right?”

“I already have,” Angela assured her, and produced a glass bottle filled with water from behind her folder of files, setting it onto the bench.

“What’s that?” Moira motioned with her free hand toward the files, and if she saw Angela’s momentary panic she made no indication.

“Oh, this, yes, I . . . I wanted to talk to you about this, actually,” Angela nervously tucked a loose strand of blonde hair behind her ear, holding the files in front of her and looking down at them as though it were the first time she noticed she was carrying them, “I’ve been researching how best to . . . go about doing this. You know, little things you can do. How long to lay down, how to put your legs, things like that.”

Moira nodded, “I don’t have much, but if you need to go move anything . . . I presumed the couch would be more comfortable than, you know, the lab bench. I, uh, put everything I think we’ll need out already.” Angela shifted a bit to look into the office. It was much as it normally was, but only the lights around the couch were on, and the desk chair had been pulled over to sit next to it. She blushed a bit when she saw one of the clean towels already laid out over one side of the couch. A tray with the syringe and a pair of gloves was on the desk near the chair, “And I guess maybe temperature might matter?” Moira was saying as Angela settled back to lean against the counter again.

“It’s fine, I think, everything seems fine,” Angela anxiously thumbed at the corners of the pages in her hands, “This—this isn’t really about the room.”

Moira continued to look on expectantly, maintaining the smooth swirling motion with her right hand.

“Now, the evidence is . . . shaky,” Leading with science, Angela was sure it would make this easier to talk about for both of them. God, she hoped it would make it easier on her. Moira’s gaze certainly wasn’t helping in that regard; cool, evaluating, patient, “But the hypotheses are interesting. Blood flow changes, hormonal alterations, and there are no contraindications, it shouldn’t, uh, hurt chances.”

“A drug?” Moira inquired, “Do we have it on-site?”

Angela chewed her lip. God, why was this suddenly so impossible to say? Science. Colleagues. Professionals. Common goal. “There is some evidence that, uh,” Angela couldn’t help it, her voice became so quiet it was barely a whisper, but at least she got it out, “Orgasms increase conception rates.”

Moira’s smooth, consistent swirling of the beaker ground to a sudden halt, and Angela could feel her eyes on her. She forced herself to look at Moira, to see her reaction. Moira was looking more toward Angela than at her, and the tops of her ears were turning red in the dim light, but she was clearly worlds away.

“Moira?” Angela asked tentatively.

The older woman gave her head a shake, and quickly returned to swirling the small beaker. She cleared her throat and focused her vision on the beaker, “Ah, sorry, I thought I, uh—What exactly are you proposing, Angela?” Moira still hadn’t looked back to her, and Angela found that agreeable just now.

What was she proposing? Her cheeks were hot, and her mouth was dry.

Thankfully, Moira spoke again before Angela had to bring herself to say it. With her free hand Moira motioned toward the office door, “The sample will be ready in about,” She checked a small timer to her side, “twelve minutes, and from then it will be viable for approximately one hour. If you bring me the syringe, I can load it out here when it’s ready and you can, uh—“ Moira licked her lips nervously, “You can have my office to . . . prepare.”

Wordlessly Angela retreated to the office, and when she reached to fetch the tray with the syringe she saw her hands were shaking. Holding the instrument tray helped. A reminder that this was a procedure. A professional procedure, and they were simply doing what any scientists would do to increase the odds of success. Scientists. Colleagues. Professionals. She quietly set the tray on the bench next to Moira’s free hand, leaving her papers on the role of the female orgasm in conception along with the tools.

Moira looked briefly at the tray, but didn’t look up to Angela, and Angela could hear Moira’s shaky breaths, see the tips of her red ears. Her voice was cool though, stoic. Sterile. “You can just call, or knock on the wall, when you’re ready, as long as it’s not within . . . eleven minutes from now. I’ll—I’ll need some instructions, probably. I understand the basics, of course, but if there are . . . specifics . . .”

“I’ll help you,” Angela smiled, and she fought the urge to hug Moira then, to thank her for enduring this clear discomfort. “Right,” Angela straightened up, and she smoothed her skirt down nervously as she looked back toward the office door, “I guess I’ll go then.”

And she did, as Moira said nothing and continued swirling the beaker.

Angela closed the door softly behind her, and looked around the office as though seeing it for the first time. It was a comfortable enough room, for an office in a dark, lonely basement. Much of the furniture was the same in Angela’s own office upstairs, standard Overwatch issue. The couch was the only unique piece. The lights were dim, but Angela considered turning them off. No, in case Moira should need to come in for some reason. Her heart leapt at the idea, that Moira might walk in. Hell, she was supposed to walk in, wasn’t she? Right after . . .

Angela made an audible groan but kicked her shoes off all the same, sinking down onto the towel draped across the couch. Why had she even brought this up? The odds didn’t increase that much, and the evidence was shaky in some areas. But she had, and Moira hadn’t been disgusted, just a little embarrassed. It was cute, actually, the way she would look away but Angela could still see her ears flush. She shucked off her blazer. She would usually strip down entirely, if she were home, in her own bed. But she wasn’t. She was sitting on a couch, at work, in Dr. Moira O’Deorain’s office. Who was she kidding? Her nerves alone were going to keep this from happening. She should just get up now, go talk to Moira for the next ten minutes, they could load up the syringe, Angela could hike up her skirt, nice and fast. She should do that, but she had to admit that even just that momentary thought, hiking up her skirt in Moira’s lab, that had inched her in the right direction. She sighed with exasperation, defeat, and acceptance as she lay to her side and pivoted onto her back. Yes, this couch was indeed comfortable, even if she was not.

There was no telling how long this would take her given all that was happening, and she knew she had best get down to business if she expected to make this work at all. She wished she’d had the foresight to bring some sort of toy, some aid to make this a bit easier. Perhaps, if she needed to do this again, she would buy one of those toys that looked like a tube of lipstick, she could bring it with her easily. But planning was something for later, right now she needed to focus. She peeled off her stockings and discarded them on top of her shoes, then returned her feet to the armrest of the couch.

The ceiling was sort of dirty.

Focus, she needed to focus.

Feet bracing her, she adjusted her hips and pulled her skirt up her thighs, revealing plain black satin panties which she quickly removed as well, discarding along with the stockings. She’d feel more comfortable with them on, simply pushing them aside, but she had to be sure she wasn’t making things harder on Moira. Moira. Moira would be coming in here, sitting with her while Angela lay on Moira’s couch with her legs spread wide, her panties on the floor. Moira knew what she was doing right now, or rather, Moira thought she knew what she was doing right now. Did she know Angela was a nervous wreck? Soon Moira would come in the room, sit in the chair beside Angela. She’d hold the syringe in her long, dexterous fingers and hook her arms over Angela’s knee, position herself between Angela’s spread legs, push inside her—

This wasn’t that difficult, actually. Angela found her nervous trembling giving way to a steady, warm pulse growing in the pit of her stomach, pulling downward. No time to waste, she thanked God no one could see her as she inserted two of her fingers into her mouth, coating them liberally with saliva before pushing them down between her legs, rubbing roughly downward across her clit and toward her entrance. It felt good, but not as good as it would if she were in her own bed, with proper ramp-up, the right mood. But it felt good enough, and she closed her eyes as she began moving her wet fingers in slow, tight circles around her clit. Willing herself onward, she turned her face away from the light, and the smell of leather and whisky and Moira met her as her face pressed close to the back of the couch, and she imagined Moira laying here under the quilt, now folded in the corner, and it didn’t distract her from her efforts as much as one might have thought. She pressed her face against the leather and inhaled deeply, pushing her hips upward to find a rhythm against her own fingers as she continued to make small circles, realizing that just a few feet away Moira was making her own small circles, spinning the beaker round and round.

It was better. But it was no use. Angela groaned and pulled her fingers away, pressing her legs together. Getting there, but not even close, this was a waste. She was just too tense. Had twelve minutes passed? She sighed and stood up, pulling her skirt down over her thighs, and she turned and adjusted the towel on the couch. Slumping her shoulders in defeat, she pulled the door open and leaned out against the doorframe.

Moira had looked up in surprise, and Angela couldn’t help but laugh. She raised her hand to her face to stifle a giggle, then pushed her hand back down to her side with a blush as she smelled herself on her fingers, “Nice specs,” she grinned as Moira regarded her through thick lab safety goggles. She was wearing big, green plastic goggles that first year chemistry students would wear in labs, and in one gloved hand she held the back-loading syringe. She held the beaker in the other, and was slowly pouring the mixture into the syringe, but she had stopped when Angela opened the door.

“Oh, that was, uh, fast?” Moira didn’t seem to know if it was fast or not, and Angela felt embarrassed for both of them at the statement.

“I, uh, gave up.” She explained with an apologetic tone, “It’s a lot harder than I thought it would be, here, without anything to, you know, help.”

Moira’s lips had been parted, but she closed them and swallowed hard, looking back toward the syringe and continuing to pour at an agonizingly slow pace, “The cells are delicate, I told you,” She explained the pace, “But I will be done with this soon, about half of it is in now.”

“Okay, we can do it without the—without my finishing.”

Still pouring, Moira looked to her in surprise, “You didn’t want to? Doesn’t it help? I read some of these abstracts while I was doing the agitation, it seemed it was helpful in some cases? There was this interesting hypothesis about a sort of suction effect it creates. . .

Angela shrugged noncommittally, “Believe me, I gave it the old college try, but some things you just can’t force, you know?” She smiled, but Moira had turned her attention back to the syringe.

Time passed slowly, and Moira seemed lost in thought as they both watched the viscous liquid fill the syringe. At last she tilted the beaker completely upside down, emptying the last bit of modified semen into the syringe. She set the beaker down, affixed the plunger to the syringe, and carefully pressed out all the air. Angela was impressed that she knew to do so, and she imagined Moira had probably researched this beforehand. It was an endearing image, Moira sitting behind her desk studying up on how to perform her tasks for the evening. She set the syringe on the implement tray, stripped off the gloves, and pulled the goggles away, leaving the usual angry red outline of the plastic on her forehead.

As she stood, she took in a shaky breath, “But if it could help, it’s important,” She said quietly.

Angela shrugged again, “Like I said, there’s no use in trying to force it, and we have, what, forty five minutes on the clock now? Maybe next time, I’ll bring a toy or something.”

Red painted Moira’s cheekbones, but Angela wasn’t sure if it was her mention of a toy, or what Moira said next that caused it, “You said it was hard because you didn’t have anything to help. Can—can I do anything to help, Angela?”

Angela’s stomach fell to the floor, and her mouth went dry, her face burning hot.

Before she could respond, Moira continued, stepping forward, dragging the tray with a metallic rasp along the counter as she moved. Her eyes were two different shades of dark, her voice shaky, her expression serious though touched with pink, “I want this to work too. If there’s anything I can do, I want to help.” Silence. Angela’s breath had caught. Was Moira O’Deorain offering to . . .? Surely not, she was saying she could change the lighting, or leave so that Angela had more privacy, surely she wasn’t suggesting that she would—

Doctors used to do it all the time, did they not, Angela? Back in early medicine. For fake diseases, yes, but they’d . . . help women, wouldn’t they?”

Oh god, she was offering to. In a professional context. As part of the procedure. Pelvic massage, that’s what she was referring to, and she was right it hadn’t been done in hundreds of years, medicine had advanced so much since then. (And so had the sex toy industry, which probably contributed more.) Angela knew she was completely red, but she had no time to think, to explain. The clock was ticking, the syringe was loaded, and Moira O’Deorain was offering to help. She would just keep it professional, that’s all. Yes. Professional.

She couldn’t even bring herself to say it, and she simply swallowed her nerves and nodded her head toward the office. Moira reverently, delicately took the implement tray in both hands and walked in ahead of her. Angela took a deep breath, steeled herself, and followed.

As she closed the door behind them Moira sat the tray down on the floor near the couch and turned to face Angela, rubbing her palms along the sides of her lab coat. Her voice was shaky, breathless, barely a whisper, “What do you need?”

How, how, how to keep this professional? How do you make sure that you keep your coworker getting you off to help you get pregnant with their genetically modified super sperm professional? Well, no kissing, that was obvious. No mouth involvement at all, really. Probably best to not even look at each other. Yes, that was it, Moira was right, they’d take a lesson from the doctors of history. This was a massage, nothing more. Angela motioned to the couch, “Sit down.” After she did, Angela took another deep breath, one last look in Moira’s eyes. What looked back at her? Was it fear, or something deeper, something lustful, in this dim light? Of course not, Angela’s subconscious was just trying to force her into the mood, making her see the flush down Moira’s neck, the rapid rise and fall of her chest, the wanting look, the parted lips. No, it was probably only uncertainty. Professional, that was Moira alright.

Angela stepped toward her, and Moira sat up straight. Angela wasn’t quite sure how this would work out, but it was the best she could come up with, and their time was running out. She turned back to Moira and quickly hiked up her skirt again, all the way over her hips this time, her panties still discarded on the floor at their feet. She thought she heard Moira let out a soft gasp, but maybe it was another subconscious trick. Gingerly she sat back onto Moira’s lap, and for her part Moira steadied her hips, guiding her to sit squarely against her, and Angela was sure Moira could feel her heartbeat through her blouse as she settled back against Moira’s chest. Angela parted her legs as well as she could, and Moira spread her legs under Angela’s, steadying their movement.  Her breath was hot against Angela’s ear and neck, and she could hear Moira swallow hard as Angela guided her left hand from her hip down between her legs.

Was she still this hot, this wet from her own machinations previously? Or was it settling down onto Moira’s lap, feeling her hand against her? And that’s where it was, right against her. Moira’s fingers were soft, and they were gentle at first, moving gingerly over Angela’s soft, damp blonde curls, brushing deftly to either side of her clit, eliciting a moan as Angela bucked her hips involuntarily. Unbidden, Moira moved her other hand from Angela’s hip, looping it around Angela’s waist and holding her firmly in her lap as the older woman immediately set to work. God, it was heaven, feeling Moira’s fingers exploring her earnestly, playing around her entrance, passing wide, teasing circles around the vicinity of her clit. It was maddening and perfect, and Angela told herself this was because she had gone so long without being touched. She was touch-starved, that’s all it was. This was a professional pelvic massage. Between colleagues. Scientists. In fact, this is what they were supposed to be doing, for the good of the experiment. It was proper, even, that she pushed her hips wantonly against the butt of Moira’s palm as it pressed roughly over her clit. It was expected that she didn’t bother stifling her groan when suddenly, finally Moira pushed two long fingers deep inside her, pressing perfectly in just the right, perfect spot. And if she felt Moira’s hot, fast breath building against her hair, heard her moan against her ear when her fingers sunk in deep, felt Moira’s own hips moving beneath her, small thrusts matching Angela’s rhythm, well that just meant that Moira knew how to give a very effective pelvic massage. She was well-qualified, that was all. A credit to the Overwatch team, that was what Moira O’Deorain was. And to her credit, she did her job very well, and it wasn’t long before Angela felt the warm pulse and pull centered on Moira’s fingers buried deep inside her, rubbing rough and fast against her, her palm grinding all the while.

“M-Moira,” Angela gasped out, fighting the urge to resist, to prolong the wonderful sensations. It was the finish that they were here for, after all, no need to prolong the journey. As she groaned her name, Moira’s grip tightened around her waist, and she felt Moira bury her head into the crook of her neck, heard Moira’s own raspy breath as the older woman plunged harder and deeper, and with an unabashedly guttural moan Angela came, her strong walls spasming around Moira’s stilling fingers. Angela was trembling, and she pushed herself slowly against Moira’s fingers, riding out the last shocks of her climax until they both stilled completely, the only sound in the room their heavy, slowing breaths.

The silence lasted a moment, a moment spent with Moira still knuckle-deep between Angela’s thighs, and then, apparently, Moira’s head cleared. Unceremoniously she jerked her fingers out, earning a surprised grunt from Angela who immediately missed the pressure inside of her. Moira gently pushed Angela over to her side with her other hand, and after a moment of confusion Angela realized what she was doing. The entire point of this, after all. There was a point to this, it wasn’t about riding Moira’s fingers, not at all. She let Moira guide her to lay on her back on the couch, and positioned the towel underneath her hips. As Moira crouched down next to the couch Angela was only briefly distracted by the dampness apparent on Moira’s pants where she had been situated.

“You know what to do?” Angela found her voice again, and Moria nodded.

Her hands were shaking, but Moira did seem to know what she was doing. After fetching the syringe she sat on the edge of the couch near Angela’s knee. A brief look to Angela, who nodded her approval, and Moira slipped the silicone guide of the syringe deftly into Angela’s core. Moira was slow and gentle now, not like she had been with her hand moments ago, and when Angela let out a little squeak as the soft silicone tip bumped against her cervix Moira stopped and whispered a quiet apology. She looked to Angela then, and Angela smiled back as Moira slowly, gingerly pushed the plunger of the syringe fully inward.

They both remained still for a moment, Moira steadying the syringe with one hand and steadying herself with the other on the edge of the couch. She wasn’t touching Angela. Eventually she gave a small smile and pulled the emptied syringe out, setting it onto the implement tray on the floor. She stood up and stretched her arms above her head; from where Angela lay Moira looked four meters tall. Her fingers definitely hit the ceiling, and Angela heard several joints crack.

She didn’t turn to look at Angela, and instead stooped to pick up the implement tray, and she walked it over to the desk, speaking over her shoulder, “So how long will you lay like that?”

“Fifteen minutes, at least,” Angela replied, “But more is better.”

Moira nodded, and Angela saw her glance back at her before quickly stepping to the corner where the folded blanket and pillow were housed. She brought both to Angela, motioning for her to lift her head so she could help her with the pillow. As she adjusted the pillow Angela could smell herself on Moira’s hands. She left the blanket next to Angela where she could reach it without moving. “I’m going to clean up in the lab. Do you need anything?” Moira’s voice was kind, but the kindness of a teacher or a concerned friend, and somehow it made Angela feel very small.

Angela shook her head.

“Alright. Well, shout if you do,” Moira smiled softly, and left her then, running a hand through her hair with a sigh as she closed the door between them.

Chapter Text

She would set a bone, make sure the patient didn’t need anything else, and send them on their way. Write a prescription, make sure the patient knew not to take it with alcohol, and send them on their way. It was entirely within reason, in fact it was standard protocol, to perform a procedure and send the patient on their way.

So why did Angela feel so empty as she rode the lift up toward the dormitories alone?

Moira had been perfectly cordial, perfectly professional, knocking lightly after half an hour. She’d waited for Angela’s invitation to open the door, and had said she just wanted to be sure she was alright, and to offer to bring in her bottle of water. Courteous, respectful, kind.

Aloof. Angela huffed and blew a loose strand of hair away from her face as the lift opened and she began to trek into the dormitories. As she’d laid on her back in the quiet office, listening to the soft sounds of Moira cleaning glassware through the wall, she’d found herself wishing very much for Moira to return, to sit with her. She wasn’t sure what they would talk about, but they’d have found something. Yet then, and now still again, she chided herself for her unfair expectations of Dr. O’Deorain. Moira had already gone far above and beyond what Angela could reasonably expect from her, and the memory sent a small aftershock of warmth right down to Angela’s core. It wasn’t fair to expect Moira to hold her hand, stroke her hair . . . Moira had made sure she was comfortable, seen to her basic needs, and given her privacy and rest. She had perfectly met expectations for post-procedure standard of care. She was professional, and Angela resolved to be the same about all of this, shaking off the desire to root out whatever it was she felt was missing.

When Moira had checked on her after forty-five minutes Angela had already cleaned herself up, pulled on her panties and stockings, and was smoothing her skirt down over her thighs. “I’ll go back to my quarters and rest more there,” Angela had said then, and Moira had seemed about to say something, but frowned and nodded. She’d helped Angela make sure her clothing and hair wasn’t a complete mess that might turn heads if she was spotted in the halls, and when they finally parted at the lab door they did so with a cool, professional handshake and promise to speak to one another tomorrow.

She looked back on their goodbye as she crawled onto her bed in the small, comfortable private quarters afforded to the Overwatch higher-ups. Had Moira sensed her unfounded melancholy? Is that why Moira had kept such a distance, lips pursed, back stiff? Why she didn’t look Angela in the eye? Angela groaned and fought the urge to roll over and bury her face in her pillow, forcing herself instead to keep her back flat, knees up. That’s what this was about, nothing else.


 

And they had spoken the next day, though only via a private comm channel. It was on Angela that they did not meet in person, she had been so caught up planning and researching for the insemination attempt that she had let work pile-up, and now she was somewhat happy for it. Truth be told she didn’t know what she could expect if she went down to see Moira now that some time had passed. Did Moira regret her assistance in the matter? Was she embarrassed? Did she think differently of Angela? How could she not, now that she’d pushed her perfectly strong fingers inside of her? No—Angela couldn’t think about that, there was far too much work to do. Too much work, in fact, to do anything but send Moira a message that she was feeling fine and that she would update her with any news. Moira had sent back an equally straight-laced response, that she invited Angela’s updates whenever they were available and that she would be sure to be prepared in approximately one month’s time should the need arise.

That thought had been paradoxically both numbing and thrilling. The idea that they could have put in so much work to no avail was disheartening, though not unexpected. From her research Angela knew that intracervical insemination had a 10-15% chance of success in normal conditions; even if Moira’s modifications could double or even triple the effectiveness there was still no guarantee it would work right out of the gate. Moira had even said it took a few attempts with the mouse models, after all. And that’s where the thrill bubbled up, though Angela tried to squash it. She might find herself there again, in Moira’s office, her skirt over her hips, her panties crumpled and thrown on the floor . . .

No, such a stupid line of thinking, next time she would know to plan better. She would bring a toy, something small she could fit in a handbag and bring down with her. She wouldn’t, really couldn’t, rely on Moira to help her. It would be unprofessional to expect it, and she had vowed to be just as professional as Moira was being throughout all of this.

Even though her workload lessened after a few days of dedicated desk-jockeying, Angela still was not in a rush to go see Moira, and it seemed Moira never intended to pay a visit to the world above either. Yes, in the bi-monthly meeting a few people quietly raised an eyebrow when Dr. O’Deorain uncharacteristically bent low to whisper her offer to get Dr. Ziegler more juice or a muffin, but it wasn’t that strange. A professional courtesy, all would agree, and a good sign that maybe the eccentric, basement-bound Irishwoman was warming up to the rest of Overwatch. But beyond that? Virtual strangers, and it surprised Angela how removed from it all she felt when she sent the brief message to Dr. O’Deorain:

 

aziegler.med1.zurich: First trial unsuccessful. Try again?

Several hours passed with no response, and panic began to set in. Had Moira been that put-off the first time? Was she disheartened and ready to give up after one attempt? Angela had all but resolved to finally go and see her when her pocket chirped at her.

 

modeorain.rd3.zurich: Unfortunate. Yes, again. Everything will be ready, provided one hour advanced notice for sample preparation. Keep me informed.

Angela sighed and placed her comm unit back into the pocket of her lab coat. They would try again, and that made her smile, but somehow she still felt apprehensive. Her pocket chirped again.

 

modeorain.rd3.zurich:  I hope you’re doing well. Don’t give up.


 

She didn’t. Neither of them did, and that’s what brought them here, found them like this, two weeks later. Well, it’s what brought her down to the basement, toy-laden handbag in hand. She’d come prepared this time, she even had a few choice video clips and erotic stories saved onto her reader in the bag, should they be needed to help her along. She’d even been so bold as to explain this to Moira, to be sure that Dr. O’Deorain knew she would not be expected to perform any unnecessary tasks during the second trial.

So how had they ended up like this? Angela on her back on the couch, knees up and legs spread, that was expected. Lights turned down, typical. The loaded syringe close at hand, basically the entire reason this was happening.  But Moira propped on her elbow, supporting herself with the one arm as she lay over Angela, situated squarely between her legs while she pumped two fingers rapidly in and out of the smaller woman? That was not in the previously decided upon agenda.

Angela had two fistfuls of Moira’s button-down, her lab coat discarded onto the desk as they’d entered, held between their rapidly rising and falling chests, forcing the space they both seemed desperate to maintain. Moira had leaned forward soon after starting, following her fingers with the force of her thigh as she pushed harshly into Angela, and this act coupled with their inherent height difference filled Angela’s vision with nothing but Moira’s dark oxford shirt. (She had yanked the tie loose after the second time it had brushed against her nose, and Moira hadn’t seemed to mind.)

Angela couldn’t see the expression on Moira’s face even if she’d tried. The woman towered over her and above her, and Angela could tell her head was turned away, and somehow she knew Moira had her eyes shut tight. That was fine, Angela forced herself to admit, it made the most sense, really. She was the one, after all, who decided they shouldn’t look at each other the first time. This was just another way to accomplish the same effect. Indeed, Moira was fully clothed, tie and lab coat notwithstanding, and Angela had made sure to wear a skirt that could easily be pushed up so she, too, would only need to strip off her stockings and panties. Yes, they were doing a great job keeping this nice and controlled, Angela assured herself as she ground her hips against Moira’s hand roughly, ignoring the terrycloth beneath her as she matched Moira’s set rhythm.

She could hear Moira breathing heavy, her breath stirring Angela’s hair with every puff, feel her chest rise and fall against her fists between them, and every so often Moira would punctuate a particularly rough thrust with a low grunt that made Angela’s entire body clench down on her probing fingers. Whenever Angela’s mind would wander, wonder what Moira was picturing behind her closed eyes, she forced her own eyes shut. Concentrate, she must concentrate. They had a goal, they were working toward it together, simple as that. Moira was likely just trying to determine how to get this done more quickly, she did seem the type to favor efficiency in her work.

And God was she efficient. No longer three-years touch-starved, Angela had to admit that it was not her desperation but Moira’s deft fingers that drove her toward the brink, fast and rough. In her quarters, with a lover, Angela would have gasped out to slow down, that it was too much too fast, that she wanted to enjoy it, but they weren’t in her quarters and, she reminded herself, they were not lovers. Scientists. Colleagues. And Angela would do her part. Determined, she picked up the pace suddenly, breaking rhythm with Moira to rock rapidly against her thigh, driving Moira’s fingers in deep with each push, earning a throaty sound from Moira that she could not place. Moira seemed to sense her urgency, and matched the new rhythm perfectly, pushing a third finger roughly into Angela as she rubbed forceful patterns across her swollen, throbbing clit. Quick enough, mere moments, and Angela lost the rhythm, tensing under Moira and letting the older woman drive her the rest of the way home as she gasped and groaned beneath her, eyes still shut tight, lips parted and mouthing unformed thoughts.

As before, so again, Moira withdrew from her suddenly and without warning, and immediately she set to work. So typical. They’d left the syringe on the endtable above Angela’s head, and Moira could reach it from where she was situated.  Angela was still feeling the aftershocks of her climax as Moira slid in the silicone guide into her, still kneeling between her legs. As Moira slowly pressed the syringe’s plunger in, she sat back on her heels and rested her free hand on Angela’s bent knee, looping her wet, sticky fingers around Angela’s bare leg. Her face and chest were flushed, but she just smiled earnestly at Angela, “I feel good about this time, Angela.”

“Yeah,” Angela huffed a half-laugh, still coming back to herself, “I feel pretty good too.”

Chapter Text

Unfortunately their high hopes were misplaced, and Angela frowned down at her comm unit as she sent her report that trial two was unsuccessful.

modeorain.rd3.zurich: Disheartening, but it’s not the end. Again?

aziegler.med1.zurich: Yes, for as long as we have supplies.

modeorain.rd3.zurich: We are in no danger of running out.

aziegler.med1.zurich: In a few weeks then.

She’d gone about her day down but not out. She had expected she and Moira would maintain the same professional decorum and respectful distance that they had fallen into the previous month, and so it came as a surprise when her comm unit chirped her awake.

There was a time she would have been up, working late into the night at this late hour, but her pro-fertility lifestyle changes had taken hold and she had been asleep for several hours when her quarters lit up with a soft blue hue and a small chime broke her from her dreams. Before looking at the message she checked the time. Nearly two in the morning. An emergency? No, it would be a voice call or even an alert if it were, this was a direct text comm.

modeorain.rd3.zurich: I have a proposal.

Angela’s heart was in her throat. A good proposal? An idea that might help? A bad proposal? Was she prefacing that she had decided to give up after all? Maybe she should pretend to be asleep, answer it tomorrow . . . As if she’d be able to sleep without hearing what Moira had to say.

aziegler.med1.zurich: What is it?

modeorain.rd3.zurich: I thought you would get that in the morning. I didn’t wake you, did I?

aziegler.med1.zurich: It’s fine, I’m awake now, what are you thinking?

modeorain.rd3.zurich: I’m sorry for waking you, but I was thinking about what I said. We have as much of the provided sample as we could ever need, and I can make the genetic alterations whenever we might need more.

The direct comm lines were allegedly private, but Angela was still somehow happy that Moira was obfuscating their activities.

aziegler.med1.zurich: Yes? Has that changed?

modeorain.rd3.zurich: No, there is plenty.
modeorain.rd3.zurich: Enough that we can perform more than one treatment per trial phase.

Oh. Oh. It made sense, of course. Most women had approximately three highly fertile days in their cycle, Angela had just been opting to try on the day of estimated peak fertility. She hadn’t wanted to be a burden on Moira, even more so now that she was taking a more active hand in the process. Angela blushed down at her comm unit. If they tried thrice in a month, did that mean Moira would assist her each time? They hadn’t even really discussed it, before or after the last attempt. It had just happened, Angela had been laying back onto the couch, ready to grab her handbag placed on the floor and get to work, and then Moira had been there. If she’d knocked, Angela didn’t remember hearing it, she only remembered the metallic rasp as Moira slid the instrument tray onto the end table. She was sure other things had happened. She remembered Moira watching her, she remembered the sight of Moira licking her lips, of mismatched eyes darting nervously down Angela’s body. She remembered adjusting a bit to let Moira climb on top of her, and she remembered the couch sinking as Moira settled between her legs. She remembered the creak of the springs in the couch as she’d ground herself against Moira’s hand, and she remembered the sound of the armrest thumping against the end table. But she didn’t remember Moira saying anything, and when they parted ways, it was with a handshake.

modeorain.rd3.zurich: If you would prefer to continue once per cycle that is understandable. I do not want to overburden you.

Ah, she needed to reply.

aziegler.med1.zurich: No, it’s a good idea. Anything we can do to increase the chances is important. If you are alright with it we can plan on more. Probably three times.

modeorain.rd3.zurich: Three days per phase, understood. I will be sure there is enough reagent. Good night, Dr. Ziegler, I am sorry I woke you.

aziegler.med1.zurich: Good night, Dr. O’Deorain, thank you for waking me. 

 


 

Three is a magic number. Was it the third time Moira’s hands had turned Angela into a trembling mess that had preceded the successful treatment?  Or was it the fourth of fifth time, one day apart, gasping and writhing in Moira’s arms? Whichever treatment it was, it was in that third month, and Angela found she loved the number three.

She hadn’t been sure, at first. The painful swelling of her breasts might have heralded her oncoming menstrual cycle, her nausea and constant fatigue may have simply been brought on by the stress of a very large number of new recruits in desperate need of remedial training. But unwilling to get her hopes up without cause, Angela had sought confirmation. Once all the new medics had left for the day and the night shift had settled in to watch the few patients in the ward, Angela retreated to one of the smaller, more secluded wet labs. Carefully she’d drawn her own blood, made difficult by her anticipatory trembling, and impatiently she had waited. 217 mIU/mL of β-human chorionic gonadotropin. Two hundred and seventeen. She wanted to scream. Two hundred and seventeen was a lot more than ten. It had worked, they’d done it.

Angela was beside herself as she quickly cleaned up the test materials and returned the lab space to its proper state. Everything was going through her mind at once. What would that mean for a due date? Sometime in the middle of June if gestation was approximately average. What would she be like? Quiet and reserved? Outgoing and social? Would she like science or art more? What would her favorite color be? Would she want to wear dresses or pants? Would she look more like Angela, or like Moira?

Moira . . . she had to tell Moira.

 


 

The sound of her heels clicking on the hard floor was familiar to Angela now, and she hurried down the dim hallway with a spring in her step, wondering what Moira would be like when she heard of their success. Cool, stoic Moira. Would she be as giddy as Angela felt? Angela could hardly stand it as she smacked the call button on the laboratory intercom, shifting her weight impatiently between her feet as she waited for the door to slide open.

She hit the button again after a few minutes and knocked loudly. Was Moira sleeping? If she weren’t already giddy Angela might have been moved by the thought of Moira curled up under the big quilt on her couch, but honestly there was no room in Angela’s mind for anything but excitement over the news. “Moira?” Angela called loudly, rapping on the door again. She frowned and pulled out her comm unit.

aziegler.med1.zurich: Dr. O’Deorain, I’m at your lab door, is your intercom broken? I need to talk to you.

A few minutes passed, then an answer that made Angela scowl.

modeorain.rd3.zurich: I apologize, Dr. Ziegler, I am currently in London attending the European Human Genetics Conference. I will return to Zurich in four days. Is everything alright?

Moira had left town? How long had she been gone? She hadn’t told Angela anything about this conference, or even said goodbye. No, no, why would she have? You don’t tell everyone you work with about every business trip you attend, and Moira didn’t owe her any explanations of her whereabouts. They were colleagues, after all, nothing more. Angela mentally chided herself for her foolishness as she began walking back toward the elevator. It wasn’t until she was nearly to the dormitory that her pocket chirped, reminding her she hadn’t responded to Moira.

modeorain.rd3.zurich: Is everything alright, Dr. Ziegler?
modeorain.rd3.zurich: What did you need to talk to me about?
modeorain.rd3.zurich: Angela?
modeorain.rd3.zurich: Do you need me to come back, Angela?
modeorain.rd3.zurich: There is a flight available in an hour. Angela, what’s going on? Respond, Angela, why aren’t you answering your comm?

The messages all came at once, and a notification of two missed calls. The elevators had notoriously bad signal. Shit.

aziegler.med1.zurich: Ah! I’m sorry, I’m sorry, everything is fine! I was in the elevator and didn’t get all of that until just now. No, you don’t need to come back, Dr. O’Deorain, I will see you after your conference.

modeorain.rd3.zurich:: Thank goodness. You are sure you’re alright? I can return early if there is something wrong.        

aziegler.med1.zurich: No, everything is fine, thank you. I will talk to you when you return. Good night, Dr. O’Deorain, enjoy your conference.

Several minutes passed.

modeorain.rd3.zurich: Good night, Dr. Ziegler.


Angela wouldn’t have an opportunity to speak to Moira again until after the bi-monthly staff meeting; she would be returning the morning of and Angela really didn’t want to spring this on her the moment she arrived. The thought of sitting on this exciting secret the whole meeting, sat across the large conference table from an unknowing Moira about to have her world happily turned upside down, it made Angela giddy all over again, as though she’d only just found out.

She’d busied herself the last few days researching private obstetricians in Zurich. Overwatch had no reason to employ anyone in obstetrics, but she had found a well-regarded physician less than forty minutes away. With the ability to borrow cars from the motorpool it would be no problem to attend regular check-ups. When she’d called to be sure they were accepting new patients they had asked her if she would like to come in for her first appointment right away, but she had declined. She could wait a few days. She knew how important this was to her, the entire experience of becoming a mother, and she wouldn’t dare take that away from Moira.

And so it was with excitement she nearly skipped into the conference room, looking around mischievously for Moira, finally frowning when she realized the geneticist had not yet arrived. She fetched a croissant and orange juice from the side table and found her usual seat, across and three down from Moira’s.

“Not hungry, Angie?” Lena Oxton asked cheerfully as she sat down next to her, indicating Angela’s current efforts to absentmindedly turn the croissant into a pile of flakes and crumbs rather than eat it.

“Feeling a little under the weather,” Angela explained with a smile.

“Right, heard there was a nasty stomach bug going on down in C Mess Hall, yeah?” Lena had an uncanny ability to grimace but still seem to smile brightly, “Well, if anyone knows how to fix it, you do, right, doc?”

Angela nodded. Truthfully she’d been avoiding anyone who came to the medical bay with symptoms of infectious disease, delegating it to the new recruits. It was good for them, and better for her, that they handle it instead of her. She had already explained to several of her supervisees she was intending to take a more administrative role moving forward, and everyone agreed that the over-worked doctor could use the break. She hadn’t explained why, nor had she explained that her frequent trips to the bathroom were due to nausea and an obnoxiously incessant need to urinate, and not the string of salmonella enteritis sweeping through Overwatch HQ.

She had been so distracted talking to Lena about her most recent mission that she hadn’t even noticed Moira shuffle her way in the doors behind her until the woman pulled her seat out and sat down across the table. When she finally did notice, Angela frowned with worry. Moira looked like death warmed over. She was never a tan woman, but the color had drained from her face. There were heavy shadows under her eyes and her normally impeccably swept back hair was barely held in place. It was difficult to tell given her clothing and usual thin frame, but Angela could have sworn Moira had lost some weight as well.

“Dr. O’Deorain,” Angela fought the urge to stand up, round the table, and begin taking vital signs, “You’re back. Are you feeling alright? You don’t look well?”

“I’m fine,” Moira said quietly and forced a smile, “And you, Dr. Ziegler?”

“I’m well,” Angela said slowly. Her excitement to share the news had waned in the face of Moira’s worrying appearance. Moira had just the time to nod politely to the good news of her health when Amari called the meeting to order.

Angela spent most of the meeting wholly distracted, stealing glances at Moira throughout. Other than Moira occasionally stealing glances back at her, causing both of them to avert their eyes quickly, Moira seemed content to sit and listen to the business of the day. At one point Winston, the head of Research & Development not directly related to medical advancement and thus essentially Moira’s direct supervisor, asked her to provide an overview of the conference she had attended. She was brief in her response, relating her acquisition of some new techniques for rapid genome analysis and describing recent findings on the role of epigenetic control in cardiomyopathy which Angela would have found fascinating on any day that she wasn’t warring with both excitement and worry every time she looked at Moira.

When the meeting was adjourned Angela nearly leapt out of her seat, but was dismayed to see Winston immediately begin a side conversation with Moira. She watched for a moment, but when it became clear the conversation was not going to be brief, she slouched her shoulders and left.

She wasn’t able to make it away from her own duties again for several hours, and it was nearly evening by the time she pressed the intercom button outside Moira’s lab. Several minutes passed, and she began to wonder if Moira had unexpectedly left the premises again.

“Yes?” Moira’s voice was quiet, scratchy, but definitely Moira.

“I-It’s Angela Ziegler,” Angela said quickly, not sure if Moira might have Winston or some other person in her lab.

She didn’t, Angela found, as the door slid open. No lamps in the laboratory were on, the only light coming from the office, and Moira’s form blocked much of it as she stood, outlined in a golden glow, in the office doorway.

“I’m glad you’re back,” Angela called as she walked forward, “I’ve been wanting to talk to you!”

A gruff noise, giving her a bit of pause, from Moira as the taller woman retreated back into the office. As Angela joined her there she surveyed the room. The whisky bottle, now nearly empty, and a glass on the end table, a suitcase and briefcase were leaned against the desk, the quilt and pillow haphazardly strewn on the couch, but otherwise it was as she would expect. Moira, however, still looked a bit worse for wear. Less pale now, but her hair stuck out in all directions, her clothes were wrinkled, and her eyes unfocused.

“Sorry to wake you,” Angela grinned, and Moira just huffed again as she sat back onto the couch. Angela fidgeted. To sit with Moira? Typically any time they’d been on the couch together at the same time . . . She leaned against the desk, “Are you unwell? You didn’t eat in the C Mess Hall before you left, did you?”

Moira rubbed her face roughly, pushing the drowsiness away, “No, I’m fine. What did you want to talk about, Dr. Ziegler?”

This was not the atmosphere, the mood that Angela had envisioned for her big reveal. She’d seen Moira cool, aloof, reserved, but grumpy? Perhaps she should let her sleep more. She stood straight with a sigh, “It seems you’ve had a rough trip, I’m sorry for bothering you, Moira, I’m sure you’ve had a long day. I’ll come back tomorrow—“

As she’d turned to walk back toward the door Moira’s long arm had shot out, catching her wrist in a clammy grasp. Angela turned, looking down into Moira’s forlorn, bloodshot eyes, “No, tell me. Now, Angela, what is it?”

Angela chewed her lip,

“Angela. Tell me.” Moira’s voice was cold, but faltering.

“I—“ Angela licked her lips, and Moira looked away, dropping her grip on Angela’s wrist. Perhaps this wasn’t what she envisioned, but she also hadn’t envisioned any of this working out the way it had. And honestly she didn’t know if she could keep this secret much longer, “I . . . we’re pregnant.”

Moira’s breath audibly caught, and her eyes shot back to Angela’s. In a moment she was off the couch, towering over the smaller woman, gripping her upper arms tightly. She didn’t say anything at first, but she seemed to be trying. It was endearing, Angela thought, watching Moira struggle to find any words at all, before finally, “Y-you’re sure? Absolutely sure?” Moira was smiling now, the first time Angela’d seen her really smile since she returned from London.

Angela was smiling now too, and laughed out her response, “Yes, I’m certain, I ran the tests myself. Quantitative beta-hCG, there’s no better marker.”

And then her face was against Moira’s chest as the older woman pulled her tightly into her, wrapping one long arm around her back and cupping the back of her head with her hand, threading her long fingers through Angela’s blonde hair. She heard her gasping back a laugh, whispering quietly, “This is so amazing, Angela, this is so perfect, thank you so much, Angela.”

Angela could still hear her speaking, but couldn’t make out anything else as she trailed off into murmurs, and for her part Angela was content to wrap her arms around Moira’s waist and rest her head against her chest, feeling more than hearing her quiet mumbling.

It’s unclear how long they stood like that, or when Moira replaced her murmuring with simply quiet, steady breathing and comforting strokes of Angela’s hair, but by the time Angela finally gave a happy sniffle and stepped back out of Moira’s arms most of the color seemed to have returned to Moira’s complexion along with the brightest smile Angela could ever imagine seeing.

“So now it really begins,” Angela chuckled, and Moira took a deep breath and nodded, passing a hand through her red, bed-mussed hair, “I should let you rest.”

“I-I don’t think I can,” Moira laughed out, and Angela wasn’t sure there was any sound more wonderful than hearing Moira’s smile in her voice. She collapsed back onto the couch and rubbed her face, “I’d offer you a, you know, a celebratory drink but obviously that’s out now.”

Angela nodded, “Get some rest, Moira,” Gingerly she bent down and kissed Moira’s cheek. As she pulled back Moira’s expression was uncertain, but not unhappy. Best to just leave it at that, “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Moira nodded, and from the way she was bouncing her heel and drumming her fingers on her knee Angela was certain Moira would not be sleeping any time soon. But Angela needed the rest too, finding she got fatigued very quickly as of late, and today had taken a lot out of her. But Moira was back, and their new adventure together was just beginning.

Chapter Text

In the coming days, Angela had little opportunity to speak with Moira, as the older woman seemed to throw herself immediately back into her work. Perhaps she had the same nervous excitement that filled Angela, though Angela had difficulty releasing her own pent-up energy, now finding herself much more bogged down with this administrative workload since relinquishing the actual medical procedures to her subordinates.

They had barely managed to use a comm channel to arrange a time they would both be available for Angela’s initial appointment with Dr. Nora Meier, and finally the day had come.

“You’re looking better,” Angela shouted toward Moira who just nodded as they walked against the whipping wind which tossed Angela’s hair about wildly despite her best attempts to secure it before they’d left the building.

Likely seeing conversation through the weather fruitless, Moira just nodded, even her own shorter hair getting a beating from the harsh autumn winds which plastered her well-tailored British Warm against her body at impressive angles. As they reached the car she picked her pace up quickly, arriving before Angela to pull the door open, requiring some effort to fight against the weather. It was sweet of her, and Angela said so, but she knew Moira wouldn’t have heard her over the wind.

It was much quieter, much more still inside the electric car Angela had checked out from Overwatch’s motorpool. The headquarters had very nearly everything someone might need for daily life, but for a few of life’s needs and entertainments agents were able to freely borrow vehicles to travel to and from the city and surrounding area. Moira huffed as she settled into the driver’s side, and grunted as she found her knees pushed up near her chest. With some difficulty she found the seat release underneath and let the seat slide to its furthest position before securing her safety belt. Doing her best to right her hair in the rearview mirror Moira finally spoke for the first time since they’d spotted one another across the parking lot, “So this doctor, they’re good? You looked into them and everything?”

“Good afternoon to you, too, Moira,” Angela teased, and found that Moira was fairly adept at looks that were both irritated and apologetic at the same time, “And no, I just picked her out of the phone book, she’s going to park her van under the overpass outside of town, she said we’d be able to spot it because it’s got the back window knocked out.” This look was a bit more annoyed than apologetic. Angela laughed, finding it much to amusing to tease an obviously high-strung Moira, “Of course I looked into her, and a lot of others. She comes highly recommended, and when I set up the appointment I was very impressed with the office staff. Don’t worry, I know a few things about doctors.”

Moira ducked her head apologetically and hit the ignition button, pulling slowly out of the parking lot and onto the highway toward the city proper, “Sorry, I’m just . . . nervous. I don’t want anything to go wrong.”

“I know,” Angela responded, and she did know, and she was more thankful than ever that she had opted to let Moira create this child with her, to share this experience with Moira, and to have Moira share it with her. She needed someone with her through this, someone like Moira. Angela reached out and placed a hand comfortingly on Moira’s shoulder, and Moira responded only by reaching up and laying a hand over Angela’s.

As she turned her attention back to driving, securing both hands on the wheel, Angela finally turned her own attention to the file folder in her lap, explaining as she began paging through the paperwork, “Dr. Meier’s office sent over the new patient paperwork, I mostly finished it since most things relate to me and my history. Do I have sickle cell, asthma, known uterine issues, you know, the usual things,” Angela explained, “But there are a few things relating to the baby’s father that I suppose I need to run by you.”

Moira shifted uncomfortably in the small car, but grunted that she was listening.

“Genetic background Caucasian, yes?” A nod.  “48 years old, yes? Ah, I might have accessed your Overwatch HR file for some spots, since you were so busy this week. I hope you don’t mind?” Moira shook her head, and Angela smiled and continued, “Family history of birth defects? Chromosomal problems? Hemophilia? Cystic fibrosis? Deficiency of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase? . . .” And so they went down the list, confirming what Moira had originally reported, that other than a few cosmetic abnormalities relating to height and eye-color she was an ideal donor, and even those cosmetic differences just added charm, Angela thought. She capped her pen and closed the file, “Wonderful, then, we’re all set to sit in the waiting room for an inexcusable amount of time.”

Moira scoffed, but said nothing. They drove in silence for a few minutes as Angela watched the outskirts of Zurich pass by the window, excitement building with each kilometer. She knew nothing groundbreaking would happen at this appointment, but she was still so excited to be in a position she was seeing an obstetrician at all. It was a dream come true.

“What am I?”

Angela turned and blinked at Moira, who kept her eyes on the road ahead, but she was frowning, “I’m sorry, what?”

Moira huffed a bit, and she sounded frustrated, “Well I presume you put all of that in some column or line marked for the father, didn’t you?”

“. . . yes.” Angela said softly, even apologetically, “If you would like I can cross it out and put mother number two?” She wasn’t joking or making light of Moira’s concerns, it was a sincere offer, and she hoped Moira realized that.

“Mmmmm,” Moira seemed to contemplate it for a moment, but simply sighed and signaled her intent to pull over. She did so, moving the car to the shoulder and turning off the electric powercells. Safely off the road, she turned to face Angela squarely, “What do you say I am, Angela? Father? Mother? Donor of genetic material? Genetic engineer?

Angela opened her mouth to respond, but it was dry, and she realized she didn’t know what to say immediately. They sat in heavy silence, regarding one another. Moira’s expression wasn’t accusatory. It wasn’t angry. It wasn’t a challenge. Just . . . imploring. Eventually Angela unbuckled her safety belt and placed her files at her feet before leaning over the center console and clumsily wrapping her arms around Moira’s neck, resting her head awkwardly on Moira’s shoulder given their side-by-side positioning. Moira, still buckled into place, remained stiff but reached one hand up to place on one of Angela’s shoulders.

“You’re her other parent,” Angela said reassuringly, “It’s up to you what name you want to give that. I’m happy with whatever you wish. Father, mother, it doesn’t matter to me,” She laughed a bit against Moira’s shirt, “I’d even say both are correct from a medical standpoint.” Moira was relaxing a bit, and her hand idly stroked Angela’s shoulder. Angela pulled back so she could look at Moira again, who seemed subdued, but she kept her hands on the taller woman’s shoulders, “If I wanted a ‘donor of genetic material’ I’d have used the catalog, Moira. To me, she’s ours.

Moira smiled then, and nodded as she squeezed Angela’s shoulder before letting her hands make their way back to the steering wheel. Clearing her throat, she motioned toward the road, “We’re, uh, going to be late if we don’t hurry. Sorry, I shouldn’t have stopped.”

“Don’t be sorry, I understand.” Angela assured her with a smile as she settled back into her own seat and refastened her safety belt while Moira guided the car back onto the road. The rest of the ride passed with a combination of shared silence and small-talk about the conference in London. Angela considered broaching the subject of Moira’s unannounced departure, that she would hope that Moira would keep her informed if she was leaving the country going forward, but thought better of it. There was enough going on today without introducing another possibly uncomfortable conversation.

As they arrived at the clinic Moira bid Angela to wait there, and before she could ask why Moira had, with some difficulty, extracted herself from the small car. Angela grinned, amused, as Moira rounded the car with a few long-legged strides, a look of determination on her face and the wind whipping red hair around her like a crown of fire, and opened the car door for her. She rolled her eyes at Moira as she straightened up out of the car, paperwork in hand, “I think I can handle opening my own car doors, Moira.”

“I-I know.” Moira blushed as she suddenly became very interested in the car’s side mirror, “I just . . .”

Angela laughed and patted her on the arm as she closed the door behind her, “Come on, let’s go in.” Still, she couldn’t resist standing expectantly once she approached the door as Moira hustled up behind her and pulled the door open for both of them, and she batted her eyes teasingly at Moira, “How chivalrous.”

Moira grunted and ran a hand through her wind-swept hair.

The waiting room was small, but very comfortable. A woman some ten years younger than Angela sat in one of the large armchairs tapping away at a tablet in her lap, and across from her an even younger woman, visibly far along in her pregnancy, was holding hands with a young man sat beside her. Only the young man looked toward them as Moira and Angela entered, giving a polite nod before turning back to his companion.

“Hello, I’m Angela Ziegler, we have an appointment with Dr. Meier at 1415,” Angela explained as she walked to the reception desk, proffering the file of intake paperwork. The young, dark-haired woman behind the desk greeted her and took the paperwork. After a precursory glance to be sure everything necessary was included in the packet she motioned to the waiting room, stating it should only be a few minutes. Angela knew that line well.

Moira was already sitting in a corner as far as she could get from the other waiting patients, not very far at all in the small area. The seat next to her was open, and Angela made her way there, pausing to look at the décor along the way. The wall had dozens of small framed placards all along it, the inkblot footprints of newborn babies ostensibly born to patients of this practice. Instinctively Angela smiled and ran a hand along her own still fairly flat stomach. When she finally reached Moira the older woman was watching her.

“So what will happen?” Moira asked in a hushed tone so as not to disturb the others.

“In the appointment?”

“Yes, you said you’d done rotations like this before. What are they going to do? They can’t see anything yet, on an ultrasound, can they?”

Angela shook her head, “Not really, and they wouldn’t do one unless they thought . . . unless there was a problem,” She wiggled her hand under Moira’s on the armrest between them and laced their fingers together, and they both shared a silent, hopeful grasp as Angela continued quietly, “I’ll have a physical done, and they’ll draw blood, and a lot of talking. They’re just trying to make sure there aren’t any problems on the horizon,” Another involuntary squeeze from Moira, “And to find out where we go from here, and answer any of our questions.”

Moira nodded and leaned back into her chair, hardly seeming relaxed, and her grip on Angela’s hand remained firm, though Angela didn’t mind. Her eyes fell on the young couple, probably no more than a month away from the arrival of their baby. She couldn’t help but envision herself like that, heavily pregnant with Moira whispering quietly to her about whatever that young man was saying to the woman by his side.

The woman tapping away on the tablet eventually left, apparently waiting for her ride after her appointment ended, and the young couple—the Hubers, the receptionist had called-- were told Dr. Schmid would see them and they left promptly for the back offices. Angela had researched Dr. Schmid as well, and he came highly recommended, but he had not been taking new patients at this time, and Meier was just as well-regarded.

“I still don’t know what I’m going to tell them,” Moira said, barely a whisper, but loud enough for just Angela to hear in the quiet, now empty room.

“Tell who?” Angela settled back in her chair to place her head near Moira’s shoulder, matching Moira’s apparent desire for privacy.

“They’re going to ask who I am, what . . . what part I played.” Angela looked at her now, and Moira looked worried, “I don’t know what to say.”

“We can tell them the truth?” Angela offered, “Honestly I’m surprised you’re not looking to publish, Moira, it really is extraordinary what you were able to do.”

“What we were able to do,” Moira corrected her quietly, and a squeeze reminded Angela their fingers were still interlaced. Moira sighed and continued, “It’s none of their business how we did it, this wasn’t for my career, and I don’t want people to think of . . . to think of her as some sort of science experiment.”

“I agree,” Angela rested her forehead on Moira’s shoulder, “Well, when they ask, just tell what feels natural to say.”

“Nothing about this was natural,” Though she didn’t see her face, Angela could hear Moira’s sardonic grin, and she laughed a bit and nodded against Moira.

“I don’t know. Yes, there may have been some improvements to the base material early on, but in the grand scheme of things,” Angela couldn’t help herself. She knew it was probably not the most proper thing to say to Moira. In fact, it was the absolute worst thing, the one thing she shouldn’t say to Moira, her professional colleague, her co-worker, about their shared professional endeavor. But when she thought of how much she loved it when Moira’s ears turned red she just couldn’t help herself. With a mischievous smile she lifted her head and whispered directly into Moira’s ear, “You did shoot your load inside me a few times.”

Ow. Moira’s fingernails were surprisingly sharp as, with a harsh gasp, she reflexively dug them into Angela’s hand, who tried to pull away from the vice-like grip. She was so distracted she barely even got to enjoy Moira’s expression, wide-eyed and red-faced.

“Ms. Ziegler?” The receptionist called, and Angela stood as she lamented that she wouldn’t be able to soak in more of this reaction. Moira released her grip and Angela heard some nervous throat clearing as the taller woman fell into step behind her.

They were led through a hallway and Angela briefly kicked off her high-heels for the scale and stadiometer, then they were settled in an examination room. The intake nurse introduced himself as Lars, and spoke cheerfully about the abysmal fall wind with Angela as he took her blood pressure and pulse.

“Alright, all set, Dr. Meier will be with you both shortly. If you could strip down, Ms. Ziegler, the gown is on the counter behind you.”

After he had shut the door, Moira cleared her throat, having been mostly silent, lurking during the intake, “Did you . . . want me to leave too?”

“No need,” Angela shook her head as she hopped off the table, paper crinkling as she left it, toward the counter. She heard Moira sigh quietly as she stepped behind the white cloth privacy screen in the corner and began stripping off her clothing, explaining all the while, “I mean it, Moira, this is for both of us. If you ever want to step out, please do, but I want you to be as involved as you are comfortable with,” She smiled warmly at Moira as she emerged from behind the screen, clad only in medical gown with pastel rabbits happily jumping across the fabric, bare from the mid-thighs down, but covered in gooseflesh from the chill. She held the gown closed behind her as she hopped back up onto the examination table and crossed her legs at the ankle, pressing her knees together as she faced Moira.

Moira, despite being the one allowed to wear clothes, looked the least comfortable. The small plastic chairs were likely for young children accompanying their mother for appointments, and Moira’s long legs were splayed out in front of her, filling the space between them. Angela presumed if she had crossed her legs instead she could have rested her chin on her own knee. “I appreciate that, Angela, truly,” Moira seemed to have calmed herself from Angela’s off-color comment in the waiting room, “I appreciate everything you’re doing.”

A knock at the door halted her response and after Angela issued the invitation a short woman with tan skin and curly brown hair entered, clipboard in hand. If Angela were to guess she would say they were about the same age, “Ms. Ziegler, hello, I am Dr. Nora Meier,” She held out her hand to Angela, who shook it then, turned her attention to Moira, “Hello, and who would this be?”

Moira had stood when the door opened, and she towered over both of the other women. Angela’s heart went out to her as she saw Moira’s indecision. The moment of truth, time to decide. Moira shook the doctor’s offered hand, “Ah, Moira O’Deorain, I am Angela’s . . . I’m the other parent.” If Dr. Meier took note of the sudden sigh Moira gave to punctuate her introduction she did not show it.

From her brief pause it was clear Dr. Meier had a few questions but pushed them away for now, “Well, welcome both of you, please, have a seat Ms. O’Deorain, let’s get started. So, Ms. Ziegler—“

“Angela is fine,” Angela assured her.

“Alright then, Angela, I’ve looked over your chart, you are . . . about six weeks out from your last menstrual cycle, is that right?”

“That’s correct.”

“Alright, and you’ve never had a child before, is that right?”

“First one,” Angela beamed at Dr. Meier, and Moira beamed at Angela.

“Wonderful,” Meier was a very encouraging woman with an easy-going demeanor. Angela could see why so many patients applauded her bedside manner, “Well, I’ll just explain the process from my point of view, and you can stop me if you have any questions, alright?” Angela likely did not need the oncoming explanation, but she presumed it would benefit Moira to hear it, so she simply nodded.

The appointment went as Angela expected and had explained to Moira, who chose to excuse herself to the restroom during the breast exam and PAP. By the time Moira had returned Angela was already behind the privacy screen pulling her clothing back on, talking to Dr. Meier through the barrier.

“So that will be the extent of the dietary modifications you might make, and they should also help with the nausea you reported too. Even if they don’t, that should subside in a few weeks on its own,” Dr. Meier paused briefly to nod at Moira as she quietly reentered, then continued her lifestyle prescription, “It’s good you said you’re doing more paperwork and less with your patients, Angela, minimizing exposure to pathogens is best, and can’t we all use a little less stress in our day?” She laughed, and so did Angela, but Moira was too busy trying to situate herself in the tiny plastic chair. Noticing her difficulty, Dr. Meier indicated that she could sit on the examination table if she wished, and Moira opted for a paper-covered table over a child’s chair. Her feet almost touched the ground sitting up here.

Dr. Meier continued as Angela returned and hopped up to sit next to Moira, pulling on her high-heels, “Other than that your life really doesn’t need to change much right now; for as long as you are avoiding that list of foods, and I’ll send you a comm of the list as well, and you are physically comfortable and gaining enough weight, you can live your life the way you’d like: exercise, sex, both fine as long as you don’t overwork yourself.”

“Thank you, Dr. Meier, I appreciate all of your insight,” Angela smiled and passed several pieces of paper with lists of safe and unsafe foods to Moira who was looking at her shoes and running her hand through her hair.

“Now, I have some questions for you moving forward,” Dr. Meier fetched her stool and rolled over to sit in front of the two women, flipping through Angela’s chart, “Was this pregnancy planned? You were trying to get pregnant?”

“Yes.”

“Do you know when the conception occurred? It’s alright if you don’t, that’s common, but it will help us pinpoint a due date.”

“12, 13, or 14th of September.” Angela replied, pushing away the pulse-quickening memories of Moira’s hands holding her thighs apart in the dim basement of Overwatch, “We only tried when I was ovulating.”

“A common practice,” Dr. Meier made a note, mumbling to herself, “So then likely sometime around the fourth or fifth of June, presuming all goes well, which I’m sure it will,” She smiled at them both, then returned her attention back to her paper, “And I see on your intake forms you have listed the family medical history of the father. Did you use a bank?”

The sound of the paper on which they sat was deafening in the tiny room as Moira shifted uncomfortably before speaking up, “No, I’m the other biological parent.”

“Oh! I apologize, I hadn’t realized,” Angela felt that, to her credit, Dr. Meier seemed sincerely regretful of her mistake, and perhaps that’s why she didn’t press any more questions. Regardless of the reason, Angela was happy they didn’t have to explain the process of the chromosome-stripping and gamete modification. She hadn’t been able to put it into words, but Moira had: She didn’t like the idea of the baby being thought of as a science experiment. Their daughter.

“Well, alright then, we can be confident of this history then!” She lowered her voice a bit, “I hate to admit sometimes I wonder about the donation services, I think some of the donors just fill in ‘no issues’ if they don’t realize they are a carrier for an abnormality and . . . well, no reason for us to worry about that with your baby. In fact,” She scanned several pages of the file on her board to confirm, “Yes, no reason to be worried at all. As we discussed during your physical examination, you are a bit older than most first-time mothers, but certainly not in a high-risk area, we’ll just want to keep a close eye on your progress.” She smiled and patted Angela’s knee, then stood up, “We’ll want to see you around this time next month.”

“Monthly visits then?” Angela stepped off the table and stretched, and Moira did the same.

“Until we get closer to the due date, then it will be more frequent. Next time we’ll perform a transvaginal ultrasound. We’ll remind you closer to the appointment, but we’ll need you to have a full bladder to help with the procedure, the waves travel better through fluid. And otherwise it will be more of the same; another blood draw, checking your weight gain, you know the drill, you said you’d done an obstetrics rotation.”

“Mmm, yes,” Angela held out her hand to the doctor, “But it has been many years, I appreciate the refresher.”

The said their goodbyes to Dr. Meier, Moira simply shaking her hand and giving a curt nod. Was that a grimace from Moira? A matter for the car.

With the receptionist they scheduled their next appointment, each keying it into their comm units for a free weekend, and stepped back out into the biting wind. Moira walked stiffly and said nothing, but she didn’t fail to open Angela’s side of the car for her.

“That was exciting?” Angela half-stated, half-asked as she fastened her safety belt.

“Mmmmm.” Moira was silent as she pulled out of the parking lot and onto the highway back toward headquarters.

Angela watched her pensively. Every few minutes Moira would fiddle with the vents or the radio, despite no air blowing or music playing. She’d run a hand through her hair, check her blind spot even though she wasn’t changing lanes.

“What’s wrong, Moira?”

After a moment Moira grunted something into her hand, glaring daggers at the road in front of them.

“What?”

I said they think I have a cock.

Angela didn’t want to laugh, clearly whatever this was was upsetting to Moira, but the sound of Moira hissing the word ‘cock’ was stirred something, and it earned a reaction of some sort, and unbidden it came out as a half-laugh. She stifled herself and turned it into an incredulous follow-up, “Sorry, what?”

Moira didn’t look at her, continuing to glare at the road, drumming her fingers unhappily on the steering wheel, “The doctor. When I said I was the other parent, she didn’t ask like I thought she would, she just kept going. She thinks I have a cock and that I, that you and I—“ Moira trailed off with a frustrated huff as she turned to check her blind spot, changing lanes for no discernable reason.

Angela watched her with concern for a few moments before reaching over and curling her fingers around Moira’s upper arm, lightly squeezing her bicep, “That bothers you a lot?” She kept her tone neutral, unbiased. What mattered was how Moira felt.

She gave another irritated huff, “I just . . . I don’t.” Moira bit her lip and moved back into their original lane, once again for no apparent reason, “If I did, fine, but I don’t, and they think I do.”

Angela stroked Moira’s arm with her thumb, “We can tell them next time, if you want. Or I can call Dr. Meier or send a comm—“

Moira grunted, “Don’t bother, at least this way we don’t have to explain the procedure. Let them think what they want, I don’t care.”

Angela watched her for a moment, then sighed dejectedly. She’d hoped they’d be in high-spirits on their ride back to headquarters, excited for what was to come. Instead they rode in silence, but she was heartened that Moira let her lean over the center console and rest her head on Moira’s shoulder, still stroking her arm gently.

 

Chapter Text

Angela beamed at the little black and grey square as she affixed it to the corner of the mirror in her quarters. She had wanted to place it on the computer in her office where she would see it more often, but it would invite questions, so here is where it belonged, the first ‘picture’ of her daughter. Yes, it was just a grainy ultrasound print-out with a black void on it which she and Dr. Meier had both had to specifically point out to a searching Moira, but it was her daughter, their daughter. Nora had assured them that the heartbeat was strong and that there was no worry of ectopic pregnancy, everything seemed to be moving along just fine.

Angela was doing better as well. Her nausea had mostly subsided and her appetite had returned with a vengeance. She reached into the small cupboard and pulled out a bag of crisps before sitting down below the window, one of the many perks of having officer’s quarters. Idly she wondered what Moira would do with her print-out of the ultrasound. Probably put it somewhere on her desk; since she didn’t have medics and nurses moving through her office and lab space all day she could do so.

Really, so could Angela if she wanted to. Angela frowned as she chewed another crisp. She would have to tell people eventually, she couldn’t hide her pregnancy forever. She’d already decided she would wait until the second trimester at least; she’d decided that before she even fell pregnant. If spontaneous abortion occurred it would likely happen in the first trimester. She pushed the thought from her mind as quickly as she could. Things were going fine, Dr. Meier had assured her there were no reasons to be concerned. All the same, she would wait.

Moira’s predicament at the first pre-natal visit had not inspired her to want to spread the word either. “The other parent” was all Moira had yet referred to herself as, which was accurate and perfectly acceptable to Angela, but would invite other questions. So many other questions. She could tell people she was pregnant without mentioning how she found herself in such a state, of course. Her colleagues were courteous, they would not ask if she did not proffer the information. Well, Lena might, but she could handle Lena’s curiosity, she was an expert at it by now. There would be rumors, of course, among the recruits and probably some of the younger medics, but that didn’t really bother her either. A successful, intelligent, beautiful woman with skill and drive? She’d had plenty of rumors swirling around her for longer than she could remember. But without the go-ahead from Moira Angela didn’t feel comfortable letting anyone in on the news. It wasn’t her news, it was theirs.

Absentmindedly she ran her fingers over her abdomen and thought of the wall of baby footprints in Dr. Meier’s waiting room. This visit had been better than the last. Her own discomfort had somehow been rivaled by Moira as they’d begun, despite the fact that Moira simply had to hold her hand while Angela was the one with a cold plastic ultrasound rod inside of her. Dr. Meier explained what was appearing on the screen as she operated the device below a privacy sheet, Angela’s heels resting in cold stirrups. They’d left with two small print-outs and each of them had sat in silence, smiling pensively down at the grainy black squares in their respective hands, their other hands linked on the console between them. It was a silent, but much more pleasant ride back to headquarters this time and Angela wondered if Moira had also been envisioning what their daughter might look like.

 


 

 

It wasn’t anywhere she could see it, the ultrasound print-out. Angela had to admit she’d been keeping an eye out as she walked through the dim lab and entered the small office, but if Moira had hung it somewhere it was not here. Angela had hoped that would be the most puzzling revelation from this meeting, but she was disappointed. And confused. And angry.

What do you mean you’re leaving?” Angela tried to keep her voice level, steady, but the words were more hissed than spoken.

Moira, for what it was worth, did not look any more pleased than Angela, simply defeated as she sat slumped on the couch, hugging her arms across her chest, face turned downward toward her lap. If Angela’s head hadn’t suddenly begun to spin into a whirl of thoughts and emotions she couldn’t immediately sort out she might have been amused that Moira looked like a very lanky pouting child, but now was not the time.

Well?” Angela insisted. She hadn’t had the chance to sit down before Moira blurted out her news, and she hadn’t the ability to sit calmly beside her now, “Where? For how long?”

Moira sighed and passed a hand through her hair. Eventually she raised her eyes to Angela’s. Understanding. Frustration. Apologies. Regret. She let her gaze fall back down to her knees, and as her heel bounced rapidly it made a tapping noise on the ground which threatened to drive Angela mad, “I’m sorry, Angela, I don’t have a choice.”

It was difficult to remain indignant, Moira just looked too pitiful. Her voice was calmer, quieter, “Tell me what’s happening, Moira.”

Moira settled back onto the couch, her long arms flopping uselessly to her sides, fixing her gaze to Angela’s, “I’ve tried to get out of it, believe me I’ve tried. But I need to go away for a while, a few weeks.” She clearly saw Angela grimace, but continued, “I told you about the presentation at the European conference in London I went to, about exerting epigenetic control on cardiac tissue by selective DNA methylation?”

Angela nodded, she thought she remembered. That was the overview Moira had given immediately after she’d returned, when Angela had been too distracted by the news of her pregnancy to play close attention, and in the time since the conference Moira had been so busy they hadn’t really had a chance to talk shop.

Moira continued, “The lab developing that technique, the Kronenberg lab in Vancouver,” She heaved a sigh and pushed herself off the couch. Angela’s heart skipped a beat, and she frowned when Moira side-stepped her to move around the desk. She bent down to the refrigerator below the desk and produced a half-full bottle of whisky and one chilled glass, “They need someone familiar with alternative methylation techniques.”

“And that has to be you?”

Moira took a long drink from her glass, nearly half the contents, and grimaced a bit before continuing, “Apparently.” She made a wide gesture toward her lab behind Angela, the contents of her glass sloshing a bit as she did, “After they started seeing cytosine methylation in mammals back at the turn of the century people became so excited about where that might lead them that SAM was old news, and most people didn’t really put much time in with it.” She shrugged, “Unfortunately undergraduate me wasn’t one of them.”

Angela remembered this, from her initial research into Moira O’Deorain when her hire was announced. She’d written an undergraduate dissertation on novel uses for S-Adenosyl methionine in DNA methylation procedures. It wasn’t ground-breaking by any stretch of the imagination, but it had been impressive for someone so young, still in undergraduate studies. “And they need you there to help them? Can’t you teleconference?”

“I asked,” Moira explained, “But Winston think it best if I be a . . . ‘scholar in residence,’ of sorts, though only research, no teaching.” She lowered herself into the chair behind the desk, still scowling, “It will help with the exchange of ideas, maybe win a few scientists over to our labs by the end of it, he thinks.”

“I’ll talk to Winston,” Angela offered, “He’ll listen to me, we’ve known each other for years.”

“And tell him what, Angela?” Moira wasn’t arguing, she wasn’t taunting. Just defeated. “That I can’t go conduct possibly life-saving research because you need me to hold your hand during an ultrasound? We don’t even see each other when I am here, do you really need me to be here?”

She didn’t know what to say? That yes, that’s exactly why Moira couldn’t leave, that she needed her here? That she wanted to see her every day but was too afraid of bothering her to reach out? That she thought Moira needed to be here for her own sake as much as for Angela’s? That this was supposed to be their experience, not only hers?

Angela chided herself for her stupidity. She had forgotten to remind herself each day that Moira was her colleague, her co-worker, a scientist. They had helped each other, and would continue to see this through to the end, but that did not mean that they would be picking out onesies together on the weekends.

“I’m sorry,” Moira said quietly, standing again. She drained the last of her glass before rounding the desk again, placing her hands on Angela’s shoulders as mismatched eyes met Angela’s, “That was harsh, I shouldn’t have—“

“No, you’re right,” Angela said, sniffing a bit and praying that if she blinked hard enough it would hold back the tears she felt welling up. Stupid, she’d been stupid. She straightened her back and squared her shoulders, smiling determinedly at Moira, whose brow had furrowed, “You’re right. I understand, it’s your job and it’s good that we’re making in-roads with more labs.” Moira looked concerned. “How long, you said? A few weeks?”

Moira let her arms fall back to her sides, “There is a small conference in Paris the second week of January. I’d present for the lab there, then return here afterward.”

January?” Angela felt like she’d been punched. Two months was not a few weeks by her definition. A quick tally in her head. Eighteen weeks along by then. Nearly half the pregnancy, without Moira.

Apparently Moira saw the gears turning in Angela’s head, and had already done the same, “Only one,” She said quietly, “I would only miss the next visit, that’s all, I’d be there for the one after. And hopefully,” Moira straightened up and her fingers through her hair, “That will be the end of all this shared research business, at least where I’m concerned.”

“You’ll miss Christmas,” Angela said quietly. It was just weeks away now, and Angela found she was chiding herself again for having imagined they might spend it together, two workaholics who didn’t go home like everyone else. She forced a laugh, “I’ll be huge by the time you get back.”

“I hope you are,” Moira smiled, but her eyes were sad. She held out her palm to Angela, who took it, “Believe me, Angela, I don’t want to go either.”

“I understand,” Angela whispered, though she didn’t, not really. But there wasn’t any good that would come of arguing with Moira. She slid her palm across Moira’s, “When are you leaving?”

“Thursday,” Moira replied softly. She tugged Angela’s hand, and Angela let herself fall against Moira’s chest as the taller woman adjusted to wrap her arms around Angela loosely.

“Bring me something from Canada?” Angela whispered into Moira’s chest.

“Mmmm, and something for the baby.” Moira whispered.

Chapter Text

Angela’s sleeping patterns had become erratic to say the least. Likely due to the massive hormonal shift, she found she was fatigued most days and restless most nights. Since she would be awake anyway she had opted to help out some of the new medics who had been stuck with night-shift. She avoided infectious patients, but she was able to run metabolic panels, urinalysis, and other labs where pathogens were not a concern. She spent most of her nights alone in the wet lab now, and it had the additional perk of helping her hide her growing belly. She still felt strange, letting others know before Moira returned from her time abroad, and so she had made sure to opt for more loose-fitting clothing. It wasn’t difficult to pass off a baby bump as bundling up as snow fell outside the darkened windows, but the fact no one was ever around to ask her about her shifting style helped.

It was precisely her isolation combined with the late hour that made it so surprising to hear the door to the wet lab slide open, “I’ll be with you in a moment,” Angela called over her shoulder as she recorded her patient’s glomerular filtration rate. (70mL/min/1.73 m2, they’d need to keep an eye on his kidney function moving forward.)

No voice, but footsteps caused her to turn, and what she saw caused her to leap off the stool. She wasn’t sure what surprised her more, that Moira had returned weeks in advance, or that she had actually shown her face in the medical lab, something she had never done before. “Moira? When did you get back? I thought you weren’t coming back for ages!”

Moira was still moving toward her, stalking, even. She was wearing that perfectly fitted British Warm, and her hair was windswept, her face flushed, her expression serious, her eyes dark and set on Angela.

“Moira?” Angela asked with trepidation as she stepped away on instinct, her back bumping the lab counter.

Moira said nothing as she reached Angela, and then some, stepping so close Angela could feel her breath as she craned her neck to look in Moira’s dark, mismatched eyes. She couldn’t speak anymore, her mouth dry and her voice caught in her throat, her pulse quickening rapidly. Slowly Moira raised her hands and unbuttoned Angela’s lab coat, not breaking her eyes from Angela’s as she splayed her fingers along the sides of Angela’s growing abdomen.

It was touching, to Angela, to feel Moira’s hands like that. But then the butterflies it gave her were so much different as Moira’s hands, fingers still spread wide, began to travel around her waist, down, and Angela gasped as she felt Moira’s strong hands grip her ass tightly. “Moira?” She groaned out, reaching up and looping her arms around the older woman’s neck without a second thought.

Moira, accepting it as an invitation, shifted her hands slightly downward, lifting Angela deftly with a small grunt and placing her delicately on the counter.

“Someone might come in,” Angela whispered urgently as she instinctively spread her legs to let Moira step in closer, wrapping her calves around Moira’s thin waist.

“They won’t,” Moira breathed, and laid a chaste kiss on Angela’s forehead as she placed a hand on each of Angela’s knees, thrusting her hands roughly along her thighs, bunching up her loose skirt along the way.

“I missed you,” Angela whimpered, running her hands through Moira’s short hair, tracing the tops of her ears, running her thumbs along Moira’s perfect, angular jaw.

Moira chuckled. The sound was low, throaty, magnificent. She bent slightly, brushing Angela’s ear with her lips as she whispered huskily, “I missed you too, Angela. Let me show you.”

Angela cursed herself for wearing such plain cotton panties; even if she’d thought Moira would come back early, which she hadn’t in a million years, this is not something she would have expected. Yes, even with her growing waistline she could have found something sexier than the white cotton briefs that Moira deftly pushed aside, and already Moira’s fingers were moving up and down, weaving around her folds and up over her clit.

“S-slow down, Moira,” Angela finally said what she’d always kept back in the basement, gasping her quiet plea, “We don’t have to hurry.” She groaned loudly when Moira paid her no heed and two fingers were already moving inside her, twisting and hooking upward.

Moira pushed closer, leaning into Angela’s body and both were breathing heavily, Angela’s arms around Moira’s neck the only thing that kept her from falling backward as Moira took her roughly on the counter in the medical bay. God, the increased bloodflow of pregnancy worked wonders, and all of her nerves were alight at the slightest of touches, her entire body ached for Moira—

Chirp chirp.

Angela awoke with a start, her entire quarters bathed in the soft blue light from her comm unit, her body covered in sweat, her thighs slick with a reminder of another dream unfinished. With a pained groan Angela rolled, as best as she could with her little baby bump, toward the side of her bed and fetched her comm unit from the bedside table. Nine in the morning. Not an ungodly hour to anyone who hadn’t been picking up nightshifts and dealing with pregnancy-induced sleep deprivation, but she still grumbled.

“Yes? Ziegler.” She yawned into the receiver.

“Angela?” Angela perked up, and she felt her face flush when she heard Moira’s quiet voice on the other end. She instinctively pressed her legs together. She was still so warm, “It’s Moira O’Deorain.”

“Moira, yes, hello,” Angela responded quickly, “Uh, how are you, how’s Canada?”

Moira had been gone for nearly a month now, and they had not had many opportunities catch up. Between the nine hour time difference, the work involved in Moira feeling out the new lab, and Angela’s complicated sleep schedule they rarely had time to speak on comms, and while Angela would have liked to finish out her dream without interruption for once, this was a welcome interruption if ever there was one.

“It’s fine.” Moira said, then seemed to add as an afterthought, “Cold and boring, and the work is elementary. How are you?”

“Fine, the nausea’s completely gone now.”

“Good,” Angela wondered if others knew how expressive Moira’s voice and face could be when you knew her. She wondered how many people knew her well enough, “And the baby? The pre-natal was . . . yesterday for you, right?”

“Ah, yes, it was,” Angela settled back to lie on her side in the bed, “I would have called you right afterward, but it would have been the middle of the workday for you, I presumed you’d be too busy to answer.”

“That’s fine, but everything’s okay? What did Dr. Meier say?”

“Everything’s great,” Angela smiled as she ran her hand along the small crest of her abdomen. Honestly most people would probably only just be able to make out that she was getting bigger at this point, but she knew by the time Moira returned she would have trouble hiding it. For now she found she rather liked having this little secret, “You know we’re in the second trimester now, yeah?”

“Y-yes, I’ve been . . . counting,” Moira said quietly, and Angela could almost hear her sheepish grin.

“Mmmm, so we’re out of, you know, the major danger zones,” Angela said more seriously, and she heard Moira’s relieved sigh at this confirmation, “So now we just wait!”

“What comes next?”

“For me? The best part,” Angela grumbled, “I’m going to start packing on weight, I’ll experience heart palpitations and dizziness, I’ll still need to urinate every five minutes, my back will start hurting, my gums and nose might begin to bleed, headaches, constipation, all the hits.”

“Ah, that’s rough, I’m sorry,” Even though she said it with a laugh it was clear Moira’s empathy was sincere.

“And the stupid hormones mean I’m horny all the time,” Angela grumbled as an afterthought before she’d even realized she’d said it, still pressing her legs together to quell the heat from her dreams. Immediately she blushed and couldn’t help but bury her face into her pillow.

After a moment of Angela holding her breath nervously, Moira coughed on the other line, “Oh, uh . . . I see?”

Angela forced out a laugh, “Ha, sorry, I didn’t mean to say that. It’s just, you know, wanting to make sure you get the whole pregnancy experience even if you can’t be here.”

“Well, um, thanks for keeping me informed,” Angela cringed again as she heard the uneasiness in Moira’s voice, “Did you, uh, talk to Dr. Meier about it? Did she give you any advice?”

Angela considered doubling down on the discomfort and informing her of just what Dr. Meier said, that when Angela discussed her constant state of arousal Dr. Meier had of course explained the role of hormones as well as added bloodflow to erogenous zones, but also asked where Angela’s partner was, and assured her that she was perfectly allowed to have sex in a variety of positions until late into the third trimester. Not knowing what to say, Angela had simply informed Nora that Moira was out of town, and Nora had been sure to remind her that long distance couples had plenty of workarounds with toys, voice comms, and video conferencing. “It will be good for you both,” Dr. Meier had told her, “Pregnancy is an emotional experience for both parents, and sexual activity during pregnancy can be an intense bonding experience for many couples.” She’d gone on to remind Angela that regular sex might also help relieve stress, reduce back aches, and help her sleep. Eventually Angela just nodded and told her she’d take it under consideration.

“She didn’t have anything to say then?” Moira asked after a prolonged silence.

“Oh, no, uh, she had a few ideas,” Angela piped up as she was brought back to the present, “Just . . . nothing really viable for this situation. It’s fine. Like I told you when we got started, no real date in years, I think I can handle it.”

She heard Moira clear her throat on the other end of the line. “Wh-what do you mean not viable? You said everything was alright, didn’t you?”

Shit, why didn’t she just leave it at no, she had no ideas? “Medicine isn’t as complicated as some people make it out to be,” Angela prefaced, then decided saying it with a laugh would probably be best, “I tell a doctor I’m horny, she’ll tell me to have more sex.”

“Oh.” Moira was silent for a minute, “I see.”

The quiet on the line seemed to last an eternity. “It’s late there, isn’t it?” Angela eventually said softly, “What are you still doing up?”

“Huh? Oh, yes,” Moira sounded distracted, her workaholic nature had followed her to Canada, “I’m just going over some old notes of mine from undergrad. I thought it was a good time to call, I wanted to know how the appointment went.”

“Yes, thank you for calling,” Angela closed her eyes a she readjusted her head on her pillow, running her free hand along her stomach, “And there’s no need to be worried, the baby’s fine.”

“And you’re doing alright? Except for, you know . . . ?”

“The constant state of heightened arousal?” Angela drawled. Why did Moira make it so fun and easy to fluster her? When she received only a huff from the other line Angela laughed, “Yes, I’m fine, thank you for checking in, Moira. I’m glad you called.”

“Mmmm. Will you send me the details for the next appointment? I should be back in time.”

“Of course, I’ll send them in a few hours after I’m out of bed.”

“Oh. I thought you would be in your office by now, sorry.” Angela was certain she could hear Moira running her hand through her hair. She decided not to tell her about her erratic sleep schedule, lest she worry. “Yes, please send those to me.”

“Moira, what are you doing for Christmas?”

“Working, if I can,” Moira responded right away, “They close the labs down for university holidays but I think I can convince the PI to let me work through.”

“Oh. Well, don’t work too hard, okay? It’s Christmas, you should enjoy it.”

Silence on the line. Then, “I’ll try. You too.”


 

Angela had never worried too much about how she'd spend her Christmas. She was accustomed to spending it “alone,” she would pick up extra shifts around the holidays to let those with family to visit get more time with them, and this year was no different. She’d have liked to take the day off, introduce Moira to pfefferkuchen and spitzbuben, but she tried to push those ideas from her mind when it became clear that would not be happening, just as she did with the other thoughts of Moira that often came unbidden when she let her mind wander.

When she called Moira that afternoon, what would be Christmas morning for Moira, there was no answer, and Angela walked back to her quarters after her shift alone and fairly forlorn, her only comfort running a hand along her abdomen as she found herself doing more often as it became more pronounced.

A small package was lying propped against her dormitory door, and she tore it open in the hallway. With a quiet whimper she looked around to be sure no one else was in the hallway, cradling in her hands a 5cm x 5cm framed ultrasound meant for hanging on a Christmas tree.

Chapter Text

Angela splayed her fingers over her protruding abdomen as she surveyed her profile in the mirror in her quarters. This had become a daily ritual since she’d really begun showing. After her shower she would put on her undergarments (which necessarily included a new, larger bra lately) and study the growth of her abdomen and breasts. She mostly did this to keep tabs on her pregnancy; while she wasn’t an obstetrician she knew enough about pregnancy progression to know what danger signs might look like, and she remained vigilant. That was why she performed these examinations, but she still found delight in them for personal reasons, as she presumed all expectant mothers did, running her hands over her changing form.

Today, in particular, she was aware of how much her waistline had grown, how much her breasts had swelled, the small amount of pudginess she’d adopted over the past two months. In less than an hour she would be standing on the landing pad at the top of Overwatch HQ while the personnel transport flight hovered slowly to touch down. In less than an hour she would see Moira, and Moira would see her, significantly more pregnant than she had been when they last saw one another.

Angela gave a final smile into the mirror, her gaze falling on the ultrasound still affixed to it, then turned her attention to her closet. In stark contrast to her prolonged appreciation of her developing form in the mornings and before going to bed, Angela made a concentrated effort to hide any differences to her usual slender figure when in public, and thus far she’d been successful. There was only so much she could do about hiding the general chubbiness developing, but that was slight and easily attributed to winter weight-gain over the holiday. She alternated long, loose-cut blouses with fluffy winter sweaters as appropriate (her puffy reindeer Christmas sweater had been a particular hit around the medical wing) and always wore her lab coat buttoned. If anyone suspected anything more than a bit of holiday weight, none had said anything. Today, though, was different, because today there was someone she wanted to take notice.

Knowing this day would come, she had asked Dr. Meier’s for maternity clothing store suggestions at her most recent appointment, and Nora had pointed her to one located just down the street. Good for their business, she’d winked, being so close to a busy obstetrics practice. Angela hadn’t had much time before returning for the night shift she’d taken up, but she’d had enough time to pick out a beautiful, loose-fitting stretch velvet skirt that ended above her knees and a white blouse with a plunging neckline and stretch fabric to allow it to hug her belly as it grew. She’d blushed a bit when she’d picked the clothing out, still not prepared to be so brazen about her current state around others, but she knew that a day like today would come.

Happily she found everything fit exactly as expected, and as she surveyed herself in the mirror again she hoped Moira was as impressed as she was.

Moira. Angela chewed her lip a bit with worry. As far as Angela was concerned there was no sense in denying her feelings for Moira any longer. Some of her dreams could be caused simply by hormones, yes, but the striking Irishwoman had always featured in each one. None of her past lovers, none of her fantasy crushes, none of the characters from the erotic fiction she would sometimes read during the lonelier phases of her life. Always Moira.

She’d thought for a time there could be some scientific explanation for it. Undoubtedly at some point some evolutionary psychologist had hypothesized that pregnant women might feel an overwhelming fondness for their mate in particular as a way of increasing cohesiveness and stability among the family unit being formed. Surely she’d read that somewhere, and that’s what she’d told herself for a while. But she reminded herself eventually, one afternoon laying on her side with her hands between her legs and her sheets tangled around her ankles and Moira’s name on her lips, that Moira’s hands had set her alight from the get-go. She adored the way that Moira ran her fingers through her hair when she was nervous, the way the tips of her ears would turn red when she was embarrassed. She loved hearing Moira discuss her research methodology, and her heart fluttered when Moira fixed her with a warm smile, when she heard Moira’s laugh. She loved how determined Moira looked when she rushed to open doors for her, and she had never seen anyone more dashing than Moira when her hair was swept up in the wind. Maybe the pregnancy did intensify her feelings, but her feelings were there all the same, and they’d been there for some time.

Yes, as far as Angela was concerned, there was no sense in denying her feelings for Moira. But that was as far as Angela was concerned, and where Moira was concerned? God only knew. As Angela positioned herself at her vanity mirror and brushed out her hair she frowned pensively. Angela had been forcing herself to be as professional as possible through all of this. Well, maybe she made a comment about Moira shooting her load inside of her once, but that was too good to pass up. And yes, she had to admit that even within the context of pelvic massage there was nothing very straight-laced about the way she’d moaned and gasped as she ground herself to climax on Moira’s probing fingers. But it had all been placed under a veil of professionalism, as thin as it might seem now. But if she tried to pull the veil back, what would Moira do? She chewed at her lip as she applied her mascara. Angela liked to imagine that the little flushes, the smiles, the way Moira held her hand when they were alone, that it meant something. But what if to Moira she was simply playing the part of a good “other parent?” God, to Moira this could have nothing to do with Angela at all.

Angela stopped her work and let her hands rest on the vanity top as she frowned into the mirror, mind racing. Angela had sought out Moira. Moira had heard of her plan. Moira had asked to be involved. Angela had accepted. Moira had been thankful. Moira had listened to every suggestion Angela made, and even made a few of her own, to increase odds of success. Of course she did, Moira wanted a child. She’d said it herself. What was it she said? She had a genetic imperative. That there is a genetic imperative inherent in an organism to propagate one’s own genetic line. That’s what she’d said. She wanted a child, and Angela was going to have one. ‘I mean, since you’re going to do it anyway.’ That’s what she’d said. Angela felt cold.

“Stop it,” She whispered to herself, finding she had somehow moved to hug her arms around her, crossed below her swollen breasts and above her protruding abdomen, “You’re being stupid again.” And she was, because even if she was completely correct and Moira saw her as a vessel, a means to an end, what could she do about it?

She’d played this through several times in her head in the past week or so, and continued to force herself to believe it was an emotional swing due to hormone imbalance. With a sigh she stood up, makeup and hair in place, and looked herself over in the mirror once more. “Well,” Angela huffed a small laugh as she reassured the woman in the mirror, one hand absentmindedly stroking her midsection, “If this doesn’t win her over, nothing will I suppose.” With a final look toward the ultrasound which put a firm smile on her face she turned off the lights and departed.

The trek to the landing deck was straight forward: The officer’s quarters were all at the top floor of the dormitory unit. She took the long central hallway to the elevator bank, rode the elevator to the main hall on the fourth floor where the nearest causeway connected the dormitory to operations, then back up the elevator to the top of the tall, central building and she was there. She’d seen no one on her trek, likely due to the late hour. Most were in their quarters, and those who worked the night shift would be at their posts. This pleased her, she didn’t want to be side-tracked by a nosy conversation with the first person to notice her now clearly-presented pregnancy.

Her pulse quickened and she moved her hand to rest on her stomach as she felt the baby shift, something she was doing more often as the days went on. She could already see a light on the horizon when she arrived on the waiting platform, a comfortable booth lined with windows and benches to shield anyone meeting arrivals from the weather. The personnel transport ship flew in fast and quiet, hovering over the marked landing point for several minutes while the pilot made the adjustments from travel to docking mode, and finally large metallic landing gear sprouted from the base of the ship and it touched down with a small thump that Angela could feel through her feet.

