After the closing of the Great Vault, the remaining Crimson Raiders (namely Zane) invited all of their adversaries to Pandora for a one night only event. Sanctuary III returned to its drydock for what Zane claimed would be the best party Pandora would ever see. The other vault hunters had their doubts because he signed on Ace Baron to be the DJ and his digi-clone was to serve as one of two bartenders, but they helped him organize it anyway. After all, it was a celebration of their triumph.
When party time arrived, Moze almost didn't go. She had never been the biggest fan of parties. And to top that off, she didn't understand how everyone could kick back and relax like the threat of the cult wasn't still very real. The Calypsos may be dead but Pain and Terror still dominated the EchoNet, assuring the family this setback could only make them stronger. And after this, Moze had no idea what was coming next. The Crimson Raiders were left without a leader and Tannis, who was technically next in line, was only interested in translating all the messages from Nyriad the vault hunters happened to find. What was going to become of the galaxy without the small but mighty force that was the Crimson Raiders? On top of that, what would happen to her? Her new squad? The newest group of vault hunters clicked so well together but Moze feared this may be the end of their story together. She didn’t want to lose another group of people she loved to a suicide mission, them simply parting ways at the end of the day seemed more painful to her. Though it seemed probable at the moment, she didn't even want to entertain the possibility of losing her found family. Especially not one member in particular.
Moze sat at her workbench, tinkering with Iron Bear's minigun as the giant mech stood in the middle of the room. Lost in her work, she didn't hear anyone come knocking. Moze was snapped back to reality when she felt a familiar set of hands on her shoulders. She turned around to find Amara standing there with a goofy grin plastered on her face.
"What are you doing in here? It's party time," the siren said.
“Not feeling it,” Moze grunted.
“Oh come ON. Who knows when we’ll be able to do this again? One night without being shot at. Let’s go enjoy it,” Amara suggested. She extended a hand to pull Moze up out of her chair. Moze sighed and took her hand. Amara led her off the ship through the cargo bay. Outside Sanctuary III, the drydock had become a dancefloor. A makeshift Moxxi bar was nestled right by the cargo bay’s door, Moxxi and Zane’s digi-clone serving the familiar faces of Rhys and Vaughn. The DJ booth was on the opposite side of the platform but the bass blasts could be felt everywhere. Generic members of the resistance lined the stairs below and the walkways above. The moon emblazoned with the Firehawk shone brightly in the night sky above. Rhys and Vaughn left the bar and sat at one of the many tables scattered around the dancefloor. Amara dragged Moze over to the bar.
“Take your helmet off and stay a while, sugar,” Moxxi said to the soldier. Moze blushed and removed the helmet, setting it down on the bar. Amara plopped down on an empty barstool and ordered a fancy sounding Moxxtail that definitely had a high alcohol content. Moze sat beside her and asked the barkeep for a rakk ale. Moxxi obliged them both then made her way to the other side of the long bar to serve a group of people neither Moze nor Amara recognized.
“Cheers,” Amara said, clinking their drinks together. Moze took a swig of her rakk ale and spun her stool around to view the dancefloor. A group of already piss drunk Atlas soldiers and one tipsy Alistair Hammerlock gathered around Lorelei and Wainwright having a dance off to the Digby Vermouth song that was currently playing. Winny was definitely winning. To their right, Fl4k was sandwiched in a grind train of sorts between Ellie and Zer0. They made eye contact with Moze and gave her a thumbs up. She shook her head with a laugh and returned the gesture to the robot. As Amara turned around to see what Moze was laughing at, Zane jogged up to the bar.
“Finally! Ye dragged her out of her depression hole!” he said, punching Moze in her pauldronless shoulder.
Moze rolled her eyes, “I was just lost in repairs, dude. I’m fine.”
“Well feel free t’ mingle,” the operative said, “On top of everyone we’ve met the past weeks, I invited a few friends who don’t want me head on a pike as well, so. Plenty of rousing conversation to be had.” He gave a quick nod to the gruff commando, the young woman that never grew out of her goth phase, and the lesbian couple on the other side of the bar. Zane asked his digi-clone for another pint, received the bottle, and disappeared in the crowd again. Amara slammed the rest of her drink and asked the hologram bartender for another.
"Come on, let's join a 'rousing conversation'" Amara said, mocking Zane's accent. She got up and headed to the opposite end of the bar, dragging a reluctant Moze by the hand. The singular man in the group saw the siren coming and opened up their circle for the conversation's newcomers. "Friends of Zane's I assume?" Amara said.
The man laughed. "Yeah. Something like that. My name's Axton, but you can call me anytime," he said with a wink. Moze found herself unintentionally squeezing Amara's hand harder.
The hooded lesbian rolled her eyes, "Axton when are you going to learn that line doesn't work? Especially on someone who's here with someone."
