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Data Fusion

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A2 wakes up.

That’s just plain wrong in and of itself, because she very distinctly remembers a sword running through her chest, remembers pain shooting behind her eyelids as darkness swiftly took her. A2 remembers dying at 9S’s hands, and unlike all those other YoRHa units who kept coming back with new bodies over and over again, A2 has never known such a luxury. She had always understood—had always been counting on—the fact that if she died, she would be dead for good.

She doesn’t know when someone could have possibly backed up her memories, nor how a spare body would ever have been afforded to a prototype like her. Yet, here she sits on a stone windowsill, tentatively curling her fingers into fists, feeling through her muscles and her blood and straight into her circuits that this is right, this body really was made for her. Her hair even brushes over her sides now, flowing and long, something that she had missed in the aftermath of that admittedly rather impulsive haircut.

(Bobs never were quite her style.)

So A2 doesn’t get it, but for whatever reason, she’s alive. After so long of just waiting to die so that she could join her fallen comrades like she was always meant to, someone has apparently decided to give her the second chance she never asked for. She doesn’t know who or why but she doesn’t particularly care one way or another, so A2 turns inside to set her feet down on the floor, then kicks at a stray pebble before standing up on her new legs.

“Fantastic,” she mutters. “Guess I’m stuck here for even longer than I thought.”

A2 is alone.

She should be used to that by now. Loneliness was all she had after the Pearl Harbor Descent; with her entire squadron annihilated and herself branded a traitor by Command, she couldn’t rely on anyone. The machines were the enemy, and the androids were out for her blood specifically, so as A2 spent the next three years fighting against the entire world, she painstakingly found solace in her own solitude.

Somehow though, everything has become so twisted around. The silences that had once been a comfort—no sound meant no attackers meant temporary safety—now feel so empty as A2 aimlessly traverses the lands. Every quiet moment seems too quiet, and for some reason, A2 finds herself thinking back to when she wielded 2B’s sword. To when 2B’s memories would bounce around her head, and 2B’s phantom image would sometimes speak to her, and 2B’s Pod would constantly fill the air with useless chatter.

It was all so burdensome then, yet now, suddenly, it’s weird to be without it.

Well, whatever, it’s not like A2 could get all that shit back even if she wanted to, so she’ll just have to go back to how she was before 2B came along and messed up her head. Surviving is easier this time around, since Command is gone and A2 doesn’t have to constantly look over her shoulder for assassins—though, maybe it’s actually a little too easy. Her victories against the occasional aggressive machine simply feel hollow, and A2 is becoming so stir-crazy that when one day, she hears 2B’s voice in her ears, she’s sure she must finally be losing her mind.

But moments later, A2 hears it again—2B’s voice, shouting her name from behind, and A2 abruptly freezes where she’d been wandering through the desert. When she turns around, 2B is sliding down a sand dune, and 9S is trailing behind her, and both of their Pods are hovering around their heads. As the group steadily closes the distance, 2B even brings her hand up and waves.

Stunned, A2 can only blink.

Seeing as A2 got resurrected herself, she’s not exactly surprised that those two are also alive, but she is surprised that they’re approaching her on purpose. In particular, A2 is thrown off by how 2B is smiling at her, a bright and friendly smile that A2 hadn’t realized could even exist on 2B’s face.

“It’s good to see you,” 2B says once she’s slowed to a stop, her tone surprisingly genuine.

A2 manages to fight through her shock just enough to respond, blankly, “Hey 2B.”

Behind 2B, her Pod whirs a bit, then speaks. “Analysis: YoRHa unit A2 retains previous memories as well as core functionality. System backup and restoration have been successful.”

“I told you not to go poking around in my head!” A2 snaps instinctively, then narrows her eyes as gears click into place. “Wait. You say that like you made this happen.”

“Affirmative. This Pod has facilitated the restoration of your memories into a newly constructed body of the Type A No. 2 model.”

Geez, easier said than done.

“Figures,” A2 scoffs. “You know, I never asked for this.”

“Affirmative. No request was received from unit A2. However, given the circumstances surrounding your death and the materials that were available, this Pod felt obligated to grant you a second chance at survival.”

Really, the Pod went to all the trouble of constructing a body, backing up her memories, even getting a brand new black box, and for what? It brought her back to life and then left her alone, left her to stew in unexplained, purposeless living for over a month—and now it suddenly tracks her down just to bring these two along with?

“Don’t expect a thank you,” A2 grumbles under her breath.

Pod hears her just fine. “Understood.”

A2 sighs and flits her gaze over to 9S, who has been entirely silent this whole time—a drastic change from when he was constantly screaming about vengeance and hatred. He’s standing a good bit behind 2B, almost like he’s using her as a shield; he stares down at his shoes and pulls in his shoulders and attempts to shrink in on himself. God, he’s being timid, and it really doesn’t suit him.

“What,” A2 calls out to him, probably with more vitriol than necessary, “not gonna slice me through this time?”

His hand twitches at his side, and A2 tenses up in preparation for when he’ll go for his sword—but then 2B turns around, and they stare at each other through their blindfolds, and after a while, 9S visibly deflates.

“What…what’s the point now?” 9S manages through grit teeth. He certainly doesn’t look happy saying it, but 2B’s presence must be keeping him heeled on some sort of leash. “All of that is behind us, A2.”

A2 quirks a brow. “You are the same 9S who stabbed me, right?”

He winces, and A2 gets some satisfaction from that, but then he just looks sheepishly down at his hands. “Well, yes and no. I mean, my memories are mine. And I think they’re mostly complete. But I…I’m not the same now as I was back then.”

“Nines knows that I asked you to kill me,” 2B explains. “If anything, now he’s more mad at me than you.”

“I’m not mad at you,” 9S mumbles in protest, but A2 doesn’t miss the way his voice tightens.

(He doesn’t want to be mad at 2B, clearly, but part of him must not be able to help it.)