The landing lights blinked the all-clear as the hatch opened. Angela couldn’t help but smile wide as the tall, thin figure of Moira O’Deorain extracted herself stiffly from the ship moments later. On the landing pad Moira set down a large suitcase and a briefcase and stretched hugely, Angela thought she saw her yawning. No one else exited the hatch, and as Moira scooped up her luggage and cleared the platform the take-off lights began to glow. The 0200 personnel transports were not the most popular. Moira had her head down as she walked through the biting cold toward the waiting platform, and Angela recalled from many of her own arrivals that the glass served as a one-way mirror. Moira didn’t know she was waiting for her.

Angela played with the idea of hiding in Moira’s blind spot, behind the door as she would come in, and surprising her after she’d walked past, but before she’d made up her mind about whether this was silly or not the door was already being swung open and Angela’s world was icy wind and Moira.

“Angela?” Moira’s voice was a mix of surprise and, Angela hoped, happiness. It was breathless, whatever it was, “Angela it’s 0200, what are you doing here?” Moira was cold, especially her coat, having just come in from the landing deck, but when Angela was pulled against her she felt a warm comfort she’d been missing for many weeks. She slipped her arms around Moira’s waist and looked up with a smile, resting her chin on Moira’s sternum as they looked at each other.

“I wanted to come greet you,” Angela explained before closing her eyes and lowering her chin, burying her face into Moira’s long black overcoat. “It’s good to see you,” she said into the coat as she squeezed Moira’s waist. She wondered if Moira noticed her belly pressed against her.

Moira matched the gesture, squeezing Angela tightly for a moment before pulling back, bringing her hands to rest on Angela’s shoulders as she looked down. As Moira surveyed Angela’s body Angela surveyed Moira’s face: Flushed red from the biting wind, and tired as well, but her already apparent smile grew as she took in the sight of Angela. She held her breath as she blinked down at Angela’s baby bump between them, her hands slowly falling down Angela’s arms toward her stomach. She looked toward Angela with nervous trepidation in her eyes that couldn’t defeat her smile. Angela smiled back and gave a permissive nod, forcing herself to breathe slowly as Moira’s hands found their way across her blouse, delicately splaying her fingers across Angela’s abdomen.

Steady breath, deep breaths lower the heart rate, Angela was determined not to think about Moira’s hands, her long fingers, running over her body, and she cursed the deadly combination of hypersensitivity, months of virtual isolation, and raging hormones. She bit her lip, stifling a groan, and Moira pulled her hands back as though she’d been burned,

“S-sorry, I didn’t mean to—“ Moira huffed out an apology, but Angela just shook her head and caught Moira’s wrists, pulling her hands back into place on her stomach.

“Don’t worry, it’s fine, it’s nothing. Here,” Angela laid her hands flat across the back of Moira’s, holding her palms against her, “She’s kicked a few times this week, but not a lot. Dr. Meier says it will happen more often.”

No kick came, but Moira didn’t seem to mind as she stood with her hands pressed between Angela’s and their daughter.

“I can’t believe how much she’s grown,” Moira whispered incredulously.

“Yes, yes, I know I’ve gotten fat,” Angela laughed.

“I didn’t mean it like that,” Moira said apologetically, though Angela was already smiling, unbothered, “I think you’re perfect.”

Angela’s breath caught and she momentarily considered broaching the subject then and there. What were they to one another? How did Moira feel? Would she come back to Angela’s quarters with her? But she consciously forced it out in a sigh. A conversation for another time. “I’ve been hiding it . . . the pregnancy, until you came back,” She explained as she stroked her thumbs along the backs of Moira’s hands, “No one knows yet.”

Moira nodded, and they stood in silence for several minutes. Eventually Moira withdrew her hands and ran one through her hair sheepishly, “I, uh, I’ve been told pregnant women hate it when people are always touching their stomachs. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.”

“It’s fine. Any time, really,” Angela beamed, already missing the warmth of Moira’s hands pressing against her, “And that has been one of the perks of keeping her a secret,” Angela explained as Moira pressed the call button for the elevator and picked up her discarded luggage, “No one’s being nosy. Yet.”

“Mmmm, they will be, eventually,” Moira hit two buttons as they boarded the elevator, one for the causeway back to the officer’s quarters, one for the basement laboratory complex, “We’ll need to figure something out. Even if we don’t mention me from the start, once she’s born . . . well, I guess there’s a chance she won’t look anything like me.”

“That would be unfortunate. I hope she does look like you,” Angela said sincerely, and she was reminded how cute Moira looked when her freckles were lost in a blush. Maybe their daughter would have freckles too. Angela’s eyes fell to the two glowing buttons as the elevator lurched into motion. She chewed her lip for a moment, then turned fully to face Moira, “You’re going back to your lab?”

“Mmmm, to drop a few things off.” She jiggled the luggage in each hand a bit, “And I’ll either sleep there or in my quarters.”

“You know . . .” Not the in Angela was expecting, but she’d take one where it presented itself, “I’ve still never seen your quarters. I was beginning to think you live in your office.”

Moira laughed and shook her head, “I nearly do. I’m not sure what officer’s quarters are like, but with the quarters us underlings get my office is just as well-equipped, and a bit more comfortable.”

Angela would agree there was no couch she would rather unwind on. She sighed, absentmindedly running her hand across her baby bump. “You should come by, see how the other half lives,” She grinned at Moira, who blinked down at her, “Tomorrow, we have the appointment? Well, today I suppose. Come pick me up, let’s not meet in the parking lot.”

“Do you think that’s a good idea?” Moira asked nervously. “People will connect dots quickly . . . and probably not the right ones.”

Angela thought back to their first pre-natal, the assumptions about Moira. She shrugged, “I imagine we’ll deal with that sooner or later, and I’d rather not avoid each other because we’re afraid of what others would say. We can’t be like that forever.”

Moira nodded and licked her lips, “So, tomorrow then? Before the appointment?”

“Tomorrow,” Angela confirmed with a smile as the elevator doors opened. She looped a hand around Moira’s bicep and tugged, prompting Moira to bend to the side. With her other hand she cupped Moira’s flushing face and pressed her lips against Moira’s cheek, feeling Moira’s hot breath expelled against her neck, “I’m glad you’re back. I missed you.”

Chapter Text

Angela realized too late that she hadn’t actually clarified what time Moira should come by, and by the time she’d realized her mistake she presumed Moira was asleep and opted not to comm her. All the same, she herself could not sleep. Maybe it was finally seeing Moira after two months apart, maybe it was the upcoming pre-natal, maybe it was the fact that when she did try to sleep the baby started kicking, but any time spent lying in bed was absolutely fruitless. Instead she had busied herself cleaning her quarters in preparation for Moira’s visit, and by the time she heard the door chime the next morning she was exhausted, but her quarters were spick and span.

She tapped the door release with a smile and it slid open to reveal that Moira looked similarly exhausted, and Angela moved aside and beckoned her in.

“Angela, I’m not too early am I?” Moira had to duck her head as she crossed the threshold, “I didn’t know what time you wanted me here . . .”

“No, you’re great,” Angela smiled as she pressed the release to close the door behind them, then gestured toward her quarters with a laugh, “Welcome to the officers’ dormitory block.”

In truth the quarters were quite small and leaned toward a utilitarian design, not lavish or grand by any stretch. The main differences between an officer’s quarters and lower-ranked agents was in small amenities: Large windows in the wall, a skylight over the bed, a bathtub and shower combo instead of just a shower stall, and an oven to go along with the usual microwave and refrigerator in the kitchenette. There was a little more space, but everything still existed mostly in one fairly small room.

Moira stood for a time just past the threshold, taking in the quarters. Rather than stand awkwardly to await Moira’s opinion on her home, Angela stepped toward the kitchenette and fetched two glasses, “I, um, got rid of my coffee-maker a few months ago, less temptation you know, but I have water and juice?”

“Ah, water is fine,” Moira seemed to snap out of a thought she didn’t choose to share and nodded thankfully as Angela handed her a filled glass.

Angela filled her own before motioning toward the window under which a comfortably-cushioned bench was mounted into the wall. She led the way and sat to the side to leave room for Moira, who joined her, sitting far to the other side of the bench, much to Angela’s disappointment.

Moira took a large gulp from her glass, her eyes still moving around the quarters appraisingly, “Today’s appointment . . . I missed the last one. Is there more now, will it be different?” She finally rested her eyes on Angela and smiled.

“Mmmm, somewhat,” Angela explained, folding her hands over her baby bump, “She’ll ask me questions about what I’ve been experiencing, how my symptoms are going, if anything’s changed, how much is the baby moving, if I’ve felt any contractions, if—“

“Contractions?” Moira’s brow was furrowed, “Already? Can that happen?” She looked with worry at Angela’s stomach, then imploringly to Angela’s eyes, her concern written clearly in her face.

Angela waved a hand dismissively, “Yes it can happen, but not like you’re thinking. And it hasn’t happened, so don’t worry, Moira,” Angela would have loved if Moira had sat closer, close enough she could grab her hand reassuringly, or rest against her arm. Instead Angela was left to impotently place her hand back on her stomach as she explained, “Braxton Hicks contractions can start this early, but not usually. And they’re perfectly normal, as I’m sure Dr. Meier will confirm. Anyway, they’ll take my weight again, figure out how much I’ve gained and compare it to how much I should, she might measure my abdomen to check growth as well . . . and we’ll listen to the heartbeat.”

Moira smiled at that, and Angela smiled then too. Dr. Meier had listened to the heartbeat early on, and Angela had been able to hear it at the last appointment, but this would be Moira’s first chance to hear it herself.

They sat in silence for several minutes. Moira’s attention once again seemed caught up with surveying the quarters, and Angela simply watched Moira. Angela was comfortable.

“It’s not very big, is it?” Moira asked as she finished the last of her water, then motioned around the room, “Your quarters, I mean.”

Angela looked around then too, and shrugged, “No, I suppose it’s not. It never really bothered me, though, I don’t have many things. It’s big enough for me.”

“It won’t just be you soon,” Moira reminded her, and Angela was a bit embarrassed that this thought hadn’t occurred to her. Moira was right, there might be enough room for a crib by the bed, but babies tended to grow up.

“Well,” Angela was now surveying the room herself, realizing just how small it was, “She’ll stay in a bassinet next to the bed for several months; even if I had more space I would do that anyway to make feeding her easier,” Angela continued to consider, making her plan as she went along with it, “And by that time they should be done with Vesta Complex.”

Vesta Complex was a large building project on the Overwatch campus currently separate from the main working buildings, though it was said when it was complete there would be an underground shuttle system to bring employees who lived in Vesta Complex to and from their respective working locations. As Overwatch grew more and more agents clamored for family housing to allow them to be with their partners and children, and eventually ground was broken on Vesta Complex.   Neither an engineer nor an architect, Angela had not been involved in its design or creation, but because of its importance to Overwatch altogether she had frequently received updates on its progress in bi-monthly meetings. Until fairly recently she had all but tuned out, as they reminded her of a family she would likely never have. Lately, though, she had listened with interest as the build team had kept everyone apprised of their progress. They reported that by mid-August families in need of up to five bedrooms per unit would be able to move into apartment-style, fully furnished housing units. There would be an indoor gymnasium, pool, and recreation area, and there were areas already set aside for instruction for the planned school system for children of Overwatch agents.

“I should probably put in that application soon, I guess,” Angela mused out loud, “There might be more demand than we’ve been expecting.”

Moira simply nodded her approval. She turned her evaluating gaze back toward Angela after a moment, “Aren’t those the clothes you were wearing last night?”

Angela shrugged sheepishly, “I couldn’t sleep very well, so I just cleaned up and did some work.”

Moira frowned, and as she opened her mouth Angela could already hear a chiding about needing to rest and take it easy coming, so she headed it off at the pass as she stood and held out her hand to Moira, “We should get going; there will be ice on the roads after this morning’s rain, we should plan extra time.”

Moira seemed to swallow her lecture and stood, placing her glass in Angela’s hand. Angela took it and placed both into the sink before turning to offer her hand again to Moira, only to find Moira was already standing near the door with her hands in the pockets of her black overcoat.

Angela looked once more in the mirror, smoothing her blouse over her baby bump, and when she turned back she saw Moira was watching her. With a deep, steadying breath she gave a nervous smile, “Like I told you last night, I’ve been hiding it. Loose shirts, lots of jackets. This . . . is the first time I’m really going out like this.” She presumed her forced, nervous smile looked more like a grimace.

“I can meet you in the parking lot,” Moira offered quietly, and Angela frowned.

“Don’t be stupid, Moira,” Angela said with determination that surprised even her, but she was happy that it seemed to make Moira smile, though she did nervously run her hand through her hair as well. She considered holding her hand out again, demanding Moira take it in hers, that they walk down to the car she’d reserved with their fingers laced.

“Alright then,” Moira said before Angela could work up to it, and she reached up and released the door. She stepped out and Angela saw her look both ways with some trepidation before looking back at Angela.

Grabbing her coat from the hook near the door, Angela followed, still pulling it on as they began walking toward the elevator bank, the distance between them a respectable one for two co-workers making their way through the hallways of their place of employment.

They passed no one on the upper floor, most officers would leave the campus or sleep late on their weekends, but they passed several agents, many coming or going for their weekend outings, as they arrived on the ground floor. No one stopped her or attempted to engage her in conversation, but Angela felt eyes on her as she would pass by, hear people whisper. It was a strange feeling, knowing that people were speaking quietly about you, yet brimming with pride at the reason. She held her head high and smiled, making no move to button her coat or hide her pregnancy from the world any longer.

Disconcertingly, however, for every iota of pride Angela felt, Moira seemed to despair. They were nearly to the parking lot when Angela realized that Moira had slowed to the point she’d fallen several strides behind her, her hands still buried in the pockets of her overcoat, her head cast somewhat downward.

“Moira?” Angela asked with trepidation as they reached the car lot, but as they did so Moira seemed to return to herself. She caught up quickly with Angela, but said nothing until Angela stopped and turned to frown at her, “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” Moira huffed, and Angela knew she was lying. “Which car did we get?”

Angela regarded her coolly as she finally buttoned her coat against the bracing winter weather before slowly replying, “E14.”

The crunch of rock salt and the slush it created under their feet was all they heard as they searched out the car, but Angela was relieved that Moira seemed to relax as they traveled toward Zurich.

“I didn’t ask last night, how was your trip?” Angela asked conversationally.

“Ah!” Moira tapped her hand on the steering wheel, “I forgot.” Despite being awkwardly squeezed into the compact car Moira managed to wiggle and twist enough to fetch a fairly large brown package from inside one of the large pockets of her overcoat. The corners were squished, and it was very light as she handed it to Angela, “That’s for you . . . for you both.” Moira kept her eyes on the road, but she was smiling.

“Mmmm, you remembered to get us something,” Angela hummed her teasing approval as she delicately worked the package open and carefully poured the contents onto her lap: A smaller envelope and a somewhat squished but still perfectly in-tact stuffed rabbit, “Oh, Moira, it’s so cute,” Angela couldn’t help but coo at the little toy as she turned it over in her hands.

“Ah, yeah, they had, um . . . other animals but I didn’t know what she’d like,” Moira had turned away, but the tips of her ears were red, “I’m not good at shopping for babies.”

“I don’t think anyone’s good at shopping for babies,” Angela assured her, wrapping her hand around Moira’s bicep, “They rarely tell you what their interests are, especially before they’re born.”

Moira snorted lightly, and Angela caught her glance toward the small envelope still in Angela’s lap before her eyes darted back to the road and she cleared her throat.

Reverently Angela set the small animal upright in a cup-holder in the center console then picked up the envelope by its corner. It was barely larger than a matchbox, “And this is . . . for me?”

“Mmmm,” Was all Moira said, keeping her eyes on the road, but her knuckles were turning white as she gripped the wheel.

Angela held the envelope open and carefully tipped the contents into her open palm, a string of delicate golden links streamed forth, bringing with them a small but fairly heavy pendant. Holding the necklace up, Angela examined it closely: A golden outline of a stylized heart cradling within it a single pearl.

“It’s beautiful,” Angela whispered and looked at it only a moment before looping it around her neck.

Moira sighed with relief, “Oh. Good. I don’t like picking out gifts for adults either.”

“Well, you did a good job, Moira,” Angela assured her with a smile as she untangled a few blonde hairs from the chain and adjusted the pendant to sit squarely above her sternum, forcing herself to remember the heart undoubtedly represented Moira and the baby, or Angela and the baby, but certainly not Moira and Angela.

Moira grinned at the road, and after a moment continued, “But the trip . . . was fine. I’m glad it’s over. I hope I don’t have to go back.”

This was an unwelcome idea. “You might have to go back?”

Moira shrugged, “Hopefully not. It’s highly unlikely, but,” Moira was scowling at the road, and she finished quietly, “We’ll see what happens.” She turned a comforting smile to Angela, “I’m sure it’s fine, don’t worry, Angela,” She bit her lip and turned her eyes back to the road, “That, uh, looks good on you.”

The rest of the ride, and indeed the wait in the reception area of Dr. Meier’s office, passed with little conversation. Angela was trying to mentally prepare herself for the possibility of Moira leaving again, missing more of her pregnancy, missing the birth of their child because of DNA methylation research. The rest of the time she spent trying to talk herself down, that it was unlikely to happen, that she was being irrational. Reminding herself that Moira had picked out a necklace for her, and she thought it looked good on her.

When Lars called them back Moira was standing at the wall, looking over the baby footprints. She held the door for Angela as they both went back, and as she walked behind Angela she placed her hand on Angela’s back. Angela shivered, but she slowed ever so slightly to be sure Moira’s hand didn’t fall away with their pace.

Only a few blissful steps later and they split away, Angela to the examination table and Moira sat to the side. Lars gave her a mock salute as he informed her they’d made sure to bring in some adult-sized chairs from the waiting room, and she did seem more comfortable.

Lars measured her blood pressure, drew blood, recorded her weight, and left her to change while they waited for Dr. Meier. Angela played briefly with the idea of being bold, of stripping down in the center of the examination room to see just how flustered Moira might get, test the waters by diving right in . . . but if that went awry? The embarrassment would be a level previously thought impossible by mankind. And if it went very well? She blushed as she stripped down behind the privacy screen. If it went as well as one might hope she’d not be able to focus on the pre-natal.

She’d graduated from the bunny gown to a gown with prancing deer which, rather than being slit up the back, had button snaps all up the front and button-fastened flaps at the breasts to allow Nora access to whatever needed examining at the moment while still affording Angela some privacy.

“Haute couture,” Moira grinned teasingly as Angela emerged, and Angela stuck her tongue out at her.

“Shut up and help me on the table. Don’t think I don’t know you’re wearing the same clothes you were last night, too, fashionista.” Angela didn’t need help getting on the table; she probably would in a few months’ time but for now she could hop up if she really needed to. She also conveniently chose to forget that there was a drawer at the end of all examination tables that could be pulled out to serve as a step for just this sort of situation.

But her plan came to fruition when Moira immediately stood and held out both of her hands, “Um, okay, where do you need me? What do I do?”

Hmmmm, how far to take it, how far to take it. Angela smiled mischievously, remembering a particular dream she was quite fond of thinking back on when she laid awake at night, over-stimulated and under-indulged. She situated herself with her back against the examination table, much like a lab counter might sit against the small of her back, and placed her arms on Moira’s biceps. “Lift me up.”

Moira looked confused, hesitant, “I’m not that strong, Angela . . .”

“And I’m not that fat,” Angela pouted, running her hands up Moira’s arms to snake around her neck, her quickly flushing-neck, “Just put your hands under me and I’ll hop and you pull me up.”

Moira swallowed hard, but did as she was told. Angela resisted the urge to shudder as Moira bent down, her long arms finding their way to rest just below Angela’s buttocks. The enticing squeeze from Angela’s frantic, lustful dreams was absent, but she still knew her cheeks were as red as Moira’s as she gave a quiet “hup” and hopped upward. Moira tensed and lifted her, placing her deftly onto the paper of the examination table with a crunch. Immediately, as though Angela’s skin was burning hot, Moira pulled her hands away and ran them across her sides, and a loud knock drew both of their attention away.

“Ah, Moira, welcome back from abroad,” Nora piped up as she entered, clipboard in hand.

“Y-yeah,” Moira sounded flustered, and Angela grinned but simply greeted Nora and commenced the inevitable small-talk. Building rapport with patients, always important, and Nora was really quite good at it.

“Alright, let’s have you lay back and we’ll check how things are progressing. Well start fundal height on the next visit, right now I’m just going to palpate your abdomen, see if anything stands out,” She explained smoothly. She hadn’t done these explanations at the last pre-natal, and Angela appreciated Nora all the more for making sure to explain what was happening for Moira’s sake to not leave her out. For her part, Moira seemed to shed most of her stiffness, and she watched with only a hint of a blush as Angela laid back and opened the majority of the snaps on the gown. Gooseflesh popped up all along Angela’s skin as Nora touched and poked along her bulging abdomen, giving many “mmmmm”s and “hmmmm”s but finally assuring them that everything felt just fine.

“Alright, we’ve had a feel, now let’s have a listen,” Nora said cheerily as she wheeled the ultrasound cart from the corner of the room. Angela motioned to Moira, and Moira excitedly rose to stand beside her at the examination table, though she watched Nora more than she looked at Angela. Nora positioned the cart on the opposite side of Angela, giving Moira plenty of space, and grinned at Angela. “Brace yourself.”

Angela laughed, knowing what was coming. The gel was always cold, every woman had remarked on it when Angela had done her rotations, she remembered that even now. Soon enough Nora had applied it to her goose fleshed stomach and she switched on the machine.

“Ah, you should do this,” she held out the wand to Moira, who looked dumbfounded.

“What?” Moira regarded the wand as though it were a newfound piece of alien technology. “I mean, I don’t know how to . . .”

“Anyone can do it,” Angela assured her and gave an encouraging nod, adjusting a bit on the noisy paper. It reminded her, quite suddenly, of a time she’d assured a nervous Moira that she could handle the insemination procedure herself. And boy did she handle it. “Just put it over the gel, move it around a bit. We’ll tell you how to do it.”

Moira took the wand gingerly from Nora, who also smiled encouragingly, and placed it lightly in the mess of gel on Angela’s abdomen.

“Okay, now press in a bit harder, and angle it downward toward her pubic bone,” Nora directed, and Moira bit her lip as she followed the instructions as best she could. Angela enjoyed watching Moira carefully, slowly adjust the pressure and angle of the probe, “So what you’re hearing now,” Nora explained, “Is Angela’s heartbeat. A bit faster than what we have for her baseline, but nothing to be concerned about,” Angela blushed a bit, and turned her attention away from Moira’s hand and face, examining the out-of-date mother’s magazines in the rack.

A rapid beating began amid the whooshing noise, and Moira laughed a bit with excitement as Nora explained she’d found the baby’s heartbeat. They all remained quiet, listening together. Eventually Nora flicked off the machine, “Nice and strong, great to hear.”

Moira and Angela both let out long-held breaths and Moira handed the probe back to Nora, who traded her paper towels. Moira looked at Angela with confusion before holding the paper towels out to her, and Angela took them to clean the gel off of herself. “You know,” Nora was saying as she wheeled the Doppler back to the corner, “They make home versions of these. You certainly don’t need to get one, but some couples, especially if they’re going to have multiple children, like to buy them. People seem to like to be able to check in on their little one without having to come get poked and prodded by the doctor.”

Angela sat up with a grunt and groan.

“Problems with your back?” Nora quirked an eyebrow at Angela, who nodded.

“Just when I’m laying down on my back, or getting up. Or standing for a long time. I’m fine on my side or sitting.”

“Perfectly normal,” Nora assured Moira, who had gained an expression of great concern, “As a mother distributes so much weight on the front of her body it can change the way she carries herself, and it’s rarely very comfortable.” She turned back to Angela, “Just stay in whatever position you’re most comfortable in, and sit when you’re able. And if it gets too much,” She winked at Moira, who looked confused, “Back massages are often a great remedy, most of my patients report.”

“A-alright,” Moira nodded, her face determined, and Angela’s heart fluttered as she remembered the pressure of Moira’s hand on her back as they’d made their way into the examination room.

“Well, that’s everything I needed. No problems, you’re well on your way to a healthy baby,” Nora smiled, and Angela and Moira smiled back, “What questions do you have for me?”

“Where can we get something to eat around here?” Moira asked, and while it made Angela laugh it also made her realize she was famished as well.

After scheduling their next follow-up appointment they made their way to a small diner right across the street; Nora had assured them it may not be the best meal they’d ever had, but their selection was wide which was appreciated by her patients who were often suffering from various cravings and food aversions.

Angela ordered rahmschnitzel, her hunger for fried meat insatiable, and Moira was working on a full English with coffee. (Angela had considered teasing her about ordering so much food, but considering she was about to dig into fried meat covered in gravy she thought it best not to call the kettle black.)

“After this,” Angela took another bite, chewed, and swallowed before continuing as Moira looked over the rim of her coffee mug at her, “What are you going to do?”

“After we get back to Overwatch?” Moira seemed confused by the question with an obvious answer, “Work?”

“Mmmmm,” Angela smiled, “It’s the weekend. I have a better idea.”

“What?” Moira asked, her tone cautious.

“Next door,” Angela pointed in the general direction of the store she’d briefly visited after the last pre-natal visit when she’d been unaccompanied, “Is a store for mothers and infants. You know, maternity and baby clothes, toys, cribs, a whole wall of diapers . . . Do you want to go look around?”

“Yes, absolutely” Moira said quickly, so quickly Angela was a bit taken aback, but knew not to question it. Moira was enthusiastic, and Angela loved it.

They both finished their meals in silence, mostly because they had each picked up the pace, eager to go. Angela wouldn’t admit it, she didn’t want Moira to cancel their plans in favor of taking her home, but she was also beginning to feel exhausted, and she didn’t want to stay out too long. All night cleaning had finally begun to catch up with her, and the smell of Moira’s coffee was torture. Before Angela could request a split bill Moira had already paid, and was offering her hand to Angela to help her out of the booth. Angela felt she much preferred this Moira, who easily moved her fingers between Angela’s as they walked through the snow, to the Moira who hung back three paces and looked away while stalking through the halls of Overwatch.

When last she’d visited this store Angela had still not begun to grow, and she had not bothered to look around much. Even then she’d been hoping she could look around with Moira, forever determined to share as many experiences of the pregnancy as she could with Moira. It was essentially a maternity and infant-focused department store. There was a show floor for changing tables, basinets, and buggies; maternity clothing for all occasions; children’s clothing from birth to age six; toys; baby food; diapers and assorted powders and wet naps; even an entire section for planning baby showers.

“What do we look at first?” Moira asked as she scanned around the store.

Angela shrugged, “I’m not sure, honestly the only thing they sell here that I need now is clothes for me, but I want to look at things for the baby. Just, you know,” With her free hand, the one not firmly grasping Moira’s, she stroked her baby bump, “Thinking ahead.”

Moira nodded and walked ahead with a determined expression, and Angela was amused that Moira took even baby-centric window-shopping as seriously as she did. And so they went, hand-in-hand, around the store. A few helpful employees offered to help them find something, but left them with a friendly wave when they said they were just browsing. They began on the edge and circled around, looking first at the selection of basinets. Again Angela’s thoughts went to her small quarters which would feel even smaller with these large basinets. She wondered when the right time would come to ask the question that had been on her mind ever since she brought up Vesta Complex: She did need to submit the application soon. Who would she list as the intended occupants? A unit for two? Or three? But when she looked to Moira her attention had already passed toward the section for infant clothing, and Angela let herself be led away from the basinets and her worries.

They’d finally dropped one another’s hands then, each browsing through impossibly small onesies and small knit hats, and when Angela held up a soft, lavender onesie she was fairly certain she needn’t have said “What if it’s not available after she’s born?” to convince Moira that it was a good idea to buy it while they had the chance. Using the age-old excuse of “I’m already getting something, I might as well get a few more” she picked out a few other small things. Moira picked out a onesie with ‘Little Angel’ printed across the front and Angela spotted a knit hat with bunny ears not too different than the stuffed animal sitting in the center console of the car before they both agreed they’d already picked out plenty for a baby that was still months away from arriving. They would have time to shop in the future, and many more appointments in their future.

“I’m going to go try to find somethings for me, most things don’t fit anymore, and I suppose I can stop wearing all my sweaters and coats,” Angela explained as Moira had crouched down, looking contemplatively at tiny tan hiking boots with brown trim resting on a display. Moira nodded, and away Angela went.

Opting to take the same approach for herself as with the baby she reminded herself she would be back in a month and could buy new things then as she grew, and instead picked out only a few things for now. Blouses, sweaters, skirts, pajamas. Now determined not to hide her state, she delighted in picking out a variety of clothing, but eventually pared it down to only a few pieces.

“Oooooh, that’s wonderful,” She heard a chipper voice from behind her as she held up a long striped dress. Turning, she found a tall, older woman in the store’s uniform beaming at her, “How far along are you, love? Three months?”

“Four,” Angela smiled back, “18 weeks.”

“Oh, how wonderful, your first?”

Angela nodded happily, draping the dress over her arm, “I can’t wait, and it’s all so exciting.”

The woman patted Angela on the arm, “It always is, every single time. I have four myself. All grown now, of course!” The woman, whose nametag read Uschi, beamed at Angela’s stomach. It was strange, feeling someone staring so intently at your body, but Angela knew she’d need to get used to it, and it was well-meaning. The woman clapped her hands in front of her, “Oh, you should come over here, we just got in a new shipment and I have a few things I think a pretty young woman like you could really put to good use.”

The woman winked as she turned, and Angela blushed. She hadn’t been referred to as a young woman in many years, but she definitely realized Uschi was trying to sell her something. All the same, she’d follow. And she did, following Uschi to the heart of the maternity clothing section, and her blush didn’t fade as she found herself in a maternity lingerie section. Yes, there were perfectly functional bras and panties here; she’d actually bought a few of the bras for her swelling breasts when last she was here, the plain flesh-toned ones. Somehow she’d missed these, though of course Uschi had said they were a new shipment. There were short, wavy negligees; lacy bra and panty sets; ribbon-adorned garters with straps tracing up to the skimpiest of thongs Angela had ever seen. “I had no idea they made maternity lingerie,” Angela said quietly to Uschi, a hint of embarrassment in her voice.

Uschi ‘tskd’ disapprovingly, but there was a laugh in her voice, “Oh, love, being pregnant is no reason to not feel sexy. I find most men find a woman carrying their child the sexiest thing imaginable,” She grinned at Angela, “My Adolph was no exception, trust me, love, Dad will thank you and you’ll thank yourself.”

“Ahhhh . . . “Angela looked instinctively back toward the infant clothing section where she’d parted from Moira. No Moira in sight, “M-maybe next time.” And she meant it. Her heart beat a bit faster as she imagined a scenario in which she might be able to wear something like this, but she couldn’t imagine passing it over the counter at checkout with Moira standing right next to her.

“Mmmm, what a shame,” Uschi fixed her with an understanding smile, “Well, you know where to look for a great selection!”

Angela nodded thankfully as Uschi wandered off to upsell another customer, leaving Angela to browse the much more conservative, utilitarian panties. She did have a need for those, at least. And there was nothing to say she couldn’t get a racier version of those, after all.

She’d picked out a few items (black satin, and a bit of lace here and there) and had an armful of baby clothes and maternity clothes when she finally caught up with Moira in the toy section. Moira was holding a cardboard box in her hand, examining the back of it.

“What did you find?” Angela called happily to announce her approach.

Moira didn’t look away from the box, “This My First Chemistry Set says for ages five and up but I don’t see any reason for that. There’s nothing harmful in these solutions, it’s just salt, vinegar, water, and litmus—“

Angela laughed, cursing the clothing in her arms keeping her from wrapping her arms around Moira’s bicep, “I think we have a few years to pick out those sorts of toys, Moira.”

Moira frowned at the set, then sighed and put it back on the shelf grumbling about all the pictures on the box being of little boys. When she finally turned around she immediately stepped forward and held out her arms, “Ah, sorry, let me carry that.”

Angela happily let Moira take some of the dresses and sweaters, careful to hold the panties back and close to her chest, and together they made their way to check-out. As the clerk, not Uschi but a young teen girl, passed several pairs of panties over the scanner Moira busied herself looking elsewhere, pulling a beaten and worn brown leather wallet from her coat pocket.

Don’t,” Angela warned, “Most of these are for me anyway, and you bought lunch.”

Moira didn’t look pleased, but she put her wallet away. To make it up to her Angela let Moira carry the bags without her having to insist. When they reached the car she diligently opened the door for Angela before depositing the bags in the back seat and getting in. Angela placed the stuffed rabbit on top of the clothing in one of the bags, and they had the most enjoyable ride back yet.

They talked about themselves. Not about Moira’s trips, or Angela’s work. They didn’t even talk about the baby, though that wouldn’t have been unwelcome. Angela learned that Moira had four older brothers, though one had died four years previously to cancer, and Moira learned about Angela’s upbringing, orphaned but not alone, finding a surrogate family with many of the people who now sat in their bi-monthly meetings. Angela found that Moira liked jazz and glam rock from the 1980s, but she preferred silence when she was working, and she let Moira know that the only reason there wasn’t a constant loop of music in the medical bay was that patients complained: She always preferred music when working. Moira’s favorite color was lavender, and Angela realized why she’d found it so easy to convince Moira to actually buy the baby clothing.

It was a wonderful ride, and by the time they pulled into the car lot at Overwatch headquarters their fingers were laced together on the center console, and Angela’s head was resting on Moira’s shoulder for reasons other than her outright exhaustion. She squeezed Moira’s hand tightly as she turned off the car, “Please don’t walk behind me, Moira. I want to walk in with you.”

“Alright,” Moira said quietly, and squeezed her hand back before they both parted to undo their safety belts, “I’ll get the bags.”

Angela pushed her door open and stood straight, groaning as she stretched her sore back, reminding herself to bring up the back massage later on. Moira was still struggling to extract the large shopping bags from the back seat when Angela stepped around to help her, and Moira didn’t see the ice either. Suddenly Angela’s feet were gone, she was crying out in a panic, the sky was in her eyes, and a shock of pain shot from up her spine as she landed on the ground, hard. All she heard then was Moira’s pained, frightened voice screaming her name.

Chapter Text

 

It took a few moments for the shock of what had happened to wear off, and by the time Angela was back to her senses her arms were in Moira’s vice-like grip. Moira was kneeling on the ice-covered asphalt next to her, her face deathly pale and her eyes wide. An expression one of pure terror.

“Angela?! Angela!” She was shaking her lightly, and Angela shook her head a bit to clear it, “Are you okay, Angela?!” When she saw Angela moving she stopped shouting, but in no way did she seem to calm down as she looked on in a panic.

Angela looked around herself. She had landed squarely on her ass on a patch of black ice, and what pain still radiated from her tailbone was dulled by a growing coldness seeping through her jacket. Mud and slush had splashed up as she’d flailed and covered most of her lower body, her legs splayed out and her palms behind her, holding her up, small bits of ice and gravel indenting the skin. Moira was there, on her knees, her breath erratic. She’d dropped the shopping bags in the snow, and the car door was still open, the door alert pinging rhythmically to remind them to secure their vehicle.

“I-“ Angela’d had the wind knocked out of her, and was still somewhat dazed, “I’m fine, I just slipped,” She held out her hands and Moira helped her cautiously to her feet before again securing her hands around Angela’s arms. Angela batted them away clumsily, “I’m fine, I just slipped, I can walk.” She carefully walked to a section of clearly iceless pavement. As she walked she moved her hands to her stomach. Nothing felt wrong. Still, she held up a hand to stop Moira’s oncoming outburst, “I know, we’ll go now. Just to be sure.”

Moira nodded resolutely, immediately falling into step beside her and looping an arm around her, driving a careful but steady pace toward headquarters, “Do you feel okay? I can maybe carry you,” Moira volunteered, and briefly Angela remembered Moira insisting she wasn’t that strong just hours before. She also remembered stories of mothers able to lift cars to save their trapped children, so who knew, really?

Angela shook her head, speaking quietly as she was still a bit shaken herself, “I’m fine, I’m sure it’s nothing,” She tried to lean comfortingly into Moira’s body pressed against her, but the determined pace Moira seemed to be insisting on made it difficult and she eventually just continued to explain, “We’ll go to medical, just to be sure, but Moira, please don’t worry,” She looked to Moira with pleading eyes, but Moira’s own eyes were boring holes in the entrance doors as they approached.

Moira didn’t say anything as they entered, and it was up to Angela to issue hasty “Excuse us, pardon us, sorry about that,” apologies to those who shuffled quickly out of the way as Moira stalked forward. It wasn’t until they were on the elevator slowly making its way up to the medical wing on the sixth floor that Moira let go of Angela. Angela watched as Moira clenched and unclenched her fists, could hear the grinding of her teeth. When Angela reached up and placed a reassuring hand on Moira’s arm Moira simply closed her eyes.

“What if something’s wrong, Angela?” If anguish had a voice, it would have been Moira’s in that instant.

“In the grand scheme of things we’re still quite early,” Angela whispered calmly. As much as she believed everything she was about to tell Moira, she was worried too, and she fought to keep that out of her own words. What they both needed was a calming voice, and if it had to be her, so be it, “Because of where the baby sits my pelvis protects it, and all of the amniotic fluid will absorb any shocks,” She rubbed her thumb along Moira’s bicep, not even sure if Moira could feel the gesture through her thick coat, “And it was really only a minor fall, Moira. Please don’t be worried.”

“I can’t--” Moira’s voice was strained through gritted teeth, her eyes still shut tight, her fists still alternately clenching and relaxing. When the elevator chimed her eyes shot open and she immediately stepped forward, scattering the agents and medics who had been waiting for the lift, “Get out of the way,” She barked loudly, and the shocked crowd parted like the Red Sea.

If Angela hadn’t still be wrestling with her own worry she’d have been embarrassed. Most of the people who grumbled about how rude that Dr. O’Deorain was and why was she up here anyway she never came up here and isn’t that Dr. Ziegler behind her and does she look pregnant to you or is it just me were Angela’s direct reports or their own underlings. This was not how she had envisioned her pregnancy reveal going at all. But she fell in step behind Moira as she pushed on ahead, Angela only having time to mutter brief apologies as they passed.

Suddenly Moira stopped, and so Angela did as well. Moira looked left, then right, then spun around, and Angela thought that perhaps her eyes were wet, “Uh . . . I don’t know this floor. Where do we go?”

Angela felt a small bit of her tension relax as she smiled and cocked her head to the left, “We’ll skip the check-in, come on.” She led Moira down a long, empty corridor and entered the trauma ward, having explicitly avoided telling Moira they were going to Trauma to avoid riling her up even further. It was still written in big red letters on the door as it slid open, and the door and Moira both made a very similar-sounding hiss.

Dr. Nelson was on duty in the trauma ward, a middle-aged man with a thick but short beard and round silver spectacles. He’d come to Overwatch from America after serving as a corpsman in the United States Navy and his experience with combat injuries had made him invaluable to the trauma unit. He also wasn’t as gossipy as most of the other doctors and medics, and that suited Angela very well today.

“Dr. Ziegler? I thought you were off today?” Dr. Nelson called from behind the desk, but as she stepped forward, covered in slush and grime from the road and followed closely by a wild-eyed Dr. O’Deorain he began to piece together this wasn’t for a quarterly evaluation from the department lead, “What’s happened?”

“It’s, ah, a long story,” Angela shucked her coat, which Moira took from her, and took the liberty of sitting on the central table, “So let’s save time. I’m 18 weeks pregnant and I just slipped and fell in the parking lot. I know, I know it’s likely nothing but—“

“Better safe than sorry,” Nelson said understandingly, and he had already started toward the ultrasound machine they would use to find embedded shrapnel. He pulled the cart next to the bed before moving to wash his hands, “Doctor . . . O’Donnell, is it?” He peered at Moira over his shoulder as he scrubbed his hands.

“O’Deorain,” Moira said with a hollow tone, wringing Angela’s coat in her hands, looking with trepidation at the ultrasound machine.

“Yes, I’m sorry, Dr. O’Deorain,” He dried his hands and nodded toward the door, “Thank you for helping her in, I can take it from here.”

Moira opened her mouth immediately to protest, but Angela’s voice, quiet yet authoritative, came in first, “Dr. O’Deorain can stay if she wants to.”

“Anything you say, boss,” Nelson nodded and used his elbow to hit a large button on the wall, locking the room to anyone outside, “I’m sure you know how this goes, Doctor, if you’d remove your shirt and anything else necessary for the ultrasound?”

Angela stripped off her blouse and pushed her skirt down her pelvis and settled back on the operating table for the second check-in on her daughter for the day.

“And you said 18 weeks? When was your last obstetrics visit?” Nelson asked as he performed an initial palpation of her abdomen and pelvis.

“A few hours ago?” Angela almost laughed, more from nerves than humor, “Just got back.”

“Only one fetus?”

“Yes.”

“Mmmm, and what’s the fetal progression like? Heart beat strong?”

Angela nodded.

“How long since quickening?”

“Three weeks.”

“Early mover, busy like their mother,” He grinned at her, and she smiled back. Nelson had always been one of Angela’s favorite hires, and he had a wonderful bedside manner that she didn’t often see from the medics who had received most of their experience in the heat of combat, “Felt any kicking since you fell?”

“I—“ Angela thought for a minute, “I don’t know, I came up right away, maybe and I just didn’t notice?”

“Mmmm,” He hummed as he oriented his stethoscope and began listening at various spots along Angela’s midsection.

As he listened, Angela looked to Moira, and it was all she could do not to get off the table and go to her. Moira had situated herself in one of the few chairs near the door and was not watching the proceedings, instead she had her elbows on her knees over which Angela’s coat was draped, and her head was in her hands.

“Dr. O’Deorain,” Angela called as Nelson readjusted the diaphragm. Moira looked up, and her eyes were red. Angela gave her a commiserating smile, and Moira forced a grimace back, “The things . . . the bags. They’re still in the parking lot.”

“I’ll get them later,” Moira sighed.

“Please?” Angela tried to put on her most endearing face, “They’ll get ruined if they stay out there, or someone might take them.”

Nelson turned to Moira as he placed the stethoscope back around his neck, “Don’t worry, Dr. O’Deorain, she’s in good hands, and it looks like you could use some fresh air.” It’s true, Moira looked sick with worry. She placed Angela’s coat on the chair in which she was sitting and scowled at the ground as she pressed the door release, her overcoat billowing behind her as she walked quickly from the room. Angela imagined Moira running a full sprint through the corridors to get back faster, scattering medics left and right as she went, and that helped with her worry somewhat.

The gel was cold. It was always cold. But it wasn’t long before Angela could hear the familiar beating and whooshing coming from the ultrasound machine as Dr. Nelson guided the transducer over her gel-coated stomach with one hand, his eyes on the monitor turned away from Angela.

“I was in Guam,” He began conversationally, “Fifteen years ago? When that big tsunami knocked out all the roads and basically stranded us all on the island with all the rough seas?” He continued to shift the transducer around slowly, and no matter how hard Angela tried she couldn’t glean any information from his face, “I can’t even tell you how many babies were born while I was stationed there, Dr. Ziegler. They needed all hands on deck. I feel like I minored in obstetrics after that experience.”

“Lucky me,” Angela smiled politely, but she was much more interested in craning her neck to see the monitor than in how Nelson knew so much about gunshot wounds and fetal ultrasounds.

After several minutes a loud knock on the door drew both their attention, “It’s—it’s Doctor—O’Deorain,” came Moira’s wheezing explanation from the other side. Nelson tapped the release on the wall to let Moira in, and in she came, red in the face and dripping sweat, a large shopping bag in each hand.

“Are you alright?” Angela asked in surprise as Moira collapsed into the chair, not bothering to move her coat and instead sitting down right on top of it, letting the slush-stained bags drop to the ground.

Moira nodded, and swallowed a few times, and after a few moments said only, “Took the stairs.” She coughed a bit, but seemed to be catching her breath just fine.

“You could be a field agent,” Dr. Nelson said over his shoulder to her as he returned his attention to the ultrasound machine, “But you made it just in time.” He spun the cart to where they could both see the monitor, a grainy black and white visual, holding his hand over one side of the display.

Angela’s breath caught. It looked like a baby. Not a little black void among static, but a baby with a head, arms, legs. It was her. Moira had stood up from her position and was still breathing a bit heavily now standing at Angela’s bedside.

“Well?” She demanded breathlessly, “Is everything alright?”

“Absolutely,” Dr. Nelson replied, and both women sighed loudly with relief, “As you can see, normal development, no sign of NTD, strong heartbeat, the baby seems to be moving around just fine. Unless you experience spotting or something over the next few days I’d say there’s no reason at all to worry,” He smiled at her, and she simply mouthed a thank you, too taken by watching the baby on the screen to actually engage in the conversation.

Moira had crossed her arms over her chest, “If everything’s fine, why aren’t you showing us the other half of the screen?”

Nelson tapped the glass and turned to Angela, “Ahhh, do you want to know if it’s a boy or a girl, Dr. Ziegler? I know some mothers like it to be a surprise?”

“Ah, it’s definitely a girl, I know,” Angela beamed, and he nodded and pulled his hand away. To be honest Angela probably wouldn’t have been able to identify the area he was covering as identifying a girl, she had never been very good at ultrasounds in her rotations, but apparently he could and he pressed a small button on the side of the machine. Something on the cart whirred to life, “No use taking a peek and not getting a picture of her!” With a whir and buzz a printer began spitting out a copy of the image on the screen, and Nelson packed up the cart.

“So everything is fine?” Moira asked quietly, seemingly in need of constant assurance.

“I would say so,” He handed Angela several paper towels before wheeling the machine away, coming back with the print out in hand, “As I’m sure Dr. Ziegler can explain, the pelvis protects the fetus during much of the pregnancy, and the fluid in which the baby is growing acts to sort of distribute any impact without hurting the baby.”

Angela hoped hearing the same thing from two doctors might put Moira’s mind at ease. Moira took a deep, steadying breath and gave a determined nod.

“Thank you, Brad,” Angela pulled on her blouse and braced herself with Moira’s outstretched hand as she left the table, “I really appreciate your help with this.”

“Of course, it’s what I’m here for!” He handed the print-out to Angela. It wasn’t what he was here for. He was here for agents who had suffered serious combat injury, not worried pregnant women who had bumped their butt on some ice. But he didn’t complain about it, and Angela was proud of her staff. But even the most professional doctor is curious some of the time, “Ah, I don’t mean to be nosy but how did I not hear about the baby, Dr. Ziegler? Are us weekend medics just kept that out of the loop?” He was teasing, she was certain of it, but it was still an awkward question for Angela to hear, mostly because she knew she might answer this question every day for the next few weeks: If you go from fluffy sweaters to four-months-pregnant people feel a little left out, she imagined.

In fact, Brad, you’re the first in the department to know,” Angela laughed and pat him on the arm before walking to fetch her coat, pulling it on as Moira picked up the shopping bags, “I was keeping it quiet for a while, but I decided that probably won’t last much longer.”

He nodded as he pressed the release for the women, “Well now I feel downright special. Let me know if anything seems amiss, Dr. Ziegler, as you know: We’re always open.”

She nodded as she stepped out, turning to Moira who followed close behind. Even after the door had slid closed and left them standing together in the empty hallway, neither moved or spoke for quite some time.

“So . . . stairs, huh?” Angela quirked an eyebrow with a grin, hoping to diffuse the tense atmosphere.

Moira ran her hand through her hair and laughed nervously, “I was in a hurry.”

“Mmmm,” was all Angela hummed as she let herself fall against Moira’s chest, wrapping her arms tightly around her waist. She felt Moira move to return the embrace, felt bags of baby clothes awkwardly thump against her back before Moira grunted and simply stood. Eventually she looked up, Moira looking down at her with tired eyes. “I’m sorry I scared you,” Angela whispered.

“I’m glad you’re alright.” Moira’s voice was a whisper as well, “Both of you.”

“From now on you’ll have to hold my hand more, so I don’t fall,” Angela buried her face into Moira’s chest.

Moira hummed and Angela chose to take it as agreement, “Come on, I’ll help you take the baby things back to your quarters.”

Angela doubted Moira would have returned to walking several paces behind her, but to be sure of it she looped her hand around Moira’s elbow as they walked. A few of the medics and nurses said hello as they passed, some of them stopping mid-greeting when they noticed Angela’s state. The state of pregnancy or the state of being clearly exhausted and covered in slush and dirt from her fall? Either or both, Angela presumed. She wondered what rumors would float around the medical wing once she was gone, and how many of those would factor in the tall Irishwoman by her side. She had deliberately chosen to allow Moira to claim to be a Good Samaritan who had rescued her after her fall, if she wished. It wasn’t clear what Moira wished, but she was too exhausted, physically, mentally, and emotionally, to worry over it now.

When they reached Angela’s quarters Moira ducked her head under the doorway and deposited both bags on the bench, Angela collapsing to sit next to the bags and kicking off her shoes immediately. Moira picked out each item one by one and inspected it for staining or damage, “Good bags, I don’t think any of the water even got through.” Angela noted she didn’t hold up and closely inspect the panties Angela had picked out for herself, but instead Moira simply finished her evaluation.

“Mmmm, small miracles,” Angela hummed, letting her head fall back against the cool window and her eyes close, “If only the same could be said for me,” She kicked her legs a bit, indicating the dirt stains on her legs and coat. She pushed herself up off the bench with a groan, turning to Moira who was standing hesitantly near the pile of clothing, “I’m exhausted, but after today I need a bath.”

Moira nodded and licked her lips as she looked out the window.

“You should stay, Moira,” Angela offered quietly, nodding toward the bed. She didn’t know what explanation to give to convince Moira to stay. In case something happened with the baby? That would scare her all over again. In case Angela needed something? Moira wasn’t her servant. Because she knew if Moira left she would just work and was already clearly exhausted herself? She wasn’t Moira’s boss. No, none of those fit. She grazed Moira’s hand with her fingertips as she stepped next to her, “Because I want you to stay.”

Moira’s eyes darted from the windows, to Angela’s, then down to where their hands were lightly touching. She clenched her fist and nodded, “Alright.”

Angela smiled, gripping Moira’s hand only briefly before walking toward the small bathroom, “I’ll probably be a while,” She explained, turning back from the doorjamb, “And you look worn out. Please, go to sleep, Moira.”

Moira sat on the bench under the window between the two empty shopping bags, but she nodded, saying nothing and only running her hand through her hair.

Angela stripped off her dirtied clothes as the small tub filled with hot water, thinking of Moira in the other room. When she walked out, would Moira be sitting on the bench, looking out the window? Would she have found the pillow and blanket in the under-bench storage and laid out on the bench as best as she could? (Angela imagined her hitting both walls trying to lay flat on the bench, and it amused her greatly.) Would she even be there at all?

As much as she wished to enjoy a long, luxurious bath Angela was simply too exhausted and knew if she tried she may fall asleep right in the tub. After cleaning off the weariness, the stress, and the dirt she finished quickly. Was Moira still going to be out there? She couldn’t help but wonder as she pulled on clean panties, opting for a long cotton sleepshirt that was modest enough in that it fell mid-thigh but not so old-fashioned to pass the knee.

Cautiously she opened the bathroom door, letting the warm, moist air and the soft light into the dark, cool living area, and she let out a shaky breath as the sliver of light fell across a long, still form pushed very close to the far edge of her bed. Moira didn’t stir as Angela emerged, and though she was on her side facing away it was clear Moira was fast asleep.

Quietly Angela left the bathroom, taking a moment to tap the skylight button to adjust the shade, letting in a last bit of winter’s daylight over the bed. Moira was on top of the duvet, but she’d removed her shoes, coat, and belt, and in the same pile on the table Angela saw her tie as well. Angela had to stifle a coo as she went to pull back the covers of her side of the bed and found the baby’s small, stuffed rabbit propped on her pillow, angled to look happily up at her. Carefully she moved it to the bedside table. Not wanting to disturb her, Angela had to fight the urge to scoot to Moira and press herself against her back and instead situated herself on her side, facing Moira’s sleeping form, and it was mere moments before her exhaustion finally took an unshakable hold. 


 

When Angela finally awoke she could only presume it was still night. The moonlight shone in from overhead, and it bathed the room in a cool blue hue. She’d turned in her sleep, apparently, and was facing the bedside table where the rabbit smiled back at her.

She held her breath, listening for the sounds of another, and let hers out in a relieved sigh after she registered slow, steady breathing behind her. She listened for some time before finally deciding to turn, needing to know, to see what Moira looked like sleeping in the moonlight.

She wasn’t disappointed, not at all, but that was not what she saw. As she situated herself facing Moira, placing her hands under her pillow beneath her head, she tried to pretend she wasn’t surprised to see Moira awake, only a few inches away, watching. Moira blinked and gave a lazy smile, and Angela was ready to go to war for her. There was no sight more mesmerizing than sleepy Moira O’Deorain, she knew it then. Angela smiled back, finding delight in how Moira’s hair was pressed down in some spots, sticking out wildly in others. She also found a different delight in seeing Moira had undone the top several buttons of her button-down and that Moira’s freckles were not confined to her face, and Angela felt a flush in her cheeks she hoped wasn’t apparent in the moonlight.

She needn’t have been embarrassed even if Moira had noticed. Moira blinked once more before moving, slowly but smoothly, to place her lips delicately against Angela’s. Angela couldn’t say why she didn’t gasp, push her lips against Moira’s harshly, didn’t moan or open her mouth, but she just didn’t. That wasn’t what this was about, not about lust or wanting, though God had she felt that imagining a scenario just like this over these past months. No, this was just this, nothing else, and she simply shifted slightly, inching her body closer to Moira. She could feel Moira’s breath, steady and hot, on her cheek as they held there, and she felt Moira’s soft fingertips move up her jaw, grazing lightly over her ear before Moira delicately cupped the back of her head. Rather than pull her closer, Moira too seemed content with this, and pulled away a mere few centimeters. She could feel Moira’s breath on her lips, as she was sure Moira could feel hers. Moira just regained her lazy, sleepy smile as she watched Angela quietly, rubbing the back of her head slowly with her thumb. Angela smiled too, and then they met again, soft lips delicately playing over soft lips, a series of light, chaste kisses somehow both languid and fervent in the quiet night.

Soon Angela found the spell broken. She wanted this, yes, but she wanted more, and she yearned to press her body against Moira’s, to open her mouth and explore Moira’s with her tongue, to guide Moira’s hand from her head to her breasts, to spur her onward. Moira, however, seemed perfectly satisfied with this impossibly slow . . . build up? God, Angela prayed this was a build-up actually leading to something, and not the fantastical dreams that left her wanting. She could smell Moira, could hear her breathing, could feel Moira suck lightly at her lip as they parted; this Moira had to be real.

In time, a blissful eternity, Moira dropped her hand from Angela’s head, looping it around her waist to drag her to her, and Angela felt her body pressed against Moira’s and finally couldn’t hold back a low, lustful groan. Moira still had her sleepy smile when she returned to her tortuously chaste kisses, which Angela returned with enthusiasm.

“Angiiiieeeeeeeeeeeee,” The knock came at the exact moment as the door chime and the voice calling from the hall, a triple-threat to Angela’s current paradise. One could only refer to the noise she made as a snarl as she jerked up in bed, looking through the darkness at the door to her quarters. She gave an annoyed huff and looked to the clock on the bedside: 22:34, not terribly late. But terrible timing nonetheless. Biting her lip she looked to Moira, who had also turned to look at the door, shifting onto her back. God Angela had never imagined what Moira might look like, shirt open, laying back on her bed, propped up on her elbows with bed-mussed hair . . .

“Go away, Lena,” Angela called with a surprising amount of authority toward the door, “I’m sleeping.”

“Don’t even try it, Angie, everyone’s talkin’ about you! Come on, love, let’s have a look, I wanna see!” Came the cheery voice from beyond the door, and Angela knew she wouldn’t be rid of her so easily.

She groaned and turned a remorseful look toward Moira who seemed in a daze, still watching the door. “Sorry, I’ll get rid of her,” Angela apologized, running her hand along Moira’s arm as she pulled herself from the bed. Taking a deep breath she tried to force her annoyance from her face and released the door, stepping into the hall to allow it to close behind her.

The hall was dimly lit at night, but still much brighter than her quarters, and Angela squinted at a very excited looking Lena. Lena, however, paid no mind to Angela’s expression as her hands like magnets found Angela’s stomach, “Aw, wow, they were right? Awwwww, Angie,” Lena cooed, “Ya shoud’ve told me, this is brilliant!”

“Lena,” Angela crossed her arms across her chest, very well aware she was barefoot in a nightshirt as she stood in the main thoroughfare of the officer dormitory, “I appreciate your enthusiasm, really I do, but can we talk about this tomorrow? I’ve had a really long day.”

“Aw, right, yeah, heard you took a tumble, didn’t ya? But everyone says you’re alright, right?” Lena looked genuinely concerned. Angela was just concerned about needing to do remedial patient privacy training with the staff on Monday.

“Yes, everything is fine, but really, please Lena, could we talk about this tomorrow?” Even if her quarters had been completely empty Angela didn’t think she had the mental stamina to withstand a conversation with Lena right now, it sincerely had been a long, trying day for her. But with an enticing alternative in the room behind her it was all she could do not to snap at the poor girl.

“Aw, alright, I guess it is kind of late. Sorry,” She flicked the accelerator around her chest and winked, “Lost track of time.” She trapped Angela in an enthusiastic hug, “Tomorrow, then, and we can start planning the shower. This is going to be brilliant, trust me.”

Yes. Definitely no energy for this conversation. “Good night, Lena.” An insistent goodbye got the point across, and Lena said a final goodbye before wandering down the hall toward her own quarters in an adjacent corridor.

Angela waited until Lena had disappeared before turning back to the door. She took advantage of this moment to take a few deep breaths, to tuck some loose strands of hair behind her ear, to stand up straight, virtually quivering with the thought of what awaited her when she reentered her quarters.

This was the second time since waking Angela would be surprised by what she found. Moira was standing at the table with her back to the door. She’d donned her shoes, belt, and tie and was pulling on her black overcoat. As Angela entered she turned, “I’m going to go get some work done. Let me know if anything happens with the baby?”

Angela undoubtedly looked flabbergasted, but Moira made no indication she sensed this as she adjusted the collar of her overcoat, “Wh-what? Why?” Rather than wait for an answer Angela closed the distance between them, grabbing one of Moira’s hands in both of hers, “Stay, you said you’d stay.”

Moira grasped her fingers tightly in her hand for a moment before wriggling her own hand from Angela’s grasp, “I’m sorry, Angela, I have to go.”

“Oh, yes, for all those middle of the night meetings with all of your lab partners?” Angela couldn’t help it, she was angry. They’d been so close, so close. "You don't have to go, you're choosing to."

Moira grimaced, “I’m sorry, Angela, I really am.”

“Then just stay.” Angela wasn't sure if her expression showed anger or desperation, but either would fit the bill, and it did seem to give Moira enough pause to avert her own gaze.

With a heavy sigh Moira lifted her hands, cupping Angela’s face between them and looking pleadingly down at her, “I’m sorry, Angela, believe me I am. But I can’t stay.”

This day was too much. It was just too much. Angela huffed and gave an exaggerated gesture toward the door, not trusting herself to say anything that she wouldn’t regret later. Moira frowned, her eyes searching Angela, speaking a quiet apology, but soon the door was sliding closed and Angela was alone again.

Chapter Text

Angela had spent some time moving back and forth between exasperation, unquenched arousal, confusion, and anger before finally giving in to her ever-present fatigue. She checked her comm unit upon waking, Lena wanted to know when she could come over. Of course she couldn’t have asked that before coming over the first time. Of course not. But nothing from Moira. She scowled at the smiling rabbit on the nightstand and sent back a message to Lena, arranging to get together in an hour, hopefully enough time to wash off the cruddy feeling permeating her whole being.

Time with Lena would probably do her good, and by the time she left her quarters en route to the officer’s lounge she was looking forward to finally having someone to talk to about the pregnancy. Only now had she begun to realize how much of a toll the secrecy had taken on her, exacerbated by Moira’s long absence: She’d been alone in this, in many ways, and even with Moira’s return it seemed she found herself alone in this again. She had been so excited for Moira’s return, to finally see her, have someone to share this all with, and in less than a day she was alone again. She sighed. No use dwelling, not for the time being.

All mess halls, both in the dormitories and the main building, were open to all Overwatch personnel, allowing agents and officers alike to eat wherever was most convenient for them on any given day. This fact combined with the more-equipped kitchens that officers enjoyed in their quarters meant there was no mess hall in the officer’s dormitory block, but there was a small lounge with comfortable chairs, a coffeemaker and electric kettle, and an entire wall of windows letting in the bright winter morning. Angela found herself alone as she entered, but by the time she’d started the electric kettle Lena had made her appearance.

“Sorry about last night, Doc,” She piped up, her cheery demeanor masking to those who didn’t know her well that she was truly rather contrite, “Guess I was just too excited to think you probably need sleep even more now!”

“It’s fine,” Angela hoped her comforting smile was just that, and not a grimace. She was still perturbed over the interruption, but in the end it wasn’t Lena’s fault that Moira had left, that was a choice Moira had made. A vexingly inexplicable choice. Angela pushed it from her mind, with some effort, “Tea?”

“Brilliant, bite your arm off for a cuppa,” Lena leaned lazily against the counter, apparently eager to get down to brass tacks, “Alright then, out with it, Angie. Tell me everything!”

“A-about what?” Angela asked nervously as she stirred honey into her tea. Of course she knew what Lena was asking about, but she had hoped that perhaps some more direct questions might be easier to answer. She still wasn’t sure just how many details she wanted to share, and with whom.

“Don’t be daft, Angie, the baby,” Without warning Lena crouched down, suddenly eye-level with Angela’s baby bump as the doctor prepared their tea, “Hello in there, love, how’s it going? I’m your auntie Lena!”

Angela rolled her eyes and stepped a bit away, but she couldn’t help but smile as she handed Lena her cup of tea and both women found their way to two of the large armchairs overlooking the world outside. Angela set her cup to the end table between them, still too hot for her, and Lena began popping several sugar cubes into her own, “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner, Lena, or anyone. But getting pregnant at my age . . . it can be more risky than if I was younger. I didn’t want to tell anyone until I was out of the major danger areas.”

“Awww, we all understand, Angie! You don’t need to apologize! But you’re out of danger now, yeah? Everything’s good?”

“Mmmmm,” Angela nodded, absent-mindedly rubbing her abdomen as she leaned back in the chair, “Yesterday was a bit scary, I’m not sure what you heard but I’d slipped on some ice. But there was no damage done, everything’s fine.”

“Well that’s great! Yeah, all I heard was that you were in medical because you fell and had to check on your baby,” She put her fingers to her chin in a gesture of deep thought, “And I thought ‘That can’t be right, Angie’s not pregnant,’ so I had to come find out for myself!” Lena explained, “Didn’t notice it was getting on at night, sorry, love.”

Angela waved away this second apology, more interested in sussing out what rumors she would have to contend with moving forward, “That’s all you heard? That I’d fallen and that I was pregnant?” She tried her tea. Still too hot.

Again Lena set her fingers on her chin, this time actually thinking back, “Well, first I heard it from Cecilia down in motorpool, she said she saw you in the morning and she thought you were pregnant then but no one else believed her. But then Samir, you know Samir, he works for you, yeah?” Angela nodded. She knew Samir. She was not surprised the garrulous young nurse had a role to play. She would need to be sure to review workplace decorum in his annual evaluation. “Well, Samir said he was going down to the mess hall yesterday and some angry bloke came barreling out of the elevator shouting at everyone to get out of the way and you were with him, and I asked Samir, you know, because of what Cecilia had said, if he thought you were pregnant and he said yes!”

Lena continued to avail her with tales from around Overwatch. It became a running theme that many of the agents who would have no reason to interact with Moira had identified the tall, exasperated companion of Dr. Ziegler as a man. Lena and most others who knew Moira had realized her identity, though, as there weren’t many other lanky, handsome red-heads that would be described as towering head and shoulders above the crowd she had shouted aside. If Lena had any curiosity about why Moira had been with Angela, she did not ask about it, pushing on to the more fantastic rumors. Some people claimed that Angela had been covered in blood on her way into trauma, a few people even reported that they’d done an emergency cesarean. Angela was most amused by reports that Moira had carried her, bridal-style, into the medical wing. Though even that visual was ruined when the rumors of her being covered in blood from the massive car accident she’d undoubtedly suffered were layered on top.

As Lena finished her report Angela finally found her tea tolerable and took a sip before responding, “With all of that I’m not surprised you couldn’t wait to come see me, that’s frightful.”

“Right?!” Lena, finally finding a break, gulped down her entire cup of tea in a few swallows before finishing with a satisfied sigh and setting the cup on the table, “Well, I knew it wouldn’t be all that bad or I’d hear about it from someone not in motor pool, but with everyone talking I thought ‘Can’t be all rubbish, can it?’”

Angela nodded, happy to take her tea a bit more slowly, “Well, as you’ve seen, I am pregnant, but I just slipped on some ice outside, that’s all. No blood, and the baby’s fine.”

“Ah, that’s great, Angie, I’m so happy for ya.” She hopped up suddenly, taking her mug back to the electric kettle to start another pot as she continued to talk, “So when’s the baby coming? Do you know if it’s a boy or a girl yet?” She had an enthusiastic grin (she usually did) when she turned toward Angela and winked, “Need to know so I can plan the shower, don’t I?”

“Early June,” Angela reported, and considered for a moment before continuing, “I do know what the baby’s sex is but I’m not sure if I want to announce it.”

“Right, right, but I can still do the shower?”

Angela had honestly not considered a shower, even after Lena had mentioned it the night before. She thought of the others at Overwatch, particularly the women who had been so important to her for so long: Ana, Fareeha, Brigitte . . . Wouldn’t they want to be involved? . . . Would Moira?

“Ah, don’t worry about it, Angie,” Lena sounded a bit sad, but shrugged, “We still have loads of time, we can talk about it more after more people know. Wouldn’t want to be inviting people before they even know you’re pregnant, would we?” She laughed, and Angela did too.

So,” Lena began pointedly as she rejoined Angela, not bothering to settle into her seat as she leaned conspiratorially toward Angela and wiggled her eyebrows, “Who’d ya shag, Angie?”

Angela found it difficult to purse her lips, Lena’s personality always coaxed a smile from her, but she simply cleared her throat and smoothed her blouse down over her belly, “That’s, um, private.”

“Awwwww, that’s no fun,” Lena slumped back in her chair and began dropping sugar cubes into her new cup, “Let’s see . . . you never leave, so it has to be someone here . . .”

“Lena, please don’t,” Angela’s voice was quiet, and apparently effective.

She closed her mouth, and frowned a bit before nodding, “Alright.” A moment of silence passed, and then she chanced her question, “But you are . . . happy, right, love?”

Angela waved her hand in what she hoped was a gesture of dismissal toward the idea, “Yes, I’m very happy,” She chewed her lip a bit, wondering if she was. She was excited for the baby, but was she happy? She didn’t feel it, not this morning. She shook the thoughts from her head and smiled toward Lena, “I wanted this.”

“Well cheers to that then!” Lena held her mug up in a toasting fashion before taking a big gulp, then cursing the heat as she set it back down with a wince. Apparently giving up on the traitorous cup, she hopped to her feet, “Well, right then, better clear off, Winston wants to take a look at the ole’ ticker today,” She flicked the chronal accelerator, “Keep me in the comms? Oh! Brilliant, we’ll make a comm channel for the baby shower plans!” Before Angela could say otherwise Lena was already pulling out her comm unit. It had begun. Angela just smiled, realizing she would be powerless to stop the attention now that word was out, “Adding you . . . now.” Angela’s comm unit chirped in her pocket. “Right, well, gotta run!” She gave two thumbs up to Angela before virtually vanishing in a streak of color, leaving Angela alone with her own half-finished tea.

Angela remained there for some time, looking pensively at the world beyond Overwatch. Even enjoying the landscape was impossible without reminders of her current troubles: At the edge of the plateau, with Zurich proper in the valley beyond, Vesta Complex was coming together nicely. Most of the remaining construction would be indoors, the exterior of the buildings seemed nearly complete, and Angela chewed her lip as she considered the impending application process. Two rooms? Three? She frowned as she realized that two rooms was the most likely choice: If thing went well with Moira? One for them, one for their daughter. If things didn’t improve? One for herself, one for her daughter. Two rooms. It made the most sense.

Her pocket chirped and her heart leapt. The group channel invitation alert from Lena was quickly accepted and cleared away. She couldn’t be wholly dismayed to see the new message wasn’t from Moira; seeing Ana’s invitation to brunch with her and Fareeha was comforting in its own way.

And so passed Angela’s weekend. While no word came from Moira, she found herself busy with other social engagements. Brunch with the Amaris let out soon enough to accept an invitation to fika at the Lindholm residence (until Vesta Complex was built Torbjörn and Brigitte spent their weekends off-site at their family home on the outskirts of Zurich), she took a late dinner with Reinhardt. Winston called her in the evening on his comm, apparently Lena had already let him in on everything they’d talked about, and he hoped she would visit when she had the time. She assured him she would, but that the day had simply been too long. It had been a long day, a long day of tip-toeing around questions, careful to give no one any more or less information than she had given to Lena, and as she crawled into her bed she was nearly too exhausted to bother checking her comm. Countless pings from the shower group chat, of course, those had been showing up all day as women were added and let in on the news, and the party-planning was well underway without any input from Angela, which gave her some worry. But nothing else. She threw her comm unit with an exasperated grunt and heard it clatter into the bathroom before she closed her eyes.

Chapter Text

Group Channel created by loxton.field4.zurich.

Group Channel renamed to Angie’s Baby Shower Extravaganza Brought to You By Auntie Lena & Company Planning Squadron.

aamari.cmd2.zurich, aziegler.med1.zurich, blindholm.eng14.zurich, famari.field12.zuirch have been added by loxton.field4.zurich.

blindholm.eng14.zurich: baby shower? im going to add dad.

tlindholm.eng1.zuirch has been added by blindholm.eng14.zuirch.

loxton.field4.zurich: Yeah! Our Angie’s pregnant and she said we could plan her shower.

loxton.field4.zurich: She didn’t say we couldn’t, anyway.

loxton.field4.zurich: So let’s get cracking!

blindholm.eng14.zurich: congratulations, angela! this is so exciting! you’ll come for fika later, right?

famari.field12.zurich: We’re having brunch with Angela now, she says she’ll come by later, Brigitte.

blindholm.eng14.zurich: ok thanks

famari.field12.zurich: Alright, Angela’s on her way, Brigitte.

blindholm.eng14.zurich: ok thanks

aamari.cmd2.zurich: So exciting to have another baby in the Overwatch family! But isn’t it a little early for a shower?

loxton.field4.zurich: Is it?

blindholm.eng14.zurich: mom says its bad luck if you don’t wait until the baby’s nearly here

loxton.field4.zurich: Bugger. Well we can still plan a little bit, can’t we?

blindholm.eng14.zurich: theres a big shop that sells baby stuff on the way to work, I bet they sell party supplies

blindholm.eng14.zurich: angela’s here, got to go

aamari.cmd2.zurich: We should probably wait for Angela to let us know what she wants. It is her party after all.

loxton.field4.zurich: Awwww that’s no fun though! 

aamari.cmd2.zurich: Showers are about the mother-to-be, Lena, not the shower planners.

loxton.field4.zurich attached a file. Activate to access media.

aamari.cmd2.zurich: What is this, Lena? Some sort of cartoon?

famari.field12.zurich: I’ll explain it to you later, Mom. It’s stupid.

aamari.cmd2.zurich: Alright. Lena, just don’t actually buy anything until Angela says its okay. You do not want an angry pregnant woman on your hands, believe me.

loxton.field4.zurich: Ah, right on! Emily’s nearly here, gotta dash, good night team! Great work for our first planning day!

blindholm.eng14.zurich: angelas going home now. lena, angela said you should add moira odeorain from r&d to the chat

tlindholm.eng1.zurich: How do I keep my phone from lighting up every time I get a message?

blindholm.eng14.zurich: its in the settings, and its not a phone dad, its a comm unit

blindholm.eng14.zurich: he cant figure it out, im just going to tell mom and dad what we are doing when we decide

tlindholm.eng1.zurich: have fun ladies, ingrid says hello

tlindholm.eng1.zurich has been removed by tlindholm.eng1.zurich.

loxton.field4.zurich: Morning ladies! Awwww, Dr. O’Deorain? Do we have to?

blindholm.eng14.zurich: angela said to. something like ‘if she even wants to be involved’ so i don’t know but i think were supposed to invite her to this.

blindholm.eng14.zurich: why? ive never met her, is she mean

loxton.field4.zurich: Yes!  Do we have to? She probably won’t even want to come.

aamari.cmd2.zurich: Like I told you last night, Lena, you don’t want an angry pregnant woman on your hands. If Angela said to add her, add her.

aamari.cmd2.zurich: And Fareeha told me what that image you sent yesterday meant, Lena.

loxton.field4.zurich

loxton.field4.zurich: Alright alright.

modorian.motor.18 has been added by loxton.field4.zurich.

modorian.motor.18: Hey Lena, what’s up? Baby shower?

modorian.motor.18 has been removed by loxton.field4.zurich.

loxton.field4.zurich: Haha oops.

loxton.field4.zurich: I don’t have her in my contact list.

modeorain.rd3.zurich has been added by aamari.cmd2.zurich.

modeorain.rd3.zurich: Yes, Commander Amari? What is this?

loxton.field4.zurich: Hiya! We’re planning Dr. Ziegler’s baby shower! She said to add you!

modeorain.rd3.zurich: Oh.

modeorain.rd3.zurich: Do you need me to do something? I’m very busy right now.

famari.field12.zurich: We are still in the early planning stages, Dr. O’Deorain, but Lena is enthusiastic about getting a head start.

loxton.field4.zurich: Sure am!

modeorain.rd3.zurich: I don’t know how much help I will be, this is not my area of expertise and I have very little free time.

aamari.cmd2.zurich: You are not required to help, Doctor O’Deorain. Angela expressed her desire for you to be added to this conversation.

modeorain.rd3.zurich: Oh.

modeorain.rd3.zurich: Thank you.

blindholm.eng14.zurich: hi dr. odeorain, im brigitte, angelas friend in engineering

loxton.field4.zurich: Nice! Let’s get started then! We have to wait? Angela told me early June for the sprog, so middle of May for the do?

famari.field12.zurich: That would be nice, plenty of time to plan and shop.

blindholm.eng14.zurich: i stopped by the shop i told you about last night on the way in today, they sell shower stuff

loxton.field4.zurich: That’s robin!

loxton.field4.zurich:  FIELD TRIP!!!!!! 

aamari.cmd2.zurich: Perhaps we should revisit this in April? Or March? Or February?

loxton.field4.zurich: 

modeorain.rd3.zurich: I’m sorry I cannot be of help at this time. Please contact me with details or if you need my assistance.

modeorain.rd3.zurich has been removed by modeorain.rd3.zurich.

loxton.field4.zurich: Well

loxton.field4.zurich: Told you

famari.field12.zurich: Perhaps she saw all this as useless when there’s still four months before the party?

loxton.field4.zurich: You lot are no fun!

loxton.field4.zurich: Well I want to go look at the store at least, does anyone want to come? Emily will come too!

famari.field12.zurich: I’m leaving on assignment in a few hours. I’ll be back in three weeks if you want to go then, I’ll go. Knowing what they have will be helpful when we do start the planning for real.

blindholm.eng14.zurich: yeah that works for me, mom will come too, its not far from the house, you all can come over for breakfast first!

loxton.field4.zurich: All in then? Boss lady?

aamari.cmd2.zurich: Well I wouldn’t want to be left out, would I?

famari.field12.zurich: Don’t deny it, you love this.

aamari.cmd2.zurich: Of course I do.

aamari.cmd2.zurich: Who knows when I’ll have a chance to plan another baby shower?

aamari.cmd2.zurich: Fareeha

aamari.cmd2.zurich: When?

famari.field12.zurich: I’m going to the briefing.

famari.field12.zurich has been removed by famari.field12.zurich.

loxton.field4.zurich: 

blindholm.eng14.zurich:

aamari.cmd2.zurich: Aw, poor thing.

Chapter Text

A week. A fucking week and not a word from Moira. On the first day Angela was perturbed. On the second, beyond irritated, especially after Moira made an appearance in Lena’s group comm channel just to disappear without even acknowledging her. But she had been too busy squashing rumors of bloody, emergency caesarians to dwell. The third? Lonely. When the weekend came and went again and Moira hadn’t even deigned to send a direct comm Angela was downright livid.

This, too, passed and morphed as the radio silence continued, and as the new week began she was resolved: Moira didn’t want to talk to her? Fine. She didn’t want to talk to Moira either. She’d gone into this entire endeavor planning to be a single mother, and so nothing at all had really changed. This is what Angela told herself, and in this she was resolved. Moira could attend the pre-natals if she wished, or not, her choice. Maybe once the baby was born she could take some time out of her busy schedule to spend with their daughter, something she apparently couldn’t do for Angela, or didn’t care to.

In fact, she seemed so keen to avoid Angela she had been noticeably absent from the bimonthly. It was uncommon for anyone not currently away on assignment to miss the bimonthlies, and the curiosity, edged with that spiteful desire to have it confirmed to her face that Moira was avoiding her, led her to hang back after the meeting.

“Angela,” Winston smiled widely, first at her then at her belly, then back at her as she approached. He reached a massive arm out and wrapped her in a warm yet delicate one-armed hug, “You still haven’t come to visit me!”

“I’m sorry, Winston, I am. It’s been . . . a rough week.” It wasn’t a lie. She’d considered going down to see him several times, but couldn’t stand another chipper congratulations when she felt so low.

“Yes, rough weeks are going around, it seems,” He nodded, and motioned back towards the other side of the table where a specially outfitted chair for him was located, “Can Medical spare you for a while?”

“I suppose so,” She smiled, “A few minutes without me for practice, to get ready for when I’m on maternity leave.” As Winston settled into his large chair she found herself sitting in the chair to his left: Moira’s chair. Actually, this was a good segue, “I noticed Dr. O’Deorain wasn’t with us this morning.”

“Mmmmm.” He pursed his lips, his brow furrowed, and gave a slight nod before shrugging, “But enough meeting business, Angela.” Damn, that didn’t work. “I’ve heard more than enough rumors, only about half of which were from Lena. Please, tell me all about what’s been happening!”

“Well, let’s see,” As she relaxed into the high-backed chair she smelled Moira: Plums, tuberose, incense, and honey, an intoxicating scent which brought her back to an intimately lit basement, her face pressed into a soft leather couch and brought the taste of whiskey to her lips.

“Angela, are you alright?” Winston’s brow was furrowed once more.

“Yes, of course, sorry,” Angela shrugged, “Pregnancy brain.” She hadn’t been experiencing the forgetfulness and distractibility many pregnant women experienced, but she could pretend when it was convenient for her, “Where was I? Oh, yes, the baby,” She folded her hands over her belly and leaned forward, desperate to clear her head of Moira’s lingering presence, “Healthy and doing well, despite the little slip. Twenty weeks along, so presumably . . .” Her breath faltered a bit as she realized, “Twenty more to go. I’m halfway now . . .”

“Congratulations, Angela, this is wonderful. I know you’ve always wanted a family of your own,” His smile warmed her, and she leaned to lay a hand on one of his much larger hands.

“I’ve always had a family,” It was true, something she’d always known but was only just fully realizing. He was right, of course, she yearned for her own family, a child of her own, to raise and love and care for. But the news of the pregnancy had rallied Angela’s loved ones around her: Everyone was excited for her, her days and nights were full of well-wishes, offers of assistance, and genuine love from her Overwatch family.

But Winston was not so different from her as their appearance might suggest. He knew what it was to have family and to want family, to have lost those closest to you far too soon. He knew what this meant to her, and they shared a smile they each understood.

 “So, will we be welcoming a little boy or a little girl to the team?”

Angela adopted a mischievous smile and winked, “That’s my secret.”

He scratched his chin thoughtfully, “Hmmmm, Lena said you would say that, but you can’t blame me for trying!” With a chuckle he shook his head, “She said there was a shower in the works?”

She fought the urge to roll her eyes. She had not been participating in the comm channel, agreeing with Ana that it was too far off to make concrete plans, but she would check up on the day’s chatter before heading to bed. It was a comforting reminder of the abundance love in her life when crawling between cool sheets alone. There were times it exasperated her. Well, one time. She had asked Brigitte to be sure that Moira was included in her plans. She’d felt . . . well, to be honest she was already beginning her cold-shoulder stand-off and hadn’t wanted to add her to the channel herself, and knew Lena wouldn’t know to. But she still was Moira’s daughter as well, and even in her (very justified, if one were to ask Angela) anger she still couldn’t take the opportunity for that experience away from Moira. Which is why, when Moira had essentially said “I’m too busy for this, don’t bother me,” it had stung all the more, and despite the enticing scent of Moira still lingering all around her Angela steeled her resolve.

“The shower, yes, it’s still very tentative. Sometime in mid- to late-May, last I heard.”

“Good, still time then.” Winston cracked his knuckles, and the sound was unsurprisingly loud in the now-empty room.

“Time for what?” Angela cocked her head to the side curiously.

“The gift for the baby, of course,” He winked at her, and she leaned and placed her arms around his neck as she stood. One large hand pat her lightly on the back, and his voice reverberated through her whole body, “Be sure to let me know when it’s coming up.”

“I will,” She twisted a bit where she stood, glancing back toward Moira’s chair she had left, hoping the gesture read is ‘idle curiosity’ and nothing else, “So . . . is Dr. O’Deorain ill? She hasn’t come to Medical.”

Winston waved a large hand of dismissal, “Downstairs, I expect. She asked to be excused from today to work, and I saw no problem if she wanted to continue to work through it,” He shrugged as he stood, “Though if I were going to play hooky from a meeting I think I could imagine something better to spend the time on.” As he walked with Angela toward the door he turned a curious gaze toward her, “Why do you ask, Angela?”

Angela raised her head with a sniff, “If she was sick she should come to medical, I needed to be sure we didn’t have another outbreak on our hands, that’s all.”

“Oh, yes, the Mess Hall C incident,” He seemed satisfied with her answer and held the door for her as they left, “We certainly wouldn’t want another of those.”


When one week turned into two Angela tucked the stuffed rabbit into a drawer so she wouldn’t have to look at it each morning and each night. By the third week Angela felt like a liar each time she looped the golden necklace around her neck after her shower, and she stowed it away with the rabbit. If not for these tangible items, the baby who would kick and squirm and keep her up at all hours, she would wonder if she hadn’t simply suffered some sort of fever dream. Moira seemed a ghost, someone who had passed out of her life long ago.

And so, despite the fact it was where she was supposed to be, it was a surprise to Angela that Moira did attend the bimonthly. In fact, she had apparently shown up uncharacteristically early, Angela could see through the large windows into the board room that she was already seated, and Angela fought the urge to simply leave, to claim she wasn’t well. She hadn’t gone in yet, no one had seen her. No one would question it, everyone had been coddling her to an aggravating degree since the pregnancy was made public. She could leave, she could just turn around and leave.

Why? She’d been the one livid about Moira avoiding her, why should she avoid Moira? Because she had no idea what to say. Because she wanted to stalk around the long table and grab Moira by her lapels and shake her, slap her, shout at her for disappearing. Not just disappearing, but disappearing right after . . . Because she’d resolved to ignore Moira, and Moira being here was outrageously inconvenient for that plan: There was something about Moira she couldn’t ignore not matter how much she tried.

She’d go in, she was expected to be there. But she’d stick with her plan, she’d play it cool. And it should be easy, really. The few other early arrivals were milling about near the refreshments or had already grabbed a doughnut or croissant and were in their seats. Moira was seated, her attention focused on a pen she was twirling between her fingers. She would drop it and pick it back up, immediately twirling it again. She wouldn’t even notice Angela, and if she did, well, Angela would just go get a croissant and talk to whoever was at the table at the time. Angela smoothed her blouse, cleared her throat, and held her head high as she entered.

No sooner had she stepped her foot in the door than Moira’s pen clattered to the table as the older woman rose to her feet. Angela, dead-set on ignoring Moira, couldn’t help but look. Moira was stepping from her chair to move around the table, her eyes locked on Angela. Shit. Now what?

Three weeks without a fucking word. Angela was still angry. She turned away from Moira, stepping briskly toward the refreshment table in the corner, and she saw her hands were shaking as she placed a nussgipfel delicately onto her paper plate. The others who had been at the refreshments had taken their seats, and Angela felt very alone.

Moira’s strides were long and she was apparently quite determined, and Angela had not even begun to consider the juice selection when she felt Moira’s presence, somehow both towering and timid, behind her.

“Doct—“ Her voice was scratchy, and Moira cleared her throat, “Doctor Ziegler?”

Before she turned, Angela stood tall and tried her best to gain an expression of indifference. It was difficult to maintain as she finally turned to look fully at Moira who looked anything but indifferent as she smoothed her hands down the sides of her coat, ping-ponging between nervous glances toward the others in the room and looking earnestly toward Angela.

“Doctor O’Deorain, what a surprise,” Angela would stick to her guns. Moira was the one who left, Moira was the one who had disappeared for weeks. Angela had suffered, and perhaps she was a little spiteful, but she felt justified, “We missed you in the last bimonthly.” She did what she could to raise her chin defiantly, though it was difficult given how much she’d already had to incline her head to look to Moira in the first place, “In fact, it seems like you haven’t been heard from in weeks, Dr. O’Deorain.”

That message didn’t go unappreciated, and Moira visibly cringed, her voice sounded strained, “Yes, I’ve been . . . very busy.”

“Mmmmm, so I’ve heard,” Angela looked on coolly, watching Moira for a moment before shrugging, “Well I’m sure you’ll fill us all in once the meeting’s begun.” She moved to side-step Moira and find her seat, but nearly dropped her nussgipfel as Moira caught her arm.

“Angela, please,” Moira whispered breathlessly, slowly removing her hand from Angela’s arm. She cast an anxious look around the room, then her eyes were on Angela again, earnest.

Angela stopped, regarded Moira for a moment, and turned to face her fully. It was difficult to stick to one’s guns when there was the conflicting need to hear an explanation.

But an explanation wasn’t forthcoming, and instead Moira ran her hand through her hair, looking around the room once more as she continued, “I’m busy, but . . . tomorrow is . . . I have some, uh, time off tomorrow.”

Angela blinked, “Congratulations?”

Another look around the room from Moira. Angela looked too. The early arrivals had settled in their seats and were chatting away, and through the glass they could see several people on their comm units in the hall, hastening to finish their conversations as the meeting loomed.

When she turned back to Angela she smiled apprehensively, bending only slightly to whisper, “Will you spend it with me?”

Angela’s heart leapt, and it took every bit of control she had to not react, to keep her expression cool. She wanted to, of course, to say yes. But her last memory of Moira had been a similar request. Stay, just stay. She’d only wanted to spend time together. And three weeks of silence had followed. “Why?”

Moira grimaced, then shook her head, continuing in a breathless whisper, “Please, Angela? I’m sorry. About how busy I’ve been. I know I should have come to see you, I know.” Moira was clenching and unclenching her fists, already having averted her gaze downward. She kept on, quietly, “I’ll try to make it up to you, I promise. Please go with me tomorrow?”

Silence between them, only the chatter of agents seated around the table. Angela’s stiff stance relaxed a bit, her expression as well. She was too curious. “Go where?”

Moira looked to her again and smiled sheepishly, shrugging, “Wherever you want to go, it doesn’t matter to me.”

Angela had resolved to be sure that Moira paid for three weeks of silence, three weeks of silence carrying Moira’s child. But spite can melt away so quickly in the light of sincerity, and Angela found Moira’s earnestness almost palpable.

“Alright,” Angela said slowly, and the relieved sigh from Moira stirred Angela’s bangs. She’d mentally kicked into gear: Was this a date? Where were they going to go? If it wasn’t a date and she picked a date place she would be so embarrassed. Was this supposed to be special? Was this a date? What if she picked some place too special, too nice? How long were they going? When were they going? Was this a date? “I’ll have to think though, about where I want to go.”

Moira was nodding earnestly as Ana cleared her throat and brought everyone’s attention to the front, agents ending their comm calls to filter in quickly for the start of the meeting. Both women looked toward Ana, and then toward each other before taking their seats, and while the smile Moira gave was intoxicating and full of relief, Angela’s was simply nervous and uncertain.

Chapter Text

They were unable to speak after the bimonthly, but when Angela sent a comm asking Moira what exactly she’d had in mind for the following day she was pleased that Moira responded promptly, though without any ideas for their agenda. She had insisted that Angela knew more about Zurich than she, which was absolutely true given it was Angela’s home while Moira rarely left the facility. But it made it no easier on Angela to set their itinerary: Moira could be thinking of seeing a movie at a cheap theater or dining at an upscale restaurant for all Angela knew. She would have been happy with either, yes, but she wished she knew what Moira wanted. But any time she asked Moira she was simply told that she was happy with whatever Angela wished to do. It was a bit infuriating, to be honest, but Angela forced herself to see the forest for the trees: They were spending a huge portion of the day together for no reason but to be together.

Yes, Angela was still upset over the past month, and Moira would hear about it. Some time. But when she had fished the golden necklace out of the drawer and looped it delicately around her neck she couldn’t bring herself to be angry at Moira, not today.

She’d settled eventually on visiting Bahnhofstrasse. While she presumed neither of them would be interested in the upscale shopping available there, it was a fun place to spend a few hours, especially when you had no idea what your companion had in mind. Aside from high-end shopping the area also served as a popular tourist attraction with museums, pubs, street vendors, nearby markets, and more all situated near the river. No matter how Moira viewed this . . . outing, there was a safe option to turn to.

They’d agreed to leave at 1500 after Moira handled some work on comms, and Angela had been anxious all morning. The baby, too, had been kicking up a storm, though by the time Angela’s door chimed at 1502 she seemed to have settled down. The same could not be said for Angela, and she took a steadying breath and smoothed her dress before pressing the door release.

Moira, apparently busy idly peering down the empty hall, turned her attention to Angela as the door opened, and her smile was nervous, but endearingly so, “Angela,” She breathed, “Sorry I’m late.”

Angela had to check her comm to even realize the technical truth of the matter, and she rolled her eyes as she moved aside to let Moira in, “By two whole minutes. Unforgiveable.”

As Moira ducked in the low door Angela took stock of the situation. Of course she wouldn’t be able to judge the nature of the outing, if it were a date or a professional get-together with the other mother of your child, by Moira’s manner of dress. Moira was always dressed well, and today was no exception: Double-buckled black leather monk shoes, black slacks, what looked like a white oxford under a thin lavender tie and dark grey tweed waistcoat, finished off with a well-tailored black chesterfield coat. Moira had her hands firmly buried in said coat’s pockets as she gave a precursory glance around the quarters before turning to Angela with a warm smile, “We can tack an extra two minutes on at the end.”