"Oh we're not-" Moze started but she was cut off by the goth girl.
"OKAY WELL, I'm Gaige and YOU'RE the Tiger of Partali! HUGE fan of your work. Can I PLEASE get a picture with you?"
Amara laughed and agreed to it. Gaige handed Axton her Echo device for pictures. Moze made herself scarce and sat by the blonde half of the lesbian couple. She watched Amara and Gaige as they walked off somewhere less crowded to pose for several pictures.
"I know that look," the blonde said.
Moze was taken aback. "What are you talking about?"
"You're toooootally into her," the blonde's thick Elpisian accent hung on every word. Moze didn't know what to say. Her face flushed. The blonde laughed, "Awwww look Athena. I was right! You owe me 20 bucks."
"Okay, okay. Fine," Athena said, pulling a crumpled 20 dollar bill out of her vest pocket. Her wife happily accepted it.
"Don't worry too much about it," she told Moze, "She did the same damn thing around me when we first met."
"Janey can you stop embarrassing a stranger? And me?"
"Oh please. You're not embarrassed. You love it."
Before Moze could interrupt their bickering to ask why the hell they were placing bets on her, the music stopped. The whole party turned its attention to the DJ booth where Zane stood with a microphone. He tapped it a couple times before he spoke, "Hey everyone! Just wanted to thank ye all for comin' out here and not killin' anyone in the process!" A handful of people in the crowd laughed. "Well. Tonight's a special night. We're here to celebrate the heroes, includin' meself, who looted the vaults, closed the Great Vault… AND DEFEATED THE CALYPSOS!" That statement was met with cheering and applause. "Now if you were there at the closure of the Great Vault could ye stand on the nearest table and be recognized?" Moze saw Amara stand up on a nearby table. Fl4k climbed onto a table across the drydock, hoisting Ava on their shoulders. Tannis stood in a corner with her arms folded, refusing to participate in whatever ritual this was. Moze sighed and hopped up onto the bar. She heard Janey whisper "Oh shit." and Athena say "I told you so. I want my money back."
"These wonderful blokes were a joy to hunt with and I hope we don't find each other on our hitlists in the future!" Zane continued. His tone soon became somber, "Unfortunately, not everyone involved could make it today. So I propose a toast. To Maya and Lilith. Two of the strongest women I've ever had the chance to work with. Crimson Raiders 'til the bitter end." Zane raised a shot glass in the air and everyone on the drydock with a drink did the same. After a moment of sipping and silence, Zane spoke again. "Now then, back to business! The next round is on ME! Let's get messy!" He dropped the mic and jumped off the DJ Booth into a crowd of former Promethean citizens. He was caught by Brick, whooping and hollering. Brick paraded him around the dancefloor, Tina and Mordecai chasing after them. Moze hopped off the bar and back onto her stool. The bar became busier as the crowd rushed over to get their shots courtesy of Zane Flynt. Amara, Gaige, and Axton returned to the group.
"What are we drinking?" Amara asked.
"You've already had two drinks in like ten minutes. Chill out," Moze told her.
Amara laughed, "And I had another before I came and got you. I'm not a lightweight like you."
"I am NOT a lightweight!" Moze exclaimed.
"Oh really? Because the night we went out with Clay says differently," Amara said with a smirk.
"We agreed to not talk about that," Moze said through gritted teeth. A flood of embarrassing memories came back to Moze. She wasn't sure what actually happened and what was an alcohol fueled fever dream. She was about 87% sure that her confessing to Amara was one thing that actually did happen. They hadn't discussed it after that night and Moze had prayed to whoever would listen that if the confession was real, Amara didn't remember it. Or the fact that Moze threw up on her carpet.
"Well prove it then!" Axton chimed in, "Go shot for shot with Athena. She's a lightweight."
"Am not!" Athena retorted.
The commando got up in the gladiator's face. "Prove it."
"Fuck you, Axton."
"Well go on then," Janey said. "Go get the whiskey." Athena grunted and stood up.
"You too!" Gaige said, pointing at Moze. Moze turned to Amara who simply waved her on. Moze and Athena trudged over to the back of the now long line.
"So here's the deal," Athena said. "I can take whatever heat Axton and Gaige give me for losing. But I can't make a loss convincing enough for you to impress your girlfriend if you really are a major lightweight. How many shots can you take before you'll vomit?"
Moze suddenly couldn't count. She was hung up on the way Athena referred to Amara as her girlfriend. In a perfect world, yeah that would be ideal. But it wasn't a perfect world for Moze. Amara was adventurous and famous and she was... Legally dead. And any day they spent in the borderlands, they both ran the risk of being actually dead. If it was Amara who bit the dust before her… No. Moze couldn't think about that. It was a night for celebration, not for anxiety about hypothetical situations. She must've been zoned out for a long time because when Athena snapped her back to reality, there was no line in front of them. Athena waved a hand in front of her face, "Hello? Earth to Moze?"
"Five," Moze replied. "I will probably throw up my entire skeleton if it's any more than that."
Athena and Moze made it to the bartenders and requested a total of 16 shots of Moxxi's most potent whiskey. Athena forked over a wad of cash and Moxxi provided them with a tray full of shots. As they walked over to the group's newly claimed table, Athena assured Moze that Axton and Gaige would clean up any leftovers. When they arrived, Athena laid the tray on the table. Axton announced that whoever in the group bet on the loser would have to take the extra shots AND pay Athena back. Athena and Moze sat across the table from each other. Janey gave Athena a kiss on the cheek before joining Moze's side of the table, claiming that she had "complete faith in Athena" despite what her bet said. Amara stood behind Moze, and gave her tense shoulders a quick rub before letting her know she had placed her bet on her. The hairs on the back of Moze's neck stood up. She really couldn't lose now. The contest drew a small crowd, Fl4k and Zane among them. The gunner locked eyes with the gladiator. Despite her plan to lose, Athena had a fire in her eyes that almost scared Moze. Almost.
"Ladies, are you ready?" Axton asked. Both of them nodded. "Alright. Three… two… two and a haaaaaalf… ONE! GO!"
The two of them pounded their first shot, neither acted fazed by the definite burning in their throats. A chorus of cheering drew more spectators as the pair reached for their next shot. Athena winced at that one but Moze kept calm. As the contest went on, Athena's reactions got more dramatic. On the fifth shot, they both paused. Athena reached for hers first, tipped back about half of it then spit it back out. Moze grinned as she downed hers with no problems.
"WE HAVE A WINNER!!!" Zane announced.
"OH COME ON!" Gaige whined, "Athenaaaaaa. Just last week you beat Tina with seven shots! What happened?!"
Athena shrugged, "Dunno but you and Axton have work to do." She gestured at the six shot glasses that remained untouched. Axton and Gaige exchanged a knowing glance and took a pair of shots, arm in arm.
"That was impressive," Fl4k told Moze. "I didn't think you could do that after what happened in Reli-"
"Don't," Moze growled.
"That's my girl!" shouted Amara as she clapped Moze on the back. Moze froze. Her girl. Amara's girl. She wanted to throw up but she didn't know if it was the alcohol or the anxiousness.
"Not gonna lie, I did not have my money on you," Zane said. "But ye pulled it out! Can I go getcha anythin'? Maybe another drink?"
"Water," Moze blurted.
Zane chuckled, "Comin' right up, lightweight." He jogged over to the bar to get her a cup.
Athena stood up and extended a hand to Moze. "Well played," she said. Moze shook the gladiator's hand. "Janey and I are going to go catch up with a few other people but it's been fun."
"It was great to meet you both," Amara spoke for herself and Moze.
"Yeah, hopefully we can hang again. Maybe on a double d-" Janey was cut off by Athena clapping a hand over her mouth. Janey was able to finish her thought by simply winking at Moze. Athena said her own awkward goodbyes and dragged Janey over to the table Rhys and Vaughn had been sitting at drunkenly crying for an hour.
"Weird," Fl4k said before going on their own way. Axton and Gaige polished off the last two shots and hurried over to the bar for more. Zane returned and slid Moze her water cup before twirling his way onto the dancefloor. Amara sat in what was Athena's seat and rested her chin in her hands. She lovingly stared at the contest's champion. Moze paused with her water cup halfway to her mouth. "What're you staring at?"
"Have I ever told you how cute you are when you don't have your helmet on?" Amara smirked.
Moze blushed. But then it occurred to her that she left her helmet at the bar. She chugged her water and got up, starting toward the bar but Amara grabbed her arm. "Don't worry about it," she assured the stressed soldier, "Ava already took it back to your room. Dance with me."
Moze hesitantly agreed. She took Amara's hand and allowed herself to be led to the dancefloor. Her movements were very rigid at first but once the whiskey set in, the music flowed through her. The gunner and the siren danced in sync until a song with a terrible beat killed everyone's vibe. The track was interrupted completely by Brick physically removing Ace Baron from the DJ booth and Fl4k taking his place. They made an announcement that Ace's mixtape was not fire before returning the beats to something danceable. Hours passed by and the crowd thinned out. Moxxi made her last call for alcohol and anyone who wasn't spending the night at the drydock left. Moze had been so focused on Amara the whole time, she didn't realize the only people left on the dancefloor were her, Amara, and established couples; Janey and Athena, Brick and Mordecai, and Wainwright and Alistair.