“2B, why are you here?” A2 cuts in, jumping straight to the point. “What exactly do you want from me?”

“Nothing,” 2B answers, and pays no mind to A2’s disbelieving stare. “I just thought we could keep you company for a while. Help you find your footing, now that we’re all alive again.”

“…You’re serious?” A2 crosses her arms. “I don’t need your help.”

“I’m sure you don’t,” 2B agrees. “But I want to give it anyway. I owe you, for everything you did.”

“I didn’t do anything but what I wanted.” A lie, and A2 knows it the moment it leaves her mouth. She really did go out of her way to fulfill 2B’s final wishes, and even now, A2’s not entirely sure why she went to so much trouble.

“Analysis: Infighting amongst YoRHa units is pointless from an energy-usage standpoint.”

“Pod,” A2 groans, “shut up.”

“Nines and I have been staying at the Resistance Camp,” 2B continues, being weirdly persistent about this. “Anemone misses you, you know.”

That gets A2 to pause, biting down on her lip. Dammit, she wishes that didn’t matter to her as much as it does, but when you go into battle as part of a team of thirteen and only one comrade gets out alive with you, you can’t easily just walk away from her. Anemone is a friend, and honestly, A2 misses her too.

“Proposal: Unit A2 should join forces with units 2B and 9S and return to the Resistance Camp.”

Pod’s voice snaps A2 out of it, and she vigorously shakes her head. “This is ridiculous. I work alone. I thought you people would understand that by now.”

“But…being alone is awful.” That one comes from 9S, and A2 startles. She still can’t believe that he’s not trying to tear the shit out of her, much less that he’s actually trying to convince her to spend more time in his presence. “I know that all too well. And nobody should have to feel like that.”

A2 can’t help it. Her jaw physically drops.

“Analysis: The suggestion posed by units 2B and 9S is beneficial to all involved parties.”

Pod is now hovering by A2’s side, spouting out its useless commentary as usual, and it’s so irritating but so familiar, making her chest bloom with an oddly comfortable warmth…

“Proposal: Unit A2 should—”

Okay!” A2 finally yells, glaring daggers at the little floating bastard, and promptly dashes right past her fellow androids in a vicious sprint towards the direction of the Resistance Camp. “If it’ll make you shut the fuck up, Pod, then fine! Whatever! Let’s go already!”

Admittedly, A2 is a little happy to see the Resistance Camp again. Mostly, she’s happy to see Anemone again, and with everything having more or less calmed down after the collapse of the Tower, the two of them finally find the opportunity to sit down in private and just talk. About their pasts, and their fallen comrades, and their shared grief; about the truth, and the future, and what they’re both going to do now. Anemone, even after learning of humanity’s extinction, makes it clear that she’s chosen to continue leading the Resistance regardless. And A2, well…

A2 has to leave.

She appreciates the hospitality, but she can’t stay. Not like 2B and 9S, who have apparently been coping with their newfound state of being alive by vigorously helping with chores around camp half the time, then holing up together in their shared bedroom the other half. Those two are attached to each other, and similarly, Anemone is attached to the Resistance. But A2 has no such attachments of her own, and no desire to live surrounded by other people’s.

Anemone understands, and bids her goodbye after their talk, but makes a point of mentioning that A2 is welcome back any time. Grateful, A2 leaves Anemone’s room, and as she heads towards the exit, she passes by 2B and 9S, both carrying some supply crates along with their Pods. Gazes meet, and while 9S instantly glances to the side, 2B visibly perks up and shoots A2 a soft grin.

Seeing 2B smile like that is still strange and surprising and is now starting to make her head spin, so A2 simply nods in acknowledgment before hurriedly bolting away.

Wandering the world while devoid of purpose hasn’t really become any more fulfilling, but A2 occupies herself where she can. She slides down sand dunes and swings through trees; she fishes at riverbanks and explores ruins and caves; she periodically runs into rogue machines and, of course, she battles them whenever she has to. Some stretches can be boring, but overall, it’s not a horrible routine to get used to—and unlike before, she now has the comfort of knowing she has somewhere to go back to.

And A2 does go back, every now and then. She stops by the Resistance Camp a few times a month over the next few months, though she never stays for very long. Mostly, she just catches up with Anemone, but 2B also seeks her out while she’s there, and A2 is unsure just how to react to that. Partly because 2B and 9S are practically attached at the hip—9S clearly doesn’t feel comfortable with A2’s presence and is only dealing with it for 2B’s sake—and partly because 2B herself just seems…off.

This 2B is helpful, and talkative, and aggressively friendly. It’s a far cry from the 2B that A2 saw in the memories of her sword, the 2B who did her best to never express emotions so as to never get too close to anyone so as to save herself from further pain. And while A2 would like to say that this is a nice change of pace, honestly, sometimes it feels as if 2B is overcompensating. As if those cheerful smiles are a mask of their own.

In general, 2B and 9S seem to have their own issues—tension is hanging between them and they’re clearly not actually dealing with it. Even from afar, A2 can see it in their body language, in how they’re pussyfooting around while simultaneously sticking so close. They take solace in each other, but at the same time, 9S is trying too hard not to be angry, and 2B is trying too hard to keep smiling. It’s uncomfortable.

And it only becomes even more uncomfortable when A2 catches them sneaking a kiss.

At the time, 2B and 9S are entirely alone together, not even their Pods around, as they embrace each other in a tucked away corner of the storage area. They’re shielded on all sides by supply crates and hanging tarps; the only reason A2 can even see them is because she’s watching from above, as she sits on a high ledge on the opposite side of camp. And while A2 didn’t mean to spy initially—her gaze simply happened to land upon them—curiosity winds up getting the best of her as her visual processors zoom in.