“You look nice,” Angela meant it, and worried if she wasn’t underdressed by comparison. With such short notice she hadn’t been able to make it down to the city and so was limited to her small collection of maternity clothing. She felt she’d done well enough, the dress she chose was a simple navy blue affair with ¾ sleeves and a v-cut neck, and though it only fell to her mid-thigh she’d remedied this situation with socks that made it all the way beyond the dress’ hem to her upper thigh and black winter boots that nearly reached her knees. She would have preferred heels, their height difference was difficult enough without taking that away from her, but since her fall she had sworn off anything but the most stable of footwear. Once she added her overcoat and scarf hanging near the door she would be fully prepared for the brisk winter’s day.

If Moira found Angela under-dressed she gave no indication as she reached up, running her long fingers through her hair, “You too.” She was still smiling as her gaze dropped, “And the baby, she’s alright? You’ve grown a lot.”

Angela nodded, and though she couldn’t hold back entirely, she was able to keep her tone light, “Yes, she’s fine, and she grew a lot this month, though I suppose you wouldn’t have noticed.” Angela heard Moira’s sigh, saw her grimace, but stopped her as she opened her mouth, “I’m sorry, that was unnecessary.” Angela’s voice was quiet. She felt justified, of course, feeling the way she did. But that didn’t mean she had to be petty. She didn’t want this day to be like this.

“N-no, it wasn’t,” Moira sighed again, turning away to take one long stride and collapse onto the middle of the window seat. Her shoulders fell, and her voice, her eyes, everything was defeated as she looked to Angela, “You’re right, I messed up. With both of you.” She rubbed one long hand over her face, giving a little grunt of frustration, “I’m sorry, Angela. It’s . . . not what I wanted.”

Angela regarded Moira in silence. It was strange to feel weeks of anger and frustration washed away all at once, and she felt somehow that she should stand her ground, say her piece, make sure Moira knew exactly how much she’d hurt her with her absence, how lonely she felt the last time Moira left these quarters.  But looking at Moira now, she couldn’t help but feel Moira knew exactly how much it had hurt her, exactly how alone she’d felt. Moira wasn’t asking for absolution, she wasn’t pleading for another chance or for Angela to say it didn’t matter or that all was forgiven. She was just sorry. “Me neither,” Angela said softly, and smiled as she held her hand out to Moira, “But come on, this is no way to start our day.”

Moira stood and took her hand with a look of absolute relief, and Angela was dismayed to find they could only hold hands for a moment before she found herself needing to fetch and don her coat and scarf. She took a last look around her quarters, smiling at the small rabbit on the bedside table, before securing the door behind them.

By the time they had made it to the car lot any tension remaining had dissipated, and Angela was surprised to find Moira wrapping her arm around her upper back as they walked. “In case there’s ice,” had been what Moira said with a half-shrug, but her smile when she did so made Angela’s heart skip a beat.

There wouldn’t be ice. In fact, it was unseasonably warm, still cold but not so much to freeze, and the sun shone beautifully bright. Had it been a weekend most of the cars would have been gone, all of the agents out enjoying the weather, but as it was a Tuesday afternoon most had the unfortunate responsibility of working. Angela had been diligently picking up extra shifts, simple ones that did not leave her feeling overworked, to distract her from her frustration these past weeks, and had banked a significant amount of vacation time. She had intended, of course, to append this to her maternity leave when the time came, but as Moira pulled away to hurry forward and open the passenger door for her she felt this was just as worthwhile.

“So,” Angela began as Moira pushed the seat back to its full distance and settled in beside her, checking all the various mirrors and settings, “How have you been, Moira?”

“Better now,” Moira said off-hand as she guided the car out of the lot, and it was a moment before she expanded, “It’s been non-stop since Canada, but it should be finished soon . . . I hope.”

“What are you working on?”

Moira gave an exasperated sigh and her breath briefly fogged the windscreen ahead of her, though it dissipated quickly, “Nonsense. It’s not even worth half the time I’m spending on it.”

Strange. One of the great benefits of working for Overwatch was a large amount of intellectual freedom, within reasonable limits, of course. It’s what led to it being such a wonderful team, everyone was doing something that made them happy. Everyone except Moira, apparently.

“I wasn’t done. In Canada, I mean, we hadn’t finished the work,” She explained as they drove down the clean, clear roads toward Zurich. She tapped her thumbs against the steering wheel, and her tone was pure irritation, “They’d wanted me to stay longer but . . . I wanted to come back.”

Angela smiled at her, but Moira’s eyes were still on the road, “I’m glad that you did.”

“Mmm,” Moira nodded, continuing, “Unfortunately it’s not done much good, has it?” She took a moment to shoot a pained, apologetic smile toward Angela before turning back to the road with a grunt, “I might as well have been gone for all I’ve actually been around.”

“You were back in time for the pre-natal,” Angela said consolingly, “That was . . . a nice day.”

“Most of it.” Moira huffed, and Angela’s heart sunk. Did she regret kissing her that much? Moira chewed her lip, her knuckles white on the steering wheel, finishing with barely a whisper, “I was so scared we were going to lose the baby, Angela.”

Oh. Angela chided herself for her stupidity. The frustration, the anger, the loneliness had been clouding her thoughts for so long she had nearly forgotten. How could she have forgotten? The pain beneath her, the terror in Moira’s eyes, the panic? With a wry smile that she hid behind her hand, looking out the window as they drove, she reminded herself she hadn’t forgotten. Moira had just kissed it all better, her sleepy smile and dry, lightly chapped lips chasing away all her fears, helping soften the rough edges of the day. She turned back to Moira with only a soft smile, placing a comforting hand around Moira’s bicep, “Everything’s fine, Moira, I promise.”

Moira swallowed and nodded. After a few minutes of silence, she continued, “I’m still busy, but I’m nearly finished, we’re getting ready to submit the manuscript. But we’re not done yet.”

Angela knew what that meant. Moira didn’t need to say she had no time, that after today she would disappear again. Angela squeezed her arm lightly, “I understand. I hope you’re done soon.”

“Me too,” Moira said quietly as she placed her free hand over Angela’s, and it remained there as they made their way into downtown Zurich.

 


 

 

Angela was pleased with her choice of destination, and even more pleased that Moira seemed to feel the same. It was nearly evening by the time they had arrived in the heart of Zurich, and well into it by the time they found parking and made their way to the main thoroughfare. Despite being a weeknight the businesses were busy and shoppers seemed brought out by the warmer temperatures. The shops themselves were high-end: Designer clothing, jewelry, cosmetics, fragrances, and more; but the popularity of the shopping district among tourists and it’s placement near many tourist attractions brought out street vendors, and what bits of the area that had been destroyed in the 2021 earthquake had been given over to attractions like outdoor ice skating rinks and interactive water features for families to enjoy. Some people had grumbled about preserving the area, but most of the historic buildings remained, and the waterfront still had a unique old city charm, at least in Angela’s eyes.

They spent most of the evening walking south along the river. At some point Moira’s arm had found its way around Angela’s back again, and after Angela had pressed close to avoid an errant cyclist neither seemed to take issue that she didn’t step away again. It was a very natural thing, Angela felt, to walk along the waterfront together, moving between casual conversation of things somehow both simple and personal and comfortable silence in which to appreciate the world around them.

Opting to shun the high-end dining available on the main road, they perused the street vendors for their dinner, finally settling on walking along, each with a warm pretzel in hand. Angela would have liked to have had something more substantive, of course, currywurst or leberkäse, but after she explained her concerns over listeriosis she didn’t think Moira would have allowed it even if she’d wanted to. As they made their way back north along the shops Angela pointed out one of the few shops she would usually visit if she were to come here: The two-hundred-year-old sweets shop with the famous macarons and heavenly chocolate bars.

“Too bad we didn’t come this way first,” Moira sighed as they both looked at the closed sign on the door.

“Mmmm, probably for the best, I’m getting fat enough as it is,” Angela said as she popped the last bit of her pretzel into her mouth, and Moira’s laugh warmed her.

“You’re perfect,” Moira said, still laughing, as she bent, awkwardly so as her arm was still around Angela, and placed a chaste kiss on Angela’s temple.

“Mmmm, you didn’t say I’m not fat, though,” Angela teased in the most grumpy-sounding voice she could muster, and Moira just laughed again as they continued.

Not far ahead, as they reached the Paradeplatz, Angela slowed, “Can we rest here a bit?”

Moira’s smile instantly gave way to a look of concern as she stopped dead in her tracks, “Are you alright? Should we go back to the car?”

Angela shook her head, “I just want to sit for a bit, I’m fine, my back just aches. Besides,” Angela nodded to the square ahead of them, “This is a good place to rest.” Being such a busy hub there were many benches for people waiting for street cars, and it wasn’t difficult for them to find an open spot. Angela sat delicately on the cold metal with a little grunt of discomfort.

“I can call a car service,” Moira was saying as she crouched down in front of Angela, and Angela found it strange to be at eye-level with her.

She shook her head, “I’m fine, really, I just need to sit for a bit.” And sit they did, Moira finding her way onto the bench next to Angela and for several minutes they rested there, Angela leaning bodily against Moira while they both watched the world pass around them. Angela, of course, noticed that every sweep of Moira’s gaze around the area was punctuated with a worried look down toward Angela.

“You’re sure you don’t want me to call a car? It’s almost eight, it will get cold soon,” Moira fretted. She wasn’t wrong, Angela could see their breath puffing out between them, and the only hand not tucked snuggly in a warm pocket was Moira’s, her arm securely around Angela.

She shook her head, “We’re already on our way back to the car if we keep going, and I’m fine to walk in a minute. I just needed a rest. I can’t imagine how much this is going to kill me in a few months though. Oof.” To be honest, Angela’s back didn’t hurt all that much. Yes, some, a bit of a twinge, but she really just knew they were moving toward the car, and she didn’t want this night to end too soon.

“Well then I’ll just have to carry you everywhere,” Moira grinned down at her, and Angela rolled her eyes.

You didn’t even think you could lift me onto the table at Dr. Meier’s office, and I’ve put on weight since then.” Angela teased, returning her smile before casting another gaze around the plaza.

“Hmmmph,” was all Moira said in response, and if she was going to say anything more she was interrupted as Angela decided on something far more enticing than talking about how much weight she was putting on.

She turned again to flash Moira smile and pressed close to her. She felt Moira stiffen, saw her already cold-touched pink cheeks darken further, “Moira?” she cooed softly.

Moira faltered, looking ahead for a moment as she licked her lips, and when she looked toward Angela her crystallized breath was coming in small, rapid puffs, “What?”

This was far too much fun for Angela, but who could blame her when Moira looked as adorable as she did when she was flustered? Angela bit her lip as she leaned close to whisper, “Will you do something for me?”

Moira’s gulp was audible. “What?” She wheezed, her eyes wide.

“Hot chocolate,” Angela pulled away with an innocent smile, taking her hand from her pocket to point to a street vendor across the square, “Would you mind getting me some while I rest?”

A huge puff of mist came as Moira visibly relaxed, and she was already on her feet, shoving her previously occupied hand into her pocket, “Yes, of course.” She looked toward the stand then back at Angela, and Angela couldn’t tell if she saw relief or dismay still touching her expression, “Did you want . . . anything else?”

Angela shook her head with a smile, “That’s all for now, thank you, I’ll wait here.”

She knew she shouldn’t take such mischievous delight in watching Moira’s silhouette stalk off across the square, but she couldn’t help but laugh to herself at the sight. She should stop, of course, teasing Moira like this, but she fell into it so naturally when they were pressed close and she could feel Moira against her. Angela wanted more, that much she knew, and as she awaited Moira’s return she spent her time trying to determine if that was her motive: To try to pull toward her bit by bit. Moira was not one to rush in, neither of them were, or else Angela would have made a move long ago. Despite everything, they were both cautious, and Angela knew that what they had was so very, very delicate. It felt safer this way, to tease and fluster her instead of just say it, even though Angela knew that every time she teased and riled Moira up she was doing it to herself as well. She wondered if Moira realized that. She wondered if Moira liked it too.

Craning her neck she found she’d lost sight of Moira, though it wasn’t a surprise given how busy the city center was. A few minutes passed before she became worried, and the idea of Moira wandering away from the tourist locations to the small areas of the city where no one would speak English was troubling. She had just moved to pull out her comm unit when she finally spotted Moira, giving a sigh of relief as Moira took long, hastened strides across the plaza.

“I was getting worried,” Angela said as she took the proffered paper cup from Moira, “I thought you might have left me here to freeze.”

“Ah, sorry, I had to duck into another store across the square,” Moira cocked her head briefly toward the far end of the plaza as she sat down, immediately wrapping her arm around Angela again, this time at the waist, and Angela felt all the warmer for it.

Angela cupped the hot chocolate in between her hands, letting the drink warm them, as she sniffed at the small opening in the lid. Heaven. “Mmmmm, thank you. Where’s yours?”

“I don’t like hot drinks,” Moira shrugged, pulling a bottle of water from one of her large coat pockets.

“No hot chocolate, tea, or coffee?” Angela scrunched her nose, “That’s no fun.”

“I’ll manage, somehow,” Moira chuckled, managing to dexterously open the bottle with only one hand.

“There’s an ice-skating rink over that way,” Angela indicated with her head while she held her cup steady, “My parents took me there when I was little.”

“Mmm,” Moira took a swig from her bottle before saying wryly, “I think you’ve done enough ice skating for one pregnancy, Angela.”

Ha. Ha” Angela said flatly, but she was smiling. She liked Moira when she was flustered, but she liked her when she was relaxed even more. She leaned close to Moira, “I mean maybe we come back. In a few years, the three of us.”

“Mmmm,” Moira’s approving hum was all the answer she gave, but she tightened her grip around Angela’s waist.

Angela didn’t want to leave, she could stay here all night. But she knew that Moira was right, it would get unbearably cold soon enough, and with a grunt more due to displeasure of leaving Moira’s grasp than an aching back she rose, hot chocolate in hand, “Shall we head back to the car?”

Moira deposited her half-finished water bottle back into her coat pocket and immediately regained her constant stance for the evening, arm securely wrapped around Angela’s upper back. They didn’t hurry back to the car, but nor did they spend much time sight-seeing, and Angela had only just finished her hot chocolate by the time they climbed back into their little electric car and began up the dark mountain pass toward Overwatch.

Chapter Text

“Hold on,” was all Moira said as she unbuckled her safety belt, and Angela rolled her eyes but remained in her seat. The moon was already high in the sky and she could make out Moira’s stern features as she watched the tall woman round the front of the car to open the passenger door for her, holding out her free hand. “In case there’s ice,” she muttered.

“In case there’s ice,” Angela acquiesced with a grin, allowing Moira to help her out of the car. Moira wrapped her long arm around Angela once more and Angela found she’d grown quite used to it, and she knew she’d miss it when Moira disappeared again.

Most of the lights at Overwatch, both in the main building and the dormitory complex, were darkened: Tomorrow was a work day, and the parking lot was quiet and lit only by the moon as they walked. Both cast their gaze downward, wary of ice in the now-freezing night, but none had formed in the lot quite yet. It would probably be treacherous come morning.

Motorpool closed at 2100, they’d missed the station attendant by only about a quarter of an hour. Breaking off from Angela, Moira deposited the keys in the after-hours receptacle beside the window, and she was running a hand through her hair as they walked side by side toward the elevator bank leading to the dormitories.

“Thank you, Moira,” Angela said warmly as she hit the ‘up’ button to call the lift, “For inviting me out. I know you’ve been busy. I’m glad you could get some time away.”

Moira sniffed, her smile bright when she looked to Angela, “So am I.”

Angela was inclined to push herself against Moira’s side again, to coax her to put her arm back to its proper place around her, but with a chime the lift opened ahead of them. Moira motioned Angela to go ahead of her, and as Moira entered second there was a single audible click. When she stepped back to the rear of the lift she was smoothing her hands down the sides of her coat, and when she took her place standing next to Angela, both facing forward, only the number five was glowing.

Angela felt her pulse quicken, but she forced herself to lean casually against the back railing. Should she say something? Or not? Did Moira expect her to select her own floor? Of course not. Moira knew where she lived, obviously, and given her actions throughout the night she had to imagine Moira would have wanted to walk her to her quarters, wouldn’t she? Moira wasn’t walking Angela home. They were going to Moira’s quarters. Angela could feel a giddy smile on her features no matter how much she tried to force it away, and when she chanced to look at Moira she could see the older woman glaring sternly at the floor indicator, now dimming from three as four lit brightly. Then five.

The sound of the elevator doors sliding open nearly covered the sounds of each woman inhaling deeply, and Moira ran a hand through her hair. Angela hoped she didn’t look as nervous as she felt, as nervous as Moira looked. She cocked her head toward the hall beyond the elevator and smiled, willing her voice to be steady, “This is it, then?” She stepped out of the elevator, and Moira followed her quickly with an audible exhalation.

“Y-yes,” Moira fell into step beside her and nodded her head toward a t-shaped intersection far down the hall, “This way.”

Angela had been on these floors many times. Sometimes when agents were experiencing a difficult recovery or were too infectious to visit the medical bay Angela would pay visits to their quarters, though she had not done so in over a year. Now the halls were dim, only a third of the fluorescent lighting was kept on in the dormitory halls at night, and no one seemed to be about.

If she was still nervous after they’d stepped into the hall, Moira did a decent job of covering it. Yes, she ran her right hand down along her coat as she so often did when she was nervous, and Angela thought she could hear her swallow loudly, but she’d fixed Angela with an inviting smile and held her hand out to her. Angela took it, lacing their fingers as they walked, and wondered if Moira would have done the same if there were others in the hall. She pushed the thought from her mind. It didn’t matter, not right now.

Moira’s unit was not on the main thoroughfare like Angela’s was, they turned left from the main hall, then right at the following fork, then right again into a small hall with entrances to four units facing one another around the alcove, “Like your neighbors?” Angela asked conversationally, her tone cheerful, as Moira dropped her hand to flatten her palm against the biometric scanner beside the first door on the right.

Moira grunted a bit as the door slid open, “I’ve never met them.” She ducked into her darkened quarters, pitch black except for the bit of dim light entering from the alcove, and Angela stepped in afterward.

That’s right, of course. Moira spent most of her time in her lab. She likely came up only to shower and change, though Angela was amused as she briefly imagined Moira using the safety shower in her lab to avoid having to make the trip to her quarters. She didn’t walk any further into the room, especially after the door slid shut behind her, unsure of the layout or condition or even where Moira actually was, though she heard her shuffling around in the darkness. The room was cool, and it smelled of tuberose, incense, plums, and honey.

After a moment there was a small clunk and a buzz as the AmbiUV unit powered on, shedding a cool blue hue reminiscent of moonlight throughout the unit. While Moira busied herself turning on a few more lights, apparently fond of multiple table lamps in her quarters as well, Angela surveyed the room, becoming more and more bathed in golden light as Moira worked.

Indeed the quarters where much like her own, but a bit more cramped without the added room for the oven, the bath tub, or the large exterior windows.  Most of the room’s floor space was taken up by the standard Overwatch furniture: Moira had pushed her neatly-made double bed flush against the wall, her bedside table moved toward the interior of the room, and her table and its two chairs were under the AmbiUV where Angela’s quarters offered a bench seat instead. The table featured neat piles of periodicals stacked on top of textbooks, and her kitchenette looked little-used. Compared to the laboratory with its precarious mountains of journals and unused glassware cache Moira’s living space was downright tidy, possibly due to being so rarely lived in.

“Ah, do you want something to drink?” Moira had hung her coat and had finished lighting several small lamps, one on the bedside table, one on the counter of the kitchenette, one on the dining table, and their warm glow combined with the artificial moonlight of the AmbiUV to leave the room well-lit, yet intimately so. With one long stride she was pulling open the refrigerator in the kitchenette, smaller than the one in Angela’s quarters, and Angela noted very little was inside, “I have . . . water.” Moira turned back to her apologetically, “Sorry, it’s that or whiskey.”

Angela nodded, “Water’s fine, thank you.” Moira fished from her cabinet two old-fashioned glasses as Angela removed her scarf and coat, draping them over the back of one of the chairs into which she then settled, “Do you like your AmbiUV?” Angela asked curiously, sensing Moira’s nervousness about hosting her in her quarters.

Moira shrugged noncommittally as she set the empty glasses on the table before returning to the kitchenette. She fetched a pitcher of water from the refrigerator, and from the cabinet above she pulled a bottle of whiskey, the same brand she kept in her office, though this bottle was new. Moira pulled the red seal off the fat green-tinted bottle as she explained, “I’m not here often enough to really use it much, but it’s nice when the sun is out I suppose.”

“Mmmm,” Angela nodded, “You should try to use the UV setting for—“

“Fifteen minutes each day?” Moira grinned tauntingly as she filled Angela’s glass from the pitcher, and Angela thought she rather looked like a fancy waiter, dressed so finely and standing so straight, “Yes, I’ve seen the wonderful signage that the medical department has distributed throughout the facility.”

Angela laughed, “Everyone’s a critic until they end up with osteomalacia, Moira.”

Moira laughed as well as she settled into the seat across from Angela and poured whiskey into her own glass. She seemed to relax somewhat, taking a large drink from her glass and looking into the glass appreciatively afterwards. Angela relaxed as well, finishing most of her water quickly before leaning back and folding her hands over her growing baby bump. They sat in silence for several minutes. This was a comfortable thing, to sit quietly with Moira, and the only thing that had Angela on edge at all was that Moira had not taken her eyes off of her for some time.

She finished what remained of her whisky with one more large gulp and set her glass on top of a pile of old issues of Nature, her eyes not leaving Angela, finally asking with a soft voice and caring eyes, “How are you feeling?”

Angela shrugged with a smile, trailing her palm over her stomach, a movement Moira watched attentively, “Good, it’s been a good day.”

“And your back?” Moira implored with some trepidation, “You’re not in pain?”

Well, no, she wasn’t, not really. She’d been comfortably resting the entire ride home, and had no complaints to speak of. But here was a thought, and as it occurred to her she wondered if it hadn’t occurred to Moira as well. She sat up straight, arching her back and groaning, “I’ll survive, but it’s been better.” She hoped she sounded convincing.

Moira wet her lips, and Angela could hear her draw in a shaky breath, wiping her hands along her thighs before raising them, clearing her throat as she motioned for Angela to come to her, “D-Doctor Meier said it might help?” She used her long legs to push her chair out from the table, giving Angela space to come between.

Angela’s own mouth was dry as she stood, her pulse in her ears, and she took a small half-step toward Moira. She cleared her throat, suddenly feeling sheepish as she tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, “Ah, where do you, ah, want me?”

Moira’s hands were still up, and she lightly placed them on Angela’s hips, spinning her and tugging lightly to coax the smaller woman onto her lap. Angela’s mind was filled with memories of Moira’s hands doing much the same, guiding her down onto Moira’s lap, then those same long fingers pushing inside her, pulling her roughly to the edge, pushing her over it so expertly. She was glad she was turned around, as she had been then, because she felt her face grow hot. She forced her breath to slow, but could do little for her racing heart as she sat as delicately as possible onto Moira’s thighs. This time, unlike before, she didn’t settle bodily against Moira, press herself against Moira’s chest. How nice it would have been to do just that, but obviously that was not in tonight’s program.

When Angela was settled Moira’s hands left her hips, moving smoothly to the small of her back, “Where does it hurt?” Moira wasn’t whispering, but her voice was quiet, comforting.

Shit. Nowhere? “Umm, a little bit of everywhere?”

If Moira knew she was . . . being creative with the truth she did not indicate it, and momentarily Angela let out a breath, slowly and loudly, feeling Moira press her thumbs along the side of her spine at the base of her back. Moira rested her hands against Angela, and she felt her fingers curl around her sides lightly while Moira worked her thumbs in strong, slow circles immediately to either side of her spine. Angela couldn’t help but let out an audible groan, finding tension she didn’t know she’d held being worked away.

“Good?” Moira asked, and she sounded almost cocky. It was charming, Angela thought, and altogether too alluring.

“Mmmmmm,” Angela responded, leaning forward to rest her elbows on the nearby dining table, giving Moira better access to the full of her back. She groaned appreciatively once more as Moira began working her fingers inch by inch up Angela’s back, continuing her small circles with her thumbs with every shift of her hands.

They were silent for quite some time, well, no one said anything. Silence wasn’t quite the right word, though. Angela quickly gave up any effort to avoid voicing satisfied grunts and groans, and they didn’t seem to bother Moira who would occasionally give her own huff or appreciative chuckle to follow some of Angela’s louder groans. Angela soon found that Moira was good with her hands in more ways than previously realized, and Moira shifted between small tight circles with her thumbs to pushing roughly with her palms, she traced the back of Angela’s ribcage firmly with the tips of her fingers and used her knuckles to knead the soft flesh above Angela’s waist.

“Maybe you should have been a masseuse,” Angela finally croaked out after some time, and she found she was leaning heavily on the table to withstand the pressure from Moira’s hands.

“Mmmm, probably pays better,” was Moira’s wry reply, and Angela began to chuckle before it devolved into another loud groan as Moira shifted again to using her knuckles. Angela had truly had no back pain when they began, but she was surprised to find that Moira was able to hone in on stiffness, tightness, tension she had no idea she was carrying. Perhaps it had been her slip on the ice the previous month, perhaps it had been the psychological weight of these three weeks alone. Perhaps, of course, it was the growing baby she carried with her everywhere she went. The night shifts, the winter weather, the poor sleep. Who knows what caused it all? But Moira was expertly driving it all away, and Angela had needed it desperately.

“H-hold on,” Angela grunted, and Moira stopped immediately, though she didn’t withdraw her hands.

“Sorry, is everything alright? Too rough?” Moira sounded apprehensive.

Angela grinned to herself. Everything was fine, but as much as she had found she needed this, there were other things she needed too. And at this point she was fairly confident Moira needed the same thing, or at least wanted it. “It’s not that,” She said as she stood, Moira’s hands leaving her as she pulled away, and she said over her shoulder in a voice that she hoped portrayed more teasing than the underlying want, “You can be as rough as you want, Moira.” She didn’t have to turn around, she knew from the small cough, from the way Moira cleared her throat and the way she shifted her legs positioned around Angela where she stood, that Moira’s ears were bright red.

Angela took a deep, steadying breath. She wondered if Moira’s ears grew redder as she reached back, finding the zipper on her dress, and lowered it enough to push her dress off her shoulders. She’d wanted to listen, to hear if she could hear Moira’s reaction, but the rustle of the fabric was deafening as she pushed the stretchy front over her bump and hooked her thumbs below the fabric to push the dress all the way down, letting it fall around her ankles.

She knew she probably looked somewhat ridiculous. Not as bad as she could have, yes, but she hadn’t quite expected things to unfold in this manner. Of course, knowing she was going on a maybe-date, she had opted for the most alluring of the panties she had picked out at the maternity store, but she certainly hadn’t made the trip to buy lingerie on such short notice. The panties weren’t really the issue, they even matched with the black satin bra she wore. The issue was the socks, of course. Black satin bra, matching panties . . . and socks that went all the way up to the tops of her thighs. The look, of course, was completed in grand style with her high winter boots. She sighed. Nothing to help it now.

Moira, too, sighed, and Angela fought the urge to look back, to look imploringly for some reinforcement, reassurance, validation. She didn’t look back, but validation came anyway as she felt Moira’s long fingers wrap again around her hips, tugging her as they had before, back into place on Moira’s lap. As she settled down once again she heard Moira, her voice quiet and shaky but with more than a hint of mirth, “Nice socks.”

“Thanks,” Angela grinned despite her nervousness and gave a shrug, leaning against the table again and running her fingers up her arms, feeling the gooseflesh in the cool room, “They keep my legs warm.”

Moira just laughed, and her hands returned to their previous work, this time unimpeded by Angela’s dress, “Good, then,” Moira said with a confidence that faded immediately afterward, and Angela felt her warm hands move swiftly up her back, a sensation that made her shudder. Moira continued, sounding less certain, “So I take it this isn’t as important?” With a small tug the pressure around Angela’s chest released, and her bra came loose as Moira returned her hands to Angela’s waist, once more beginning slow, steady circles with her thumbs.

Angela was sure she had let out a quiet gasp of surprise when she felt her bra come loose, but she quickly stifled any further reaction, and simply reached her fingers up to push the straps down and let it fall to the table. She shook her head, “I’ll survive without it.”

“Good, it was in the way,” Moira responded quietly, and they fell back into the pseudo-silence, though this time Angela’s appreciative groans were louder, and now she could feel Moira’s hot breath on her back, breath which seemed to come faster each time Moira moved up her spine, her long fingertips brushing up Angela’s sides, sometimes chancing to touch across the soft skin under Angela’s breasts before Moira would pull her fingers away once more.  

Moira’s warm hands were on her back, and warmth spread from every bit of skin that her fingers found, meeting a flush from deep within Angela, a flush which undoubtedly had made it to her face. In contrast, the room remained cool. Angela had gooseflesh across the front of her body, across her arms, her swollen stomach, her hardened nipples. It was cold, but she knew that wasn’t the cause.

“Moira?”

“Hmmmm?” Moira sounded equal parts curious and distracted, but didn’t stop her work.

Angela licked her lips. “I . . . missed you. After you left my quarters.”

When Angela heard Moira inhale, it wasn’t sharp, it wasn’t nervous, it wasn’t apprehensive. Just exhausted. It left Angela feeling uncertain, but she pressed on, determined to fish out what Moira felt, “I was worried . . . that you regretted staying with me. The kiss.” She finished quietly, barely a whisper, but it morphed, unwanted, into a groan as Moira pushed her knuckles across Angela’s bare back.

“I did.” Moira said quietly, then cleared her throat. She stopped her efforts, her hands falling to rest on Angela’s hips.

The room was much colder, and it wasn’t due to the sudden absence of Moira’s hands. Angela’s heart sank, and she scowled, her fists clenching. Surely she misunderstood. What they were doing now, the night they’d had-- she couldn’t mean she regretted it. She meant she regretted leaving. Surely. “W-what?”

A whoosh of hot air across Angela’s back heralded Moira’s shift, and Angela shuddered as Moira’s hands left her hips, up to her waist, and Moira wrapped her arms around Angela, only so far as to interlock her long fingers over Angela’s bare, growing stomach. Her voice, quieter now, still sounded of exhaustion, “I shouldn’t have stayed. I shouldn’t have . . . done what I did.”

Angela pressed her eyes shut tight, trying to force away the pain that pricked at their edges, and she moved to stand. If Moira could storm off, so could she. If Moira could regret an intimate moment, well, Angela was sure she would be able to as well. It was as much Moira’s hands locked around her waist as Moira’s tone that stopped her from rising, and Moira began quietly, each word spoken slowly and deliberately, as though she were more speaking to herself than to Angela, “It—it is better to shun the bait,” She sighed again, and she moved her hands from Angela’s stomach to rest on her back, unmoving, allowing her to stand if she wanted, “Than to struggle in the snare.”

Quiet in the room. Angela didn’t try to stand, but nor did she relax, considering carefully. Finally her shoulders slumped, and she thought her voice sounded defeated, “You think I’ve trapped you?”

It was Moira’s turn to contemplate this for a time, and Angela finally couldn’t help but twist to look at her as Moira’s hands dropped to her hips once more. When their eyes met Moira’s smile was kind, and she shook her head. Her cheeks were pink in the soft glow of the many small lamps, and she leaned against Angela, resting her chin heavily on Angela’s shoulder. Her voice was soft, almost forlorn, and Angela could feel her words come in puffs of air at her cheek, “I think it’s dangerous how much I want to be trapped by you.” Moira lowered her head, burying her face in the crook of Angela’s neck, and she felt Moira’s heavy sigh stir her hair.

They sat like that for a time, saying nothing. Finally, though, Angela rallied herself. When she stood, pulling away from Moira without a word, she could almost feel Moira’s dismay, and briefly her heart went out to her. She stretched, then, with another loud groan, and reached over the table to take her forgotten glass in hand, gulping down the last of the water and setting it back down. 

When she turned fully to face Moira she was slumped in her chair, her arms had returned to the rests. She instinctively looked toward Angela as she’d turned, but quickly averted her eyes, turning a red ear toward Angela’s near-naked form. Moira cleared her throat, and Angela would be forever curious what she would have said had Angela not stopped her then by gingerly stepping forward, resting one knee to the either side of Moira’s legs in order to regain her place in Moira’s lap. Moira turned then, looking imploringly toward Angela, her lips parted and her brow furrowed.

Angela smiled, her kneeling position giving her the uncommon position of being eye-to-eye with Moira, and she raised her hands to Moira’s face, cupping her cheeks and running her thumbs across Moira’s high cheekbones. “Then don’t struggle,” She whispered, and she pressed her lips lightly to Moira’s, finishing as she pulled away slightly, “I’m not going to hurt you, Moira.”

She could hear Moira swallow, feel the muscles tense under her fingers that fanned down across Moira’s neck, and Moira’s whisper was warm against her lips, “I’m not so sure.” Despite her claimed uncertainty her lips found Angela’s again, just as chaste as any time before. It wasn’t until Angela felt her hands moving up her back once more, pulling her against Moira’s chest that her lips parted and finally she knew the feeling of Moira’s tongue playing over her lips, searching for her own.

Things moved slowly at first; Moira adjusted in the chair under Angela and tightened her arms around her, Angela’s bare skin rubbing harshly against the scratchy tweed vest. Angela didn’t mind, thankful for the warmth in the cool room, warmth spreading quickly across her whole body as she pressed closer, letting her hands trail back, looping one arm around Moira’s neck while with the other hand she ran her fingers languidly through Moira’s hair.

Angela had to admit that, while the brief foray into discussions of regret had dampened her spirits momentarily, the consistent, rough treatment from Moira’s hands had already piqued her interests in more than a few ways, and she chose not to feel embarrassed when every incursion of Moira’s tongue brought from her some soft whimper or stifled moan, and she was spurred on all the more when Moira responded in kind.

Moira’s hands parted ways at her back; she felt the maddening sensation of Moira running her nails up her spine to the base of her neck, and she groaned loudly into Moira’s mouth as she felt the older woman push her fingers into her blonde hair, pulling her deeper into the kiss as Moira probed her mouth hungrily with a moan of her own in response. Her other hand was not idle, crossing down over Angela’s back, and shortly thereafter a certain dream of Angela’s did finally come true and she whimpered as she felt Moira’s strong grip take hold of her ass, felt her long fingers brush along the bit of bare thigh between where her socks ended and her panties began.

For several minutes they remained in such a state, Moira’s fist in Angela’s hair driving their hungry, breathless kisses while Angela pressed against Moira’s massaging hand. She found that if she wriggled her hips in just the right way in tandem with Moira’s machinations she could coax Moira’s long fingers to venture slightly, ever so lightly, between her legs for the briefest of moments before Moira would readjust her grip with an intoxicating chuckle against her lips. With every thrust of her hips, every time she heard Moira gasp in response to Angela’s light nips at her lips, heat spread between them.

Angela let the hand not preoccupied with playing lightly among the short hairs on the back of Moira’s neck fall down between them. While the rough fabric of Moira’s waistcoat created a not entirely unpleasant sensation against her bare skin, Angela was far more interested in being rid of it. She was clumsy with the buttons, but it was easier when Moira released her from their kiss, opting instead to explore down Angela’s chin, tilting her head back with a light tug from the hand tangled among Angela’s hair. Angela gave a soft “mmmmph” of approval as Moira’s hot breath touched each bit of skin moments before her lips did, and Moira quickly found her way to the sensitive spot just behind Angela’s jaw. Angela wasn’t sure what was louder, her own pulse hammering or Moira’s ragged breaths against her ear.

Feeling Moira was doing just fine without her hand to guide her, Angela loosed her fingers from Moira’s hair and quickly went to work on the waistcoat buttons, making short work of them now that she could concentrate. Well, she couldn’t concentrate, not with Moira’s skilled efforts, but she was a bit more focused at least, and soon she was pushing the opened waistcoat down Moira’s shoulders.

Moira pulled her hands away, eager to assist her, and Angela hoped she would return them right back to where they were, or better yet, replace the rough tweed that had been chafing Angela’s swollen breasts with something more pleasant. Apparently finding it difficult to shuck her vest while keeping her attentions at Angela’s neck, Moira broke away. Her breath was fast and ragged, her hair mussed wonderfully by Angela’s fingers. Her lips were swollen, her cheeks pink, her eyes somehow both wild and unfocused, but nonetheless set on Angela. When Angela smiled, Moira did too, and they both chuckled softly as Moira’s vest fell to the floor.  Angela leaned in, planting a firm, chaste kiss on Moira’s lips, and she could feel Moira’s smile. When she pulled away, Angela’s words were more breath than voice, “How do you want to do this?”

She could stay like this, of course. Moira could easily work her hand between Angela’s legs as they sat, but Angela longed for something different, something more. Yes, they were already far more intimate than they had been in Moira’s office, where they had never so much as kissed. But somehow Angela felt that more was necessary. She could finish like this, yes. She was well aware of how up to the task Moira’s fingers were, but tonight? Tonight would be different.

But it had only just occurred to her that she had no idea what Moira might prefer. Because their previous encounters had always been centered around Angela and very goal-oriented in that regard, she hadn’t yet experienced what Moira might want. She’d certainly dreamt a variety of ways that Moira might want to take control, yes, but who knows how well-founded those thoughts were?

“What?” Moira mumbled quietly against Angela’s skin as she moved her lips from the crook of Angela’s neck across the top of her shoulder in a trail of warm, chaste kisses. Her hands were already back in motion; she’d looped the opposite arm this time around Angela’s waist and now when her hand returned to kneading Angela’s ass roughly it did so beneath Angela’s black satin panties. As wonderful as it felt, far more distracting was the newfound activity of Moira’s other hand which had begun in much the same place as her lips, but rather than following along her shoulder Moira trailed her fingers down along Angela’s clavicle, and when Moira filled her palm with one of Angela’s swollen breasts, letting her nipple settle neatly in the crook between her thumb and forefinger, Angela groaned with appreciation.

Maybe she didn’t need to ask Moira what she wanted. Moira seemed happy to just do as she pleased, and Angela found it didn’t bother her one bit. But the question had already been asked, and Angela smirked, turning her face toward Moira’s as she finished her trip out to her shoulder, eager to see that flustered look. She cleared her throat and adopted the best bedroom voice she could, not that it was a stretch given her current state: “I asked, Moira, how you wanted to fuck.”

Moira’s mismatched eyes were wide, the pupils dark pools of wanting in the golden glow of the lamps, but otherwise she seemed not nearly so flustered as Angela had expected her to become. Then again, her cheeks had already been flushed, her breath already quickened. Moira seemed to think for a moment, and she licked her lips, grinning as she moved to press her lips against Angela’s ear, husking hotly, “Frequently.

The tables had turned, and Angela felt the blush spread from her chest up all the way to her ears, and she didn’t bother stifling the groan the response had elicited. She turned her head, pressing her cheek into Moira’s, and spoke directly into her ear in turn, “Mmmm, good. But I mean tonight.

Moira pulled her head back, settling into the chair as she adopted a look of contemplation, smiling at Angela while continuing the work of each of her hands. Angela didn’t take her eyes from Moira’s thoughtful gaze, but she found herself once again moving her body in a sort of rhythm as she straddled Moira. She alternated between pushing against Moira’s hand as it massaged her breast, squeezing and rubbing lightly around her nipple, and continuing to try to coax Moira’s lower hand to move further between her legs. Soon Moira’s hand trailed from Angela’s breast to rest over her baby bump, and Moira still smiled but her tone was much more clinical, “I’m not sure what you can and can’t do.”

Angela busied her hands picking at the knot in Moira’s tie, also falling easily into a more clinical manner, though Moira’s hand was still tucked into the back of her panties, kneading roughly, and she was not immune to the effects. “Well,” she huffed a bit with exasperation, and pouted down at the tie, “I did do some research on the matter some time ago, you know, just in case.”

“Just in case,” Moira smiled slyly at her, and Angela rolled her eyes, “Well? And what were your findings, Doctor?”

Angela stuck her tongue out tauntingly, but followed it immediately with a kiss before pulling back to continue, “My findings, Doctor O’Deorain,” With a final tug she pulled the knot loose, letting the strands fall limply across Moira’s chest. She placed a hand each on Moira’s shoulders, trailing her fingers along her shoulders and up her neck to once again move both hands through Moira’s hair. Moira seemed to relish the feeling, closing her eyes and tilting her head back, but she frowned upon hearing the results of Angela’s research, “Were that the existing literature is written for a particular audience.”

“A man,” Moira grunted, but she kept her eyes closed and leaned her head back into Angela’s working hands. Moira, too, put her hands to work, and Angela whimpered as Moira’s other hand found its way from her stomach to loop around her waist and Moira pulled Angela against her, a much more enjoyable sensation without the rough vest between them.

“It doesn’t matter,” Angela placed a kiss on Moira’s upturned chin, and she could feel Moira’s pulse on her lips as she trailed kisses down her neck to punctuate every couple of words, “We’re fairly educated,” a kiss, “I think that,” a kiss, “if we try really hard,” a kiss, “we’ll figure something out.”

Moira chuckled, and Angela felt it in her lips. “Is there anything you can’t do, though?”

Angela pulled back and gave a shrug. Despite the fairly objective approach to the conversation, Moira’s machinations with her hands, feeling herself pressed wholly against her body, left her aching for Moira and she knew her small whimpers, her heavy breathing, were still apparent. She saw no reason to hide them, “Anything I’m comfortable doing, really. I probably just shouldn’t lay on my stomach for long periods,” Despite everything, she felt she probably blushed a bit, “Or have you put too much of your weight directly on top of me.”

Moira lifted her head, her eyes open, and nodded. She licked her lips, and Angela felt she seemed nervous again, “But the resources, for the men and women. They had . . . directions?”

Angela nodded and gave another shrug, “Mmmm, just positions.” She suddenly felt a bit nervous herself, and her blush continued, she was sure of it, “Ah, the woman on her hands and knees with the man behind her seemed popular, probably because it puts no strain on the stomach and little on the back,” Moira’s eyes were unfocused, but when she licked her lips Angela was fairly certain she was still listening, “There were ways to prop the woman up with pillows for missionary position so the man didn’t have to be right on top of her. Let’s see . . . the woman on top.” She grinned, surveying her position in Moira’s lap, “This was one of them. There was another one, I know it,” Angela tried to picture the ridiculous stick-figure drawings in the brochure Dr. Meier had surreptitiously sent her home with during the visit she’d made alone, “Ah, like, both people on their sides, like spooning but . . . with sex.” Angela found herself laughing, “I’m sorry, I’m sure there’s a more clinical way to describe all that.”

At some point in all of that Moira had retracted her hands, and Angela felt cold. She was still in Moira’s lap, but Moira had returned her hands to the chair’s armrests, and with her nails she was picking at the corners of them. “If, um,” Moira licked her lips, and when she looked away sheepishly Angela leaned forward to place her lips against Moira’s reddened ear, “If it’s easier that way I . . . I do have a, uh, a strap-on.”

Angela heard her own breath whoosh against Moira’s ear, and she knew it must have been deafening to Moira, though she didn’t flinch away, just continued to look off toward the AmbiUV with flush all along her cheeks and across her ears. Angela’s mind was elsewhere, and she’d felt her body clench at the very thought. She’d discounted the brochure marketed towards traditional man/woman couples, but now she couldn’t help it, unbidden visuals of every position ran through her mind: Moira behind her, Moira on top of her, Moira underneath her, Moira holding her while they lay side by side. “G-“ It was Angela’s turn to swallow hard, and she simply breathed, “Get it.”

Shaking her head to bring herself back, Angela quickly backed herself out of Moira’s lap, standing to allow Moira to fetch it. Moira nodded obediently and stood, looking around her quarters with a frown, “I . . . have no idea where I put it,” she said sheepishly, “This might be a minute.” She stepped around Angela to the bedside table and began opening drawers, digging eagerly through them.

Angela took the opportunity to settle into Moira’s chair and remove her winter boots and long socks, and she hoped that as she settled back into the chair, crossing one leg over the other, she looked as sexy as she imagined. Not that it would have been noticed, as Moira paid her no mind, grumbling to herself as she pushed items around in the drawer. Angela watched with amusement. Moira’s tie still hung loose around her neck, and her hair was well and thoroughly mussed from Angela’s hands. When Moira slid the drawer closed again with an exasperated sigh Angela frowned, “No luck? Are you sure it’s here?”

“Yes,” Moira said with surprising conviction, “It’s definitely here, I’d not lose it.” She cast a look around her quarters, running her hand through her hair, “Somewhere. Ah,” In two strides she had disappeared into the en suite. Angela lost sight of Moira, but the overhead light clicked on and Angela heard her rummaging through the small closet. The exasperated grunts and the sound of shuffling and a few items even hitting the ground stirred Angela’s curiosity enough to offer to help, but by the time she had stood Moira gave a victorious “Ah-ha.” A long scraping sound heralded something being dragged from a high shelf.

The light clicked off, and Moira emerged from the en suite with a large, rectangular leather case under her arm. She looked pleased as she slid the box onto the table, taking a moment to brush bits of dust off her shoulders and out of her hair.

“Is it studded with diamonds?” Angela’s attention was wholly devoted to the box, a black leather affair with metallic clasps like a briefcase, it even had a handle for carrying the case.

“Not quite,” Moira laughed, but she looked a little embarrassed, tapping her fingernails anxiously on the top of the case for a moment. She seemed to be considering something, but shook her head and undid the clasps to push open the lid with a snap.

It didn’t look so different from what Angela would expect. The box itself was interesting, clearly custom-made to hold the toy which was nestled in foam perfectly cut to fit it. There was a bundle of fabric rolled in the top left, likely the harness. The bulk of the case was taken up by the actual toy which was nearly black with a lined pattern throughout it, maybe 16 centimeters long and 3.5 centimeters wide if Angela had to guess on the fly. A small black box, maybe 7 by 7 centimeters, was the only other item in the box.

“I hadn’t imagined you would be one to own a fancy toy,” Angela smirked, raising an eyebrow at Moira.

Moira ran her hands along her pant legs and laughed nervously, “This was, ah, a gift. I’ve had it for a long time.”

“Mmmmm, what’s so special about it that it gets such a fancy case?” Angela reached forward slowly, giving Moira a chance to stop her, but when she didn’t she took that as permission and grabbed the toy, lifting it out of the case. It was approximately as pliable as any she had used before, some give but not too much, though it was heavier than what she would have expected, and the base which usually seemed to be flared for use with a harness or possibly feature a suction cup instead had a metallic disc attached to it.

“Ah, it’s not important, we won’t . . . we don’t have to do that part,” Moira’s ears were red and she was reaching to grab the bundle of fabric. She unfurled a harness stylized to look like black boxer briefs with white trim, though when she did so Angela heard a bit of a clacking noise and presumed there were adjustable straps inside.

“Do what?” Angela was uniquely curious. She’d be curious no matter what, but the idea of Moira pulling this mystery device out of her closet was absolutely intriguing, “What’s it do?”

Moira seemed to consider for a moment, but swallowed hard and nodded, apparently to herself. “I had a roommate, when I was in undergrad. She designed this.” Angela bit back a quip about sex toy experimentation and college roommates, Moira already seemed on-edge enough as it was. Moira took the toy from Angela’s hand delicately, and held it to the light for her to see, pointing out the grey lines throughout its surface, “Circuitry, see?”

Angela nodded. The entire toy was covered with interwoven circuitry, “What does it do?”

Moira held up the harness in her other hand and showed Angela the attachment point. It wasn’t a simple O-ring like any other Angela had seen, there was some sort of locking mechanism, and as Moira brought the metallic, notched base of the toy to it and twisted it into place it locked audibly. Moira held up the combined device, “So we can use this, just like any other.”

“But why the circuits?” Angela was getting cold again, and she could feel gooseflesh rising on her arms and legs.

“My roommate, she was interested in matter manipulation,” Moira explained quickly, and from the cadence of her voice it was clear to Angela she was nervous, trying to get the explanation over with quickly, “The kind of stuff that eventually led to hard light. It wasn’t anywhere near hard light, back then, nothing permanent.” Moira set the assembled strap-on on the table and fetched the small black box from the case, popping it open to reveal a metallic hoop a bit wider than the toy.

“You have a cock ring for your strap-on?” Angela quirked an eyebrow, and Moira’s exasperated glare made her giggle.

“It’s not a cock ring, Angela,” She said with a bit of a snap, and Angela struggled greatly to avoid laughing at the absurdity of Moira snapping about cock rings. Moira seemed to consider for a moment, then shrugged, “Well, not in that sense, it isn’t.”

“Okay,” Angela shrugged, leaning against the table, “Tell me about your hard light strap-on, I’m listening.”

Moira huffed a bit and ran her free hand through her hair before continuing, holding the hoop up as she explained, “She was studying mechanical engineering, this was her thesis, and this,” Moira motioned casually to the case and its contents, “Was the prototype she designed to test it.”

“So what does it actually do?

“It’ll be easier to show you,” Moira set the hoop down carefully on the foam in the open case and picked up the harness again. She once again pointed to the circuits on the toy, “Circuitry.” She turned the harness inside out, and Angela saw that indeed at the very top of the thigh and following the waistband were small leather straps which could be tightened.  But there was more inside too: Moira was running her fingers along lines of circuitry that ran from behind the attachment point of the toy, down across the front to where, sitting between what would be the wearer’s legs, was another metallic attachment point, “Circuitry.”

She looked to Angela to be sure she was following along, and when she was certain she was, she took the hoop back in hand. When she spoke again, her voice was nervous, “She wasn’t able to harness hard-light, of course, not in those days. But she was able to generate matter in a similar fashion, it just wasn’t very stable.

“Dangerous?” Angela furrowed her brow.

“Ah, no, not that kind of unstable. Just . . . temporary. Very temporary.”  

“So you couldn’t build with it.”

“No, and so everyone thought it was worthless,” Moira chuckled a bit, “And I guess if you want to build buildings it was, but, uh . . . she decided to make something different. As a proof of concept. This is one of her prototypes.”

“Show me how it works,” Angela was too curious to be cold now, though she was growing restless to continue their previous activities.

“Mmmm,” Moira nodded and unceremoniously affixed the metallic hoop to the interior notch, and the hoop began to give off the lightest of glows, “To create a bit of light to work with, you don’t notice it once it’s on,” Moira explained. She licked her lips and kept her attention on the toy, not looking to Angela, “Anyways, um, essentially she wired a strap-on so that any stimulation gets transferred and recreated with temporary light by the paired attachment.” She held the harness out to Angela, “You can see for yourself, if you want.”

Oh, Angela wanted. Gingerly she reached out a hand, and while she did notice the toy was now a bit warmer to the touch, she was far too distracted by the other event as her fingers wrapped around the shaft of the toy: from the glowing ring of the interior attachment a soft light spring forth, and she saw a pattern similar to that of her own grip illuminated in the air with a placement which mirrored that of her hand’s placement on the toy’s shaft.

“This is really impressive,” Angela said incredulously, running her thumb along the toy and seeing light follow suit. With a grin she used her other hand to hold the harness in place, stroking up and down the toy. She giggled as she saw light spring forth from the attachment, but more than that she was amused by Moira’s sudden cough as she grabbed the toy back from Angela. Angela just hummed, “So is she a sex toy mogul now? I bet people would pay good money for that.”

“Mmmmm,” Moira shrugged, “Good money, but not enough. These cost several thousand dollars to build.”

Several thousand?”

Moira nodded, gesturing to it, “The circuitry is very complex, I suppose? I never understood it, but I guess since it has to respond to both movement and pressure in order to get the right, uh, tightness sensation?” Moira coughed, “It . . . the tighter the receiver is, the more the wearer feels it. It costs too much to build, with all the pressure sensors and circuitry. They told her the idea was interesting but it wasn’t a feasible consumer product.” Moira smiled, “So she, uh, let me keep her prototype after she graduated.”

“And it’s safe?” Angela was getting antsy.

“Completely,” Moira nodded, “I’ve had it since college.”

“Right, then I guess I don’t have to worry we’ll break your ten thousand dollar sex toy,” Angela knew enough to sate her curiosity, and there were other things she needed Moira to sate tonight, and sooner rather than later. She wanted to lay her chin on Moira’s shoulder, to whisper in her ear, but she found herself woefully too short. Instead she stepped around Moira, running her hand lazily along the small of Moira’s back as she did so, certain she felt Moira shudder. She settled herself, still dressed only in her black satin panties, on Moira’s bedside. Laying back, propped on her elbows, she smiled mischievously at Moira, who was watching her closely, “Let’s see what it can do then.”

A flush spread across Moira’s face, but she nodded, tossing the toy unceremoniously onto the ground at Angela’s feet. It bounced a bit, and Angela saw a flash of temporary light when the toy end hit the carpet. Moira stepped toward the bed, wrestling with the buttons on her sleeves as she lowered herself onto the bed, a knee on each side of Angela’s bare thighs, a reversal from before.

“Mmmmm,” Angela hummed approvingly as she sat up, freeing her hands to help Moira. With their combined impatience they made quick work of Moira’s shirt which fluttered to the floor beside the bed. Finding Moira wearing no bra that needed to be dealt with, Angela took over at Moira’s belt while Moira turned her attention to Angela. She looped one long arm around her waist and tangled a hand in Angela’s hair to tilt her head upward coaxing her to return Moira’s hungry kiss.

Working blindly and finding herself wonderfully distracted by Moira’s probing tongue, Angela fumbled clumsily with Moira’s belt for some time, enough to earn a chuckle from Moira, before she eventually was able to find her way to Moira’s button, fly, and finally hook her fingers under Moira’s waistband. With an enthusiastic hum Angela pushed Moira’s pants down to bunch around her knees, and Moira stood, kicking off her shoes quickly and stepping out of her pants.

As Angela thought back to her dreams she had always imagined Moira in boxer briefs. Well, she’d imagined Moira wore boxer briefs, she was rarely in them for long in Angela’s dreams. She felt a certain sense of satisfaction to find she was right. When Moira finished kicking her shoes and pants to the side she turned her attention to Angela, looking down at her with an endearing, apprehensive grin as she ran a hand through her messy red hair. Angela beamed encouragingly back at her, and Moira blushed from nose to ears.

As uneasy as she might have seemed, her trepidation had its limits, and Angela inhaled sharply as Moira fell to her knees beside the bed. When she felt Moira’s fingers moving lightly up her calves she moved on cue, parting her legs and lifting her hips when Moira’s fingers danced up her thighs and hooked under the waistband of Angela’s panties. With a tug her panties were gone, joining the pile of Moira’s clothes beside the bed, and when Angela lowered her hips again she made sure to situate herself at the very edge of the bed.

It was easy enough, with Moira’s hands guiding her, to hook a knee over each of Moira’s bare, beautifully freckled shoulders, and Angela had to fight the urge to use her legs to pull Moira close as she began slowly tracing her lips up the inside of Angela’s thigh. The kisses were chaste at first, just as theirs had been, but as Moira worked herself closer to the top of Angela’s bare legs, as Angela leaned back onto her elbows instinctively, Angel felt Moira’s hot, wet tongue, felt her licking and sucking lightly at her sensitive thighs. It wasn’t long before she began to whimper, and thrust her hips lightly toward Moira, trying to coax her onward. Moira stopped her work momentarily, pressing her cheek against Angela’s bare skin as she turned her eyes upward to meet Angela’s wanting gaze. It was striking, Angela thought, how similar her expression was to that she’d had when they’d woken up together, that same almost sleepy smile as she watched Angela silently.

“Please keep going, Moira,” Angela wasn’t sure if she’d said it because she was worried they might replay that event, that somehow they would be interrupted, that she’d be worked up and kicked out. But she felt it was far more likely that she’d simply had enough of this build-up.

Moira’s breath puffed against her leg as she smiled, and she turned her attention to the opposite thigh, though this time she moved more quickly, and it wasn’t long before Angela let her head fall back, giving a low moan as she felt Moira’s warm, wet tongue pressed flatly against her entrance. She might have moaned Moira’s name, or she might have simply thought it, but Moira needed no further encouragement either way.

She wasn’t as rough or urgent as she had been with her fingers in her lab; she was slow, methodical. She wrapped her arms around Angela’s thighs, holding them in place on her shoulders as she licked a steady, languid path. She had a pattern, agonizingly unhurried and blissfully perfect: She would lay the flat of her tongue against Angela’s entrance, moving just enough to let the tip of her tongue dip teasingly into her before moving a firm, slow path through Angela’s folds. She would let the tip of her tongue flick lightly against Angela’s swollen clit, earning a whimper from her each and every time, before pressing against her clit with her lips, sucking and humming lightly for a few perfect seconds before pulling away with a last flick of her tongue to begin the whole process over again.

It was maddening, and after only a few rounds of this, each pass leaving Moira paying a bit more attention to Angela’s clit than the last, Angela found her breath was coming ragged, and she couldn’t stop herself from thrusting herself against Moira, aching for more pressure. “Moira,” She whispered huskily, and though Moira didn’t stop she did give an inquisitive hum. She continued what she was doing, which currently involved sucking lightly at Angela’s clit, but she turned her gaze upward to Angela and Angela felt there was a good chance she might come undone just then, “If—“ She huffed a bit, “If you keep doing that,” She whimpered as Moira punctuated this round with a final flick of her tongue, then pressed the flat of her tongue to her entrance again, never taking her eyes from Angela’s, “I’ll finish before I get to see—“ Angela broke off into a groan as Moira’s pattern found her back at her clit, but she got her point across well enough.

Moira sat back onto her heels, gingerly removing Angela’s trembling legs from her shoulders. Angela found it difficult to focus as she leaned on her elbows, watching Moira move to tower above the bed. She stooped down to grab the toy, speaking quietly to Angela, “How . . . did you want to actually do this?” She looked toward Angela, and her confident, lustful expression was sheepish now, “You said it was easiest on you if I’m behind you?”

Angela’s mouth was dry, but she licked her lips, simultaneously nodding and shrugging, “It seemed the most popular among the different recommendations. We can try it and see?”

Moira was nodding, and Angela forced her attention fully on the Irishwoman. She wasn’t looking at Angela anymore, having turned to the side, her attention on the harness in her hand. She took a shaky breath and ran her free hand through her hair before hooking her thumbs into the waistband of her boxer briefs, pushing them down in one smooth motion. Angela grinned; even Moira’s thighs had a light but noticeable smattering of freckles. Wasting no time, in the same motion Moira stepped into the harness. She threw a nervous glance at Angela, who looked on earnestly, and as she stood, dragging the harness up her legs as she did so, she turned fully away from Angela.

“Awwww,” Angela pouted, “That’s no fun.” She meant it, but she was laughing all the same, “Come on, Moira,” She reached out a bare foot, still trembling, trailing her toes up the back of Moira’s calf, “Let me see.”

“I look ridiculous in this thing,” Moira grunted quietly, and from the way her arms were moving, the muscles in her back flexing, the way the fabric rustled, Angela knew she was adjusting the two different attachments.

“I doubt it,” Angela said, pushing herself off the bed. She both saw and then felt Moira stiffen as she situated herself behind her, placing her hands lightly on her hips. Moira was continuing to struggle with the toy, and Angela pressed her forehead to Moira’s back, following with a chase kiss to Moira’s spine. She grinned, “Want some help?”

“N-no,” Moira grunted roughly, “It’s just hard to adjust and I haven’t done this in . . . a long time, that’s all.”

“Take your time, then,” Angela pressed another kiss to Moira’s spine, and as she rested her forehead against her again she grinned, “You should wear your lab coat less.”

“Hmmmm?”

“You have a nice ass, Moira,” Angela said simply, and when Moira laughed Angela felt the reverberations.

“I’ll take it under advisement,” She was smiling, Angela could hear it in her voice, but her tone lowered a bit as she turned her head, speaking over her shoulder, “Uh . . . if you’re ready, you can get on the bed now.”

Angela squeezed Moira’s hips as she turned back toward the bed. She’d considered, of course, sitting back on the edge of the bed, waiting for Moira to turn. She really was so very curious to see Moira like this, but she noted with some dismay that Moira kept her face turned so she could watch Angela. She should be happy, she supposed, that Moira hadn’t insisted on turning off the lights. So obediently she crawled onto Moira’s clean, little-used sheets.

She felt a little silly, and it occurred to her that in order to save Moira some embarrassment she was experiencing some herself. She didn’t mind so much, she was far too focused on quelling the pulsing heat that Moira’s tongue had stirred within her. She sat back on her heels, her back to Moira, waiting.

She heard Moira shuffling, heard the drawer of the bedside table roll open, and it took all her will not to turn around, “Forget something?”

Moira grunted, and Angela heard her rummaging for a moment before the drawer slid shut again and a small bottle of lubricant was tossed onto the bed beside her. She chuckled a bit as she felt the mattress sink as Moira climbed onto the bed beside her, “You’ve done a wonderful job, I don’t think that will be necessary.”

Moira grunted again, and Angela shuddered as she felt Moira’s long fingers laid lightly over her shoulders, “Say that in ten years.” Angela bit her lip, embarrassed. How had she not even thought of . . . ? She should have done something for Moira.

But before she could turn Moira was already pushing lightly on her shoulders, nudging her onto her hands and knees, and Angela readily obliged, shifting a bit when she felt Moira’s knees guiding hers apart. Moira scooped up the bottle and Angela heard the bottle snap open, then shut again before Moira tossed it across the bed. It was an exercise in self-control to not push her hips back, try to blindly search for Moira while she listened to fabric rustle, heard Moira groan softly.

Then Moira’s hands were on her hips, and Moira’s voice was low, heavy, “Are you ready?”

“I was ready months ago,” Angela grumbled, and Moira let out a loud bark of laughter that made Angela laugh too.

“Well,” Moira said quietly, and Angela felt slick fingers parting her delicately, “I’m sorry you had to wait, but I’m here now.”

Angela held back a groan as Moira removed her fingers and she felt them replaced by the warm, soft pressure of the toy. Moira didn’t bother to hold back her own groan, and Angela remembered how even the slightest stroke of her finger along the toy had been enough to generate a response from the paired attachment. Moira was still for a moment, and Angela could hear her steadying her breaths. Soon, though, Moira’s breath picked up pace along with her movements as Moira shifted, pushing the toy forward through Angela’s folds to let it rub lightly over Angela’s clit, and they both groaned loudly. “Moira,” Angela husked, shifting her hips forward to bring the toy closer to her entrance, “Please.”

Moira’s weight shifted rapidly as she repositioned herself, her right hand holding Angela’s hip steady. Angela felt the pressure of the toy, and with a quiet gasp Moira slipped inside her, slow and shallow, barely a few centimeters, then out again. In again, deeper this time but just as slow, and out again. Moira punctuated each steady, deepening thrust with a grunt, and it dawned on Angela that she wasn’t actually worried about Angela, but that Moira had to adjust to the attachment as well. It took every bit of control Angela had to not push herself back, force Moira deep inside of her.

But her wait was not long, and both women shuddered as Moira finally pulled Angela’s hips back, thrusting deep until Angela felt Moira’s thighs against the backs of her own. Holding there, Moira leaned forward, the toy pressing down inside of Angela earning a pleased whimper, “Alright, Angela?” Moira began a slow rhythm, halfway out, then smoothly back in.

“Mmmhmmmmm,” Was all Angela said, and it came out somewhere between a whine and a moan. She bit her lip as Moira slid out again, and she matched Moira’s movements as well as she was able. The toy was a bit bigger than she was accustomed to from her own toy collection, but the night of agonizingly slow build-up had left her more than ready, “Yes, perfect, just not—“ she grunted as Moira slid back in again, “Not too rough, not to start.”

“I seem to remember,” Moira’s words were intermixed with choppy, rough breaths in time with her thrusts, “You told me I could be as rough as I wanted.” Her throaty chuckle was intensely alluring, but she heeded Angela’s request, only changing her rhythm to occasionally punctuate her movements with several rapid, deep thrusts before returning quickly to her steady pace.

Before long both women were panting heavily. Angela hoped agent quarters were as sound-proofed as the officers’ quarters as neither seemed interested in stifling their whimpers and moans which came in sequence from both women. Angela had never experienced this, knowing her lover was feeling something so similar to what she was, and when Moira hissed quietly, “God, Angela you’re so tight,” after a strong, deep thrust it was nearly enough to send Angela over the edge then and there.  

As their breath came heavier, their whimpers giving way to groans and gasps, Angela’s legs began to shake and it was all she could do to keep herself in the air for Moira, lowering herself onto her elbows and burying her face in the sheets to stifle her loud groan brought about by the sudden shift in position.

Moira, too, grunted loudly and repositioned her knees to the outside of Angela’s, but if anything her pace quickened, and Angela gave up all pretense of matching her rhythm, focusing instead of simply staying up while Moira took her roughly from behind. Moira was speaking, barely audible above Angela’s own loud gasps and moans, and she turned her face to the side to hear, “—for so long, Angela.”

Angela could see sweat glistening on her body, and knew the same could be said for her. Moira smiled when she saw Angela look to her, her lips parted and her mismatched eyes dark and hungry. Angela had never seen anything so desirable, and she doubted she ever would.  Moira paused her thrusts and with a grunt she let herself fall forward, moving her hands from grasping at Angela’s hips to the bed at either side of Angela’s shoulders, supporting herself as she bent down to place a kiss at the base of Angela’s neck. Angela felt her hot, ragged breath against her sweaty skin, and she let out a long, low groan as Moira found a new rhythm here, the toy pushing more forcefully against Angela’s front wall. Moira let out a self-satisfied chuckle, balancing her weight on one hand to reach up and push Angela’s thoroughly tangled, sweaty blonde hair away from the side of her face, and when she’d succeeded she gave a satisfied hum.

“M-Moira,” Angela whined as her body began to tremble, “Moira I’m so close, please don’t stop.”

Moira’s low laugh was maddening, but it was her words that sent Angela past the edge as she growled, “Don’t worry, darling, I’ll take care of you.” And with that there was nothing Angela could do but bury her face back into the bed as she came, clenching and relaxing in waves around Moira. While Angela could stifle her groan against the sheets Moira had no such ability and didn’t seem to try as she cried out with surprise, losing her rhythm as she bore down on Angela with rough, rapid thrusts. The thought that Moira actually felt the effect of Angela’s walls clenching as she came, that they pushed Moira closer to her own end, was intoxicating and drew another bout of indulgent moans from Angela, “God, Angela,” Moira was finishing each word with another erratic thrust, “--even better than I imagined.”

“Mmmmmph,” Angela’s mind couldn’t fully wrap around that statement yet, but it did her head in all the same, and she lifted her head from the sheets long enough to gasp out something that at least resembled, “God, Moira, I want you to come inside me, please.” And that was enough. In what way Moira was able, she did just that, with a final forceful thrust and a loud, primal groan against Angela’s back.

 


 

 

Angela had woken to the sound of squeaky shower taps, and it took her some time to remember where she was. There was nothing from her skylight or her wide windows, the only light coming from a single sliver under the closed bathroom door. Moira’s quarters. She grinned and buried her face back into the pillow which smelled of Moira.

She remembered, hazily, curling up against Moira’s side after she had rolled weakly to the side rather than put her weight onto Angela. She remembered splaying her fingers out over Moira’s bare, sweaty stomach, and she remembered the way Moira was still gasping for air, but she was smiling, they both were.

She’d grumbled a bit, yes, when she pushed the harness down her bare legs, muttering at Angela that she told her it looked ridiculous. Angela just hummed and returned her head to lay on Moira’s shoulder, and though she thought they might have cuddled, kissed, possibly even talked some, she couldn’t remember if that had happened or been a pleasant dream she had drifted into.

She hadn’t heard Moira leave the bed, but apparently she’d found her way to the shower. Angela knew she was in desperate need of one as well, and she considered with a mischievous grin interrupting Moira. When she remembered how small the agent shower stalls were, especially when one considered Moira’s height and Angela’s pregnant state, she knew no good would come of that, only injury.

She considered making breakfast, but she remembered how barren Moira’s kitchenette had been; undoubtedly Moira took her meals from the mess halls. After a few minutes she heard the shower taps again, and began to hear the sounds of Moira dressing and getting ready for the day. Angela considered if she might not just pretend to be asleep. She didn’t want to avoid Moira, not at all, but she was curious if Moira would wake her to say goodbye.  It turns out there was no use in pretending, though, as she drifted back to sleep to the sound of Moira moving about in the bathroom, comfortable and warm in Moira’s bed.

“Angela,” Moira’s voice was soft, barely a whisper, and it probably wouldn’t have been enough to rouse Angela again had she not also run her hand down Angela’s bare back. Angela blinked away her confusion, and when her eyes finally focused again Moira was sitting on the bedside next to her, fully dressed and ready to leave. The AmbiUV was on, bathing the room in a soft pink light mimicking a rising sun.

“Moira,” was all Angela could think to say for a moment, and her head felt no clearer when Moira leaned down to place a chaste kiss on her cheek. Angela groaned, pushing her meekly away, “I’m sweaty and gross.”

“Mmmmm,” Moira didn’t deny it, simply smiled, “My fault though,” she smirked as she placed another kiss on Angela’s shoulder.

“All your fault,” Angela smiled, closing her eyes and resting her head against the pillow. After a moment she sighed, “I suppose you’re leaving for work and I need to go home.”

“I am leaving for work,” Moira confirmed, “But you don’t have to leave if you don’t want. I just wanted to say goodbye before I left.”

“Sweet,” Angela said, and she meant it.

Moira asked with trepidation, “You remember what I said, right? That I’m still busy?”

Angela nodded, yawning sleepily as she opened her eyes again to watch Moira, “I remember.”

She could see Moira’s jaw clenched, and the older woman nodded, “Alright. I’ll do my best to not disappear, Angela, I promise.”

“I know you will,” Angela smiled, “Just promise me not three weeks without hearing from you again.”

“Never three weeks, I promise.”

Angela hummed appreciatively, letting her eyes fall shut again. She cleared her throat when she heard Moira rise, “Where do you think you’re going?”

She could hear Moira’s confused expression in her voice, “Work? My lab, downstairs?”

Angela tsked quietly, looking to Moira, “You promised me two more minutes tacked on at the end.”

Moira’s laugh was quiet and charming. “Mmmm, a promise is a promise, I suppose,” she was saying as Angela felt her regain her seat on the edge of the bed. Angela fell asleep again there, with Moira sitting beside her softly stroking her cheek, and when she woke again the AmbiUV was bright and Moira was gone.

 

Chapter Text

Angela’s day passed much like any other, though she found that she felt lighter. The tension of the past weeks, even the past months, had been driven away by Moira’s attentions, and Angela returned to work refreshed in virtually every way. This feeling followed her throughout the week, though a twinge of loneliness did set in. It was good that Moira had warned her, told her she was busy, or else Angela might have seen her absence as a slight. But it was easier with forewarning, and it seemed Moira had an uncanny knack for sensing her unease. Moira’s comms were typically short and formal, and they came at all hours of the day and night, a symptom of her hectic schedule, yet somehow they always seemed to come right as Angela began to feel doubt, began to worry.

modeorain.rd3.zurich:  I’m going to try to sleep now. I hope you are doing well. Good night.

Moira’s first message had been sent in the middle of the night, a worrying full day after Moira had left Angela asleep in her bed. By the time Angela had seen it she was certain Moira was sleeping, and she didn’t respond for fear of waking her.

modeorain.rd3.zurich: Reviewer #2 has no idea what they are talking about and I don’t think they’ve ever stepped foot in a lab. I hope your day went better than mine. Good night.

Angela had been awake when Moira sent her second message, naturally, as it was only 1500, and again Angela worried for Moira.

aziegler.med1.zurich: Please take care of yourself, Moira. I know you’re busy, but exhaustion is just going to hurt in the end.

She’d set her comm unit back into her desk drawer, but couldn’t resist pulling it back out with a grin.

aziegler.med1.zurich: Do you want me to come help you fall asleep? I’m sure I can spare some time for a house call.

She was forlorn when no response came, and she felt a bit embarrassed for her forwardness before realizing Moira had likely just fallen asleep immediately after comming. Her response was delayed until 0428.

modeorain.rd3.zurich:  I’m sorry, I fell asleep.
modeorain.rd3.zurich:  Maybe some other time?
modeorain.rd3.zurich:  Only if you want.
modeorain.rd3.zurich:  I’m sorry I’m sure you’re asleep now, forget what I said.
modeorain.rd3.zurich:  I hope you are doing well. I’ll see you tomorrow afternoon. I’ll come get you.

Angela smirked as she read the series of comms, each sent several minutes apart, imagining a sleepy Moira sending each one. She was also pleased that Moira was right, they had a prenatal the following day. She was anxious to see Moira again. Without seeing her since their night together Angela had felt at least a bit of worry. The comms were helping keep it at bay, but it was always there, Moira’s voice: “I shouldn’t have stayed. I shouldn’t have done what I did.” She told herself that her worries were unfounded, that Moira was simply busy, as she said she would be, Moira wouldn’t be avoiding her. She’d heard it in Moira’s voice that night too, heard her words. “—even better than I imagined.” Instead of worry, these words brought a different feeling altogether to Angela, a warm, tense feeling deep within her, and it left her longing to see Moira. No, surely Moira didn’t regret what they’d done.

But Angela became worried when Moira arrived later than expected. When Angela released the door Moira was smiling as well, though with marked trepidation which faded somewhat as Angela invited her in.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t come earlier,” Moira explained quickly as she stepped in, “It’s been—“

“Busy,” Angela finished, not hesitating to wrap her arms around Moira’s waist, “I know.”

Moira stiffened in a way which gave Angela a feeling of panic. Surely she didn’t regret it. Surely. Angela nearly sobbed, suddenly feeling quite hollow, as she felt Moira’s hands wrap around her upper arms and Moira gently pushed her away. It was only when one of Moira’s hands found her chin and lifted her face, when Moira hesitated only briefly before placing a delicate kiss on Angela’s lips, that Angela finally felt her uncertainty from the week washed way. The kiss was cautious, chaste, but with a firmness that suggested a masked longing. It was a kiss, a sensation, she had come to identify as uniquely Moira. It wasn’t until Angela opened her mouth, pressing her tongue against Moira’s lips in a request for more, that Moira really did push her away, though it was with a shy laugh. She was running her hand through her hair as she explained, “I’ve cut it a bit close, and we need to leave if we’re going to make it on time.”

She was right, of course. Angela had to admit if Moira had indulged her they may not make it to the appointment at all. She gave an exaggerated sigh as she donned her coat and scarf, “If you say so. After all,” She winked, holding her hand out for Moira’s, “The sooner we go the sooner we get back.”

Moira huffed, her cheeks pink as she took Angela’s hand. They spent the walk to the car talking about innocuous things. The weather was beautiful and it deserved a mention; most agents weren’t even on campus and the parking lot was virtually empty as everyone took to the slopes or went to the city to enjoy the weekend. Moira filled Angela in on the current attempts to placate Reviewer #2, and Angela commiserated with her own stories. Angela had not published in many years, focusing most of her efforts on oversight and on training the next generation of combat medics, but she knew the frustration well from years past, and Moira seemed to appreciate her understanding.

The ride, too, was spent in pleasant conversation. Now it was Angela’s turn to discuss the comings and goings of her life thus far: The baby was kicking more often, but she seemed to have settled into a schedule that Angela could sleep around, at least for the most part; Lena was as over-zealous as ever regarding planning the baby shower; Ana Amari had been keeping Angela busy helping to coordinate the upcoming recruitment event; and Angela was in need of a few more articles of maternity clothing, particularly shoes, as her feet had begun to swell slightly.

By the time Moira was holding Angela’s door open for her, helping her out of the small car, Angela began to wonder if they weren’t both deliberately avoiding the topic of their night together. But the opportunity to address it had just passed, and Angela spent their waiting room time looking wistfully at the framed baby footprints. Seven more perfect pairs of tiny footprints had been hung on the wall since their first meeting, and Angela rested a hand on her stomach with a smile.

It wasn’t until after they’d been called back, after Angela found she’d gained the recommended 2 kilograms since the previous visit, and after Lars had motioned toward the gown with the prancing deer near the privacy curtain that they were left truly alone again.

Considering Nora always knocked before entering, as physicians were trained to do, Angela no longer saw a point in ducking behind the privacy curtain to don the gown. After all, she reminded herself with a blush, she had crawled onto her hands and knees, naked and wanting, on Moira’s bed. What more was there to hide? Moira shifted in her seat as Angela began to undress, but said nothing, and when Angela turned, sufficiently gowned, to face her Moira was looking away, her ears red.

“Moira,” Angela began, but an untimely knock from Dr. Meier at the door put an end to Angela’s chance at a conversation.

Nora was her usual cheery self, though she grew concerned when Angela reported the fall. “We went immediately to the medical unit at Overwatch and had an ultrasound done,” Angela assured her, but she had to admit she was ashamed she hadn’t thought to call Nora about it. It was discourteous on a professional level at the very least. She had just been so caught up in everything that happened afterward that she had not thought to do so.

Nora seemed understanding, however, and simply was particularly thorough in the physical exam, and she spent extra time examining the ultrasound. “And you experienced no spotting or cramping after?”

Angela shook her head.

“Any changes to the baby’s movement?”

“Nothing right away, but she’s been kicking more and more each week.” Angela explained, “I had presumed that was a good sign rather than a bad one.”

Nora nodded, “Yes, and everything looks good here,” she motioned to the ultrasound screen, “Just do me a favor and try to keep me in the loop next time?”

“Of course,” Angela did truly feel bad, though Nora didn’t seem terribly bothered, “I’m sorry, really.”

“It’s fine, Angela, if I can’t trust Overwatch’s head of medicine to know what’s best, who can I trust?” Nora laughed as she packed up the ultrasound, speaking over her shoulder conversationally to the two women, “So, fun plans for Thursday?”

Angela’s breath caught. She was going to ask Moira about this, it had been on her mind a lot since their night together. But she’d not gotten around to it yet. She bit her lip as she looked earnestly to Moira. Moira was looking with equal apprehension to Angela, but she moved her gaze quickly to Nora with a shrug, running her hand through her hair, “I’m . . . not sure. I’m very busy.”

Nora gave a small “harrumph” sound, and Angela wondered if she were about to see Moira receive a lecture on the care and keeping of a grumpy pregnant woman, but Nora simply shrugged right back at Moira, giving a sigh, “Well, it’s certainly not my business, but in my experience most couples don’t want to miss out on their last Valentine’s Day without a baby in the house,” She turned to wink at Angela, who blushed slightly.

“I-I’m trying,” Moira grumbled quietly, her eyes on her shoes.

“Oh, ah, actually, I have another question for you,” Angela piped up. She felt she knew the answer, but she wanted to ask more for Moira’s benefit than her own. Well, technically it was for her benefit too, in a roundabout way, “How late into the third trimester will I be able to have sex?”

There was enough time before Nora’s response to hear Moira inhale sharply and let out a small cough, but if that was notable to Nora she gave no indication, “We’ve seen nothing on your ultrasound that would indicate any problems with the baby’s placement, and so the answer boils down to: As long as you’re comfortable having sex. In the final weeks most women find they are simply too uncomfortable to enjoy sexual activity,” Angela tried to shed her smirk as she sensed Moira fidgeting throughout Nora’s explanation, “But as long as you can find positions that you’re comfortable in, there isn’t any cause for concern. Oh, I have some pamphlets actually.”

Angela held up her hand, remembering the pamphlets Nora had provided for her, “Thank you, I still have the ones you gave me early on. I . . . we figured it out, thank you,” Angela fidgeted a bit herself.

“Wonderful, then,” Nora beamed at each woman, then reached into her pamphlet folder all the same, “Though, actually, I haven’t given you this one yet.”

“Birthing classes?” Angela asked as she read the proffered flier.

“They’re particularly helpful for first-time parents,” Nora explained, handing a copy of the flier to Moira, “I know both of you are probably too busy for the multi-week course, but there are one-day courses taught at the store down the street, in the evenings. I recommend them to all of my patients, they’ll help you recognize when you go into labor, how---“

“Is that hard? To recognize?” Moira asked, “I’d thought, that is, isn’t there . . . water?”

“Yes, though it’s not water, it’s amniotic fluid,” Nora explained. Something Angela particularly liked about Nora was her ability to explain things simply without talking down to her patients. Something about her smile, her tone, “And it can happen before labor, it can even happen well into labor, and sometimes it doesn’t happen at all and we have to cause the rupture ourselves. And it’s not like in films, not always. Sometimes it’s just a small amount that leaks over time. That’s precisely why I recommend the classes, they’ll help you know what to expect so you don’t go crazy when the day finally comes.”

Both women were quiet for a moment while they looked over the flier, and before Angela could speak up Moira did so, clearing her throat before saying, “We’ll look into them.” Angela felt a little silly over how much she enjoyed the idea of going to parenting classes with Moira, and she simply nodded in agreement.

“Alright then,” Nora said, apparently out of pamphlets to provide, “Just a reminder that after the next appointment we see a lot more of each other, twice monthly appointments,” Angela hoped Moira would be free of her shackles by then. As they shuffled out of the room Nora leaned to whisper in Angela’s ear, patting her on the shoulder encouragingly, “Good luck on Thursday.” She winked as she said goodbye, and Angela simply thanked her.

“What did she say to you?” Moira asked with a look of mild concern as they left the office.

Angela laughed, seeing no reason to hide it, and she looked forward to flustered Moira, which was definitely one of her favorite Moiras, “She wants me to get lucky on Valentine’s Day,” Angela grinned, and Moira simply picked up her pace to reach Angela’s car door before her.

“I’d like to go shopping, Moira, at the baby store,” Angela said plainly as Moira joined her in the car. As much as she’d like to continue their discussion of Valentine’s Day, she needed to steer them toward the store before Moira began their trip back to Overwatch.

“Today? Do you need to?” Moira sounded a bit . . . exasperated? “Are you out of clothes again?

Angela found she felt embarrassed, but she shook it off, “. . . sort of?” Her mind hadn’t strayed too far from Valentine’s Day, to be honest, and the clothes she had in mind were the more risqué pieces that Uschi had showed her when last they went. Even now, as her mind touched on the pieces and she imagined another date with Moira, another night, this time properly attired, her face grew hot, “There are just a few things I want to pick up this weekend. It won’t take long. Please?”

Moira gave a small grunt but nodded, pulling out of the car park to head toward the store in question. Her tone was quiet, apologetic, when she spoke, her eyes on the road ahead, “After last week I’m somewhat behind. If you—“ She looked briefly toward Angela and gave a nervous smile, but turned back to the road as she continued, “If you want to do something on Thursday I can’t spare much time today.”

Angela was a bit sad, she certainly had held on to a sliver of hope that Moira would come back to her quarters with her, stay with her. She nodded, then realized Moira wasn’t looking toward her, “I understand, then. I won’t browse, I’ll be quick.” Actually, this worked out well. She could keep her purchase a surprise for Moira, and she now could have confidence the purchase wouldn’t go to waste, “You can stay in the car, even, I’ll only be a minute.”

Moira scowled, “I’ll come in with you.” Angela could tell from her tone that she was remembering Angela’s fall, and so she didn’t protest. And considering how little time she could spend with Moira, she wasn’t about to turn her away.

As grumpy as she may have seemed about the shopping trip, Moira was attentive as ever, hurrying around the car to help Angela out, and when Moira looped her arm around her she was glad Moira had decided to join her. Moira, too, was smiling by the time she was holding the door for Angela, but as Angela smiled back her thanks Moira’s expression morphed to one of absolute horror.

“What’s wrong?” Angela asked nervously, turning to let her gaze follow Moira’s which was thoroughly fixed on a point behind her, “Oh.

“Oy, you made it!” Lena was waving excitedly at them from near the endcap of the baby shower aisle, “Didn’t know if you’d seen my messages, Angie!”

She had, of course. Ages ago, when they’d first planned to come browsing when Fareeha returned from her assignment. She hadn’t even thought they meant this store, this day. She cursed under her breath, and took note that Moira had put space between them that wasn’t there before. Still, she put on a bright smile and waved, walking toward Lena with Moira a long stride behind, “Heyyyyyyyyy,” She waved weakly, and as she reached the women she exchanged all the necessary greetings and pleasantries, “Yes, well, my obstetrician is just down the street, I thought I should drop in, see how things were going.”

Moira coughed and cleared her throat, “I, ah, couldn’t come earlier due to work. I rode down with Angela.” It was as good an explanation as any, but Angela was suddenly very aware they hadn’t yet had the all-important conversation: When? When would they tell their fellow Overwatch members about them? What would they tell them? Apparently Moira’s answers to these questions were ‘not now’ and ‘nothing’ as she introduced herself to Brigitte, Ingrid, and Emily as “another work colleague of Angela’s.”

“Well the gang’s all here then?” Emily was asking, and Angela was envious over how casually she looped her arm around Lena’s shoulder.

The shower aisle was, indeed, inundated with Overwatch personnel. Lena, Emily, Ana, Fareeha, Brigitte, Ingrid, and now Moira and Angela. It was clear they’d already been here for some time, and Ana said to Angela, “It’s good you’re here, you can settle some things for us,” causing Fareeha to roll her eyes.

Angela smiled, “I’m sure that whatever you pick is fine, I trust all of you.” And she did, truly. She wasn’t bothered over things like baby shower themes or color schemes, she was excited to see what they would plan on their own. But then, an idea, “Actually, um,” Angela smiled sympathetically toward Moira, knowing she would not be fond of Angela’s newfound plan, “I have a bit of my own shopping to do but, Dr. O’Deorain, if you want to join the ladies?”

Moira shot a pained look toward Angela, and a groan turned into an “Aaaalright” as she stiffly stepped forward to join the pack of women.

Angela smiled apologetically as she waved to the group, only looking back after a few steps to take far too much delight in seeing Moira towering above the group, looking out of place in many ways.

Eager to make her purchases before the women finished their task, Angela walked briskly into the clothing section and was quickly able to spot a few items that looked particularly nice to her. She tried to pick only one, but when she found it too difficult she let herself be hopeful, let herself imagine she might have multiple occasions to dress up for Moira in the coming months. She would buy a few. Just in case.

She would need a dress, as well, in case they went out again. Something nice so that she didn’t have to wear long socks like for their date, not to mention she would need something to wear for the upcoming recruitment gala. She frowned as she looked through the maternity formal wear. They had many beautiful dresses to choose from, but she worried about clashing too much with whatever Moira might wear. In the end she picked three dresses which had enough stretch in them to last her for the rest of the pregnancy: Black and white were shoo-ins, but she took a chance on the lavender. It would be better suited for spring events, but she wouldn’t be giving birth until June. She’d have time.

She decided to forego shoe shopping, conscious of the time crunch.

By the time she’d completed her purchase and brought her items, now safely tucked away in her shopping bags, to the shower aisle the women were busily chatting away about colors. When they saw her Lena pouted in her direction, “Angie, this would be a lot easier if you’d tell us whether you’re having a boy or a girl.”

Angela laughed, “It doesn’t matter, girls like blue and boys like pink, Lena, I’m sure whatever you all pick will be wonderful.” Angela looked to Moira, who was brooding near the edge of the group, and she placed her hand on Moira’s arm, “I’m done shopping, and feeling tired. Dr. O’Deorain, are you ready to go back?”

“Yes,” Moira said a bit too quickly, then turned to the group, “Ah, good luck. It was nice meeting you, Mrs. Lindholm, Brigitte, Emily. I’m sure we’ll see each other at the party.” She was already walking toward the door by the time Angela finished saying her own goodbyes, but Angela caught up as Moira held the door for her. “Why did you leave me?” Moira hissed as they exited. She looked back at the store for a time, then wrapped her arm around Angela as they walked to the car.

Angela laughed, leaning firmly against Moira, “I’m sorry, Moira, but I couldn’t think of anything else. Besides,” She smiled up at Moira, “This way I was able to buy my lingerie in peace.”

Moira looked quickly down at her, but back up just as quickly, and Angela laughed, just leaning all the more into Moira.

“You know,” She continued after they’d found their way back on the road to Overwatch, “If you’re not too busy you could always come to my quarters when we get back,” She leaned over the center console, resting her chin on Moira’s shoulder with a mischievous grin, “I can show you what I bought. You can tell me if you like it.”

Moira licked her lips, and Angela strained to plant a soft kiss on Moira’s bright red ear. After a moment Moira cleared her throat, saying quietly, “I-I’m sorry, I really can’t. Not if you want to do something for . . . not if you want to go out on Thursday.”

Angela expected this answer, but she still gave a small pout, relaxing to just lay her head against Moira’s arm, “Alright,” She tugged at Moira’s sleeve, coaxing her hand away from the steering wheel, and laced their fingers together, “Thursday then.”

Chapter Text

“W-what are you doing here?” Angela’s eyes were wide as she stepped from behind her desk, smoothing the wrinkles out of her lab coat as she moved.

“I—“ Moira stepped nervously out of the way as Angela pressed the door release behind her, closing them into her office. She scratched the back of her head, “I’m sorry to bother you, I know you’re working.”

Angela suddenly realized she was not being anywhere near as welcoming as she should be, far too thrown by seeing Moira’s tall, thin figure fill the doorway of her office in the medical wing to greet her properly. Though her haste to close the door did bring them some privacy, and she made up for her poor initial performance by looping her arms around Moira’s waist. “No, it’s fine, I just didn’t think you even knew where my office was,” Angela said with a laugh, resting her chin on Moira’s chest as she looked up at her.

Moira cast her gaze behind her, to the closed door and the shuttered window that blocked the view of the lab spaces beyond, and it wasn’t until she seemed sure that they were alone that she lightly returned Angela’s embrace, snaking her long arms around Angela’s shoulders. She relaxed then, a bit, and Angela closed her eyes as she felt Moira’s fingers play lightly with her hair, not enough to bring it undone, just enough to make Angela stifle a whimper of satisfaction. She hadn’t expected to see Moira until Thursday, and certainly hadn’t expected her to visit her in her office, in the middle of the day shift. She gripped Moira a bit tighter, hoping this was not another dream. Though she wouldn’t hate such a dream, she supposed . . .

“I have . . . news,” Moira explained stiffly.

“Good news,” Angela began, and opened her eyes to frown at Moira, “Or bad news?”

“Both news.” Moira smiled softly, “I—We submitted the revisions this morning. Now there’s nothing to do but wait to hear back.” And her hands were cupping Angela’s upturned face, and she pressed her lips softly to Angela’s.

“Congratulations, you should be proud,” Angela said quietly as Moira pulled away too soon for her tastes. She meant it, and pulled Moira back into a tight hug, “You worked really hard.”

“Mmmmm,” Moira was frowning, “Too hard. It better pan out, Kronenberg’s post-doc made a holy show of the revisions, the whole Vancouver lab’s been in a state for days trying to undo that idiot’s mess.”  

“I’m sure it will work out just fine,” Angela said, hoping her smile offered some reassurance.

While Moira did return her smile, it was apologetic, almost painful, “And I’m sorry, Angela, I . . . everywhere is booked tomorrow, I have nowhere nice for us to go.” As Angela sighed her words came more quickly, “I’m sorry, I should have called sooner, but I didn’t know if you’d want to and I didn’t want to assume that—“

Angela just shook her head before pressing her cheek back against Moira’s chest and laughing, ”It’s fine, Moira, don’t worry.”

“But you wanted to go. You bought . . .” Moira’s voice was quiet and apprehensive as she gently moved her hand again to cradle the back of Angela’s head.

“I do want to go, and we will,” Angela assured her, looking up with sparkling eyes, “I’ll make the reservation.”

“I called every half-way decent place in Zurich, Angela, there’s nothing,” Moira explained apologetically.

“I’ll tell you what,” Angela said slyly, “I’ll try to find us a place, and if I can’t, we’ll just spend it here, having a nice, romantic dinner in Mess Hall A.” She grinned at Moira, seeing the older woman grimace, “I hear the mood lighting is top-notch.”

“But you deser—I thought we should go somewhere nice,” Moira’s frown was uncertain, questioning.

“Have faith, Moira, I think I’ll manage,” Angela smirked. She was confident she could find them something. She was not typically one to name-drop, to use her status at Overwatch to benefit her personally, but when a romantic dinner with Moira on Valentine’s Day was on the line?

Mercy might not have been on the battlefield, the poster girl of Overwatch, for several years now, but she imagined there was still a maître d’ somewhere in Zurich that would be able to find her a table all the same. It occurred to her then that Moira had come to Overwatch after Angela’s time in the thick of things had passed; anything she knew about Angela’s time on the front lines would have been the same as any other citizen of the world. Briefly she wondered if Moira would find her impressive if she told her stories of battles she’d been in, people she’d saved. She pushed the thoughts from her mind, worried she sounded much too much like Reinhardt. And Moira would probably just worry, even though the danger was years gone.

Moira was looking at her, an expression of mixed apprehension and relief on her features, but mostly exhaustion. Moira wasn’t wearing her lab coat, and her clothes were sporting more than a few deep creases in all the wrong places. Angela rolled her eyes, “You worked all night and have been calling restaurants all day, haven’t you?”

 She shrugged sheepishly.

“Well at least you’ll be able to get some rest from now on,” Angela said softly and reached up to thread her fingers through Moira’s perfect red hair, coaxing her to bend low enough to share a kiss, which Moira did readily. As was becoming a trend, a signature of sorts, it was a soft and gentle kiss, and once again as Angela parted her lips with a whimper Moira pulled away, though only by centimeters.

Moira didn’t look away or take her hand from Angela’s hair, but when she licked her lips Angela was sure it was at least partially due to nervousness, “You’re working, I shouldn’t bother y—“

Cutting her off with a kiss, Angela stood on her toes to close the gap Moira had created, pulling her back down as she settled back onto her heels. Angela smiled as their lips parted, “That’s the good thing about being in charge,” She whispered in a tone she hoped was sultry, and she was pleased to feel Moira’s breath puff unevenly against her lips, “I can do what I want.”

Moira’s soft groan given in response was stifled as Angela caught her in a kiss again, not bothering with chastity as she parted Moira’s lips with her tongue, groaning herself as Moira returned her attentions eagerly. Moira’s arm around her tightened to pull Angela told her, but soon Angela worked her own hands to Moira’s chest, pushing lightly. Moira seemed confused at first, but with a quick glance to her rear she caught on, and with a half-step backwards she was settled onto Angela’s couch.

“Sorry it’s not as nice as the one in your office,” Angela said as she followed her, settling with a bit of pregnancy-clumsiness into Moira’s lap with a leg on either side of Moira’s. Her voice had no air of apology to it, only, she hoped, seduction, “But I think you’ll still enjoy it.”

Moira’s hands had already found their way to Angela’s hips to help her as she’d climbed over Moira, and when Moira pulled Angela to rest against her their mouths met with a hungry groan from both. In stark contrast to the slow, stuttering build-up of the week before they wasted no time, and it seemed mere moments had passed before Angela found Moira’s hands kneading roughly at her ass and breast through her clothing, and Angela tangled both hands into Moira’s hair. After some time spent nipping and sucking at Moira’s lips and tongue Moira’s mouth had left Angela’s, finding its way to the sensitive flesh below her ear. Breath was quick and shallow between them, and as Angela had begun instinctively thrusting her hips downward Moira responded in kind, pushing herself up against Angela and finding what little purchase they could, fully clothed and un-aided by fingers or Moira’s toy.

Though Moira groaned and attempted to pull away when the door chimed, Angela didn’t miss a beat, pressing Moira’s head back to her neck insistently. She continued her pace as she sung out as steadily as she could, “I’m in a meeting, please come back later.”

Moira, caught somewhere between uncertainty and wanting, continued to knead at Angela, to suck lightly at her pulse, but with a newfound apprehension in her movements, a stiffness in her shoulders, and Angela whispered breathily as she pressed her lips to Moira’s temple, “Keep going, please.”

But Angela’s wanting tone turned to a quiet groan of frustration as the door chimed again and an urgent voice was heard from the other side of the shuttered windows, “Dr. Ziegler? Dr. Nelson needs a second opinion on some shrapnel removal, he said it’s urgent.”

Fick,” Angela grumbled quietly, settling back on Moira’s knees. Moira looked back with unfocused, dark eyes and parted lips, “I have to go,” Angela whispered apologetically. She smiled sweetly as she did her best to right Moira’s mussed hair, kissing Moira briefly and taking just a moment to suckle at Moira’s bottom lip before she climbed off the couch. Immediately she began pulling her clothing back into position and patting at her hair, and Moira was soon doing the same. Angela looked to Moira to see her brief nod of readiness before pressing the door release.

Samir smiled as he greeted his boss, handing her a clipboard as she tried her best not to fix him with too angry of a glare. He was just doing his job, after all. As she looked up from the clipboard she saw Samir looking curiously toward Moira, who was running her hand through her hair.

“Oh, Samir, this is Dr. O’Deorain, from R&D downstairs.”

Moira gave a curt nod as she and Samir exchanged a brief, professional hello and Moira stepped out of the office into the laboratory spaces, “I, um, I should be going. Thank you, Dr. Ziegler, for meeting with me.”

“Thank you for your assistance, Dr. O’Deorain,” Angela couldn’t help grinning from ear to ear as she fixed Moira with a sly look, “I look forward to receiving your input at a later date.”

Moira’s face had mostly lost its flush, but regained it in an instant and she coughed out, “As soon as I can,” which made Angela flush a bit herself. Moira gave a decisive nod of farewell and turned quickly to exit the medical wing.

Chapter Text

“I hope you like French?” Angela asked hopefully as she looped her arm around Moira’s, though it was much too late to change their reservation now as they made their way down Bahnhofstrasse. While the drive into Zurich had been slow, Moira’s knuckles white and eyes glued to the road in the falling snow, they’d made it into the city and were only a few minutes late for the reservation Angela was lucky enough to secure.

Moira nodded and a few snowflakes fell out of her hair. It was only barely snowing now, a dusting, not even enough for an umbrella, “I still can’t believe you got a table, I called Pavillon and they all but laughed at me when I asked if they had an opening.”

“It helps to know people,” Angela smiled. In truth she didn’t “know people” at Pavillon, she simply had banked on someone there knowing her. It had worked out; they hadn’t had any tables they assured her, and they’d scoffed at her as well, but when she asked if they would call Doctor Angela Ziegler at Overwatch should a reservation become available a table did magically appear. She’d felt a bit dirty using her fame, especially fame that she had thought had faded in the years since she’d been in the field, to secure a table, but she knew it would be worth it.

Moira hummed and with her free hand fished a silver pocket watch on a delicate chain, perfectly matched to her cufflinks, from inside her jacket, frowning at it before tucking it away again.

“They’ll hold it for us,” Angela assured her, “We’re not that late.”

Despite the truth of the matter, Angela walked a bit more quickly, and while Moira frowned down at her with concern and gripped her a bit more tightly, she didn’t complain. Despite the steady snowfall the walkways were kept clear and salt crunched under their feet for added peace of mind. Admittedly Angela did walk a bit more gingerly than she might need to, having opted for heels for this special occasion, but with her arm grasped firmly around Moira’s she felt no fear of another fall.

The maître d’ did give a small cluck of disapproval at their late arrival, but they were not turned away.

“It’s beautiful in here,” Moira said quietly as she pushed Angela’s chair in for her then took her own seat.

Angela thought she might say as much. Obviously it was necessity that chose the restaurant for them, but remembering the beautiful lavender-themed interior from a visit long ago had helped her feel pleased with the decision. She thought Moira would enjoy it.

Her eyes scanned the room around them; there was no privacy for diners here, all of the tables were situated fairly near one another around the room’s floral centerpiece. As one would expect at virtually every table sat two people, mostly a man and a woman to each, all dressed in fine clothing and affectionate smiles. Her gaze finally fell on Moira, now settled in her seat and regarding Angela with a soft smile.

“How’s freedom treating you? Have you heard back about your manuscript?”

Moira gave a small shrug and matching sigh, “No, but it shouldn’t be long. And freedom’s fine, though there’s always another project.”

“Oh?” Angela raised a brow as she leaned in, elbows on the table. The gesture was merely one of curiosity and had nothing to do with how it would push her breasts together ever so slightly. But she wouldn’t deny that when she saw Moira’s gaze shift, albeit briefly, downward before meeting her eyes again she hugged her elbows in a bit tighter. “What are you working on now?”

They experienced a brief interruption in which they were informed of the night’s offering: Prawn with apples, veal tartare, duck liver in sherry, char with radish and dill, rack of lamb, and meringue with crème anglaise, with service à la française and optional wine pairings for each course. Moira opted for the wine, while Angela made the various substitutions her state required of her. She was thankful she was so clearly pregnant so as to not offend the chef by turning down the various livers, tartares, and sea foods on offer.

By the time service came Moira had already been speaking animatedly for some time. “And so it should be possible to exponentially increase the rate of cellular growth and repair, but even with the modifications I was able to make to increase the transcription of the RNA polymerase to handle the added growth there’s just not enough to work with.”

“Can you not supplement the biosynthesis of purines and pyrimidines with dietary sources?” Angela asked, and gestured to the duck liver platter between them with a grin.

Moira smiled as well, but shook her head, “Metabolism of dietary protein takes too long for what I’m envisioning.” She took a drink from her wine glass, and Angela was envious she could not do the same. Moira cleared her throat, and when she spoke again her eyes sparkled, “I think, if I can find a better source of nucleotides which can be quickly made available for syntheses in vivo it isn’t beyond the question that one could heal wounds in a matter of seconds, possibly even regrow lost limbs or damaged organs.”

“Mmmm, I’d tried to achieve similar things with nanotechnology, I’d made significant progress for wound-healing but I don’t think nanobots would be able to regrow entire limbs,” Angela explained, taking over the conversation so Moira could have a chance to enjoy the meal as much as she had been, “That would be miraculous if you could.”

Moira, mouth full, nodded animatedly, chewing and swallowing quickly, “Yes, I’d read your papers years ago.”

“You did?” Angela wasn’t sure why this surprised her, she had read Moira’s papers after all. She felt herself blush a bit, “Well, what did you think?”

“Mmmmm,” Moira answered quickly, “I think your major limitation wasn’t, as you put in your discussions, what the nanites are capable of but that you were relying on the nanites in the first place.”

Angela pursed her lips, raising both eyebrows toward Moira, “Well that is my area of study.”

Moira looked admonished, then apologetic, “Ah, I simply meant that, um, maybe cross-disciplinary input might have opened some doors? That’s all.” She looked imploringly toward Angela, reaching to take Angela’s hand into her own, “It was fascinating and impressive, truly. I enjoy reading your work.”

Angela couldn’t be upset about that, and Moira hadn’t said anything incorrect: Angela’s work had hit a snag when she had maximized what the little bots were capable of doing, and even as new technologies were being developed they would forever be bound by physics; there was only so much a little robot could bring in, repair, or build. Angela turned her gaze down to the table, where Moira held her hand lightly in one of the few open spots among the quickly emptying dishes. She smiled as she stroked the back of Moira’s thumb with her own. Her warm smile morphed into a cheeky grin as she turned back to Moira, who was still looking nervously for forgiveness, “I have to admit I’ve enjoyed your input so far.”

Moira coughed into her wine, causing a bit of a sputter, but she didn’t choke or pull her free hand away from Angela’s, simply huffed and sniffed quietly as she set her glass down and dabbed at her lips with a linen napkin.

“And,” Angela continued, her smile warm, “We’ve had great results with our cross-disciplinary efforts,” Finished with her meal, Angela let her other hand rest on her belly, and Moira smiled too, squeezing her hand.

“So, how did you become interested in medicine and nanotechnology?” Moira asked as she took up her fork again.

It was Angela’s turn to carry the conversation while Moira ate, and she was up to the task. She told Moira about her parents, medics who had spent their lives working with the International Committee of the Red Cross. Moira stroked her hand sympathetically as she spoke about their deaths when she was a small child and an encampment serving as a field hospital was struck by an unexpected air raid, leaving her with no one. She had already told Moira about how many of their Overwatch friends had become her Overwatch family in the following years, but now she shaded in the rest of the picture. She talked about her schooling and early graduation, her illustrious civilian medical career and the early work with nanotechnology that brought her to Overwatch’s attention.

By the time Angela had finished explaining her shift from field work to administration and training Moira had finished eating as well. She fished out her silver pocket watch and frowned before looking around the room. Angela did as well. She had been absorbed in their conversation, so much so that she hadn’t seen most of the tables turn over by now, new couples had taken the place of those that had been when they were sitting. “We should probably crack on so they can let someone else have our table,” Moira mused aloud.

“Mmmm, they haven’t kicked us out yet,” Angela smiled, “Let’s stay until they do.”

Moira chuckled, “Well, it’s your name on the reservation, I suppose that’s up to you.” A thought seemed to occur to her then, and she looked uneasy, “But maybe not too late?”

“Mmmm,” Angela grinned wickedly, stroking her thumb roughly along Moira’s, “In a hurry for something?”

“I just don’t want to be on the roads too late,” Moira shook her head as she responded in a way that would have been convincing if Angela hadn’t seen her eyes dart down once more, just for a moment.

She was pleased one of her dress choices, the little black dress with a v-neckline only just modest enough, wasn’t going unappreciated, and she hoped Moira would like her other purchase for tonight just as much.

“Right, of course,” Angela laughed and caught the eye of a server. The man seemed to hesitate for a moment, looking between the women, and decided on the safest of actions, presenting the bill to the open air between the two. As Moira reached for it, reaching into her suit jacket with the other hand, Angela cleared her throat, “Could you split that for us, please?”

“Of course, Doctor,” he nodded, and retracted it before Moira could get a firm grip. Angela was thrown for a moment that he knew who she was, but reminded herself that was the entire way they’d secured the table in the first place.

Moira’s brow was furrowed, and she sounded exasperated, even offended, “I’ll pay, Angela.”

She shook her head, “No, thank you, Moira, but I’d rather we split it.” Angela adored the thought of being wined and dined, minus the wine in this case, by Moira on Valentine’s Day, but her manners wouldn’t allow it. No one should pick such an expensive restaurant and saddle their date with the bill, and she knew of course that Moira wouldn’t let her pay the whole thing, it was clearly an issue to even split it.

Moira didn’t seem to see it that way, but she also didn’t seem prone to making a scene of it, and she just frowned as she finished her wine. She fidgeted a bit and cast her eyes across the room when they were presented again with their bills, a separate folder handed to each, but said nothing.

While, yes, she might have offered her arm to Angela, she did so stiffly, and when she helped Angela don her coat at the door she did so with pursed lips. After just a few steps into the cold, snowy night Angela stopped and tugged at Moira’s elbow around which her own arm was looped. As Moira stopped and turned to face her Angela broached cautiously, “What’s wrong, Moira?”

Moira’s hands were in the pockets of her long, black coat, her back stiff but her shoulders slumped a bit. Moira was pouting. She looked down at Angela for a moment before letting out a sigh and shrugging her shoulders, “It’s nothing, I just thought I would pay.”

Angela rolled her eyes, and when she leaned teasingly against Moira she seemed to relax a bit, and Angela saw her try to fight a smile, “Well I’m sorry for saving you three hundred francs.”

“It’s not—It’s not about the money,” Moira huffed quietly, and as an afterthought she crooked her head toward the restaurant, “No one else was splitting their bill.”

Angela shrugged, “It’s different.”

“How is it different?” Moira’s voice was cool now, even, almost an accusation.

Angela chewed her lip. Whatever was going through Moira’s mind would probably not be helped with an explanation that Angela knew she made far more money than Moira did. “It just is,” Angela shrugged again, then put on a smile and tugged at Moira’s elbow, “Come on, it’s just a check, please don’t be like this.”

Moira continued to regard her silently for a moment, her brow furrowed, but eventually she relaxed with a grand sigh that sent a cloud into the air between them. She rolled her shoulders and nodded.

“Good,” Angela grinned as she looped her free hand around Moira’s neck and pulled her toward her. Angela had missed wearing heels, Moira didn’t even need to bend down to press her lips to Angela’s. She’d relaxed then, and Angela was surprised Moira didn’t push her away when she parted her lips for her.  Instead Moira accepted the invitation, and Angela gave a pleased hum as she felt Moira loop her arm around her waist and pull her close, felt Moira’s warm tongue dance between her lips. Angela passed her fingers up from Moira’s neck and into her hair, scratching lightly at Moira’s scalp and earning a low moan against her lips. When Moira’s hand began to move Angela half-feared, half-hoped that they were about to make a rather indecent display in public, but Moira had simply moved to step away. She straightened her tie as she cleared her throat, looking up and down the snowy street.

“We should be getting back?” Moira said anxiously, and Angela grinned as she snaked her arm around Moira’s again.

“Mmmm, the sooner the better.”

As they walked Angela pushed closer to Moira, and when they reached the car Angela had to remind herself that pulling Moira against her would not lead to them getting back to their quarters any sooner. Moira seemed to be struggling with similar thoughts, and chanced only to bend and share another brief but far-from-chaste kiss after she helped Angela into the vehicle.

When Moira climbed into the driver’s side Angela cursed the cars for being so small: She would have liked to see how spacious the little back seat actually was, but with Moira’s height and her pregnancy there would be no way. Best to let Moira drive, to concentrate on the road until they made their way home.

Chapter Text

The ride back was slow, but enjoyable. A distraction from the mounting want, they returned to speaking about themselves. Angela told Moira about how much she had enjoyed singing in choir as a girl, but she shook her head with a laugh when Moira insisted she would like to hear Angela sing some time. Moira had grown up with the piano and fiddle, but hadn’t played in years. When Angela asked, she promised she would play for her when she could hear Angela sing. It remained to be seen if any of it would come to pass. Moira outright refused, however, to ever demonstrate what she’d learned in the year her mother had forced her into stepdance lessons.

“Mmmm, so you’re not going to force her into stepdance when she gets older?” Angela teased, stroking her thumbs over her belly. Moira was insistent she keep her hands on the wheel on the treacherous winter drive, and so Angela was left to hold her own hand.

Moira laughed toward the road, “I won’t, but it’ll be a different story if my ma gets her hands on her.”

Angela hummed quietly, turning her eyes to her clasped hands over the baby. Moira had told her both of her parents were still alive and together, but it was a strange thing to suddenly realize that her child would have living grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins. And perhaps, some day, Angela would have in-laws. She made small circles over the silk dress with her thumbs, “What are they like? Your parents?”

She shrugged, “Like most parents, I guess. My da was, I guess you’d call him a general laborer? Handyman? Retired years ago. My ma was a librarian and taught catechism and confirmation. She still helps with that, when she’s got the energy.”

“And they’re doing alright?” Angela turned a concerned look to Moira, not that she saw, her eyes still diligently scanning the road for treacherous ice or errant motorists unable to handle their own vehicles.

Moira chuckled, her voice incredulous, “I think they’ll outlast me at this rate. My brothers are there to help them, too.”

“Mmmmm,” Angela smiled, imagining a close-knit clan of O’Deorains. She had no idea what they looked like, of course, so she simply pictured a household of people who looked a bit like Moira running all about. She wondered if Moria was ever homesick, if she missed her family, “What are their names?”

“My parents? Or my brothers?”

“Yes.”

Moira laughed, “Ummm, my parents are Connor and Moira, my brothers are Thomas, Martin, Luke, and Dylan.” She frowned at the road, “Luke passed away though.”

“I’m sorry,” Angela said quietly, and after a moment her curiosity got the best of her, “Is Moira a family name, then?” She tried to imagine herself calling her daughter Moira, it wasn’t difficult to do, especially when she pictured a lanky little girl with bright red hair and a smattering of freckles.

Moira was shrugging, “Not really. Honestly I just think ma was so shocked she finally had a girl she picked the first name off the top of her head.” Moira laughed, and Angela did too. After a moment Moira chanced to pull her eyes from the road for a moment to nod toward Angela, well, more toward Angela’s stomach. Her eyes were already back on the road as she spoke, “We don’t . . . we don’t have to name her Moira.”

“Mmmm,” Angela hummed, “I’ve always liked the idea of picking names after the baby’s born. Otherwise we might pick a name that doesn’t fit her at all.”

Moira seemed to consider this for a moment, but nodded.

A few minutes of comfortable silence passed before Angela finally voiced her curiosity, “Have you . . . told them about the baby? Your family, I mean.” She stopped herself from asking if Moira had told them about her.

Moira shook her head. “It’s not that I don’t want to,” She was drumming her fingers on the steering wheel, and her voice was stressed, “But they wouldn’t understand. Honestly they don’t really understand what I even do, they never have.”

“What do you mean?”

Moira sighed, continuing to drum her fingers, “I mean, da was a handyman. Thomas, too. Martin runs a pub, Dylan’s got a small farm.” She sighed, “They never understood what I do.” Quickly she added, “That is, they weren’t against me, they just . . . don’t understand.” She paused, but gained a sardonic grin as she continued, “I can’t even imagine explaining how we made the baby.”

Angela laughed, taking on an explanatory tone, “Well, you see, Moira, when two scientists want a baby very very much they order some sperm through the mail . . .”

Moira was chuckling as Angela let her voice trail off, putting them back in comfortable silence for a while.

“I will tell them,” Moira said suddenly and with quiet conviction, “After she’s born, I’ll tell them. Just not now.”

Angela nodded, “Whatever you think is best, but I hope I’ll get to meet them some day.” Angela let her mind wander, picturing herself in that O’Deorain filled house, imagining Christmas decorations on the walls, a baby in her arms, and herself in Moira’s.

“You will,” Moira smiled, and she sighed with relief as she completed the treacherous drive, finally pulling the little car into the motorpool lot.

After a quick but cautious walk, Angela diligently supported by Moira’s ever-present arm, they tossed the keys into the after-hours bin and made their way to the elevator in the lonely hall.

“I’ll tell you what,” Angela swiveled in Moira’s arm to pull them together, looking up at her as she felt her belly bump against her. She pressed the ‘up’ button for the lift without taking her eyes from Moira, whispering in a voice she hoped Moira would find alluring, “I’ll go to my quarters and change into something more comfortable,” She looped her arms around Moira’s waist, deliberately snaking her hands under Moira’s coat and running her hands as well as she could across Moira’s body as she moved, and she heard Moira groan quietly as she did, “You go to your quarters, get that wonderful toy of yours,” With her heels and Moira’s body supporting her it wasn’t difficult or dangerous to lean up and whisper in Moira’s ear, “And then you can come for me.”

The lift chimed and opened, and as Angela pulled away Moira’s eyes were unfocused, and she was nodding toward nothing in particular as Angela tugged her into the lift and hit the buttons for each of their floors. Suddenly Moira took a firm grip on her arms, bending slightly to crash her mouth hungrily over Angela’s. There here was a moment of clarity in which Angela wondered if overnight security watched the elevator cameras, but quickly she found she was far too distracted to care. Moira pushed her lightly against the wall of the lift as it began to rise and Angela whimpered as Moira followed after her, pressing her body against Angela and parting her legs with her knee. But within just a few gasps and moans between the women, just enough time for Angela to throw her arms around Moira’s neck, it was over as suddenly as it had begun. Well, it should have been over, as the doors slid open on the fifth floor.

“Moira, your floor,” Angela pulled away with a gasp, having the presence of mind to hit the door hold button before it left too soon. But Moira followed her movements, burying her face against Angela’s neck and sucking lightly at her skin as her hands wandered across Angela’s back.

When Angela pushed her away she was laughing and she fixed her with a mischievous grin, “Moira, it’s time for you to get off.”

Moira’s ears were red, her freckles awash in a blush, and though she was scowling her voice was bemused as she frowned back at Angela, demanding with exasperation, “Do you plan these out ahead of time?”

Angela just laughed and pushed her lightly toward the door, “Go on, I’ll see you soon.”

Moira smiled and ducked back to steal a brief kiss, which Angela was happy to give, before exiting the lift. Angela watched her quick pace as the doors closed behind her, straightening her dress as she made the rest of the ride up alone.

Unsure how much time she would have before Moira arrived, she hastened down the hall. She enjoyed hearing the clicking of her heels on the floor, a sound she found she’d missed. Quickly she was in her quarters, stripping off her coat and heels and tossing them into the closet, shimmying out of her dress and stockings with equal eagerness. Panties, or no? They served no purpose, or wouldn’t soon enough, and she tossed them aside as well.

Briefly she regarded herself in the mirror. Her hair had been a bit flattened by the snow, but it still looked fine, as did her makeup. She ran her hands across her baby bump, smiling proudly, but as her thoughts shifted her hands did as well. She moved her hands up, over her swollen breasts, squeezing lightly at her hardened nipples, and she squeezed her legs together at the bit of stirring she felt. Angela sighed, Moira should really hurry.

She considered just staying as she was now. What would Moira do, what would her expression be if Angela opened the door absolutely nude? Angela found the thought equally arousing and amusing, but she hadn’t forced Moira through baby shower shopping to not wear her new lingerie. In fact, she’d already picked what she would wear. She fished out the garment, a lace babydoll negligee that left no question that she was wearing nothing else underneath. The cups were a bit more opaque, at least, the lace pattern more intricate across the breasts, and she spent some time adjusting herself after she slipped it on.

She took a final look in the mirror and hoped Moira was as pleased with her appearance as she was. She hoped it didn’t seem too obvious, the choice of lavender. She knew she was an attractive woman, and despite her quips about weight-gain she was not upset about the changes the pregnancy brought to her body. If anything, when Moira’s eyes were on her she was certain she felt more attractive than ever before. She frowned. Moira. How long had she been home? Satisfied with her preparations Angela adjusted the shades and sun roof to fill the room with the soft pink glow of falling snow, then sat back onto her bed and waited.

And waited.

Eventually her exasperation turned to worry. Worry that something had happened, or worry that she had been stood up on purpose, both were equally represented, and she decided not to dwell. Instead she grabbed her comm unit.

aziegler.med1.zurich: Are you coming?

modeorain.rd3.zurich: Yes!
modeorain.rd3.zurich: Sorry, I’m on my way now.

Angela smiled and rolled her eyes as she put her comm unit away. She could chide Moira for making her wait once she arrived. Absent-mindedly she leaned forward, fisting her hands into the bedspread between her legs. With a gentle thrust she pushed herself firmly against her wrists, feeling the soft, damp hair warm against her. She huffed. Moira should really hurry.

She did. It wasn’t long before the door chimed, and Angela hopped to her feet. One more quick look in the mirror, then she pressed the door release.

“Sorry I took so long I was adjustin—“ Moira began breathlessly the moment the door was half-open, but her voice stuttered and faded away, her mouth still hanging open, as she took in Angela. While she knew there was a blush to her cheeks, the warmth Angela felt spread through her entire body.

“Well? Come in. Unless you want to do this in the hallway,” Angela laughed, stepping aside to let Moira shuffle in quickly. Moira had changed as well, somewhat. She wore the same pants, shoes, and shirt but her tie, jacket, and coat were gone. She pulled her eyes away from Angela, with apparently some effort, and made her way to slide the familiar black case onto the table.

Moira had sat down and was undoing her shoelaces when Angela noticed the smaller box set on top of the case. “Mmmm,” she hummed, picking up the package and turning it over in her hands, “Did you get me a present?” The box was a perfect white cube with red hearts across it and a big red bow, and as she examined it she felt several things shift inside.

“Uh, yeah,” Moira said sheepishly as she pulled her shoes off.

“I got you one too,” Angela said excitedly, having nearly forgotten, “It’s in the drawer, let me get it.” She set the box back onto the table and stepped toward the bed, but she did not make it far before Moira caught her by the arm. Angela looked down at her, and the hunger in her eyes made Angela’s breath catch and she felt unsteady on her feet.

Moira’s eyes travelled slowly down Angela’s body, then back up with a lick of her lips. “Could we do that later?” Moira husked, already tugging Angela back toward where she sat.

Angela didn’t resist, and when Moira made no move to rise from the chair Angela climbed onto Moira’s lap, eager to pick up where they’d left off on her office couch the day before. Angela steadied herself with her hands on Moira’s shoulders, but as she settled into position she moved her fingers languidly over Moira’s collarbones to her shirt buttons, setting to work unbuttoning them while they traded quick, urgent kisses. Moira’s hands were traveling too, slow but firm up Angela’s thighs, and when her long fingers met the hem of Angela’s negligee she was not shy about pushing her hands below the sheer fabric, bringing her hands around to grab Angela’s bare ass firmly in both hands. Angela squeaked a bit, and Moira grinned wolfishly at the sound, her eyes dark and fixed on Angela’s.  As she pulled Angela close against her she shifted to run long fingers lightly over the dampened blonde tufts between Angela’s legs and Angela pushed herself back against them with a wanting whimper.

“You’re already so wet,” Moira whispered incredulously, indulging Angela by dipping her fingers between her folds and running them through the slickness she found.

“Mmmm,” As Angela peeled Moira’s shirt down her shoulders, baring her from the waist up, Angela tried to feign annoyance. Clearly it was fruitless as she pushed herself along Moira’s fingers with small gasps and sighs, “It’s your fault, you made me wait so long.”

“Then I won’t make you wait any longer,” Moira responded, and it could have been the promise or Moira’s cocky grin that made Angela clench with need. Angela loved when Moira was flustered, awkward, but she found she loved this side of Moira too, ardent and emboldened with lust.

Moira’s hands were tortuously removed from Angela’s body, but it heralded something far more alluring as Moira reached between them, her knuckles brushing enticingly against Angela where the hem of her negligee had been pushed up. Angela watched with interest as Moira fumbled with her belt, finally managing to loose her trousers. When she lifted her hips to push them down Angela delayed her own response, letting go a throaty chuckle as Moira pushed against her and the older woman groaned, pushing more insistently. Soon Angela couldn’t stand to delay any longer and raised up on her knees, allowing Moira to push her trousers down her thighs.

“Oh, you’re already wearing the—“

“Yeah,” Moira said breathlessly, “I was saying when I came in, uh, I was late because I was putting it on.”

Moira was already wearing the black boxer brief-style harness, though the outer attachment wasn’t in place, “Don’t you need help? Lube? Or--” Angela began to offer, remembering her contemptible lack of reciprocation of Moira’s attentions last time.

“N-no, I’m fine,” Moira insisted, pulling her back down to settle on her thighs again. Angela wondered if part of the delay, part of the adjustment, hadn’t been Moira getting herself started, and the image that produced in her mind was maddening.

Moira pulled Angela into a deep, hungry kiss, blindly reaching behind Angela to fumble for the black case, pushing the little white cube off the table in the process, though neither woman seemed to notice or care.

Angela heard the clasps of the box but was too interested in suckling at Moira’s lips and passing her fingers over Moira’s breasts, listening to her whimpers and gasps whenever Angela stopped to pinch lightly at Moira’s rigid nipples.

Not too distracted from her own task, Moira had managed to fish the final attachment from the box and Angela settled back onto Moira’s knees to give her room to maneuver it between them. Moira blushed as she did so, avoiding Angela’s gaze. Remembering Moira’s past self-consciousness, Angela pushed her fingers through Moira’s short hair, coaxing her to look to her reassuring smile, “Don’t worry,” she said in a way she hoped was both comforting and sultry, “It looks good on you.”

Moira smiled weakly and nodded, leaning forward to press her lips clumsily against Angela’s, who gave an encouraging hum. The audible metallic shift and click as Moira locked the toy into place was nearly covered by Moira’s involuntary grunt, and she jerked her hips upward, earning another hum of approval from Angela.

Moira shifted a bit underneath her, her hands returning to cup Angela’s ass and pull her in. Angela reciprocated by inching toward Moira again, as well as her state would let her. As the toy pressed firmly against Angela’s belly Moira gave a low groan, her eyes fixed on the space between them.

As Angela replaced Moira’s hand on the toy with her own Moira gave a quiet gasp of surprise, a captivating crimson running from her nose to her ears across a bed of freckles, and she half-moaned, half-whispered, “Y-you don’t have to do that.”

“Mmmmm, I want to,” Angela smiled sweetly as she gripped the toy lightly, stroking slowly down the circuitry-lined shaft, “It works like this, doesn’t it? You can feel it?”

Moira opened her mouth to respond but the only sound that came was a low whine, and she nodded instead, bucking her hips lightly.

Encouraged, Angela took only a moment to whisper a breathy “Good,” against Moira’s lips and planting a soft kiss there before kissing her way along Moira’s perfect, angular jaw. Moira let out a long groan as her head lolled back in response to Angela’s hand, slowly stroking along the shaft of the toy pressed between them.

Moira’s breath was louder and faster, and Angela could feel her pulse against her lips where they’d come to suck and lick along Moira’s neck. She felt the rumble of Moira’s voice, her voice husky near Angela’s ear, “God, Angela, I’ve been thinking about you all night.”

Angela chuckled into Moira’s neck, remembering the way Moira’ eyes had moved over her at dinner, “I know,” she teased, nipping at Moira’s skin and gripping firmly on a down-stroke to pull a groan from Moira, “I saw you watching me.”

Moira groaned but didn’t deny it, just thrust the toy into Angela’s hand, rubbing it against Angela’s stomach, “Then you shouldn’t dress like that. It’s distracting.”

Angela just laughed and abandoned Moira’s neck to take in the sight of Moira’s face, cheeks flushed and eyes unfocused, mouth not quite closed, “Mmmmm, I didn’t say I didn’t like it, did I?” she crooned, and it was Moira who closed in for the kiss.

They kissed, deep and languid, reminiscent of the slow but persistent pace of Angela’s hand between them, “Is this good?” Angela whispered when their lips parted briefly. She was encouraged by Moira’s weak thrusts against her, her quickened breath, her stifled groans, but she still wasn’t sure. She’d done something similar to this, of course, but not for a very long time, and certainly it had never involved circuitry and technological enhancements. Not to mention it was not simply done; as wet as Angela knew herself to be, as wet as she imagined Moira was under the harness, the shaft was not so slick and she had difficulty keeping an even motion. She resisted the urge to pull the toy away and plunge her hand below the harness, to feel Moira for herself, only by reminding herself that adjusting the interior attachment was apparently an arduous process that she didn’t want to mess up.

“Y-yes,” Moira responded, “But . . .” She didn’t seem interested in finishing her sentence just then, instead pushing her tongue once again past Angela’s lips, playing hungrily against Angela’s mouth.

“Mmmm,” Angela stopped stroking and pulled away a bit, uneasy, “But what?”

Moira’s eyes were dark as she licked her lips, and the pink at the tips of her ears was the only hint that the alluring confidence in her voice might have been difficult to drum up, “But I think you should let me fuck you now.”

There was not a proper word for the type of wanting groan the words elicited from Angela, but it left no question that she was in complete agreement. Raising up on her knees she let Moira settle squarely into the center of the chair before lowering herself again, not allowing Moira’s approaching hand to position the toy. As Angela slid herself across the shaft, feeling it part her and spread her slickness across it, Moira exhaled sharply and let her hand rejoin the other in gripping Angela’s ass, now coaxing her to move her hips along the toy.

Angela happily followed the suggestion. Had she not been pregnant she would have delighted in coating every inch of the toy, but her belly made it difficult to push too close to Moira no matter how she angled her hips. All the same, it felt amazing. From the way Moira bit her lip as she looked down between them when Angela leaned back a bit looking for a better angle, more room to move, Moira seemed to enjoy the sensation as well.

After only a few passes Moira shifted her hands to Angela’s hips, stilling her, and it was Angela’s turn to bite her lip as she managed to shift her angle again, feeling the head of the toy pressing against her. Moira’s eyes were hungry as they looked to Angela for permission. Angela had barely begun to nod when Moira’s tight grip on her hips pulled her roughly downward onto the shaft, timed perfectly with a sharp jerk of Moira’s hips, both women groaning loudly as Angela took the bulk of the toy in one thrust.

Angela fell forward against Moira muttering a soft “Oh, fuck,” under her breath as she draped her arms to either side of Moira’s head and gripped the back of the chair. The new angle was not ideal for penetration, but she didn’t care and Moira didn’t seem to either. Moira had quickly moved her arms to Angela’s back, holding her tightly as Moira began short, rough thrusts into Angela, doing what she could to help Angela shift along with her rhythm. Angela rocked her hips in time, helping Moira work in and out with an urgency that had suddenly come over both of them.

Moira’s quickening breath and soft whimpers of before were replaced by unabashed moans from both women, their breath coming heavy and hot, each intermixing her groans and grunts with soft expletives and words of encouragement, breathy gasps of the other woman’s name coming intermittently from each of their lips. It was these sounds, far more than the sensation of Moira fucking her, which drove Angela so far so fast. Atop Moira like this there was no way Moira could push deep enough, strong enough, fast enough, but Angela loved it all the same each time Moira pushed into her, each time Moira gasped her name.

Soon Moira’s thrusts slowed and ceased, her grip on Angela releasing as she relaxed back into the chair. Her hands settled on Angela’s thighs and Angela frowned, but quickly realized that it was simply not enough for Moira either. Moira leaned forward, both women groaning as the toy pressed harshly against Angela’s walls, and Angela heard the sound of Moira pushing the black box off the table to clatter onto the floor. Quickly Moira’s hands were back on Angela, looping under her legs, then quickly, carefully, and with a groan as much from the shift of the toy as from the exertion Moira lifted both of them out of the chair. She swiftly deposited Angela onto the table, following along with her in one fluid motion to avoid withdrawing from her, and Angela had only just fallen back onto her elbows when Moira’s hands found her hips again.

Now Moira’s thrusts were long, strong, and deep.  When Angela raised her legs to lock behind Moira’s back she whimpered and jerked, feeling Moira bump against her cervix with a deep thrust.

“Sorry, too much?” Moira’s tone was apologetic as she pulled back a bit.

Angela shook her head quickly, “N-no, I like it like that,” She groaned, releasing her legs’ grip around Moira to spread them further and hopefully give Moira better, more inviting access. Moira regarded her with a look of concern for a moment, stilled only partway inside her, but Angela grinned, “Remember? I told you, you can be as rough as you want with me.”

Moira nodded, but the only movement she made was to move one hand up to pass under Angela’s negligee, pushing it up her stomach as Moira rested her hand there, “It can’t hurt the baby?”

Angela shook her head as she took Moira’s hand in hers and placed it to her lips. “Trust me,” she smiled warmly, “I’m a doctor.”

Moira’s chuckle was endearing, but it was quickly pushed from Angela’s mind when Moira drew her hand back. She gripped Angela’s bare calves in her hands, holding her legs up and open as she began again, not hesitating to push rough and deep, pulling a whimper from Angela with every thrust against her cervix. Angela let her head fall back and she fought to stay up on her elbows; her legs were trembling and it was only by virtue of Moira’s strong grip on them that she could keep them in the air at all.

“God, Angela,” Moira was saying quietly, and Angela could barely make it out amid their breathing and the rustle and clink of Moira’s belt with every thrust, her trousers still bunched just above her knees. Moira choked back a laugh, sniffing a bit as she whispered, “You make me feel like a horny teenager.”

“Good,” Angela grinned briefly at Moira, her eyes dark, before a particularly rough thrust sent her head lolling back again, “I like you like this.”

Moira’s hum of acknowledgement devolved into moaning once more, and when Moira released one of Angela’s legs to run the pad of her thumb roughly against Angela’s clit in time with each thrust Angela gave up entirely on holding herself up. She fell back against the cool tabletop, employing her own hands at her lace-covered breasts, squeezing and kneading roughly, tension building quickly. Moira had released her other leg, and Angela wrapped her legs tightly around Moira’s waist, pushing her hips upward with every thrust.

Angela fought against it, the trembling moving throughout her body, the pooling warmth deep inside where Moira found her. It was exquisite, and she hated the thought of it ending, but as she turned her eyes to Moira there was no hope.

Mismatched, half-lidded eyes stared hungrily down at her and while Moira continued to rub at Angela’s clit she had thrust her other hand below the boxer brief harness, and while she gave a nervous smile when she saw Angela’s eyes on her she made no attempt to hide the blatant movement of her fingers against herself underneath. And that was the end of Angela; with a loud gasp she felt the first grip of her climax, felt herself clamp down on the shaft of the toy as it pushed into her, and Moira grunted and quickened her pace in response, made difficult by the strong clenching of Angela’s walls around the toy and Angela’s writhing on the table.

With stars in her eyes Angela let her head rest against the table. Moira had withdrawn her finger from her clit but, undoubtedly in an effort to bring herself home as well, Moira continued to thrust, her breath ragged and her rhythm quickly growing erratic. Angela lost herself, her whole body warm and trembling, enjoying the thought, the feeling, the sounds of Moira pushing herself to her own finish inside of Angela. The very thought made Angela clench anew, and she turned her gaze to Moira in time to see her drop her head to her chest, unleashing a carnal groan as she came, her hands buried between her legs and her toy sunk deep into Angela.

Moira’s groan turned to a moan, and then soft whimpers as she continued small, weak thrusts of her hips, riding out her own climax inside of Angela with her head still down, face hidden. Angela was all too pleased to let her take her time, and simply watched with a smile and her own small whimpers at Moira’s thrusts. As Moira did finally still her movements her face was flushed and glistening with sweat when she turned a smile to Angela.

Moira smiled and licked her lips, her eyes darting down to where she was still deep inside of Angela, her hips pressed firmly against Angela. With a nervous smile she pulled her hand from beneath the harness, running it along Angela’s bare thigh, trailing a bit of wetness as she moved. She looked up again, and her smile was sheepish as she delicately reached up to pinch at the lavender lace that had been bunched up between Angela’s breasts and baby bump, pulling it back down over Angela’s stomach, “I, uh, I like this. It looks good on you.”

“Mmmmm, I couldn’t tell,” Angela cooed. She gave a small gasp when Moira slid out of her, taking a step back to allow Angela to sit up. Angela wasn’t sure she could stand, her legs were still trembling.

Moira grunted a bit as she closed her fingers around the shaft of the toy, glistening wet in the soft light, and with a bit of maneuvering she’d unattached it.

“Oh,” She looked around, apparently having forgotten she’d pushed the case away. Angela was certain the ‘confused, underwear-clad Moira looking around with a dildo in one hand’ memory would stay with her her entire lifetime. Moira bent down and grabbed the discarded case, shoving it back onto the table and dropping the toy unceremoniously on top.

When Moira turned back to Angela she was running her hand through her hair, and it wasn’t until Angela held out her arms to Moira that Moira stepped forward into the embrace, wrapping Angela tightly in her long arms. They were both sweaty, but Moira far more so, and her skin was hot and Angela tasted salt as she kissed Moira’s clavicle softly.

“Happy Valentine’s Day?” Moira’s voice was anxious, and Angela just laughed, hugging her tightly.

“Yes, happy Valentine’s Day, Moira.”

They rested together there, Moira standing unbothered by the trousers now bunched around her ankles, holding Angela until her trembling had subsided enough that she was confident she could safely stand.

“You’ll stay, right?” Angela asked as she made her way to her bed.

“If that’s what you want,” Moira was nodding, and she finally stepped out of the pooled fabric at her feet. She stepped toward the bed, but with an afterthought bent again to scoop up a box, this time a small white cube with a red bow.

“It is,” Angela hummed her confirmation.

Moira stood beside the bed, gift in hand, and scrunched her nose, “I should shower first, I’m covered in sweat.”

“Mmmm, me too,” Angela gave a half-shrug as she laid on her side, reaching toward Moira, “Come on, we’ll be sweaty together a while longer.”

Moira chuckled, and with her impossibly long legs she was able to pass one leg easily over Angela, then the other to come resting at her back, “Here,” Moira said softly, looping her arm under Angela’s to hold the box out for her inspection.

Angela knew what it was, she’d known what it was as soon as she saw the box, though when Moira had had time to buy it she had no idea. She took it in her hands, and when Moira draped her arm over Angela’s abdomen she felt the gesture was the best gift she would receive all night, no matter how good the chocolates were. They made these every year, the chocolate shop that had been closed the night they’d gone on their date. A triple-tiered box of truffles and pralines inside a gold box, all put in a cute little white case with a red bow. She couldn’t say Moira was the first person to have ever given her this precise gift for Valentine’s Day but it was the first time it made her heart swell.

“Wonderful, I love it,” Angela said as she unfolded the little box to present the three tiers of chocolates, and she meant it.

Moira had already buried her face against the base of Angela’s neck, and whatever she murmured in response Angela could not hear.

“Want one?” Angela picked a praline out of its little paper cup and held it back over her shoulder to Moira, who shook her head.

“They’re for you, I’m fine,” Moira assured her, and reassured her when Angela insisted.

“Your loss, more for me then,” Angela teased as she pressed back against Moira and popped the praline into her mouth. “Mmmmm,” Her happy sound of satisfaction turned into an exclamation as she remembered Moira’s gift. It wasn’t difficult for her to reach the side table from where they lay, and she carefully placed the chocolate box on top before rolling the drawer open and extracting a long, thin black box. She knew she should turn to face Moira, that it might seem dismissive to pass her the gift and not even watch her open it, but she was far too taken with the feeling of Moira pressed all along her to give that up. “Here, for you,” she said warmly as she held it over her shoulder.

She felt the tug of Moira taking it in hand, and Moira pushed against her as she placed the box on the bed spread in front of Angela. With a bit of wiggling of the lid she let the box fall away, revealing a long, thin silk tie and matching pocket square. Angela couldn’t see Moira’s face, but she enjoyed watching her run her long fingers over the lavender silk, lift the tie out of the box and hold it up in the dim, pink light.

“Thank you, they’re beautiful,” Moira said quietly, and Angela felt her lips pressed against her temple. Moira laid the tie back into the box and leaned in again to set the box beside the chocolates on the bedside.

“Mmmm,” Angela hummed, suddenly growing tired, “I hoped you’d like it. And now we can match when we go out.”

Moira pressed her lips against Angela’s shoulder and plucked at the strap of the lace negligee, adding with a mirthful whisper, “Or when we stay in?”

Angela laughed and nodded into her pillow, “Exactly.” Angela’s final memory of Valentine’s Day was feeling Moira settle and pull Angela tightly against her, laying her long fingers lightly across Angela’s stomach and bidding her goodnight with a soft kiss to her shoulder.

Chapter Text

Perhaps they’d stayed out too late, perhaps they’d stayed up too late together, but both were worth it. All the same, Angela felt absolutely exhausted when the artificial sound of chirping birds, her self-selected alarm, filled her quarters. Quickly, blindly she smacked at the side of the bedframe where the alarm toggle was, hoping it wouldn’t bother Moira terribly.

She needn’t have been worried, for she quickly found Moira was gone. Angela frowned, rubbing her eyes. It was still early; she’d transitioned back to a daytime schedule weeks prior and without Moira’s heavy workload she thought surely she would be here to share the morning with her.

Nothing romantic, of course. It was Friday morning and she (and ostensibly Moira) had to be getting ready for the day. Honestly they’d probably not have been able to do anything more than share a good morning smile and a kiss goodbye, but Angela still wished for that at least.

Instead she had a note scribbled on paper and propped on the bedside table next to her daughter’s small, stuffed rabbit.

     Angela-

          I hope you slept well. I wish I could be here to tell you good morning myself, but I have to go.

                         Moira

          PS – I know we don’t have an appointment, but maybe we can do something this weekend? My treat this time.

Angela smiled down at her comm as she sent a quick “Good morning, of course we can do something this weekend” message off to Moira. She thought again to the split bill. They’d never really settled the issue, had they? Angela had simply asked Moira to not make a fuss. Angela quickly sent off a second message, “Thank you for taking such wonderful care of me.”

That should do it. Angela saw the blinking message from Ana Amari, but it wasn’t marked urgent and Angela wasn’t on the clock, not yet. She wasn’t normally one to disregard any messages, least not from Ana, but today Angela was too preoccupied with rolling back into her bed. She scooted clumsily to the other side of the bed, cool now, and pressed her nose into the pillow, closing her eyes as she focused on the scent of Moira; sweet and floral, but not overly so, woody, with a hint of sweat. Angela scrunched her nose. She still needed to shower, too. She would, eventually.

Angela was warm and her fatigue had faded significantly when the chirping began again, not a second alarm but her comm unit. “Shit,” she hissed as she realized the mid-morning sun was filling her quarters and beating down on her from the open skylight above the bed.

She was already out of bed and walking to the bathroom as she scooped up her comm unit.

“Ziegler,” She said as calmly as possible.

“Angela? It’s Ana Amari, you didn’t respond to my message and I came by your office and you’re not here, is everything alright?” Ana’s voice was a mix of curiosity and concern, and Angela swore she heard an almost teasing tone.

“Yes,” Angela admitted, “I’m sorry, Commander, I—I overslept, I’m getting ready now.”

Ana just laughed, “That’s quite alright, it seems everything is going fine down here as far as I can tell. When you’re able, please come to my office, would you? There’s something I want to talk to you about.”

“Of course, I won’t be long,” Angela agreed, and after they said their brief goodbyes Angela checked her messages. Nothing from Moira, but Ana’s message from earlier remained, simply a request for a meeting when Angela could spare a moment. She hadn’t missed much, then.

Her shower was dry before she stepped in; Moira hadn’t showered here. It didn’t surprise her, she’d probably have woken if Moira had started the water, but it did bring to mind the vision of Moira creeping out of the officer block in the early morning, black case in hand, hair and clothes mussed, sweaty from sex. Again Angela wished Moira had stayed.

She hurried to throw on her clothing and makeup and was still tying back her hair as she hurried down the hall toward the elevators. Ana Amari’s office was at the top of the main building, not far from the transport landing deck, and Angela used the journey to check her comm unit. Still nothing from Moira, but the baby shower planning chat seemed to have morphed over recent weeks into a general chatter channel among the women. Fareeha had rejoined the group and the younger women were swapping tales of their Valentine’s Day. Angela grinned, imagining hopping into such a conversation, gushing about the wonderful restaurant they’d been to, the gift Moira had gotten her. It wasn’t her style to gossip about such things, especially when they weren’t public yet, and she simply slipped her comm unit back into her pocket as she was waved into Ana’s office.

“Good morning, Angela,” Ana chuckled as she stood from behind her long glass desk, both women knowing it was very nearly noon.

“I’m sorry,” Angela apologized again, but she was chuckling too. Being an officer and a generally hard worker had its perks, and she knew she wouldn’t be in any trouble for the occasional oversleep. She had even more leeway now with the pregnancy, “It was a long night.”

“Mmmmmm, I see,” Ana pursed her lips but she was having trouble keeping back an amused smile as she greeted Angela with a hug, then pressed the door release, “Please, sit,” She motioned to the chair across the desk, and as Angela sat down Ana found her way to a side table. “Tea?” Ana set about making herself a cup. When Angela shook her head she fetched a bottle of water and handed it to Angela before returning to her desk.

“If you’re looking for updates on the recruitment event, I’ve already determined who the various liaisons will be for the prospective hires for the day’s tours and information sessions. Medical is virtually squared away,” Angela began, nodding her thanks as she took the bottle of water, before adding, “Though I did have a question about a few positions.”

Most of her paired efforts with Ana were in coordinating the upcoming recruitment event: With Vesta Complex bringing family housing to Overwatch many qualified individuals who had been unwilling to leave their families behind were interested once more, and Overwatch was rolling out the red carpet for them. Each department had identified several applicants who might meet their needs, and a full day was planned to show them around, interview the candidates, and assess them for fit within Overwatch. The day would end, as most Overwatch events did, with a gala. Overwatch did love their fancy dress parties.

Angela wasn’t responsible for the party, but being in charge of such a large department had been work enough. While other departments simply were gaining access to more researchers or soldiers, she also was finding they had new needs. With families on campus they would need more doctors, and when Ana motioned for her to continue she brought up just that: “With families in Vesta Complex we will need to hire an obstetrician and likely several pediatricians. An additional orthodontist as well, I imagine.”

Ana nodded, “That’s reasonable, of course, and I can’t see anyone disagreeing. We can make sure to find it in the budget at the next bi-monthly.”

“I was hoping to put forth Nora Meier, from here in Zurich, for obstetrics,” Angela offered, resting her palm on the crest of her stomach, “And perhaps, if she’s willing, move her here sooner?”

Ana smirked, “Dr. Ziegler, are you using your position to bring your obstetrician on-site?”

Angela frowned. Yes, that is what she was doing, but Ana certainly didn’t need to put it like that.

She’d opened her mouth to protest, to try to reframe, but Ana was already holding up her hand, “Completely understandable, we can’t have you careening down the mountainside in labor. You know we trust you, Angela, do what you need with your staffing.”

Angela smiled, “Thank you, Ana. And,” she added with a shrug, “I haven’t even asked her if she’s interested, who knows? I just wanted to clear it before I offered her a position.”

“Thank you for the consideration, Angela,” she nodded toward Angela’s hand resting on her stomach, “How is the little one?”

“Great,” Angela beamed, “The baby was kicking up a storm last night; I’m so sorry I overslept.”

“Mmmm, is that why you overslept?” Ana smirked in a way that gave Angela pause. She knew something, and she was enjoying this far too much.

Angela narrowed her eyes, not sure how to approach the subject. She didn’t need to find an answer, though, Ana continued on her own. Worryingly, Ana’s smile faltered, “That is actually what I wanted to talk to you about, Angela, though I appreciate your update on recruitment.”

Angela was stone-faced, “What was what you wanted to talk to me about?” There was no way Ana had brought her up here to question her for some office gossip, that wasn’t who Ana was.

Ana regarded Angela, seeming to consider for a moment, before she leaned back into her chair with a loud sigh, “Years ago, back when Overwatch was first really getting started, I made a lot of friends in the press. To talk up Overwatch, you know, make sure that all our victories were front page news, to win hearts and minds.”

Angela nodded, not certain where this was going. She remembered her years in the spotlight, of course, but hadn’t realized there might have been someone working behind the scenes to thrust her there.

Ana rolled her shoulders, uncomfortable, “I’d been talking to a few of my friends recently, reconnecting. To help get the word out about recruitment, you understand, and make sure nothing unsavory appears. You recall when Klatschbase ran that story that we were somehow in dealings with the Yakuza?” Ana rolled her eye, “The last thing we’d need right now.”

Angela nodded again. What did any of this have to do with her or why she’d overslept?

Ana was silent again, but she pulled a file folder from a shelf beneath her desk. She opened it, regarding its contents, before passing a glossy sheet across the table to Angela.

The slower one’s breathing was, the slower their heart should beat. So why was it that Angela felt like she couldn’t breathe but her heart began to pound so quickly? She picked up the full-color, glossy photo. She had looked good in her little black dress, and even in this still photo Angela could hear Moira’s passion as she talked about her research. Where was this taken? Another guest at the restaurant? It had to have been, to get so close. If Angela hadn’t felt so violated she would have been pleased with the photo, both of them all smiles, their hands clasped on the table in front of them. She tried to speak, but her mouth was too dry. All she could manage to squeak out was, “H-how? Why?

Ana was looking at her. Angela didn’t meet her gaze, somehow feeling too embarrassed despite having done nothing wrong, but she could feel Ana watching her as she looked down at Moira’s smile. “My friend told me they’d been tipped off by a worker at the restaurant that you’d made a reservation.”

Of course. Angela kicked herself for being so stupid as to use her name for special treatment. She’d brought this on herself. And, when she thought about it, this answered the ‘why’ too, though Ana was already addressing that point.

“I know you haven’t been in the field in a long time, Angela, but everyone is still interested in you. And I’m sure you realize that when Mercy pops up, visibly pregnant, with a stranger on her arm, people are going to have questions.”

“And papers are happy to sell their versions of answers,” Angela finished, running her fingers over the photograph. Her voice was calm, but inside she was seething. Such a perfect night, profaned by some asshole reporter with a camera and no common decency.

“Angela,” Ana said firmly enough that Angela finally looked up to meet her gaze. Ana’s smile was sympathetic, “I was as angry as I’m sure you are. I’ve pulled some strings and managed to stop them printing it, don’t worry.”

Angela nodded. Had she pulled some strings, or paid for silence? Angela’s anger was joined by guilt. Ana was cleaning up the mess she’d made for herself. “I just can’t believe someone would do this,” She whispered.

Ana sighed, and to Angela’s horror she returned her attention to the folder and passed a small stack of full-color, glossy photos to her. A few were more of their dinner conversation, some of Angela talking while Moira listened, some reversed. More upsetting was the fact that someone had dared to follow them; the final photos were of Angela and Moira on the street, snow around them, and there were countless photographs snapped in quick succession. It was like a flipbook, even, and as she paged through them she watched Moira come to terms with the fact that they had split the bill, watched Moira lean down, watched them kiss. As much as Angela loved the photographs, she hated the transgression that brought them about.

“I think I’m going to be sick,” Angela said quietly.

“Don’t worry, Angela, like I said, nothing about this will be printed.”

Angela nodded solemnly, and a long period of silence followed.

“You’re happy?”

Angela looked up incredulously to Ana. Of course she wasn’t happy, what about this would make her happy? It took a moment to register that Ana had shifted the conversation away, probably trying to calm Angela, to distract her. Ana was asking about Moira.

Angela nodded, “Y-yes. Very happy.”

“That’s good to hear, Angela,” Ana responded with that motherly smile she sometimes had, “I’m glad you have someone.”

“I wasn’t . . . hiding it, not really.” Angela felt she needed to apologize to Ana for not telling her about Moira sooner, but Ana shook her head.

“I understand. Believe me I understand.” Ana’s tone, the way her sight flicked down to the folder again, made Angela narrow her eyes. Answering her unasked question, Ana sighed again, “The photographs . . . I’m sure you recognize they aren’t the typical Blick story.” A pause. “My friend from Klatschbase was the one who tipped me off.”

Now Angela was certain Ana had to pay to stop the story, and she certainly felt sick, doubly so when panic truly struck: Had a drone gone unnoticed, hovering outside the windows of her quarters? Did they have pictures of them last night, Angela with her lacy negligee pushed up, wantonly riding Moira?

“He,” Ana licked her lips, and it occurred to Angela she had never really seen Ana seem uncertain until now, “Provided the sample copy they were going to run. Honestly, the photos? They’re wonderful, if I do say so myself, not something we really need to stop. It was the copy.”

“What did it say?” Angela nearly growled. It was all flooding back to her, the things Klatschbase and the other scandal sheets had printed about Mercy. They’d sold countless issues filled with speculation surrounding her: Was Mercy an omnic in disguise? An agent of some covert criminal organization sent to undermine Overwatch? And, most importantly, who was Mercy fucking? There was wild speculation; anyone who they could catch in the same frame for a photograph was added to the list of her alleged lovers. She thought this was all behind her. She’d been so foolish, name-dropping for a stupid reservation.

“Nothing good,” Ana said apologetically, and what she passed across the desk wasn’t a photograph, but a small stack of draft pages.

“God,” Angela whispered the moment her eyes caught the proposed headlines. She winced, shutting her eyes tight. It wasn’t a photograph of their tryst, but it wasn’t any better. Was there anything they could have written that would possibly be worse, given, well, everything?

          MERCY REAPPEARS, VISIBLY PREGNANT
                   
Sub-headline: But who’s the baby daddy?

          MYSTERY MAN? OR WOMAN?
                   
Sub-headline: Mercy’s proclivities not the only mystery this Valentine’s Day!

          OVERPRIDE
                   
Sub-headline: Oxton, Zaryanova . . . and Ziegler? – Exclusive Photos Inside!

          OVERWATCH’S GOLDEN GIRL NOT SO GOLDEN?
                   
Sub-headline: Illegitimate Pregnancy and Mysterious New Lover

Angela already felt disgusted, not by herself or anything she’d done, but by the world she lived in. She was able to make it through the first few lines of the “story,” the wild postulations and baseless assumptions about Moira’s identity and, far more upsetting, her gender and role in Angela’s life. This was bad. This was very, very bad.

Angela balled the paper into her hand and threw it hard against the wall. Being only paper, it didn’t even make it so far, simply arcing down to bounce quietly into the middle of the room. Angela didn’t care. Nothing else in her life was going the way she’d planned, why would she be able to throw a ball of paper properly?

Ana had come around the desk and knelt in front of Angela, looking up at her face with an expression of absolute, heartfelt sympathy. She reached a calloused hand and ran it across Angela’s cheek, and Angela realized she had begun to cry only when Ana wiped away a tear.

“I’m sorry, Angela,” Ana said quietly, “You don’t deserve this, neither of you do.”

Angela sniffled and nodded.

“Don’t worry, I’m taking care of it,” Ana continued quietly, “I didn’t want to upset you, but I thought you should know.”

Angela sniffled and nodded.

“You know that I look out for all of you, right?” Ana smiled, using her free hand to grip Angela’s, “I’m not going to let anyone hurt my family like this.”

Angela sniffled and nodded, and she let herself fall forward, the little bit she was able to, given her stomach, and she looped her arms around Ana tightly. Ana returned her embrace, stroking her hair.

Ana continued to whisper soft reassurances, that she would be sure the tabloid squashed the story, that she supported Angela no matter what she was up to in her private life, that she would do her best to run interference on anything relating to Angela or Moira’s private life. It was comforting to an extent, but even Ana’s influence had its limits.

The initial shock, however, was wearing off, and Angela was feeling calmer, though no less worried for the future. Ana had settled back away from Angela and had fixed her with a worried expression, “How are you feeling, dear?”

Angela sighed and shrugged, “Violated?

Ana nodded and simply locked Angela in another firm hug before standing and urging Angela to stand as well, “I’m afraid I’ve done all I can do, Angela.”

Angela nodded, answering weakly, “I know. Thank you, Ana, so much for your help. I don’t . . . we’re not hiding,” Angela insisted again, finding it in her to look sternly at Ana, and Ana gave a smile that conveyed a sort of pride, “We just don’t want to deal with,” Angela gestured lazily toward the stack of photographs on the desk, “This.”

Moira’s voice was in Angela’s mind. I don’t want people to think of her as some sort of science experiment . . . They think I have a cock  . . .  They never understood what I do  . . .  They wouldn’t understand  . . . After she’s born, just not now. This is the last thing they ever wanted to deal with, and it was all Angela’s fault. At least Moira wouldn’t find out, read tabloids speculating the most salacious things about her, about them, about their baby.

Ana reached down and picked up the photographs, holding them toward Angela, “I understand. And I know you probably don’t want to look at these now,” She pressed them into Angela’s hand, “But they are beautiful photographs, Angela. You might want them some day.”

Angela pursed her lips, doubtful.

“You and Dr. O’Deorain make a very handsome couple, Angela,” Ana continued, soft but insistent, “You’ll be a beautiful family.”

Angela felt a little warmer, a little less disgusted with the world. She nodded and chose not to crumple the photographs as she had the copy. She let Ana draw her in for a final hug, “Go get some more rest, dear, they were handling themselves fine downstairs. Practice for your maternity leave.”

Angela nodded, patting at her face with the back of her hand, “Thank you again, Ana.”

“Maybe get some fresh air, it’ll do you good. Come see me if you need anything, alright?” Ana grasped her shoulder, “And I’m here to talk. I’ve had a baby, you know, I remember how it is.”

Angela was finally feeling like smiling again. She assured Ana she’d come to her if she needed anything, and Angela felt lighter knowing that finally, after all this time, she wasn’t hiding Moira from the entire world. Just most of it.

She couldn’t bring herself to scowl too heavily as she reviewed the photos once more in her quarters. They really were great shots. Moira looked elegant and distinguished in her three-piece suit, her hair perfectly placed, and her smile bright. And Angela’s heart did flutter a bit as she slowly examined each photograph of their kiss. Both of them had their eyes closed, and even in the dim lighting the photograph caught the blush across Moira’s pale cheeks. Ana was right, they made a very handsome couple.

Perhaps someday the photos wouldn’t make her stomach turn. She tucked them into a box deep in her closet, vowing to not give the vultures another opportunity to intrude on her privacy, on Moira’s life. No more public dates.

Chirp chirp.

modeorain.rd3.zurich: Sorry, it’s been a busy morning. Did you sleep well? I’m sorry I couldn’t stay.
modeorain.rd3.zurich: Where do you want to go this weekend, Angela?

Fuck.

Chapter Text

Everything seemed fine. Moira didn’t seem put off by Angela’s request that they stay in for the weekend, and to Angela’s surprise she didn’t even seem upset that Angela warned her she would be working. Between all the recruitment duties and missing Friday for a ‘personal day,’ which Angela preferred to think of a ‘strangers need to stay out of my personal life day,’ she was quickly falling behind. And so she’d asked if she could cook them a meal to share instead of going out.

Perhaps it was because Moira had found herself in a similar predicament in the very recent past, swamped with work and unable to break away, that she didn’t raise a fuss. She’d sounded somewhat exasperated on the comm, insisting that she wanted to take Angela out, but Angela had compromised by allowing her to buy the ingredients for the meal.

Angela had already straightened up her quarters, she’d even found time to wash the sheets, and by the time her door chimed she was adding the last few items to the shopping list for Moira. She worried a bit at her blouse; she’d been back and forth all morning. On the one hand she felt she should dress up, this was basically a date, was it not, albeit a fairly mundane one? But when she reminded herself the agenda for the evening was reading and paperwork, not to mention she would be cooking, she’d opted for something a bit more casual. The one pair of jeans she owned hadn’t fit in many weeks, but she had a knee-length pleated skirt and polo shirt. Casual Friday wear for a casual Saturday.

“Oh, wow,” Angela couldn’t help but say as she opened the door, finding she wasn’t the only one who had opted for a dressed-down look. Moira stood in the hall, and if not for her age and bearing she could have been a student in her cotton button-down and grey slacks, a dark leather messenger bag crossed over her chest. She didn’t look sloppy, not ever, but Angela was so accustomed to seeing Moira with a tie at the very least, often with a vest or coat as well, that it was a surprise to see her without.

Moira simply blinked, then looked down at herself before looking to Angela with apprehension, “No good?”

“Ah, no, sorry,” Angela shook her head, somewhat embarrassed she’d been staring, and stepped aside for Moira, “I’m just . . . I don’t think I’ve seen you without a tie before.”

Moira placed her bag on the bench across the quarters and when she turned back to Angela she was grinning, “I’m pretty sure you’ve seen me without a tie a few times, Angela.”

Angela laughed, closing the space between them and looping her arms around Moira’s waist, “Mmmm, this is true, though those times were a bit different.”

Moira chuckled, “I suppose.” She returned Angela’s embrace, pressing a soft kiss into Angela’s hair as she murmured, “How are you doing? You said you missed work yesterday? You’re not ill?”

Angela shook her head against Moira’s chest, “No, I just needed a rest after all this recruitment fuss,” Angela assured herself this was technically the truth, “Though of course now I just have to do it all today.” She turned her face up to Moira, grimacing, “I’m sorry we can’t do anything more exciting.”

“I have been chained to my lab for a month straight,” Moira gave Angela an understanding smile, “I’m glad you invited me to join you.”

“Mmmm, I couldn’t stand you up,” Angela pulled away from Moira, “Though I’m afraid I do have to send you away.” She plucked the list from the table and held it out to Moira, “Since you wanted to pay for dinner.”

Moira folded the list and slid it into her back pocket with a nod, “You didn’t want to come with me?”

Angela did want to go with her. She wasn’t really dying to shop for veal and mushrooms, but she would have preferred to spend more of her time with Moira than less. But she couldn’t risk it, risk making another mess for Ana to clean up.

Angela shook her head, “I can get started on some of the work I have to do while you’re gone.”

Moira fished her comm unit out of her messenger bag and motioned with it toward Angela, “If you think of anything else you need.”

Angela nodded, walking to the door, “Come here.” Moira followed, curious, as Angela keyed in the command, “Your hand.”

Angela grabbed Moira by her proffered wrist and laid her hand flat against the interface, her long fingers splaying over the entire receiver as it scanned her palm. In but an instant there was a chirp. “There,” Angela smiled, releasing Moira’s wrist only after squeezing her fingers lightly, “Now you can join me whenever you want.”

Moira was looking down at her own palm as though she’d never seen it before, but quickly she cleared her throat and looked anxiously at Angela, “A-are you sure?”

“Just do your best to not throw any crazy parties while I’m at work,” Angela teased, already making her way to the bench under the window, but when she turned and saw Moira was still apprehensive she laughed, “Yes, Moira, I’m sure. Come by any time, really.”

Moira smiled, “A-alright. No parties, got it.”

Angela just pursed her lips into a tight smile as she snatched the first file from the pile of pediatrics applicants, her tone mirthful as she made a shooing motion toward Moira, “Go on, don’t let a pregnant woman starve.”

Moira gave an exaggerated nod, and with a promise to return as quickly as she could and acknowledgement of Angela’s warning to drive safe, she vanished. Angela laid back against the cushions under the window, turning her attention to the CV in-hand. She’d culled most of the subpar applicants from the pool, and now it was time to pick the most viable candidates among the qualified, but she had only just managed to read the title line of the first when the door to her quarters slid open with a quiet chirp.

Moira was standing fully in the doorway, her hand pressed against the exterior biometric scanner. She was looking toward her hand, but when the door slid open she looked sheepishly toward Angela, “Oh, I, uh— It works. I was just . . . checking. To be sure.”

Angela smirked, “Of course.”

Moira grinned widely as the door slid shut on her again, and Angela rolled her eyes. She passed her free hand over her stomach, whispering quietly, “Your mother is very strange sometimes.” She laughed at the perfectly timed kick to her stomach, “Mmmm, I know, I think she’s sweet too.”

Moira was gone for the bulk of the afternoon, to the point that Angela began to grow worried. She’d picked her top candidates for pediatricians to review with her staff, and the sun was starting to set. She knew it would be quite some time, of course; there were a few shops nearby for general groceries, but for veal Moira would have had to go into the city. The weather had been clear all day, but still she worried, even more when her comm went unanswered.

She had given up looking through the orthodontist CVs and had busied herself instead alternating between folding and wringing her hands, but finally let loose a huge sigh of relief when the door chimed. She hit the door release, and as it slid open she was already saying “You know, I did just give you the ability to open this yourself.”

“I-I know,” Moira had a mess of shopping bags in one hand, smiling sheepishly as Angela hopped to her feet, “I just didn’t want to be rude.”

“I wouldn’t have set it up if I didn’t want you to use it,” Angela insisted, then added, “I was getting worried.”

“Yes, well,” Moira set the bags on the kitchenette and turned, raising the folded shopping list up, “Your handwriting is terrible, Angela.”

Angela gave a small ‘harrumph’ and stuck out her tongue, grabbing the list from Moira’s hand, “Med school requirement.” She unfolded the note. It was perfectly legible.

“I hope I didn’t take too long,” Moira added, sincerely apologetic.

Angela had already set to unpacking the few groceries onto the counter, shaking her head as she spoke over her shoulder, “No, geschnetzeltes doesn’t take very long to make, we can eat in less than an hour. Have a seat,” she cocked her head toward the bench, “You can push all the papers somewhere else, sorry, I didn’t mean to spread out so much.”

“Did you want help?” Moira was standing behind her, and her hands felt heavy, comfortable on Angela’s shoulders.

“Mm-mm,” Angela shook her head, “I can handle it.” Truthfully she’d have loved to have help. She didn’t need it, but it would have been enjoyable. But even officers’ kitchens were not spacious, and she suspected Moira, while well-meaning, would be more a hindrance than a help, “I’m cooking for us, go sit down, you’ve been shopping all afternoon.”

Moira was still standing behind her, stroking her long thumbs along the nape of Angela’s neck, and it was easily as distracting as Moira being physically in the way, “Mmmm, I don’t remember this on my list.” Angela drawled as she pulled a small red tin from the bag.

“Sorry, I must have misread your list. My German isn’t very good,” Moira said softly. She bent to lay a soft kiss on Angela’s temple before retreating to the bench below the window.

“Thank you,” Angela grinned, “But I think if you keep buying me treats I really will get too fat.” She shook the tin of hot chocolate mix toward Moira, “You didn’t want some?”

Moira predictably shook her head, and Angela set about making a cup for herself, “Well, correction then, we can eat in a little over an hour.”

Angela set her attentions to cooking their meal. Despite her troubles Moira had mostly gotten the correct items. She’d bought the pre-grated potatoes for the rösti which were not what the list called for, but it actually ended up well, it would save her time. Once she’d prepared a sufficiently large cup of hot chocolate for herself she set to work slicing mushrooms while the butter softened.

“What?” Angela quirked an eyebrow as the corner of her eye caught Moira. Moira had indeed stacked most of Angela’s paperwork neatly on the end of the cushioned bench, but rather than fetch her own work from her bag she was reclining against the cushions with her hands folded behind her head, watching Angela. Her long legs were splayed out in front of her, and she seemed to fill half of Angela’s quarters.

She shook her head and gave a bit of a shrug, “Just watching.” Angela smiled and had turned back to her pans as Moira continued, “Do you like to cook then?”

Angela nodded enthusiastically as she pushed the mushrooms into the lemon juice, “Mm-hmm, it’s fun,” She turned a brief smile to Moira, “When you have someone to cook for, that is. What about you? Do you cook?”

“If I have to. It doesn’t really feel worth the effort when the mess halls are always open.”

“I suppose that’s true, especially on busy days.” Angela had to admit she took more of her meals in the mess halls than she should. Unlike Moira she didn’t have the excuse of lacking cooking facilities of her own.

As Angela focused her efforts on preparing the meal her mind began to wander. She had always been career-driven, and happy because of it. Her calling, she’d always known, was to save lives. All the same, she couldn’t deny there was something about these terribly domestic events, occurring more and more frequently in the recent months, which brought her a warmth that seemed to touch her soul and fill a void she hadn’t realized was there. Not in a million years would she have imagined finding so much enjoyment in the simple act of cooking a meal for someone she cared for, and her mind touched on what the future might bring for the three of them.  

The silence was mostly comfortable, sizzling and popping from the pans filling the quiet. Angela wouldn’t have said she was uncomfortable, per se, but by the time the smell of roasting potatoes and veal filled her quarters it was finally too much for her, “Didn’t you bring some of your own work to do?” She was teasing, of course, as she looked toward Moira who was still watching her intently, sprawled on the bench.

“Am I bothering you?” Moira asked plainly.

Angela shook her head with a laugh, “No, I’m just not used to cooking with someone staring at me from across the room.”

“Oh,” Moira responded. Angela had turned her attention back to her task as she heard Moira finally stir from the bench. While she expected to catch Moira fetching her bag out of the corner of her eye it was just one additional stride as Moira returned to stand behind her. Angela hummed as she felt Moira press against her back and pass her arms under her own, splaying her hands along the sides of Angela’s abdomen, “Is this better then?” Moira asked softly.

Angela chuckled, turning her head to whisper teasingly over her shoulder, “Bold of you. What have you done with Dr. O’Deorain?”

“I can go sit back down?” Moira’s voice remained soft, but Angela was saddened to hear a hint of hesitation that hadn’t been there before, feel her stiffen slightly.

Angela shook her head, “No, actually, you’re just in time.” She fetched a spoon and scooped up a bit of the geschnetzeltes sauce. She blew lightly on it before holding her hand under it to clumsily hold it up over her shoulder, “Here, try.”

Moira didn’t remove her hands from Angela’s stomach, simply leaned down and closed her lips around the spoon, whimpering a bit, “It’s hot.”

“Yes, it was just on the stove, Moira,” Angela laughed, “But is it alright? Does it need anything?”

“No, it’s great. I’ve never had it before, I don’t know what it’s supposed to taste like.”

Angela laughed, and when she tried some herself she was also pleased. They remained like that, Moira holding Angela and watching over her shoulder while she cooked, until finally Angela clicked off the final burner and flipped the rösti onto a serving plate, “Alright, all ready.”

As Moira withdrew her hands Angela took the opportunity to shove the dish into them, and quickly they set about moving the food to the table. Angela tracked down a bottle of chardonnay, cheap but not terrible, she’d had stowed away and poured a glass for Moira before getting water for herself.

Angela had taken a page from Moira’s book and invested in a few small lamps in order to not rely so much on the overhead lights, and the point of warm light from the table beside them set an intimate mood that Angela enjoyed.

The meal, typical of most, was eaten in much less time than it took to prepare it, and Angela was pleased that Moira seemed to enjoy it. As they had before, they fell into a back and forth, speaking about themselves while the other ate and listened. While Angela had always wanted to be a doctor, Moira shared that she had started her studies intending to pursue biochemical engineering, and it was this revelation formed the backbone of the night’s conversation. Moira walked Angela through her various research projects which eventually led her to focus on genetics. “Being able to create a machine, a device, is fine, but wouldn’t it be more efficient to simply reprogram the process from the ground up? Fix the problem at its source, not try to put a bandage on the symptom?”

Angela, of course, had pointed out that changing an organism at its fundamental level could have far-reaching, unintended consequences. She felt it would be better to move forward in half-measures, or bandages as Moira seemed to think of them, and she told Moira s much.

Moira had simply nodded and muttered, “Perhaps.”

“Are you trying to avoid an argument with me?” Angela asked, only half-joking.

Moira laughed and shook her head, “No, of course not,” Angela found her hand taken up in Moira’s, and what should have been something pleasant was a reminder of the photographs tucked into the back of her closet. Moira should not have been distracted by such thoughts, but she seemed pensive all the same. Eventually she smiled, “I just think there’s a chance you’re right, and I’d hate to lose an argument.”

Angela laughed; she certainly couldn’t argue with that. She gave Moira’s hand a squeeze before pushing her chair back, taking both of their plates in hand. Moira was on her feet in a flash, taking both of the plates from her before Angela could protest, “Do your work, Angela, I’ll clean.”

Another thing Angela couldn’t argue with. She did have quite a bit still left to do, and despite the rest during dinner she was eager to be off her feet; they became sore more quickly as the days went on. And so she fetched her pile of paperwork from the edge of the bench and, after some fluffing of the cushions, sat back on one end. She turned on another of her new table lamps, perfect for lighting this half of the bench. There as another light on the other side if Moira were to sit there, but she hoped that the singular light might coax her closer when she finished with the clean-up.

Angela had every intention of getting through the CVs tonight, but whatever had overcome Moira sitting here was contagious. She bothered to hide it a bit better than Moira had, holding the CV out where she could read it, but she spent far more time watching Moira. After she’d cleared the table Moira had unbuttoned and rolled up her shirt sleeves, pushing them above her elbows to reveal her pale, freckled forearms. She turned on the kitchenette light and watching her was mesmerizing, lit from above in the dim room, scrubbing away as she frowned down at thedishes. Again Angela thought of what their future might hold.

“Must be a good doctor,” Moira said as she finally turned off the tap, toweling off her hands and forearms.

“What?” Angela blinked, pulled from her thoughts.

“I said they must be a good doctor,” Moira smirked as she turned her head toward the bench, “That CV alone’s taken you nearly ten minutes.” Angela scowled, and Moira just laughed, “Do you want me to make you some more hot chocolate?”

“That would be nice,” Angela admitted, still a bit embarrassed she’d been caught staring and daydreaming.

Moira set to work, and it wasn’t long before she was flicking off the kitchenette light, sending all but the bench into darkness. From the dim light she strode, settling on the bench next to Angela, her messenger bag in one hand and a warm mug in the other. Angela took the mug gingerly and set it on the windowsill to cool.

Moira had her brow raised at the CV which Angela was still holding out in the air, her ineffective cover for the fact she’d been staring, “Are you going to hold it out like that for the rest of the night?”

Angela frowned, her embarrassment continuing, as she let her hand fall to the side to a more comfortable reading position.

“Alright, then, you won’t mind if I just take this spot then?” Moira had already fished a stack of papers from her messenger bag, and with only a bit of repositioning she’d stretched out as well as she could on the bench, resting her head in the portion of Angela’s lap not reserved for the baby. It was no accident, Angela was sure, that Moira’s ear was pressed snuggly against her stomach, and Moira was looking to Angela, trying to gauge her response, seeking permission to stay, “Alright?” she asked quietly.

Angela’s response was captivation. She’d spent so much time looking up at Moira as she towered above her, angular features and hard lines. But this Moira laying in her lap was the sleepy Moira who had kissed her in the moonlight, the Moira with the warm smile and the soft expression just for Angela. “Mm-hmmm,” was all Angela said.

Moira grinned and pressed the side of her face softly against Angela’s stomach before turning her attention to the papers in her hand. Time passed slowly, comfortably, as they sat in their island of warm light in a sea of darkness, the silence only broken by the occasional crackle of a turning page or a sip from Angela’s mug.

Angela hadn’t even noticed she’d begun to idly stroke Moira’s hair until Moira pulled away and sat up, rubbing her eyes with a wince. She said nothing, only grumbled quietly as she fished into her bag and pulled out a small case. “I’ll hear nothing from you, Doctor Ziegler,” she said firmly as she laid back down, and had she not been preemptively silenced Angela would have undoubtedly said something.

No, she couldn’t help herself anyway, “Ah, don’t be like that, I like them,” Angela cooed, touching her fingertips to the thick, black half-rims of Moira’s reading glasses, “They’re charming.” Moira was glaring at her, but the blush across her cheeks didn’t seem to come from anger, and she just huffed and positioned her papers between her face and Angela’s.

“Mmmm, don’t do that,” Angela crooned, pushing her wrist back to where it had been before so that she could see Moira’s face. Moira simply sniffed and continued reading, and Angela happily resumed running her fingers through Moira’s hair, careful now not to nudge her glasses.

It wasn’t long before Moira was the one to break the silence, “Why doesn’t she ever kick for me?”

“What?” Angela asked absent-mindedly as she x’d a lackluster applicant and fetched another CV from the pile.

Moira pressed the side of her face firmly against Angela, “She never kicks. You said she kicks at night, but she’s not kicking.”

“Oh,” Angela fixed Moira with an understanding smile, touched that Moira was fretting over the baby. “She must only kick when she misses you,” Angela ventured with a sly smile.

Moira let out a huff and rolled her eyes, but as she turned her attention back to her lit review she remained pressed firmly against Angela.

And perhaps Angela was right, because for as long as they laid there together the baby didn’t stir.  They would stir, of course, to trade completed papers for a fresh round from a pile or bag, but finally, deep into the night, Moira sat up. She winced as she rubbed her eyes again, stripping her glasses away and yawning hugely.

“Mmmm, time for bed?” Angela asked quietly as she set aside her mostly completed work, and Moira was already nodding as she stood and stretched. When Moira looked uncertainly toward her Angela just smiled, “You’ll stay, right?”

“Of course,” Moira’s uncertainty disappeared as she held out her hand, helping Angela get to her feet.

They fell back into silence again, broken only by rustling fabric and intermittent yawning as they readied for bed. Angela stripped down to her panties and was simply too tired to consider a sexy nightgown, pulling on a soft sleep shirt. Moira seemed less certain, having apparently not packed pajamas into her messenger bag. Or, Angela mused, she was just hesitating long enough to watch Angela change, “You’re welcome to any of my clothes, but I don’t think they’d fit you,” Angela offered, and as she climbed between cool, clean sheets she yawned her addition, “Just take all that off and come to bed.

Angela would have liked to return the favor, watching Moira strip off her clothing piece by piece, but she was simply exhausted, and she was pretty sure she would have other opportunities. Her eyes were already closed when Moira switched off the lamp and crawled into bed behind her, pressing bodily against Angela’s back. Angela hummed her approval as Moira draped a long arm over her and pressed her lips softly against Angela’s neck.

“Did you want to have sex, Angela?” Moira’s voice was quiet, had she not been so near Angela’s ear Angela was certain she’d have missed it.

“Unfortunately,” Angela said, trying only semi-successfully to hold back a yawn, “What I want and what I have energy for are not always the same.”

“Alright,” Moira whispered, placing another kiss against her neck.

As an afterthought Angela added, “But I hope you’ll be here in the morning, to ask me again.”

“Alright.”

Chapter Text

When Angela awoke it was dark, no sunlight and only a touch of moonlight from the skylight overhead, indicating it was nearly dawn. She lay in the darkness, still turned on her side as she often slept now, and she wondered what had woken her. Perhaps the door closing? The distinct lack of Moira’s arm where she’d last felt it, crossed between her breasts and gripping her shoulder, was concerning. Moira had left again, and she’d just missed her.

Distracting her before she could scowl, a soft jab in the approximate locale of her right kidney suggested another cause, and she just groaned quietly. The same reason she woke up in the middle of the night at least twice a week. If it wasn’t the bladder it was the baby. Of course.

It didn’t hurt, even as the sensation had moved from fluttering and tickles to soft kicks and jabs. In fact it always made her grin. She needed the sleep, but she could never be upset over the reminder that her daughter was healthy and growing. The first time the baby had returned to kicking after her fall she’d sobbed with relief, and she carried that relief onward. She couldn’t truly be annoyed over the frequent disturbances, though she could certainly roll her eyes and groan a bit now and then, which she certainly did now as the baby seemed to be only just getting started. But if it was the baby that had woken her . . .

Angela pushed herself up, propping up on her elbow and straining slightly to look behind her without needing to go through the ordeal of shifting all that much. Moira had fallen away from her in sleep, and the arm that had been so tightly wrapped around Angela reached all the way off the other side of the bed to fall over the nightstand instead. Her face was still turned toward Angela, angled down slightly, and the duvet reached just above her chin.

‘Cute’ was all Angela could think, and she considered just settling down to try to sleep through the private dance party in her abdomen.

Why doesn’t she ever kick for me?

“Moira,” Angela called, her voice scratchy from sleep. When Moira didn’t stir she cleared her throat and called again, louder, “Moira. Wake up.

Moira twitched, her eyes shutting tighter for a moment, then opening slowly. When she turned her unfocused gaze toward Angela, finally getting some of her bearings at least, they opened wider. She swiftly rose to prop herself up on her elbow, and she was leaning toward Angela and grasping at her shoulder as she asked urgently, “What is it, what’s wrong?”

Angela fell back against her pillow, using her newly freed hand to take Moira’s from her shoulder. She worked their hands under the duvet and spread Moira’s fingers over her stomach, “What’s wrong,” Angela grumbled quietly into her pillow, certain that there was no mistaking her mirthful tone, “Is that your daughter doesn’t respect her bedtime.”

Before the words were even out it was clear Moira had caught on, and how could she not have with the fit the baby seemed to be throwing? She felt Moira’s fingers press urgently against her, heard Moira begin with a quiet gasp and finish with a small laugh. She wasted no time repositioning herself much as she had been when Angel fell asleep, though she took the opportunity to thread her arm not preoccupied with their baby through the space between Angela’s neck and the bed, managing to wrap both of her arms around Angela this time.

Angela simply yawned, nuzzling her face back into her soft, warm pillow and Moira’s arm. The baby may stop kicking, but it wasn’t likely. Her little calisthenics routines would sometimes last half an hour, but Angela hoped this one would be short. Not too short, though, as she could feel Moira’s smile as she pressed her face against Angela’s shoulder.

“She’s perfect,” Moira whispered quietly, her palm still pressed firmly over Angela’s soft cotton sleepshirt.

Angela simply hummed sleepily, stroking her fingers lightly over the back of Moira’s hand where it rested against her.

When Angela opened her eyes again her quarters were filled with warm winter light, and Moira’s arms wrapped around her made her feel all the warmer. Moira was already awake, Angela was certain of it. She could feel Moira’s thumb stroking lightly along the crest of her stomach, much as it had been when she fell asleep, though her palm was now pressed against her bare skin. She grinned as she thought of Moira gently working her nightgown up, and Moira’s question, maddeningly straight-forward but somehow so much sexier as a result, played in her mind. Did you want to have sex, Angela? And here she was come the morning, as promised.

“Good morning,” Moira’s voice was a quiet song close behind her.

“Mmmm, how’d you know I was awake?” Angela whined petulantly as she nuzzled her face into her pillow.

“Your breathing changed,” Moira nearly whispered her explanation as she shifted, placing a soft kiss against Angela’s ear before she pulled back, and Angela sensed her settling in on the pillow behind her, felt Moira push herself against Angela’s back and tighten her grip around her.

“Have you been awake all night?” asked Angela as she found Moira’s arm under the duvet and ran her fingers delicately across her forearm, feeling Moira’s skin rise into gooseflesh as she did so.

The rustle of fabric probably meant Moira was shaking her head, as her answer came right after, “I slept some, after the baby stopped kicking. I’ve only been awake a little while.”

“Good,” Angela said quietly, moving her hand back down Moira’s arm and moving her fingers into the gaps between Moira’s splayed fingers.

“Did you sleep enough? The baby didn’t keep you awake?”

It was Angela’s turn to shake her head, “You must have calmed her down.”  Moira’s laugh was silent, but Angela felt the quick puff against the back of her neck, “Though I wouldn’t say no to more time in bed,” she added quietly, letting herself roll back against Moira.

“Alright,” Moira’s voice was soft, neutral, the same simple agreement she’d given last night, but when Moira pressed her lips against the nape of Angela’s neck she could feel her smiling.

Moira held her a bit tighter, and she curled her fingers inward to close the tips of Angela’s in her grasp, but otherwise she seemed content to lay in the warm sun beneath the skylight. Angela couldn’t complain. It wasn’t what she had in mind when she’d said more time in bed, but this, too, was its own sort of ecstasy. Her bed was always more comfortable in the morning than at night, and she now found it was even more comfortable with Moira in it as well. Yes, she was perfectly content to spend her lazy Sunday morning wrapped in Moira’s arms under her fluffy duvet in the sunlight.

It wasn’t long after reaching this conclusion, however, that it became clear Moira had other ideas. She squeezed Angela’s fingers firmly once more before snaking her spindly fingers from beneath Angela’s. Her touch was feather-light and slow, almost unnoticeable but for the way the blanket shifted as her hand tracked up the short distance, and by the time Moira’s hand had found her breast she was no longer bothering with a light touch.

Angela whimpered appreciatively as Moira closed her hand around her swollen breast, passing her thumb along the side of her quickly hardening nipple, but it had the opposite effect as Angela hoped, and Moira stopped, pulling her hand away, “I-is this okay?”

“It was until you stopped,” Angela protested with a grumble, and Moira just laughed as her hand returned to Angela.

“Sorry, I’ve heard that some women get sore in pregnancy,” Moira explained, her thoughtful timbre contrasting considerably with the rough work of her hands, already kneading at her again, alternately grasping and pushing at Angela’s breast.

“Mmmm,” Angela murmured, as much a mewl of appreciation as a confirmation of Moira’s statement, “Some, but usually only the, ah,” Angela’s explanation was interrupted as Moira took her nipple between her fingers, squeezing firmly, and Moira’s chuckle was nearly enough to derail her train of thought. Angela swallowed and licked her lips, laughing a bit herself as she pushed on, “Usually only in the first trimester and just before the baby comes.”

“I see,” Moira drawled.

Moira’s hands were rough against her, but in a way that perfectly suited Angela, and when Moira’s long nails would catch on her nipple it sent small sparks down her spine, pushed a whimper from her lips. With an indulgent groan she closed her eyes, nuzzling against her pillow and Moira’s resting arm still situated beneath her. The singular sensation of Moira playing at her breasts was enticing enough, but when her mouth found the base of Angela’s neck it was difficult for Angela to decide what wonderful feeling to focus on.

She was already breathing quick and shallow, any rhythm she found interrupted every time Moira pinched at her nipple and forced a gasp. When Angela freed her arm from the blankets, reaching behind her to run her fingers through Moira’s hair, hold her against her neck, Moira redoubled her efforts in both regards, shifting her hand to Angela’s woefully neglected other breast as she began to nip and suck roughly at Angela’s neck. It probably would have been easier on her, Angela mused, if she hadn’t been wearing the necklace Moira had brought her from Canada, but she’d found she didn’t like to take it off, even at night, and Moira didn’t seem to mind all that much.

It wasn’t so much Moira hooking her long leg around Angela’s as it was the feel of Moira softly thrusting against her ass that made Angela giggle, “Someone’s a fan of morning sex,” she teased.

Moira gave a quiet grunt and murmured quietly into Angela’s neck, not dissuaded.

“What was that?” Angela smirked, tugging a bit at Moira’s hair to coax her mouth away from her neck.

“I said,” Moira hesitated a bit, and Angela could almost hear her blush, “I’m a fan of you,” She’d already buried her face back into Angela’s neck, and she’d mumbled this time as well, but Angela made it out all the same, and she laughed, delighted.

“Mmmm, even better,” She responded, finding herself pushing back into Moira’s soft thrusts. It was Moira’s turn to laugh, but it only lasted a moment before Moira pulled away, completely and entirely, leaving Angela feeling cold and frustrated. Before she could roll over and demand Moira put her hand right back where it belonged Moira was already climbing from the other side of the bed, “Where are you going?” Angela sputtered in frustration, pushing herself onto her elbow to glare at Moira as she rounded the bed.

Moira faltered for a moment, but shrugged and took a final step to pick up her messenger bag where she’d left it. When she’d fished out the harness she held it lightly, dangling from her fingers with both attachments already in place. She looked curiously toward Angela, “. . . unless you don’t want me to?”

Angela nodded enthusiastically, and she used the chance to sit up and pull off her nightgown, bunched just below her arms, and toss it onto the floor.

Moira had fished out the small bottle of lubricant and when she tossed it the bottle landed with a quiet thump on the bed beside Angela. Angela wouldn’t be so easily distracted, however, and she watched with interest as Moira ran her hand through her hair. After a moment of contemplation she nodded, resolved over whatever she had been considering, and rounded the bed again in just a few long strides. Angela’s eyes followed her, and she fell back onto her elbows as she watched Moira strip off the dark grey boxer-briefs she’d been wearing. It wasn’t often that Angela saw Moira completely nude, she wore the harness so often, and it made Angela appreciate the view even more.

Moira was angles and sharp lines, from her cheekbones to her jawline, her shoulders, her clavicle, her ribcage, and finally, a view for Angela only, her thin waist accentuating her sharp hips. But not all of Moira was harsh. Equally fascinating to Angela was the dusting of freckles across her thighs, chest, shoulders and arms. Angela loved Moira’s soft stomach as much as she loved her rough hands; she loved her small breasts with her perfect, pale nipples, and most of all she loved Moira’s face. Nowhere was Moira softer than her eyes, her smile, and Angela loved everything about Moira.

Even her shyness was cute, though it could be frustrating as well, and when Moira turned away from her as she pulled up the harness Angela huffed, “I’ve seen what you look like in it, you know.”

Moira only half-turned toward Angela, giving her the side of her face as she huffed right back, “What are you complaining about? I thought you liked to look at my ass.”

Angela couldn’t stop the bark of laughter. She’d been put in her place, but she didn’t mind. She settled back against the pillows, still watching Moira as she fumbled for the lube where it had landed.

It was interesting, actually, watching Moira do this, and quite arousing Angela had to admit. She folded her hands under her head and watched intently, and if Moira was bothered by her attention she seemed to shrug it off as she turned her attention to the task at hand. Her pale back blocked most of Angela’s view, but she could see enough to follow the general flow of events. Moira let a bit of lube drip out of the bottle, running the bottle’s spout along the crack between two of her long fingers pressed together, and she made a small sound of displeasure as some of it dripped away. She pushed the cap down and set the bottle aside, and with her fingers held up Angela could watch her use her thumb to push the slick along and around her fingers. She hesitated a moment, and Angela was certain she was considering going into the bathroom, but Moira sat straight and took a deep, shaky breath. With her non-slicked hand she reached for the toy, and Angela couldn’t make out what she had done but it earned an unhappy hiss from Moira. Quickly, though, she’d pulled the fabric away from her and Angela was disappointed she could see neither Moira’s hands nor her face as Moira plunged her other hand beneath the harness.

Angela considered crawling across the bed, sitting up behind Moira, offering to give her a helping hand. A reversal, Angela thought with amusement, of their first insemination attempt. She wondered if she could make Moira cum as expertly as Moira had been able to make her. But she’d seen how hesitant Moira was to even do this here in the bedroom with Angela present, and Angela was cautious of Moira’s delicate confidence in a moment like this. She maintained a distance she hoped was appropriate, but her breath quickened and she pressed her thighs together when she heard Moira gasp, saw her tilt her head back, felt her shift her weight. With a sigh Moira lowered her chin to her chest, and what joined her working hand and shifting hips was a grunt more of annoyance than pleasure.

After some maneuvering Moira closed the fingers of her free hand around the outer attachment, and when she her hand down the shaft this sound she made was much more pleasant to Angela’s ears. She wondered, the visual clear in her head now, if Moira ever pleasured herself like this on her own, and the image she’d invented was one that wouldn’t be leaving Angela for quite some time. She’d had the strap-on since college, surely she had? Someday Angela would ask, she promised herself. Some day when she knew Moira was comfortable enough that she might even be coaxed into a demonstration. Angela pressed her thighs together again, aching for Moira, but when Moira turned again to half-face her Angela just smiled.

Moira watched her from the corner of her eye, considering, before finally asking quietly, “How did you want to do it this time?”

Angela would have rolled her eyes at Moira’s question, spurred her to be more creative, but she realized Moira’s deference was undoubtedly due to uncertainty over Angela’s own abilities. Angela was a doctor and even she still found sex during pregnancy a bit of a mysterious adventure, but one she enjoyed sharing with Moira.

Angela thought for a moment, cocking her head to the side before moving her gaze around her quarters. There were plenty of options, and she certainly couldn’t complain about the few they’d already experienced. But if she were being honest her mind was still stuck on Moira’s fingers wrapped around the circuit-lined cock, and it was hard to imagine anything else, “Ah, come here,” Angela gave a wide gesture with her hand to invite Moira to walk around the bed, and she did so with some sheepishness, unable to hide the toy as it bounced slightly with each step. She covered her embarrassment well enough by reaching beneath the fabric, ostensibly to tighten the straps.

As Moira rounded the bed Angela sat up, scooting to the edge to swing her legs over, and when Moira came close enough she secured both her hands on Moira’s hips. If Angela hadn’t had a good view of Moira in the harness before she certainly did now, and she hoped the way she grinned up at Moira, the way she licked her lips, made it abundantly clear that what the view stirred in Angela was nothing if not lust.

All the same, Moira swallowed hard and looked away to the windows, her cheeks flushed. Angela didn’t mind, she always did find flustered Moira attractive, but when Angela leaned forward and closed her lips around the tip of the toy Moira jerked back, pulling out of Angela’s grasp with a wince.

“No good?” Angela asked, confused, frowning at Moira who was looking toward her uncertainly, “Sorry, I, uh, thought you’d like it.”

Moira mouthed some words but made no sound, but as she ran her hands over the sides of the boxer-brief harness she shook her head, “It’s not—it’s not that. It’s nice, it’s just . . .”

Did Moira’s embarrassment know no bounds? As she trailed off Angela fought hard against rolling her eyes. She decided derision was absolutely not the best of routes, and so she smiled as sweet as she could and beckoned Moira back, “Come on then, let me. I want to, Moira.”

It was somewhat truthful. No, Angela had no real interest in taking a cock, real or manufactured, into her mouth, or really doing any such things with her mouth, but that was mostly offset by her desire to reciprocate all the wonderful attention Moira had thus far laid on her, this morning and in the past. She wasn’t selfish, as much as some of her past lovers had insisted otherwise, she was just particular about how she liked to spend her time between the sheets, that was all. But no matter her other preferences, her new-found interest was to take care of Moira as well as Moira took care of her.

When Moira stepped forward it was with trepidation, but Angela just returned her hands lightly to Moira’s hips, “If you want me to stop, I will,” Angela assured her quietly, and Moira was nodding, her eyes still averted, as Angela returned her lips to Moira’s toy.

Moira gave a small whimper, and when Angela looked up she’d closed her eyes tight, standing stiffly with her hands at her sides. Angela would just have to loosen her up, it seemed, and with that thought in her head Angela pressed her tongue firmly along the underside of the toy as she slid it slowly into her mouth. She couldn’t imagine how such sensations transferred to the attachment on Moira’s end, but whatever it did was effective. Moira didn’t open her eyes, but she shuddered and whimpered softly as Angela worked the toy slowly back out of her mouth. Angela had never been “good” at this sort of thing, and she’d never seen reason to practice, leaving her woefully unable to take much of the toy comfortably into her mouth, but she did what she could for Moira.

She’d finally found a comfortable pace and a method of tongue placement that allowed her not to gag when Moira opened her eyes. She looked incredulously at Angela who smiled up at her, running her tongue roughly along the underside of Moira’s shaft. She’d thought, from the way Moira had been gasping and jerking her hips, that she had been doing a good job, and perhaps Moira would smile back, take a handful of her hair, and coax her onward. She was wrong, and Moira jerked away again, much as she’d done before, though this time her breath was much more shallow and quick.

Angela’s sense of embarrassment had more to do with Moira’s reaction than the string of saliva that followed the toy as Moira jerked violently away from Angela, turning to the side as if to shield herself from Angela’s offending mouth. She had her eyes shut tight again, and she simply groaned, “Please stop. I don’t want it, Angela.”

“Okay,” Angela said briskly, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand as she pushed herself quickly off the bed, and though Moira flinched she didn’t pull away as Angela wrapped her arms around her, careful to approach her from the side so as to not jostle the toy. “I’m sorry, we don’t have to,” Angela said quietly, pressing her lips against Moira’s bicep, “I’m sorry, I won’t.”

Moira relaxed somewhat, and when she looked down at Angela she grimaced, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to upset you.”

“The same to you,” Angela smiled in a way she hoped Moira would find comforting, and it seemed she did as she relaxed all the more, shoulders slumped as she turned toward Angela. She lifted Angela’s chin softly and placed a chaste kiss on her lips, and Angela hummed, asking as she pulled away, “All better?”

Moira shrugged sheepishly, but she was smiling at least.

Angela cocked her head to the side again, a gesture of deep contemplation, but she’d already made up her mind. Enough experimenting for one morning, they’d need something safe, something they knew. She smiled as she pulled away from Moira, turning away from her with a swish of her hips as she climbed onto her bed, crawling forward enough to allow Moira to get onto the bed behind her.

With only some hesitation Moira did so, and Angela sighed when she felt the familiar press of the toy between her legs. What parts of the toy Angela’s saliva hadn’t managed to wet were covered soon enough as Moira began to rock slowly against her, letting the toy part her as she settled her hands on Angela’s hips.

With a shallow entry, only the tip, punctuating each pass Moira had thoroughly coated Angela and her toy both, and when she finally pushed into Angela, slow and deep, it was with a sigh from both women. The previous discomfort forgotten, Moira quickly found a satisfying rhythm, not nearly so fast or rough as the first time but just as deep as she buried herself with every plunge. Angela was careful to let Moira control the pace, cautious of causing either of them further embarrassment. She still didn’t understand, not really, but as Moira gripped her firmly by the hips and quickened her thrusts Angela felt her concerns being pushed wholly out of mind.

It was more difficult for her this time, for both of them probably, most of the build-up of the morning dashed against the rocks of Moira’s reluctance, but Moira knew very well what she was doing and in time both women were panting heavily and Moira no longer kept to her slow, steady pace. When Moira’s hands released her, leaving Angela to push back against her of her own volition, Angela squeaked appreciatively as Moira hooked her arm beneath Angela and rubbed her long fingers to either side of Angela’s clit. When she felt no touch from Moira’s other hand she remembered the sight of Moira’s hand buried below the harness and the thought drove Angela to push back more roughly against Moira, fucking herself deep on the fake cock.

Moira appreciated it well enough, and even though her recently-emerging gasps and groans were from the addition of her own hand to her activities, it wasn’t until Angela forced herself onto Moira’s toy that Moira groaned so loudly, shuddered so violently that Angela could feel her tremble.

When Moira’s fingers, the ones not wonderfully occupied between Angela’s legs, found their way back to Angela’s hips Angela asked breathlessly, “D-did you cum?”

“Mmmm,” Moira groaned, quickening her pace as she rubbed harshly across Angela’s clit with her thumb, “Don’t worry, Angela, I’ll take care of you.”

Angela just groaned, pushing herself back onto Moira again. Perhaps her efforts hadn’t been in vain after all, if Moira had been so much closer than her.

Not that Angela was that far off herself, and it wasn’t long before she was burying her face into her duvet, tightening in wonderful waves around Moira as she finished her off with slow, deep thrusts. When Angela’s shuddering gave way to trembling and she fell to her side against the pillows Moira gave a self-satisfied chuckle. Angela grinned, watching Moira step back off the bed and strip off the harness, and by the time she climbed back over Angela to lay against her Angela had resituated herself properly on the bed.

Their skin was warm and slick, and Angela could still feel her heart pounding, but every bit of her was in a state of blissful relaxation, underscored to the nth degree as Moira draped her arm over Angela and pulled her close again.

They rested like that for a while, and by the time Moira spoke Angela had been breathing slow and steady for some time. With a light kiss to Angela’s shoulder Moira asked simply, “Good?”

Angela had let out a single puff of amusement, her hand finding Moira’s and squeezing it tightly, “Good.”

Silence again, but once again Moira broke it, “I was thinking . . . we could clean up and go somewhere. When I was getting the groceries I saw a restaurant, it’s not far. I think they do brunch.”

Angela stiffened, holding her breath for a moment before realizing she probably shouldn’t. Angela was wracking her brain. Could they go to brunch? She hadn’t made any reservation in her name this time. But Sunday brunch at a place near headquarters? Who knew who would be there, what sort of pictures they’d manage to get? They could go, Angela supposed, but they certainly couldn’t be affectionate, and without an explanation that would have to upset Moira. Better not to go at all, really.

“I’ll go shower,” Moira was explaining quietly, trailing light kisses along Angela’s shoulder to her neck between each word, “And reserve a car from motor pool while you get ready.”

Angela shook her head, “I . . . I don’t think I can.”

Moira’s kiss turned into a frown against her skin, and it was a moment before she answered, her confusion apparent, “I thought you’d finished all your work last night?”

The work, of course, a perfect reason. Angela shook her head again, glad she was facing away from Moira. She did have work she could do, it wasn’t a lie. But it didn’t feel good to say, and she was glad she didn’t have to look Moira in the eye as she did, “There’s still some more to do. Did I tell you Commander Amari has okay-ed me inviting Dr. Meier to be the new obstetrician? I’ll need to prepare some information for her,” Angela pulled away from Moira, who didn’t try to keep her back, and she was already up and walking around the bed toward the bathroom, “Lots to do.”

“Yeah,” Moira said quietly, and she seemed distracted for a moment. Angela was watching her from the bathroom doorway, and when Moira came to her senses and noticed Angela staring she pushed herself off the bed, “I’ll, uh, leave you to it then.”

Angela nodded as Moira searched out her discarded clothing and dressed quickly with only a few intermixed sighs. Moira was unhappy.

So was Angela. Angela didn’t want this. She wanted to pull Moira down in bed with her and feel her long arms wrapped around her, she wanted to feel her splay her fingers over her belly when the baby started kicking again. She wanted her lazy Sunday with Moira.

But how could she explain that she had all the time in the world for Moira, they could just couldn’t go out? That Angela required they hide away if Moira expected time with her?

A small miracle, at least, that Moira wasn’t fighting it. Perhaps she just felt it wasn’t her place to harangue Angela about overworking, given her recent past. For whatever reason, she didn’t protest, and once she’d gathered up her things she stepped toward Angela, still standing at the bathroom door.

“H-have a good day then,” Moira ventured, bending stiffly to place a kiss on Angela’s cheek.

Angela couldn’t have her lazy Sunday with Moira, but she wouldn’t let her leave like this either, and she wrapped her arms around Moira tightly. Moira hesitated, but returned her embrace after a moment.

“I’m sorry, Moira, it’s just not good for me,” Angela explained softly, and Moira gave a small grunt of acknowledgement. “But,” Angela pulled back slightly, smiling up at Moira, “Thank you so much for coming to dinner with me, and for last night. And this morning. Everything was wonderful. You take such good care of me.”

Moira nodded, running her hand through her hair as she backed away, “Well, you’re busy. I’ll . . . see you later.”

“Of course,” Angela confirmed, and though she smiled, and Moira smiled back, she couldn’t help but feel she wasn’t the only one forcing it. When Moira was gone she took the warmth from the room with her, and even Angela’s wonderfully hot shower couldn’t bring it back to her.

Chapter Text

It was good that Angela had carved out time for herself to rest and get on top of her work, even if it had not been the most pleasant way to go about it. She was able to finalize her picks for the new medical positions by Sunday evening, and even send invitations to the recruitment event (with apologies for the short notice, of course) to those selected on Monday before the bi-monthly. She forwent sending Dr. Meier’s invitation, preferring to discuss it in person during the next prenatal.

It was clear from the moment the bi-monthly meeting was called to order that it would be a hectic, exciting week on campus. Would-be new agents weren’t expected to begin arriving until Thursday night, but with the big day fast approaching everyone was expected to help out where they could. And they did; it seemed everyone was busy with some last minute preparation. Much was being done to find comfortable accommodations for the hopefuls, particularly as many would be traveling with their spouses. It was, after all, the entire point: Come, work for Overwatch, we welcome your family!

With Vesta Complex not habitable until mid-summer at the earliest and it being inappropriate to ask professionals and their spouses to bunk up with current agents, Overwatch had rented out several hotels nearest the edge of Zurich, and the few empty quarters’ in the agent’s dormitory were being cleaned and made ready. Transportation shuttles were being arranged between the hotels and the campus, last-minute schedule changes occurred as cross-department presentations got shuffled around, room changes for meet-and-greets . . . it would have been enough to worry about for a small department, but medical? Angela was swamped.

The days were sure to be long but exciting, the buzz the big event created was already spreading throughout the facility, and though everyone was already tired, spirits were high. For the most part. Angela noticed, of course, that Moira glanced at her here and there during the bi-monthly, but by the time she’d thought to react with a pleasant smile Moira had looked away. It was . . . disconcerting. So much so that she wouldn’t let it slide; this was too big a week for either of them to have something hanging in the air between them.

Truth be told Angela might have just wanted to have some of her guilt absolved. She’d felt abandoned by Moira the previous morning, but it was stupid to blame Moira for that. She had been the one to refuse Moira and, essentially, send her away. Perhaps it was selfish, but she needed that comfort, to hear that Moira didn’t hate her for it, and so when the meeting adjourned she made to catch her.

Moira O’Deorain’s long strides could outpace Angela on a good day, but as Angel had adopted the beginning of a slight pregnancy-induced waddle Moira quickly disappeared in the throng of dispersing officers. Angela considered calling out to her, but didn’t want to make a scene, and simply squeezed through the masses as she could. It wasn’t like she didn’t know where Moira was going, and if somehow she wasn’t making for her lab, well, Angela could just comm her.

The lift bought her some time, and while she wasn’t able to squeeze into the same as Moira, she did catch up enough to arrive on Moira’s floor just moments after Moira did. Moira had glanced back at the sound of the doors, and when Moira saw her step out she stopped and turned, “Oh, Angela. Is everything alright?”

“Everything’s fine,” Angela assured her, her soft soles scuffing along the floor as she closed the distance between them. She didn’t hesitate to snake her arms around Moira’s waist, though she refrained from resting her head on Moira’s chest, leaning away to watch her, “I think. Are you alright?”

Moira’s first reaction wasn’t to respond but to look to the lift, then back down the empty hall. Angela hadn’t bothered looking for onlookers, she had never seen anyone else down here. At times she felt this was a world apart; Moira’s domain for the two of them. When she seemed satisfied no one else was around she rested a slender hand on Angela’s shoulder. Angela wasn’t expecting a full-blown hug; Moira was carrying a large-model reader in one hand, but she’d hoped for more than a shoulder pat, at least.

Moira pursed her lips as she examined Angela’s face for a moment, and Angela examined her right back. It wasn’t anger, at least it didn’t seem to be, that Angela was met with. Something Angela couldn’t place. Eventually Moira sighed, and she moved to run her “free” hand through her hair before dropping it, realizing she still was carrying the reader. “Yes, I’m fine,” was all the detail she offered.

Angela continued to watch her, bidding her to continue. Moira’s hand, still resting on her shoulder, moved slightly, and Angela felt the pad of Moira’s thumb rubbing a small line along the base of her neck, felt the lift of the pendant she wore that resulted. Moira wasn’t watching Angela’s face, but the pendant. Finally she shook her head as if to clear it and she fixed Angela with a comforting smile, “Everything is fine.”

It was Angela’s turn to purse her lips. She believed that Moira wasn’t upset with her, but she was also confident she was missing a piece to a puzzle she only now realized she was working on. “Are you sure?” she asked quietly, not waiting for an answer before continuing, “I know I shouldn’t have put you out yesterday, I didn’t want to, Moira, I really didn’t, it’s just—”

“Busy,” Moira finished, and her smile was sad, but understanding, “I know, everyone is.”

Angela nodded, removing her hands from Moira’s waist only to reposition them at Moira’s cheeks, running her fingers along Moira’s cheekbones. Moira flinched in surprise, but didn’t pull away, watching curiously as Angela promised, “After this week it will all be over. I’ll make it up to you, I’ll make us brunch next time.”

Moira seemed to consider this, wetting her lips before giving a small smile, “I’d like that.”

“Me too,” Angela assured her, tugging her toward her.

Moira obliged, and as was typical the kiss began soft and chaste, though when Angela parted her lips with an inviting hum Moira didn’t draw away, finally dropping the hand from Angela’s shoulder to pass it firmly from her hip to the small of her back, hooking Angela to draw her close. There was virtually no space to close, while they had been standing some few inches apart a fair bit of the space was filled by the baby, and so Angela was more pulled up than in, rising to her toes as she flicked her tongue against Moira’s.

Moira did pull away, and so did Angela, as the lift dinged loudly in the quiet hall. Angela stepped away, tugging her coat, and didn’t turn until she heard Winston call her name.

“Angela, what a surprise to find you down here.” He seemed to share the good mood permeating Overwatch, and Angela returned his warm smile with one of her own and a polite nod.

“Good afternoon, Winston,” Angela stepped to the side to allow Winston to join them, and between Moira’s towering height, Winston’s general massiveness, and Angela’s pregnancy she thought they must make quite a trio if anyone were around to see them, “One of my pathology applicants wrote a Masters thesis in genetic modification to increase translation of immunoglobulins. Dr. O’Deorain has been very helpful in explaining a few of the details beyond my skillset.”

Angela looked to Moira with a smile she hoped read as thankful to Winston. Moira’s face was expressionless and stoic, but she nodded that she, too, agreed that that was precisely why Angela was down here and that she hadn’t had her tongue in Angela’s mouth just moments before.

“Interdisciplinary support and teamwork for the betterment of all, here at Overwatch,” Winston said in a lofty voice, finishing with a deep laugh, “One for Commander Amari’s promotional campaign.”

Angela chuckled, and Moira gave an amused huff herself, “Well, I should leave you to it,” Angela had to imagine Winston didn’t pay many social visits to Moira’s lab, and she had more work to do herself.

“Good to see you, Angela. Drop by the lab sometime, I can show you what I’m working on,” Winston’s inviting tone was made all the more interesting by the wink he sent Angela’s way.

Angela promised she would, and she bid a Completely Professional goodbye to Dr. O’Deorain before making her way back to the lift, only fishing out her comm unit when the doors were securely shut and she was on her way toward medical.

aziegler.med1.zurich: I understand you will be busy, don’t feel pressured, but I meant it when I said you could drop by any time. I’ll be busy too, but I hope we can see each other before the weekend.

She considered being more blunt. ‘Please come stay with me.’ ‘I’ll make us dinner.’ ‘It’d be wonderful to have someone to come home to, and better to have someone to wake up with.’

But Angela didn’t even know if she would have the time to give Moira the attention she wanted to give her, and after Sunday morning, well, she wasn’t keen on disappointing Moira again, finding herself turning her away. Best to keep it ambiguous, and to not get one’s hopes up.

And it was good she didn’t. While Moira did respond by mid afternoon it was with the expected message that she would try but could make no promises. Angela was kept so busy with panel interview preparation and making sure the various i’s had been dotted and t’s crossed that she barely had time to miss Moira’s presence, but she managed to find the time in the rare lulls in the day, and when she crawled between cold sheets at night.

She’d been worked so long and so hard by the end of the week that the actual big day felt like just another in a string of big days. The hopefuls would begin the day in the various departments with which they sought employment and most department-specific activity would happen in the morning. Angela introduced herself to the doctors, flight-trained EMS technicians, and dentists at a coffee and doughnut meet-and-greet before they all broke away. Angela had carefully paired the applicants with members of her staff who shared their background or research interests, and she was confident they would get a proper view of what Overwatch meant. Additionally, she trusted these particular staff to report on fit.

Delegating the actual work of the touring and chit-chat left Angela free to perform panel interviews with her chief of surgery, chief nurse, and chief of preventative medicine. One by one the candidates were brought in for some friendly, rapport-building talk followed by a thorough grilling on their area of expertise, experience, and their views on a battery of medical ethics questions which Angela felt most pertinent to their work.

Mess Hall B, referred to as “the good one” by most agents, had been turned over to a luncheon at which Angela was expected to give a brief speech about the vision and mission of Overwatch along with several other veteran members. She had not served as a spokeswoman for Overwatch in some time, but it came naturally to her, a benefit of believing so wholeheartedly in the lofty ideals that underpinned Overwatch’s peace-keeping mission.

When lunch was finished the candidates all joined together for a guided tour of the Vesta Complex construction site. Angela had tried to justify her inclusion in this tour, but was expected to hold video comm interviews with a few applicants who simply couldn’t make it to campus for the event. She wasn’t dismayed, she knew she could request a private tour if she really wanted one, and she missed most of one candidate’s views on euthanasia as she took a private tour of the family quarters with Moira in her mind.

After the video comm interviews were complete Angela was set free for the remainder of the afternoon. The applicants would attend a general Overwatch primer which would explain more about life as an agent or officer: Standard pay scales, benefits, expectations, codes of conduct; anything they might need to know before making the decision should an offer of employment be extended. This was mostly handled by personnel and most officers took the opportunity to rest, and Angela was no different.

She’d need to get ready for the gala. She was absolutely expected to attend, though she wouldn’t miss it even if it were optional. Moira would be there, and she had every intention of wearing her lavender dress. It wasn’t quite spring yet, and perhaps lavender was a bit too light for an evening formal event, but she didn’t care. She was too hopeful that Moira would wear the gifts she’d given her for Valentine’s Day, and she couldn’t pass up the chance to match.

It may be the closest they could come to going together. They certainly couldn’t arrive together; publicity was the whole point of this gala, after all. Cameras and reporters would absolutely be there, snapping away. If they were to catch a photo of Angela sharing some non-alcoholic wine with another member of Overwatch, well, that was all just fine, but she couldn’t arrive on Moira’s arm with a coordinated outfit to boot, it was too much.

She’d not experienced pushback from Moira on this issue. Moira had explained early on that Winston had asked her to meet individually with an applicant for R&D and Moira expected to arrive late to the party, but she hoped Angela would go ahead without her, and she looked forward to seeing her there. Angela wondered if Moira was as sad as she was that they wouldn’t be going together, but she shook the thoughts away.

Without a date to keep her to a schedule Angela would have been happy to arrive fashionably late herself, but she couldn’t imagine that would make a good impression of officers, and she only rested briefly before climbing into the bath. Thankfully the interviews had kept her off her feet most of the day, so her ankles had not swelled as they were prone to doing lately. She worried what the night might bring for her feet, though, particularly when she found herself trying to figure out some way she might be able to justify dancing with Moira without people sniffing around for gossip. She couldn’t come up with anything, but it didn’t keep her from playing their dance over and over in her head as she did her makeup and hair. It didn’t take much time to turn her usual ponytail into a clutch of loose ringlets, just tight enough to still look elegant but loose enough to look effortless.

Gold didn’t go particularly well with lavender, but she didn’t care as she looped the finishing touch around her neck. It was not in her nature to take pictures of herself, but she felt quite proud of her look. That was why she smiled at her comm and snapped the image, sending it to Moira with the words “Do I look okay?” before she thought better of it. That was absolutely why she did it, and not because she was worried Moira might not think to wear her tie without the lavender cue.

As she left her quarters she heard her name from the elevator bank and for a moment her heart leapt, hopeful, but it wasn’t Moira, she could tell who it was the moment she heard the booming, jovial voice.

“There you are, engel, you won’t let an old man show up to the party without a beautiful young woman on his arm, will you?” Reinhardt always made Angela laugh. Perhaps it was their shared language (though the differences between German and Swiss-German had caused a few miscommunications in the past) or the way he always tried to protect Angela. It was probably just his demeanor. His brashness had always worried Angela, and she’d read him the riot act more than once while patching him up after a battle, but his bravado was endearing all the same.

Angela was shaking her head with a smile, the ringlets tickling the back of her neck lightly, as she joined him at the lifts, “I couldn’t dream of it, Reinhardt,” she laughed as she threaded her thin arm around his massive forearm held out to her.

“Good! If they think I’m available the new recruits won’t be able to help themselves!” He laughed again as he escorted her into the lift, and she rolled her eyes with a smile.

“Thank you,” she said quietly as she squeezed his arm, “For coming to find me.” She’d seen that he hadn’t called the lift until she was with him. He was waiting for her.

“Of course, my little engel,” He winked down at her and patted her hand on his arm with his own massive hand, “I’m always looking out for you, aren’t I?”

“Mmmmm,” Angela ventured, “But I hear I’m bound to be replaced.” When Reinhardt turned an inquisitive, scarred eye to her she smirked, “I heard a rumor Brigitte Lindholm wants to transfer to field operations.”

He gave a heavy sigh and shrugged, “The tenacity of youth, if only it could be stopped.”  He’d grinned at Angela as he said it, but she knew what worry looked like on her old friend’s face.

Angela squeezed his arm with hers. Even through his thick suitcoat he was all muscle and sinew, “If it could we’d never have gotten our hands on you, Reinhardt.”

He laughed again, booming in the lift moments before it opened to surprised onlookers startled by the noise, “This is too true! But rest assured, dear girl, there is no replacement for our Mercy.”

Mercy. She had been called that many times today, more times than she had in the past year. It wasn’t surprising; the candidates would have known her actual name but they undoubtedly knew her as Mercy. That was, after all, why she was one of the luncheon speakers, not because Dr. Angela Ziegler was a top-notch administrator and world-class filer of paperwork.

They drew stares all the way down the hall and into the banquet room repurposed for the gala. Most of the officer’s would draw attention of the candidates, and they had the addition of Reinhardt’s sheer, intimidating size. And, Angela supposed, they probably had the same questions as the tabloids: Mercy? Pregnant?

She wasn’t hiding, she was proud. She loved her daughter, and she knew the world would love her too. She held her head high as they walked into the main hall, a brilliant affair. Most of the time this room actually served as storage for larger pieces of battlefield training equipment, and once a year there was a great indoor paintball match for the administrative staff. A team-building exercise, everyone said, but everyone involved knew even the desk-bound in Overwatch wanted to feel the surge of glorious victory from time to time. Angela was just glad the injuries amounted to bumps, bruises, and the losing team's pride.

All the paint residue had been scrubbed away and the climbing walls and targeting dummies had been moved away to clear the large central dance floor, bordered by tables with brilliant white tablecloths. The chandeliers, usually tucked away in the rafters, had been lowered lending a golden glow to a room otherwise filled with black, white, and cream.

Angela scanned the already-present attendees as they entered. There was already a good gathering, and she wasn’t the only woman who had opted for a bit more color for the night, though most seemed to favor burgundy, aubergine, or navy. She was absolutely the lightest-dressed in the room, and she felt a bit embarrassed for it, all the more since she saw no matching color among the attendees, nor a head of red well above the crowd.

As Reinhardt greeted Commander Morrison and Angela nodded her hello as well she absent-mindedly fished her comm unit from her clutch-purse. It was gold sequined, somewhat tacky, but it pulled in well with the necklace she told herself. She did not own any lavender handbags.

modeorain.rd3.zurich: Yes, you do.
modeorain.rd3.zurich: I’m still getting ready, I’ll be late.
modeorain.rd3.zurich: You look perfect.

Angela grinned as she slipped her comm back into her purse. As Reinhardt fell into discussion of the promise (or lack thereof, by the sound of it) of the new field applicants Angela bid a polite goodbye to the men. Reinhardt feigned misery, asked how she could leave an old man all alone, but she simply laughed and he promised he would be around if she needed a dance partner. Angela was more interested in finding something to drink and a place to sit where she could watch the door for a late arrival.

There were options for drinks: In the primary banquet hall a pop-up bar had been erected at the back of the room, and in a quieter corridor attached to a full kitchen was a permanent bar installation, the service bar for when actual banquets were held in the main hall. With an open bar for all attendees they would both see plenty of action, Angela was sure, and she worried about the head injuries from slips and falls they might see in the morning, and about how many of her staff might call in due to unexpected, unexplained illness.

Angela, of course, would not be partaking, but her request for white grape juice and soda was filled quickly. She may not have been able to enjoy the champagne, but she could complete the look, at least. She made her way to one of the empty tables that afforded her a good view of the room itself, particularly of the main entrances, and settled in.

Most officers were already present, as they were expected to be, but it was as Angela watched that most of the candidates and their partners began to arrive, along with a few late-running agents. Angela rolled her eyes when Lena and Emily arrived. How Lena managed to be late all the time, all things considered, was an absolute mystery. They’d spotted Angela early on, and the three had a brief catch-up of the day. For the most part Lena was free of the day’s events, not leading any department herself, though she did spend the afternoon explaining combat training to candidates for field agent positions.

After some time they made their way to the dance floor, and Angela only watched them for a short time before envy drove her to scan the entryways again. Still nothing, no lavender, no red.

“Hello, Miss . . . Mercy?” A polite inquiry brought Angela’s attention back to a woman she had never seen before. As the woman was standing, instinctively Angela did the same, pushing herself up with only the slightest of grunts and holding out her hand.

“Yes, hello. I don’t really go by that so much anymore,” Angela wasn’t sure if it was best to introduce herself to this woman as Angela or Dr. Ziegler. She wasn’t one of her medical candidates. She wished they’d opted for name tags at the gala, but of course there had been complaints of clashing with outfits, “Dr. Ziegler, or Angela, whichever you prefer, Miss . . .?”

“Of course, doctor, forgive me,” The woman shook her hand. Despite her soft, feminine features the woman’s hands were as rough as Reinhardt’s, and her grip was at least half as strong, “I should know better, of course. Dr. Yanaba Bianchi, though Yanaba, please.”

Her smile was pleasant, charming even. She was older than Angela, by at least a decade if Angela were to guess, and her dark brown eyes were touched with crow’s feet, her cheeks had deep laugh lines. She wore a flowing, strapless, cream-colored evening gown which made a beautiful contrast to her bronze skin and deep black hair, long and wavy. Not much taller than Angela, and Angela would have been a bit thinner if not for the pregnancy weight. A beautiful woman, by all accounts, and her smile matched.

“Yanaba, then,” Angela gave a single polite tip of her head as she returned her hand to join the other in lightly grasping at her champagne-less champagne flute, unsure if she should sit, “Welcome to Overwatch.”

“Thank you, Angela, it’s a wonderful facility,” Yanaba motioned toward Angela’s seat as she sat in an empty chair beside it, and Angela took the invitation to sit as well, “I’m still not sure if I’ll be moving around the planet, but I like what you all are doing here.”

“And what is it that you’re a doctor of, Yanaba?” Angela was as polite as possible, but she knew it wasn’t the best of manners to continue scanning the entry every so often.

“Here as an engineering candidate, though I’m happy where I am back in Vegas. Actually,” She laughed a bit in a way that was meant to show embarrassment, but this woman seemed too confident to be embarrassed, “I think you are largely the reason we ended up coming here at all.”

“Me?” Angela furrowed her brow.

“My husband, Matteo,” She craned her neck and looked around the room herself, but turned with an exasperated smile toward Angela, “He’s here . . . somewhere. Matteo has always been a big fan of yours, when he found out there might be an opportunity to meet you, well . . . would you be willing to say hello to him? It would make his year if you would.”

Angela chuckled and nodded, “Absolutely, I’d be happy to meet him.”

Yanaba sent another look around the room, then shrugged toward Angela. She kept talking as she stood, obtained a glass of champagne for herself from a passing waiter a few steps away, and returned, “He can find us, not going running around the room for that man all night.” She laughed and nodded toward Angela’s baby, “I’ll ask what everyone else has, I'm sure. When’s the baby due?”

“Early June,” Angela answered happily, freeing one of her hands to pass it proudly over her abdomen.

“How many have you got so far?”

“This is the first,” Angela responded, and found herself wondering, as she sometimes did, if it would be the only. She reminded herself, as she always did, to not put the cart before the horse.

“Oh?” Yanaba seemed surprised, and Angela could tell she only barely held back a comment about Angela’s age, “Well, you’re in for a lot of fun. We have six, Matteo and I. All grown now, of course.”

Angela’s eyes widened, “Six?” She laughed then, “I can’t even imagine.”

Yanaba was laughing too, she seemed quick to laugh, cheerful, “Knew what I was signing up for when I married a Catholic, I suppose. Kid’s nonna wouldn’t let us rest, grandchildren grandchildren grandchildren.”

Though Angela chuckled along with her Angela’s mind was on Moira again. Her mother taught catechism and confirmation. She was from a big family. She wondered if Moira’s mother had ever pressured her to have children.

But perhaps she would have an opportunity to ask sooner than expected. As if on cue her eyes finally fell on Moira, who had apparently already spotted her, as she was moving swiftly from the direction of the entrance, already halfway to her.

Her manner of dress was, as always, impeccable, and Angela could not imagine Moira looking more elegant. As she moved her black tails bumped behind her calves, her pants tapered and braided down her long legs ending in shiny black shoes. Her white shirt had a high, stiff collar, and the only thing setting it off from the perfectly white waistcoat was the division of a lavender silk tie between the two, perfectly matched to the shock of lavender from her pocket.

Moira’s manner of dress was perfectly put together. Moira, however, looked nearly sick, almost panicked, and Angela moved to stand as she approached, stalked toward the women. Her eyes weren’t on Angela, though, and for the briefest of instances she wondered if Moira were the jealous type, and she hated that it made her heart flutter a bit.

But that wasn’t it.

“Well I’ll be damned, Moira O’Deorain,” Yanaba’s voice was still a laugh as she rose from her seat, and Angela did too on instinct alone. When Moira was close enough Yanaba immediately wrapped her arms around Moira, who stiffened visibly. Now Angela wondered if Angela were the jealous type, and she hated that it made her throat dry a bit.  Moira’s failure to return the embrace didn’t seem to bother Yanaba, who was still all laughs as she pulled away from Moira, looking her up and down, "You haven't changed a bit. What the hell are you doing here?”

Moira huffed more than spoke, “I work here. What are you doing here, Yanaba?”

“Overwatch is looking to recruit me,” Yanaba’s eyes sparkled, “I hadn’t cared for it all before, but now that you’ll have married housing it’s a bit more tempting.”

“Oh,” Moira’s voice was hollow, “You’re married now, are you?”

Angela narrowed her eyes, but turned them to her half-full glass to hide her confusion. She suddenly found Yanaba’s cheerfulness and easy laughter much less endearing.

“Yep, I got caught,” Yanaba was still damnably cheerful, “Oh, actually, perfect timing.”

When Angela looked from her glass Yanaba was holding out a long, bare arm toward a tall, thin man with short black hair and a well-tailored suit, approximately Yanaba’s age. He kissed Yanaba lightly on her cheek and turned to the others to be introduced.

“Matteo, I’ve sniffed out your hero, honey,” She laughed and winked at Angela, who didn’t find it so cute, “Angela, this is my husband Matteo.”

Angela’s good manners kicked in and she smiled warmly at the man, who held his hand out to her. His hands were much softer than his wife’s, but his smile was just as warm, “An honor, Angela. I’ve been a fan for many years.”

The demure reaction was mostly instinct at this point, deeply ingrained humility, “You’re too kind, Matteo.”

“Ever since I said he could come along he’s been gushing,” Yanaba rolled her eyes, and Matteo feigned insult, but he was laughing too. Angela chanced a glance at Moira. She was taking a champagne flute from a waiter, and she looked displeased.

“Anyone who saw the newsreels of Mercy would do the same,” He defended himself to his wife before turning to Angela, “Truly, your work has always impressed even us common non-doctor-folk. And, if my wife will forgive me for saying so, a beautiful sight in every promotion video, those massive wings.”

As he turned politely toward the unintroduced member of their party Angela was thankful for her drink, her throat was unbelievably dry. When she looked at Moira over the rim of the champagne flute she could see Moira’s jaw clenching and unclenching as she moved to hold out her hand to the man, her brow furrowed.

“Oh, and this is Moira O’Deorain,” As he murmured a polite greeting and Moira returned the same Yanaba added the explanation Angela was waiting for but hadn’t had a chance to ask, “We were in school together.”

“Old friends then? What a small world!”

“Yes,” Yanaba drawled, adding in a sly voice Angela found she hated, “We were roommates; Moira was very helpful with some of my early hard light experimentation.”

Angela felt her blood boil, but it wasn’t even from the implication. It was from the way Yanaba winked at Moira as she said it, the way Moira sputtered into her glass and turned away, the way she ran her free hand down the side of her tailcoat, the way even her ears turned red.

Angela did not like Yanaba, no matter how cheerful she was.

“Wonderful,” Matteo was wrapping his arm around his wife’s waist, apparently unfazed, “Are you in hard light engineering as well then, Ms. O’Deorain?”

“No, dear, Moira is a biochemical engineer,” Yanaba answered, but Moira furrowed her brow.

No, I'm a geneticist,” Moira corrected Yanaba, and perhaps it was that Moira had not acknowledged Angela’s presence at all that made Angela feel so small as she watched Moira speak to the woman, “And I have a doctorate.”

“Oh, please forgive me, doctor. There sure are a lot of you here at Overwatch!” Matteo said happily, and Angela wondered if these two didn’t annoy their friends with their constant smiles. They certainly annoyed her, and she simply scowled at nothing in particular, not that anyone would have noticed.

"You changed?” Yanaba quirked an eyebrow, “Why’s that?”

“It’s a long story,” Moira said wryly, and it was a long one, Angela remembered from Moira telling her the story as they sat over her homemade geschnetzeltes.

When Yanaba motioned away and invited Moira to share a drink with her and catch up Angela didn’t care for the idea of this woman getting a similar private moment, but what could she say to stop them? No, Moira is my date? No, I don’t care for you?

“Angela?” Matteo was holding out his arm to Angela, and she blinked, having apparently missed some portion of the conversation, “It seems we’re to be left. Make a fan’s dream come true, if you’re up for a dance?”

Angela glanced toward Moira, who still was not watching her. She’d walked a few short steps away, but her face was half-turned back toward the group, waiting for Yanaba who was patting her husband on the shoulder before turning away herself.

What could Angela do? Sit down and pout? Be an unwelcome tagalong with the women? She put on her sweetest smile as she put her glass on the table and placed her hand on Matteo’s arm, allowing him to walk her toward the floor.

It wasn’t an unpleasant experience. Her feet had not yet begun to swell, and Matteo could dance about as well as she could, well enough that neither felt out of place. The music was elegant but not too slow or romantic, and when she asked him about their many children Matteo proudly told Angela all about raising each and every one of them. If her mind hadn’t been split between the dance floor and the bar Angela would have enjoyed hearing his insight, she loved hearing from parents as of late.

But her mind was split, and after a half dozen songs, more than enough for the women to catch up in Angela’s opinion, she stepped back to signal she was done, “Thank you, Matteo, it’s been a pleasure, but I think I need something to drink, and a rest.”

“Of course, Angela,” Matteo bowed slightly, and looked around himself, “I suppose I should find my wife before I get an earful for spending the night with another woman.”

If they found Yanaba they would, ostensibly, find Moira as well. “I’ll join you. If they were going for a drink I can rest at the bar,” Angela explained, and took Matteo’s arm when he offered it once more.

They made their way to the pop-up bar and found no sign of the women, and Angela explained the second bar in the side corridor.

“Go on without me, Angela, I’ll catch up. Let Yanaba know I’m on my way, if you would be so kind,” He looked around quizzically, “Could you point me toward the nearest restroom?”

Angela did so and continued on her own toward the server’s bar, and indeed she was right. She heard them talking before she saw them, as the service corridor was secluded from the main hall and even the music was muffled. Of course they would come here to talk.

She could barely make out what was being said, but as she stepped closer she caught sight of the women in the massive mirror mounted along the side corridor. She couldn’t see Moira’s face, she’d had her back turned fully to the mirror, but she was facing Yanaba as they both leaned against the bar, turned to one another.

Angela knew she shouldn’t. To be honest, though, it wasn’t even wholly about wanting to hear what Moira would say to this woman. Suddenly, as she was straining her ears to listen, as she was watching Moira’s back draped in fine tails, she realized she had not seen Moira interact with many people in a non-professional setting. This was interesting to her for that reason, even beyond who this woman might be. But she couldn’t say she wasn’t interested for that reason too.

“--is at UC Berkley now, in California, political science but we’re hoping we can talk her out of it,” Yanaba was laughing. Their youngest, a daughter named Isabela, Matteo had told Angela about her as well.

“Are all of your children staying in the United States, then?” Moira asked.

There was a pause, and though Moira’s body fully blocked Angela’s view of Yanaba Angela assumed she nodded, “For now, it seems. They lack my adventurous spirit,” Yanaba laughed, “Though Matteo’s mother wants us to move to Modena. I think she just wants Matteo to take care of her, she’s getting to that age.”

“Is that why you’re considering Overwatch? To be closer?”

Silence again, Yanaba probably made a gesture, “To be honest I’m not considering Overwatch too highly. It’s great, all the save the world stuff, but I can help more people back home if that’s really what I want.”

“You’d have better funding here, you could build whatever you wanted.” Angela frowned. Moira was trying to convince her to stay, to come on board at Overwatch. Somehow, that hurt.

Silence, a gesture. “Family was worked up enough when I married Matteo, non-diné this, find a nice diné man that. Moving back home got them off my back, and I’d rather not have them on it again.”

Silence, but this time she saw Moira motion toward the server behind the bar, and it wasn’t until the man filled Moira’s glass that Angela heard Yanaba’s voice again, “Speaking of . . .”

She trailed off, and Moira huffed. “What?”

“Switched to genetics. Got a PhD. Moved to Switzerland.  No mention of a partner. Of kids.”

Moira huffed again, “So?”

Angela frowned. Sure, they weren’t ‘public’ about anything, but did she have to sound so dismissive of the notion?

“Huh,” Yanaba clucked, and with the way her legs shifted out from the bar Angela imagined her leaning heavily against it as she said teasingly, “I wouldn’t expect you to break dress code at a fancy event. Hardly a white bowtie.”

From the way Moira flinched back Angela thought Yanaba had probably reached for Moira, though in what way she chose not to imagine, and instead just stepped back a bit, worried Moira might turn and catch her in the mirror. But she didn’t.

Moira cleared her throat and after a long, deep drink from her glass, draining nearly all of it, she leaned against the bar again, “I wanted to wear this one.”

Angela smiled.

Yanaba smiled too, Angela could hear it in that cheerful voice she had, “It’s a good color. On both of you.” Angela saw Moira shift, but it was Yanaba who continued speaking, “Angela’s quite pretty, don’t you—“

“I have no interest in talking to you about Dr. Ziegler,” Moira’s voice almost boomed, sudden, loud, and icy-cold.

Angela, too, was icy-cold, and she scowled, but found herself only straining to listen at Yanaba’s response.

“I’m sorry, Moira,” her voice lacked the laughter Angela had already begun to associate with it, “Didn’t mean to overstep. I just, well, I wanted to be sure that you—“

This is nothing like that.” Moira’s voice was low, insistent, but perfectly clear in Angela’s ears, ringing and hurting.

"Okay, okay! Moving on then . . ." Angela could almost hear Yanaba raising her hands in surrender, and her cheerful laugh was back too soon for Angela’s tastes. Of course she didn’t mind, of course she wasn’t upset. She’d just been told . . . what? That whatever Moira had with her was that different? Years together? Living together, inventing a fuck toy together? 

She was carrying Moira’s child for god sake. But . . . that voice, that voice she hadn’t heard for so long, that voice she thought she’d chased away for good: I mean, since you’re going to do it anyway.’ A vessel. Angela was a willing vessel, a convenient route to help Moira reach her own goals, fulfill the genetic imperative that she’d even blatantly told Angela was her motivation.

No, it couldn’t be. The way Moira looked at her, the way Moira kissed her, the way Moira held her . . . it couldn’t be just an arrangement. Angela frowned, unable to keep her thoughts away from pregnancy. Hormones, mood swings, attachments, craving a bond . . . did she just wish it all? Did she turn professional examinations to softened gazes? 

Seven months. While yes, they’d seen each other in meetings before, they had really known each other for seven months, if that. How long had they lived together? Three years? Four? In a tiny dorm room? And in that time she’d built it, she’d built it for Moira, the toy that fucked Moira every time Moira fucked her, and every time Moira had fucked her. God, did Moira think about her every time? Was that why Moira had her eyes closed, her head turned . . .

What did it matter? Yanaba was married, happily it seemed. She had six kids for god sake.

Angela didn’t know how she should feel. But she did know how she did feel. She felt sick, and as she turned to find the bathroom it was Matteo’s smiling face coming up the hall that stopped her, distracted her just enough to swallow her problems and plaster a fake, polite smile on her face.  

She nodded and took his offered arm as he apologized for the delay, and as they both rounded the corner together he called out to his wife, who waved and motioned them over.

Moira turned away, finishing her glass and ordering another.

“Hopefully not having too much fun out there?” Yanaba teased to Matteo, and he simply grinned, “Thanks for keeping him busy, Angela, nice to have the old man out of my hair a bit.”

Angela didn’t know what to say, and simply nodded, unable to keep herself from watching Moira closely. Moira, by contrast, seemed to be avoiding looking toward Angela, and as another glass was filled for her she paid far more attention to it, though she did turn back to the group.

"Yes, thank you, Angela,” Matteo agreed, “You’ve made an old fan’s dream come true.” As turbulent as Angela’s thoughts were, she did think she would reflect well on Matteo. He was a kind man, a gentleman, and when she realized Yanaba’s husband reminded her somewhat of Moira she was no more pleased because of it.

“Of course, thank you for the dances, Matteo,” Angela continued with her plastic smile.

Her feet were beginning to swell from all the dancing, and honestly she couldn’t bring herself to stand here and be ignored by Moira for the rest of the night. Besides, it’d been a long day.

No one protested when she reported her intent to leave for the night, to head to her quarters to rest, and Yanaba pulled her into a hug and kissed her cheek, which Angela returned on the grounds of etiquette alone. Yanaba smelled of pears and vanilla, and Angela didn’t care for it. Matteo offered a gentlemanly bow, another thanks, and well-wishes in case they did not see each other again.

When Angela turned to say goodnight to Moira she’d expected Moira to continue staring at her filled glass, but Moira simply drained it in one big gulp, wincing a bit. When she turned her eyes to Angela she looked uncertain, “Are you feeling alright? It’s still early, isn’t it?”

Angela shrugged, “I’m fine, just tired.”

Yanaba nodded knowingly, and when she told Moira that she was surprised Angela was still awake after such a day in her condition she rested her hand on Moira’s arm, and Angela didn’t care for that either.

"Well, let me get you two ladies a drink then,” Matteo offered, and he assured his wife it was the thought that counted when she pointed out it was an open bar.

Angela made her way back to her quarters alone, slipping off her heels in the lift and padding along the cold floor of the officer’s corridor in the quiet night. All the officers would still be at the party for some time, and Angela wondered if she wouldn’t have been better off just spending her night on Reinhardt’s arm, surrounded by her friends.

Completely exhausted she had barely the energy to shuck off her dress and pull on a sleepshirt. She crawled into bed, loosing her hair from the perfectly shaped loose ringlets she’d been so proud of. Stupid.

She closed her eyes tight, willing the voices, the thoughts away, and it helped when she passed her hand over her stomach and felt a rough kick. She grinned, “Thank you, I probably needed that.”

She didn’t feel great, but she felt better, and now that this was all over, Moira had promised to spend the weekend with her. Yanaba and her husband would disappear to the other side of the world, and she would have brunch with Moira, and she was able to smile as she fell off to sleep.

Chapter Text

It was a toss-up what kept Angela’s sleep so restless: the kicking in her belly or the thoughts, the fears swirling round and round in her head. Whatever it was, it kept her in a troubled, fitful sleep, and when the door chirped quietly in the dark night her eyes opened only slightly slower than the door. It was still dark in her quarters, and the long rectangle of cold light flooding in from the corridor was obstructed only by a long, thin silhouette leaning on one long arm against the scanner mounted near the door outside.

“Moira?” Angela croaked groggily, rubbing at her eyes as she sat up. There was no one else it would be; apart from the lanky figure Moira cut, Angela had no one else keyed in to access her quarters, “W-what time is it?”

“Late,” Moira’s voice was quiet and gruff as she ducked through the threshold, and when the door slid shut behind her the only light was the moon and the blue hue from Angela’s comm. 0346.

Angela was already setting her comm unit back on the nightstand, sighing out “What’s going on?” when Moira yelped and cursed loudly, and Angela saw her darkened form fall forward. With a loud rip Moira slammed onto her hands and knees, and Angela cringed as much for Moira as for the beautiful lavender dress she’d tossed onto the ground in her exhaustion hours earlier.

Angela climbed quickly from the bed, kneeling to help Moira to her feet, and Moira leaned heavily on her as they rose, muttering “Said I could come by any time.”

Nodding as she wrapped her arm firmly around Moira’s waist Angela squinted at her in the darkness. Angela’s eyes were readjusting to the dark, and she could make out Moira’s messy hair, her half-folded white collar cinched with a loose-fitting lavender tie, her bleary eyes and her lazy smile.

“Well, yes,” Angela said with more than a hint of concern, raising her free hand to Moira’s cheek, warm and clammy, “Are you drunk? Did you hurt yourself?” Three? Angel could think of at least three glasses of liquor, not to mention the champagne to start, that Moira had consumed in less than an hour. Binge drinking, by definition, actually. And another ordered for her as Angela had left. God, had she kept at it all this time?

“Mmmmmmf,” Moira had steadied herself with an arm around Angela’s back, and with her free hand she wrapped her long fingers along the side of Angela’s neck. Her hands were clammy too. She pushed her lips to Angela’s forehead, “’M fine,” she muttered against Angela’s skin, and Angela felt her lips curl into a grin, felt her breath hot against her, “Wouldn’ say no to seein a doctor though.”

And Moira’s mouth was on hers, rough and forceful and not a memory of the chaste introduction that prefaced so many of their kisses, and on Moira’s lips Angela tasted the first drop of alcohol she’d had in months, rich whisky that brought to mind visions of an intimately lit office and a long leather couch. When Moira’s tongue pushed hungrily into her mouth, when Moira’s hands disappeared from her back and neck to take handfuls of her hair and her ass and pull her close Angela couldn’t even tell if the sound she’d made was a moan or a yelp, and with the way she felt it was likely a mix of both.

Her heart was racing, and she still didn’t fully understand, but she knew that Moira was finally in her quarters and Moira wanted her, and Angela wanted it too. Maybe she was desperate for validation after falling asleep alone and insecure, maybe she was just horny, it didn’t matter, and she simply closed her eyes and pushed against Moira, taking two handfuls of Moira’s shirt as she did so.

When Moira quickly moved her hand from Angela’s ass, around her hips, to press roughly against Angela’s panties under her nightshirt Angela gasped in surprise, and she wondered if this weren’t another of her dreams.

Moira’s fingers rubbed roughly against her, and she wasn’t wet but she knew she would be soon enough, the way she could feel her pulse against Moira’s fingers, and when Moira broke their kiss to give a quiet, cocky chuckle Angela blushed, but she didn’t refrain from pushing herself softly against Moira’s fingers.

It was almost imperceptible in the darkness, the way Moira’s brow furrowed ever so slightly, the way her jaw clenched for a moment, the way her nostrils flared in what could have just been the tail end of her chuckle. But she was smiling wolfishly as her hands, both of them, were agonizingly pulled from Angela and they gripped her lightly by the biceps.

Angela barely had time to give a questioning sound, more a murmur than a word, before Moira was tugging on her arms, not hard, but insistent. When nothing came of it but another confused sound from Angela, Moira moved her hands to Angela’s shoulders, pushing lightly as she husked a cloud of whiskey and want, “O-on your knees.” She was still pushing on Angela’s shoulders when she pushed her tongue forcefully into Angela’s mouth again, and when Angela pulled back she didn’t seem undaunted.

“’ll be fast, promise,” Moira muttered, and she’d abandoned pushing on Angela’s shoulder with one hand and was fumbling with her belt instead, “C’mon, Angela,” she crooned, “’ll like it, we both will.”

Angela mouthed words that wouldn’t come, torn tortuously between desire and revulsion. She couldn’t pretend she wasn’t already keyed up, that she didn’t want to fall back into the bed behind her with Moira, and yes, she’d do what Moira wanted, but like this? It wasn’t the roughness, Angela had always rather liked it when Moira found it in herself to be forward, it was that she knew this wasn’t Moira, not completely, not truly, and she shut her eyes tight, finally finding words, “M-Moira, I think you sh-should leave.”

But Moira closed her fingers around Angela’s wrist and pulled a hand from her chest, and before Angela could pull away Moira had pushed both of their hands into the trousers she’d finally managed to undo, and Moira’s strong, slender fingers pressed along the backs of Angela’s and Angela felt heat, dampness, and soft cotton. Moira groaned and thrust her hips against Angela’s fingers as she held Angela’s hand in place, and Angela hated that for a moment, an instant with Moira’s arousal on her fingertips and her gasp in her ear, she considered taking back what she’d said, considered helping Moira shuck her trousers, but even the idea made Angela angry with herself. Angela would not be manhandled by anyone, even Moira. Especially Moira.

She pulled her hand back roughly, more roughly than she seemed to need to as Moira didn’t fight her, and Moira was laughing, an ephemeral, haunting, deep chuckle that sent a shiver down Angela’s spine. Her hands were back on Angela’s shoulders, and from her thumbs to the tips of her long fingers Moira was more than capable of encircling Angela’s pale neck completely, which she did. Angela didn’t care. She didn’t know this Moira well, but she knew her Moira well enough to know that she would never hurt her, and whatever this gesture was meant to convey, Angela was sure it wasn’t a threat, and she would not stand to be intimidated even if it were.

Moira wasted no time pulling Angela into a rough kiss, and when Angela wouldn’t allow Moira’s tongue entrance she pulled back only slightly, whispering hotly against Angela’s lips, “C’mon, Angela. ‘s for a minute. ‘ll fuck you after if you want, c’mon, just your mouth, just for lil while.”

“You need to leave.” Angela wasn’t breathless, she wasn’t scared, and her voice carried her indignation well.

Moira straightened and cocked her head to the side in a bizarrely out of place, curious gesture, “Y’ don’ wanna?”

No.” Angela’s voice was loud and cold, and she pressed on Moira’s chest pointedly. She’d have pushed her away, but she feared Moira wouldn’t be able to keep her feet, and the last thing either of them needed was Moira to split her head open on the table, “Get out.

Moira seemed frozen in place, and while she continued to look at Angela her eyes were more unfocused than ever. Angela could feel her chest rise and fall against her palms, slowing with each breath. Angela simply watched, hesitant to pull away in case Moira were to fall over, but dissuading any further attempts with a stern, unwavering glare aimed pointedly at Moira.

Silence hung in the air, and Angela had made up her mind to reissue her command when Moira finally blinked. “’lright. Got it,” A tone Angela might have excepted to be apologetic, ashamed, defeated, wasn’t. It was derision, and Moira was smiling.

Before Angela could find it in herself to feel offended Moira had jerked away. She was half-turned toward the door and she was lit with the cold moonlight from the large windows, striking an intimidating figure despite her state. She huffed, pulling down on her shirt to straighten it and she raised her chin high as she turned away from Angela. Despite collecting herself, she stumbled slightly before she smacked the door release, and Angela saw her stand tall as she strode away, not glancing back, moments before the door closed behind her.

Angela’s heart was racing but her mind felt empty. She had a million thoughts, yes, but not a single one was coherent, and she could feel tears finally making their way past her determination to sting at the corners of her eyes. She felt unsteady on her feet as she made her way to the door, and her hands were trembling when she clumsily removed Moira’s palm signature from her door access catalogue.

When she too stumbled slightly over the torn dress on the floor she couldn’t keep the tide of emotion back any longer. She stooped to pick the ruined garment off the floor and she pressed it to her face to stifle a sob that finally escaped, and more came in fits and spurts as she climbed into bed and lay curled on her side, hugging her arms firmly around her stomach. When the trembling eventually subsided, she was finally able to sleep, if through emotional exhaustion alone.

Chapter Text

Angela took another deep, slow, steadying breath as she stepped off the lift into the empty corridor. Moira hadn’t been in her quarters, or at least she hadn’t answered the door. Angela had gone there first, thinking foolishly that fall-down-drunk Moira had enough common sense to go to bed, but when no one had answered she’d made her way to the R&D laboratories.

She’d slept, but it would be inaccurate to say she had rested, and as her heels clicked along the corridor she fought back a tremble with another slow breath. She wasn’t nervous. She wasn’t scared. She was angry. Still. At first it had been born of hurt, that Moira would dare to treat her like that. Then came the fear. Had she made a mistake in choosing Moira? She’d realized from the get-go that she knew very little about Moira, at least relative to what one should know when choosing a co-parent. Of course it had been a stupid choice, she’d realized it even when she was making it, but it had been one she wanted to make, and she’d felt confident that her faith in Moira was not misplaced every time Moira smiled at her, every time Moira rushed around the car to open her door, every time she’d laid her head on Moira’s chest. 

Which was why her anger had finally settled firmly into the roiling sea of confusion that had not left Angela alone no matter how much she willed it to be gone.  But still, there was fear, and as she found herself standing outside the laboratory door she hesitated. She had no idea what awaited her within, how Moira could possibly explain herself. She worried at her bottom lip. When she came through this door again would she be crying? Would she be going on to form her single-parent family after all?

For a moment the worry got the better of her. She could turn around, go to her afternoon meetings, and wait for Moira to show up with flowers and apologies. That seemed like something Moira would do. Moira could say she was sorry and Angela could say it was alright and they would move on.

But it wasn’t alright, and Angela was not a woman who would let anyone treat her so.  She stood straight and took a final deep breath before pressing the call button. Countless more deep breaths were taken, and her already stern scowl grew deeper as she pressed the call button again.

Yes, Moira could be elsewhere, but where? She could have been ignoring the door in her quarters, Angela supposed. Not all that unlikely, Moira had good reason to hide from Angela after the way she’d behaved. With more than a bit of annoyance and some worry she wouldn’t admit to herself, Angela thought maybe Moira was wherever Yanaba had gone off to. The applicants would be leaving this morning but undoubtedly Yanaba and Matteo had stayed in quarters here or a nearby hotel. Had Moira gone to her old roommate for comfort? For something else? Angela huffed and pressed her thumb long into the button; she could hear a soft buzz from inside the laboratory, it wasn’t broken.

Another fear joined, that Moira had followed up whatever string of terrible decisions had led her to Angela’s quarters with an encore, that Moira was lying somewhere in a ditch or at the bottom of a stairwell.

With a grunt of irritation and a frown only microscopically softened by worry Angela accessed the entry pad’s alternate functions and keyed in the door override. She hadn’t forced her way into Moira’s quarters, using an ME code would alert her staff that a serious medical emergency was taking place and a response team would have been dispatched to Moira’s quarters in a matter of minutes. (Angela was quite proud of their response team’s capabilities, even though they were, thankfully, rarely needed.)

But administrator access codes to laboratories were not so likely to cause a fuss; usually they were simply used when researchers were away for the weekend and their superiors had to assist with their work. Feeding specimens, Angela supposed, was the most common use for it in a laboratory like Moira’s.

When the door finally slid open the laboratory was dark, only the impossibly dim glow of a few emergency lights pierced the gloom once the door slid shut once more. And a soft, warm light from the open door at the other end of the room. Angela scowled. So she was here. Was she hiding? Surely she knew Angela had an access code. Maybe she didn’t think Angela would use it. Because what a violation that would be. Angela could almost laugh, and it was with renewed indignation that she marched toward the distant light in the darkness.

She could hear the animals, and Angela thought there were fewer, though perhaps the rabbits were sleeping in the shadows filling the backs of their cages. The air was thick with a scent Angela didn’t recognize, but it was something biting and synthetic, something strong enough to cut through the thick, familiar scent of formaldehyde, and when Angela eyed the odd shapes strewn across the lab bench in the darkest corner of the room she was reminded of her cadaver practicum as a student.  Not cadaver parts, though, even in the dim light it was clear it was a collection of tubing, syringes, and plastic containers. A lecture on proper refuse disposal and lab safety would be in order. Later. If they were still speaking.

As Angela took the final step into the office she did so boldly, with her head held high, and even when she spotted Moira lying face down on her couch with a leg and arm haphazardly falling to the floor she didn’t let her assertiveness waver. She couldn’t see Moira’s face and she already looked pathetic, still wearing her black braided slacks, shiny black shoes, and stiff-collared shirt. The tails, vest, and tie were discarded, and Angela could tell even from this angle that Moira’s hair pressed up at a variety of ridiculous angles. Yes, Moira looked pathetic, but Angela didn’t care. She wasn’t here to pity Moira, and she wasn’t here to take care of her. Angela was here for Angela.

Wake up.” Angela said firmly, and she crossed her arms over her chest as she leaned back against Moira’s desk. She glared down at Moira sprawled in front of her, and when Moira didn’t stir she grunted, displeased. “Wake. Up.” She barked insistently, and with the desk to support her she felt comfortable kicking at Moira’s outstretched leg with one foot.

Moira jerked suddenly when Angela kicked at her, and Angela withdrew to let her orient herself. With much grunting and groaning Moira lifted her head from the couch, craning her head to look around. Was it the angle that kept her from looking at Angela, or was it a deliberate choice? She sighed as she rubbed her eyes roughly, and there was a long pause before she pushed herself up, grumbling uncomfortably as she reoriented herself into a sitting position. She rubbed along her face, groaning loudly, and finally she let her arms fall. She hugged herself across her chest, but while Angela hoped her own stance portrayed her indignation, there was no such demeanor to Moira. Angela remembered Moira pouting on the couch before her trip to Canada. This was reminiscent, though far more pathetic.

Angela saw no swelling, bruises, or lacerations, and no evidence Moira had vomited, at least not here. She was pale and probably dehydrated, but that was her own damn fault and Angela wasn’t here to take care of Moira. Angela was here to take care of Angela.

“Hello,” Moira said softly, and Angela found it irritating she’d not bothered to look at her.

Angela had no patience for pleasantries, and if her cool, accusatory tone didn’t make it clear, her question would, “Do you remember last night?”

Moira was silent for a moment, then nodded only once, “Yes.”

Angela wasn’t sure why she’d expected Moira to deny memory of what she’d done. Because it was easier to deny it, probably, or because if Moira had had as much to drink as Angela suspected she might very well have actually blacked out.

“Good,” Angela wet her lips, “Then I’m here for what you owe me.”

Moira squinted at the floor, and finally she raised her eyes to Angela, “What?”

Angela reinforced her scowl now that Moira was watching her, and she doubled-down on her icy tone, “You owe me an explanation, and you owe me an apology.”  When Moira didn’t respond she added firmly, “And I’m not leaving until I have both.”

She was ready to stare Moira down, but Moira just nodded once before dropping her face into her hands with a sigh. Though she spoke it through her hands and barely above a whisper her “I’m sorry,” did not escape Angela.

When no explanation was forthcoming Angela stood her ground, “Alright. There’s half, now I want the other. What the hell were you thinking, Moira?”

Silence, but Angela was patient, and she simply stood a bit straighter, glared a little harder. Moira was still and quiet, but finally said, more with a sigh than her proper voice, “I’m so sorry, Angela.”

Angela would not be placated or sent away from what she came for, “You said that already. Why, Moira?

More silence, but when Moira sighed again it wasn’t with an apology only a resigned explanation. “I just wanted to be sure I wasn’t making a mistake.”

Angela scoffed, “And you thought forcing me to go down on you would keep you from making a mistake?”

Moira flinched, and she protested through gritted teeth, shaking her head slowly as she kept her eyes downcast, “No! That’s not—I’m so sorry, Angela, I didn’t—I was drunk and stupid and—“

“Oh I figured that out on my own, thank you,” Angela quickly found she had no patience for apologies or excuses, “You’re going to have to walk me through this one,” She stood a bit straighter, and she felt she likely looked somewhat like a cross teacher as she stared down her nose at Moira, who continued to look down as well, “Justify your methods, Dr. O’Deorain.”

Moira fidgeted, hugging her arms tighter around her body, and when she shrugged her shoulders she looked like an overgrown child, but when she raised her face to Angela’s, despite her slumped shoulders her response was not so petulant as it was indignant, “ . . . You’ve never even touched me, Angela.”

“What are you talking about? Of course I have.” Angela spat back, her own indignation mounting.

“I mean . . . me, without the toy.” Angela wracked her brain for an example to shoot back to her, but none came. She reminded herself it didn’t matter, this was such a stupid justification, but before she could open her mouth to say so Moira continued, “And I guess I thought it made sense to see if you, you know, would.

Absurd. “And your idea was that waking me up in the middle of the night to drunkenly pressure me into going down on you would, what? Get me in the mood?”

Moira cringed, her eyes falling to her shiny black shoes once more, and she made her large body as small as she was able, seeming to sink back into the couch, “I can’t say sorry more than I already have, Angela. I know it was stupid, you don’t have to tell me.”

Angela was silent for a moment before dropping her hands to her hips, returning from her incredulous expression back to her stern, accusatory glare, “Well if that’s your fear then, sorry, yes, you caught me, Moira. I don’t care for anyone’s genitals in the general proximity of my mouth, drunk or not.”

Moira was scowling when she turned her face back up to Angela, “It’s not about that, Angela.”

“Then what?” Angela’s answer was immediate, cool, and demanding.

Moira shifted, the spark of conviction she’d shown suddenly dwindling into discomfort once more, “Wouldn’t you rather have . . . someone else?”

“Like who?”

Moira’s discomfort grew visibly, and her voice cracked a surprising amount for so few words, “A man?”

Angela huffed, and she didn’t bother to close her mouth, staring agape at Moira before raising her hands to rub her temples. Absurd. After a moment spent to collect herself she took a deep breath and, despite the delay, it was with a snap that she responded, “Why the hell would you think that? And don’t say the sex thing, believe me, I’m no more interested in sucking anyone’s dick.”

Moira cringed, and with a tone infuriatingly resentful she forced out, “But that’s not true.”

“What?” Angela would not be called a liar, and over something as stupid as this of all things.

“You, um, you did it for me.” Moira traced a circle with her fingernail along the knee of her pants.

No good deed goes fucking unpunished. “Yeah, because I thought you’d like it.” Angela half-shouted back, and Moira just watched her own finger move small circles across her knee. When it was clear Moira’s response would be nothing but pouting, Angela pressed on, angrier than ever “Do you really think we’ve been doing this because you were the only one around? That I couldn't find a man and you were, what, the next best thing? That I would just fuck whoever was on hand, Moira?”

Moira shifted uncomfortably, “Well, no, but . . .”

“But what?”

A shift; Moira’s voice was still low, quiet, barely above a whisper, but where fear, apprehension, and apology had been, there was only frustration, and when she lifted her eyes to Angela’s they were wet, but angry, “Doctor’s orders, wasn’t it? Horny, have more sex? Haven’t had a date in three years though, that’s what you told me.” She scowled, throwing up her hands, in an exaggerated display and motioning toward the desk, the office, the couch, herself. Her domain.  “But wait,” She hissed, “Here’s Moira, how convenient, oh, and she’s got this great fake cock so I can just act like I’m fucking a man because she sure as fuck looks like one, even the obstetrician thinks she’s one, and—“

Stop it.” Angela hissed. She didn’t need to, despite her frustration Moira’s voice stayed surprisingly quiet, but Angela had to block it out, she urgently needed to not hear it.

Moira listened, closing her mouth and fixing Angela with an expression Angela couldn’t place, but when she dropped her arms to wrap around herself again she was the picture of defeat.

“I’m not going to listen to you talk about yourself like that.” Angela explained firmly. She had no intention of comforting Moira, of soothing her hurt feelings or assuring her she was wrong, that wasn’t what drove Angela. Angela was angry, she was offended, to hear it, and if Moira wouldn’t stand up for Moira, Angela would. “You don’t look like a man, you look like you.” Angela straightened up, and her voice softened a bit, “And I happen to think it’s a very flattering look on you.”

Moira lowered her gaze to her shiny shoes again, and finally the pathetic sight managed to soften Angela, if only a bit. She was still frustrated, still indignant, righteously so. But she couldn’t let Moira think she thought so little of her, she just couldn’t.

“And the sex . . . It’s not like that.” Angela whispered, “I never ever thought that, Moira, never. “

Both of them were silent, Angela could hear a rabbit pawing at the bars of its cage, could hear Moira’s shaky breath and wondered if she weren’t keeping herself from crying. Finally, when it was clear Moira had no response but to sulk, Angela continued, “I hadn’t had a date in three years because I don’t waste my time with people I can’t see myself loving, Moira.

She let it hang in the air for a time, but when Moira remained stoic she continued, a bit of an uptick to her voice, “I daresay if I just wanted someone to fuck me I could probably manage that pretty easily.” Another pause to let Moira respond, met with silence, “And the strap-on?” It was Angela’s turn to make her own exaggerated gesture, holding her arms out in defeat, “Yes, I like it. A lot. But God, Moira, do you actually think I’m imagining some man?”

Moira shifted uncomfortably, and the nod was so slight Angela wasn’t sure she didn’t imagine it.  After a time glaring at Moira, Angela grunted unhappily, and she settled clumsily down on the couch to sit next to her. She dropped her own face into her hands with an exasperated sigh, “I don’t have a thing for fake cocks, Moira, no matter how many bells and whistles are attached. I like being with you.” She found some of her indignation again, And you were there, you suggested it, remember? It just . . . the pamphlet, with the positions to make it easier with the baby. You brought it up, Moira.

Moira nodded, but it was overshadowed by the simultaneous shrug.

“Besides,” Angela fell back against the couch and a puff of tuberose and plums greeted her. She was beginning to feel as defeated as Moira looked, and her voice was quiet, apologetic as she continued, “I thought you liked it too. I didn’t realize you didn’t, I’m sorry, I should have asked—“

“No, I, um, I do,” Moira interrupted quietly.

Then what’s. the. problem?” Angela demanded with exasperation. 

“It’s . . . not just the sex,” Moira whispered to her shoes, and after a pause, “You’re keeping us a secret.”

“We’re both keeping us a secret, Moira,” Angela reminded her, “We talked about it, you didn’t want her to be a science experiment, remember?”

Moira shook her head, “No. I mean, yes, but . . .” Moira hesitated, hugging her long arms around her tightly, and despite the seeming shift in topic her tone was cool, “How was your weekend?”

Angela thought back to their last morning together. Was Moira really still stuck on the blowjob thing? Angela was quickly learning her lesson about trying to do something nice for Moira, and she was scowling as Moira continued.

“I ask because we were going to go out,” Moira explained, and her nonchalance was undermined by her shaky breaths, “But then we didn’t.” Moira shrugged toward the floor, “But we could spend the night together. I had to go shopping alone—“

“I had work!” Angela sputtered.

“Because you took a day off when you weren’t even sick,” Moira returned just as quickly, and before Angela could decide whether or not to tell Moira why she’d taken the day off Moira steamrolled right over her, her voice picking up conviction with every word, “But that was fine. It was, it was a good night even though it was spent in private when I wanted to take you out. Morning comes and you have all the time in the world to lay in bed with me, plenty of time to let me fuck you, but the minute, the very moment, Angela, that I want to take you out you come up with more work to do?” She turned her face to Angela’s, her head cocked to the side, and her eyes were wet and pushed into a squint to keep the tears from falling, “So what was it, Angela? Was it that you didn’t want to go on a date with me, or was it that you didn’t want people to see us together?”

Angela was quiet for a long time, considering if it was wise to explain. This whole catastrophe seemed to spawn from Moira thinking Angela thought of her somehow as a man, would underscoring it be of any use? Angela chewed at her lip. No, this wasn’t caused by Moira’s fear of how Angela perceived her, not really. It was caused by Moira not opening her fucking mouth and saying what was bothering her in the first place, and Angela realized she wasn’t innocent either, “It was that I didn’t want people to see us together.”

Moira furrowed her brow and Angela could see her jaw clench as she looked upward toward the shadowy corners of the ceiling.

“But not . . . not like you think.” Angela assured her, wrapping a hand around Moira’s arm. The shirt was stiff and rough, she probably didn’t wear it much, “I like going out with you, I want to. But . . .” She grew less insistent, and whispered sadly, “Something happened on Valentine’s Day. It’s why I missed work. After.” Moira looked back at her, her brow furrowed, “Someone followed us, Moira. A photographer. From the tabloids.”

“What?” It wasn’t outrage or offense. Moira was simply confused.

“You know that I used to be in the news all the time?”

Moira nodded.

“A lot of people used to like to, ah, speculate on the details of my personal life. I thought it was over,” Angela gave an irritated huff, more at herself than the situation she’d put herself in, “I was wrong. I suppose it was the pregnancy that was so salacious? I don’t know. They’re vultures, they always were. Maybe all the talk about the gala. But the followed us. They took photos.”

As she watched Moira she saw what Ana Amari must have seen, the progression of shock to confusion to violation to revulsion. “W-what did they take photos of?”

“Just dinner, and the kiss in the street,” Angela assured her, wondering if Moira had also thought to their night together, to the open shades and how she’d looked in Moira’s lap. She shook the thoughts from her mind. “But still . . .”

Moira was still confused, and she shook her head, disbelieving, “But I didn’t hear about this.”

“No, you didn’t.” Angela explained, “Ana Amari paid them off so they wouldn’t print it.”

“What?” Moira seemed more shocked by this than the news of the photographs themselves, “Why would she do that?”

“What do you mean?” Angela was just as incredulous, “You would want to be in the tabloids?”

Moira scoffed quietly, “No but, I mean . . . if it’s just dinner and kissing . . .” She raised her long, pale hands to her face and rubbed harshly at her eyes and cheeks, “Alright, I understand, you didn’t want people to see us together.”

Not like that,” Angela insisted firmly, “I didn’t want to go out to avoid it happening again, that’s all. I wanted to go, but I didn’t want Ana to have to keep getting involved,” She added apologetically, “But I’m sorry, I should have told you.”

“Then why let Amari get involved? If you want to go out and you’re not,” Moira’s voice dropped from confusion to a quiet whisper as she finished, “If you’re not ashamed of me just let them print the pictures.” She rubbed at her temples with her thumb and forefinger of one impossibly long hand, “Or did Amari not want—“

“Ana thinks we make a good couple,” Angela grasped firmly at Moira’s bicep, assuring her quickly to absolve Ana of any guilt in the matter, “I . . . I was trying to avoid it for your sake.”

“Mine?”

“All the stories that they were going to print with the photos.” Angela chewed at her lip a bit. She was going to tell Moira the truth, she was decided, but it didn’t make it easier to say, it didn’t keep her from fearing how it would affect Moira, “No one knows who you are, so they . . . you know tabloids, they made up all sorts of things.”

“Did I at least get to be an alien?” Moira scoffed, but from her expression Angela was certain she was trying to brush off what she already knew.

Angela laughed a bit, hoping it helped Moira to take it in stride, but shook her head, “More along the lines of . . .”

“A man.”

Angela nodded as Moira sighed loudly.

“So I didn’t-- I knew you were upset by it all,” Angela laughed nervously, “I didn’t realize quite how upset, granted, but I just . . . didn’t want to make it worse, I guess.”

With a sigh so loud it bordered on a groan Moira lay back, tilting her head against the wall behind the couch. After a moment her head lolled to the side and she looked down at Angela with a pained smile, “You’re about thirty five years too late if you think you’re going to protect me from people calling me a man, Angela.”

Angela responded with her own sad smile, and she squeezed Moira’s arm again, “I’m sorry, I should have told you.”

Moira nodded, “You should have.” She rested her head back with a heavy sigh and a sardonic grin, “But I guess there are things I should have been telling you, too.”

Angela smiled, steadying Moira’s face with her hand as she reached up to place a light kiss on her cheek, a gesture she hope expressed her forgiveness as much as her apology. They were still for a long while, Moira’s eyes were closed with her head tilted back, but Angela was certain she felt her examining her face.

“Why didn’t you tell me this sooner?” Angela finally asked, “That you were upset. That you thought I didn’t want to be with you.”

Moira grimaced, and it seemed a difficult task to raise her head up, and she let it tip forward again as she returned to watching her shiny shoes, “I was afraid you’d laugh at me,” she explained quietly, and her voice faltered at times, “Tell me it was just fucking, that you . . . didn’t think of me like that.” She paused to sigh loudly and hug her long arms tightly across her body, tucking her hands under her biceps as she shrugged, “I thought that if I didn’t rock the boat, if I just kept going . . . at least you wouldn’t push me away, even if it was just fucking . . . I didn’t want to lose what I did have with you if you didn’t feel the same.”

Angela hadn’t stopped her careful examination of Moira’s expression, and she watched Moira frown as she scuffed her heel idly along the floor.

“I thought it would be enough.” Moira sighed, groaning in frustration as she continued, “That I could just keep my mouth shut and everything would be fine. But . . .”

Angela realized, even though Moira trailed off. Moira wasn’t paranoid, she was smarting from an old wound freshly reopened. It made more sense now, what she’d seen, what she’d overheard at the gala. Angela leaned forward, squeezing at Moira’s arm again, “Don’t worry, Moira. It’s like you said. This is nothing like that. I promise.”

Moira turned to Angela, her brow furrowed with surprise. For a moment Angela considered explaining her time eavesdropping at the bar, but she had no time before Moira’s hands found her shoulder, the back of her head, and Moira’s mouth found hers. The kiss wasn’t chaste, but nor was it lustful.  It was apologies, for mistakes made and time wasted; it was gratitude, for acceptance and forgiveness; it was love.

As Moira pulled away Angela laughed, holding her hand to her face as she turned away and grumbled, “God, Moira, I’m sorry but your breath is disgusting.

Moira laughed sheepishly, looking down her long body at her wrinkled gala attire, “Ah, sorry, ah, I had a rough night.”

“Yeah, me too.” Angela said, and immediately wished she hadn’t.

Moira frowned, whispering once more, “I’m so sorry, Angela. I can’t even begin to tell you—“

“It’s alright, Moira, it—“ Angela interrupted, only to be interrupted herself.

“No, it’s not alright,” Moira was clenching and unclenching her fists, and she more growled than said, “If anyone else treated you the way I did . . .” Her words trailed off as she pressed her balled fists to her eyes with a frustrated grunt.

With a sigh Angela cuddled against Moira’s arm as she softly explained, “I had no idea what the hell was going on, Moira.” When Moira nodded Angela kept on, not allowing her to unleash yet another apology, “But I knew something was going on. I know that’s not you.”

“I was scared,” Moira added quietly.

“I know.” Angela strained to kiss her cheek, “Don’t be.”

They lulled into comfortable silence once more, and Angela was happy to stay cuddled against Moira’s side. Eventually, though, she found it prudent to continue laying her cards upon the table, “I never told you why I said yes.”

Moira turned slightly to Angela, confused.

“To you, instead of an anonymous donor.” Angela did her best to push closer to Moira, as if she even could. She needed the comfort, “I think . . . I was selfish.”

Moira scoffed, an eyebrow raised, “Hardly.”

“No,” Angela insisted, “You don’t understand. I . . . I started out thinking that I just wanted her to have more of a family. Two parents. I couldn’t get that, not with the catalogue. I wanted to know she had someone, and that if anything ever happened to me, she . . .” It was Angela’s turn to trail off. She wouldn’t grow up lonely, like I did.

“I don’t see how that’s selfish,” Moira protested, “No one wants their child to be alone.”

“Because,” Angela pressed on quietly, “I didn’t want to be alone either.”

Moira tilted her head, watching Angela with a furrowed brow.

“I was scared, of doing all of this by myself. When you offered . . . I know it was a dumb idea, we didn’t even know each other,” Angela curled all the more into Moira, “But you wanted it, and I wanted someone.”

Moira’s face was stoic as she listened, curiosity was the best read Angela could get on her, and so she pressed on with a sigh, “And it was probably stupid and selfish of me to agree without knowing you, to let you get so involved with all of this, just because of what I wanted. But I didn’t care,” She smiled softly, “And I still don’t, because now there’s no one else I’d rather have.” With another firm squeeze of Moira’s arm Angela strained once more to place a kiss on her cheek, “I love you, Moira, I’m so sorry I didn’t make that more clear.”

And Moira had turned and Angela was pulled firmly against her chest, Moira’s long arms wrapped firmly around her. Moira pushed her face into Angela’s hair, and Angela knew somehow that she was crying when she pressed a kiss against the top of Angela’s head, breathing deep of Angela’s hair, “I love you too, so much,” Moira’s voice was desperate and grateful and breathless, “I’m so sorry for what I did, Angela, I never wanted to—“

“I know,” Angela pulled away to shush her with a hand on her cheek and a kiss against her lips, brief by necessity. When she pulled away she scrunched her nose with a laugh, “I need to go to some meetings now, and you need to go brush your teeth and rest properly, in a real bed.”

Moira smiled as she ran a hand through her mussed hair, and Angela was certain she could see how much lighter Moira felt, and she felt quite the same.

“Will you . . . still make us brunch tomorrow?” Moira ventured hopefully as Angela stood.

She laughed, and it was only after she’d steadied herself with a hand to each side of Moira’s head that she bent over and kissed her once more, “Of course,” she promised before pushing herself upright again.

“I’ll walk with you,” Moira pushed herself up as well, and with a great groan and the loud cracking of several joints she stretched tall and long. They didn’t speak again, but it was the most satisfying silence Angela had ever experienced. Moira’s hand at the small of her back and the soft kiss into her hair with its whispered “Have a good day. I love you,” was more than Angela could even wish for.

 


        modeorain.rd3.zurich: Please come see me in my lab when you finish your meetings. 

Angela read the message once more before slipping the comm unit back into her pocket. It had arrived a worryingly short three hours after they’d parted. When Angela sent back her acceptance of the invitation she was sure to include an insistence that Moira rest properly.

It was well into the evening now; Angela had expected to finalize their choices of the applicants in a smooth, unanimous decision, but things were never so easy, and the afternoon had been spent working compromises among her staff in order to send out the offers of employment.

Angela hoped that Moira had rested, she certainly wished she could have. The night, a fiasco, the early morning, nerves, and seeing Moira? It was strange how something so uplifting could be so exhausting at the same time. Many things were a bit more exhausting lately. Angela ran her hand along her belly as she pressed the call button at Moira’s lab.

“Who is it?” Moira’s voice crackled through the intercom.

Angela rolled her eyes, “How many women are you expecting a visit from, Dr. O’Deorain?”

She could hear Moira’s laugh in the “Just a moment,” and it made her grin.  She waited, not certain why Moira didn’t just release the door from her office, as she had always done. If she was trying to clean up her lab there was no use, Angela had seen the catastrophe earlier, it would take more than a moment to arrange that nightmare.

When the door finally slid open it wasn’t the strong stench of formaldehyde that greeted her, but Moira, with a smile somehow both nervous and confident, charming. The lab behind her was dark, and she cut a striking figure as she stood at the edge of the shadows, holding a hand to Angela. She wasn’t dressed quite so elaborately as she had been at the gala, but she approximated it with a slate-grey three-piece suit colored only by shocks of lavender at her pocket and neck and perfectly swept-back hair.

Angela raised her eyebrows as she took Moira’s hand, and as Moira led her through the dim lab toward the closed office she was equally uncertain and excited, “What’s going on, Moira?”

“Let me show you,” Moira responded, sounding quite proud of herself, and her hand was laid lightly on the small of Angela’s back, guiding her through the darkness. There was a soft glow through the privacy shade of Moira’s office window, and the emergency lights kept Angela oriented, but she felt and heard Moira more than saw her. As they came to a stop at Moira’s door she wasted no time twisting the knob and pushing the door open before them.

“Oh, God, Moira, what is this?” Angela laughed, stepping inside. Moira had pushed her desk and chair against the far wall, clearing the center space, and only a few of the small lamps were lit, each pointed toward the walls to cast a warm, intimate glow up the walls. They were joined by dozens of softer, dimmer lights; golden, purple, blue, ghostly white. Some were large orbs, other small pinpricks of light in the darkness, scattered across the desktop, shelves, countertops. Everywhere Angela looked, a different soft glow. Each color, dim and weak, combined to fill the room with a mosaic of color. Laughing, Angela stepped forward to examine one of the larger blue lights. They weren’t lights at all.

“Diphenyl oxalate and hydrogen peroxide?” Angela gave an appreciative hum, picking up the glowing beaker, “I remember these from genchem.”

As she stepped in, closing the door quietly behind her, Moira grinned and gave a half-shrug, “I make do with what I have.”

“Very resourceful,” Angela set the beaker delicately back onto the shelf before turning to Moira. Once more she quirked a brow, “What’s it all for?”

“For us,” Moira said smoothly, holding out her hand once more, “We never got to dance.”

Angela rolled her eyes, but she couldn’t hide her smile as she took Moira’s hand and allowed herself to be pulled to the center of the room. She gestured to the same tired skirt and blouse she’d been wearing on her morning visit, “I don’t think I’m dressed for another gala, I should probably go change.”

Moira turned briefly and leaned across her desk in the corner, and with a quick tap of her comm unit next to a glowing golden Erlenmeyer flask, soft, elegant piano filled the room. When she turned back to Angela she shook her head, “No, you’re perfect,” she took Angela’s chin in hand and lifted her face for a quick kiss before looking with an exaggerated turn left and right around the small office, “Mhmmm, easily the most beautiful woman here.”

“I disagree,” Angela responded quietly, wrapping her arms around Moira’s waist and resting her head against her chest, the soft silk tie smooth against her cheek.

“Mmmmm, trying to start an argument, are you?” Moira hummed, and Angela wasn’t sure which of them had begun swaying their hips first, but they both were swaying slowly together before Moira stepped away. With one hand held up and the other arm hooked downward it was her turn to look to Angela with a raised eyebrow, “Shall we dance, then?”

Angela couldn’t have muted her smile if she’d tried, though she saw no reason to do so and simply stepped forward, sliding her arm around Moira’s waist and entwining their fingers. When Moira’s brow furrowed Angela’s did too, “Is something wrong?”

Moira shook her head and smiled, “No, however you’re most comfortable,” and as she began to lead, Angela held her ground.

“No, what is it, what’s wrong?” Angela insisted, and she sensed nothing truly amiss and her smile did not falter, but she squeezed at Moira’s hand insistently.

“Ah, your hands are wrong.” Moira said sheepishly, but with her arm wrapped around Angela’s waist she pulled her closer until Angela’s belly bumped against her, and she whispered conspiratorially, “Don’t worry, I won’t tell on you.”

“What do you mean my hands are wrong?” Angela looked from her hand held up in Moira’s to her arm looped around Moira’s waist, “This is how I’ve always danced.”

“I know, I saw,” Moira chuckled, and she nodded her head toward their raised hands, “Hands should be cupped, you don’t lace the fingers,” She then nodded toward where Angela’s arm disappeared under her own, “And your arm goes over mine and around my shoulders, not my waist.”

When Angela moved to reposition herself as instructed Moira gripped her fingers firmly and held her close to prevent her from withdrawing her arm, “No, it’s fine, this is better.” She chuckled as she began to lead them in a slow dance, smooth considering the small confines of the office, “Like I said, I won’t tell if you won’t.”

Angela rolled her eyes and soon found herself concentrating on trying to maintain the same smooth motion as Moira. While Matteo had been roughly her equal on the dancefloor, Angela found Moira made them both look like amateurs. Despite the apparently unfamiliar positioning, Moira led Angela expertly, a godsend as she seemed to know steps that Angela had never learned, and Angela focused as much on keeping step as watching Moira watching her.

“You’re good at this,” Angela finally said as the second song blended seamlessly with a third, slightly slower tempo.

“Thank you,” Moira’s warm smile did not change, but there was a mischievous glint in her eye, “I know.”

Angela laughed loudly, “Cocky, too.”

“I prefer self-assured,” Moira said matter-of-factly, but the sly expression remained.

“Mmmmm, self-assured, then,” Angela hummed pleasantly, “Consider me impressed. How do you know so much about formal dancing? Not your stepdance lessons?”

It was Moira’s turn to laugh aloud, but she shook her head with a smile, “It’s a long story.”

Angela gave a similar exaggerated look around the room as Moira had given not so long ago and squeezed her hand, “Lucky for us I don’t’ think anyone will be looking to cut in any time soon.”

Moira puffed a hint of laughter which stirred Angela’s hair, and their steps slowed somewhat as Moira explained, all the while continuing to lead Angela in perfect figures across the office and back, “You know I had four older brothers.”

Angela nodded.

“Well,” Moira bent slightly to whisper conspiratorally to Angela, “I know you probably won’t believe this, but I was a bit of a tomboy growing up.”

“How unexpected,” Angela gasped of feigned shock after a short laugh, “I’d never have guessed.”

“Mmmmmm,” Moira continued, and her eyes had left Angela and she seemed to be spending as much time in her memory as with Angela, “I think they thought they did something wrong.”

“Your brothers?” Angela frowned.

She shook her head, “No, my parents. They hadn’t, you know, raised a daughter before, just four boys. They didn’t do anything different with me . . . I think by the time I grew up to be . . . the way I am—I think they thought they’d done something wrong, should have done something different with a girl.”

When Angela pursed her lips Moira chuckled and shrugged, “They didn’t think there was anything wrong with me. I don’t think. I hope.” She shrugged again, and Angela was glad she was still smiling easily, and there was still a laugh in her voice, “They just wanted to do the best they could for me.”

“So what happened?” If Moira hadn’t seemed so nonchalant, if she hadn’t smiled so effortlessly and continued to spin Angela slowly around the floor Angela would worry for the answer.

Moira chuckled, “I, ah . . . they sent me to finishing school in London.”

“Finishing school?!” Angela laughed, “I didn’t know those were still operating.”

Moira nodded, still laughing as well, “A few. A crash course in the finer things,” She adopted a haughty tone and lifted her nose and Angela knew she must be imitating someone she’d known, “A future without refinement is a dark future indeed.”

“Did you hate it?” Angela asked curiously.

“No, actually, it was nice,” Moira explained, and as the song shifted once more she effortlessly shifted their tempo to match, “It was only a year, and there were interesting courses. I don’t really care what different forks are for,  but general etiquette was helpful, and there was art and music appreciation.”

“And dancing?” Angela finished with a smile.

“Yes, ballroom and some cotillon. Unfortunately,” She sighed, loud and exaggerated, “I was much too tall.”

“What would that matter? You learned well enough, it seems?”

"It's hard to lead when you're much shorter than your partner," Moira’s grin was wide, and when she winked mischievously Angela felt herself blush, “I just had to be the stand-in for the man.”

Despite Moira's smile Angela found herself frowning, remembering Moira’s concerns not hours before, “That didn’t bother you?” she asked quietly.

Moira shook her head, “I learned to lead, and I got to dance with every girl in the class.”

“Mmmmm,” Angela hummed with amusement, “Should I be jealous?”

Moira slowed their steps just long enough to bend and pull Angela to her toes for a kiss, which Angela returned with enthusiasm and perhaps the slightest unbidden moan.

“Did you wear the fancy dresses?” Angela asked with her own mischievous grin when they parted, and as they began to move once more Moira was nodding.

“Of course, we all did.”

“Mmmmm, I’d like to see you in a dress.”

“You would?” Moira’s smile was finally gone for the first time since Angela had arrived, but it was replaced only with surprise.

Angela nodded, “I think you’d look wonderful in a dress.”

Moira shrugged, and she began to smile again, “I do. I have a few, I just . . .” She sighed with more than a hint of frustration, “There comes a time when you dress like this long enough that you can’t wear a dress without people staring.”

“Well I’ll certainly stare,” Angela promised with a wink, and finally Moira laughed again, and it was only a small hitch in their step to take time for another kiss, “I like that about you,” She continued as one song faded into another.

“What?”

“Some people are handsome,” Angela said slowly, running her thumb along Moira’s as she squeezed her hand, “And some people are beautiful,” She smiled as she leaned forward to rest her chin on Moira’s chest, and the position threw off their dancing quite horribly but Moira didn’t seem to mind another transgression, “But you’re both.”

Perhaps it was how her shift in position had thrown the rhythm, or perhaps Moira just didn’t care to continue, but Angela found she was no longer being led and her hand was free to join the other around Moira’s waist. With her own freed hand Moira found Angela’s chin, holding her face tilted upward as she bent to return once more to their kiss. Not a quick thing stolen between steps, Moira held her close and Angela was happy to press herself firmly against Moira, to stand on her tip-toes as well as she was able, and to respond with enthusiasm when Moira's tongue made it's way past her lips.

“Thank you for the dance, Angela,” Moira whispered when they finally parted, and though the soft sounds of piano and violin still filled the room Moira stepped back, moving her hands to Angela’s shoulders as she watched her earnestly, “I wish we could have done this last night.”

“Me too. Thank you, Moira, this was ridiculous and wonderful,” Angela smiled, placing her own hands over Moira's, pulling one of Moira’s slender hands to her mouth to place a soft kiss into her palm, "I hope you know that I love you.”

“I love you too, Angela,” Moira said breathlessly, not withdrawing her hand and simply passing her thumb along Angela’s cheek.

Angela was the one who finally broke the silence some time later, leaning heavily against Moira, “It’s been a long day, Moira,” was all she said, but it seemed Moira understood.

“It has,” Moira agreed as she draped her arms over Angela’s shoulders, “Come on, I’ll take you home.”

Chapter Text

Moira was soft. Softer than the warm morning sun falling through the skylight. Softer than the fluffy duvet over the both of them. Softer than her smile when she first opened her eyes and softer than the good-morning kiss she’d placed on Angela’s forehead after brushing her bangs away. Her skin was soft against Angela’s cheek as she lay against Moira’s side. Her breaths, however rapid, were soft and shallow and they stirred Angela’s hair with every puff. Her boxer-briefs were soft against Angela’s knuckles every time she withdrew her fingers before plunging in deep all over again. Her moans and whimpers were soft, so soft Angela could barely make out her name mixed in among the whispers and gasps. Her hand pressing against Angela’s through the damp cotton was soft but insistent, holding Angela as she gave perfectly soft, short thrusts against her hand.

And when Moira’s softness began to fall away, when her breath became ragged and her hips bucked roughly with every drive of Angela’s fingers, she turned her face away, and it was Angela’s voice then, soft but pleading. “Don’t, Moira. Look at me,” the kiss she pressed above Moira’s breast, against warm, salty skin, was soft as well, “You don’t have to open your eyes, just don’t turn away this time.”

When Moira turned her head down again, blinked her wanting, unfocused eyes at Angela, her smile was soft but her breath was rough and fast, and the kiss she pressed against Angela’s forehead was not nearly so soft as the one that had started them off. She closed her eyes then, gripping Angela tightly with her free arm, and for all of Moira’s softness her finish was fast and rough, the unmistakable clenching around Angela’s fingers as Moira went stiff and still, allowing Angela to bring her through it as Angela’s name morphed into a loud, indulgent groan.

“I love you,” Moira breathed more than said, and the words were familiar to Angela now, heard so many times since yesterday, though it felt a lifetime ago. Familiar, but not unwelcome, and Angela didn’t know if she would ever cherish a sound so deeply.

“I love you too,” Angela whispered against Moira’s chest, rising and falling rapidly beneath her, though slowing with every moment they lay in perfect relaxation, warmed by the morning sun and one another.

How much time had passed before Moira’s long fingers played up Angela’s arms, under the duvet and down her ribcage, making their way nearly to the hem of Angela’s nightshirt before Angela whined in protest? All the morning, it felt, and Angela was content to pass the rest of her lifetime in such a state.

“You don’t want me to?” Moira’s voice was soft, too, and confused.

“Later,” Angela assured her with a smile, straining to kiss her lightly, and they both smiled as Angela settled once more against Moira, “Right now I just want this.”

And that was precisely what she got. By the time she pushed herself from Moira’s arms they’d resigned themselves to lunch rather than brunch, but neither seemed upset by it, and Angela was pleased to finally get her lazy Sunday with Moira after all.

Most of her mornings, and her evenings too. They’d shared the discomfort when Angela had told Moira she needed to enter her palm into the door access again, but it was short-lived when Angela repeated her same invitation: Come by any time. Please.

This time Moira listened, though “any time” turned out to be “very late,” to the point Angela was often already asleep when the hiss of the door would only barely rouse her. The first time she’d had the awareness to beckon Moira inside as she stood in the darkened doorway, uncertain. It had been well past midnight, and Moira whispered an apology for disturbing her as she slid into bed behind Angela. Perhaps Angela grew accustomed to it quickly, for the following nights she did not wake when Moira joined her.

With Moira’s early departures her presence might have gone completely unnoticed. The baby saw to that, however, and Angela found a bit of fun in her new game, trying to wriggle out of Moira’s grasp without waking her every time she had to make her way to the restroom in the dark of night. She was usually successful, though failure was far more satisfying, as Moira would welcome her back to bed with a sleepy smile and a warm embrace.

And so the days passed, much as they had been passing for Angela before. Days were hectic and productive; her back would ache a bit and her ankles would swell if she was on her feet too long, but she was busy enough with the new-hire paperwork for those who accepted their offers of employment. Her mornings and evenings, as usual, were somewhat lonely, but her nights were warmer and much more pleasant than ever before. It made it all wonderful in its own way, knowing that sooner or later the door would hiss open, that Moira would press her chest to Angela’s back and spread her long fingers over Angela’s stomach when she thought she hadn’t woken her.

Not that Angela didn’t want more, of course, and she made no effort to obfuscate it. By Thursday she’d realized she might not have a chance to talk about their day over dinner, a chance to wish Moira well when she left in the morning if she didn’t carve out the opportunity for herself.

aziegler.med1.zurich: It is recommended adults get 7-9 hours of sleep every night.

modeorain.rd3.zurich: I’m practicing for being up with the baby?

aziegler.med1.zurich: Very funny.
aziegler.med1.zurich: I’m tired of eating in the mess hall alone. Please come home tonight, I’ll make us dinner.

modeorain.rd3.zurich: Alright

The response was delayed, but affirmative nonetheless, and Angela clocked out on time for the first time in a very long while.

Given her penchant for late arrivals, Angela was surprised to find Moira already slouching at her table, reading glasses in place as she apparently studied a stack of print-outs before her. But as the door hissed open she was quickly to her feet, though she simply stood, seeming uncertain what to do.

“You’re here,” Angela was as much surprised as pleased, and she knew she sounded it, but she’d already pulled Moira down for a kiss by the time the door slid shut behind her.

“Ah, yes, I didn’t want to start anything big that might go late,” Moira explained, punctuating their kiss with a second, soft kiss on Angela’s forehead as she straightened, though she made no move to return to the table, “So I came up early instead. Is that alright?”

“I said any time.” Angela beamed. She brushed past Moira, nudging her back to her seat as she took the unclaimed chair with a grunt of discomfort. She pulled off her flats with an uncomfortable groan, and when she caught Moira still standing, looking on with a concerned frown, she waved her hand dismissively, “I’m fine, it’s perfectly normal. Sit. Talk to me.”

Moira settled back into her chair, and Angela wasted no time in leaning back, pushing her feet into Moira’s lap and wiggling her toes expectantly, kneading at Moira’s thighs with her heels.

Moira rolled her eyes, but her long fingers were already wrapped over the tops of Angela’s feet, the pads of her thumbs pressing roughly along the soles, and Angela winced slightly, “Not hard, the swelling makes them sore.”

“Sorry,” She was gentler then, and quiet when she asked “How was your day?”

“Good,” Angela smiled as she curled her toes, “Better now,” and Moira’s huff of laughter relieved the stress of the day far more than any attentions to Angela’s feet, “I’ve been trying to get the new hires sorted, and I’m preparing some information for Nora for the next appointment.”

“About working here?”

“Mmmm,” Angela nodded, “I’ll probably send her a bit of information beforehand so I don’t blindside her and put her on the spot, so I’m trying to get an information packet sorted out,” Angela pushed her heel into Moira’s thigh, “What about you? I thought Canada was over, what’s going on with all of these hours?”

Moira shrugged, and when she gestured with her head toward the stack of papers on the table her glasses slipped just a bit, “Canada’s finished, but I’m still working on my nucleotide problem. There’s some background literature on hyper-cytogenesis I have been meaning to get through that may help, but I don’t have high hopes.”

“Anything I can do to help?” Angela withdrew her feet from Moira’s lap with a grateful smile.

“I don’t think so. Other than the lit review, it’s just trial and error at this point.”

“What’s science without some experimenting?” Angela’s nonchalant tone didn’t come off as well as she anticipated when she mixed in the grunt from pushing herself to her feet. When Moira moved to stand too she waved her back into her seat, “Work, then, it will take me a while to get dinner anyway.”

“Anything I can do to help?” It was Moira’s turn to offer, but Angela refused in kind. The kitchenette was too small for the both of them, and she was simply happy to have Moira here. If she could convince Moira to spend more of her working time here, well, it was better than not being here at all.

And truthfully it was enjoyable. After her rest Angela’s feet didn’t hurt so much, and she was not attempting anything particularly lavish for an impromptu weeknight meal. Moira washed her hands in the bathroom to keep from being underfoot, then seemed to fall quickly back into her work. When Angela turned on the radio she looked toward Moira for any sign of protest, but her eyes only flicked briefly from the papers in hand, and oh how she did look so good in those glasses with her chin in her hand, leaning her lanky form over the table like that. Indeed, Angela didn’t mind a night like this at all.

“You should work up here more, in the evenings.”

Moira made a noise that approximated a ‘harrumph’ that Angela couldn’t quite translate

“What?” Angela grinned over her shoulder, “Don’t tell me you would rather be down in, what did you call them, the mines?”

Moira huffed a small laugh, “I like my office, thank you very much.”

“So do I,” Angela turned her attention back to the sizzling skillet, “But I don’t think I’d want to spend, what --12? 14?-- hours every day there by myself.”

“The mice keep me company,” Angela could hear Moira’s sardonic grin in her words, “Besides, I’m not always there. I go back to my quarters to shower and change.”

“Oh, sorry, 11 to 13 hours then.” Angela corrected herself, “You know, you can bring things here if you want.”

“What?”

“You know, clothes and toiletry stuff,” She was forcing herself to sound casual about it all as she fished two plates from the overhead cupboard, but in truth she was too anxious to even turn to catch Moira’s reaction, “If you want to bring some things here so you don’t have to go so early in the mornings, you should.”

It was a delayed “Alright,” spoken with a hint of anxiety, but it was an alright nonetheless, and when Angela turned to slide a filled plate of grilled chicken and risotto onto Moira’s side of the table she was gathering up her papers rather than looking toward Angela.

“You can keep working if you want,” Angela assured her as she fetched each of them a glass of water and cutlery, and when she returned to the table she had her own plate in one hand and a sheaf of papers in the other, a sheaf which she gestured toward Moira’s own work with, “Call it a working dinner.”

“You’re sure?” Moira looked on with trepidation as Angela dug into her own work.

“Mhmmm, though actually I do need your attention for a minute.” This was the perfect time, actually, and she had been putting this off for far too long. But now, now she finally felt perhaps they could handle this without tripping over their words and thoughts, trying to dance around issues only recently brought to light. She pulled out the application and a pen, “They haven’t got the database set up so Vesta applications are hard copy for now,” Angela explained the antiquated forms, “And we should get this in before the new applicants flood in.”

“Officers don’t get first pick?” Moira smirked.

“Oh, we do,” Angela grinned right back, “But we need to hurry if we’re going to beat Lena and Emily to a corner unit,” She pushed her plate to the side while the food cooled and twirled the pen in her fingers, “What’s your EIN?”

Moira was silent, and when Angela looked expectantly toward her she was chewing slowly at a mouthful of food. When she finally swallowed it she simply blinked at Angela, “You want to put me on the application?”

Angela was torn between upset and confused, and she furrowed her brow, “You know any one the unit has to be on the application?”

Moira nodded, “Yes, but . . .”

“You don’t want to live with us?” Angela was certain it was more confusion in her voice as she finished once Moira had trailed off. True, Angela had been making an assumption, but she hadn’t often felt so secure in an assumption as she had in this one.

Moira’s immediate “Of course I do,” while anxiously said, put Angela somewhat at ease again, but she still looked on for an explanation, which Moira gave with a pained smile, “I just—It’s kind of official, isn’t it?”

Silence hung in the air as Angela fixed Moira with the most pointed stare she could manage. To be honest, Angela wasn’t upset. Moira had said she wanted to live at Vesta with her, with the both of them. Moira loved her, loved the both of them. That was enough for Angela, she saw quite quickly it was simply Moira being Moira that was at work here, and it was cute, in a way. But she wouldn’t let her out of it so easily. It wasn’t until a minute had passed by and Moira began to squirm uncomfortably under her gaze that Angela finally spoke, and she forced the amusement out of her voice in favor of manufactured irritation, “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize I was only casually six months pregnant with your child.”

That’s not what I meant—”

Angela was already laughing, which seemed to halt Moira’s protest, and Angela just shook her head, running a bare foot up Moira’s leg in what she hoped was a comforting gesture, “I know, I know,” She turned her attention back to the papers, poising the pen to write, “So, your EIN?”

Moira ran her hand through her hair, scratching at the back of her head, “000651.”

Angela scratched the numbers into the boxes next to her own, 000009, and continued scanning the document for unfilled lines, muttering half to herself, half to Moira s she did so, “Occupants, two adults, both Overwatch employees, one child. Officer in domicile, check. Disability accommodations, none. Let’s see . . . bedrooms,” She raised her eyes to Moira, who had returned to her meal but was looking on and simply bobbed her head and shrugged. Unhelpful. “Two.” Moira bobbed her head again, and Angela happily scratched the number in, “Oh, they’ll child-proof from the start. Check that off.”

“Can we have a dog?” came Moira’s earnest question as soon as she’d managed to swallow a mouthful of food.

Angela again looked to Moira, raising a brow much more than she raised her head, “You want a dog?”

Moira half-shrugged and her easy smile was all the more charming for the fact she hadn’t removed her glasses, “All little girls should have a dog to grow up with.”

“I didn’t have a dog.”

“And look how you turned out.” This time Angela’s head did shoot up, and she narrowed her eyes at Moira, who was smiling cheekily.

“And what’s that supposed to mean?” Angela found her manufactured outrage again, but she found Moira’s mirth too contagious for her tastes.

Moira gave a simple wave of her hand toward Angela, “You know. Unwed mother. Premarital sex. Homosexual activity.”

Rude.” Angela gave a harrumph and stuck her tongue out at Moira, “Did you have a dog?”

“Of course we had dogs,” Moira scoffed in mock offense.

And look at you.” Angela gestured similarly right back at Moira with her pen, “Unwed mother. Premarital sex. Homosexual activity.”

Moira scowled, her own eyes narrowing, “Are you saying that’s a bad thing?”

“Well, no, of course not,” Angela shifted, growing somewhat uncomfortable, “But you just sai—”

“Good,” Moira interrupted quickly, “Then we can get a dog.” She made an exaggerated point of picking up her stack of papers and turning her attention to them.

Ass,” Angela grumbled when Moira winked at her over the rim of her glasses, but they both were smiling as they focused once more on their given stacks of paper. “Besides,” Angela said as she double-checked the application, “I think we should probably make sure we can take care of the human being we’re getting before we sign up for a dog as well.”

“If you insist,” Moira acquiesced, and after a few bites of her meal and an appreciative ‘mmmm’ or two, she gestured toward the completed application that Angela had set aside in favor of her own meal, “It’s done then?”

Angela nodded, swallowing her own bite quickly, “Yes, did you want to see it?”

“No, I’m sure it’s fine,” Moira gestured dismissively, but her eyes lingered on the application a bit longer, “When are you going to turn it in?”

“Tomorrow, probably.”

“Oh.” Moira took the time to slowly chew and swallow another bite before finishing, “Are you sure?”

“We can’t all live here, Moira. You barely fit in my bed as it is.”

“I mean—If we’re both on the application. People are going to find out. About us.” She wasn’t as nervous as Angela might have expected, more explaining something she thought Angela might not have yet realized.

And Angela had realized it, but she took some time to think of it all the same. She’d recently found, of course, that the way she saw things could be wildly different from Moira’s perspective. She was virtually certain Moira wasn’t embarrassed or ashamed or her or the baby, and if that was the issue then Moira could just leave right now. Of course that wasn’t what Moira was concerned over. Something else, then.

“Are you worried about the tabloids?” Angela ventured, and when Moira’s shrug to make up for the mouth full of food blocking her response was neither confirmation nor dismissal Angela continued, “This is Overwatch business, they wouldn’t see it. And with the paper system and the rush of applications I don’t think anyone here will even see this for a few weeks at least.” She looked imploringly toward Moira, “And if you’re still worried, I can ask Ana to put it through the system herself?”

Moira shrugged again, but with her meal complete she could speak more freely. She pulled off her reading glasses and set them on the stack of papers, and she pinched at the bridge of her nose as she spoke, “It’s not so much that. It’s like you said when I came back from Canada, we’ll have to deal with people finding out sooner or later.”

Angela nodded. Had she said that? It sounded like something she would say. Moira back from Canada. Had it really been only, what, six weeks? Six weeks since she’d welcomed Moira back in the middle of the night? It seemed a lifetime ago now, with all that had happened.

“Then what’s wrong, Moira?”

Moira’s thumb and long middle finger drifted to her temples, and Angela thought it had more to do with hiding her eyes as she slouched back into her chair than any possible headache. Her voice was quiet, but determined, “Nothing’s wrong. I’m—It’s fine. It’s good. But . . . I’m not like you.” There was a brief pause, but as Angela opened her mouth to ask for clarification Moira gestured with her free hand toward nothing in particular, “Everyone here, they love you.”

“You think they don’t like you?” Angela frowned. It was true, of course, that Moira hadn’t smoothly assimilated into the Overwatch team, with significant thanks given to her reclusive nature. Hell, even Angela could remember how anxious she’d been when she first entered Moira’s lab, the day this all began. She was an intimidating figure in many ways, but certainly she didn’t feel disliked, did she?

“It’s not that, it’s just, well . . . we’re pretty different, aren’t we, Angela?” While she still sounded anxious, she fixed Angela with a nervous smile, “I’m not . . . a very public person. And you’re, well, you’re the type of person with newsreel footage and sleezy reporters following you around with cameras.”

“Does it make you uncomfortable?” Angela could understand it, and as the words left her mouth they sounded almost stupid. Do sleezy reporters following us around and snapping candids of us on our private dates make you uncomfortable? Of course it did, what a stupid question.

But Moira seemed to understand the real meaning of her question all the same, “I’m just—apprehensive, that’s all.” Moira’s hands had dropped below the table, and Angela could hear Moira pushing them along the fabric of her trousers, “People knowing or wanting to know about my personal life is not something I’ve really encountered before.” She laughed a bit, “Hiding in the basement has served me well.”

It was with an understanding smile that Angela skirted the table and settled sideways into Moira’s lap, and Moira wasted no time wrapping her long arms around her, though her expression was questioning. Angela simply pressed a kiss against her jaw, “If you want to wait for a while to get used to the idea, we can. But, like you said, sooner or later this baby is going to come out.”

Moira nodded with a chuckle, pressing Angela’s face against her neck; plums, tuberose, incense, and honey, “You can put the application in. I’ll just hide in the mines until it all blows over.”

Don’t you dare.” Angela grumbled, scowling into the crook of Moira’s neck, and she felt Moira’s laugh which was too quiet to hear.

Moira simply hummed as they lulled into a silence, the only sounds in Angela’s world Moira’s soft breathing and the sound of Moira’s thumb running slow, soft circles over space below Angela’s ear.

“Mmm, I have an idea,” Angela mused aloud. More of hint of a thought, really, but it had taken root and she couldn’t help but smile. But when Moira made a questioning noise Angela just shook her head, “Too early. I need to look into it more.”

“What are you planning?” Moira whispered with amusement in her voice.

“Nothing yet,” Angela sang back. Even if they had the opportunity, would Moira go for it? She should probably be sure before she took it up with Ana. “You want to hide until it all settles down, right? The news and the gossip and . . . whatever else might come?”

“Well, not exactly hide,” Moira slightly shifted beneath her, “It’s just that—”

“Easier, I know,” Angela shifted too, climbing to her knees to face Moira, and she smiled mischeviously as she passed her arms around Moira’s neck. She missed Moira’s glasses. “So how about we both go hide together?”

Moira cocked a brow questioningly, her arms seeming to encircle Angela on instinct alone.

“If people want to print a story about us, fine,” Angela explained, and though diving into the plan brought about a more serious tone she still had an air of conspiracy to her words, “We’ll do it on our terms, say exactly what we want to say how we want to say it.” She pressed her lips to Moira’s before dropping her tone low again, “And then we’ll go away together until everyone calms down.”

Moira gave an incredulous hmphf, “Press conference and run?”

“Not quite. I have some ideas,” Best not to bring it up until she was certain it would work, “But something that lets us get ahead of the rumors, at least. Then I think we’ll have earned a vacation, don’t you?”

Moira smiled, but her eyes held concern as she moved her hands back around to rest solidly against Angela’s belly between them, “Should you really be traveling though?”

She shook her head dismissively, “I don’t mean snorkeling in the Caribbean, just something small, something nearby. Just to get away from here for a while, until things have settled.”

“When?”

Angela sighed, leaning back and relying on her arms around Moira’s neck to support her as she tried to visualize her workload, “We have appointments for the baby every other weekend until May, and I can’t go right away. Now that we know who is going to be coming in in the fall we need to prepare new office spaces for the pediatrics clinic and that’s an entire headache waiting to happen.” Moira fixed her with a sympathetic smile as she passed her hands from Angela’s stomach and around her back, pulling Angela toward her again. “So probably the middle of March or sometime in April?”

Moira chewed at her lip a bit and seemed to consider, before nodding, “The end of March, then?”

“End of March, alright,” Angela confirmed, sealing the deal with a kiss she didn’t part from until after she’d risen to her feet, “I’ll look into our big reveal,” She winked at Moira, who rolled her eyes, “And let you know what I come up with.”

Angela was already gathering up their plates when Moira stood and prodded her lightly toward the chair, taking the plate from her hand in the process. Knowing protest would be fruitless, Angela forewent the chair in favor of the bench below the window, and it wasn’t until she’d fetched some pillows and a blanket and settled in to watch Moira finish cleaning up that she began to pout and whine, “Moiraaaa.”

“What?”

Moira was already chuckling, and Angela couldn’t help it either, but she did lace her voice with petulance as well as she could, “My back hurts.” It didn’t. But Moira didn’t need to know that.

“Oh, you poor thing,” Moira said with a laugh, and smiled over her shoulder, “Give me a minute.”

With a hum of satisfaction Angela settled back against her pillows to watch Moira, and she made no show of hiding it this time. Moira didn’t seem to mind, and as she dried her forearms she cocked her head to the kitchenette, “Want something to drink?”

Angela shook her head, holding her hand out toward Moira, “Later,” she explained as Moira joined her, “Right now I just want this.”

Chapter Text




“Enjoying the show?” Moira’s tone was one of disinterest as her eyes met Angela’s in the bathroom mirror, and Angela fought the instinct to back into her darkened living area on having been spotted.

“Yes, very much,” she grinned instead, not hesitating to lock eyes with Moira, and when Moira rolled her eyes Angela just hugged the doorframe that only half-hid her, and she didn’t move away.

Moira just sighed and continued about her task, but Angela caught the slightest hint of a smile as she bent over the tiny sink to rinse her face once more.

Angela wasn’t sure when Moira had come in, sometime after she’d fallen asleep, clearly. But she’d been here at least long enough to change into loose flannel sleep pants and a sleeveless shirt. She’d already been at the bathroom vanity for an unknown stretch of time when Angela stirred, more due to the ever-present need to use the bathroom than the square of light cast across the foot of the bed.

Finding it occupied, however, Angela had in fact been enjoying the show very much indeed. It made sense, of course. Most couldn’t look as Moira did at her age without taking deliberate care of their skin. Angela wasn’t surprised, just mesmerized, watching Moira run through a sequence of applications and removals of a variety of oils, creams, and masks. Moira would dip her fingers into some small tub of cream and spread it smoothly across her skin, leaning over the sink and pulling her lips inward as she did so, until her whole face was covered. As she let it set she would brush her teeth, floss, or fret at her hair until some bit of time had passed. An enjoyable show, absolutely.

She’d washed it all away twice since Angela had tucked herself just beyond the doorframe, only half of her face visible to Moira through the mirror. If the box of toiletries resting beside her were any indication, she was nearly done.

“I’m sorry if I woke you.” Moira said quietly as she lifted her clean face from the basin and patted the water away with a hand towel.

“You didn’t,” Angela hesitated, not wanting to interrupt as Moira had already grabbed for one of the final products still tucked into the box. But she did really have a need, “I, uh,” She pointed toward the toilet with her finger as her hand gripped the door frame, “I have to go.”

With a huff that seemed more from amusement than annoyance Moira straightened, capping the cream in her hand as she turned, “You should have said something.”

“I told you. I was enjoying the show,” Angela smiled cheekily, brushing her fingers along Moira’s leg as she passed by. Moira had wonderfully soft pajamas.  Moira grasped her shoulder lightly and nudged her into the small bathroom; her hands smelled of clay and acetic acid.

Angela had to reposition a few of the items Moira had set on the lid of the toilet seat, but she hoped she didn’t mess up any system she might have been using. She tried to make sure she remembered what was where just in case it was important. As she went about her business, hurrying as well as she could so as to not inconvenience Moira further, she did find time to cast her eyes toward the open closet doors where Moira’s box of toiletries had apparently been. It was nearly filled with Angela’s dresses, skirts, slacks, coats, and blouses, and all along the floor and a second tiered rack was a large collection of heels with a few flats, wedges, and mules here and there.

She would need to donate some things, she mused, to make more room for Moira, not to mention things the baby might need in the first few months before the move to Vesta. For now Moira had carved out a small section of the rack at the end, and a few pairs of long, dark slacks hung beside a small selection of Oxfords and a single hanger featuring several ties. They were easily Angela’s favorite pieces in her closet.

Washing her hands was delicate work given the myriad of products set precariously around the basin, but she managed well enough, and she hit the door release with her elbow as she dried her hands, careful to use a different towel than the one Moira had been using for her face.

Moira was caught mid-yawn, but stood from the foot of the bed and smiled as the light cut through the darkness once more, and they met at the doorway for what Angela presumed was meant to be a goodnight kiss. As Moira found her way back to the sink, however, Angela too retreated into the bathroom, settling to sit on the toilet seat cover. She met Moira’s frown with her own smile.

“The view is better here,” Angela explained. She leaned against the tank behind her and absent-mindedly ran a hand over her stomach. She was fairly certain Moira’s pants were made of the same soft, warm material as her sleep shirts. “You don’t mind, do you?”

“It’s not that interesting.” She smiled wryly, and what little bit of discomfort she had seemed to be easily pushed aside as turned back to the mirror. She was frowning as she once again uncapped a thick, white cream and smeared it smoothly across her nose and cheeks with two long fingers.

“I’ll be the judge of that,” Angela sang. Moira just ‘hmmm’-ed and continued about her work, which Angela was happy to quietly observe.

The weekend had been a good one. Moira had given her all of her love and attention, in several senses of the phrase, Saturday, but today they had not seen much of one another. Thankfully, Moira had stayed long enough for breakfast and a kiss goodbye, but not much more. She’d paid lip service to their tentatively-planned vacation and a need to get ahead in her work to make it feasible. It was fine, though, Angela had a few things of her own to do today.

“I had lunch with Ana today,” Angela ventured, unsure if Moira would be open to conversation during her task.

“Amari?” Moira didn’t look at her, but her curious tone wasn’t dissuading.

“Mmm, we talked about my plan,” Angela whispered conspiratorially, and that brought a smile from Moira which put little cracks into the thick layer of ointment near her lips, cracks which she promptly ran her fingers over once more as Angela continued, “She’s enthusiastic . . . if you’re alright with it?”

“I won’t know until you tell me what your plan is, will I?”

“Well,” Angela grinned, “I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Overwatch has a new family-friendly image they're pushing, they’re even opening a new housing complex this year.”

“Mmmm, I think I heard about it,” Moira drawled as she swished some sort of oil under each of her eyes and over her eyelids.

“You know who hasn’t heard?”

As Moira bent low to rinse the newest application off her face she spent the journey downward with her head turned toward Angela, just enough to roll her eyes, “Who?”

Angela waited until she’d finished running the water before responding, “Everyone else.” When Moira looked over the hand towel pressed to her face she seemed confused, “We know about it, and a lot of science and military professionals know about it, of course, from all the recruitment materials sent out. But the general population haven’t really seen this side of Overwatch yet.”

“Does it matter what the lay public think?” Moira seemed done with her routine, and she began carefully placing creams and oils into the box behind Angela.

Angela shrugged, “I suppose it depends on how you look at it. I, for one, rather like the idea of Overwatch being seen as something more than an international paramilitary organization. I prefer being an organization for scientific discovery, families, and peace, don’t you?”

Moira shrugged too, “It makes no difference to me.” She must have caught Angela’s frown, and she sighed as she turned a soft smile to Angela, leaning a hip against the sink as she crossed her arms over her chest, shrugging once more, “The way things are matters. What people want to think doesn’t.”

Angela pursed her lips, “What people think can affect the way things are, Moira.”

Moira seemed to think for a long minute, then took a deep breath ending in a long sigh, audible and even visible as her chest lifted and fell beneath her crossed arms, “Yes I suppose that’s true. I just haven’t really cared.” She grinned then, and it softened Angela’s mood somewhat, “A paycheck is a paycheck, isn’t it?”

Angela rolled her eyes, “Well some of us like to make sure people like Overwatch. It’s easier to recruit agents, reach peaceful resolutions, and to advocate for the disenfranchised when people trust and admire you.” Angela felt like she was lecturing, but it was a lecture worth giving.

“You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar?” Moira smirked, straightening and holding her hand invitingly toward Angela.

“Exactly,” Angela slipped her fingers against Moira’s palm and let her help her to her feet, but no further. Angela resituated herself against Moira with her arms around her waist and rested her chin on Moira’s sternum. When she looked up Moira looked back down with a soft smile, “And who better, then,” Angela had returned to her hushed, conspiratorial tone and her mischievous smile, “To put front and center on the general public promotional material than the sweetest spokeswoman Overwatch has ever had and her new family?”

Though she was batting her eyelashes more than a bit, Angela didn’t miss the flash of apprehension across Moira’s features. “Oh.”

“What’s wrong?” Angela frowned. She quite liked her plan, and Ana had seemed to like it just as much, if not more. It was perfect, really. A way to put the news out there without being overly conspicuous as an organized press release just for the baby would have been, and it also helped Overwatch. And in doing so, it helped Ana, and Angela couldn’t pretend she didn’t feel somewhat indebted to Ana for her assistance with the reporter.

Moira frowned down at her. She’d already wrapped her arms around Angela’s back, one hand brought up to run her fingers through Angela’s bed-mussed hair, and as she thought she passed her thumb in soft circles through it. “Nothing,” Moira’s voice was quiet, “It’s just . . . you weren’t kidding when you said big reveal, were you?”

“You can’t exactly go public privately, Moira,” Angela hummed.

“I know,” Moira smiled again, and pressed a kiss into Angela’s hair, “If this is how you want to do it.”

After some time examining Moira’s features, trying to search out the slightest hint of uncertainty or trepidation, insincerity or doubt, Angela came up with nothing. And so she smiled and grasped Moira tightly, pushing her belly into Moira. “And look,” she turned her face toward the mirror, “We make the perfect poster family, don’t we?”

Moira laughed when she turned to the mirror as well. They did, Angela thought, enjoying the reflection of the both of them. Even if it was in such an unromantic place as her cramped little bathroom, even if she'd been stricken with bed-head, and even though they decidedly weren't dressed for it, she thought that Ana was right, they did make a handsome couple. Moira seemed to think along the same lines, “Well I hope we won’t be in our pajamas in the promo.”

Haute couture?” Angela winked at Moira’s reflection in the mirror, and Moira laughed quietly as she pulled away, tugging Angela into the living area.

“Come on. I have it on good authority that adults need 7-9 hours of sleep, and we have the bore-monthly in the morning.”

“Mmmm, you’ll stay and we’ll go together?” Angela added hopefully as she rounded the bed, tucking herself back into the unmade side.

“Ah, no, I’m leaving early,” Moira sounded certain, but apologetic.

Moira had flicked the light off before pulling back the duvet on her own side, but Angela hoped she could still see her disapproving scowl in the moonlight falling through the skylight.

Perhaps she could, because her certainty didn’t waver but her apologetic tone increased as she inched her way across the bed to press against Angela’s side. As she settled against the pillow and against Angela she brushed a thumb across Angela’s cheek, “I just need to go change before the meeting, that’s all.”

“Isn’t that why you brought your things up?” Angela frowned. She wasn’t all that perturbed, she was just happy most nights found Moira in bed with her at all, but it was a mystery that Moira had brought up a selection of her things just that afternoon only to leave things she needed behind.

“Mmmm,” Moira hummed, closing her eyes, “Some of my things. Come on, go to sleep, you’ll forgive me tomorrow, I promise.”

“I’ve already forgiven you,” Angela insisted with a huff, “That doesn’t mean it makes sense.” She pushed her lips against Moira’s firmly, and for her part Moira didn’t open her eyes, but she was smiling when Angela rolled to a more comfortable position on her side and fell into her own comfortable sleep.

 


 

It was a perfectly adequate morning, though it would have been much better if Moira had stayed. All the same, Angela’s mornings were at least a bit better when she could inch over to the other side of the bed. Sometimes it was warm, most often it was cool, but when she pressed her face into the pillow and filled her world with softness and the scent of tuberose and plums she didn’t miss Moira quite so much. The only problem arose when it became far too difficult to get out of bed, or even worse, when she would fall back asleep.

But she’d done well enough today, and found she’d arrived earlier than most, early enough to fetch a muffin and cup of tea with honey from the side table and settle comfortably in her chair before others began to trickle in.

Lena didn’t so much trickle in as bounce, and in a flash she’d grabbed a doughnut and tea and found her seat beside Angela, “Hiya, Angie, how’s your weekend?”

“Good,” Angela smiled warmly, “Just spent it in, resting. And yours, Lena?”

“Ah, out for assignment, just got back, yeah?” Angela was never quite sure why most of Lena’s statements were in the form of questions, but she found it endearing more often than annoying. Lena shrugged, “Bright and breezy, though,” She brushed her hands together, sending doughnut crumbs across the table, which she didn’t seem to take notice of, “So when’s the do?”

“I’m sorry, what?” Angela was pretty sure this one was an actual question with how Lena turned expectantly to her.

“The shower, luv, it’s closer now, innit? We can start planning for real?”

“Oh, yes, I suppose we can, let me check when I have free days,” Angela had mostly ignored the group chat, and it had calmed down significantly anyway, likely due to a lack of date to plan around. She pulled out her own comm. Moira had agreed to the last week in March for the get-away, so sometime after that. The thought made Angela all the happier about their plan, that when the day of the shower did come there would be no question why Moira was invited, that the shower was for their daughter’s impending arrival, not Angela’s.

“Any Sunday in late April to mid-May should work, though probably not the last in May, in case the baby comes early,” Angela struggled to keep herself from saying ‘she,’ and wondered if they might want to reveal the baby’s sex as part of the big announcement or hold the surprise for others to wonder about until the baby was born.

It was possible Lena heard and registered what Angela had said, but Angela couldn’t be sure, as what greeted her when she looked up from her comm was not an attentive Lena. More of a slack-jawed, wide-eyed Lena with a splotch of pink filling the spots between her freckles. “Cor,” she whispered, probably to Angela though it seemed to be to no one in particular, “’dja look at that?”

Angela had already begun rotating her swivel armchair to whatever had caught Lena’s attention over her shoulder, and by the time she’d made her way around she knew she quite resembled Lena herself. She kept her mouth shut, granted, but she knew her face was far redder, and her visceral reaction ended in a strained squeak she was only just able to stifle.

Moira was blushing as well, from her nose to the very tips of her ears, though she wasn’t looking toward Lena and Angela with nearly the intensity they looked at her. In fact, she deliberately seemed to be avoiding looking at anyone, her expression one of pure determination as she strode around the long conference table. She hugged the outside of the room as she did so, though, and Angela couldn’t help but presume it was for her benefit, as it most definitely did give Angela ample time to take in the sight of Moira. The navy blue blazer and white blouse weren’t so out of the ordinary, if tailored a bit closer at the waist, and with the tie and vest it was really not all that different than Moira’s typical look, but the addition of the navy pencil skirt, falling just above the knee where it met with sheer white stockings was anything but ordinary. Extraordinary, Angela would even say.

She set her reader and folder of files in front of her chair, and Angela noted her brief glance in her direction. Angela would have flashed a supportive, appreciative smile, but she couldn’t. There was no wiping the giddy smile off her face even if she had the presence of mind to do so, and Moira’s ears were bright red as she cleared her throat and made her way to the refreshment table.

Angela shouldn’t stare, she really shouldn’t have stared. But some things were simply impossible. Besides, the refreshment table was behind Lena’s chair; clearly Angela’s sudden need to turn her chair back around to face Lena was simply to continue scheduling the shower.

Lena seemed to have regained her wits more easily than Angela, but she was no more interested in discussing the shower than Angela was, “She’s proper lush, ain’t she?” Lena breathed quietly, leaning earnestly toward Angela, “Never noticed before. Did you, Angie? Dr. O’Deorain’s fresh.”

Lush, fresh, and many other words Angela didn’t quite know the exact meaning to could be used to describe Moira, yes. She’d turned more than a few heads, Angela had noted as she turned her chair around to follow Moira’s prolonged journey around the room, though most people had had more decorum than Lena and Angela, and they simply raised an eyebrow or elbowed a neighbor only somewhat conspicuously before turning back to their readers. Angela wasn’t noticing anymore, she was too absorbed in wondering if the navy suede heels added seven or eight centimeters to Moira’s already impressive height. Angela guessed eight, and she fought the urge to go back to the refreshment table herself. With her tea and danish there was no excuse to return, and she didn’t know if she would be able to do much but whimper and grin at Moira at this point anyway.

“Oy, Angie,” Lena was continuing to whisper, and the distraction pulled Angela’s eyes away from Moira finally.

“W-what?” Angela quickly grabbed for her tea. She could only do so much about her smile, about the blush she still felt across her cheeks, but she could at least try to act more professionally.

Lena apparently was not so interested in professionalism, and she continued to lean across her arm rest toward Angela, whispering eagerly, “D’ya think she’s on the pull?”

Angela blinked, searching her mental English dictionary before giving up, “I don’t know what that means.”

“Y’know,” Lena grinned and cocked her head toward Moira’s empty chair in a way that she probably thought was subtle, “Do you think she’s trying to, ah,” It seemed that Lena was searching her own mental dictionary, ostensibly for the proper, professional way to put the term. She seemed to fail. “Lookin for a trade?” Lena looked for comprehension, and Angela sent her no such indication. Lena rolled her eyes and leaned closer, whispering excitedly, “Think she’s tryin to get shagged?”

Angela had been so sure she was losing her blush, but now she was sure it was back with a vengeance, and she drank from her mug to buy time to collect her thoughts. By the time she pulled the mug away she simply said calmly, “I don’t really know if we should speculate on that, Lena.”

“Just sayin, luv, probably doesn’t zhoosh up like that without a reason, does she? Know what I heard?” Lena whispered with a smile and a bite to her lower lip as though she couldn’t contain herself.

Angela really didn’t appreciate workplace gossip, and she typically tried to squash it whenever she could. But, well, if something were going around about Moira she should hear it, shouldn’t she? But she shouldn’t encourage this behavior, not at all. 

Lena, however, didn’t seem to need encouragement, as she continued on her own, “Kasem, he lives on her floor in the dorms. Says he keeps seeing her creepin back to her quarters at sunrise trying to be all quiet with her hair all messed up like she’s . . .  been out.” Lena wiggled her eyebrows at Angela.

Angela rolled her eyes, “Lena, it’s unbecoming of officers to engage in workplace gossip, you should tell Kasem to—“

Angela was at a loss for a professional way to say ‘keep his damn mouth shut and mind his own business,’ but it didn’t matter, as Jack had called the meeting to order and everyone was rushing back to their seats. Lena gave Angela an apologetic shrug before turning her attention to the front, while Angela’s attention was decidedly not on Jack. Moira’s typically long, smooth strides were hindered by the pencil skirt, but they were no less graceful, and she didn’t seem to struggle in the heels at all. If anything bothered Moira, it wasn’t the outfit itself.

Angela had been watching with interest, at least as well as she could without being too conspicuous. By the time Moira sunk into her chair with a polite nod of greeting toward Winston her blush had virtually vanished, and as she settled in with her attention turned toward Jack it seemed she’d looked nearly everywhere in the room but to Angela.

She wouldn’t escape Angela’s appreciation that easily, and Angela dipped into the pocket of her lab coat to fish out her comm again, careful to double check it was on silent and praying Moira’s was as well.

  

 

     aziegler.med1.zurich: Thank God there was a doctor on hand. Lena had a heart attack when you came in.

Angela cradled the comm in her lap as she sent off the message, her eyes drifting to Moira, who shortly fished into her blazer, bidden by some unheard vibration. As her attention shifted into her lap Angela caught the hitch in her shoulders of a repressed scoff.

  

 

     modeorain.rd3.zurich: I told you people would take notice.

     aziegler.med1.zurich: Of course they did. I certainly did.
     aziegler.med1.zurich: You look amazing.

Moira cleared her throat, as quietly as she could as to not interrupt Jack, and shuffled her paperwork around in her lap. With her face down and away Angela could only catch the hint of pink across Moira’s ears. Angela supposed she might be more keen on hiding her comm behind her own paperwork if her boss sat right next to her, but Lena certainly wouldn’t judge her for a bit of side conversation.

 

 

     modeorain.rd3.zurich: So you forgive me for leaving early?

     aziegler.med1.zurich: I told you I already forgave you, but yes, doubly forgiven.

Angela chewed her lip, uncertain. She really shouldn’t, especially in the middle of the bi-monthly, but since Moira walked in she’d been feeling things, and those things had been making her wonder things, too.

  

 

     aziegler.med1.zurich: Are you still wearing your usual underwear under your skirt?

Another hitch of Moira’s shoulders, but her ears were bright red this time, and it was clear she was trying very hard to keep her face mostly turned toward Jack as he summarized the events of the most recent away mission, ostensibly the one Lena had just returned from.

  

 

     modeorain.rd3.zurich: Hmmm. Who knows? It’s a mystery.

Angela looked up from her lap, her cheeks warm, and she narrowed her eyes toward Moira’s profile just in time for the taller woman to rotate her chair slightly, just enough to smirk at Angela and deliver the most infuriatingly enticing wink Angela had ever received.

  

 

     aziegler.med1.zurich: You’re the worst.

Angela had once again found herself unable to fight a grin, and she could tell Moira was fighting a similar battle, though she tried to keep her face turned to the front. She looked outrageously enthusiastic about the away mission, in fact.

  

 

     modeorain.rd3.zurich: If you keep being so mean you might never find out.

     aziegler.med1.zurich: Oh I’ll find out.

It was confusing to Angela that Moira still had her head down, nearly hiding her mischievous smile, and was clearly still writing out her response when Angela’s comm buzzed again.

  

 

     You have been added to Group Channel by aamari.cmd2.zurich.
     modeorain.rd3.zurich
has been added by aamari.cmd2.zurich.

          aamari.cmd2.zurich: On your own time, ladies.

     This Group Channel has been disbanded.

“Oh, I got that for ya, Angie,” Lena said quietly, her attention drawn by the clatter of Angela’s comm unit onto the floor between her feet.

“Ah, thanks, clumsy,” Angela whispered as she pushed her chair away to let Lena pick up the comm for her. As she did so she chanced a look first at Moira, who was looking thoroughly admonished as she sat tall, rigid, and bright red from her neck to her hair, and then to Ana, who was looking at neither of them but bouncing slightly with a silent chuckle.

Angela couldn’t help but grin as she inched her chair back toward the table. Oh, they would finish this on their own time, absolutely.

The bi-monthly seemed to drag on more than most, and Angela’s attention drifted in and out.

The most recent field operations had gone well. The skirt was long enough, she could be wearing boxer briefs.

Vesta was coming together nicely and should be finished soon. If they would hurry up and finish the meeting surely others could come together nicely and finish soon, too.  

The recruitment event had been a huge success and most openings had been filled. There was still an opening Angela was interested i--why were these meetings so goddamn long all of a sudden??

This was part of that little game she’d started, she was punishing Angela for calling her the worst, that had to be it. That’s why Moira was torturing her by striking up a conversation with Winston after the meeting rather than immediately making her way down to the privacy of her lab where Angela could shuffle after her and solve this mystery.

She would not escape. So as to be a bit less conspicuous, Angela found her way to one of the chairs in the small alcove near the lifts to wait it out. A few people stopped to ask her how she was doing and to inquire about the due date, the sex of the baby, and all the other questions Angela had grown accustomed to. Perhaps most would be put to rest by the promo, but for now Angela just gave her usual answers. Early June, I’m not telling anyone yet, oh no I’m fine right here, my feet just hurt a bit, I’ll be fine once I’ve sat a while, thank you.

Most of the officers had made their way to their offices here or on the floors below by the time Angela found herself singing “Hold the lift” after the tall, leggy figure that had swooped around the corner without taking notice of her.

“What floor?” Moira smiled wryly as Angela shuffled into the lift to stand beside her.

“Sub-basement 2, please.” Angela leaned against the bar at the back of the lift as Moira pressed the button for her lab.

“Have a lot of work to do down there, do you, Dr. Ziegler?”

“Mmmmmm,” Angela hummed happily as the doors closed and the lift lurched into motion. Good, no one else had gotten on with them. As Moira joined her at the back of the lift she leaned against her side, and Moira’s arm was light across her shoulders. She turned a bright smile toward Moira, “You do look really wonderful, Moira.”

“I’m glad we agree,” Moira smirked, and Angela couldn’t help but laugh.

“I see the skirt comes with built-in brazenness,” Angela grinned. She was curious how much of it had to do with the skirt. She didn’t think very much at all. To be honest, while she still found her ways to fluster Moira in that perfect way she loved, she’d enjoyed the fact that Moira seemed more forthcoming and less likely to withdraw over the past weeks. Cheeky, even. Assurance and security worked well for Moira. For both of them. “Not quite fair though, is it?” Angela pouted.

“Hmmm?”

Angela scuffed her flat along the lift’s tightly carpeted floor, “For safety’s sake I’m stuck wearing these flats, and it was bad enough before, but now you’re in heels and I can’t even see you from all the way down here.”

“Hm, poor thing,” Moira crooned, stooping low to brush a kiss across Angela’s cheek. Angela tilted her head to allow it, but she still pouted until Moira hummed, “Better?”

“I guess,” Angela took the opportunity to slide a finger beneath Moira’s tie, careful not to pull it from beneath her vest, and held her in place to return the kiss.

As the lift dinged open on the familiar, quiet hall of the sub-basement Moira motioned Angela ahead, following behind her with a strong hand at the small of Angela’s back but a teasing tone, “Don’t you have a department to be running somewhere around here?”

“Mmmm, they’ll manage,” Angela hummed, though Moira was right, Angela should probably curb her absences if she intended to rationalize a vacation. But that was an issue for another day. Today Angela had a mystery to solve.

Moira’s hand left Angela to lay across the door pad, and when the door slid open with a hiss the air was laced with the scent of formaldehyde and something fruity Angela couldn’t place. It was a somewhat nauseating juxtaposition, but not so strong as to be a problem, and she only scrunched her nose and huffed.

“You should have been here before the weekend let it dissipate,” Moira commiserated with a wince, “It gets pretty bad.”

Angela was curious what Moira was up to, but she was far too curious about other things to ask just now, and she breezed past the lab benches with a variety of debris and supplies strewn across them as Moira followed toward her office.

While the lab itself was traversable thanks to the dim emergency lighting, Angela let Moira enter the darkened office ahead of her. After a clatter and the rustle of fabric Moira set about turning on a few small lamps, showing she’d discarded her reader, files, and her blazer on the desk. She turned to sit against her desk, holding her hand to Angela in invitation.

“You know,” Angela teased as she stepped forward, shucking her own coat onto the couch as she passed it, “Lena thinks you’re trying to pick someone up.”

“Is it working?” Moira took Angela’s hand and tugged her lightly toward her, but frowned as Angela’s path to rest between her legs was halted by the skirt. She scowled downward, “Mmmm, I forgot about that.”

“I think we can find a solution,” Angela sang quietly as she focused her attention on delicately pulling Moira’s skirt up, revealing that the white stockings were, indeed, hold ups, and they went well with the white satin panties. Angela turned a self-satisfied grin to Moira and managed a “Ah ha,” before Moira wrapped her fingers around Angela’s hips to pull her close.

Angela’s choice of a much looser skirt made it a simple matter for Moira to work her somewhat-bared thigh between Angela’s legs, and Angela pressed her body against Moira’s as they met in a voracious kiss, neither chaste nor soft. Between them Angela managed to work her hands to knead at Moira’s breasts through her clothing, and despite the impeding vest she was able to pull an appreciative murmur from Moira, who pressed her thigh roughly against Angela in response.

The absolute boredom of the meeting had made it far too easy for Angela’s mind to wander ahead of her, down to this office, to this moment, and she was not looking to hold back any longer than she must. She only prayed Moira found herself similarly readied, and when Angela dropped a hand to run her fingertips roughly against white satin she found her prayers answered by warmth, wetness, and a surprised groan and thrust from Moira.

Not one to be outdone, Moira brought one of her own hands to work its way under Angela’s skirt, and when Angela batted her hand away she pulled back with a blink of confusion, her tone as annoyed and insistent as much as it was lustful and teasing, “I don’t have a lot of time for this today, Angela . . .”

“Hmmmm,” Angela hummed with a placating grin as she shifted her hands again, hooking an arm around Moira’s waist to coax her up off the desk just enough to pull at her panties with the other hand, pushing them far enough down to let them fall around Moira’s heels of their own accord, “Then it’s good you said you’d be fast, isn’t it?”

She held a hand out for Moira to take, “Help me down?”

Moira seemed uncertain, “I- I thought you didn’t want to?” she breathed with trepidation, but from the way her lips remained parted and the earnestness with which her hand found Angela’s showed she wouldn’t be protesting much.

With Moira’s hand to steady her Angela found her way to her knees, worrying more about doing so safely than assuaging Moira’s concerns. It wasn’t until she’d comfortably situated herself between Moira’s legs, somewhat splayed to either side, that she smiled up at her, “What I want is to do this for you,” she rested her head where Moira’s stocking gave way to a pale thigh, hooking a hand around each of Moira’s knees, “Unless you don’t want me to?”

“Uh, n-no, please, if you want,” were Moira’s intelligible words that trailed into a series of other small sounds as she fussed at her skirt to be sure it wouldn’t fall back into Angela’s way, and when she eventually cleared her throat and spread her legs wider for Angela there was a distinct redness moving from nose to ear across her face, but she looked far more interested than embarrassed.

Even leaning heavily against her desk Moira seemed to tower over Angela where she kneeled, pressing small, soft kisses up the inside of Moira’s thigh. She’d have liked to spend more time here, enjoying the rare experience of Moira in hold up stockings, enjoying making Moira wait and watching her chest rise and fall, but neither had the time. It proved to be no problem; by the time Angela had finished her short journey to feel hot, damp curls pressing against her cheek there was no question Moira’s mind had been here long before they’d actually arrived.

Tentatively, as much to prepare herself as to prepare Moira, Angela passed the tip of her tongue lightly along where the red curls parted and the heat was strongest, and Moira groaned low in her throat, punctuated by a hiss as Angela dipped her tongue just enough to brush across Moira’s clit.

“Okay?” Angela smiled sweetly toward Moira, who was looking on with keen interest, and Moira gave an earnest nod in reply.

“Yes, please keep going, Angela,” she breathed, and Angela was fairly certain Moira hadn’t blinked since she’d lowered herself to the floor, but now she did look away with some sheepishness, “I, ah, it won’t take long.”

When Angela hummed before sliding her tongue back down the way it had come Moira’s eyes snapped back to her, and Angela held her gaze as she pushed her face against Moira. The curly red hairs tickled her nose and pressed against her cheeks, but she fought the urge to pull away, and instead she passed her tongue across Moira’s entrance once, twice, and thrice before pushing the tip of her tongue inside and earning another groan, this one louder and more urgent, from Moira for her efforts. Perhaps it was her tongue, or perhaps it was the way that her nose pressed so close to Moira’s clit, but Moira was already trembling slightly, and her breath was coming shaky and shallow.

Angela had already delighted in finding out how sensitive Moira tended to be, and while she had engaged in some good-natured teasing that had brought a sheepish laugh or two from Moira, in truth Angela found that it was some special brand of arousing, empowering, and intoxicating to see just how quickly and completely Moira would come undone for her. With a quiet laugh she trailed her fingers from Moira’s knee, up over soft stockings and softer skin, to replace her tongue, pushing two fingers slowly into Moira while her tongue made a slow, strong journey along Moira’s soft, slick folds to her clit.

Moira wasn’t so loud like this. When she wore the strap-on, when she took Angela hard and fast, when she held her and fucked her rough and deep, it was as much her groans, her moans, and her ragged breathing that would do Angela in as it was her actions, but like this Moira was quiet. Rough breaths were soft whimpers, loud groans gave way to quiet moans, and Moira’s strong, possessive grip was replaced by timid hands at the nape of Angela’s neck, light fingers where her hair was pulled back.

Angela was thankful Moira didn’t seem the type to pull her roughly to her; even without anything shoved down her throat Angela had often gagged at the sensation of being held so tightly against a lover, but Moira’s hands were not so insistent as they were deferential, a light touch, encouraging but not demanding.

Her hips, on the other hand, rocked lightly against Angela each time she pushed her fingers into her and pulled a small whimper from Moira’s lips. What brought each reaction was a fun new mystery, quickly solved: Each whimper was brought by Angela’s fingers, but every quiet moan was a response to Angela’s lips sucking softly at Moira’s clit, and by the time Angela found a rhythm that brought music to her ears Moira’s breaths were fast and shaky, “Angela,” she groaned quietly, her eyes unfocused but all the same never leaving Angela, “I-I can’t—I’m gonna . . .”

As Moira trailed off Angela pulled away but a centimeter, “What?” She whispered quietly, passing her lower lip between her teeth, “Are you going to cum for me, Moira?”

She was already suckling enthusiastically at Moira’s clit again by the time Moira found it in herself to give a gasp and an earnest, voiceless nod, and Angela just chuckled against her.

Angela pushed the tip of her tongue roughly across Moira’s clit, and if it distorted her “Good,” it didn’t seem to bother Moira, who finally found her voice to groan loudly. Her hands dropped suddenly to grip Angela’s shoulders tightly, and the light thrusting of her hips gave way to erratic jerks against Angela’s lips that were difficult to follow, but entirely welcome to Angela. She felt the trembling of Moira’s thighs against her cheeks, felt Moira tighten around her fingers, and with a violent thrust of her hips which would have sent Angela falling over if not for Moira’s hands at her shoulders, Moira did just as she promised.

Different rhythms all around, each of them slowing. The clenching around Angela’s stilled, slick fingers, the erratic, soft trembling of Moira’s legs, Moira’s ragged, quiet breaths. Each a different rhythm, all perfect.

Angela settled onto her heels, rubbing her mouth along Moira’s bare thigh, an act which earned her a breathy laugh from Moira. Angela just smiled, holding up her hand which glistened in the dim light, “Help me up?”

“I don’t know,” Moira probably wanted to sound teasing, or perhaps seductive, but her trembling legs and shaky voice did her no favors in such an endeavor. She was just too cute, even as she whispered, “I think you look good down there.” She was already gripping Angela’s hand and pulling her firmly back to her feet, and as soon as she’d straightened Moira pulled Angela against her tightly.

Angela tucked her head into the crook of Moira’s flushed neck with a laugh, and she hoped her skirt wasn’t getting dirty as she pressed between Moira’s legs. “Good, then?” she whispered quietly. To say she lacked practice would be an understatement, but things seemed to have gone well.

“You’re perfect,” Moira breathed before placing a firm kiss across her temple. They stayed for only a few moments before Moira whispered again, “Get on the couch,” and prodded Angela toward it.

“Mmmm,” Angela pulled away and batted again at Moira’s hands, and once again she was met with a look of confusion. Angela shook her head with an apologetic smile, “I have a department to be running somewhere around here.” With Moira still settled onto the desk it was a simple task, despite the heels, to meet Moira’s lips for a kiss.

“Are you sure?” Moira pulled her back against her, and this time her efforts to sound seductive were much more successful as she sang softly, “I bet it won’t take long. I’m very good, you know.”

“I know you are,” Angela hummed, placing another apologetic kiss across Moira’s lips, and she did remember learning this lesson a few times over the recent weekend, “And you’ll just have to remind me later. When you come home on time.”

Moira smirked with a small chuckle, but nodded.

“Did you, um, bring the strap-on up?” Angela asked curiously. While both had expressed they enjoyed it, neither had seemed eager to discuss it since. She'd wanted to wait a while, to give them time to settle in with one another, to be sure that Moira knew absolutely that Angela wanted her and not something or someone else. But oh how she missed when Moira would wear it, and the unsated ache within her could really use such attention. 

Moira nodded, “It’s in the nightstand on—on the side of the bed I sleep on.”

“Your side of the bed?” Angela offered a correction, and Moira smiled.

“Yes, there.”

“Good,” Angela adopted a chipper tone and kissed Moira’s cheek once more before finally pulling away again to fetch her lab coat from the couch, “Just curious, you know.”

“Of course, curiosity,” Moira was pulling her panties back up her long legs, and Angela wondered if in fact she could spare some more time out of her busy day.  She shook her head, there would be time enough tonight. She did have enough time to stare, however, and by the time she realized she’d been doing so, Moira had smoothed her skirt back down and stepped forward, “Have a good day,” she said softly as she pressed a kiss to the top of Angela’s head, her hands splayed across Angela’s protruding stomach.

“You too, I love you,” Angela craned her neck to insist on a kiss, which she received promptly.

“I love you,” Moira’s smile was more of a smirk than the warm, loving smile Angela expected, and when she cocked a brow Moira just laughed, “You might want to, uh, check your makeup before heading back up.”

Chapter Text

“Is this going to be a normal thing?” Moira leaned to ask Angela quietly. When she was met with a look of confusion she shifted with discomfort and her eyes darted briefly to Sevan, whose small smile indicated they had noticed, but they were professional enough to pretend they did not.

Angela grinned and leaned in, and she too was professional enough to give no response to the click of Sevan’s shutter, “That’s the point of the tour, Moira, it’s a photo op for the campaign.”

“I know,” Moira defended herself quickly, and her voice was quiet desperation, “I mean after today, once the baby’s born, photographers and all, they’re not going to always be . . . around, are they?”

Angela shook her head with an understanding smile, “No, once all the salacious rumors about the baby are put to rest with all this,” Angela didn’t bother trying to hide her gesture toward Sevan, and again Sevan did not react. Fly on the wall, as they had promised after the introductions had been made. “I don’t think the public will find it interesting enough to sell papers. That’s my hope with it all, anyway,” She let her hand drop from Moira’s arm to lace their fingers together, “Don’t worry, our fifteen minutes of fame will be over when everyone realizes Mercy’s a paper-pushing administrator with an entirely-not-scandalous family now.”

Moira gave a nod of acceptance, and they rode in silence for only a few moments before she cocked her head to the side, “Do you miss it?”

“Miss what?”

“You know, being in the field, in all the newsreels.”

Angela gave a slight shrug, but thought for a while before responding, watching Vesta Complex grow larger as the little transport whirred along the large open tarmac from the main campus. The day was positively beautiful, one might even say warm, and with the speed of the little electric cars it may have been just as quick to walk. With Angela’s state it was a more comfortable ride, even if it wasn’t much faster. And the rear seats facing one another let Sevan snap photos, which seemed to put Moira more on edge than it did Angela.

“Some days I miss it,” Angela finally determined, continuing wistfully, “It was exciting, and the good we were doing was very tangible. It was simple to see if you’d saved a life, defended a target, protected a location,” She sighed quietly, “It’s hard to feel like you’re helping people when you’re managing budgets and personnel reports. Once the baby’s born, when I come back to work, I can go back into surgery, at least.”

“And you still have your nanite research?” Moira offered as the shuttle zipped into a space near the front door of what was to be Vesta’s main building, though the windows were covered in brown paper and tape, and the sliding doors were stuck in the open position, likely non-functioning at this point.

Angela shook her head as Moira helped her from the transport, “I’ve been hesitant to start anything substantial since I’ll be going on leave soon,” She explained, running a hand over her belly as she fell into place at Moira’s side, “Besides, I’ll have someone who I can help all day every day soon enough. I’m more excited for that.” Once Sevan had fished their camera bags and other equipment from the floor of the carriage the trio made their way inside.

It was dim, only the light from the open sliding doors filled the entryway, though Angela saw the potential. They walked across something akin to cardboard through which she could see patches of elegant marble tiling it protected. Wiring for lighting fixtures stuck from holes in the walls and hung from the ceiling of the comfortable foyer, and Angela could picture how wonderful it would look once the paper was removed from the bay windows.

She peered down the long, dark corridor ahead of them then, and twisted at her hips as much to stretch as to look around. “Ana said that someone would be here to show us one of the completed units they used for the tours.” She chuckled nervously with an afterthought, “I hope we weren’t supposed to pick them up at the main building.”

No sooner had she said it that the echo of hasty footfalls on stairs sounded from somewhere deeper in the building, amplified by the empty corridors and surrounding silence. With an ear-splitting shriek a door near the lifts, open, dark, and empty, was eventually pulled open, and a woman Angela recognized as the forewoman of the project emerged, wheezing slightly as she looked back toward the door hinge, “Another for the list, that one.” She smiled as she stepped toward the group, holding a hand out to no one in particular, a hand which Moira shook, “Hello, sorry, lost track of time. Hi, hey, how ya doin,” She nodded to each of the three, still catching her breath, “Katja Bosch, at yer service and all that, alright, let’s go then.”

She’d already strode between the three by the time Angela opened her mouth and offered her hand in introduction, a hand she promptly lowered, unshaken. Angela shared a bemused look with Moira before they fell into step behind the woman. She’d not spoken with Katja personally after any of her reports at the bi-monthlies, but Angela recalled feeling breathless simply listening to her speak. She reminded her of how Lena could be at times; just as cheerful but somehow even more rushed.

“. . . finished mosta the top floor units, furniture and all, in time for the big show last month,” Katja was saying to no one in particular as she hustled along in front of them, “Back in the back building, view of the town’s nice and pretty, figure all the fancy brass’ll end up there, won’t they? Course they will, anyhow, I just build it, ain’t my business, small units’re nice too though, not gonna lie, the boys and I hole up in some of em instead of goin home some ni—”

Slow down,” Moira barked with more umbrage than she probably intended, as she looked immediately apologetic, and when Katja slowed and turned Moira was quieter. She gestured to Angela, who had been keeping up as best she could, but the three were quickly falling further behind, “Dr. Ziegler can’t keep up.”

Angela grimaced, half in apology for her waddling pace, half in displeasure at hearing Moira refer to her as Dr. Ziegler today of all days. Besides, it’s not like she was the only one struggling, she’d heard Sevan huffing and puffing along beside her, heard the thwap thwap thwap of camera bags jostled about.

“Right, got it, sorry,” Katja immediately began again, though she continued to face them. Angela imagined if she weren’t walking backwards she would have immediately returned to her original pace, “Anyway, like I was saying, great little places, these’ll be. Think you’ll be real happy. Anyway, the Commander just said show ya to one of the units, let ya poke around a bit, take a few pics?” Angela nodded. “Alright then, probly just gonna drop you at the, ah, Commander said you wanted to see a corner unit, didn’t ya? Yeah, we got one of them all set up already, nice one too, wouldn’t mind movin in with ya if yer lookin for a roomie,” Katja laughed and winked toward the group as a whole, and gestured around as they passed, “Right, so, you’ve seen all the plans, yeah? Recognize you from when I gotta run up and tell y’all we’re getting our work done, can’t really miss ya, can I? How tall are ya, nearly 2 meters? Yeah, look about 2. Hey, ain’t no reason to look like that, ain’t nothin wrong with that, hell, ya ever need a job you can come wire the overheads for us.”

Moira looked much less amused than Katja, but when Angela clumsily leaned against her for a moment she didn’t seem too put off by the whole thing.

“So, courtyard’s here, gonna be some fountain or something, trees and such, seen the draw-ups for the landscapers but obvious ain’t brought any of that in yet so we can get all our stuff in and out without trampin on all the little flowers and all, tearin up the grass, but yeah, courtyard out there tween the buildings, was gonna do an outdoor pool but ground here’s absolute shit for it, top of a mountain and all, so just put it on the roof a that one instead, ‘ll look real nice once it’s done though, figure. Right, up in here then, watch yer step, ain’t got the handrails put in yet.”

The rear building was further along than the others. The windows were similarly papered but when they approached the entrance the glass doors slid open, and the foyer was well lit by sconce features around the perimeter and a striking, contemporary-style chandelier hanging in the center of the vestibule.

“Lifts this way,” Katja was already breezing her way through the entry, and Angela opened her mouth to protest, but it was Sevan who handled it for her.

“Uh, sorry, Foreperson Bosch?” Sevan piped up, polite but insistent, “I’m not sure if Commander Amari told you what we’re doing here today, but I’m supposed to be taking a lot of photographs of these two around the building. You know, for promotional material. Could you hold on for a moment?” Sevan smiled sweetly, and Angela knew deliberate flattery when she saw it, “You’ve done such a nice job with this foyer, it would make for a great location for some shots.”

Katja looked around the foyer as though seeing it for the first time, then gave such an animated shrug that her palms make slapping sounds when they fell against her thighs, “I guess. Do . . . whatever it is you’re doin. You know, doesn’t make much sense, does it, though? Buncha people already came through, scuffin up the floors and getting fingerprints on all the fixtures, oohin and aahin, why they making more advertisements? Ain’t it pretty full already?”

Sevan spent only a brief moment inviting Moira and Angela to look around, act natural, and many other tips that Moira seemed too out of her element to follow properly, and soon the incessant click of the shutter filled the silence. To answer Katja’s question, as well as to hopefully help Moira feel a bit more comfortable, Angela explained as best she could.

“It’s not really about filling the units or recruitment anymore, now it’s about . . . appearances?” The idea of it made sense to Angela, and she was quite happy it was all working out. Still, it felt a little silly explaining to others that the cameraperson circling conspicuously around her and Moira as they stood under the chandelier looking around was tasked with selling a family-friendly image, courtesy of Angela’s obvious pregnancy; that the goal of this tour was less for them to see the housing unit and more to collect photographs of them together. In a family way. Angela had snorted when the description first occurred to her. Perfect on more than one count.

“Got it, got it, next generation o heroes and all that Overwatch stuff, don’t know why they didn’t just take a bunch of photos last month then,” Katja mused, more thoughtful than griping, and she began to lean against a wall before quickly standing straight and examining the pristine wall for any dirt or grime left from her brief brush.

Angela frowned, and she turned this idea over in her head while Sevan continued to snap photos and explain that they would have needed to acquire waivers and rights from every person in any photo and so it was easier to use current employees for this sort of thing.

The world could always use more heroes, yes, she of course agreed. But never had she considered Vesta a recruitment tool for the generations to come. But in a way, wasn’t it? The children reared in Vesta would be the first generation of Overwatch children, their daughter would be the first of that generation, really, the first child of Overwatch. Had Ana thought of that? Was that what the byline would say?

Her mind was filled with memories of operations gone wrong, field agents torn up on her operating table, gunfire and explosions. The world needed more heroes, but she’d done her time, braved enough battles for herself and the baby. She would support her, encourage her, help her no matter what she wanted to do, of course, but that didn’t mean a mother couldn’t worry. To think of the baby some day –

“Ah, mind smiling a bit more, Dr. Ziegler?” Sevan coaxed politely, and Angela apologized quietly before willing herself to smile again.

“Is something wrong?” It was Moira’s turn to frown, and when Sevan made a small noise Moira, too, adopted a smile that didn’t quite hide her concern.

Angela shook her head, “Everything’s fine. I just was thinking about the baby.”  When Moira gave a curious, questioning sound Angela simply whispered, “I . . . what if she wants to be a soldier?”

Moira regarded her for a moment before shrugging, “I think that’s something we won’t have to worry about for a long time. Besides,” Moira seemed suddenly uncomfortable, and her eyes darted in the general direction of the clicking camera and the forewoman idly wiping scuffs off the tiles. She sighed then, and pulled Angela close to press a kiss to the top of her head, whispering quietly, “If that’s what she wants to do, you know she'll have us here, and so many other people out there watching out for her, she won’t even get scratched.”

Angela had to laugh, she knew it was true, and she thought again of Brigitte’s desire to transfer to the field, and Reinhardt there to look after her. And Moira was right, it was something they would not have to deal with for many years. Angela made a mental note to ask Ana how she felt over Fareeha’s life choices, but she forced the other worries from her mind.

“Come on,” Angela stepped back, but kept an arm wrapped around Moira’s waist, “I’m sure Katja has more important things to do than stand around while we get a bunch of pictures taken.”

“Ah, no worries bout that,” Katja said cheerfully, though she was already making her way toward the lifts as everyone fell into step behind her, “Got plenty o time for you folks, plus just gonna drop ya off at the show unit and get back to work, if that’s alright with y’all. Figure don’t need me to tell ya what a bedroom looks like or how a toilet works, yeah?” She held her arm out to keep the door from closing as the group piled into the lift, and was still rambling as she pressed the button marked 8, “Granted, don’t mind stickin around if y’all want me to or got any questions, could always use a break, specially one on the clock,” She laughed loudly as she elbowed Sevan, who chuckled but didn’t pull their eyes from the display on their camera as they fiddled with some settings, “So, what, ya get paid to just follow people round and take photos of em?”

“Uh, yes, but there’s more to it than that,” Sevan seemed taken aback by the question, and blinked a few times toward Katja before motioning to Angela and Moira, “Sorry, I’m just here to take photos, I’m not really supposed to, you know, talk.”

“Weird.”

“Is it?”

“We don’t really mind,” Angela assured the two others, “I mean, not a lot of photo ops in the lift anyway, right?”

Honestly Angela was happy to have the attention shifted from the two of them, and Moira seemed even more pleased. As Katja continued fast-paced chit-chat with Sevan, Angela felt Moira’s shoulders fall a bit as she finally relaxed somewhat. Sevan seemed nervous, but cordial, and with the two thoroughly distracted Angela pressed against Moira’s side.

“Thank you for doing this,” Angela smiled up at her. Moira didn’t seem miserable, no, but nor did she seem comfortable.

Moira nodded, and her small smile seemed sincere as she spoke quietly, “Of course. I think you’re right, this is probably the best way to get it all done, all out there.”

Angela signaled her agreement with a quiet hum and a squeeze of Moira’s waist, “Just try to relax and forget the camera’s here. Think about when the baby’s here instead.” They both smiled then, and only turned away when the lift dinged quietly.

“Right, here it is then,” Somehow Katja was already out of the lift, and Angela wanted desperately to see her in a footrace with Lena some time. Katja was facing them, and pointing in various directions, “North side’s all done up with furniture and all that, south still needs some work, middle units here ain’t got the deck and windows but got a lot of skylights, but figure that’ll be good for all yer daysleepers, y’all never really rest, do ya? Someone’s gotta be out there protecting folks like us though, guess. This way then,” Katja was already making a brisk pace northward, and though she’d faced ahead once more she moved more slowly as she pointed out various features, “We were gonna put hand scanners in like ya got up at the main building but figured y’all gonna have some tiny ones what can’t reach the scanners so all these little boxes top of the doors are little scanners just lookin right down for familiar faces, can program em just like your hand scans though. Angles all the way to the floor, figure you could even put a baby in the system if ya wanted, though why your baby’d be comin home alone I don’t wanna know. Doubles for security, not that there’s gonna be anyone watchin who comes and goes if ya don’t want, I expect, aint no one’s business, that’s my view on it, but I guess I don’t make the rules, just put in the tools, don’t I? Ah, here we go, corner unit.”

As Katja arrived at the doorway a small zip was heard, and Angela presumed the forewoman had been scanned, as the door ahead of her slid open.

“Backup generators for days downstairs, o’course, don’t worry bout getting locked in or out or anything. Anyway, here it is.” She gave another exaggerated shrug as she had downstairs, and Angela didn’t take her for much of a show woman in some regards.

Not that the unit needed much talking up. Accustomed to entering into her kitchen/living room/bedroom/study all at the same time, the existence of an actual living room into which they entered was almost surprising. It had been furnished and staged to look like a lived-in unit, though she imagined the bowl at the center of the coffee table sported fruit of a very plastic variety.  To the left, a full-sized kitchen with properly-sized appliances, something Angela hadn’t had in many years. Ahead, a door to a small deck which bordered the kitchen, and patio furniture and dishware had been set up as though they had interrupted a plastic-heavy brunch. The view, she could already tell via the large windows at the back of the living and dining area, looked to Overwatch HQ, and she felt momentarily sad that she would be leaving behind the quarters that had been her home for so many years. But she would have a new home here in Vesta, one more comfortable, one less lonely.

Katja continued to stand idly near the door after it had slid shut, and Sevan had quickly begun to fiddle with their camera.

“Let’s look around?” Angela asked Moira, who had not left her side and was simply regarding the living room as well. She’d have broken off alone and let Moira explore whatever interested her, but as the goal was to have photographs taken together, they’d be touring in such a state as well. She cocked her head to the hall leading to the right, and Moira nodded and motioned for her to go ahead.

It was a simple floorplan, the hall was short with only three options: To the right a bathroom, to the left a small bedroom, and ahead the large master suite. Lacing her fingers with Moira’s, Angela stepped into the smaller bedroom. Small in a sense, though to Angela’s memory it wasn’t much smaller than Moira’s living area in the agent dormitory. The staging had been set up to be the room of a younger child, and though this furniture would need to be replaced with a cot and changing table, Angela found she was more emotional over the sight of a racecar bed than she ever imagined she would be.

“Mmmm, Moira, look at the tiny bed,” she crooned, pulling Moira to her.

Moira nodded, and her “Yes, yes, I see it,” sounded exasperated, but Angela saw the wide grin, felt the affectionate squeeze of her hand. Apparently finding some level of comfort, Moira situated herself against Angela’s back, wrapping her long arms around Angela’s chest and leaning to whisper quietly as she pointed, “The way I see it we get rid of the bed and get one of those nice cots from the store by the doctor’s,” She pointed throughout the room as she spoke, turning the rotation of their bodies into a sort of sway that brought to mind quiet music and softly glowing beakers and flasks, “A table for all the things the baby needs there, and a rocking chair here.”

“A rocking chair?” Angela mused, finding the idea quaint and irresistible.

“Or an arm chair, whatever you want,” Moira pressed a kiss into her hair, “You’ll need somewhere comfortable to sit and feed the baby.”

That was true, of course it was. Somehow Angela felt embarrassed that she hadn’t thought of something the baby might need, but it simply made her thankful she had Moira to think of it for them, “There were a lot of babies in your family, weren’t there?”

She felt Moira nod against the top of her head, “My brothers were having kids when I was still in junior cycle. Ma was so excited to be getting grandchildren she had them over to the house any time they were willing, and since everyone just sort of stayed put they were always close.”

“Mmmm, I’m glad we have your expertise,” Angela hummed, and Moira laughed.

“Don’t rely on me, Ma was the one who wanted them over, I just let her take care of them. You probably know more about, well, everything than I do.”

“You knew about the rocking chair,” Angela pointed out, leaning back to press against Moira, who just kissed the top of her head once more. “Come on,” Angela snagged Moira’s hands to press her lips against one before pulling away, “Let’s see our room.”

It wasn’t until she’d turned she caught sight of Sevan, camera in hand, and she wondered how she’d missed the incessant clicking, “Oh, you are very good at this.”

Sevan just gave a quiet thumbs up and backed out of the way for them both to make their way into the master suite.

“I see Overwatch is dead-set that we live our entire lives in one room,” Moira said wryly, and she wasn’t wrong, though this room was much larger than even Angela’s quarters if one were to take into account the closet and en suite.

“Ah, don’t worry bout that, we can take all this junk out and put in whatever ya want, think there’s gonna be some kinda catalogue y’all can just pick and choose things from? I dunno, not my area, but yeah, you don’t hafta keep all this stuff,” Katja assured them easily as she made her way in behind them.

Angela didn’t hate the furniture, to be honest, and would probably want to keep most of it. The king-sized bed was a welcome upgrade, bordered by two nightstands. The cushioned bench under the large window was nothing new to Angela, nor were the bookshelves that were set to either side of these, though these were not built-in and seemed to be removable. A large vanity sat across from the bed, and Angela poked a finger teasingly into Moira’s side, “Space for all your face stuff?”

Moira just huffed and cocked her head toward the bathroom, “Not without a sink.”

There was plenty of room there, as well, with dual sinks. “Look, Moira,” Angela pointed at them with a cheeky grin, “Hers and hers sinks.”

Moira took a moment to roll her eyes and smile, but turned her attention back to where it had been. The best of both worlds, the en suite featured both a glass-lined shower stall and a large, deep tub.

“What’s wrong?” Angela stepped beside Moira, who had begun to frown thoughtfully.

“Nothing, it’s fine.” Moira shook her head.

“Tell ya what,” They both turned to see Katja stepping in behind them,“Y’all aren’t set on this particular unit, are ya?”

They looked at one another for confirmation before Moira let out a “No?” that was more a second question than a response.

“Right, well, like I told ya, south side facing the town ain’t finished yet, still doin some work in the walls before we paint em up, and y’all seem like nice folks.” She stepped forward, pushing between them rather than going around, and made an extravagant gesture toward the shower and tub, “How bout we make a deal?” She turned, more to Moira than to the pair of them, “You make sure all y’all officers don’t eat all the little fruit scones before us lowly worker bees show up to give our report and I’ll head over to the south side, knock out the showerhead and put it in the ceiling so it comes down on top, how’s that?”

Moira gave a small laugh, scratching at her brow as she nodded, “Yes, I think that can be arranged.”

“Right, well, we’re in business then,” Katja clapped her hands once and it echoed in the large en suite, and she clapped Moira’s arm with equal vigor, causing Moira to wince and Angela to grin.

“Now it’s really ours,” Angela added happily, and Moira nodded again.

“You ever had the scones up there?” Katja asked, and once again Sevan and their camera had been completely unnoticed, at least to Angela.

“Ah, no, I’m not an officer, I only just started here. I just shoot promotional events,” Sevan explained quickly, taking the chance to fiddle nervously with lens of their camera.

“Huh, ‘s at so?” Katja had an inexplicably musing tone, and when she retreated back into the master bedroom Sevan looked confused, but with a shrug they lifted their camera once more.

It was some time before more opportunities for shots as a couple appeared; Moira busied herself opening every kitchen cupboard and pulling out every drawer, an activity which made Katja laugh and commend her thoroughness. Angela found herself on the deck, listening to Katja yell from inside that if they opted for the baby proofing there’d be a sheet of shatter-proof glass added to the top of the railing to keep anyone from climbing over . . . or throwing their toys off.

Toys. Angela smiled to herself as she rested both her hands over her belly. Even with Lena talking again about the baby shower it hadn’t seemed so close, but here, finally able to envision where their daughter would grow up, it made it seem near as can be. As she wandered back in, having had her fill of the cool late winter day, she found herself in the small bedroom again. In her mind she could see it clearly, the racecar giving way to a large cot below the window, and the little shelf over the dresser filled with picture books. The changing table would be there, where the dresser was now, and beside it a chair for her. Or for Moira. Angela had pictured, time and time again, sitting on the bench below the windows in her quarters feeding the baby, perhaps that’s why she hadn’t thought of a chair. But now all she could picture was Moira there, the baby in one arm and a picture book held up in the other, and she could almost hear Moira’s soft voice.

Well, actually she could hear Moira opening and closing every cabinet in the hall bathroom, running the tub and flushing the toilet. But that was endearing too, in its own way. As she made her way back to the main living area to sit on the couch Sevan was already seated with their camera in their lap, ostensibly going over shots they’d taken. Katja was standing over them, hovering even, and Sevan looked only a bit nervous over it.

“Whydja take so many of the same thing?”

“If I take a lot of the same thing I can stitch together the best parts of each. So, see, this one,” Sevan held up the display to Katja, who looked at it and barked a loud laugh, “Dr. O’Deorain was blinking and only one of their eyes is open? But everything else looks good. So if I find another photo that their eyes look good but, I don’t know, Dr. Ziegler’s about to sneeze or something, I can combine the good parts of each picture to get the best one,” When Katja just hummed understanding, Sevan continued, “Going to do a heavy manip for the main photo for this whole thing so that we can put in the housing complex finished in the background, add in the trees and flowers and courtyard stuff—“

“And handrails.”

“Yes, and handrails. Everything completed in the background, Commander Amari thinks that’ll be the best, a shot of them with Vesta the way it’s supposed to be seen.”

“Damn, that’s fancy, all I can do is point my comm unit at stuff, an half the time it’s blurry or a pic of my pocket,” Katja let out a barking laugh.

“Thank you, both of you, for your help today,” Angela ventured, and they each looked to her as though they hadn’t noticed she’d joined them.

“Of course, happy to assist Overwatch,” Sevan said, “And I’ve already got some great shots. We’ll take a few more on the way back, exterior shots if the light is right, but we’ve already got a lot to work with.”

“Yeah, yeah, me too,” Katja said, “I mean, not that I got shots, though I wouldn’t say know if you’re buying,” Katja barked again and slapped Sevan’s shoulder, causing them to nearly fall against Angela, and they simply laughed nervously. “But nah, really, happy to help y’all. This’s been a great project. Keepin me busy, that’s for sure. ‘ll give a tour to anyone who wants one, but don’t be tellin anyone bout the shower thing, alright? Last thing I need is everyone whining for every little thing they don’t like just right, ya know?”

“Of course,” Angela smiled sweetly, “Our secret.”

By the time Moira had checked every hinge and roller in the place Katja and Sevan had fallen into a conversation once more, and Angela had found herself perusing the coffee table book used in staging: Overwatch: The Early Years. She had looked quite impressive, hadn’t she? Oh well, times change, and she couldn’t be more pleased with the path she’d somehow found herself on.

They bid goodbye to Katja at the lift, and she informed them she was off to go see a man about a showerhead, and added only as the doors were closing that she really preferred the raspberry scones most. It was slightly less uncomfortable to take the exterior shots without the on-looker. Sevan didn’t keep them long, and explained to Moira what they had already explained to Katja, that all of the construction equipment behind them would be taken away by the magic of technology and replaced with a pristine courtyard.

Soon the three were climbing back into the little electric transport, and with the motor pool destination keyed in it zipped out of its spot and began its slow putter back to the main buildings.

“Well that was fun,” Angela said to no one in particular, and Moira nodded, looking spent. Angela grinned, “Tire yourself out slamming all those doors?”

Moira gave an amused huff, “I don’t know if I’ve had this many pictures taken of me in my lifetime. It’s . . . surprisingly exhausting.”

“Mmmm, you can rest when we get home, not long now,” Angela assured her, and she thought Moira was nodding until she simply rested her head against the glass and closed her eyes. Losing her conversation partner, Angela turned to her next choice, “Is this the sort of job you usually do?”

Sevan made a sound of indecision, “Pictures of people, yes; contracts for promotional material, not so much,” They smiled and shrugged, “But I can do anything, really. I was at the gala, I took some great photos there, I think they’re going to be part of this big promo thing Commander Amari is putting together.”

“Oh, I must have missed you there,” Of course she did. Even if Angela hadn’t been wholly distracted by that night which went downhill so very very fast, if there’s one thing she’d learned about Sevan it’s that they were quiet, inconspicuous, and professional.

“Yeah,” Sevan looked suddenly very uncomfortable, “It was my first Overwatch job . . . sort of.”

“Sort of?” Angela passed her arm around Moira’s, who only stirred slightly to indicate she was still awake.

Sevan shifted, and their voice was quite loud at first, nervous, “I used to, ah, freelance.” They seemed to grow more uncomfortable by the minute, “Had to pay bills, you understand. So I took photos I thought might be worth something, and then I’d sell them.”

“To collectors?”

“Ah, no,” Sevan shifted again, “To tabloids.”

Angela narrowed her eyes, and she was certain Moira had fallen asleep in that she didn’t react in any way. After a silence, a time spent staring at Sevan who had the good sense to look uncomfortable, Angela finally asked quietly, “Was it you then?”

Sevan nodded, but looked up pleadingly then, “When I went to Klatschbase they paid me . . . honestly not as much as I was hoping for?” They laughed nervously, then continued, “So when Commander Amari called me out of nowhere, said they found out about the photos, I thought I was going to prison for a week’s rent.”

Would serve them right, as far as Angela was concerned.

“But Commander Amari said they thought I’d be more useful here than freelancing, so if I signed papers saying any photos I take of Overwatch personnel belong to Overwatch and quit selling my shots to the papers, Overwatch’d take me on as a staff photographer. Stable, more pay, doesn’t make me feel dirty,” Sevan shot a pained smile to Angela, “I really wasn’t trying to cause trouble.”

Overwatch really did catch more flies with honey than vinegar, and for her part Angela could not find it in herself to be too upset with Sevan now that they’d come into the fold, and she told them as much. Sevan seemed relieved, and the remainder of the ride back was relaxed and quiet; Angela spent most of it with her free hand resting on her belly as she watched Moira sleep against the window.

When the transport zipped into its space near motor pool Angela shook Moira’s arm lightly, and she started awake easily, rubbing her eyes as she extracted herself from the little car and helped Angela do the same. Angela decided not to tell Moira of Sevan’s deep, dark history where they were concerned, and Moira smiled politely as they shook hands goodbye, though she still seemed half-asleep.

“Aren’t you coming up?” Angela asked. If Sevan was indeed working for Overwatch now, not to mention struggling to pay rent in town, they surely had moved into the dormitory.

“Ah, I, uh—“ The nervousness had returned, and Sevan shook their head as they motioned with their thumb over their shoulder to the little electric transport, “I think I left something back at the complex, I’m going to go get it.”

Angela grinned, “Alright, have fun then, and thanks again.”

Sevan nodded and quickly climbed back into the transport, and Angela fell into step beside Moira with a smile, “Come on, then, you can take a nap and I’ll make us something to eat, to thank you for putting up with all this.”

Moira’s yawn turned into a sleepy, pleasant hum, “Mmmm, I’ll put up with whatever you want, darling.”

 

Chapter Text

“I think I can handle a bit more than this, you know,” Angela sulked. Yes, she could admit that as she neared her eighth month of pregnancy one could not describe it as just “a bit” of a waddle, and no, she probably shouldn’t carry one of Moira’s heavy, hard-shelled suitcases, but as she made her way across the parking lot in the cool darkness of the very early morning she felt the pillows under each arm were solely to humor her.

When Moira simply answered with a placating hum, breezing past with a suitcase in each hand, Angela was certain she was being humored.

As Angela arrived at the open hatchback of the borrowed SUV she found Moira had already pushed her two cases into place in the growing pile of luggage. It seemed like a lot, all gathered together here, but it was going to be a whole week away. Plus, with all the space they gained by borrowing Reinhardt’s car instead of taking one of Overwatch’s little electric cars, it would be a shame to leave behind anything they might want or need.

“Of course you can,” Moira was saying as she turned with a smile of apology that didn’t seem apologetic in the slightest, “Unfortunately that’s the last of it,” She held her hands up to Angela, who hugged her two pillows tightly.

I can do it, you won’t take this from me too,” Angela pouted with a modicum of sincerity, but Moira only laughed and cupped Angela’s face in both hands, clad in smooth, soft leather gloves.

“Of course not,” Moira smiled, delivering a brief kiss that rid Angela of what bit of exasperation she had.

Angela pursed her lips to fight back the inevitable smile as she stepped past Moira to deposit one of the pillows on the mountain of luggage, explaining as she turned to Moira again, “I’m keeping one up front, for the trip.”

“Come on, then,” Moira’s hand at Angela’s back steered her to the passenger side and Moira held the door and steadied her with one hand as Angela climbed in. It wasn’t until Angela was settled into the passenger seat with the pillow on her lap that Moira said wryly, “You can run the heat and get comfortable while I get the rest of the bags.”

“You said there weren’t any—“ Was all Angela got out before the door was closed again, and she narrowed her eyes through the glass, and Moira simply winked before making her way back toward the buildings for whatever remained.

Angela huffed, but she couldn’t be that upset. Even reaching over the massive center console of the large vehicle in order to turn on the heat was a bit difficult with how much she’d grown, and Nora had warned her to leave physical labors to others. Moira wasn’t wrong, Moira was doing exactly as Angela would hope, and she loved her for it. It was simply frustrating to feel incapable of doing something as simple as loading a car.

“Relax. It’s your vacation. You’re supposed to be taking it easy,” Angela whispered a reminder to herself as she did her best to clumsily wriggle out of her long, heavy coat. Spring was slowly showing itself, and most days were warm, but in these small hours of morning before the sun rose the cold still bit, and it would only get colder the higher they climbed.

By the time she’d extracted herself from her coat and tossed it into the backseat she caught sight of a tall, thin silhouette in the side-view mirror, a small case in either hand. The bags quickly deposited and the luggage secured, Moira finally climbed into the driver’s seat.

“That is the last of it,” Moira said breathlessly, and her cheeks were rosy from the cold. As she shucked her soft gloves and held her hands against the heat vents she fixed Angela with an apologetic smile, “It was just two small things, really, there was no reason for us both to go back for them.”

Angela busied herself fluffing the pillow before settling back against it and fastening her safety belt, and she said with a wistful sigh, “If you would have just moved the car up to the curb I could have handled just as much as you, you know.”

“This car is the size of a small ship,” Moira explained, gesturing around the interior, “I don’t know if it could even fit under the drive cover if we pulled it closer, and I didn’t want to wreck Wilhelm’s car before we even got off the campus.” She wasn’t wrong. If Reinhardt hadn’t had the car custom-made for himself, he at least had to special-order the behemoth from overseas. It was wide enough that Angela wasn’t even sure she could touch Moira from where she sat, particularly with the center console between them, and with the height it was one of the few times she had probably needed Moira’s assistance to get into a vehicle. Even Moira looked fairly small in a seat normally filled with Reinhardt’s massive frame. As Moira pulled slowly out of the car park, cautious as can be in the darkness as she got a feel for the new vehicle, she asked curiously, “What did you tell him, by the way?”

“Hmm?”

“Wilhelm, when you asked to borrow his car,” She drummed her fingers lightly over the steering wheel as she turned in the opposite direction as they’d usually gone, further from Zurich.

“Oh, he heard me talking to Ana about the cabin and said I should take this since he’ll be away on assignment and he still has his snow tires on,” Angela explained, plugging their destination into her comm and downloading the maps for when she lost signal. The last time she’d been up to the retreat cabins she had been a passenger in a caravan of Overwatch officers, and she didn’t want to spend half of their trip lost in the snowy mountains.

“And he didn’t think anything of you going up into the mountains by yourself in your state?” Moira asked with bemusement.

Angela shrugged, “I imagine he thought that Ana would have said something if something needed to be said? Besides, I think with all the ‘we’s’ and ‘you two’s’ being thrown around he probably knew I wasn’t coming up alone.”

“And he didn’t ask?”

Angela shook her head, though with Moira’s attention on the road it likely went unnoticed, “He’s not the type. Besides,” she grinned teasingly, but realized that too would go unnoticed, and simply fell silent. If Moira didn’t realize she was joking it could open up an unfortunate can of worms to begin their trip.

“Besides what?”

“Ah, I just . . .” Angela hesitated a moment, “I think he’s trying to keep his nose out of the baby situation.”

Moira scoffed, but Angela was relieved to hear she sounded amused rather than upset, “Well what did you think was going to happen?” She held up her fingers as she counted off the factors Angela had somehow failed to consider, “You were six months pregnant,” One finger. “Dressed to the nines,” Two fingers. “You knew people were wondering who the baby’s, uh, father was,” Three fingers. “You knew there would be reporters and photographers everywhere at the gala.” Four fingers. “And the two of you show up arm in arm?” With five fingers held up she turned only briefly away from the road to raise an eyebrow toward Angela, “What did you think was going to happen?”

Angela reached across the console to catch Moira’s raised hand and pull it down between them, intertwining their fingers as she asked quietly, “So you saw that then?” The humor in Moira’s voice didn’t chase away the bit of discomfort the whole thing still left in Angela.

“I was made aware,” Moira drawled, resituating to drive single-handedly as she stroked a long, cool thumb across Angela’s.

“It was stupid, I just ignored it.”

Everyone did. Even if Angela hadn’t been caught up in the busy wake of the recruitment event intertwined with her deepening relationship with Moira she still wouldn’t have even noticed but a small murmur among Overwatch personnel about the salacious rumors regarding Mercy and Reinhardt. For a time she’d wondered if she and Ana had overreacted about Sevan’s photographs, perhaps rumors about Moira and Angela too would have flown mostly under the radar. But Angela knew that wasn’t the case; the only reason people discounted these rumors so readily was that they’d been played out in tabloids for years. Mercy and Reinhardt was tired, old gossip and probably didn’t even cause a sales spike. But a newcomer to the rumor mill? Moira likely would not have been so lucky.

A thoughtful hum was all the response Moira gave.

“It didn’t bother you, did it?”

Moira shook her head at the road, grasping briefly at Angela’s hand, “Anyone with half a brain can see that’s not the case, that man would split you in half.”

Moira!” Angela squealed, pulling her hand from Moira’s to land a stiff punch to her upper arm, “He’s like a father to me, you ass.”

Moira hissed and flinched away, but quickly she was laughing as she swapped her driving hands to rub at her arm with only a hint of a grimace, “Watch it, I was just stabbed there, you know?”

“Aw,” Angela murmured, pushing Moira’s hand aside to rub at her heavy coat with her own, “It still hurts?”

“It feels like I just got punched,” Moira groused.

Angela laughed, rubbing a bit firmer, and her voice took on a more soothing tone, “Intramuscular injections can sometimes hurt most the day after, it will be fine by tomorrow I’m sure.”

“Mmmmm,” Moira hummed, thoughtful for a moment before asking, “Are you going to have everyone get one?”

“A pertussis vaccine?” Angela thought for a moment, “As much as I’d like to, I can’t really mandate it for all of Overwatch. But like Nora said, anyone who is going to be around the baby should get one, so I can mandate it for my staff since they will be around more children moving forward. And I’ll probably issue a site-wide recommendation and offer a few walk-in clinics,” She settled back into her seat, finding the pillow added the perfect amount of comfort, and she ran her hands over her belly affectionately, “The last thing we need is for Vesta to open in time for a whooping cough epidemic while I’m out on leave.”

They settled into a comfortable silence between the two of them, though Angela did turn on the dash radio. An AM/FM unit, Reinhardt must have found this in a museum. Soft, instrumental music, for a calm climb into the mountains. She enjoyed watching the first light of dawn creep up into the sky, turning the darkness into a beautiful shade of pink before the sun finally crested the treetops fully. The roads were clear, but to either side stretched snowy trees, and only the occasional fuel station or shop broke the forest wall. Angela made a mental note that they would need to consider fuel; she hadn’t been in a car with a combustion engine in years.

The stops would become further apart, and would eventually disappear altogether. By direct line the cabin they’d secured wasn’t more than 200 kilometers from Overwatch, but with the winding mountain roads and the steep climb, not to mention the snow they would inevitably hit to slow their progress, it would be all morning and some of the afternoon driving. That was the main reason they’d told one another for their early start, but Angela was also antsy to get out of signal range before the promotion went live at 1100. She wouldn’t be able to resist seeing the response, she knew. Her hopes were high, but she had doubts, and she wouldn’t stand to have this week ruined. Better to remove the temptation.

Despite it being the goal, Moira had looked uncertain about completely leaving civilization behind. Angela had assured her that not only was there an old-fashioned, wired landline dialed into the satellite comm unit system in case of emergency, but that Overwatch’s smaller tactical flight units could transport them back in under an hour if a medical emergency arose. “Besides,” Angela had said, “There will be a doctor on site.” Moira had rolled her eyes, but it seemed to be enough to convince her to hide away in the woods with Angela for a week.

Not that they were going to be roughing it; far from it. While Angela hadn’t been to this particular cabin before, the rental company owned several of varying sizes and Overwatch had used them now and then for team-building retreats. When the desire to “get away from it all” struck, Angela had immediately thought of how much everyone in the massive, shared cabin (more of a rustic mansion, really) had griped that their comms didn’t work and there wasn’t even an old-fashioned television set. It would be perfect, especially if it were as comfortable and well-equipped as the larger unit.

“Do you like camping?” Angela asked curiously as she lowered the radio’s volume to make it quite clear they were about to have a conversation.

Moira hmmm’d for a moment before shrugging, “I guess I’ve never been camping, with tents and everything in the middle of nowhere.” She turned from the road for a moment, “You said this place wasn’t that, ah, rugged, though?”

She shook her head, “No, no, this week is not camping.” She laughed, shifting a bit against her now-flattened pillow, doing her best to fluff the sides, “I’d sooner die than sleep on the ground right now.”

Moira shot her a commiserating half-smile, half-grimace.

“But it’s fun,” Angela continued, “When you’ve not swallowed a bowling ball that kicks at your organs every five minutes, of course. We’d do a week-long camping trip every spring growing up, backpacking around a lake or mountain or wherever we were sent that year.”

“With the boarding school?”

Angela nodded, “It was supposed to be educational and team-building. Hm, not that different than the officer retreat, now that I think about it,” Angela chuckled, trying to remember who was more distraught over being in the middle of nowhere without their comm units, the Overwatch officer team or the preteen girls she’d gone to school with. Then again, most of her peers hadn’t been orphans, they had people outside of the school, people in their lives to care about and who cared about them.

“Something wrong?” Angela hadn’t realized she’d begun to frown until she caught Moira’s glance of concern.

“No,” Angela responded, turning a warm smile to Moira, whose eyes were once again too fixed on the road to take notice. Angela reached across the large console to tug Moira’s hand from the wheel to take it in her own again. She settled back against the pillow once more, closing her eyes against the bright morning light as she passed her other hand over her stomach, “Not anymore.”

 


 

 

“I’m hungry,” Angela whispered by way of good-morning as she opened her eyes once more, and Moira only started a bit.

“Mmmm, the same for me,” Moira agreed, but glanced at the map on Angela’s comm between them, “We’ll be there in two hours. There’s food at the cabin, isn’t there?”

“Yes, there is,” Angela let out a strained groan as she sat forward what little she could and attempted to stretch, finding only a small range of motion despite the spacious interior, “But I’m hungry now. Also, I need to use the restroom.”

“Alright, we should probably get petrol soon as it is,” She fished the comm unit out of the cup holder and handed it to Angela, “We haven’t passed anything in a while, there must be something soon.”

Before bothering to look for a stop, Angela checked her alerts. None. They’d made it out of range in time. Good. Though there were downsides, and without the little blinking dot of their vehicle moving along the road she had to wait until she spied a road marker to know exactly where along the route they were. Her brief fear that they may have already left civilization behind was squashed quickly, there were still a few more businesses between themselves and their destination, but they definitely were becoming fewer and further between. “There’s a little restaurant in about four kilometers, and a fuel station in ten. It says it has the old-fashioned petrol pumps and not just electric charge ports.”

“Alright, you can hold it for ten kilometers?”

“The restaurant’s closer, it’s only four.”

Moira shifted, “The fuel station will have food, won’t they?”

“First, I’m not a food snob but I’m not going to eat fuel station food when there’s a perfectly good restaurant on the way,” Angela explained, before breaking into a bit of a whine, “And second, I really have to go.” She tapped the comm, “They do breakfast through dinner, so they will be open. It’ll be good to get out of the car for a while.”

Moira sighed, but with the trees broken by a little roadside restaurant ahead she was already signaling their exit from the highway.  The lot was empty but the paper sign on the door was flipped to inform travelers they were open. Moira, too, seemed to be regarding the restaurant and empty lot for a moment before she undid her safety belt and pulled on her gloves, “Hold on, it looks like there’s ice,” she cautioned.

Angela nodded, fishing her own coat from the back seat as Moira made the long journey around the massive vehicle. With how far off the ground the car was lifted she was more thankful than ever for Moira’s insistence on helping her. 

Moira didn’t seem so pleased, however, and when she opened the passenger door she was still regarding the restaurant as she held a hand out to Angela.

“Is there something wrong?” Angela frowned, and Moira finally turned her attention to her, “I know you want to get there, but we’ve got all week, you know . . .”

“Ah, I know,” Moira’s expression was a mix of apology and trepidation, “It’s not that, I just . . . wonder if the promo stuff is out.” She held her other arm to Angela, who braced herself on Moira’s shoulders and let her loop her arms around her. It was probably more support than she required, even with the large drop to the icy ground, but she certainly wouldn’t complain.

After she found herself standing steady on the ground she pulled on her own coat against the chill, “Don’t worry,” she reasoned, “Everyone’s going to know when we get back down next week, this would be good practice,” Angela grinned up at Moira, who was watching her intently, her hands still cautiously half raised toward Angela, “Besides, I doubt such a rural area gets breaking Overwatch news, I don’t even get comm service anymore.”

Moira pursed her lips, but nodded as she shut the passenger door, explaining half-heartedly, “In my experience ‘this area is rural’ is not very encouraging.”

Angela pursed her lips as well, wrapping her arm tightly around Moira’s bicep in a gesture as much for comfort and reassurance as for stability, “You shouldn’t worry so much, Moira.” She grinned widely then, turning her face upward, “Switzerland is known for cheese holes, not assholes.”

Moira stopped in her tracks, causing Angela to stop too, and fixed her with a death glare. After a moment of silence in which Angela refused to drop her smile, and if anything she smiled wider, Moira rolled her eyes, “How long were you holding on to that one?”

Angela snickered and pressed against Moira as they began a cautious, slow climb up the steps to the door, “A minute, alright?”

“We’re breaking up,” Moira grumbled quietly, a concerned and watchful eye kept on Angela at her side as they completed their short but steep climb.

“Mmm, too cheesy?” Angela whispered back, and only got a “Stop it” and forced frown poorly hiding an amused grin from Moira as she pulled the door open for the two of them.

It was quiet and dim inside the small restaurant, and the ceiling was almost low enough for Moira to brush her head. Certainly she could have reached up a hand to touch it. Behind a bar, much longer than the small collection of liquors on the shelf behind warranted, an older, heavy-set man looked up from the TV mounted behind the bar. It was tuned to football, Angela was happy to see, and not the local news.

The man breathed deep and bellowed a loud “Wilkomme und bondzo!” at them in a fairly practiced manner, “Deutsch oder francais?

“Ah,” Angela looked to Moira, who looked taken aback more by the booming voice in such a quiet restaurant than by the question she probably grasped, “Könne sie Englisch reede?

Yo, not very gut,” He was making his way through the open hatch of the bar, and already making a wide gesture to the entire room. It was small, and there were only four tables separate from the bar, “Sit everywhere.”

Angela elbowed Moira’s side lightly at the sound of a small, stifled snort and nodded thankfully to the man, “Thank you, do you have a bathroom I can use?” He motioned toward a side hall with a cheery smile and Angela turned to Moira, who had shucked her gloves and coat, “I’ll probably be a while, order for me if you want.”

“Is everything alright?” Moira gave a concerned frown, helping Angela out of her coat as well, but Angela just waved her hand.

“Fine, everything’s fine,” Angela assured her, not wanting to explain in front of the man that whether or not she could easily get on and off a toilet quickly would depend on if they had installed handrails. She prayed they did, but if things went south, well, she could just shout and have a very embarrassing start to her vacation.

They had no handrails, but similar to her quarters the sink was close enough to the toilet that she could steady herself on it and manage well enough. Still, despite her eschewing liquids all morning to avoid frequent bathroom stops, she spent more than a few minutes in the restroom, and she imagined Moira may be half done with a meal by the time she emerged.

Quite the opposite, she found Moira had not even picked a table and was leaning on the bar with both elbows, half on a stool and half standing. If she noticed Angela’s return she didn’t indicate it, as both the proprietor and Moira’s eyes were glued to the old-fashioned TV-set.

“Football?” Angela ventured as she sidled up beside Moira, who finally took note of her.

“Ah, yeah,” Moira looked somewhat admonished, and quickly threw back a finger of whisky from a glass she’d had in front of her.  She motioned toward the screen, “Ireland’s playing.”

“Mmmm,” And they were losing, but Angela had something else on her mind as she poked at the empty glass Moira had set back down, “How much did you drink?”

“Just that,” Moira indicated, and gave a small shrug, “Not much, and we’ll be here for a while.”

“Yes, yes, stay,” the man said in a loud, cheerful voice, once again gesturing throughout the room, “Eat, I’m very late tonight.”

Moira pursed her lips to hide a grin, and Angela just shot her a chiding look before tugging at Moira’s arm, “Come on, I don’t think I can manage a high stool right now.”

“Mmm, right, sorry,” Moira left her empty glass behind and with one step she was pulling a chair out for Angela.

“Do you like sports, then? I’ve never heard you mention them,” Angela asked curiously as Moira found her own seat across the table from her, and Moira seemed surprised by the question.

“Not much, but Dylan is rabid for it, always has been,” She laughed a bit, “He wanted to play league but never was quite good enough. I watch a bit, but not like my brothers.” She motioned toward the TV and finished with some derision, “And when we play like this, what’s there to follow?”

Angela gave a consoling smile as she took a menu handed to her by the man, who took the time to introduce himself as Ueli. Moira took one as well, but as Ueli made his way back behind the bar she simply sighed, grumbling quietly, “I suppose I should start learning German.”

“You shouldn’t have to,” Angela was distracted by the menu, particularly as she now was on the lookout for something she thought Moira might enjoy, “We can have groceries and everything delivered, and I’m sure the grocery stores nearby will start staffing English speakers once all the new recruits flood in.” Her eyes ticked upward, and Moira had abandoned her unreadable menu to idly watch the TV once more, “I’m surprised you’re only thinking to learn German now, though.”

“Well I didn’t think I would be in Switzerland very long,” Moira admitted, causing Angela to pull her eyes from her own menu once more.

“Were you trying to be reassigned? Gibraltar and Grand Mesa’s laboratories are nothing compared to Zurich.”

Moira laughed, but she looked somewhat unsure as she continued, “No, I . . . I honestly thought I’d have been fired by now.”

“What? Why would you be fired?” Angela furrowed her brow, lowering her menu to watch Moira shift in her seat.

Moira sighed, “I’ve been here a year and the only—“ she paused, gesturing to Angela, or more toward Angela’s stomach, “The only results I’ve, ah, produced aren’t even . . . attributed to me.”

“If you want to publish, Moira, it doesn’t bother me, really,” Angela assured her, “Honestly if there’s anything all this tabloid and promo mess has taught me it’s that we’ll never be able to stop people whispering and making up their own ideas. We might as well at least do what’s best for us.” She smiled softly, “Truly, if it will help you, publish.”

Moira was shaking her head, “I don’t think— Maybe someday. For now I think there’s more than enough being published about us.”

Angela nodded. She couldn’t really disagree.

“Besides, I wasn’t hired to be, what, a fertility specialist?” Moira leaned heavily back into her chair, and Angela felt Moira’s long legs brush the outside of her own, but neither bothered to move away, “Even if I did publish, it’s not what I’m supposed to be doing here.”

Ueli made his way around the bar again, looking to both of them expectantly, and Angela quickly ordered älpermagronen and water for herself, and Moira simply waved her hand “Another of whatever that is.”

After he had deposited two glasses of water on the table and disappeared into what was ostensibly a back kitchen, Angela turned again to Moira. “Surely anything beneficial is acceptable, even if it’s not what you were hired to do. You’re not in a grant-funded position.”

Moira scoffed, “Hmph, that’s what I thought too,” She frowned, then sighed loudly with defeat, “But apparently working on your own projects gets you a non-stop ticket to Canada in the middle of winter.”

“I thought they wanted you because of your niche expertise?” Angela ventured, her brow furrowed.

Moira leaned her elbows on the table as she hunched across it, her tone fairly nonchalant about it all, “That’s why they requested me but, well, it was made quite clear to me that as far as Overwatch was concerned it wasn’t really optional if I expected to stay on with Overwatch after.”

Angela was full-on frowning, “You should have told me, Winston would have—“

Moira held up her hand, shaking her head, “It’s fine, really, we got through it, I put my head down and did my little grunt work assignment for the good of Overwatch, as requested,” Her frown turned to a soft smile as she lifted her face to Angela’s and snagged Angela’s fingers lightly with her own, “And now, barring any fiascos and as long as I can come up with something of merit, I should be fairly secure here.” She squeezed Angela’s fingers, “Besides,” she added with a grin, “If I get fired I’ll just stay on as your plus one once the complex is done. I’ll be a stay-at-home parent.”

Moira’s clearly joking tone earned a small chuckle from Angela, but she was still somewhat discomforted by the idea that she had been so close to losing her without even realizing, “I think you’d be bored being at home all day.”

“Mmmmm,” Moira settled back into her seat again, but with their hands in the center of the small table they were not so far apart as to need to pull back. “Vesta will need a science teacher,” she mused.

Angela laughed more fully at that, and she ran her thumbs across Moira’s fingers, “I’d rather you do what you want to do. The project you’ve talked about, the rapid healing,” Angela inquired curiously, “What came of that? Surely if you can make progress there it would be outstanding. Winston will see the value of that, and if he doesn’t, I do.”

Nothing’s come of it so far.” Her voice was suddenly nothing but frustration, and she pulled her hands back to run her palms across her face. After a moment she admitted quietly, “Well, that’s not true.I’ve completed a proof of concept, but I keep running into mechanistic dead ends. What I’ve been doing is feasible in theory, but not practice, so . . .” She trailed off before giving a final sigh, “I don’t know . . . I have some ideas, but every solution has its own problems.”

“Well, we all know that breakthroughs don’t come fast or easy,” Angela leaned forward with a small grunt of discomfort to catch Moira’s hands once mor, “My old suit’s wings alone took over a year to perfect, and don’t even ask about the staff.”

Moira nodded quietly.

 “If you tell me what you’re doing, I can help?” Angela offered, “Honestly I’d be happy to be involved in some research, personnel management has become quite tedious.”

Moira regarded her thoughtfully for a long minute before giving a nod of acquiescence, “It’s still the same problem as before, that the rapid cytogenesis requires a massive supply of nucleotides which can be accessed efficiently.”

Angela nodded her understanding, “And the ideas you have?”

“Well, first I’d considered simply faster delivery mechanisms of what we already have. Ingestion is out of the question, it’s far too slow. I tried a few different solutions via injection, and that solved the reaction rate problem pretty much immediately; but of course if it’s injected it has to be soluble.”

Angela shrugged, “Urea and glucose, simple enough.”

Moira held up one long finger, “Ah, but there’s the problem. The urea necessary to deliver the amount of nucleobases I’m working with would be astronomical compared to what the urea cycle can actually handle, and that’s in a healthy subject.”

“So even if you could patch their wounds you’d do it at the cost of their kidneys.”

“Or brain damage. Or it could kill them outright,” Moira nodded solemnly, frowning as she freed one hand to take in some water.

“You’ve got your work cut out for you. I’ll think on it.” She grinned then, “But on that cheery note, time to eat.”

Ueli emerged with a plate in each hand but one eye on the TV, and Angela caught his grimace. Ireland was up a point since he’d disappeared into the back, apparently Ueli favored France. He received a thanks from each of the women as he slid them the plain dishes of meat, potatoes, and macaroni, and promptly returned to his stool behind the counter to take in the remainder of the match.

Moira was picking at her dish with a fork, “So it’s just macaroni and cheese with other things added in?”

“Yes, is that not alright?” Moira hadn’t struck Angela as a picky eater thus far, and she confirmed it with a shake of her head and a smile.

“No, just learning German one word at a time.” She speared some macaroni, “Applemacaroni.”

Älpermagronen,” Angela insisted with pursed lips, and Moira just smirked.

“That’s what I said.”

“A noble effort from the woman who snickered at Ueli’s English,” Angela whispered with a smirk of her own, confident that Ueli was too caught up in the football match to listen.

Moira shrugged, “I wasn’t making fun of him, I only thought it was amusing. I’m impressed he speaks three languages.”

“Do you only speak the one then? Until you perfect your Zürichdeutsch, of course,” Angela asked before digging into her own lunch, which she found she thoroughly enjoyed.

“English and Irish,” Moira held up two fingers, and hummed pensively, “And the smallest bit of Navajo possible, I suppose, though I’ve forgotten most of that even.”

Angela tried to hide the hint of a frown she felt tug at her lips, and instead focused on something else, “Irish? Doesn’t everyone just speak English?”

“Mmmm,” Moira nodded an affirmative as she finished a forkful of food before adding, “We do, but it’s like the Swedes. We have our own language, but we all learn English as well. To be honest most people don’t even learn Irish anymore beyond basic conversation, it’s just not useful enough.”

“But you did?”

Dúirt mo mháthair go gcaithfimid a fhoghlaim.” Moira responded, and she looked quite pleased with herself as she looked at Angela, who felt she must have appeared rather dumbfounded. She wasn’t surprised Moira spoke another language, of course, she just was processing how rich and smooth absolute gibberish could sound pouring from Moira’s lips.

“I, ah, sorry, I didn’t quite catch that?” Angela laughed.

Moira smiled, “My mother insisted we all learn it.” She took another bite of her dwindling meal as she thought, before adding with some bemusement, “It doesn’t matter how out-dated or useless something is, tradition is reason enough for her.”

Angela wondered again when she might meet Moira’s family. After the baby was born, that’s what Moira had said, she would tell her family then. She smiled. It wasn’t too far off now, and growing closer every day.

“Should I be learning Irish?” Angela raised her brows inquisitively.

Moira shook her head with a laugh, “Don’t bother, like I said, it’s really not even used in Ireland except in a few out of the way places or when people want to sound official or nationalistic, and it’s a pain in the ass to learn the words, let alone the pronunciations and sentence structure,” She laughed again, and added with a smile, tilting her water glass slightly toward Angela, “Besides, you’ll be too busy teaching me German.”

“Zürich German,” Angela corrected her with a grin, “If you want to learn standard German you should go to Reinhardt.”

“Noted.”

“Still,” Angela continued softly, loading her fork up with macaroni and potatoes, “If there are maybe a few words you could teach me? To say hello when I meet your family?”

“Of course,” Moira said after a brief look of surprise, “What do you want to say?”

Angela regained her dumbfounded look, and thought for a while before responding sheepishly, “I don’t know what to say to them.”

“Don’t worry,” Moira’s smile and soft voice was as comforting as the light press of her legs against Angela’s, “You have time to figure it out. Let me know when you decide.”

Smiling and returning her attention to her meal, Angela made a mental note to determine just how best to introduce oneself to in-laws. Well, not quite in-laws. But maybe someday. Hopefully. She’d met parents of exes before, but this was somehow completely different. Saying a quick hello on the way out the door with someone you were seeing for your fourth date was nothing. Moira, how does one say ‘Hello, my name is Angela. Oh, how did Moira and I first meet? Well, I walked on down and asked her to inseminate me.’ in Irish?

Hell, even without factoring in the unusual circumstances of the initial partnership, it was still new to Angela. A family, a family that would to some degree be her family, at least through the baby even if never through union. How do you meet your family for the first time? Angela found she was more relieved than she had previously been that Moira was putting off the introductions, and she felt she better understood why.

Finishing her meal before Moira, Angela excused herself for another visit to the restroom before they left, fearful the frequent urination would rear its head as soon as they’d passed the last stop. The last thing she wanted to do while eight months pregnant was try to squat in a snow bank at the side of a highway. On her way out she passed Moira, apparently with a similar thought on her mind. She handed Angela the keys, “I’ve paid, if you want to go out and start the heat I’ll only be a minute.”

Moira may have forgotten the treacherous stairs, but Angela hadn’t, and she stood idly at the bar watching the end of the football match and waited. France had pulled ahead, and Ueli was more interested in that than in Angela. She considered putting her coat on, but it wasn’t such a long trip to the car.

Unhindered by pregnancy, Moira was in and out of the bathroom in a flash by comparison, and when she returned she looked quizzically toward Angela, who returned the keys. “Surely,” Angela fought to keep a laugh out of her feigned shock, “You don’t expect me to open a car door all by myself.” She grinned as Moira rolled her eyes and wrapped an arm around Angela’s waist, “I don’t even know if I remember how . . .”

“Oh shush,” Moira whispered, and each of them gave a sound of appreciative farewell to match Ueli’s as they pushed back out into the cold.

“See, that wasn’t bad at all, was it?” Angela coaxed as they made their way gingerly down the worn, icy steps, “You worry too much, Moira.”

“You don’t worry enough,” was all Moira grumbled in response, but her seriousness seemed more to do with their navigation than with any actual dismay over the lack of worry Angela tended to exhibit.

“Good,” Angela said with a smile, “Then together we worry just the right amount.” She’d have liked to push onto her toes and press a kiss to Moira’s cheek, but that was difficult enough on solid, dry ground, and she didn’t risk it, instead just enjoying Moira’s small chuckle of response before adding, “Much better than fuel station food. I love going to restaurants when I travel, eating out is the best part of a vacation.”

“Oh?” Moira ventured wistfully as they rounded the car to the passenger side first.

“You don’t think so?” Angela was just as curious as Moira pulled the door open and helped her climb carefully back up into the mountainous SUV.

Moira gave an exaggerated shrug, tossing her arms out after Angela was firmly in place, and she grinned cheekily, “It’s just news to me that you’re such a fan of eating out, that’s all.”

Angela forced what would have been a smile and laugh to form into a look of cool annoyance, “Do you want to get punched again?”

“So violent,” Moira just laughed, and even she had to lift to her toes a bit to press her cheek to Angela’s, her lips brushing against Angela’s ear lightly, the “I love you” barely even a whisper. Angela hummed her agreement before Moira shut her door carefully and made her way back to the driver’s side.

Angela twisted with slight difficulty to deposit her coat into the backseat once more, and she fished out her handbag from the floorboards. Moira had already driven them halfway to the fuel station by the time Angela finally managed to fish out the pocketbook from the unorganized abyss of her purse.

“How much was the meal?” Angela asked, paging through the bills she carried.

Moira shot a look of displeasure toward the pocketbook and sighed, “They were running a special, everything 100% off.”

“Mmm, this again?” Angela fought the urge to roll her eyes at the whole thing. Honestly Moira’s idiosyncrasies were endearing, she didn’t hate it at all, but Angela had not yet become accustomed. And for that matter, they’d never discussed it, had they? Angela had simply asked Moira to drop it, hadn’t she? But then it was a more complicated thing, what they had between them. It was no wonder neither had pushed the issue.

Moira seemed to agree that skirting the issue would not work forever, “Well then how much was this cabin rental?”

“I told you, Ana booked it under Overwatch as an entity so our names aren’t attached to the reservation in case some reporters came sniffing around after the promos went out.”

“Ah, but you didn’t answer my question,” Moira pointed out as she guided the car carefully alongside an old petrol pump in startling disrepair. She left her door wide-open, and Angela wasn’t fond of the cool air rushing in, but it let them continue speaking after Moira disappeared only momentarily to start the pump. She returned then to lean against the open door, speaking with some noticeable exasperation, “You should have let me pay for it.”

“She’s taking it out of my pay, I don’t even know how much it cost,” Angela explained, and it was partially true. Angela had seen the booking website; she knew the full price but not how much their “returning corporation” discount had reduced it. But either way, it would be a lot. Oh well, time to bite the bullet, “And even still, it makes sense that I pay. I make more than you do, Moira.”

Moira grunted with annoyance and ran a gloved hand through her hair, her breath coming in white puffs now that she was away from the warm lick of the heating vents, “So? We don’t pay for food or housing or medical care or basically anything. I may not make as much as you do, but I make enough to pay for us, Angela.” She situated her arms crossed over her chest, “You should let me.”

“Why?” Angela worried she might have come off argumentative, defensive even, and added immediately, “Just so I can understand. Why does this mean so much to you?”

Moira looked away, ostensibly toward the pump which was clicking away as the tank filled. Angela could see the muscles in her neck move as she clenched and unclenched her jaw, and as she turned back she kept her eyes cast downward and shrugged. When she finally sighed and forced the words out she sounded both defeated and embarrassed, “Listen, I know it’s not . . . I don’t know, right, or the way things are . . .”

Moira trailed off and only the flow of petrol and the clicking of the pump broke the silence as Angela regarded her thoughtfully. Moira still had her head turned down, and the cold was turning her cheeks rosy once more.

“You’re trying to find a way to say you want to take the man’s role without putting it that way, aren’t you?” Angela ventured gently, as delicate as she could given Moira’s previous concerns.

Moira scowled and finally raised her eyes to Angela, and her voice was pure frustration, “Don’t say it like that.”

“Of course, I apologize,” Angela said softly, and she cursed the massive center console keeping her from sliding over to the driver’s side to wrap her arms around Moira’s neck. She wondered at how to proceed without upsetting Moira, but Moira had already continued.

“I just,” Moira shifted uncomfortably, her eyes once again moving away toward the gas pump, and the annoyance in her tone seemed general and not so much aimed at Angela or even the questions she was asking so much as at the situation, “I shouldn’t need to be the man to want to, I don’t know, take care of you and protect you and look after you . . . Both of you. The three of us.” She ran a gloved hand once more through her hair before she leaned her head against the window of the car, her eyes once again finding Angela’s. She looked tired.

“I agree,” Angela smiled warmly, “If that’s what you want, that’s fine with me. I just wanted to hear you say it,” Angela explained, “To know how you felt.” With an afterthought, equally amused and sheepish, she added, “I think guessing at one another’s feelings has gotten us into enough trouble already.”

Moira’s expression was a smile and a grimace at once, and she nodded, “It has, hasn’t it? Alright then. Thank you. For letting me.”

The silence was much more comfortable with the words spoken, and Angela tried to pretend she didn’t feel Moira watching her as she busied herself re-fluffing her pillow for the ride ahead. After the pump had clicked completion and they were making their way back onto the highway, however, Angela continued where they’d left off. Now that she could reach her, she wrapped a hand around Moira’s bicep, free of the heavy coat, “You can pay going forward, but truly, Moira, let me handle the cabin. Think of it as a gift, the Christmas gift I missed.”

Moira contemplated this for a moment before nodding at the road, “Then thank you.”

Settling back against the fluffed pillow, Angela turned her eyes once more to the wall of trees lining the road, and the rest of the trip was spent in silence as Angela mulled over just what words she would learn to say for when the day finally came to meet Moira’s family.

Chapter Text

They would definitely not be roughing it. With the rural turn-off blanketed in a few centimeters of snow it had been difficult to find their exact destination, but the tank they drove was more than capable of the terrain, and despite the wild surroundings the cabin was luxurious from the start. The gravel drive circled close to a set of burgundy-painted double-doors hidden under a small covered alcove. While the snow covered all, it was clear that summer would see flowering bushes, shrubs, and small trees artfully placed to create the semblance of a front yard area among the much wilder, thick forest in which the cabin was tucked. The yard seemed to encircle the property closely, sloping downward as it rounded the house toward the back. Angela mused that it would make a decent, though very short, sledding hill. Suitable for a very small child. In a tiny, puffy snow suit. With big eyes and rosy cheeks and a happy laugh and—

“Alright, let’s get this out of the way,” Moira sighed as she parked as close to the front door as she possibly could. She turned to Angela, her voice stern and her expression even more so, “Blankets. Pillows. Small things.”

“Yes, yes, I know,” Angela smiled, fetching her coat from the back seat, “Let’s go look at it first?”

The deep gravel crunched underfoot and kept even the snow-covered walk from being slick or treacherous, but Angela shuffled along slowly all the same, mostly to humor Moira who watchfully kept pace.

“4027,” Angela reported to Moira as she keyed in the provided PIN, and a loud clunk signaled the door releasing. It still took a strong push from Moira to crack the frozen doors apart, though when they swung inward the air inside was a flood of comfortable warmth.

“It must be on a timer, or they activate it remotely,” Moira mused as she closed the doors again behind them. The short hall, more a vestibule, was dark and snug, but beyond them the view from the large floor-to-ceiling windows was obscured only by a massive, free-standing gas fireplace in the center of a cozy seating area.

By one-bedroom-mountain-cabin standards the property was spacious, though that was as much an impression created by the high lofted ceilings and massive windows looking out onto a large deck as it was from the floorplan itself. The living room and its fireplace were the central focus of the cabin, with the kitchen to the left and single bedroom and en suite to the right. Beyond the sliding glass doors the wooden deck and built-in couch-style seating had likely been treated to resist the snow, as it was not only clear but appeared dry as well. What appeared to be an outdoor grill and cooking area, however, was covered in a centimeter of white powder, as was a large, low circular area set into the deck nearby.

“A fire pit?” Angela ventured, worrying somewhat over the placement of such a thing in a wooden deck beside a wooden house deep in the forest. All the same, marshmallows had been part of her food requests for the reservation, and it was quite tempting.

Moira had emerged from her investigation of the en suite and she followed Angela’s gaze. “Ah, no, see,” she pointed out the small dial mounted to the deck’s bannister, “Spa.”

That would be quite tempting as well, if not for her state, and Angela sighed, “Oh well, at least you can use it.”

“You can’t?”

She shook her head, “They can raise your body temperature and it could harm the baby. But don’t let me stop you.”

“I didn’t bring a suit,” Moira was already making her way back to the car, and Angela followed behind.

“Heaven forbid I see you naked,” she smirked toward Moira’s back as they stepped out into the cold.

“It’s too dangerous,” Moira huffed nonchalantly as she pulled the hatch open. After a beat her head poked from around the corner of the vehicle, and her expression was deadly serious, “You’d lose me in the snow.”

Angela laughed aloud, and Moira’s face had already disappeared by the time Angela adopted a sing-song voice, “You know, if you used your AmbiUV more often . . .”

“I don’t tan, I burn,” Moira replied casually through the pile of luggage as Angela fetched her pillow from the front seat.

Moira was apparently dividing the cargo area into ‘heavy’ and ‘light’ sections, the latter much smaller than the former, as Angela rounded the car. “Load me up,” Angela insisted, though she knew she would be lucky to get more than a pillow beyond the one she already carried.

Indeed, her first trip she was heavily burdened with the two pillows she’d brought to the car, and on the second trip she was handed the large green quilt Angela had first seen in Moira’s office. It was surprisingly heavy, and when Moira handed it to her she did so carefully and asked for reassurance that Angela was alright to carry it. On the third trip Moira pushed a recognizable black case into Angela’s arms, and her cheeks were rosy from the cold as well as a slight blush.

“Mmmm, how presumptuous,” Angela teased as she took the case.

Moira shrugged, her tone equally teasing, “We can leave it in the car if you want.” She did sound much more sincere, and a bit concerned as she finished, “Really, we don’t have to, Angela. I know you’ve not been very comfortable lately.”

Angela had tried to keep her grumbling about her general, persistent discomfort of the past weeks to a minimum, and she’d stifled most grunts and groans when she stood or sat. She didn’t want to be an annoyance, and even more than that, Moira’s immediate “Is everything alright? Is there anything I can do?” at each sign of discomfort had become less endearing and more irritating as time went on. She meant well, Angela reminded herself, and it was sweet. Just annoyingly so, that was all.

“We’ll see,” Angela offered, herself as hopeful but uncertain as she read Moira to be, “It would be a shame to have a cozy cabin getaway without, though I suppose we’re already missing a bearskin rug.”

Angela had already turned back toward the house, and Moira was back to bending half into the car, but Angela imagined she’d probably earned at least a bit of a blush. What was more classic for a romantic getaway than sex on a bearskin rug in front of a roaring fire? She earned her own blush, at the very least, as she slid the case onto the nightstand.

Angela could hear Moira piling luggage in the living area, apparently now taking fewer items per trip, and she could imagine Moira shooing her away if she were to insist on helping further. Instead, already prepared with her heavy coat, Angela unlatched the sliding glass door and stepped back into the brisk afternoon.

The deck was nearly as large as the interior, lofted up over the slope of the yard and affording a beautiful view of the surrounding snowy forest. From the grill to the built-in seating to the covered spa, confirmed as such with a quick investigation, it made for a wonderful outdoor space. It lacked the shuffleboard court and darts board the larger cabin had had, and Angela presumed there was no volleyball court under the snow below, but this was more than adequate for one or two people. Or three, if one of them was quite tiny. Perhaps a summer vacation trip. A first birthday? If the snow would be melted by early June, perhaps.

Without the expectation of sport areas, Angela’s curiosity led her down the wooden stairs into the yard below. The deck was lined all the way to the bottom, and through the slats Angela spied grounds keeping equipment covered safely for winter storage. While there was no horseshoe pit to be seen, a long depression in the snow did indicate a path. Cautiously Angela tried it, and found it was the same thick gravel as the drive, safe even if she wasn’t wearing high-traction, heavy snow boots.

Spring had come to Overwatch in recent weeks, but having climbed so high into the mountains it was a return to winter all around. The thick forest kept the snow from piling too high under the trees, but the ground was still blanketed in white from the flakes that had the determination to flutter through the needles all the way to the forest floor. The path was mostly clear, though, and easy to follow, which Angela did, hugging her long, thick coat around her. She particularly liked the new coat she’d bought for the trip, and she lamented it would only fit for a few more weeks. Oh well, a happy reason to give it up, if ever there was one. She could give up her coat.

Even here, though, spring was showing itself. Birds flitted here and there among the trees, causing small puffs of snow to fall from branches overhead, and the chirps and flutters they made were mixed with the steady drip of water all around and the crunch of gravel and snow beneath Angela’s boots as she shuffled along at a lazy pace, enjoying it all.

She would not consider herself “outdoorsy,” but she had a healthy love of nature and she realized now she didn’t truly get out of the city very much at all. She would travel for work, of course. Field operations years ago, and the occasional conference in recent years, but always in cities. Buildings, cars, people. Why hadn’t she done this sooner? She knew these cabins were here. She had the money. She had enough banked vacation time to go wherever she might want, and she could even have gone on sabbatical if she chose. Why hadn’t she?

Because in a city, at work, living in a dormitory, surrounded by her friends, it was so much easier to tell herself that she wasn’t alone, that she wasn’t lonely.

But now, even here, she wasn’t, and she stopped and turned as she heard gravel and snow crunching behind her.

“There are bears in these mountains. I looked it up,” Moira called when she saw Angela turn. Though there was some shadow of concern, she did not seem altogether bothered, and though Moira always seemed to walk with purpose there was some hint of a strolling nature to her gait.

“In school they said if we see a bear we’re to make ourselves look as big as possible,” Angela called back, already holding her hand out in invitation though Moira was still some ways away, “And I’m the size of a small car at this point, so everything should be fine.”

Moira’s hand outstretched, their fingertips met first, but as Angela pushed her fingers between Moira’s she pulled back. She tugged at each finger of the snug, soft glove until she could pull her hand out, then held the glove to Angela, “Here.”

“Oh, we’ll each just lose one hand’s worth of fingers then?” Angela grinned, but she took the glove and slipped it onto her own hand. They’d clearly been custom made for Moira, and they were too long in nearly every place they could be, and a bit too snug in a few places as well. She hoped she wasn’t stretching them out, though Moira didn’t seem bothered.

“A glove for the outside hand,” Moira turned forward, this time being the one to push her now bared fingers between those on Angela’s equally bare hand, “And a hand for the inside.”

Angela smiled warmly as she grasped at Moira’s hand, tugging her along slightly to continue on the path.

“This is why you don’t go without me,” Moira added with little conviction as she looked slowly around, taking in the forest as Angela had done.

“I wasn’t going without you,” Angela insisted with a smile, “And I wasn’t going far.” She held up her free, gloved hand as though laying out a marquee ahead of them, “Pregnant woman lost in the Alps, Overwatch’s promotion campaign takes an icy turn.

Moira scoffed, “You couldn’t get lost if you tried,” With a glance over her shoulder she gesticulated with her own free hand at the shortly-spaced, turned-out tracks behind them, “What else waddles through the snow like that?” When Angela simply laughed along, Moira continued, gesturing ahead this time, “Do you know where this goes?”

Angela shook her head, “No, I was going to figure it out. With the way the path looped we’re still really close to the cabin, I’m sure. Maybe just a nature path, or a trail head for people who come up here to hike.”

“The sun will go down soon,” Moira cautioned, and though the forest was so thick that little direct light drifted to them, it was clear Moira was right from the general dimness growing all about, “We should turn around if it doesn’t loop back soon.”

The path didn’t loop, nor did it truly continue, ending fairly abruptly some hundred meters ahead. Smaller footpaths through the underbrush indicated optional trails for those more equipped and capable.

They turned back then, and as they walked along with their hands tightly clasped against the cold, Angela was torn between her contentment with the peaceful quiet and her incessant need to learn more about Moira.

“Did you like school?”

“What?” The sudden question seemed to catch Moira off-guard, and for a split-second her gait caught. That happened pretty regularly, actually, and Angela thought it must feel incredibly clumsy for someone with such long strides to shuffle along at her cautious pace.

“Growing up,” Angela explained, “Did you like school, or did you hate it?”

Moira gave a fairly animated shrug, lifting Angela’s hand in the process, “It was alright. Catholic school from start to finish, except the year at finishing school of course. So stuffy uniforms, general disavowing of at least a few scientific principles and best practices, glossing over some of the more unsavory bits of history . . . standard religious education.”

Angela had a little trouble moving past the sudden visual of Moira combined with a school uniform, and decided not to fall down the rabbit hole of asking if she wore pants or a skirt. That would be a question to imagine her way through at a later date. “I thought the Catholic Church had been doing better on those things? Contraception, abortion . . .” She trailed off, surprised to find it easier to bring up the example of abortion than to broach the subject of the other major gain: that in recent memory even the pope had, begrudgingly and under much social pressure, declared support for same-sex marriages.

“Mmmm, and priests can marry now, too, the whole world’s gone topsy-turvy. What even is a Catholic anymore?!” Moira added in an uncharacteristically dramatic, distressed voice, and Angela couldn’t help but think she was mocking someone that Angela had never met. After a chuckle at her own antics, so quiet to be almost lost under the crunch of the gravel and snow, she continued wryly, “Even the bastion of progressiveness and liberal thought that is the Catholic Church has its limits.” She gestured with her joined hands, just enough to brush her knuckles lightly across the side of Angela’s stomach, “I don’t think it’s ever been brought up, so to speak, but, well, something something playing God, unnatural, not right . . .” she trailed off into silence before adding in quiet defeat, “Something like that.”

“I can’t imagine a religion that fought so hard to save children would be that upset about one being made?” Angela ventured hopefully.

“It’s not just the baby,” Moira explained with exasperation, “Genetics in general . . . there have been opinion pieces.” After a moment she shrugged, “If it’s not one thing, it’s another. There’s always got to be something to guilt us over.”

Given that Moira was smiling, and even laughed a bit, Angela didn’t feel as upset as she felt she should. She considered bringing up how powerful genetics was in the fight against various diseases and maladies, but she knew she’d be preaching to the choir, “You don’t care for the Church, then, I take it?”

They walked for a long stretch in silence, and Angela didn’t press it. Finally, Moira seemed to reach her conclusion, “The church is full of fools that would cripple advancement of all in the name of the beliefs of only a few. It’s full of greedy people, small-minded people. The rituals are archaic, the beliefs even more so.” She paused, and her voice softened, “But it’s also full of good people. People who give their whole lives to their parish, people who believe in the church and do so out of faith, not malice or corruption or greed. And I think the institution and the community bring them happiness and comfort, and so I can’t say I hate it.”

It was difficult to picture Moira’s mother, as Angela still had no idea what she looked like, but from her suddenly quiet, distant demeanor Angela knew Moira probably pictured her clearly then.

“And so I would say my relationship with the Church is typical of most Catholics,” Her smile seemed somewhat pained, and directed only at the path in front of them, “Complicated.”

“But you consider yourself Catholic? You believe it all?” Angela fought hard to not sound incredulous, not to sound as though she were implying Moira shouldn’t believe. It was simply that Angela had met very few scientists, particularly those of Moira’s caliber, who held strong faith. There were some, absolutely, but it was not the norm. Then again, there were many ways Moira didn’t quite match the norm, weren’t there?

Moira gave a half-laugh, “You would be hard-pressed to find many Catholics who believe wholeheartedly in all of it. Then again,” She added, glancing down to wink at Angela, “That’s the best thing about Catholicism. Listen to what you want, ignore what you don’t, and just say sorry when it’s all said and done.”

Angela laughed, “Somehow I don’t think it’s actually that simple?”

Moira shook her head with a laugh, “No, not quite, but irreverence has brought me this far,” She waited a moment, but added a summary with a grin, “I’d say I’m Catholic, but my ma’s Catholic by faith, I’m just Catholic by default.”

“Do you want the baby to be Catholic?” Angela asked finally. She’d thought that delving into Moira’s own beliefs would make the answer clear enough, but while Angela felt she understood Moira’s ambivalence quite well indeed, she was as confused as ever over what Moira envisioned for the baby.

When Moira looked to Angela it was with a quizzical expression, as though the idea had never occurred to her, and she seemed to think for a moment before answering with her own question, “Do you ever intend to move to Ireland?”

An equally bewildered expression in response. Angela didn’t feel like she should say no, per se. Ireland was beautiful, at least in photos and films she’d seen, and if they ever left Overwatch, well, where else would they go? Angela had no real ties outside of Switzerland. But she had no plans for their future, beyond the fairly solid plans to move to Vesta of course . . .

With no answer forthcoming, Moira explained, “Most schools in Ireland are Catholic schools, and it can be difficult to get into the better ones if you’re not baptized,” She shrugged, “Whether either of us believe or not, I’d say we should baptize her if we were going to raise her in Ireland.” She added an afterthought with a laugh, “Also, if we were in Ireland we would be close enough for Ma to breathe down my neck and drop by for a friendly visit. Another compelling reason to baptize her.”

Angela thought the idea of family dropping by for a visit and to check on the baby sounded quite nice. Then again, the idea of it happening wasn’t the same as the reality, and she could almost hear the echo of Lena’s voice calling through her door in the middle of the night. She was all the happier to be off on their own for a week.

“What do you want to happen, Angela?” Moira turned, as much to look questioning as to help guide her up the wooden steps to the deck.

Angela focused on the climb rather than answering. The stairs were dry and not particularly unsafe, but it wasn’t easy to climb them in her state, and it gave her time to formulate her answer. The sun still not yet gone from the sky, and when Angela opted for the deck seating rather than heading for the glass doors, Moira joined her.

“I want to sit, that’s what I want,” She sighed loudly and grumbled a bit as she finally settled onto the coarse canvas cushions. She’d sit on the ground in the snow if it meant she could get off her feet, suddenly seeming a bit too large for the snow boots. Unbidden, Moira sat opposite of her and fished one of Angela’s booted feet onto her knee, one gloved and one bared hand pulling at the laces.

“I think,” Angela began slowly, her thoughts on her own upbringing, “It would be best to let her decide that for herself, when she’s old enough. Growing up at Overwatch she’ll be exposed to so many different ideas, it’s really amazing. I think it would be doing her a disservice to choose one for her.”

Moira nodded as she pulled the boot from Angela’s foot, earning a satisfied sigh for her efforts, “It’s probably best that way.” She lowered Angela’s stocking foot to the deck and lifted the other, loosening the laces as she added with a bemused smile, “I’ll deal with my mother. Somehow.”

“You think she’ll be upset?” Angela frowned as she wiggled her toes in the cool air.

“I think that where grandchildren are concerned she is incapable of being upset,” Moira grinned, and Angela did too. She hoped Moira was right. After setting the other discarded boot on the deck Moira set to work pushing her thumbs along the sole of Angela’s stocking foot, a sensation so welcome that Angela quickly pushed her other foot back into Moira’s lap for equal attention, which Moira gave without protest. “I agree for the baby,” Moira repeated, “But what about you?”

“Me?”

“I’ve never heard you discuss religion before. Surprising, considering you modeled your entire Overwatch persona after something so grounded in religion.”

“Oh, right, me,” Angela nodded and stifled a satisfied groan, a bit taken away from it all by Moira’s work, “The, ah, the Mercy . . . persona, I suppose that is a good word for it,” She shifted somewhat uncomfortably, suddenly realizing no one had ever actually asked her to justify it all, to explain it. Perhaps because it seemed to fit so naturally, so much so that even she hadn’t really thought about it, it just sort of happened that way, “It just fit well. With my name, my job, my goals . . . everything. So when I needed to add mobility enhancements and the protective visor to my armor, well, I suppose I just leaned into it at that point.”

Moira nodded her acceptance of this answer, absent-mindedly kneading at Angela’s poor feet, “But you don’t believe, then?”

“I suppose I was raised like we’ll raise her,” Angela smiled, “Because my parents died when I was so young, they never really taught me what they thought I should believe, and living in a boarding school I met so many different people that everything sort of, well, morphed into a big set of my own beliefs more than any particular religion.”

“And what would that be? Your set of beliefs, that is.”

“I think that good people are rewarded for their goodness,” Angela explained simply, “Now and when they are gone, and that we will see those we love again.”

“Reincarnation? Or an afterlife?”

Angela shrugged noncommittally, “I haven’t put much thought into it. What comes after doesn’t matter, at the end of it all what matters is that we did the most good we could while we were here.”

“And those who don’t do good? Damned to Hell for all eternity?” Moira grinned.

“It’s not something I’ve thought much about,” She explained, “I don’t intend to find out, and I don’t spend time with people who will, so it hasn’t crossed my mind much. Why worry about such horrible things?”

Why worry about what horrors may await you? You’d make a terrible Catholic, darling,” Moira chuckled, nudging Angela’s feet from her knees so that she could stand. After a large stretch and a loud groan she held her hand to Angela, “Shall we go inside before your feet freeze?”

“Or I could stick them in the spa,” Angela pointed out as she took Moira’s hand.


 

The only disadvantage to her position was that Angela couldn’t see Moira’s glasses, perched so elegantly at the tip of her nose. But there were enough advantages to make up for that travesty: Her clavicle at Angela’s cheek wasn’t nearly as sharp as it looked, and Angela’s head fit perfectly beneath Moira’s chin; the extra pillows they’d brought seemed to be comfortable enough for Moira to lay against, and Moira was certainly comfortable enough for Angela to lay against; the long, wide sectionals around the freestanding fireplace were large enough for two, a bit cramped given one was so heavily pregnant, but it was an easy enough fit with Angela’s back pressed against the back of the sofa, arms and legs wrapped tightly around Moira; and between the fire, her soft cotton nightshirt, and Moira, Angela found she had no need of the blanket she’d kicked down to tangle around their legs.

Moira seemed equally content, the occasional sounds of disapproval aimed squarely at the sheaf of papers held in the hand not tracing slow, soft patterns through Angela’s hair.

“Mmm, done,” Moira murmured quietly, and Angela did as she had for the past hour or so. Her arm’s rightful place was, of course, draped over Moira’s stomach, but when bidden she would stray just long enough to flip the page for Moira before she settled back in once more.

Angela had her own work she’d brought up as well; she’d completed all of her Overwatch duties in preparation for the trip, but one of the probably-not-entirely-necessary suitcases was full of a selection of medical journals that had been piling up over the months, unread. She really did need to get to them sometime; the last thing Overwatch needed was for Mercy to have her medical license revoked because she hadn’t finished her continuing education credits for the cycle. But for now she was perfectly content to do just this, to curl up against Moira and watch the steady flame.

The gas unit. That was probably the only real problem with this whole scene, Angela decided with a frown, murmuring quietly, “I’ve always preferred wood.”

There was a moment of silence, and Angela wasn’t sure if Moira had heard her. Not that it mattered, it was more an idle musing than a conversation-starter.

I knew it.” Moira finally hissed quietly, her attempt at feigned distress undermined by the chuckle she couldn’t hold back immediately afterward.

“Oh hush,” Angela grumbled with her own small laugh to follow, wriggling for no particular reason but to press against Moira all the more, “The fireplace. The gas units aren’t the same. The smell, the look, the sounds . . . they’re so boring.”

“I’m sure it’s easier on the owner to use gas,” Moira mused, and though Angela hadn’t lifted up to see her face she imagined Moira’s attention was still on the same obscure, out-dated article she’d been making her way through for the past half hour, “And on us. I’d rather hit a switch than have to bring in dirty firewood every hour.”

“I guess,” Angela frowned, “Still, I like the wood fireplaces better.”

“Says the one who wouldn’t be going outside for the wood,” Moira murmured lightly.

“Hmph, I’m not the one who insisted on being the one to take care of us and do all the carrying,” Angela responded, but she pushed herself up just enough to press an appreciative kiss against Moira’s jaw and to be sure the older woman was smiling. She was. Angela settled back against her chest once more.

“I’m sure you can trade Katja a buttered croissant to put a fireplace in our unit,” Moira drawled, responding to Angela’s actions in kind, pressing a kiss to Angela’s forehead before turning back to her reading.

“Mmm, it’s too late now,” Angela mumbled, “Besides, was it before you got here? When they were first trying to figure out what to put in all the units there was a big argument over whether or not to include fireplaces. A lot of people wanted them, but there were concerns over safety, especially with so many young kids around.”

 “It must have been before I started,” Moira confirmed.

“You’d have remembered it otherwise,” Angela grinned widely as she buried her face against Moira’s neck, mumbling, “It was a pretty heated debate.”

Moira snorted the bit of her laugh that she couldn’t stifle, whispering a quiet, affectionate, “Stop” as she squeezed Angela to her lightly.

“Mmmm, don’t worry,” Angela murmured, “As you saw, there are no fireplaces. Cooler heads prevailed.”

Why are you like this?” Moira groaned, this time not releasing Angela away as she pulled her to her, and though she could not hear it Angela felt Moira’s laugh in her chest.

Angela grinned, “I had an English teacher who told us he didn’t consider himself fluent in a language unless he could make puns and understand idioms, because knowing the words wasn’t the same as understanding nuance. I took it as a challenge,” She lifted her face then, her demeanor more serious, almost apologetic, “I’m sorry, does it really bother you?”

This time she could hear Moira’s chuckle, and Moira shook her head, “No, of course not,” she assured her before pressing her lips to Angela’s forehead firmly, “It’s . . . endearingly exasperating.”

“Endearingly exasperating,” Angela repeated softly, tucking her head back under Moira’s chin, “I can live with that.”

“As can I,” Moira mumbled, shifting a bit beside Angela as she turned her attention back to her work, “Done.”

One benefit of the gas fireplace was that that when Angela had turned some dozen more pages and Moira at last reached the references, the fire was at no risk of dying away.

“Useful?” Angela asked as Moira tossed the print-out onto a stack of several others she’d already read through with Angela’s expert page-turning to assist.

Moira responded as she had at the end of each of the others. A non-committal shrug. She passed her newly-freed hand through her hair and sighed, “Some new ideas, but nothing stand-out.”

“Mmmm, what’s next?” Angela looked to the other, yet-untouched stack of articles. It wasn’t early, but nor was it exceptionally late, and she was happy to lay with Moira until they both fell asleep here, if Moira would let it come to pass.

It seemed she wouldn’t, though, and rather than reaching to the pile again Moira’s hand found its way to where Angela was pressed against her, laying her palm lightly across Angela’s abdomen. Now into the third trimester, the baby’s movement was in full swing, though Angela had grown accustomed to it by now. It still seemed to delight Moira each time she felt it, however, and Angela had often fallen asleep alone to wake up with Moira’s hands clasped firmly around her midsection. She certainly wasn’t going to complain. Well, maybe about the falling asleep alone part. She hoped that would end now that they were a public as they would ever get.

But that was a concern for another time, another world. Right now the world was only the three of them, and Angela wouldn’t have it any other way.

There were, however, a few other ways she might have this particular exchange, and Moira seemed to feel the same as she ran her palm down Angela’s side, lower still to touch lightly at Angela’s thigh where her nightshirt gave way to bare flesh. Her other hand, still entangled in Angela’s hair, tugged ever so lightly, just enough to coax her to turn her head as Moira craned her neck downward to meet her in a kiss.

“Do you want to?” Moira whispered deferentially as she pulled back, dragging one finger lightly up Angela’s leg to pull her nightshirt along.

Angela gave a quiet “mm-hmm” as she nodded enthusiastically, moving her arm previously draped over Moira’s stomach to wrap around her neck. She buried her own hand in the short hair at the back of Moira’s head to pull her back into a kiss. She absolutely wanted to. She didn’t know if she could, but she would damn well try.

Permission granted, Moira’s touch wasn’t so light, and her fingers hooked around the back of Angela’s thigh and pulled her leg up against her as she ran her hand along the short distance to grip tightly at Angela’s ass.

“Dr. Ziegler,” Moira was whispering slowly against her ear, “I don’t want to embarrass you but I think you forgot to put on panties.”

“Mmmm, don’t tell anyone,” Angela whispered right back as she pushed Moira’s a-shirt up, running her hands roughly over Moira’s breasts as she did so. Moira hummed affectionately as she did so, and with a grin she finished Angela’s task of removing her shirt, only knocking her glasses slightly. Enticed, Angela pushed herself forward. It was not as satisfying as she’d have hoped, finding it impossible to find Moira between her legs with her large belly between them.

Moira didn’t seem put-off, however, and she passed her lips over Angela’s ear before once again lightly tugging at Angela’s hair to invite her into a kiss.

Angela’s appreciative hum hitched up into an exclamation, “Oh, wait, hold on.”

She was already pushing herself up, pulling away from a Moira who looked slightly put out, but much more concerned, “Is everything alright? We don’t have to, if you’re not feeling—“

“It’s not that,” Angela smiled and shook her head, struggling just a bit as she pushed herself off the couch and steadied herself on her feet. As she made her way to the bedroom she called back in a voice she hoped was enticing, “I just bought something new to wear. Wait right there, I’ll be back.”

The sigh Angela heard from behind could be one of exasperation, but the amusement was apparent in Moira’s voice as she called from the couch, “You know, it’s a good thing I’m going to foot our bills if you’re going to keep spending so much money on lingerie that will only fit for a few more weeks.”

You like it.” Angela sang back, barely making out Moira’s chuckle of response. Indeed, she liked each piece Angela had bought. In recent weeks Angela had found a few occasions to show Moira her other pre-Valentine’s Day purchases, though they bordered on too small even then. Not that Moira seemed to mind when they fit so tightly, and they weren’t on long enough for the fit to bother Angela.

Besides, it wasn’t just for Moira’s sake, not even mostly for Moira. In fact, it had been a recommendation of Nora’s early on. As Angela grew larger and the inevitable discomfort set in it was important for her emotional health to find ways to enjoy the physical changes that would come along with the pregnancy, find ways to feel strong or sexy or independent or whatever she otherwise might feel slipping away from her as she grew to be the size of a house. Maybe Nora hadn’t said it quite that way, but something along those lines. Doctor’s orders, then, that Angela had made another visit to the shop in preparation for their cabin getaway.

She was pretty happy with this one, actually. The babydoll “left more to the imagination,” as some tended to say, with the opaque cups and satin body which fell to mid-thigh. Truly it could work as much for sleepwear as for a racier selection, but Angela thought it accentuated everything it should in just the right ways. She hoped Moira agreed.

She tossed her nightshirt on the side of the bed, fetching the smooth black case from where she’d left it earlier in the day and the bottle of lubricant Moira had apparently set beside it.

“Okay,” Angela sang from the bedroom, “Close your eyes.”

She heard a small huff, but when she poked her head around the doorframe Moira had done as she’d been told, her eyes closed behind those striking glasses and her arms folded across her chest. “Oh, and now I don’t even get to see it either? What a waste of money,” She whined mirthfully as Angela padded around the fireplace, feeling the warmth touch across her bare thighs as she passed.

She placed the case and bottle next to Moira’s papers, well-within her reach, and watched Moira shuffle a bit at the nearby sound. Apparently sensing Angela’s approach, she’d lowered her arms back to her sides, but her eyes were still shut, framed in thick black and with the reflection of flames dancing across the lenses where Angela’s own shadow didn’t fall over her.

Moira simply lay there, ostensibly listening for Angela. Could she hear Angela breathing? She wouldn’t hear her moving, as Angela simply stood, watching. To most people Moira was a towering, thin figure, standing tall and stiff, or sitting rigidly. Imposing. Sometimes her arms were crossed as she would look down her nose at some paper or reader. Off-putting, cold.

Did anyone else know what Moira looked like when she was stretched out on a soft sectional in the firelight, lounging against an assortment of pillows with her shirt stripped away and her glasses slightly skewed? Had anyone ever noticed just how thin she looked when she lay back with her soft, pale stomach flat between her jutting hips and prominent ribs? Probably not, Angela surmised, and even if she was wrong, well, this perfect sight belonged to her from now on.

After a moment Moira’s smile began to morph from one of delight to one of nervousness, and she shifted as she sat, tilting her head slightly and asking with uncertainty, “Angela?”

Unfortunately Angela would not be able to just watch Moira all night long, and beside that, there were things she was also antsy to get to. She hummed quietly to let Moira know she was still there, close at hand, and when Moira relaxed somewhat against the pillows Angela slowly, carefully hooked one long, bare leg over Moira’s lap to climb over her. Despite her closed eyes Moira’s hands found Angela’s waist almost immediately, guiding her carefully as she settled down to straddle Moira’s lap. Angela pulled and tugged at what little clothing she wore, pushing the soft satin down between her parted legs to feign some bit of modesty.

“Okay,” Angela finally said in quiet invitation, adopting what she hoped was a demure smile.

Moira’s eyes shot open, and Angela could see the wells of darkness, one in a sea of blue and the other amid a pool of deep burgundy, constrict rapidly in the light. She moved to pull off her glasses, but when Angela whimpered a hasty “No, don’t,” she simply looked over the tops of the rims. She made no attempt to hide the way she took in Angela, and while it did make Angela squirm somewhat, it wasn’t with discomfort.

“Well?” Angela ventured teasingly, “Worth the money?”

“Mmmmmm,” Moira responded as she passed her hands from Angela’s waist to continue her appraisal. She dragged her palms up Angela’s sides, down again to feel the open back of the negligee, walking her fingers down the sides of Angela’s spine to where the short skirt of the gown splayed out a bit behind her. Up and around, then, over the tops of Angela’s thighs where most of the satin had bunched up to reveal skin not quite so pale as Moira’s stomach still bared between Angela’s folded knees. “Yes,” she finally affirmed as she pushed her long fingers up across Angela’s swollen belly between them, “It looks wonderful on you,” She smirked then, “But probably even better on the floor.”

“We’ll have to find out,” Angela crooned with a satisfied smile as Moira pushed herself up to meet Angela in a kiss. It was clumsy, the way that Moira half-sat, craning her neck to reach Angela without pushing too much against her. It had become clumsier by the day to find ways they could easily do anything of this sort. Even in positions that Angela’s size didn’t cause problems, her physical discomfort often would, and honestly Angela only hoped that this would work out for them tonight, she had no guarantee.

But she was determined, and Moira seemed to share her determination, letting Angela do as she needed. Moira acquiesced without protest when Angela pushed lightly on her shoulders, bidding her to settle against the pillows once more, and she only murmured offers of help as Angela rose up to her knees and knelt forward to catch Moira’s mouth again.

Appreciation of Angela’s taste in lingerie was another thing both seemed to share, and while Angela pressed her tongue hungrily past Moira’s lips Moira made herself busy gliding her hands firmly across the soft satin, grasping and kneading anywhere her hands happened to stop for a time. She pushed, grasped, and kneaded firmly until she’d pulled a satisfactory number of whimpers and moans from Angela, then with her own pleasant hum against Angela’s lips she would move on to some new location to tease at her so wonderfully.

Angela couldn’t be quite so adventurous with her hands; in order to comfortably hold herself in place she’d locked her arms, her fists to either side of Moira’s head. But she did what she could to encourage Moira and bring her along with her, working one leg over Moira’s to push her bared knee firmly against her, earning a grunt as Moira thrust her hips lightly upward in response. Not one to be outdone, Moira too bent her leg upward, allowing Angela to settle eagerly back against it, feeling the soft cotton joggers against the backs of her thighs were the satin had been pulled away.

What she couldn’t do with her hands, however, Angela was determined to make up for with her mouth, exploring instead with short, hungry kisses down Moira’s chin and back along her jaw. And yes, to dip her head down to suck lightly at Moira’s earlobe caused her to push herself along Moira’s thigh, and of course, trailing a new line of kisses down the side of Moira’s neck, along  her clavicle, down her freckled sternum required Angela to push lower, rougher against Moira’s thigh. But it was required, really, if she wanted to move as she pleased, and it seemed to please Moira as well, even more when Angela flicked her tongue across a small, taut, perfectly pink nipple for a small, soft, perfectly pitched whimper.

The red suck marks, perhaps a few small bites here and there, she’d left across the softer flesh of Moira’s small breasts last weekend had faded to a sickly green over the week, and now were all but gone, Angela had noted in her silent observations. It could be remedied, and it would be remedied, starting now.  If she couldn’t mirror her attentions with her hand, well, she would just need to pull double duty with her mouth, she was fairly certain Moira wouldn’t mind.

She didn’t seem to, and as Angela had made her journey downward, so too had Moira’s hands. She probably told herself it was to support Angela due to her pregnant state, lend her some stability, something of that sort. That seemed like an excuse Moira might give if questioned over why she gripped at Angela’s ass so firmly while she pushed Angela along her thigh, meeting every push of her hands with a shift of her leg.

The fabric wasn’t rough, quite soft actually, but it wasn’t Moira, and Angela pushed herself back up with some effort, finding herself able to sit back against Moira’s one bent knee. Moira blinked in confusion, but when Angela tugged at her pants she caught on soon enough, but it was to Angela’s chagrin that she nudged Angela away from her entirely with a quiet, “Up, over there” suggestion. Angela sat back onto the sectional with a pout.

“You don’t have to go that far, I could have handled it.”

Moira grumbled softly to herself as she stood, unknotting the drawstring with deft fingers.

“What?”

I said,” Moira grumbled more loudly, her voice grumpy but her eyes mischievous and her voice a thin mask for a laugh, “Only you would whine about getting off.”

Angela stuck out her tongue with a petulant whine, but quickly adopted a wicked grin. It was one of her favorite discoveries about Moira through all of this, that if you caught her in the right mood she would play along with Angela’s teasing, and she could give as good as she got if she were feeling particularly confident, it seemed. Those occasions were as good as any flustered Moira ever would be. Angela loved both. Angela loved Moira.

She sat back, leaving Moira enough room to do whatever she might need, and when Angela pressed the satin down again to cover herself she didn’t bother moving her hand away, pushing herself in small, eager thrusts against her own wrist as she watched Moira strip down. Moira’s blush and the hitch in her breath could be that she noticed, or simply anticipatory as she kicked her clothing away and took the black case in hand.

Angela had had occasion to watch these events unfold a few more times, and as Moira had grown more comfortable she had even answered a few questions Angela had had. And best of all, she didn’t bother turning away anymore.  Angela watched as Moira, dramatically lit by flickering firelight, held the harness and locked the inner ring into place.

“Want help?” Angela offered, knowing better now the importance of what came next.

Moira shook her head, “Thank you, I’ve got it,” she said quietly, and Angela nodded. She wished she’d been able to lend a helping hand earlier, but needing to keep herself from falling forward onto her stomach had been too important. But oh, how tempting it had been.

No matter how ready Moira was, she’d explained to Angela, the way the hardlight end of the attachment worked could be unpleasant at the very start. A few times she’d been more than happy to let Angela help with applying the lubricant for her, but most of those times that Angela had smeared her fingers and carefully worked them into Moira they somehow found themselves straying from their intended course, and the toy went unused altogether. Not that either woman expressed dismay.

Moira knew what she was doing, however, and quickly, clinically even, she’d spread the lubricant across her long fingers and pushed them inside herself as she stood beside the couch, only a small grunt joining the wet sounds her fingers made. Angela liked to think it was a bit more enjoyable for the both of them when she was doing the topical application, but she wasn’t one to complain about a view like this one.

Moira had already pulled the harness into place and settled back onto the couch, the final piece lying along with the lubricant nearby, when she motioned Angela back to her with a smile, “Now you can help.”

“Lucky me,” Angela whispered and she bit her lip in a way she hoped came off as alluring as she imagined, crawling carefully back up over Moira’s long legs to settle again over her lap, this time down just a bit, just enough. She pried the outer attachment from the soft foam in the case, and this time she knew to look to Moira and ask, “Ready?” before attaching it. The moment the circuits were complete it would, well, function based on wherever Angela’s hand was gripping it, and if Moira wasn’t ready or expecting it . . . it could apparently be quite jarring.

But Moira nodded, and gripping it lightly as she had been instructed Angela locked it into place. “Alright?” Angela asked quietly when Moira gasped, and again Moira nodded.

Yes, Angela was happy to help. She took a moment to find a comfortable position, something that was growing more difficult every day. She was amused that when she inched up Moira’s thighs, her belly barely bumping against the toy, it was hard to tell over the bump who was wearing the toy that jutted out between them. It wasn’t difficult to tell, though, when Moira groaned and pressed against her as Angela leaned forward. It was a short-lived motion, however, just enough for Angela to fetch the small bottle.

Moira had tugged a few pillows away, and she lay more fully back now, watching Angela with one hand behind her head. The other hand had found its way to Angela’s thigh, sneaking under the high satin hem. She was doing it on purpose, rubbing the circles against Angela’s skin just far enough down her leg to keep Angela interested but not completely indulged, and from the smirk she wore she knew just how Angela felt about the whole situation.

Oh well, Angela could play Moira just as easily. “It’s warm,” Angela remarked with surprise as she squeezed the bottle into her palm.

Moira shifted nervously, “Oh, uh, I thought you’d like it? It said it was okay for pregnancy. If you don’t like it I have another—“

She’d looked toward the bedroom, undoubtedly thinking of some backup bottle she’d brought along, but when Angela simply hummed and wrapped her fingers around the circuit-lined shaft her words caught in her throat and she no longer seemed interested in anything in the bedroom, bringing her attention back around to focus solely on Angela as she sat astride her.

“Good?” Angela asked with as much allure as she could muster as she stroked her hand slowly up and down, and Moira simply swallowed and nodded. Angela smiled, speeding her pace with each firm stroke. “Good.”

The first minute or so Moira seemed determined to maintain her composure, and if not for the flush moving across her chest and up her neck, drowning out most of her wonderful freckles, if not for the quickening pace of her breath, Angela would say she did a very good job of it. But soon enough Moira wriggled and squirmed beneath Angela, her breath no longer silent but a series of whimpers and moans.

Her promise to take care of Angela not forgotten, finally her thumb stopped its gentle circles against her thigh and meandered through warm, wet ringlets to run against Angela’s sensitive skin. It seemed awkward, difficult even, for her to work her hand between them; Angela’s own arm moving rapidly up and down would have been enough interference by itself, never mind that her large belly pressed between them. But Moira seemed determined in this as well, and with a twist of her wrist she seemed to situate herself comfortably, or at least in a way that Angela appreciated very much, groaning and pushing against Moira’s two long fingers as they pushed into her.

Moira had given up holding her stoic expression, and her lips were parted beautifully, her glasses striking in the firelight as she watched Angela over the top of them. Quickly she matched Angela’s own rapid stroking pace, and when Angela pushed against her fingers she made a point to bump against the toy as well, an action that seemed very much appreciated.

It was all wonderful, watching Moira watch her, feeling Moira’s fingers pump inside of her while, in some sense, she pushed into Moira as well. Even the sounds, the wet, slick sounds of both of their hands working, was more enticing than absurd, particularly when joined by the chorus of their rapid breaths and intermittent moans and gasps. But this could be done, at least to some degree, in the weeks ahead. With Angela’s state there was a very real chance this was their last chance to truly employ the toy, though, and Angela didn’t want to miss it.

With a final, tight-gripped stroke she pulled her hand away, and Moira grunted with displeasure, even more when Angela pulled back a bit herself, nudging Moira’s hand to stop. But when Angela resituated herself, rising up a bit and inching forward, Moira made and appreciative sound and found her waist with both hands, helping to guide her as best as she could.

Clumsy and uncertain, Angela gave a nervous, apologetic laugh as she felt the toy bump lightly all around between her legs, never finding quite the right spot, “Hold on, sorry, this is probably going to be harder than it has been.”

“Mmmmm, yes,” Moira drawled, “That’s what he said.”

No longer distracted by her task, Angela’s eyes shot to Moira’s face, a face wearing the most smug smile imaginable, and Moira looked far too pleased with herself as Angela narrowed her eyes, “Did you just make a—“ Without missing a beat, Angela rose fully onto her knees, adopting the most serious of demeanors she could muster, “Well,” she said brusquely, “Good night then.”

Quickly, with only a bit of a wobble, she climbed to her feet, barely able to hide her own smile as she caught Moira chuckling at the corner of her eye.  She was halfway finished with her pointedly curt walk into the bedroom when Moira’s throaty chuckle gave way to another low, enticing sound.

An-gel-aaaa,” Moira’s voice was smooth and quiet, but it carried clearly, all the way to Angela’s ears, down her spine and tingling across her skin, to grip at her deep within and compel her to turn, “Come back, darling, you wouldn’t leave me like this, would you?”

She most definitely would leave Moira like this, she thought. Not leave, actually, just enjoy, and remember. If the previous sight of Moira on the couch had been striking, this was absolute perfection from tip to toe. One hand casually returned to rest behind her head, her glasses perched just so low as to allow her to look hungrily to Angela over the frames. Her lips still parted, her chest still rising and falling at a quick pace, small red suck marks already blooming across her breasts from Angela’s efforts. Her long body draped down the sofa, with one long leg hanging lazily to the ground, and finally Moira showing nowindication that she was embarrassed by the harness and the toy, glistening wet with her fingers curled around the base. Honestly, all of Moira was glistening, sweating slightly and shining in the dim firelight.

“Come on,” Moira invited again, and it didn’t matter if her shift was for comfort or if she was trying to thrust her hips, it was maddening to Angela no matter what brought it about.

It was not so difficult this time, with Moira eagerly guiding her into place and downward, and her self-satisfied grin turned to a look of pure indulgence as Angela settled down into place. With Moira’s long fingers wrapped around her soft thighs Angela found all the assistance she needed to raise and lower herself, though it was clumsy at first. She wasn’t nearly as fit as she used to be, particularly with so much extra weight, but Moira didn’t seem to mind. When Angela couldn’t manage to lift herself any longer Moira urged her to simply rock against her as she thrust roughly upward with every grinding pass.

Soon the rapid creaking of the sofa was drowned away in a cacophony of gasps and moans and murmured expletives, and when Angela finally collapsed again to Moira’s side, curling around her tightly once more, both women’s slick skin shone in the firelight. Moira tasted of salt against Angela’s lips, and her breath was beautifully ragged as her chest rose and fell beneath Angela’s cheek, slowing finally to deep, steady breaths to lull Angela to sleep.

Chapter Text

It might have been the bright mid-morning sun streaming in the tall windows, or perhaps the sounds and smells of cooking food that roused Angela. Blearily she looked around, at first uncertain of just where she was. Quickly the memories returned, and though the fireplace had been switched off and Moira was now absent, she remembered the warm touch of each as she’d fallen off to sleep the night before.

Now, however, she found herself covered in the heavy green quilt Moira had kept in her office, and with no reason to rise, Angela simply wriggled happily into a slightly more comfortable position, one in which she could gaze lazily past the fireplace and take in the occasional bird flitting past the windows.

She could hear Moira moving unseen in the kitchen, and some of Angela was tempted to push herself from the couch and seek her out; but still more of Angela grinned at the possibility that breakfast in bed—well, breakfast on couch, might come her way if she were patient.

A second shift under the quilt found her in a still more comfortable position, but she rose up slightly at the sound of something being pushed off the couch. She worried at the location of Moira’s glasses, but when she maneuvered to peek over the edge she spied the harness which Moira had apparently simply stripped away and set aside.

Angela’s efforts were difficult: She wanted to pick it up off the ground, yes, but she also wasn’t interested in leaving the comforts of the fluffy quilt and warm couch, and the difficulty brought on by her belly made a simple task quite difficult indeed. With a few grunts of exasperation and more than a few failed attempts to reach the object just out of reach, she did finally manage to snag the waistband and drag the toy up to her.

Moira had certainly never told her she couldn’t examine it more closely, and in fact its new home was right beside Angela’s bed, yet she had not spent much time investigating the device. Typically when it was around her mind was wholly occupied with other interests, and while she was more than happy to see what it could do on such occasions, her interests were not so academic in nature.

Now, however, she was simply curious. It was still entirely assembled, and the external attachment was somewhat tacky to the touch, the interior no different. Angela scrunched her nose; Moira had complained on more than one occasion on the difficulty of cleaning it, and it had clearly not been washed since the previous evening’s activities.

Oh well, nothing Angela hadn’t already been in plenty of contact with. With a curiosity now wholly in the realm of scientific wonder, she moved her fingers across the external attachment, and when the reactionary hardlight sprung into existence from the oppositely-affixed ring she investigated that too with her other hand. It was a marvelous thing, really, and not simply because of how enjoyable she had found it to be.

That, of course, had been marvelous. She’d been no stranger to strap-ons, though she was not particularly inclined to wear one herself, leaving that task to her lover. This propensity, coupled with her distaste for performing orally, had led some past lovers, particularly the women, to accuse her of selfishness, of not caring about their pleasure. While she felt they were wrong and would defend herself thusly, she could not blame them. She was more than happy to use her hands in whatever way her partner might wish, and certainly the requisite friction could be found in a great number of ways if one were so determined, but still, she did so hate being seen as an uncaring lover.

And so this little—well, not that little—toy had been an answer to an unspoken prayer, and that she and Moira both seemed to be capable of reaching climax through penetration, no easy feat for many women, solidified it as something like a miracle in Angela’s eyes. Still, Angela had so enjoyed the look on Moira’s face when her skirt had been pushed up and she had helped Angela down to the ground. It was a vision—She was a vision which could at least somewhat overcome Angela’s distasted fo—

“What are you doing with that?” Moira’s voice was mostly curiosity and surprise, though perhaps a hint of annoyance. Or embarrassment, perhaps? The sizzling from the kitchen had mostly died down, and while she did not come bearing a plate of food, she was a welcome sight nonetheless, framed in the bright light as she stood before the windows in her typical night attire of loose-fitting cotton pants and an a-shirt.

Investigating,” Angela breathed quietly, and when Moira sighed Angela simply wiggled her eyebrows, not hesitating to shift her hand up the shaft of the external attachment as she did so, “You didn’t complain about me playing with it last night . . .”

It was difficult to see, backlit as she was by the sun reflecting off the snow-covered trees beyond the deck, but Angela was quite certain from the huff that Moira had blushed somewhat. All Angela saw was the shrug, and she heard a chuckle after, “Be my guest. You can clean it if you’re that interested.”

She nodded that she would, but as Moira walked barefoot through the living area Angela’s voice was much less playful, indicating that same academic interest that had caused her to take up the toy in the first place, “Why did she decide to make a sex toy of all things?”

“Hm?” Moira seemed confused by the question, but she was too busy situating herself to answer right away. She’d found her way to the short end of the sectional, and she sat close enough to where Angela rested to tuck the quilt up over Angela’s chest before running her long fingers through Angela’s sleep-tangled hair.

Though she gave a quiet hum of appreciation, Angela’s interest was not pulled from the toy she held aloft, “There are so many more marketable uses for this technology, why did she make a sex toy?”

“You didn’t complain about it last night,” Moira responded wryly. Angela was inclined to stick out her tongue, but she refrained upon imagining the unlikely but terribly embarrassing possibility of her dropping the toy onto her face at just that instant. Moira just chuckled, “When she first showed the underpinning technology to her advisor they’d told her it was worthless since it vanished right away, and she needed to find a new project.”

“But she didn’t?” Angela was glad that Moira seemed to discuss this with some ease, for they had not broached the subject of Yanaba Bianchi since the day following the recruitment gala.

More than a chuckle, Moira outright laughed, “I think that’s why she made a sex toy.” When Angela simply fixed her with a look of confusion, Moira grinned and looked almost embarrassed to say, “She was a bit . . . headstrong? She said,” Moira sighed with some memory of exasperation, running her free hand through her own hair, “That he could go fuck himself and this was her way of helping out.”

Angela gave her own sudden bark of laughter, and in doing so the very unlikely event she feared did in fact occur, and she flinched away and yelped as much with surprise and embarrassment as pain as the harness slipped from her fingers, the tacky, fairly hard outer attachment whacking her nose soundly on its way to clatter once more to the floor.

She scowled, and her embarrassed whimper became a loud whine when she caught Moira’s soft laughter. Moira had jumped, startled and worried, at Angela’s sudden misfortune, but as it became clear it was only her pride that was seriously hurt Moira smiled down at her.

“Awwww, poor thing,” Moira crooned sweetly, rubbing her thumb softly down Angela’s nose.

Angela groused for another moment or two, rubbing her own fingers in the wake of Moira’s thumb, and eventually she settled back down again, this time with the harness left on the floor. “Well I commend her on her word play,” Angela grumbled.

“I thought you’d appreciate that,” Moira grinned, returning once more to running her fingers slowly through Angela’s hair.

“Still, it’s unfortunate she lacked vision. A waste, really.”

“Oh, I had no idea you disliked it so much,” Moira taunted, though she did seem sincerely confused.

“Hush,” Angela pushed her newly freed hands under the large quilt once more, and with only a bit of wriggling she had resituated herself comfortably. And if that adjustment involved pushing herself up a bit, enough to rest her head in Moira’s lap, well, neither complained at such a happy accident, “You know I like it,” She smiled, but scrunched her nose with displeasure as she added an afterthought, “When it’s not hitting me in the face.”

“Yes, I’m aware you don’t want it near your face, you needn’t remind me,” Moira responded, her tone dry but her grin wide, and this time Angela felt safe to stick out her tongue.

She considered reminding Moira that it was she who pushed Angela away when she’d tried, and that the event had featured significantly in the subsequent blowup, but she thought better of it. Moira seemed in high spirits, and truly Angela did want to discuss the actual merits of the technology, “I mean what could have been done instead. She shouldn’t have pitched it as a novelty item, though I guess if she’s not medically inclined she might not have seen the value.”

“Medically?”

Angela realized her nonchalant shrug likely seemed to simply be a wriggle under the heavy blanket. She also rather wished Moira would lay down and join her underneath, but there would be time for that later. “I’m not sure what she was capable of building with those facilities, but, say . . . alright, I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and I’m not sure what’s actually possible, but I have to imagine that we’ve come far enough in recent years to make it possible.”

When Moira simply looked on, her expression curious and her thumb brushing lightly around Angela’s ear, Angela continued.

“Consider if the same technology were built into an operating theater. Surgeons could perform a surgery using some sort of receiving technology, and if it could be fine-tuned enough that it could transmit such delicate movements, surgery could be performed on someone with the surgeon not even in the room. We could have a truly, completely sterile, contamination-free surgical suite.” Angela’s voice hitched up, excited for the possibilities, “And if it could be made wireless, to work via the net or satellites? Just imagine, no one would have to suffer because of lack of access. I could be here, in Switzerland, and perform surgery on someone in, I don’t know . . . Venezuela? Antarctica?”

Moira was nodding along thoughtfully, “I see what you mean. You’re right, though, I don’t think medical uses would have occurred to her.” She sighed and shrugged slightly.

Angela chewed her lip thoughtfully for a moment before finally broaching the subject, “If . . . I’m not going to, not if you don’t want me to . . .” Moira had raised her brows in inquiry, and Angela pressed on, “It would really be such a shame if we didn’t pursue it. I’d like to see if I can’t renegotiate. To hire her on, to work more on her temporary hardlight technology.”

Moira didn’t seem immediately put off, but nor did she seem enthusiastic. “She didn’t really seem excited about Overwatch, Angela. Honestly I think they only came to meet you . . .”

Angela grinned, Matteo had been a very nice man, if only she could have been more hospitable and less on-edge. When she caught Moira frowning thoughtfully, though, she turned slightly to bury her face into Moira’s lap, “She may not even have to come here, if we can get her to work remotely with Torbjörn on the project, or even just sell Overwatch the technology outright.”

Moira seemed to think for a long time, and it was heartening that when she finally opened her mouth she did so with a smile, and her voice was immediately mirthful, “If you’ll go through these lengths to get fancier sex toys, I suppose I can’t stop you.”

It’s not about that,” Angela pursed her lips and pouted, though she had to admit that if in fact the technology could be made wireless there was no telling what sorts of devices . . .

“I know,” Moira whispered with a smile before gingerly extracting herself from under Angela’s head, “And if you want to reach out, that’s fine with me. I . . . probably hated her once. But that was a long time ago.” She stooped and picked up the harness, tossing it onto the opposite, unused couch before holding her hand out with a warm smile, “Things have changed a lot since then. Come on, breakfast is probably cold by now.”

Angela simply pulled a pillow beneath her head and hugged the edge of the quilt under her chin, batting her eyelashes as best as she could, “You’re not going to bring it to me?”

Moira rolled her eyes as she stood straight, and her sigh sounded a lot like an amused ‘fiiiine’ as she returned alone to the kitchen.


Angela was perfectly happy. The breakfast Moira had eventually brought out for the both of them, a simple dish of scrambled eggs, potatoes, and onions, was not too cold at all, and after they’d both eaten and set their plates on the hearth they enjoyed the rest of the morning lazily.

There was a long safety bar mounted in the bathroom, but even still Angela didn’t feel Moira’s offer to join her in the shower was the most prudent course of action. Besides, Moira had apparently showered before making their breakfast, and when Angela shoo’d her out of the bathroom she didn’t seem terribly upset over it.

Yes, Angela was perfectly happy as she stood under the hot, strong torrent, running soapy hands across her body.

As much as she delighted in her pregnancy, it was difficult some times. Not only for the physical symptoms; the overall discomfort, the frequent urination, the fatigue, the backaches, the swollen ankles, the heartburn . . . it was also the emotional symptoms. Maybe they were heightened by some shift in hormones, but even if everything were perfectly balanced, Angela couldn’t imagine being pleased with how soft her body had become. Her belly was swollen large, yes, as were her breasts, and that she couldn’t complain about. Nor did Moira seem particularly bothered. But she was fairly certain that the first time Moira had grabbed her ass there was much less of it to grab, and not until she’d found herself on top of Moira, riding as hard as she was able, did she realize just how flabby some areas had become.

But still, she was happy. Because even these things that displeased her all centered around that one thing she wanted most. She was pregnant, and together with Moira she was building a family. And so yes, Angela was perfectly happy. She’d just need to return to the gym once the baby was born, that was all. And that seemed so very close now. Ten more weeks. Only ten more weeks until they would meet her.

Not that Angela wanted this particular week to be over any time soon. She took her time showering, and even more time picking out what she might wear. She was on vacation, and it’s not as though they planned to go out, and so she felt justified in pulling on clothing fairly reminiscent of Moira’s usual pajamas. The loose cotton pants, anyway. Angela had never been a large fan of a-shirts, even moreso when she felt so large, and opted for a soft, over-sized jumper instead.

“Mmmm, more work?” Angela asked curiously as she plodded past the fireplace and into the kitchen. While she’d not expected it of Moira, she was surprised to find she’d apparently done no post-breakfast cleanup, and was instead typing furiously into a fold-out reader at the small table.

Moira only looked up briefly to shoot an excited but wholly distracted smile to Angela, then returned immediately to typing once more, her head bobbing a bit as she spoke, “Ah, I think I might have figured out a solution for my nucleotide problem . . .” She paused from her typing for a moment to gesticulate haphazardly with her hand, “I won’t be able to actually see if it will be viable until we get back, of course, but I’m laying out the basic idea to see if I didn’t miss something important that will gum it all up before I start.”

“Oh?” Angela was all the more curious, and she had one eye on Moira’s back as she began the cleanup herself.

Moira’s head bobbed again, and she sat back with a huge, groaning stretch. With one elbow tossed over the back of the chair, she twisted to look at Angela, and it was quite endearing how enthusiastic she looked as she explained, “I was thinking about what we talked about yesterday, about the church.”

Well this isn’t where Angela expected the new hypothesis to begin. She nodded that she was listening, urging Moira quietly to continue.

“When I was small, a few parishes over they were going to tear down one of the old churches to build some golf course or hotel or . . . I don’t know what, I just know people were upset that this historic old building was being torn down for something touristy. And it was old, the church. Built it the mid-800s, I think?”

“I’m not surprised people were upset,” Angela marveled.

Moira nodded, “It wasn’t a tourist attraction like all the other churches around the country. Nothing original remained but the building itself, all the windows and doors and the bell were all restoration pieces, so people who wanted to tear it down argued it wasn’t even the real church, so it didn’t matter if the building itself were torn down.”

“So what happened?” Angela asked, finding Moira’s story much more interesting than scrubbing a bit of cheese off the pan, but she worked at that as she listened.

“You can’t stand in the way of progress,” Moira scoffed, but then smiled, resting her chin on the back of the chair with a smile, “They tore the entire thing down, but they did it brick by brick and they labeled each one. They carted them to a historic preservation site outside of Dublin and rebuilt the entire thing there, with new window restorations and everything.”

“Well, I suppose it’s a compromise,” Angela mused, wondering if the people who had fought to save the church felt it was an acceptable one. She didn’t think so. She’d never seen the church, of course, but her mind conjured up images of a little grey stone building in rolling green hills, and picturing that same building pressed against so many others on a historic site . . . it didn’t seem the same.

Moira nodded, and was silent for a moment, “I was thinking . . . once they’d torn it down, if they hadn’t saved the same stones they used, if they had just tried to build a new church from plans, it wouldn’t have been the same.”

“And if they’d lost a brick, oh no.” Angela grinned, and Moira did too.

Moira gave a small chuckle, nodding as well as she could without lifting her chin from the chair, and her eyes sparkled, “I’ve been trying to build a church with bricks from houses and hospitals and schools.”

“I’m sorry, I don’t follow,” Angela gave a soft smile of apology before sliding their rinsed plates into the dishwasher.

“All of my troubles, with the cellular regeneration, have come from problems delivering nucleotides to the site, but all of those problems have been because I’m using reagents from other sources. Dietary proteins, isolated nucleobases, none of them are the right type of brick for what I’m trying to build.”

Angela leaned against the counter, and she found her belly a nice shelf for her arms as she crossed them over her chest and shook her head, “But they are, though. It doesn’t matter what the source was, adenine, guanine, cytosine . . . it’s all the same when it’s been brought to such a basic piece.”

Moira drummed her long fingers on the back of the chair as she nodded, her eyes still alight with enthusiasm, “Yes, but I was getting too much cytosine and not enough adenine, or vice versa, or too much urea, you’ll remember. And you said it yourself, if they lost a brick, they were going to have a tough time rebuilding their church.” She smiled as she rose from her seat then, seemingly too excited to sit and opting to pace the small kitchen instead, “So the solution, then, must be to catabolize other cells in order to utilize their constituents elsewhere.”

Angela hated to be a naysayer, but Moira had specifically said she was trying to sniff out problems, and she’d apparently missed the most abundantly clear issue with this supposed solution, “But what good would that do? If you were to, I don’t know . . . repair a kidney with this, wouldn’t that mean you’d just have to destroy the other?”

“Borrowing from Peter to pay Paul, you could say,” Moira stopped her pacing just long enough to nod understandingly toward Angela, then she was pacing again, “But it’s the only way I think it may work. And it should work. It would result in a nearly perfect ratio of nucleotides, and given they would already come from human cells, they would only need to be delivered in some rapid manner . . . An injection, if it could be broken down into an aqueous solution, or perhaps if that could be managed, a vapor . . .”

As Moira began muttering more to herself than to Angela, Angela cleared her throat, “I still don’t understand what it accomplishes if you have to destroy one organ to build another, Moira.”

She paused then, and looked momentarily dumbfounded, then somewhat apprehensive as she stood stock still, the only movement the running of her hand through her hair, “Well, if I could make a solution for it . . . those organs don’t have to come from . . . the same person.”

What? Had Angela even heard that right? Did she understand? Surely she hadn’t, surely she didn’t. “What?”

Moira’s discomfort grew more visible, almost a wince, and she simply scratched at her ear nervously as she explained that Angela had heard correctly, and yes, she mostly understood, “Well, if one person was, say, shot in the field and wouldn’t be able to make it back in time for an extraction, it might be possible to use cells catabolized from another person to repair the damage. And,” Her eyes were alight with excitement again as she stepped toward Angela, her discomfort giving way to enthusiasm, “If it can be put into a solution or vapor it may even be able to be stored long term, which would allow—“

“That’s barbaric,” Angela spat out, “You can’t just . . . break down a living person, Moira, we’re people, not buildings.”

Moira seemed dumbfounded for a moment, staring back slack-jawed as Angela glared up at her. At last she shook her head, “I’m not . . . I’m not saying it would be done without permission. Or, now that the field agents are dealing more with people than omnics, even enemy forces could be used for—“

Stop,” Angela hissed, and Moira did so, but the look on her face was not nearly so apologetic and admonished as Angela felt it should be. She looked indignant, which just made Angela’s outrage grow all the more. That anyone would think of such a thing . . . yes, the forces their agents contended with were enemy combatants, but to sacrifice them in such a way? If it weren’t already against the Geneva Conventions, it certainly should be. “How could you even think such a thing would be okay, Moira? You can’t dismantle an enemy combatant to—“

Moira was already shrugging, but her voice was much less nonchalant, and a fair bit louder than it had been, though Angela could say the same for her own, “Fine, no combatants then, only people who agree to donate their—“

“Medical euthanasia was banned worldwide forty years ago, surely you know that.”

“It’s not euthanasia, Angela, it’s . . . think of it like organ donation, but instead of donating a kidney, you’re donating your cellular constituents so that—“

“You don’t have to die to donate a kidney, Moira,” Angela spat, and she wasn’t sure who was talking more loudly, more quickly, but with each exchange they each seemed to increase their tenacity, and Angela was no longer leaning against the counter, but standing resolutely. If during her own gesturing she prodded a finger into Moira’s chest a few times, well, she didn’t think it all that problematic, though Moira’s gaze certainly flicked down in annoyance each time it occurred.

“You’re being obtuse, Angela, I nev—“

Obtuse?

You heard me,” Moira snapped back, and she was right, of course Angela had heard her, as they were both nearly shouting. Moira seemed to regain some bit of composure, though. She swallowed hard, and her voice was quieter, though had a certain hint of venom that made Angela altogether uncomfortable, “Like I was saying, you’re being . . . unreasonable. It would be the patient’s choice, and possibly only in cases where they were going to die anyway. Terminal illnesses. Be reasonable, Angela, surely you can see the application of—“

“I am being reasonable,” Angela said with an equally quiet, icy response. While Moira may have gained some of her composure, Angela felt her own slipping away.

“You’re not,” Moira insisted, and though even now Angela was sure she was not doing so on purpose, the way she stepped forward and loomed so greatly over Angela was terribly intimidating, and it took no small amount of resilience for Angela to stand her ground. All the same, Moira sighed hugely, and she was delicate when she reached out to place both of her hands on Angela’s shoulders. It was somewhat comforting, and it might have calmed Angela if her tone hadn’t been quite so patronizing, “We’re getting ahead of ourselves. I haven’t even developed it yet, the question of implementation can come later, once I’ve finished—“

“You’re not working on this.” Angela snarled, “I understand,” Angela did her best to adopt the same maddeningly patronizing tone Moira had sported, “That you think this could help people, and so you think I would agree, but I don’t.”

When she fixed Moira with a glare she could see the flash of anger, and she felt the squeeze at her shoulders before she brushed Moira’s hands away from her.

“Even if it would work, it would open up so many other issues. We already have a black market for organ donation, we already have people being bought and sold for other people to use . . . did you ever even think about what might happen if the key to saving yourself might be killing someone else, Moira?”

“So, what, you’re going to, what?” Moira had once again returned to wild gestures of exasperation, “Stand in the way of something that you full well recognize could save people because it might be misused by some people some day?”

Angela nodded resolutely, “Yes. I am.” She took a deep breath, and her voice was shakier than she’d expected, “I’ll remind you, Winston will defer to me on all matters of medical research. I provide all oversight, you’ll go through me, and I won’t allow you to do this.”

Moira was no longer gesturing. She was no longer snapping back her responses, and she was no longer trying to justify herself. She was simply staring. She was simply glaring with such a furious anger that Angela felt her own resilience chipping away, but she stood tall and raised her chin defiantly. It was silent, and Angela was certain she could hear Moira grinding her teeth, but when finally Moira dropped her gaze it was not an act of surrender, and she more growled than said, “You would really do that?”

“Yes,” Angela’s voice sounded quiet, weak even, but the softness was not from defeat. She would not let Moira usher in an age of questionable medical practices. Overwatch would not be known for developing the technology that tore apart their enemies, the sick, and the dying. Not on Angela’s watch, “Overwatch is for heroes, not . . . butchers.”

“You’re standing in the way of meaningful scientific progress,” Moira virtually whispered toward the floor, “It could save countless lives, how can you be like this, Angela? I thought you’d be—“

“Happy?” Angela asked, and she thought she’d sound more indignant, more commanding, if her voice hadn’t squeaked when she’d said it. She cleared her throat before continuing, “Those lives would be saved at the cost of countless other lives sacrificed to do the saving. It’s . . . it’s not right. It’s not what good people do, Moira. We don’t hurt people. We help people.” This time her tone was soft by design, and though she could still hear her heartbeat in her ears, she reached a hand out hopefully, comfortingly to wrap her fingers lightly around Moira’s arm.

Maybe she thought that Moira would nod and fall against her, profess that they could work together to find a new solution. Maybe she hoped Moira would say she would abandon the whole idea in favor of a new project more tolerable to Angela’s sensibilities. Maybe she just wanted Moira to know she wasn’t mad at her, she only wanted to help Moira do what was right.

But Moira jerked her arm violently away from Angela’s grasp, snarling as she did so in a way that shocked Angela as much as it hurt her.

“It’s not about helping others. You don’t care about helping others,” Moira spat venomously, once more glaring with absolute rage toward Angela. She sneered then, and her lip twitched violently as she did so, “You’re not the saint you make yourself out to be.”

“What?” Angela was brought instantly back to the height of her own anger, “What’s that supposed to mean?”

Oversight?” Moira scoffed, “Ethical concerns? By the book, is that it, Angela?” When Angela just stared back sternly, uncertain if she could even form words to ask what the hell Moira was getting at, Moira continued, waving her hand downward toward Angela’s swollen belly, “Did you get IRB approval for this, Angela? No, you didn’t. You think I don’t know that you could have found someone else to do all of it, the modifications? I even told you that fertility isn’t my area, so why? Why did you come to me, Angela?

Angela mouthed words, but before she could form them into sounds, Moira was continuing, her voice cracking a bit as the volume increased with each spat accusation, “Because you didn’t want oversight. You didn’t want to have to deal with the questions. You didn’t want anyone to know. So what did you do? You. Came. To. Me. Why, Angela? Why?”

Again, Angela mouthed words, but again, she had no time to respond. Moira was all but shouting down at her, and as much as it made Angela angry, defensive, offended, and all manner of upset, she couldn’t help but yearn to reach out and wipe the tears she could see beginning to form at the edges of Moira’s glaring eyes.

“Because you are more than happy to come into my grey area when it suits you. No, no, Moira O’Deorain’s reputation was perfect when you were sniffing around for someone who wouldn’t ask questions, you were all too happy to forget to get oversight when it was convenient for you, when you were going to get what you wanted out of it, weren’t you, Angela? And now you would play this card? Good person? Save it, Angela. Our saint, our guardian angel? You’re no better than anyone else—“

The crack had been so loud that the silence left in its wake was deafening, and even the birds outside seemed to fall silent as they stood, neither moving. Moira’s head was turned to the side, and she remained in such a position, though she’d shut her eyes tightly. Angela, too, was frozen in place, her hand still raised up, stinging.

She should apologize. She should pull Moira down and brush a kiss to the growing redness across her cheek and say she didn’t mean it. But she wasn’t sorry, and she did mean it. She meant what she said, and while she didn’t mean to do what she’d done, she wasn’t sorry for that, either. No one had ever said such things about her, and she imagined such accusations would hurt from anyone. But to hear Moira say them . . .

How dare she? Honestly, truly, how dare she? To try to drag her through the mud for trying to protect her? For attacking her over the baby? Angela was only looking out for the both of them, for the three of them. Moira had already said she’d nearly been fired, did she want to be sent away, to be a pariah in the community they’d raise their daughter in? Moira could spin it whatever way she wanted, Angela just wanted to help. How dare she even try to make Angela feel badly for it all?

After a long silence, Moira huffed loudly, throwing her head back and lifting a hand to brush a fallen strand of hair back into place. She was smiling, but Angela had seen those sorts of smiles before, the type one wore when they tilted their head back, the type of smile a bit too wide, the type of smile you prayed would hold back how you really felt.

“Where are you going?” Angela demanded as Moira turned on her heel, grabbing the keys from where she’d tossed them onto the counter the day before.

Out,” Moira barked back as she vanished into the living room. The slam of the front door, the spray of gravel under the SUV’s tires, both terribly loud to Angela’s ears, and when she finally sat down and began to cry, that seemed loudest of all.

Chapter Text

In the beginning Angela had been angry. Not in the beginning of the argument, that had been driven by concern. But as the early afternoon progressed into late afternoon, and still Moira had not returned, Angela seethed.

For a while she’d sat on the couch, arms crossed over her chest. She’d tried to adopt her favorite angry stance, crossed arms, crossed legs, cross Angela. That way when Moira returned she would see right-off just how much she had messed up. But when she found she could not cross her legs effectively with her belly it had made her even more angry, and she simply slouched, all the more furious.

How dare she? Angela had simply been trying to help, to point out the problems that might arise if Moira were to continue on her course of study. Yes, Angela had been a bit emotional, and yes, maybe there were better ways to have gone about voicing her concerns, but certainly that was no reason to attack her like that.

She’d only had Moira’s best interests at heart, their best interests at heart. After all, what would become of them if Moira’s ethical shortcomings had run her out of her job?  They couldn’t just move, Angela was entrenched, to say the least, and she loved Overwatch.

Surely Moira could see that the last thing they needed was for Moira to be expelled from Overwatch over her dubious ethical views. If Moira wanted to hurl personal attacks, well, even if Angela wasn’t perfect, Moira was nowhere near perfection herself. One need only consider all the things Moira had done—

All the things Moira had writ—

All those things Moira had been plan—

What had Moira done that was so wrong? Even before she’d arrived, what? A few opinion pieces that fell squarely into ethical grey areas? Discussion sections which raised eyebrows and questions but certainly no pitchforks and torches . . .

Angela was emotionally exhausted, and when she slumped to her side, her grasping hands found one of the long, fluffy pillows. When she hugged it to her chest, pressed it to her face, it smelled of Moira, and this new onslaught of tears, hiccups, and gasps welled from somewhere much deeper, somewhere cold and icy and without the suddenness, the violence, the rage. Only emptiness and regret.

But still, there was some small cause to smile, as her mind’s eye conjured up the way Moira’s eyes had sparkled, how excited she’d been when she’d been getting started, telling Angela about her possible breakthrough. God, she hadn’t even been able to sit still.

Moira hadn’t done anything wrong. Moira had even said that she was still only just getting her thoughts in order, of course she hadn’t teased out every possible outcome, or even every possible avenue of pursuit. And even still, even if Angela was completely right? That didn’t make Moira wrong. And she should have been happy for Moira. Miraculous, that’s what Angela had said of Moira’s ideas as she’d held her hand over a beautiful meal in a beautiful restaurant.

Moira hadn’t done anything wrong. Angela had. It had all begun with her overreaction, hadn’t it? Even at the time she’d realized it was an overreaction. So why? Why did she push?

Pregnancy hormones? Maybe a bit, but that was no valid excuse for the way she’d acted. God, she’d struck her. Suddenly Angela’s fingers itched, and she clenched a fist a few times with a scowl. Hormones were no excuse.

The truth was that Moira had been right. Angela. Mercy. The shining beacon of goodness, who only wanted to help. The idea that all the world might see that she’d thrown her lot in with someone who would dismantle a body, bit by bit . . .

All this time, all this time, Angela had fashioned herself an angel, a saint. Infallible. It was so much easier to live in a world of black and white, she could put herself firmly into the The Right Category, and anyone who didn’t neatly fit into that same box, well, she would see that they knew the error of their ways.

But Moira was right. Even Angela didn’t fit into her own carefully constructed categories. Angela was no better than anyone else.

Worse, some might say. She certainly felt it.

That’s why it hard hurt so much. Moira had found it, that one pressure point that even Angela hadn’t known she had. And she hadn’t just found it. She tore it open and dug in, and to hear those words, those accusations, from Moira of all people . . .

It hurt. But maybe it should hurt.

Moira hadn’t done anything wrong. She’d come up with an idea. A good idea, at least at first glance, though one that would need some work around the edges, some care taken with implementation. Even when Angela had raised a fuss, the moment she’d been appalled at the idea of using enemy forces, Moira had listened, she’d adjusted, she’d adapted. What had Moira done wrong?

Angela frowned. She’d trusted that Angela would listen, would be excited for her, would support her. Trusting Angela, that was what she’d done wrong.

Moira was right. Angela was not a good person.

She had no appetite, but as her stomach growled and the baby pressed against her overly full bladder, Angela was reminded that as much as she was willing to wallow, she had someone else relying on her to take at least some care of herself.

Did the baby know she was a bad person? That she’d just struck her other mother and run her out of the house into the cold?

When Angela finally lifted her face from the tear-stained pillow she was no longer angry. Only drained.

The sun was setting, and above the trees a beautiful evening gold faded to purple and into darkness across the stretch of sky. Moira hadn’t returned. She’d been gone all day.

As Angela saw to her more basic needs, her mind was elsewhere. Had Moira left her up here on the mountain, gone back to Overwatch to work on her new project unmolested by Angela’s rigid moral compass, sorely in need of recalibration? The possibility brought about a queasiness, but Angela wouldn’t be able to blame her if she’d done so, not after the way Angela had behaved.

And if that were to be the case, well, Angela had the satellite phone. She could call Ana to come get her, if necessary. Oh, what an embarrassment that would be. Never mind the general circumstances of the distress call, but to have to make her way down the mountain just to tell Ana of the fate of her happy family campaign, that it had crashed and burned the day after it had all gone to print? Queasy no longer was strong enough a word.

But that wasn’t what truly set Angela’s stomach roiling, and not the hunger either. It wasn’t even the frustration that her comm would be of no use up here, she couldn’t even reach out, beg Moira to come back. No, it was the things which came unbidden to Angela’s mind. A huge SUV crashed into a tree or at the bottom of mountain cliff, a vehicle flipped and Moira thrown into a pool of blood on the snow with no way to call for help, no way for Angela to get to her.

Angela wished Moira would come back, even if just to yell, to tell her she was being obtuse and unreasonable and anything else she wanted to scream at Angela. She just wished she knew where Moira was, and that she was safe.

She lacked the energy to cook, and even if she’d had it, she wasn’t certain she could stomach much. But for the well-being of the baby, she ate a slice of toast with jam over the kitchen sink, frowning pensively at the darkness beyond the windows, hoping to see the touch of headlights against the treetops.

When they didn’t come, she brushed the crumbs off the shelf of her belly and brushed her hands together over the sink.

She would stay awake until Moira came home. Despite her utter exhaustion, she wouldn’t be able to sleep anyway, and even the baby seemed abnormally restless. That was why she returned once more to the couch, because she intended to stay up. Not because she wouldn’t spend her first night in the actual bed alone. She flicked the fireplace on as she passed. It shouldn’t be cold when Moira got in, which would certainly be soon. It had to be.

With a sigh she fluffed the tear-dampened pillow behind her lower back and settled in to wait.

“She’ll be home soon, don’t worry,” Angela whispered, framing her belly with her hands. Her voice was quiet and cracking a bit, but it seemed so loud in the quiet cabin. She scrunched her nose. She had always preferred the popping of a wood-burning fireplace.

The baby remained restless, and Angela couldn’t say she didn’t feel the same. Talking helped. Helped what? Helped her remember that they shared this perfect baby? Helped her fill the silence left in the wake of Moira’s departure? Helped her not feel so alone, so guilty?

Guilt.

She smiled, already feeling silly simply at the thought as it occurred to her.

“I don’t know how this goes,” She whispered then, a laughing hitch in her quiet voice as much from nervousness as amusement. It was alright, she was pretty sure the baby wasn’t going to judge her, “But I’m going to do my best. We might both have to learn some day. I’ve seen it in films, I think I have the start of it down. Your—” Her voice cracked a bit, “Your other mother will tell you better.”

She threw her head back, and she thought she must look quite a bit like Moira had, sniffing harshly and smiling, trying to blink away the pricks of tears at the edges of her eyes, but it was with an ugly half-laugh that she lowered her head again, “Forgive me, for I have sinned. It’s been . . . I have never confessed, because this isn’t really something I do,” She laughed again, sniffing strongly and rubbing the wetness beneath her nose away with her wrist.

“I never did it, well, because it’s not what I was taught-- But also because I never thought I had to do it . . . I thought I was perfect, what was there to confess?” She scoffed at the thought, but even such a silly thing, whispering quietly, her head turned downward, watching her own fingers trace small patterns over where her jumper was pulled tightest, it did help.

“But I was wrong. Your mother’s been so good to me, to both of us, and I treated her so badly,” No amount of blinking would stop the tears, but Angela didn’t want to stop them anyway, and she let them fall down onto her jumper, her hands, and run down her skin until the heat from the fire dried away the trails they left behind.

Her voice shook terribly, but she forced the words out as best as she could. “I yelled at her, and I didn’t listen. She was so happy to share it all with me, and I just . . . I threw it back in her face. I . . . you were there, you heard it all, didn’t you?” Angela grinned in spite of herself, how silly this all was. But it’s what she had, and without a lifeline, a way to reach Moira, baby was what she had.

“Yes, you heard it. I hit her,” Angela’s voice cracked, and another strong blink sent a fresh drip of tears down to her hands, absorbing into the jumper, “I’m so sorry, honey, please forgive me. I didn’t . . . I didn’t mean to.”

Finally, with a loud, long, wet snort Angela raised her hand to once again wipe at her face, and when she lowered her hands again she pressed against her belly in what to her approximated a hug for the child within, “I’m . . . not a good person. But I’m going to try to be better, for both of you. Please don’t be mad at me. I love her, I love you both. Please forgive me.”

There was a long silence, broken only by sniffles and hitching breaths. No popping fireplace, no birds in the darkness, and as the temperature plummeted even the dripping water had ceased. Only Angela’s tearful confession filled the night.

“Don’t worry,” She laughed then, a rough, half-sob, “She’ll be back soon, she’s just gone out.” Angela hoped she was right. “I messed up, but she won’t leave you. We just . . . sometimes adults get angry, and sometimes they yell, but that doesn’t mean they don’t love each other, or that we don’t love you, I promise, don’t worry, I just . . . I messed up, that’s all. She loves you. We both do, I promise.”

She smiled, feeling somewhat lighter as finally her thoughts shifted, at least somewhat, to happier times, “You know, those things she said about when I went down to ask for her help? She was right, it was thanks to her we’ve got you, you know? You wouldn’t have been around for all that, of course. We both wanted you so badly, and she was so smart and she found a way for us to have you,” This was absurd, but Angela didn’t care, and she felt so much warmer now, “She was so happy when she found out about you, you know? Do you remember? She jumped up off the couch and she hugged us so tight . . . it was nice, because that was before, well, before we were hugging regularly, but I’m sure you don’t pay attention to that.” She whispered through her quiet laugh, “Just cover your ears when that happens, we’ll explain when you’re older.”

Moira would think this was absurd, too. She’d probably not say it, though, just roll her eyes and smile. Angela frowned, taking in the pitch darkness beyond the fireplace, and her good spirits seemed to drain in the time it took her to refocus her attentions back down to the baby.

“I’m sorry I’ve messed things up for us,” She whispered desperately, “I’m so sorry.”


 

The birds were back, and now it wasn’t only the steady lick of the gas flame that lit the cozy living room, but the bright light of day falling across Angela where she’d slumped to her side. She woke with a start, not for any reason than the sudden realization that she must have unexpectedly fallen asleep when she most definitely had not intended to.

“Moira?” Angela croaked as soon as she sat up, rubbing her eyes roughly and already pushing herself to her feet.

Had she heard a noise? Had that been what had woken her, maybe Moira in the kitchen making another breakfast for the two of them?

“Moira?” Angela asked again as she peeked into the dim, empty kitchen, not touched since her toast and jam.

Again, a call of “Moira?” as Angela shuffled across the living room toward the bedroom, but this one was much softer, already admitting defeat. She’d not have made it past Angela, sleeping in the central room, without waking her. Moira wasn’t here. Moira hadn’t come home.

Chewing her lip and hugging her arms tightly to her chest, Angela plodded back into the living room. She stood for a moment, not quite sure where she needed to end up. What should she do? What could she do? Even if she weren’t heavily pregnant, she couldn’t just wander around in the woods, or up and down the icy mountain roads, looking for Moira. Moira could be in Zurich by now, and that’s even if she went that direction, something Angela couldn’t be sure of.

There was the satellite phone. If Moira had returned to Overwatch the day before, she may even be able to reach her. What would she even say? She could call Ana, it might be easier. Or even Lena. Lena would know now, they would all know, about Moira. Could Angela handle the questions? Why not finish her vacation? Why did she need a ride back down?

What would Angela say when they asked her where Moira was and she had to squeak out that she didn’t know?

She didn’t think she had any tears left, though she felt as if she could fall back onto the couch, pick up her pillow, and start her sobs anew. Standing before the fireplace, Angela simply sighed, casting her gaze about the room once more. What was there to do?

She had what she needed here, to finish out the week alone. The thought brought about the most hollow of feelings, and she choked a bit, clearing her throat to cover the sob no one was around to hear anyway. But she could, if she needed to, stay until the final day, and call then.

That was probably best, though she did pick up the clunky satellite phone. It was the size of four comm units and weighed as much as ten, with big analog buttons and no read-out screen. She should keep it nearby. If Moira had returned to Overwatch, she would probably at least call Angela to tell her she was sending Reinhardt up with the car, she wouldn’t just leave her up there, stranded, would she?

That thought was somewhat bothersome, but it didn’t get to Angela too much, because deep down she knew it was what she was telling herself to hide the other thought: That if someone found Moira, then once word got back to Overwatch Ana would undoubtedly call Angela here. Angela chose not to think about that. She would much sooner have Moira strand her on the top of a mountain than to . . . no, it wasn’t something she was going to think about, at least in so far as she could help it.

Distractions. She needed distractions. From that, from what she’d done, from the loneliness. With the heavy satellite phone in hand, she shuffled back into the kitchen. Food was first. Her appetite still hadn’t returned, and she suspected it wouldn’t until Moira returned as well. But a baby cannot live on jam toast alone.

She hated how much the sizzle of onions and eggs could sound like the crunch of a gravel drive when one were desperate to hear such a thing, and every so often she’d pull the pan off the stove just to listen, before frowning and shoving it back onto the burner.

The food was rubbery and tasteless, Moira had made it so much better. She ate over the sink and thought to just let the dishes lie there. But she was in need of distractions, and by the time she’d pulled each and every one of the dishes from the dishwasher and scrubbed them by hand it was nearing the afternoon.

And still she was alone.

Shoulders slumped, she looked around again for something to do, and her eyes fell on the only luggage that had made its way into the kitchen. Without an actual desk space, the kitchen table had been chosen as the de facto work area, it seemed, and Moira’s stacks of papers were placed neatly in the center of the little table, Angela’s own case of journals on one of the unused chairs. She frowned at the open fold-out reader. Even the little batteries supplemented with the solar cells on the back couldn’t keep them up forever, and she could tell by the way the corner light blinked that Moira had failed to turn it off during her hasty exit.

She’d already made enough of a mess of Moira’s possible-breakthrough, she wouldn’t let Moira lose her notes on account of her, and with a sigh she slumped into the chair Moira had so happily peeked over the morning before.

A tap of her finger showed that Moira hadn’t locked the device. Good, some miniscule blessing, the smallest thing going her way, at least.

Moira’s notes sat in front of her, and Angela simply skimmed them. She had no intention of actually reading them. She wanted to hear Moira’s thoughts from her. It was because that would be a way she could show her support for Moira’s research, show that she wasn’t put out, that she understood better now, after some time, some thought. She understood a lot of things better now. That was what she told herself, that it was so that she could show support. But she also knew that truly she just wanted to see that excitement again, Moira’s eyes bright and her voice fast as she paced about, unable to sit still for all her enthusiasm.

And so Angela only skimmed it to be sure that, yes, this was simply a disorganized smattering of notes with mention of cell catabolism and nucleotide transfer and rapid regeneration. She saved it quickly as the battery indicator blinked angrily back at her, and it wasn’t until she was certain that every open document and file had been saved that she closed them all down, only to be met by her own smiling face, with her hair brought up in loose ringlets and her dress a gorgeous shade of lavender, and yes, maybe a tasteful bit of cleavage that could easily be blamed on how her breasts had grown in pregnancy. If she’d done that on purpose, it was only to make sure that the little gold encircled pearl pendant featured prominently, that was all.

She smiled at Moira’s choice of workspace background, lowering her head as though there were someone around to hide her blush from. She wished the night of the gala had ended better, remembering how wonderful they had both looked, knowing how wonderful they both would have looked together. Raising her head, she frowned back at her own image as she shut down the device. Moira had said she was perfect. She said that a lot. She was wrong. Just look at where Angela’d gotten them.

Distractions. Distractions were necessary, and distractions were found.

It took her a few trips, mostly because she was unwilling to set the satellite phone down. First she brought out a bottle of water, then the big green quilt, then a pillow, then a pad of paper and some highlighters and a pen, and finally as many of the backlogged journals as she could grip in one hand.  She knew she should probably bring a snack, but between her waning appetite and her pregnancy bladder she suspected she’d be getting up again before she needed to eat.

It was with great caution that she gripped the safety bar and lowered herself down to sit on the edge of the spa, and thankfully she could reach the dial for the jets from where she sat. After careful consideration, she decided to turn them on. It would be better this way, her distraction more effective if she couldn’t easily listen for the slightest hint of an approaching car. Not to mention it felt good. All of it did, sitting on the pillow and draping the big heavy quilt over shoulders. It smelled of Moira, but, well, she could handle some distraction from her distractions, and she pressed a corner of it to her nose with a smile.

After a deep, indulgent inhalation, she settled in to keep herself thoroughly distracted until Moira returned, something she promised herself would happen any minute now. It just had to.

Chapter Text

Yes, Moira would return, she was certain. And finally, for the first time in too long, Angela wasn’t wrong.

She’d turned the ten- minute dial seven times in order to keep the jets rolling and pushing comfortably between her toes, and she’d made her way through half of the most recent SAEZ when she heard another rumbling sound join the bubbling and splashing of the oversized foot bath.

She’d nearly dropped the journal into the turbulent water, but maintained the wherewithal to toss it aside instead, and while her head shot up from her reading, she could not get herself up quite so quickly. There was no other reason any car would come down this dead-end road, it had to be Moira. She threw off the quilt, only barely remembering to be cautious as she clumsily pulled and pushed herself to her feet with the handrail.

Pregnancy, over an hour spent sitting, waterlogged feet, quickly-cooling water dripping down her legs, any of them could have made her shuffle back to the cabin an unsteady one. But with the way her heart pounded in her ears, she knew it wasn’t that which made her feel so clumsy as she hurried inside as best as she could.

Moira was fine. At least fine enough to come back home, and Angela couldn’t be more elated. But still, a new fear set in: With what intent had she returned?

“I left my reader with my notes behind. I’ll see you at the bimonthly.”

Angela shook her head, willing the words away as she pulled the sliding door open. She couldn’t say that it wouldn’t be deserved, not after how she’d acted, but surely Moira wouldn’t . . .

She had no idea what Moira would do, and while she carried that fear with her through the living room and around the fireplace, she could feel nothing save relief as Moira pushed the door open ahead of her.

Maybe Moira was going to get her things and go. Maybe Moira was going to insist that they return to Overwatch, that they each hire attorneys and draw up a shared custody agreement. Maybe Moira wouldn’t speak to her at all.

But all that mattered was that Moira was standing in the doorway, all in one piece. Angela couldn’t even bring herself to study Moira’s face, her stance, her mood for some indication of what would come next. Because there was only one thing that could come next.

“I-I’m so sorry,” Angela clamped her arms tightly around Moira’s waist, pressing her face against Moira’s chest to stifle the sob she hadn’t felt coming, to wipe away the tears that had begun on her journey to the door.

And then the fear set in once more as she held so tightly to Moira. Moira who hadn’t said a word, hadn’t raised her arms to wrap around Angela or to run her fingers through Angela’s hair, Moira who had flinched when Angela first grabbed hold of her.

Angela needed to know what was written on Moira’s face, but she couldn’t, she just couldn’t lift her face to see what would be looking down at her in the dim entryway. Anger? Pity? Disgust?

Instead Angela simply pressed her face more firmly against Moira. Maybe if she could drown it all out, anything Moira was about tell her, anything that would pull her away, then maybe it wouldn’t have to end, and she would never have to forget how it felt to rest her forehead against Moira’s chest.  

“I’m so sorry, Moira,” she repeated, her voice shaky and so quiet, so muffled that she could only hope that Moira understood. God, she hoped Moira understood, “You didn’t deserve any of that, I didn’t listen and I—I’m so sorry, Moira.”

The rigid form she’ been clinging to relaxed somewhat, and Angela felt Moira’s chest drop, felt the heavy sigh stir her hair. Then it was fingers, long and delicate, as Moira finally moved her hand behind Angela’s head. If Moira had meant to pull her closer, there was no possibility with how earnestly Angela had pressed against her. As she merely stood, it was unclear what Moira meant to do, but Angela relished that she hadn’t yet pushed her away.

“I was so worried,” Angela whispered quietly, “I thought something might have happened to you.”

“I’m fine,” Moira finally spoke, her voice cracking, and she cleared her throat before responding softly, though with a hint of apprehension, “I’m sorry for worrying you.”

An apology? There were a lot of things Angela had braced herself for, dozens of nightmare scenarios she had played through her mind. This was not something she expected.

And it wasn’t something she deserved.

Finally, she had the courage to see what was written on Moira’s face, and when she pulled back she did so with a loud, wet sniffle and a half-laugh, half-sob, “I-it’s fine,” Angela smiled, and there was no sight so welcome as Moira looking down at her with marked concern, “I’m just glad you’re okay,” she sniffled again before adding quietly, “And that you’re back.”

The vestibule, windowless and lit only from the light from the windows on the far side of the living room, was so dim that it was more accurately described as dark, but she could see Moira’s face, and that was enough. She could see the way Moira frowned as she watched Angela, the way she squeezed her eyes shut tight, the way she licked her lips apprehensively before she spoke, “I . . . I had to go.”

“I know,” Angela assured her quietly, not finding Moira’s actions particularly heartening. But she hadn’t pulled away, at least, and so Angela rested her chin on Moira’s sternum, studying her face carefully, “I don’t blame you, I shouldn’t have yelled at you like I did.” She paused, swallowing hard, and she pressed her eyes shut tightly for a moment. It was hard enough to say. No, though. She shouldn’t hide from it, even if the thought made her want to crawl under a rock and hide until the end of time. She forced herself to look back toward Moira, “I shouldn’t have hit you. I’m sorry, Moira, I can’t tell you how sorry I am.”

And finally, Moira smiled, a soft, anxious smile, and the little puff of breath she let out approximated a laugh in the slightest of ways, “Don’t worry, I . . .” She licked her lips again, and the smile was gone, “I probably deserved it.”

It was strange. By all accounts her apology was accepted, her actions apparently forgiven, yet it kindled in Angela displeasure she could not place, “I hit you, Moira. You didn’t deserve that,” She insisted, growing angry for Moira, and the flood gates opened suddenly, tears falling down her cheeks matching the earnestness with which the words spilled from her mouth, “You were only telling me your ideas, and I didn’t even listen, I wouldn’t even let you speak. And you weren’t even saying anything wrong, you just--”

“Will you let me speak now, then?” Moira asked quietly, and Angela felt herself blush.

Selfish, even still. She wouldn’t even listen to Moira, she’d been so caught up in her need for Moira to know how she felt, how sorry she was . . . Had she even thought about how Moira had felt? In a way, yes. But not nearly so much as she should. She swallowed hard and nodded, “I- I’ll listen this time.”

“Good,” Moira’s smile was small, almost imperceptible in the dimness, but it was warm. Her deep breath raised her chest against Angela’s chin, and Angela could feel the stiffness in Moira’s back, “I—Well, that is to say,” her hand left Angela’s hair to run nervously through her own, but then she let it fall to Angela’s shoulder, “I don’t blame you. For striking me. I was out of line.”

Angela opened her mouth to protest but forced herself quiet when she saw Moira’s eyebrows rise. Angela would let Moira speak, and she would listen closely.

“When you weren’t listening, it frustrated me,” She smirked then as she added, “But I’m accustomed to people side-eyeing my hypotheses.”

Angela responded with her own sad smile which she hoped conveyed her apology, but she refused to speak until Moira was finished.

Moira licked her lips again, and her smile was gone. Slowly she lifted her gaze from Angela’s, looking out, ostensibly to the woods beyond the deck, and when she spoke it seemed as though her thoughts were even further away, “But when you said . . . when you said you’d stop me, use your position at work . . . I was so angry, and I took that out on you.”

A long pause. Angela wanted nothing more than to tell Moira that it was alright, that her accusations were not misplaced, that Angela wasn’t a good person and that she realized that now, that Moira was right . . . but Angela simply lowered her head, pressing her cheek against Moira’s chest, and she could feel Moira’s heart hammering within.

“And it wasn’t fair,” Moira finally continued, “To say those things to you. I’m sorry.” Angela felt her shift, felt her press a kiss to the top of Angela’s head, and she took it as a sign that Moira had finished, at least for now.

“No, you were right,” when she lifted her eyes to meet Moira’s, now looking back down imploringly toward her, she blinked and a fresh set of tears rolled down her cheeks, “I- I’m not a good person.”

She felt the single drop of Moira’s chest as she scoffed, and she hummed as she pressed another kiss to Angela’s forehead, “Don’t be absurd, of course you’re a good person. I never said that you weren’t, I would never say that.”

Angela didn’t have the time nor the energy, mental or emotional, to search back in her memory if that were true, and it didn’t matter.

Where to go from here? To argue over her goodness, to insist that she was a monster? To assure Moira she would never interfere with her research and that she would do what she could to help her? To clumsily make her way to her knees and beg for another chance?

“Angela?” Moira implored, and she leaned back slightly, raising her hand from Angela’s shoulder to her chin and turning her face upward for study. Angela simply sniffled and blinked, not certain what she could possibly say. Moira smiled, running her thumb along Angela’s jaw, leaving a wet trail as she did so, “I know you’re a good person. You made a mistake,” Her voice cracked a bit, and she cleared her throat before continuing, “But I’ve made a few, haven’t I? . . . Do you think I’m a bad person?” Moira asked with surprising earnest.

Angela shook her head, and with a weak smile and a quiet sniffle she added, “I don’t deserve you.”

And Moira smiled, dropping her hand from Angela’s chin to wrap her arm around her, “You deserve everything,” she whispered into Angela’s hair, punctuating it with a soft kiss.

Again, Angela was silent, wanting nothing more than to know she didn’t ever have to leave, to pull away from Moira. Moira, too, was silent, though Angela could feel her chest rise and fall slowly, shakily at first, but steadying over time.

“I’m so sorry for it all,” Angela whispered resolutely, “No matter what. I know you said you think you deserved it, or that you’re used to people reacting badly, but it doesn’t change how sorry I am.” She raised her face, and then her hand, cupping her hand lightly over Moira’s cheek where she’d struck her the day before, “I’m going to do better, if you’ll let me. And I promise I won’t stand in your way, at work.”

Moira’s smile, softening and warming all throughout, vanished in an instant, and Angela felt her stiffen, felt her breath catch. She shook her head only once, violently. Once again she grasped Angela’s shoulder to push her back slightly, enough that she could bend down and look her in the eye, “Don’t. That’s not . . . I don’t want that, Angela.”

Taken aback, Angela blinked, gaping for a moment before giving a nervous laugh, “What? But your research—”

“I don’t . . . I want to keep working on it,” Moira sighed, straightening again and letting out a sigh as she ran her hand through her hair. When she looked again to the questioning Angela she was quiet, but her cool, firm tone was insistent, “But if it’s something you wouldn’t allow from someone else—I don’t want special treatment from you, Angela. Ever.”

Angela just nodded, still agape with some manner of confusion, but it wasn’t something she need argue against. Besides, she was somewhat distracted holding back a joke about how much Moira always seemed to enjoy special attention from Angela.

“O-of course, if that’s what you want,” Angela nodded, but she raised her chin resolutely, “But I hope you’ll let me help you. If I can. I would help anyone, because I . . . I think you’re doing important work,” she finished with a smile, which only grew when Moira smiled back.

“See?” Moira grinned and pulled her back against her, “I told you you’re a good person.”

“Mmmm,” Angela was eager to accept the statement as fact, but there was conflicting evidence that still gnawed at her, “Still . . . I shouldn’t have struck you . . .”

She could still hear the smile in Moira’s voice, “No, you shouldn’t have. But like I said, if you could forgive me the things I did . . .” She gave a quiet chuckle that Angela felt more than heard, “You hit me a day ago but it sounds like you’ve been beating yourself up ever since.”

Angela chuckled too, and only nodded against Moira.

“Stop it,” Moira said sternly, but with an intonation that carried her grin.

“I’ll try,” Angela whispered back, and when she pulled away Moira allowed her to do so but fixed her with a puzzled look. Angela cocked her head back toward the living room, “Come sit with me?”

Moira followed behind her as she shuffled to the couch, and stood by while Angela situated herself, fluffing a few pillows in preparation before settling down against them. When she turned her attention back to Moira, the taller woman was running her fingers through her hair, and she raised her other hand jerkily toward Angela, the hand she’d kept pressed down at her side since first pushing through the front door. When she opened her hand her long fingers unfolded from a handful of stemless flowers. Spring gentian, alpine aster, and chamois ragwort. Angela’s boarding school educational trips to the mountains had left her with something at least.

They were half-crushed, and a few petals had fallen from the aster, but they were still beautifully colored. Angela didn’t spend much time looking at them, however, preferring to give her smile and attention to Moira instead, who was looking toward the fireplace with a streak of red from her nose to her ears. She coughed quietly, pushing her hand toward Angela, “There aren’t many, ah, florists up here. But I hoped these would do.”

Angela gathered the handful up in one scoop, certain she probably crushed a few more petal from each. It didn’t matter, they wouldn’t last long without their stems anyway. And she wouldn’t give up the opportunity to use her other hand to catch Moira’s, pulling it to her and pressing a kiss against her palm, floral and soft and warm against Angela’s face.

Moira’s fingers twitched against her skin, and it was with a hint of a caress that she pulled her hand back, working it behind Angela’s neck as she came to sit beside her. “I love them,” Angela insisted, pushing a second kiss against Moira’s cheek when at last she was near enough. She pressed against Moira, “I love you.”

A quiet “I love you too” gave way to a scoff when Angela let her head fall against Moira’s shoulder, “I don’t know if you want to do that, I probably smell like a gutter.”

Angela hummed, keenly aware that she too had not had the energy to shower and change. She smiled as she sat up a bit, “I do want to,” she grinned as she began carefully lining up the small flowers, balancing them in a straight line along Moira’s shoulder from her neck to the top of her arm.

Moira just rolled her eyes, but when she pursed her lips she clearly fought back a smile.

“There,” Angela half-whispered as she placed the last small blossom at Moira’s shoulder, “Now you can’t move.”

“A good place to be trapped, I suppose,” Moira was saying as Angela resituated herself, laying across the sectional and letting her head fall into Moira’s lap. Her hand, slowly and carefully to avoid upsetting the flowers, worked its way around Angela to rest on her belly.

As she brought her own hand to rest over Moira’s, her fingers working between the gaps of Moira’s own, Angela hummed her agreement, knowing there was nowhere she’d rather be. She fought the urge to begin her apologies anew. What more could be said? She would never feel good about how she had acted, how she had treated Moira. She could only do better going forward. But Moira was giving her that chance, and she could feel good about that.


 

While the sectionals were perfectly comfortable, Angela was pleased they’d finally made it into the bed. Not right away, of course. A large portion of the late afternoon had been spent on the sectional, Angela laid out and finally finding a comfort she hadn’t been able to find since the morning before. Moira didn’t seem particularly comfortable at first, but after Angela had laughed and insisted that she didn’t need to keep the flowers where they’d been placed, Moira set them on the hearth and found her way to lay beside Angela.

There were a few more apologies, murmured from each and quickly pushed away by the other time, but mostly quiet talk of simple things. There was a brief mention of Angela’s saving of Moira’s work, insisting she could work on it again as soon as she’d like, but Moira only thanked her, seeming entirely disinterested in discussing it further. Instead talk turned to Angela’s horticulture teacher who had forced her and her fellow students to learn the names of every flower they came across on nature hikes, then to Moira’s youthful passion for identifying insect species, and from that to the time that Angela had eaten mealworms in the Netherlands. And so, they made a meandering, comfortable journey together through the bulk of what remained of the day.

When the exhaustion Angela felt was mirrored by Moira she had insisted that she would make them something to eat while Moira showered, an offer quickly accepted. The meal had been as comfortable as the afternoon, peppered with the same enjoyable conversation, and thankfully absent of any insect-based dishes. Angela finally found she had the energy to shower and change into fresh pajamas while Moira cleaned.

Afterward, lacking the physical or emotional energy for anything more, they’d both retired early, sliding for the first time into the warm, comfortable bed.

The bed was still comfortable now, but while she’d fallen asleep with Moira’s arm draped over her, Angela found that that particular comfort was absent when she opened her eyes to a dim, moonlit room. Oh well, it was better that way, as she wouldn’t need to cautiously extract herself for her all-to-common midnight restroom visit.

Her eyes stung and she winced at the light, but far more distressing was that when she opened the door afterward, that rectangular glow illuminated an empty bed. Moira hadn’t rolled away from her. Moira wasn’t in bed at all.

“Moira?” Angela asked quietly, chewing at her lip. The day had been good. Moira had insisted that everything was fine. She felt like everything was fine.

Maybe Moira was just up, a midnight snack. It had been a light dinner.

“Moira?” Angela asked again as she plodded through the living room, barely able to make out the empty sectionals bathed in darkness as she walked past. Moira hadn’t relegated herself to sleeping on the couch, then. The kitchen, too, was empty, and this time Angela made no attempt to be quiet, and she could hear the fear in her own voice, “Moira?

Once again, she was struck with the realization that she had no way to reach out to Moira. Had she driven off again? Where? Why? She walked as quickly as she could, a bit unsteady in the darkness, to the bedroom again. She would get dressed. Why, she did not know, for where could she go? What could she do? This familiar, nagging feeling, this absolute dismay, gripping her out of the darkness as she reached for her suitcase—

“Angela?”

She’d heard the crack of the seal of the door before she heard Moira’s scratchy, quiet question.

“Angela, what are you doing?” Moira was whispering, standing half inside, half on the deck as she held the glass door open. Angela couldn’t see her through the darkness, but she could make out her silhouette in the moonlight.

With a sigh of relief so loud Angela thought surely they heard her at Overwatch, she shuffled her way toward Moira, “I was looking for you, what are you doing outside?”

“Sitting,” Moira responded simply, wrapping one arm around Angela when she finally reached her with her own thankful, relieved embrace, “I’ll come in later. You’ve had a long day, go back to sleep.”

She still couldn’t see Moira well, she could even still see spots where the bathroom light had shocked her eyes, but she peered up at her all the same, “Sitting?”

Moira pushed the door open fully, stepping back to allow Angela out onto the deck, an invitation into the icy night.

“God, Moira, it must be five degrees out here,” She shivered, but she stepped out anyway, eager to see what would bring Moira to sit in such freezing weather in the middle of the night when there was such a warm, comfortable, Angela-filled bed inside. Had she relegated herself to ‘sleeping on the couch?’ Was she punishing herself?

“It’s not so bad,” Moira insisted, her arm around Angela’s waist guiding her through the darkness.

The moon was only a sliver in the sky, and what dim light it cast combined with Angela’s knowledge of the deck layout to help her along. When they reached the deck’s couches, lined with coarse outdoor fabric but otherwise quite comfortable, Moira bid her to wait.

Angela stood, hugging her arms around her belly while she watched Moira’s dark form fetch an item from the benches. The quilt, Angela realized, suddenly remembering she’d carelessly left it behind when she’d gone in earlier in the day. Moira draped it around herself, sitting back on the benches, and after a quiet “Alright, come here,” she helped Angela down with her.

It would be difficult for a pregnant woman to find a comfortable way to sit across Moira’s lap. It would be difficult for a woman to find a comfortable way to sit across Moira’s lap when she was blinded by darkness. It was very difficult for Angela. But after a few ‘sorry, no, that way’s and a fair amount of laughter and grumbling they finally seemed to find a place of comfort, Angela sitting sideways in Moira’s lap. The u-shape of the seating area let them sit into a corner, so each could lean back, though Angela was much happier to lean against Moira’s chest. When Moira’s arm wrapped around her back, holding her up and against her, it was all the better, and even before Moira pulled the corners of the quilt up to tuck around Angela, Angela was comfortably warm.

“Comfortable?” Moira asked, and Angela could hear her smile.

Angela nodded, but when she realized Moira may not be able to see that, she hummed instead, “Very. I’m not too heavy for you?”

“No, you’re perfect,” Moira insisted, as she often did. Angela would normally have pointed out that they had recently learned she was far from perfect, but she had had enough of that conversation for the day. She felt Moira had, too.

“You know we have couches inside. And a fireplace, too.”

“I wanted a change of scenery,” Moira said quietly, pressing her lips against Angela’s temple.

Darkness.” Angela teased.

“Close your eyes and wait,” Moira entreated with a hint of mischief that made Angela raise a brow.

“Wait for what?”

“Close your eyes until I tell you, and you’ll find out,” Moira insisted, grasping Angela tightly.

Angela pursed her lips in a tight smile, feeling somewhat silly but far more curious. “Alright, now what?” she asked after she’d closed her eyes.

“Now we wait,” Moira reminded her, and Angela felt Moira shift somewhat, undoubtedly settling more comfortably against the cushions.

Angela hummed her acknowledgement as she let her head fall to the side against Moira’s shoulder. Perhaps they weren’t waiting for anything, perhaps Moira just wanted Angela to be quiet and let her sit unmolested, as she had been doing before Angela woke. If that were so, Angela could survive it. There were worse places to be than cuddled up with Moira under a soft, warm quilt, feeling Moira’s hands, one supporting her back and the other resting comfortably over Angela’s baby bump. Baby mountain, at this stage, she supposed.

Even her face, exposed to the elements in the spots not pressed against Moira, was comfortable. Yes, the cold was brisk, but every few seconds she felt the puff of Moira’s warm breath, timed with the rise and fall of Moira’s chest, and the alternating sensations threatened to send her off to sleep once more.

“Tell me a story,” she said quietly, earning a questioning sound from Moira.

“What?”

“A bedtime story, for the baby,” Angela explained, finding Moira’s hand on her belly with her own, locking her fingers with Moira’s.

She felt Moira shift slightly, and in her mind she could see a little bit of pink playing at the edges of Moira’s nose, “I’m not . . . I don’t know any stories.”

Angela shrugged, using the movement as an excuse to wriggle insistently against Moira, “You’ll have to soon. Think of it as practice for when she’s born.”

When Moira cleared her throat, shifted once more, and fell into silence Angela was saddened that her request had fallen flat, but she understood. She couldn’t come up with something on the spot either, and as she passed her thumb along Moira’s under the big quilt she set her mind to coming up with her own story.

“O-once,” Moira began with a nervous stutter, and when she trailed off again Angela squeezed her hand encouragingly. When Moira began again Angela could hear the smile in her voice, and the nervousness as well, “A long time ago, in a village far away, there was a little girl.”

She paused, and Angela wondered what she was missing with her eyes still closed at Moira’s behest. After a moment Moira continued, “And she wanted to . . . learn magic.” In the pause that followed, the way Angela sensed Moira’s movement, she knew Moira was red from nose to ears, and she hummed encouragingly, squeezing at Moira’s fingers.

When she began again, while nervousness still touched her words, Moira sounded somewhat more confident, “She wanted to learn, ah, special magic. She wanted to be a, ah,” A pause, and Angela smiled when she felt Moira press a kiss to the top of her head, “A warlock?”

“Warlocks are boys,” Angela pointed out. She didn’t want to interrupt or demotivate Moira, of course, but Moira had to be prepared. Certainly, no factual inaccuracies would escape their daughter.

“The little girl felt that traditional magical gender roles pervasive in magic-user society were needlessly constricting and she ignored them outright,” Moira responded, finishing with a laugh, which Angela mirrored.

“I like this story already,” Angela grinned, and she hoped Moira could see through the darkness how much she was enjoying her story. How much she enjoyed Moira.

“Now, if there will be no more interruptions,” Moira teased, squeezing Angela lightly. When Angela pursed her lips, Moira continued with a fair bit more confidence than she had had before, “She wanted to become a warlock. But she came from a family that had never been able to use magic, they didn’t even know how it worked. They didn’t understand why she wanted to be a warlock.”

“But she wanted to so badly, because she saw all the amazing things people could do with magic, all the different types of spells people could learn. It’s all she ever wanted. And her parents loved her, and so when she was old enough, her parents sent her to, ah, magic school.”

In the pause that followed Angela nodded that she was following along and had not fallen asleep, though she couldn’t even be sure that Moira was looking to her for such a signal. She couldn’t be sure what Moira was doing at all, her eyes still shut. She knew that Moira was still holding her, though, and that many of her sentences were punctuated by small squeezes of Angela’s hand, or squeezes of Angela herself. Angela liked this story.

“And she did. Become a warlock, I mean. She studied very hard, and she worked very hard to learn all the spells, and she became a powerful warlock.”

There was an extraordinarily long pause, until finally Angela couldn’t keep back anymore, “The End?” It wasn’t bad for a first try, she supposed. The plot could use some workshopping.

“Ah, no,” Moira answered quietly, “That is, ah, she thought it was the end.”

“So, what happened?” Angela nuzzled her face into Moira’s neck, and Moira squeezed her again.

“She worked so long, and so hard, to become a powerful warlock that she was hired by a, uh, a magic team. It had all sorts of people on it. She was the only warlock but, um, there were other people. Ah . . . mages? And sorcerers, and druids, and wizards, and enchanters . . . everyone knew a different type of magic. The warlock could, ah, use people’s, um, life force? For her magic? The enchanter, he could build all sorts of magical machines; the druid could use his magic to turn into a massive beast. And there were other people too. Knights with great big magical hammers, and warriors who could fly through the air, and hunters who could hide in the shadows . . . all sorts of other people.”

“And then what happened?” Angela fought the desire to put on her best child voice. She needed Moira to know she was listening, but she didn’t want to throw her off too terribly.

A pause. “In all the time she’d spent learning warlock magic, there was a lot of other things she didn’t do. She thought it was fine, if she were a powerful warlock, that’s all that mattered.”

Angela frowned, pressing her lips lightly to Moira’s neck, feeling how the muscles tightened when she heard the crack in Moira’s voice.

“One day another member of the team came to her, ah, uh . . .”

“Witch,” Angela offered, and she heard Moira chuckle. Hmm. They’d have to plan a family costume, something cute with the baby, for this year. What had Moira gone as last year?

“Yes, that’s right,” Moira was smiling wide, Angela could hear it, “The witch came to her to ask for her help. She was a powerful witch, but she wanted to cast a spell that she couldn’t cast by herself, and she wanted the warlock’s help.”

“It was a spell that, ah, that the warlock had considered sometimes herself, but she . . . she’d never thought she was powerful enough to cast it on her own. And when the witch asked her for help, she didn’t know what to do.”

Another pause, and Angela could feel the muscles in Moira’s neck tighten and release, hear her swallow.

“The witch’s magic was like warlock magic, but different. She knew about the witch, and the witch knew about her, but they weren’t friends,” Moira scoffed, “She had never really liked the witch before.”

It wasn’t the desire to imitate a child that brought out the whining tone, “Aw, why not, what was wrong with the witch?”

“Nothing was wrong with the witch. The warlock just didn’t know her yet, and the warlock had . . . the warlock had spent so much of her life learning spells and perfecting her magic that she hadn’t made many friends in magic school or on the magic team. She didn’t know what to expect from the witch.”

Foregoing the repetitiveness of ‘and then what happened?’ Angela instead just wriggled encouragingly, enjoying how every time she shifted she could feel Moira’s grip on her tighten protectively.

“But she knew that if they, ah, if they combined both of their magic they could cast this powerful spell together. So, she said she would help the witch.”

Another pause, another wriggle, another reflexive grasp.

“And so together they learned the spell and practiced it secretly until they were ready to cast it. They didn’t tell anyone else on the team, because it was their secret spell, and they were worried it might not work. But finally, they cast it, and when they combined their magic together they were so much more powerful than the warlock had ever been alone.”

There was a long pause, and Moira finished sheepishly, “I, ah, I need to work on the ending, I know.”

Angela shrugged, all smiles, and she hummed happily, “No, it’s good.” She pressed their joined hands firmly to her belly, “Because it’s still just the beginning, after all.”

A wriggle, a grasp, and a kiss pressed to the crown of Angela’s head.

“Alright,” Moira said quietly, “Enough time has passed, I think, if you want to open your eyes.”

And Angela did so, and it wasn’t with a gasp so much as a slow, strong inhalation that she followed Moira’s gaze up, up past the cabin rooftop, beyond the trees, and into the sky where millions of tiny stars twinkled above them.

“It’s beautiful,” Angela whispered as she looked on. This far from the city, with no light pollution and with the proper time for her eyes to adjust, she felt she could make out every star in existence. Big bright stars, tiny little hints of light, and a thick ribbon of stars across the sky to mark the Milky Way.

“Mmhmmm,” Moira pressed a kiss to her cheek, and even that wasn’t enough to pull Angela’s eyes from the sky.

“When we would camp,” Angela whispered, “For school, it was always at the low lakes, near the city. It was never like this.”

“I thought you might like it,” Moira squeezed her tightly, tucking the quilt in where it had come loose as they’d sat, “Hopefully it was worth the wait.”

Absolutely,” Angela said breathlessly, “It’s magical, Moira.”

Chapter Text

A late night led to a late start, but the wonderful thing about vacation was that such a thing was entirely acceptable, and even expected. Again, Angela awoke to a woeful lack of Moira in the bed, but the muffled sounds beyond the closed door of the en suite kept any worry away.

She lounged. Oh did she lounge, for it was her vacation, after all, and the past day or so had been exhausting beyond measure. She could use a slow morning, she reminded herself. She only wished Moira had been inclined to stay in bed as well, but when she heard the shower begin to run she sighed, pushing herself up to finally look around the sunlit room.

Their over-packing was on full display, as most of their luggage had eventually found its way into an ample pile against the wall, and Angela’s thoughts fell then to the similar collection of work-related luggage in the corner of the kitchen.

Now was an ideal time for work, to do the “catching up” tasks she had brought along when they wouldn’t detract from their time together. Thankfully, though, work seemed to be its own sort of shared pastime for the two, and that was something Angela valued immensely. From past lovers she’d heard more than a few lectures about her tendency to “overwork,” as some had put it, and about “getting her priorities right” when it came to whatever dead-end relationship they had been trying to hold together.

Did they know? Did they know how wonderful it felt to do something as simple as turning pages for your partner so they didn’t have to take their hand from your hair? That a night spent with paperwork could somehow be the most enjoyable affair when your lover rested her head in your lap?

Probably not. Angela had only just discovered this herself. She hoped, and she thought she felt, that her outburst had not soured Moira to their intimate work nights.

Even with their penchant for shared work time, it was still best to get out of bed sometime before noon, if it could be managed. She pushed herself from the bed with only a few uncomfortable grunts. A short stretching routine recommended by Nora at their last visit rid her of most of the stiffness of the night, and she opted to drag a blanket along with her to the kitchen rather than fish for bottoms in the great luggage pile.

Nora had expressed some uncertain interest when Angela had broached the subject of coming to work for Overwatch, and Angela was running out of time to host a tour and visit for her. That was something she could begin planning now, and there were still at least a few continuing education credits that needed to be earned from the laughable quizzes in the journals she’d brought along.

She’d not gotten much further through the volume of SAEZ she’d begun the day before when something far more interesting caught her eye. She made a show of lowering the journal to the table, lifting her eyes slowly from Moira’s faded and worn denim, across the black and grey knit crew neck, and finally to Moira’s face and the blush spreading across her cheeks.

“I, ah, didn’t know you owned jeans,” Angela’s voice cracked, undoubtedly because she hadn’t yet spoken that morning and not for any other reason than that.

Moira shrugged, looking down at her own choice of clothing as if she had forgotten what she was wearing in the time it took to travel from the bedroom to the kitchen, “Well . . . they’re not really office wear, but I didn’t think there was a dress code here.”

“No, there’s not,” Angela grinned, making a greedy grabbing motion toward Moira, who took a disappointing step back instead, causing Angela to take on an exaggerated frown and a slight whine as she mumbled “Come here.”

She caught only a moment of the sly smile before Moira disappeared back from whence she came, but she could still hear Moira call back as she left, “Hold on, let me change.”

“What? No!” Angela called, struggling to escape the confines of the kitchen table, “I like it, don—”

She must have heard the scrape of Angela’s chair on the floor, for the “Stay there” Moira called was uncharacteristically authoritative, and for a moment Angela remembered her parting a sea of onlookers as they pushed out of an elevator. It seemed a lifetime ago.

Moira had a good authority voice, deep and strong, and perhaps it was her accent that kept her from sounding angry, only insistent. It was a good parent voice, Angela imagined.

She wasn’t gone long, Angela had barely settled back to pout at the table when Moira reappeared. Thank God. She’d kept the perfectly faded jeans. And even better, she’d traded the striped sweater for a button-down. Not the plain color linen oxford shirts she often wore, but soft flannel affair in a rustic red and black plaid.

“Mmmm?” The sound Moira made seemed questioning, but she wasn’t looking to Angela, instead busying herself rolling up the sleeves to her elbows.

“Yes,” Angela said simply and enthusiastically, once again reaching out for Moira, who this time took a few lazy steps forward, stopping infuriatingly just beyond Angela’s reach.

“I thought you might like it,” Moira drawled as she fixed Angela with a coy smile that was equally as exasperating as her avoidance of Angela’s outstretched arms.

“I do, you should dress down more often,” Angela encouraged, pleased when Moira finally sidled close enough for her to hook her fingers into the pockets of Moira’s jeans and pull her closer.

Moira seemed to have a small struggle maintaining her balance as she was pulled clumsily to Angela, but she laughed it off and hummed quietly when Angela rested her chin against the soft denim. Angela took a brief moment to appreciate how the bottom buttons left undone showed a small sliver of pale flesh brushed with light, nearly imperceptible hints of red hair before moving her hands slowly and indulgently from Moira’s front pockets to the back, pushing her face up to brush her nose against that perfect bit of flesh.

“Careful, you’ll get me dirty again,” Moira warned quietly, apparently still unsteady on her feet and seeming torn between pushing forward and rocking back, finally taking a step back to find a better balance.

Angela’s pout as Moira pulled away was only half for show, but she quickly adopted her own coy smile, “I thought you liked it when I got you dirty.”

Moira rolled her eyes, taking another small step back, clearing a path past her toward the bedroom, “Go take a shower.”

“I probably should,” Angela mused, smiling as she picked up the issue of SAEZ she’d abandoned on the tabletop, fanning her face with it as she made an obvious display of taking in Moira’s ensemble once more, “It got so hot in here all of a sudden.”

Another eye roll, and a gesture toward the bedroom, “Go.”

But as much as Moira tried to display exasperation, Angela’s motion for a help up was met immediately with assistance, and her request for a kiss was serviced with equal promptness and enthusiasm, though punctuated with another shooing toward the other side of the house.

Moira followed behind her, and as the two reached the bedroom Angela was surprised and not at all upset when Moira started stripping off the flannel shirt once more.

“Oh, joining me, then?” Angela turned in the doorway with a look and a question she hoped were both inviting.

Moira just shook her head as she tossed the shirt to the foot of the bed, picking up her previous sweater, “I can’t, a doctor recently told me we need to keep your body temperature from rising too high.” What would have been simply an endearing wink reached new heights with the way her hair poofed a bit after she pulled the sweater across it.

“Pfft. Doctors. What do they know?” Angela grinned, but she too knew showering together was not the best of ideas, though of course it was due to the risk of injury rather than any concerns over temperature. She spent a last moment watching Moira leave for the kitchen once more--those jeans fit her so, so perfectly--before she finally made her way into the shower.

It would have been nice to have company, but the solitude kept the shower short, a blessing given how little hot water Moira had left her. Unfortunate, but she got the job done, and as she put the finishing touch on her jogger and t-shirt look--a red and black plaid flannel shirt she scooped off the bed, worn open of course as it was not a maternity cut--she delighted in the idea that it was her small revenge for the lack of warm water.

By the time she made her way back to the kitchen Moira had found both her glasses and her reader, and was at the table diligently typing away. For a moment Angela’s heart ached for the last time she’d seen such a scene. She’d do better this time. And when Moira’s glance of acknowledgement lingered a bit longer Angela simply smiled and hugged the overshirt over her belly as best as she could.

“Nice shirt,” Moira said, already turning back to her work but unable to hide a smile.

“Thanks, I found it laying around,” Angela smiled too as she made her way deeper into the kitchen.

Moira simply hummed her acknowledgement before turning back to her work, but when Angela began opening cupboards she turned in her chair, “Do you want me to make breakfast?”

“No, I can do it,” Angela insisted, gesturing back toward the reader in front of Moira, determined to be the supportive, encouraging partner she’d failed to be when last they found themselves here, “Work. I want to do it.”

Moira regarded her over the rims of her glasses for a moment before turning back to her reader, and Angela focused on the task at hand.

As part of the reservation they had supplied the company with a requested list of food and other consumable items that were sent up before their arrival, and while a few brands were not what Angela would have picked if she’d done her own shopping, the items they’d asked for were all present and accounted for.

Breakfast dishes had never been one of her strengths. She’d grown up without it being much of an affair, of course. Cold. Muesli, bread, jams, and coffee had been all she’d ever wanted. But with someone else to cook for, and another small mouth on the way, she’d been trying to stretch her legs a bit. A few curious questions to Moira and a bit of research on her own had brought a few more “traditional Irish breakfast foods” into the mix. The smell of cooking bacon had turned her stomach, so that was out, and Moira complained—politely, of course—over the texture of stewed tomatoes, and those too were nixed.

She’d thus adopted a strange mishmash of eggs— hard-boiled and cooled for herself and over-easy for Moira—fried potatoes, toast, beans, and cold cereal. It seemed to work well for the two, and it was simple enough to make.

Angela enjoyed making it, actually. She enjoyed making anything when she could see Moira at the corner of her eye. Working, reading, sleeping. Watching her with that small smile she sometimes had.

Angela gained her own smile then, lifting her eyes from the sizzling pan to watch Moira’s back. Casual clothes worked well for Moira. All clothes did. Lack of clothes, as well. Moira in her sweater, her plaid, her skirt, that beautiful suit at the gala, those oversized pajama pants she seemed to favor.

Moira staring sternly at the front of the room in the bi-monthly, or excitedly at the monitor of the ultrasound. Changing lanes with frustration, passed out on the couch. Washing dishes with her sleeves rolled up after dinner, gingerly patting the head of a previously-infertile mouse.  Lounging on the sectional lit by the firelight. Pressing her face against Angela’s belly. Beside herself after Angela had fallen. All charm and smile and lit by dozens of softly glowing beakers and flasks.

There were more facets to Moira than Angela would ever have imagined, so many that seemed to be hidden from all the world but her, and she loved each one of them. She loved Moira.

“I love you!” Angela called over the popping and hissing pan, crossing her arms but careful not to let the dirty spatula touch Moira’s shirt.

“What?” Moira turned again in her chair.

“I said I love you,” Angela smiled, and didn’t falter when Moira narrowed her eyes at her.

“I . . . love you too?” Moira continued to regard her with suspicion, which Angela continued to meet with an affectionate smile, “What do you want?”

Angela laughed then, and shrugged, “Nothing, I just want you to know that I love you.”

Her brow creased even more, though her tone was light, “Mmmm, are you sure? I feel like you’re about to ask for something.”

Angela just shook her head.

Moira sighed loudly, rolling her eyes in feigned exasperation, “Fine, if you want one so badly, we can get a dog.”

With a laugh, Angela turned her attention back to the pan, pushing the bits of potato around and frowning at the uneven brown, but she was all smiles then as she continued, “I think that was your request. Besides, I asked for you, remember? Ana says no pets.”

Someone has a pet,” Moira hissed conspiratorially, and it was Angela’s turn to roll her eyes.

“Oh God, you’re not still talking about that hamst—”

I saw it, Angela,” Moira protested, her attention now taken entirely away from her work, though she didn’t stand, only drumming her fingers on the back of the chair as she looked with determination toward Angela.

“Yes, I remember, you told me,” Angela was amused by this whole thing, though she maintained that Moira’s strange dreams were a sign of being over-worked.

“You don’t believe me.”

“Of course I believe you, Moira,” Angela insisted, fighting back a giggle, “Late at night a large hamster roams the halls of Overwatch, absolutely.”

Rolls.” Moira corrected her, her tone deadly serious, “I told you. I was leaving for work and I heard a noise. I look down and it was at the end of the hall, in one of those little, plastic, you know, ball things,” Moira was gesturing with her hands now, insistent that Angela might believe her this time, “Like someone had let it out for exercise. It had just rolled around the corner and it stopped when it saw me. And it stared at me, and I stared at it.”

“A showdown?” Angela quipped, but Moira continued unfazed.

“When it saw me it stopped and rolled back around the corner and by the time I went after it, it was gone.” She finished, whipping off her glasses and gesturing with them pointedly in Angela’s direction, “I know what I saw. Someone has a pet.”

“A hamster. Rolling the halls unaccompanied in the middle of the night, intelligent enough to run away when it had been spotted.” Angela grinned, “And how much had you been drinking?”

Moira shrugged off her question, pursing her lips and furrowing her brow once more, “It’s probably Amari. That’s why she doesn’t want us to have a dog, she knows it would sniff out her secret hamster.”

Angela’s amusement over the idea of Ana Amari coveting and hiding a contraband hamster was trumped only by the amusement brought on by Moira’s insistence that this event had actually taken place, and she did as she always did, nodding and assuring Moira that she believed her. It earned the same result it had in the past: Moira narrowed her eyes, scowled, huffed, and returned to her work with only a small grumble that she knew what she’d seen.

Angela broke from the stove only briefly to press a kiss the top of Moira’s head, earning another soft murmur, before returning to the task of breakfast.

Yes, she loved Moira.

She leaned her hip against the counter, pulling the pan from the burner to allow everything to cool before serving it up. She’d done a good job, she thought. It certainly smelled good, and Moira had never complained about her cooking. Again, as she often did standing over the stove but with her eyes falling to Moira wherever she might be, Angela smiled.

She understood, or at least she felt she did. Why Moira wanted to pay for them. Why Moira rushed around cars to help her to her feet. Why Moira looked at her the way she did.

I shouldn’t need to be the man to want to look after you.

Angela hadn’t known any better way to say it, but Moira was right. It wasn’t about Moira being The Man because she paid the bills or opened the doors, and it wasn’t about Angela being The Woman because she was making the breakfast or doing the shopping.

It was about showing love in whatever way came naturally.

Smiling, she fetched her comm, near worthless from lack of service, from the counter and powered it back on. Still no signal, still no word from the outside world. She might only get one shot, she had to make it count.

A quick check in the rear-facing camera. Hair properly pulled back and nothing on her face, good. She fussed at the collar of the flannel for a moment as she shuffled quietly toward Moira, unsuspecting and back at work.

If she sensed Angela’s approach she did not indicate it, and Angela’s mission was successful. A simple bend at the waist, a smiling kiss pressed against Moira’s cheek from behind, a quick maneuver with her comm, and the picture was snapped.

“What was that?” Moira grumbled with exasperation as Angela straightened, already holding her comm up in both hands with a wide smile. It was perfect. She’d pushed Moira’s glasses slightly askew, but not so much to make the picture goofy, only endearing. Her own eyes closed, and Moira’s own look one of confusion, but not unhappiness. Surprise.

“I saw your reader background when I saved your files,” Angela explained, shaking her comm at Moira but jerking it out of the way when Moira reached for it, “I want one too, and now I have it.”

“Let me see it,” Moira insisted, making another grasping motion toward the comm unit, but Angela was already making her way back to the stove.

“Mmmm, no, it’s mine, you’re not deleting it,” Angela teased, pushing cooled potatoes onto two plates with the spatula after depositing the comm safely into the front pocket of the flannel.

She heard Moira sigh, and as Angela finished plating the food Moira took to shutting her reader down and pushing it aside.

“Not in your office,” Moira said without introduction as Angela slid her a plate and tableware, sniffing indignantly.

“Mmmm, if you think you’re going to keep up your cold and grumpy mean lady reputation after that ad campaign I think you’ll be disappointed,” Angela teased, pausing her own trip around the table to place another kiss against Moira’s cheek and whisper tauntingly, “People are going to know how adorable you are.”

More grumbling was all she received, and Angela smiled as she took her seat across from Moira. Oh yes, that was a face she’d plaster on all her devices. At least until a true family portrait could be taken, of course.

“Thank you,” Moira added quietly, gesturing toward the plate with her fork, and Angela nodded.

“Happy to,” Angela beamed. She wasn’t sure if she could communicate just how happy, and so she didn’t bother trying, and the two turned their attentions to the meal. Some of their attentions, anyway. Angela gestured toward the reader with her fork between bites, “Making progress?”

She was determined to be better, and she would show it.

Moira nodded as she chewed, and finally after swallowing she gave a half-shrug, “Somewhat, I’m only getting my thoughts in order at this point. I won’t be able to really get started on it until we get back.”

“Did you . . . want to tell me about it?” Angela ventured cautiously, and hoped Moira noticed more of her smile than her unease.

When Moira shook her head, Angela gave a defeated, though understanding, nod.

“Ah, sorry,” Moira immediately added in earnest, “That is, it’s that there is really nothing to talk about yet. You’ve, ah, you’ve heard the basic idea,” She looked uneasy as well, but she did smile as she finished, “I’ll talk to you about it when there’s something worth talking about.”

That was enough for Angela, who smiled back her thanks before returning to peppering her eggs. It wasn’t an awkward or disappointing end to the conversation, but still, a change in subject would probably do them both good, and she did have something that had been on her mind for a while.

“What will the baby’s name be?”

Moira looked to her with confusion as she sopped up egg yolk with a piece of toast, “I thought you didn’t want to pick her name until after she was born.”

“Ah, I mean her surname,” Angela clarified, watching Moira’s face closely to determine any opinions she might have that she felt uncomfortable expressing. After all, Angela wasn’t sure how comfortable she felt giving her own opinion, and she wondered if her unease was written on her own face.

Moira watched her right back, but then only shrugged, and her tone was nonchalant, “Double-barreled would be easiest, wouldn’t it? Hyphenate both of our names together?”

Angela frowned. O’Deorain-Ziegler would be a mouthful, but that wasn’t the major concern with it, and she pushed a few stray potatoes around on her plate, “Actually hyphenated last names aren’t permitted for children born in Switzerland. We have to choose one.”

“What?”

“I know, I looked it up,” Angela sighed, sharing Moira’s disbelief, “We could still use a hyphenated surname, but it wouldn’t be her legal name. So we have to choose one for the documents.”

Moira was quiet much longer this time, watching Angela closely, and Angela watched her right back, her smile almost apologetic.

Perhaps she should just be out with it, that she wanted the baby to have Moira’s surname. She didn’t feel strange over that, it was simply the fear that Moira might ask why. Why wouldn’t she want her own child, who she’d carried and bore, to have her own surname?

And Angela didn’t know if she could get the words out. That as much as she agreed that it wasn’t about Moira being The Man and Angela being The Woman, she wanted the baby to have Moira’s name because it just seemed right that she did, and that Angela let herself hope that someday they’d all have Moira’s surname.

Too forward. Even if she could somehow remove from her explanation the implicit stereotypical gender roles of viewing Moira as the head of household, the closest thing their daughter would have to a father, well, there was the second discomfort. It seemed silly, given how far they’d come, the situation they were in, to be so uneasy over broaching the subject of marriage.  Perhaps that was why Angela was so reticent over it all, that it had seemed so natural, so assumed, that in her mind she was already Moira’s wife. And that was presumptuous. Yes, too forward.

Moira pushed her emptied plate aside, resting her elbows on the table as she leaned in with a sigh, “What would you like, Angela?”

Angela frowned. This was going to be one of those things, wasn’t it? One of those things where each person deferred to the other and no one took a stand. “Here’s what we’ll do,” Angela pushed her own plate aside, fetching the bag of work supplies from the corner beside her and fishing out two pieces of paper and a set of pens and passing one of each to Moira, “I don’t want this to turn into a ‘it’s whatever you want’ courtesy showdown.” Moira chuckled, and Angela grinned as she uncapped her pen, “So we’ll each write down what we want so that we can’t change what we were going to say when we see what the other person put down.”

Moira nodded, sliding the paper the rest of the way toward herself, and they each gave a nod. The subsequent scratching of pens was broken only by Angela’s addition of a single rule, “And you’re not allowed to put down ‘whatever you want’ as your answer.”

“I need a new piece of paper.” Moira whispered sheepishly, and Angela passed her one with a grin.

‘I want her to have your name.’ It was simple, it was to the point, and it didn’t bring Angela into the equation at all. It would do. Angela set her pen down and waited for Moira to continue a quick bout of writing on her own paper.

“Alright, who first?” Moira asked as she put down her pen.

“You, please.” Angela urged, still not quite sure how she would word her forthcoming explanation of her choice.

Moira nodded, fiddling with the corners of her paper in front of her as she licked her lips, “I, ah, I wrote it down, but it’s easier to explain.”

Angela nodded encouragingly, happy to know she might not be the only one overthinking it. Did Moira want Angela to have her last name? Angela chided herself. This wasn’t about Angela’s name. It was about the baby.

“I . . .” Moira licked her lips again, her eyes darting to her paper then back to Angela, “I know you said that I shouldn’t say whatever you want is fine with me, but it is,” she held up her hand as Angela began to protest, “But if you want to know my preference,” Angela nodded, and once again Moira’s fingers were tugging bits off the edges of the page on the table, “I think, well, it’s natural to want your child to have your own name, isn’t it?”

When she looked to Angela, her expression searching, Angela smiled warmly. Another encouraging nod.

“I would like her to have my name, and I know that my family would want that too. But I know that that must cut both ways.” Moira continued, still with a tone of uncertainty and a look of warmth, empathy even, for Angela, “There are . . . a lot of O’Deorains out there having children,” She gestured haphazardly with her hand, chuckling a bit, “Probably too many.”

When she brought her hand back down she reached across the small table to take Angela’s own hand in hers, and her demeanor returned to one of seriousness, of deference, “My, ah, family line, as one might say, doesn’t end here . . . but yours might.”

Angela frowned, her eyes falling to their joined hands. It was not a light in which she had considered the issue. Moira was right. Unlike Moira she had no brothers, no cousins, no aunts or uncles. There were probably some distant relatives far-removed from her somewhere out there, but for all intents and purposes, she was the last of the Zieglers, wasn’t she?

“My, ah, my family takes family seriously,” Moira continued her explanation, “There is an old ledger back home, tracing us back hundreds of years. Names, dates, addresses. We’ve lived there for generations, we have this . . . this history,” She frowned, squeezing Angela’s hand, “And so I want her to be a part of that. But I also don’t want to take away your chance at continuing your own family name . . . I know how important having your family is to you, and I don’t want to take that away.” Another squeeze of her hand, but this time a smile, “And so I’m sorry, Angela, but my answer really is that I want to do whatever you’d like.”

Angela nodded, sniffling a bit and blinking at the bits of pain at the corners of her eyes. With her free hand she thumbed at her own page. Was what she’d written still true? She raised her head with an apologetic smile, “I want to think about it some more, if that’s alright.”

Moira could have chided her for disobeying the rules of the paper arrangement, but she simply nodded and gave a final squeeze of Angela’s hand before standing and taking up their plates, “Of course. I’ll clean up. Go rest.”


Angela couldn’t recall if the plans for the rooftop pool at Vesta included a spa, but she hoped it did, as she could certainly get used to this.

Then again, a public spa with kids splashing and screaming about in an adjacent pool wasn’t quite the same. Enjoyable in its own way, but nowhere near as relaxing as sitting on a pillow with her joggers rolled up to her knees and her legs plunged into the roiling waters. She’d brought out the big green quilt again, but Moira’s shirt was keeping her warm enough in the late winter sun.

She couldn’t recall if there was a spa in the plans, but she had more important things to turn over in her mind as she pushed her toes around the jets.

Heritage. Angela’s idea of family had always been small in scale: A loving, tight-knit household, children to tuck into bed at night, and someone to fall asleep next to. Cousins, uncles, aunts, and grandparents to visit on holidays.

But heritage? A shared history, a traceable lineage, traditions practiced since long before anyone who followed them was born. She’d done some research into her own family line for school projects, of course, but what connection could an orphan who could barely remember her own parents’ faces have to Bavarian brickmakers hundreds of years ago? Land? Heraldry?

Did Angela’s name mean anything to her?

Of course it did.  In some ways it was all she had left of her own parents, the one thing she might be able to give from them to their granddaughter. Were they watching her? Had they watched her grow up and become who she was? Were they proud? What would they want for the baby?

If not for Moira’s shadow falling over her she’d not have noticed her approach, masked by the bubbling and churning water.

“Sneaking up on me?” Angela called slyly as she pushed her toes against one of the jets.

“I prefer ‘trying not to disturb you,’” Moira’s demeanor was blithe and Angela felt she could almost hear the shrug and the smile, “Here.”

Moira bent, holding a large mug by the rim, allowing Angela to take hold of the handle and the base.

“Mmm, thank you