For the tarot prompts! The World for Rakasha!
the world: fulfillment, experience, completion;
“Do you remember, back when…”
possible AUs/settings/ideas: old age, happy end, fantasy world au
This is sort of a happy end AU, it’s also just a ‘cleaning up some messes’ AU. Taking place post-final battle.
Akasha kept her breath steady as the dropship descended out of the clouds, her eyes flicked out the window to the facility ahead. A gleaming white collection of buildings were splayed out below, with one tall building with a Vishkar logo at its front at the heart. The Vishkar logo had been heavily graffitied over.
“...it’s okay if you need to go straight to the hotel, you know,” Rajeev’s hand went over her knee.
Her hand went over his. “I’m fine,” she said, “I... need to see it. Them. I need to see them.”
There were several UN agents on the helipad, and one omnic in a smart pantsuit ran up and heartily shook Rajeev’s hand as he and Akasha exited the dropship.
“Mr. Amari, I can’t tell you how much of an honor it is,” she said, her suit still riffling in the breeze from the dropship’s turbines.
“How has it been so far?” asked Rajeev.
“Honestly? Better than expected. Given the post-omnic crisis orphan influx, I didn’t think there would be such a demand... and yet...”
“What about any blood relatives?” Akasha pulled up briskly next to Rajeev, “What are the screening procedures for adoptions?”
“We’ve... actually managed to find a significant amount of blood relatives passing the screening procedures and willing and able to take these children in, and we'd be happy to upload our screening process documents to your tablets,” the omnic said, looking at a holo-pad, “After that, there have been a high number of individuals and couples passing our initial screenings willing to take them in as well. We also have some very well-reputed foster programs offering their support as well, it seems they have the means to do so, since so many financial assets of Vialli Financial have been returned to their initial investors and debtors.”
"Good," Akasha said quietly.
"But... let's see the rest of them, right?" Rajeev piped up and the Omnic chuckled a little.
"Of course," said the omnic, "Right this way."
They continued walking through the gardens, and then passed through a secondary gate to enter a spacious yard dotted with hard-light tetherball poles, basketball courts, tennis courts, and even a fenced-off reduced-friction hard-light court for hockey and curling. Akasha's eyes flicked around. The whole scene looked more colorful, now, as well, with the kids all wearing a hodgepodge consisting of their old white and blue Vishkar orphanage uniforms, and more varied, brightly colored clothes apparently liberated from one of Vialli financial's smaller shell companies focused on apparel. They were laughing, and shouting.
Sports tended to be very strictly regimented within Vishkar, often exclusive to the children displaying the most athletic prowess and leadership, and even then that leadership of the individual itself being molded to Vishkar's vision and needs. One of the reasons Akasha caught Sanjay's attention herself was her talent in a short-lived Vishkar fencing program. But here was... chaotic. Kids were running from sport to sport, hard light balls were being bounced between inappropriate courts, kids were even attempting to hit basketballs with tennis rackets. Almost like... actual children. Watching these kids now, her stomach fluttered and she felt her ears burning for some reason. A part of her wanted to call out, What are you doing? Get back in your lines now, don't you know you'll get in trouble? But... that wasn't how things were anymore. And that was sinking in more and more.
"They just got out of lunch. They have playtime for the next 20 minutes, then we can show you the classrooms and dormitories," the Omnic explained, "I'm going to go grab one of the teachers and just make sure they're all ready for you two to sit in. Is there anything else I can get for you?"
"We're fine for now," said Akasha, eyes still scanning across the yard there were several omnic chaperones keeping watch, ready to run in if any of the kids scraped a knee or started arguing, but the kids seemed more than content with their chaotic play. With the clang of the fence behind Akasha and Rajeev, there was a rapid swiveling of heads in their direction. Rajeev gave a big playful wave and Akasha unconsciously stepped closer behind him, but then an audible ripple of yells and chatter issued up from the yard, accompanied by the percussion of balls being dropped to the ground as the kids ran toward them. For the most part the kids were excited to see anyone new. They burgeoned around Rajeev and Akasha like a tide, poking and prodding and gripping with tiny fingers.
"You're Rajeev! From the holo-films!" one blurted out.
"Can you do the shield?" said another.
"Do the shield!" one piped up from the back.
"Oh, you mean," Rajeev materialized a shield from hard-light, "This shield?" And the kids cheered. "Who wants to take pictures?" Rajeev called out and the kids cheered again.
Akasha felt a tug at the back of her head and a murmur of "Your hair is so long--" she glanced around sharply to see a girl flinch away from the ends of her hair. She had half a mind to bunch all of her hair up in a messy bun, but the way the girl was looking up at her with half-scared eyes made her stomach un-tense.
"Yes..." Akasha said a bit hollowly, "It is long. It.. helps me feel more stabilized in the time I am now."
"Can I braid it?" the girl blurted out.
Akasha's shoulders bunched up and she hesitated for a few seconds. "...if you are careful about it," she replied gently.
The girl grabbed Akasha's hand and tugged her over towards a bench near the tetherball poles. Akasha glanced over her shoulders to see a small line of girls trailing after them, even as several kids were now attempting to climb on Rajeev as he took selfies with them holding his shield or hanging on his shoulders. Akasha felt another tug on her arm and saw that she and the girl had reached the bench now, and the girl was prompting her to sit down. Then, the girl got up on her knees on the bench to braid Akasha's hair as several other girls circled around her.
"You were on the holos too," another girl with hair up in two tight buns piped up.
"Was I?" said Akasha.
"You move really fast!" said a smaller child.
"That's right," Akasha smiled.
"I didn't know you were a lady until you took the helmet off," said the two-bunned girl.
"I thought you were Tracer," said another.
Akasha snorted a bit. "Well... hair creates drag, so I wear a helmet most of the time.
"You're like Tracer, right?" said one of the girls, holding the smaller child's hand as she sucked on her fingers.
"...we both have chronal accelerators to treat our chronal disassociation," Akasha said a bit blankly, "Though... we were both disassociated under very different circumstances."
"...Cornal Exceladors..." the finger-sucking child almost-repeated and Akasha immediately realized the vocabulary for what had defined her life for the past few years was well outside these children's current capacity for understanding.
"Chronal accelerator," Akasha corrected.
"Do you make hard-light, too?" said the girl braiding Akasha's hair.
Swords, thought Akasha, but then she said, "When I need to, yes."
Her eyes trailed back to Rajeev, who was now carrying an impressive four kids on his shoulders and in his arms as several other kids all eagerly and half-bickeringly passed his shield between them.
"Is it true there's no more Vishkar?" another girl piped up and Akasha glanced over at her.
"I--" Akasha started.
But another girl cried out, "I want to braid, too!"
"You can braid this side--just be gentle," Akasha offered a loose strand of hair.
"Where are we gonna go if there's no more Vishkar?" another girl asked.
"That's what everyone's working very hard to figure out," said Akasha.
"You were with Vishkar! Are we gonna go with Overwatch like you?"
"I was already an adult when I joined Overwatch," said Akasha. 'Adult' is definitely generous, she thought.
"But Rajeev said Overwatch was his family!" another girl piped up.
"Well--yes---but---" Akasha could feel her ears burning, and her neck was starting to get stiff from holding it at an angle the kids could easily braid her hair at.
"And they're your family too, right?"
"Er... in a sense, but--"
"So you're gonna be the mommy and he's the daddy," said the smallest girl, matter-of-factly.
Akasha's mouth dropped open and vision swam at the edges for a few seconds. "What," the word seemed to fall out of her, not even questioning, just pure reflex.
"She said you're gonna be the mommy and--"
"Overwatch is being disbanded," Akasha said tensely, staring into space, and there was a beat of shock that immediately tumbled into a ripple of cries of protest and complaint.
"You can't disband!"
"What about the heroes?"
"We're supposed to go with you!"
"N-no--!" Akasha blurted out her hands flinching inwards towards herself. The children around her shrank back slightly, but she kept her eyes fixed on a point on the ground, "I mean... it doesn't work like that. Overwatch has been, fundamentally, something that was founded solely to deal with major crises. It's not sustainable on a long-term scale. What we need to do right now is reform and reinforce major infrastructures and aid in the creation of new, smaller, more specialized organizations that can have better oversight and be better suited to their local--" Akasha's eyes scanned across the blank and questioning faces of the children around her, all of them too betrayed at the concept of Overwatch being disbanded and her own explanation being far too complicated to placate them, "Look... it's... very complicated to explain," she said, moving to push hair hair back from her face but her fingertips brushing along half-tangled complicated braids. "But I promise you, we're doing everything we can to make sure you find good homes with good people. Overwatch will always help people... even if it's... in new ways."
"...so you don't like Rajeev?" the girl braiding her hair tied off the braid.
Akasha could feel her whole face burning. "I'm supposed to be asking you guys questions," she said, trying to summon back a bit of the haughtiness Vishkar cultivated in her.
"So you're not gonna go super-fast?" said the smallest child.
"Well, if you guys answer my questions, and you're well behaved about it... maybe you'll get a chronal accelerated piggyback ride. So... Who wants to tell me what you had for lunch today?"
There was a clamoring chorus of "Me!" and Akasha huffed a sigh of relief.
The rest of the afternoon progressed in a pleasant, albeit uneventful way. Tours of classrooms and dormitories, sitting in on a class session where an omnic explained photosynthesis--afterwards, Rajeev gave the blurb they had helped draft with Mei about the disbandment, and they showed the children a video clip of Efi Odalele giving a speech at an Adawe Foundation charity gala. With enough info-dumping, even Rajeev's apparent star-power with the children faded into general pleasant awareness, although there were still plenty of pleas for selfies and turns to hold the shield before they left, which Rajeev was happy to oblige. Their omnic chaperone eagerly thanked them for their time as they got back into the dropship.
Akasha told him what the kids had said during takeoff.
"They said what?" Rajeev burst out laughing.
"It's not that funny," muttered Akasha, glaring out the dropship window.
"No--I know--I mean--Sorry. It's cute," Rajeev grinned.
"Cute? I--" Akasha let out a scoffing breath, "Who looks at me and thinks 'mommy!?' I'm--I'm made of electricity and broken glass!"
"I don't think you're made of electricity and broken glass," Rajeev shrugged.
"Rajeev--" Akasha folded her arms.
"I dunno, kids are weird like that," Rajeev shrugged, "I guess it's harder for the omnics to really meet them at their level. And... they saw us on the holos so..."
"Well it's easier for you! They love you! You're the... shield hero guy! With the hair!"
"They liked your hair too," Rajeev smiled and Akasha felt at her tangled braids, blushing a bit. "Plus they were hyped on those piggy-back rides," Rajeev snorted, "You kind of stole the show, you know."
"...I didn't notice..." Akasha glanced down. She smiled. "I'm so used to fighting with the chronal accelerator, it was nice to just... have fun with it."
"Like, I know you said a lot of this was mostly about you coming to terms with like... everything Vishkar did to you, but... I just think you're a lot better with kids than you give yourself credit for--that's all I'm saying," Rajeev gave a wave of his hand.
Akasha's mouth quirked to one side. "I guess... their world's kind of fallen out from underneath them, too. Or I guess it's always doing that when you're young."
"Yeah... it was kind of always doing that in Overwatch too, to be honest," Rajeev said vaguely.
A pause passed between them.
"So you don't have a problem with the kids calling you 'daddy?'" Akasha's eyes crinkled.
"I don't have a problem with anyone calling me 'Daddy'" said Rajeev with an arched eyebrow.
Akasha groaned and gave his shoulder a shove as he snickered. "You're ridiculous," she muttered.
"Need help detangling those braids later?" asked Rajeev.
"...yes," said Akasha, stiffly.