In the first place, A2 doesn’t really understand the whole concept of a kiss. She doesn’t get how shoving your lips onto someone else’s lips could be considered pleasurable in any scenario, and 2B and 9S don’t really look like they’re enjoying themselves, either. The kiss itself comes across as just a stilted facsimile of human behavior, and when their lips separate, they don’t talk, don’t smile, don’t bend in to do it again. They barely even look at each other as 2B simply pushes the hanging tarp aside like a curtain and they both walk out.

Overall, A2 thinks the whole ordeal was more awkward than anything.

2B’s memories, when A2 had them, never contained any kissing. A lot of regret, some pining, and even a little fantasizing, but 2B never actually did something like that with any version of 9S before the logic virus took her. That means kissing has to be a relatively recent step for those two, one taken in the aftermath of their resurrection, so whatever this development might mean for 2B and 9S’s relationship going forward, A2 doesn’t know for sure.

Somehow, though, she can’t help but think it’s dangerous.

A2 knows something’s wrong the moment she walks into the Resistance Camp and sees 9S organizing spare parts all by himself.

From what A2’s observed these past several months, 2B and 9S do everything together, are always physically close enough to at least see each other. Yet, 9S is currently working alone, only his Pod floating by his side, and a quick scan of the area makes it clear that 2B isn’t anywhere nearby. When A2 looks at 9S again, he catches her staring, but he doesn’t immediately avert his gaze like usual; instead he blankly maintains eye-to-blindfold contact for a good five seconds before simply sighing and turning back to his work.

Wow. He’s really out of it.

Later, A2 offhandedly asks Anemone about it, and learns that 9S has been like that for a while now. Some days ago, he suddenly stormed out of his and 2B’s shared bedroom without her in tow; 2B hasn’t emerged since, nor has 9S gone back. He’s simply made himself at home over at the repair station where the redhead twins used to work, using one of the spare stretchers as his bed. Presumably, the two partners had a fight of some sort, but the couple of times Anemone tried to ask what the deal was, 9S got angry, and 2B was just plain unresponsive.

“The bad mood is starting to affect everyone in camp, actually,” Anemone groans, “but nobody really knows how to approach them about it, much less how to help.” She shoots A2 a contemplative look. “Maybe you could talk to them? You know them better than any of the rest of us do.”

Anemone’s right, technically. Even if 2B’s memories aren’t exactly with A2 anymore, she still clearly remembers having those memories. So A2 knows 2B intimately, and knows 9S to a secondhand degree—but that’s not the same as A2 having a particularly close relationship with either of them. A2 doesn’t even plan to stick around camp for much longer, so really, 2B and 9S’s drama is none of her damn business.

…But then A2 recalls just how deeply 2B cared for 9S, imagines just how agonized 2B must be without him by her side, and sighs.

“No promises,” A2 tells Anemone, but heads off to 2B’s room to try anyway.

A2 doesn’t bother to knock; the room isn’t locked so she just lets herself in and kicks the door shut behind her. 2B glances over from where she’s sitting on the bed, but that only lasts a few moments before she goes back to staring into space, acting as if A2 isn’t even there. Her Pod doesn’t even chime in with some alert or anything—it’s evidently in sleep mode, resting motionlessly atop the nearby desk.

“Okay,” A2 huffs, getting right to business, “what happened between you and scanner boy?”

2B appears composed and impassive, but even half-covered by a blindfold, A2 knows that face, the same face as her own. She sees how 2B’s nose briefly twitches at the question, how her jaw tightens ever so slightly, and the silence that reigns afterwards is so heavy that it chokes the room. Insistent, A2 waits in place until 2B eventually speaks.

“You don’t need to concern yourself with that.”

Her tone is careful, measured, flat, and A2 realizes right then that 2B’s gone back to shutting out the world, pasting on the emotionless mask that she hasn’t used in a while. Admittedly, those smiles that 2B had been wearing instead were frustrating in their own way, because sometimes they made A2 fluster and other times they just looked really fake, but all of that was still better than this.

“You’re damn right I don’t,” A2 mutters. “But you guys being depressing as fuck is starting to affect the rest of camp, and that’s giving Anemone a headache.” Not a lie, but not the whole truth either—Anemone may have made the suggestion, but A2 wouldn’t be here if she herself didn’t care about 2B’s emotional state.

2B remains ever obstinate, though, blandly replying, “I apologize for the trouble. From now on, 9S and I will make sure this matter doesn’t get in the way of our work.” 9S, A2 notices, instead of her typical Nines. “Rest assured, it won’t happen again. We never should have let it go this far in the first place. Emotions are—”

A2 instantly zooms over, harshly punching the wall right beside 2B’s head. Concrete shudders beneath her fist as 2B finally expresses something: a startled gasp, the first real crack in the mask. A2 takes it a step further by reaching up with her other hand, ripping the blindfold from 2B’s face, revealing bright blue eyes that have gone wide from shock.

Stop it,” A2 hisses, hovering her own face less than an inch from 2B’s. “No more of that ‘emotions are prohibited’ crap. 9S doesn’t buy it, I don’t buy it, I know that you yourself know it’s bullshit, and in case you hadn’t noticed, 2B, there is nothing prohibiting you from doing anything anymore because Command literally exploded.”

2B’s expression visibly starts to crumble, but she’s still hanging in there, still trying to hold onto the stoic facade. A2 aims to shatter it completely.

“You gave me all your memories, remember? I saw literally everything about you.” A2 gazes into 2B’s eyes heatedly, pointedly, as she pulls back her fist to place it over her own chest. “I know you, 2B, I know you all the way down to your circuits. I know that right now, you’re in so much pain that all you want is to fall to pieces. So stop being stubborn and let yourself.”

It takes a bit for that final blow to really sink in, but after some seconds, all of 2B’s defenses abruptly drop. Her face contorts in pure anguish as her eyes well with tears; her hands fist tightly into her skirt as her entire body starts to tremble. She limply slumps forward, like a puppet cut from its strings, and the end result is her face pressed against A2’s breastplate as she noisily sobs.

A2’s initial reaction is to awkwardly freeze up, but she quickly swallows her discomfort, then gently grasps 2B’s shoulders to keep her steady. She shifts position so that instead of standing before the bed, she’s sitting beside 2B on the mattress, and all the while, 2B continually cries into her chest. Minutes pass just like that, A2 and 2B leaned against each other, until slowly, steadily, 2B goes still and quiet. She pulls herself back, rubbing at her eyes, and A2 knows she’s ready to talk.

“Tell me what happened.”

“…We were kissing.” 2B cautiously glances up, as if expecting A2 to be surprised, but A2 simply quirks a brow in wordless request for her to continue. “Um. Right here, on this bed. We’ve been doing that a lot lately, but this time, I let myself get too into it. Nines grabbed my hands and brought them up to cup his face and…and somehow, I don’t know how, they wound up around his neck, and I wasn’t even thinking, I didn’t mean to, but for some reason they just tightened…”

A2 bites her lip. She can picture it, even if she doesn’t really want to.

“I pulled away before I could actually hurt him, and Nines said it was okay, but I…I just couldn’t bring myself to touch him again. After that, he suddenly got really upset.” 2B tilts her head back, looking up at the ceiling. “And it wasn’t like before, when he was upset at me for dying, because that was about how I left him alone. We worked through that. But this…he just exploded. He started yelling that I was still caught up in orders and commands even though he was the one who kept getting killed, and it wasn’t…I hadn’t realized until then…”

2B’s breath hitches, and it takes a while before she can bring herself to finish.

“He’d never said that before. Nines has always acted like he understood, like he didn’t actually resent me for killing him over and over, like he was happy just to be with me. But he was crying this time, and he looked so sad and angry and hurt, and then…then he just left.”

A2 frowns. “And did you say anything to him through all that?”

“No. Nothing. I just froze up.” As if to replace the blindfold, 2B presses a hand over her eyes. “God, he was right. YoRHa’s gone, the orders are gone, I don’t need to kill him anymore, but I…I’m still an Execution Type. That’s what I do, that’s how I’m programmed, that’s who I am. I’ve been trying to be happy being with Nines, to be happy just being alive, but really, I’m just lying. To Nines, to everyone, to myself, because without YoRHa to tell me what to do, I’m nothing!”

2B breaks down sobbing again, and A2 watches blankly, her mind reeling from how scarily reminiscent that all seems. After Command sent out A2’s squadron as sacrificial lambs, after A2 was the only one to make it out alive, she felt exactly the same: empty, without purpose, tired of living but unwilling to end her own life. Even as she dedicated herself to revenge on the machines, on YoRHa, on the entire goddamn world, those feelings never truly went away.

(But then she accepted 2B’s sword, and those memories helped her finally find a reason to care, to live.)

“We are our programming,” A2 murmurs, “whether we like it or not. But that doesn’t have to be all we are.” She pries 2B’s hand from her face and grabs her chin to tilt her face up, forcing tear-filled eyes to lock onto her own. “What you feel for 9S, they didn’t program that into you. They weren’t that stupid. And those feelings might be difficult and annoying and hard to face, but they’re yours, and they’re real.”

Honestly, it sort of reminds A2 of whatever had once been growing between her and Number Four before everything went to hell—something that was surely beyond their built-in codes. God, A2 and 2B truly do have the same core personality: Number Two, so full of kindness and cheer, and naturally inclined to love others perhaps too much, too deeply. A2 really doesn’t understand why Command thought that someone so soft, so sweet, should ever be an executioner for anyone.

“You don’t have to kill him anymore, so you won’t.” A2 is completely confident in that, even if 2B herself isn’t. “You’re more than your past, more than what you were made to be. You’re you, 2B, whatever that means, and 9S knows that. He may resent some of the things you’ve done, but he’s chosen you anyway. So if you’ve chosen him too, you need to be able to tell him everything you just told me.”

“But…will that really be enough?”

A2 shrugs. “Hell, I dunno. That’s really all up to you two. I’m just saying, you might wanna at least try.”

“…I see.”

That’s all 2B says before she abruptly launches herself forward, arms curling around A2’s torso as 2B buries her face in her neck. A2 stills as 2B tightens her grip; she’s not crying anymore, not the same noisy mess of tears from earlier, but 2B is still trembling against her. Closing her eyes, A2 wills herself to relax and return the hug, in hopes that it might help soothe 2B’s pain.

“Thank you for listening, A2,” 2B eventually murmurs against her ear. “Thank you so much.”

A2 nods, gently pats 2B on the back, and tries very hard not to think about the way this proximity is making her own circuitry spark.

2B and 9S talk.

A2 doesn’t stick around to actually witness the talk for herself. After calming down, 2B heads out to bring 9S back to the room, and when those two lock themselves in together, A2 takes that as her cue to leave. On her way to the camp’s exit, Anemone tosses her a grateful look, which A2 returns with a wry smile before dashing out and away.

It isn’t until A2’s return a couple weeks later that she realizes she’s created a monster.

Clearly, 2B and 9S have managed to get their act together. Their previous bitter tension has been replaced by overt sweetness: shared glances and soft gestures, held hands and tight embraces. They exchange kisses periodically, without even bothering to look for privacy anymore, and with a visible sense of enjoyment that A2 certainly hadn’t detected in the one kiss she’d spied on before. And for 2B in particular, it seems as if a weight has been lifted from her shoulders, because her smiles now are easy and free and genuine like A2 has never seen before.

It’s official. 2B and 9S are incredibly, blissfully, stupidly in love—and for better or for worse, A2 helped make it happen.

2B makes a point of expressing her gratitude, even going so far as to invite A2 to hang out in their room. A2 sputters out half-baked protests at first, but 2B insists that it won’t be an intrusion—after all, there was a time when it was also A2’s room—and with 2B looking at her so expectantly, A2 just can’t say no. She thought it would be awkward, being in the same room as 9S, but with 2B as arbiter, they don’t have to talk to each other much, and they manage to remain civil when they do. Surprisingly, it’s all rather comfortable.

Unfortunately, during the next visit, A2 lets herself get a little too comfortable.

Really, it’s her own fault, arriving at the Resistance Camp and entering the room without so much as knocking to announce herself. The scene she walks in on is vividly shocking: 2B atop 9S on the bed, her hips rocking as she straddles his legs between her own, the two of them eating each other’s faces so hard A2 could almost mistake them for cannibal machines. 2B’s skirt is discarded on the floor, leaving her bottom nearly full-bare, the fabric of her underwear stretched tight as her ass cheeks arch into 9S’s hands.

They’re so into each other that at first, 2B and 9S don’t even notice A2 is there. They only realize they have company when they eventually separate to breathe, 2B sporting a flushed face and kiss-bruised lips when she glances to the side. Their gazes meet, and A2 stares into 2B’s eyes for much too long before she finally manages to spit out a haggard, nonsensical mess of syllables that’s supposed to be an apology for intruding but probably doesn’t come out quite right.

A2 slams the door shut, then holes herself up in Anemone’s room for the rest of the day.

She only comes out the next morning because Anemone asks her for help organizing the storage shed, which A2 agrees to because she has nothing better to do. She plans on leaving camp as soon as she completes the task, but 2B’s Pod comes floating up to her right as she’s pushing the last crate into place. Beeping noisily, as if to command attention, it blocks A2’s path to the door.

A2 can take a hint, so she leans back against the nearby wall. “The hell are you doing here?”

“Unit 2B is occupied. This Pod has been ordered to accompany secondary assignment, unit A2, in the meantime.”

A2 rolls her eyes. Is this supposed to be 2B’s way of checking up on her? “Right. And by ‘occupied’, do you really mean ‘sucking face with the scanner’?”


A2 can’t help her surprised laugh; it’s hysterical that Pod actually caught her drift, since the literal-minded nuisance of before would probably have asked for clarification on what “sucking face” meant. Then, though, as images of said face-sucking begin to pop up in her head, her mood quickly drops back down.

“Ugh. Those two are sickening.”

“Query: Does unit A2 disapprove of unit 2B and unit 9S’s behavior?”

“No. It’s not any of my business.” A2 crosses her arms. “They can do whatever the hell they want. I just…don’t want to actually think about them doing that stuff with each other.”

Pod whirs. “Analysis: Unit A2 appears to be thinking about it quite a lot.”

“Stop poking around in my goddamn head!”

It’s not like A2 can help thinking about it—no matter how much she wishes she could forget, those memories from yesterday are still playing on repeat in her mind. The way 2B practically buried herself in 9S’s grasp, keened and shuddered at his touch. That expression of pure euphoria on her face, like she’d just emerged victorious from the most spectacularly exhilarating battle of her life. In that moment, with 9S beneath her, 2B was utterly intoxicated.

And A2 is happy for her, really, because she truly does care about 2B. She cares about the girl who was given her same core personality, who once came to A2 while desperate and dying. Back then, A2 had felt compelled to take up 2B’s mantle—perhaps because when she looked at 2B, she saw something of herself, of that once-cheerful girl who lost everything in the Pearl Harbor Descent.

When she looked at 2B, she saw Number Two, and she wanted to help her old self.

But…now there’s even more to it than that. Even with the same core personality, even with shared programming and memories, A2 and 2B are different. They’re undeniably connected, entwined with each other in a near-dangerous mess of overlapping data, but A2 is a foul-mouthed, independent, belligerent loner, whereas 2B…

2B is devoted and loving, highly emotional and passionate. She’s careful, somewhat guarded, and not always great at being honest, but she’s getting better with each passing day. Her smile is gorgeous, her tears are heartrending; her entire being is beautiful and inspirational and captivating in ways that have nothing to do with mere nostalgia for Number Two. A2’s feelings towards 2B are fresh and compelling and addictive, so all-encompassing that A2 wants nothing more than to drown in them

Epiphany strikes, and A2 freezes up.

Oh fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck fuck fuck.

She’s in love with 2B.

And at this realization, A2 promptly turns around, rears her head back, and slams it against the wall.

“Analysis: Unit A2’s actions may cause damage to cranial components. Proposal: Cease.”

Out of pure spite, A2 slams her head against the wall three more times.

For months, A2 doesn’t say anything about her revelation to 2B. Nor to anyone else, for that matter. She can’t; 2B and 9S are perfectly happy together, and A2 is accustomed to being alone, and it’s more than enough that she’s found a tentative place for herself as 2B’s friend. A2 refuses to let a stupid crush change anything, so she still visits the Resistance Camp like always, still hangs out in 2B and 9S’s room whenever she’s not with Anemone (though, nowadays, she does make sure to knock first).

That’s all fine and dandy up until the three YoRHa units are sent out on a mission together.

The 14th Machine War is more or less over, in that the machines at large are not currently an organized force fighting against the androids, but there are still any number of smaller machine factions forming throughout the land. Some are idyllic and peaceful, like Pascal’s old village; some are sheltered and cultish, like those weirdos who used to chant “become as gods” all the time. But then there are those who are militant and antagonistic, and this is the type that’s currently giving the Resistance some trouble.

It’s nothing critically dangerous, and not nearly as bad as the disastrous onslaughts the machines could unleash during the war. But lately, Resistance members have been getting attacked whenever they enter the forests, only barely returning with their lives, and that has made it difficult for Anemone to get her hands on certain supplies. Since YoRHa models are typically the best for combat situations, Anemone asks them for help on this one—and really, after she let them into her camp so readily, how could any of them refuse?

Their method for solving the problem is rather simple, if not somewhat time-consuming: enter the forest, have 9S study the machines’ movement patterns, and eventually pinpoint the location of their home base. Upon reaching the coordinates, it’s made abundantly clear that the machines behind the attacks are remnants of the Forest Kingdom Army, soldiers who have apparently been biding their time and growing their strength over the last year. In their battle cries, they proudly proclaim their purpose—to destroy any and all androids who dare enter the forests, in revenge for their slaughtered king.

(Whoops, A2 thinks, biting her lip. So this is basically my fault.)

The force assembled here is heavily concentrated: probably about fifty units total, featuring a front line of enhanced goliaths, a backup squad of various bipeds and stubbies, and support in the form of hovering flyers. But A2 has faced worse, and this time she even has allies, both Pods firing off bullets while 9S hacks his way through flyers and 2B deals with the troops on the ground. Plus, none of the individual machines are staggeringly powerful—their strength comes in numbers, mostly, and also in their fierce, unanimous, almost suicidal determination to win at any cost.

A2 readily rises to the occasion, matching the machines’ bold aggression with her own and unleashing B-Mode. From there, she tears through enemies like a wildly effective whirlwind, dealing devastating amounts of damage whilst burning through recovery items. By the time she goes Berserk for the sixth time in a row, the opposition has dwindled down to only ten, maybe fifteen machines.

Admittedly, though, six might be more times than A2 should use B-Mode in a row, since her stamina is wavering and her breaths are definitely coming shorter than usual. It throws her off her game somewhat, just enough so that she isn’t quite able to fully dodge one goliath’s strike—and as a result, its giant arm comes smashing down onto her left leg. Shooting pain makes A2 cry out, but that doesn’t stop her; she leaps into the air using her good leg and slashes at the goliath in mid-air until it crashes to the ground.

The battle is a hazy, adrenaline-fueled blur after that, but despite her injury, A2 manages to slice her way through enemies until there are no more for her to slice. The last machine falls to a combination of machine flyer bullets—courtesy of 9S’s hacking—and 2B’s sword strikes, which fills A2 with so much relief that she collapses to her knees, stabbing her sword into the ground to support herself. That’s it, they’ve done it, they’ve won. Sure, her leg is screaming, but now Anemone shouldn’t have to worry about running errands through the forests anymore, so everything’s good.

“A2, what the fuck?!”

A2 is sure her ears must be playing tricks on her, because there’s no way that 2B’s voice could actually be hitting that particular pitch of frantic, scolding outrage. But then A2 looks up and sees her, sees the flaring nostrils and tightly gritted teeth as 2B storms towards her with viciously forceful steps, and it’s almost frightening.

A2 has never seen 2B quite this angry before.

“What did you think you were doing, straining yourself like that? Look at you, you can’t even stand!” 2B bends down in the dirt, thrusts her face so close that her nose is practically touching A2’s. “Are you out of your mind? You got yourself hurt when you should have dodged easily. Why didn’t you pull back, why the hell would you push yourself that far—?!”

“2B!” 9S cuts in, putting a hand on 2B’s shoulder and yanking her back. “You can yell at her later. Right now, we need to take a look at that leg.”

That manages to pacify 2B for the moment; she goes still and then retreats, though she doesn’t look happy about it. A2 obligingly positions herself so that she’s sitting with her legs stretched out in front of her, but even before 9S starts looking her over, she’s already pretty sure it’s a lost cause. Practically everything below the knee is crushed to all hell: internal structure clearly shattered, rubbery coating split by a multitude of cracks, artificial blood seeping out onto the grass.

9S bandages her up before they all head back to the Resistance Camp, with A2 feeling a lot like a supply crate as she’s carried the whole way by both Pods. Once there, A2 downs some chemical from the medical station that’s supposed to reduce the pain, and 9S and the Pods follow Anemone to the storage sheds to search for scavenged parts or mutable materials—anything that can be used to fashion a suitable replacement for A2’s lower leg. That leaves 2B behind to help a limping A2 into the bedroom, but A2 gets the feeling that 2B’s not just going to let her rest.

Sure enough, the moment 2B closes the door behind them, her lecture picks up right where it left off.

“A2, that was so incredibly reckless!” 2B hisses, the harshness of her words a startling contrast to the gentleness with which she lowers A2 down to the bed. “You can’t just disregard your own limits like that!”

“Hey, I don’t need you to tell me how to fight.” A2 shifts so that she’s sitting on the edge of the mattress and flexes her left leg experimentally. Those painkillers must act fast; it still hurts like a bitch, but it’s not nearly as horrible as before. “This isn’t even that big a deal. It’s just a busted leg.”

“But it could have been so much worse!”

Seriously, this is getting annoying now. A2 is all for 2B breaking out of her shell and expressing those emotions she used to hold back, but right now, she’s blowing her feelings of worry way out of proportion.

“Well, it wasn’t, so that’s that. I can handle myself just fine.” A2 scowls, waving her hand dismissively. “Unlike you schmucks who used to throw your bodies away on the regular, I was handling my own body all by myself since before you were even commissioned. Hell, you and 9S died to me several times each!”

“Yes, but now Nines and I have each other’s backs!” 2B cries, and her voice cracks at the end as if she’s on the verge of bursting into sobs. “We talk! We work together! We trust each other to not take unnecessary risks and to let the other know if we’re having trouble! We help each other and we retreat if we have to and we make sure we survive. But you—you were right there next to me and you were pushing yourself past your limits and you didn’t even try to let me know!”

In a fit of anguish, 2B rips off her own blindfold, and suddenly A2 is staring into tear-filled, shimmering, pleading blue eyes.

“…You’re not alone anymore, A2,” 2B murmurs, her voice suddenly low and trembling. “You don’t need to take the same drastic risks as before. You don’t have to fight like every battle will be your last. It only takes one moment of carelessness to be the end of everything, and I know I’ve got no room to talk when I’ve died and been brought back so many times myself, but we…we don’t have any more second chances.”

2B kneels on the floor, averts her gaze down, rests the crown of her head against A2’s good knee. “A2, I can’t lose you. Just…be more careful. Please.”

All of A2’s previous irritation instantly fades away, and understanding finally dawns as she stares at that bowed form. Of course; 2B knows partnership because she has 9S, she’s always had 9S, even back when their relationship was complicated by orders and lies and killing and resentment. On the other hand, A2 isn’t used to relying on anyone, hasn’t had anyone to rely on since her old squadron’s annihilation. Since the YoRHa units were supposed to be doing this latest mission together, it’s no wonder that A2’s singleminded behavior would leave 2B confused and worried and hurt.

And if A2 wants to remain 2B’s friend, it looks like she’ll have to adjust accordingly.

“I’m sorry,” A2 finally concedes. “I wasn’t even thinking about any of that. I…I don’t work with others, I don’t trust others, I don’t rely on anyone to help me.” She exhales slowly as 2B tilts her head to blink up at her. “But, with you, I guess I could try. From now on, I’m going to try.”

“…I’m sorry, too,” 2B says, wiping the remnants of tears from her eyes. “I didn’t mean to lose my temper. And I shouldn’t have blamed you for getting hurt when it wasn’t actually your fault.”

A2 hazards a quiet chuckle. “I suppose we should practice fighting together, then. As soon as I get a new leg, that is.”

“Oh!” 2B quickly scrambles back onto her feet, concern furrowing her brow as she hovers over the injury. “Your leg! How are you feeling? Does it hurt badly?”

“It flares up if I try to move it, but otherwise, it’s just a dull ache now.” A2 shrugs. “I’ve barely even noticed it, honestly.”

“Good. That’s good.” Tension visibly drains from 2B’s form, and she plops herself down onto the mattress at A2’s right side, then throws her arms around A2’s shoulders in a tight hug. “Really,” 2B whispers, burying her face into the skin of A2’s neck, “I’m so glad you’re okay.”

Aw, hell, forget the pain in her leg. With 2B all over her like this, A2 is becoming painfully aware of that goddamn crush she’s been trying so hard to suppress. Despite herself, she can feel her pulse quickening, her chest pounding, her cheeks growing warm—and oh, oh fuck, she’s blushing, isn’t she?

“Uhhh, 2B?”

A2 doesn’t even know what she’s trying to ask, but her voice makes 2B glance up, bright-eyed and smiling ever so slightly. “A2,” 2B replies, her voice breathy yet sweet, her rosy lips moving with the syllables. A2 stares at those lips as if in a trance, and it takes far too long for her to realize that they’re actually getting closer, that 2B is slowly inching her face forward, that those hypnotizing blue eyes are gazing up at A2 with such longing and warmth and hope

A2 loses herself and closes the distance.

But the moment their lips actually touch, A2 snaps back to her senses, and she yanks back as violently as if an electric shock had swept through her system. She shoves at 2B’s chest, sending her sprawling back against the mattress, and 2B blinks up at her once, twice, before her face abruptly contorts with distress and anguish.

“Oh,” 2B gasps. “Wait, did you not actually want that?”

“I…n-no, I did, but that’s…” A2 sputters confusedly before furiously throwing her hands up. “What the hell, that’s not the problem here! You and 9S are—oh god, oh shit, oh fuck! 9S…we can never let him find out about this, he would be livid!”

But where A2 expects to see horror or shame cross 2B’s face, her features instead soften with obvious relief. Then 2B actually smirks, a knowing gleam in her eye, and A2 gapes in utter bafflement.

“Actually,” 2B says, in a sly tone that tells A2 she has got to be missing something, “I don’t think he would.”

A2 swears that 2B has to be fucking insane to propose this. She swears that if they go through with this plan of hers, 9S is gonna go berserk and kill them both. But 2B really wants A2 to trust her on this, and A2 is so fucking weak to those insistent, mischievous eyes, so hell, if this is how they’re both gonna go…

Fine. She might as well get in one good laugh before she gets murdered again.

Their plan is set into motion when 9S finally comes into the room, apparently not even noticing A2 and 2B’s rather intimately close position to each other—sitting almost hip-to-hip on the bed—as he geekily goes on and on about the process behind fashioning a new leg:

“Okay, so we’re pretty sure we’ve managed to pull something together. It turns out there were some parts from decommissioned YoRHa units being kept way in the back of storage, and while none of them were for No. 2 models, I was able to pull together some scrap metal and spare wires to meld with. I made some adjustments to a No. 8’s leg and Pod 042 says it should be compatible with A2’s circuitry and structure now so—”

“Nines,” 2B calls, and that finally cuts 9S off, finally makes him focus on his surroundings and actually look at the bed for the first time since he entered this room. That’s A2’s cue.

She kisses 2B straight on the lips, and this time, she doesn’t pull away.

Honestly, a big part of A2 is still expecting 9S’s response to be righteous fury, and she’s fully prepared herself for the possibility of a wild scream followed by a blade aimed towards her back. So it makes something light up in her chest when instead, she hears what sounds like a startled yelp, and then a shaky groan, ultimately swallowed up by a very audible gulp.

Hmm. How very interesting.

“What…” 9S gasps, his voice reaching a rather squeaky pitch. “W-what are you two…?”

A2 breaks the kiss, locking eyes with 2B for an instant before turning to level 9S with a smirk.

“There a problem, 9S?” A2 grasps 2B by the chin, tilts her face to the side and reels her in so that they’re cheek-to-cheek, both grinning wickedly at their witness. “A buzzing little bee told me you might like to watch.”

9S’s jaw drops, and A2 can imagine how his eyes must be bulging behind that blindfold. “You told her?!” he directs at 2B, which A2 takes as full confirmation that yeah, wow, these two really did have that conversation. “2B, how could you?!”

“But Nines,” 2B says, and her tone is lilting, definitely teasing him, as she reaches over to cup a hand against A2’s left cheek, “it wasn’t about to actually happen if she didn’t know about it.”

9S lets out a strangled noise reminiscent of a dying boar’s cry, before both his hands fly up to cover his face, as if to shield himself from the world. After a few seconds, though, his fingers part slightly, and A2 snorts at how he’s so obviously trying to peek at them anyway.

Well, what do you know. Scanner boy really is into this.

Good thing A2 is too.

“Look all you want,” A2 drawls, “but get too close, and this whole thing stops. You wouldn’t want that, would you, 9S?”

A2 kisses 2B again, slow and languid, and though she’s certainly aware of 9S’s gaze on her, of his honestly adorable little whimper, she’s much more conscious of the way 2B kisses her back, lips soft and warm and eager. An idea strikes, and A2 slips 2B’s bottom lip between her teeth to nibble it gently, and that must do something incredible to 2B because she fucking moans before curling her arms around A2’s neck to yank her in deeper.

Yeah, okay. Now A2 gets why people find kissing so enjoyable.

2B returns the favor, her own teeth nipping at A2’s upper lip, her tongue pushing insistently into A2’s mouth with a passionate fervor that makes her see stars. A2 drowns herself in 2B entirely as they make out, and when they both pull away, all she can see is 2B’s beautiful smile. A2 doesn’t even remember their audience until 2B playfully nudges her and points towards 9S, who now sports a deep red blush as he gapes openly, no longer bothering with the pretense of hiding his face behind his hands.

A2 snickers. Really, he’s just too easy to tease.

“You are both so mean,” 9S finally groans, once he apparently regains use of his vocal cords. “Horrible. Conniving. Absolutely evil.”

A2 accepts the accusation with pride as 9S pouts, but 2B bites her lip with just a tinge of guilt, causing A2 to roll her eyes and smack her on the back. It’s enough to spur 2B forward; she leaps up from the bed and dashes over to take 9S into her arms, whispering something into his ear. 9S tries to remain petulant, frowning and turning his head to the side, but then 2B pinches his side, forcing a giggle out of him, which morphs into a gasp when 2B apologizes by pressing open-mouthed kisses over his neck.

“So,” A2 calls pointedly, before she has to watch this go any further, “do I gotta hobble out and get my new leg all by myself or…?”

That jerks the couple out of it, both coming to attention as they realize: oh, yeah, injured android can’t walk. 2B pecks 9S on the cheek before rushing over to help A2, helping her up from the bed and out of the room, to where the Pods and Anemone are waiting. As 2B passes her off to Anemone, A2 glances back to declare, only half-joking, “You two better be decent when I get back.”

2B smiles coyly as she shuts the door, and Anemone shoots A2 a questioning stare that she returns with a shit-eating grin.

Anemone just shakes her head in amusement, then guides A2 over to the medical station. All in all, replacing the leg is a rather simple process—parts of it do hurt like hell, but the whole thing only takes about twenty minutes, and A2 emerges from it feeling fantastic. The new part works perfectly with the rest of her body, and she can dash and jump and flip all throughout the camp without even a twinge of pain.

Satisfied, A2 returns to the room, making sure to knock before letting herself in. There’s no hesitation when 2B tells her to come in—also telling the Pods to stay outside in the meantime—and A2 shuts the door behind her to preserve privacy. 2B and 9S are seated on the bed beside each other, and despite A2’s expectations, both are fully clothed and neither looks particularly rumpled.

9S is without his blindfold, though, leaving all three of them equally bare-faced, and 2B has a hand on his shoulder. “So um,” he says, firmly meeting A2’s gaze. “You and I should probably talk.”

“Yeah,” A2 agrees, putting a hand on her hip. “As fun as that was, I gotta admit, I didn’t entirely believe 2B when she told me you guys had already discussed that scenario.”

“It wasn’t so much a scenario,” 9S says, squirming nervously. “It’s just, 2B told me that she liked you. That she wanted to kiss you.”

“And you told her the thought made you hot?”

Though a bit hesitant, 9S nods. “You have her face. And when I started thinking about the image of 2B kissing herself, I…I dunno, I just really liked it.”

A2 cocks her head to the side. “Even though you hate me?”

“I don’t—” 9S sighs, buries his forehead in his hands. “Okay, look, you’re definitely not among my favorite people in the world, but I don’t hate you. Not anymore.” He glances up again. “And more importantly, I love 2B. So if doing that with you will make her happy, then I won’t stop her.”

2B’s hand shifts from his shoulder down to his own hand, resting atop the mattress, and she squeezes it as the two spend several seconds staring lovingly at each other. Then 2B turns, and A2 startles as she realizes 2B’s expression is just as loving when she looks at her, when she reaches her free hand out towards A2 in unspoken invitation. A2 swallows hard but accepts, crossing the room in two long strides to slide her hand into 2B’s, and as 2B grips her tight, A2 feels herself melt.

“Let’s just get one thing straight, though.” A2 turns back to 9S. “I don’t mind if some are, but for the record, I’d rather not every kiss be a show.”

“That’s fair,” 9S agrees, then flushes. “Do…do you want to watch me and 2B?”

“Oh, god no. Keep your kinky-weird secrets to yourself, you little boytoy.”

Still pink in the face, 9S grimaces. “Don’t call me that.”

A2 stares him straight in the eye and purposefully enunciates, “Little. Boy. Toy.”

Without warning, 9S leaps up from his seat and throws a punch at her.

A2 isn’t sure whether or not he was actually trying to hit her with that, but either way, she dodges easily, and then both of them are breaking away from 2B’s grasp so as to freely smack at each other’s hands. A2 finds herself struggling to hold back a smile—it’s a fight, sort of, but it’s not truly hostile on either end, more a game than anything else. