With a subtle click of static, the clock radio on Hana Song's bedside table switched on, blasting upbeat Korean rap into its dormant owner's exposed ear. She groaned loudly, swinging her arm wildly in its general direction in an attempt to quit the noise. Her hand finally connected on her fifth swing, and the room once again plunged into silence. “Nerfed,” she mumbled to herself, rolling back into her pillow and stubbornly trying to return to sleep. It was of no use: She was now wide awake. With a grumble, she sat up and glanced at the clock face. 2:03 PM.
Mumbling more incoherencies she got out of bed, slipping into her bunny slippers and groggily treading her way towards the kitchen. It was her first day of home leave in a long while, and she intended to take it easy. Still rubbing her eyes, she pulled open the refrigerator and began pouring herself a glass of orange juice, unceremoniously scratching her rump as she replaced the carton in the fridge. Taking a sip, she turned back the way she came… and nearly spat out her drink as she realized she wasn't the only one in the room.
“Morning, love.” A petit British woman sat at the kitchen table, cheerfully sipping her tea, and Hana's mother, Jung-suk, sat across from her, casually reading the newspaper. She glanced up upon hearing the woman's voice.
“Oh, hey Hana,” Jung-suk said. “We have company: This is Lena, I think I've mentioned her to you before?”
Hana blinked hard in her mother's direction. Company. Now you tell me. She turned to Lena and pointed a finger squarely at her (glowing?) chest. “You. Didn't see me.” She turned sharply, and quickly trudged her way back into her room. The door slammed tightly behind her as locks audibly clicked into place.
Lena rolled her eyes and looked back towards Jung-suk, biting her lip with a hint of a smile. “Cute kid,” she said. Lena had been in her teens when she had first begun fighting Omnics as a member of the elite team known as Overwatch, so she understood what the young girl must be going through—although, to be fair, it'd take quite the occasion to leave Lena Oxton still bedridden at such a late hour. She was always full of energy: It was one of the things that Jung-suk admired about her.
“Don't mind her; she hates being seen without her makeup,” Jung-suk responded, not looking up from the paper. “Going off to save the human race, and she has to spend an hour beforehand in the bathroom getting everything perfect. ‘Gotta look good for the streams,’ she says. Do any of the other mech pilots care about their makeup? Of course not. My goodness.”
Lena took another sip of tea. “She's on leave then?”
“Yep. All weekend.” Jung-suk gestured in the air as she turned the page. “Am I going to see her at all during that time? No. But she's ‘doing what she loves,’ and lord knows she's been successful, so what's a mother to do. Even if she never leaves her room.” Before her time as a pilot in the Mobile Exo-Force of the Korean Army (MEKA), Hana had been a star in the Korean eSports scene, and she still played casual matches in her time off.
Lena pressed her further. “You're not a fan?” Jung-suk rarely shared her feelings on her daughter as, to the public's eye, she had to portray the image of a supportive parent. She sighed, turning the page again—but she was now in the classifieds, and had run out of content. Giving up, Jung-suk folded the paper delicately and set it to the side. She looked up into Lena's eyes for the first time, and her look was one of patient exasperation.
“I can't complain,” she said finally. “But you look at these video game players, they're all— what? Teenagers? Twenty-somethings, maybe? What is she going to do with her life? It's not a career.”
“The military may well do.” Lena raised her eyebrows in Jung-suk's direction. They both knew that Hana's piloting skills would be sorely needed should the war with the Omnics escalate any further.
Jung-suk looked away. “The military has its troubles, too,” she said. “It makes it hard to settle down.”
Lena felt a slight pang in her heart. She knew that comment was directed at her. She leaned across the table and gave her lover a light peck on the cheek. “Cheer up, love. Technically, I'm civilian same as you.”
Jung-suk rolled her eyes and glared bitterly in Lena's direction. “Oh, yes. Silly me. Because that will stop you from flying halfway around the world at a moment's notice.” It wouldn't and they both knew it. Unable to say anything to the contrary, Lena gave her most award-winning smile, which, of course, did the job. Jung-suk pursed her lips in an attempt to keep her expression serious. Lena's smile was a hard thing to resist.
Lena mirrored the expression sarcastically, which was the final straw. “Okay, come here, you,” Jung-suk said, her tone exasperated but a smile twinkling in her eyes. She leaned across the table and planted a kiss, long and deep, onto Lena's lips, while Lena, for her part, closed her eyes and leaned into it, relishing the sudden surge of adrenaline in her heart.
A clattering sound was heard back towards the kitchen, and the two women turned to look. There Hana Song stood waiting, her hair brought back into a ponytail, her makeup minimal but present, her (plastic, now empty) orange juice glass rolling at her feet from where it had fallen from her outstretched hand. Her face reflected a mixture of shock and horror. “Okay,” she said. “What. Did I just. See.” Her hand made repeated karate-chopping motions as she spoke the words. “Can I. Like. Unsee it. Please.”
Jung-suk's face immediately flushed and she quickly brought up the folded paper to hide it. Lena gave Hana a wink and threw up a quick peace sign in turn. “Ay, love,” she said cheerily.
“Hana, dear,” Jung-suk was trying her hardest to sound composed despite the fact that she was speaking from behind a newspaper. “As I was trying to tell you earlier, this is Lena Oxton; she and I have been dating for several months now.” If she could just paint this all as a misunderstanding, maybe she could forget the fact that her daughter had just caught her making out with the girl of her dreams.
“Okay,” Hana said. She waved her hand in the air for emphasis as she reached down and retrieved her fallen glass. “Okay. You told me you were seeing someone. You didn't say they were British. Or incredibly young. Or a girl. You can understand why this might be a bit of a shock.”
Jung-suk held the line. “Well, I'm sorry you too haven't been able to meet before now; Lena was back in London the last time you were home.” She put a hand to her forehead and ended up running her fingers through her hair. “This wasn't… exactly how I'd planned on you two meeting.”
“Um, yeah, I would kind of hope not?” Hana walked back and placed her glass in the kitchen sink. She turned and leaned against the counter, her composure regained. “But, I mean, it happened, so let's do this.” Hana put on a show of being above it all, but she was always one to look out for friends and family—including, as the case may be, vetting potential love interests. British-girl was charming, but Hana didn't trust her one bit. “…Lena, you said your name was?” Hana asked. “You travel around a lot?”
It was Lena's turn to look surprised, for once. “You mean you haven't heard of me, love? I'm Tracer, from Overwatch. Y'know… Cheers, love! The cavalry's here! Travel is part of the job description.”
“Do I look like I paid attention in history class?” Hana crossed her arms with an attitude. “Overwatch is KO'd. MEKA does that work now.”
There was a moment of tense silence. Jung-suk stood up from the table, taking the newspaper with her. “I think… I am going to step out for a bit,” she said. She needed a breather. “Give you two a chance to get to know each other.” Hana and Lena both watched as she put on her coat and shoes and left out the front door.
With her mother no longer present, Hana allowed herself to relax, but only slightly. She walked over and took her mother's seat across the table from Lena. “I'mma sit down here,” she said. “I'm not gonna kiss you, though, so don't ask.”
Lena laughed. “Wouldn't dream of it, love.”
“You sure say ‘love’ a lot for someone who isn't looking to make out,” Hana said, slightly perturbed. “So, am I supposed to, like, treat you as my mom, then? 'Cause you look like you could be my big sister.”
“Definitely mum,” Lena replied. “Because if I was your sister, that'd make Jung-suk my mum, and that would just be awkward?”
“She's old enough to be your mom, lol.”
“Oh, hush. I'm not that young, you know.” Lena traced her finger around the edge of her cup. “I… may have a bit of a thing for older women, though.”
“I'd say.” Hana leaned back in her seat, then suddenly started and leaned forward. “Wait, older women?! Who else did you have a crush on?” Lena blushed but gave her nothing; she looked away, her lips pressed tightly closed. Mum was certainly the word. “Fine. Whatever.” Hana sighed. She wasn't one for smalltalk, but in this case the obligation felt like hers. “So, you were in Overwatch, then? Pretty big deal?”
“Were?” Lena scoffed. “Still am, love. Surely you heard about the Doomfist heist? Tekhartha Mondatta's assassination? I was there, for both of them.”
“Hold on.” Hana looked at her in disbelief. “You killed Tekhartha Mondatta??”
“I stopped the killing of Tekhartha Mondatta,” Lena replied adamantly. “Almost. Anyway, point is, we're back and we're doing business. In a manner of speaking.”
“…In a manner of speaking?” Hana pulled out her phone and shot off a quick reply. She gave Lena a look of skepticism.
“Well, engaging in military activities as Overwatch is, uh, technically… illegal.” Lena cleared her throat quickly. “So right now we're playing the defensive game, trying to have feet on the ground in case something happens. Nothing so glamorous as what you're doing, all told.”
Hana wasn't sold. “You're going to wind my mom up in jail, is what you're telling me.”
“Your mum can take care of herself,” Lena said. “All told, I'd be more worried about yourself. You know, Overwatch could use some good agents like you.”
“Thanks, no thanks, I'll pass.” Hana stood up from the table with a stretch. As enlightening as this conversation was, she'd decided she'd had enough. She held out her hand. “Well, gg, but I've been afk a bit long and my friends are starting to send me worried texts. Gotta get back to the game, so. TTYL and all that.”
Lena took the outstretched hand and gave it a firm shake. “Always a pleasure, love.” The young girl had held out longer than Lena had thought she would, but like any teenager, she could only last so long in an awkward situation.
“Uh, yeah. Right back atcha.” Hana gave a small salute and walked back towards her bedroom. “Love.”