Fl4k's voice came over the speakers once more, "The party is almost at its end. Let's slow it down."
( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HaKVs-RoH4 )
Tell me, tell me that you want me. And I'll be yours completely, for better or for worse.
Moze's hands moved on their own, one finding its place on Amara's hip and the other meeting Amara's free hand.
I know we'll have our disagreements, be fighting for no reason. I wouldn't change it for the world. 'Cause I knew the first day that I met you I was never gonna let you, let you slip away. And I still remember feeling nervous, trying to find the words to get you here today.
She pulled Amara closer, their bodies touching. Amara leaned ever closer, pressing her lips against Moze's. The pair stayed lip-locked for what felt like an eternity to Moze.
You make my heart feel like it's summer when the rain is pouring down. You make my whole world feel so right when it's wrong. That's how I know you are the one. That's why I know you are the one.
When Amara pulled back, she wrapped both her arms around Moze's neck and rested her head on Moze's pauldron-free shoulder. Blood rushed to Moze's face for the umpteenth time that night.
Life, it's easy to be scared of. But with you I am prepared for what has yet to come. 'Cause our two hearts will make it easy, joining up the pieces, together making one.
She glanced to her left to see Janey holding Athena in the same position. They made eye contact and Janey wiggled her eyebrows at the vault hunter. Moze stifled laughter before returning her attention to her dance partner.
You make my heart feel like it's summer when the rain is pouring down. You make my whole world feel so right when it's wrong. That's how I know you are the one. That's why I know you are the one.
She moved her free hand to Amara's other hip and closed her eyes as they waltzed together.
When we are together you make me feel like my mind is free and my dreams are reachable. You know I never ever believed in love. I believed one day that you would come along and free me. You make my heart feel like it's summer when the rain is pouring down. You make my whole world feel so right when it's wrong. That's how I know you are the one. That's why I know you are the one. That's why I know you are the one. That's how I know you are the one.
They danced for an extended period of time, in their own little world, neither of them realizing when the song was over. Until Fl4k interrupted the happy couple.
"You have been doing this for fifteen minutes," they said, startling the pair. "Please get a room. Zer0, Ellie, and I need to clean up." They gestured to Zer0 standing on Ellie’s shoulders, struggling to take down the lights above the DJ booth. Moze and Amara made eye contact, still in middle school dance position. They broke apart and this time it was Moze who took Amara's hand and led her aboard Sanctuary III.
A party of two continued in Amara's room. After a little bit of extra fun, they lay together in the more comfortable of Amara's two beds, Amara's head resting on Moze's chest. Moze's arm was wrapped around Amara's shoulders, keeping her close. Moze replayed the night's events in her head, wondering how the hell she got so lucky. She had no idea what this meant. She took a deep breath and spoke, "So what now?"
Amara sat up. "You want round three? Already?"
"No! I mean, yeah do I want that, but that's not what I was asking," Moze explained, sitting up to be at eye level with the siren. "I meant like. What are we now?"
"Moze," Amara said softly. "I know you remember confessing to me that night we were drinking in Reliance. What I don't think you remember... I told you I felt the same."
Butterflies filled Moze's stomach. "Really?"
"Would we be sitting here having this conversation if I didn't mean that?"
"I don't know," Moze said. "I didn't know if you were just trying to hook up for the night and move on to the next."
Amara shook her head, "That's not my style."
"So…" Moze trailed off. Of the millions of times she asked Amara out in her head, a scenario like this never came up. How was she supposed to be charming and romantic without having rehearsed it? Lucky for her, she didn't even need to complete the thought.
"Yes, Moze. I will be your girlfriend," Amara answered the unasked question.
"Thank. God." Moze breathed a sigh of relief and flopped back on the bed.
"So NOW you want round three?" Amara teased.
"No. I'd rather just lay here. With you."
"We can do that."
Amara returned to her resting place, draping one arm across Moze's body. Moze held her now girlfriend tighter.
"Now that that's established… what's next? Like in general. In our day to day lives."
"The Crimson Raiders need a leader," Amara said, "And I for one think you'd be perfect for the job."
"Yeah. You're the only person left here with military experience. Fl4k may try to fight you for it. Or Axton if he returns to the Raiders. But I don't see anyone else willing to step up."
"Not even you?" Moze asked, puzzled. "The Tiger of Partali turning down a starring role?"
"Ava needs a new mentor. I don't know that Tannis can do it on her own. And I'm pretty sure the remaining sirens in the universe aren't exactly available."
Moze snorted. "I guess you're right."
They shared a moment of silence under the covers. All of Moze's fears and doubts had been washed away. All that mattered to her was this. And Iron Bear of course, but that goes without saying. She smiled and kissed the top of Amara's head. "I guess we'll just have to see where Sanctuary takes us."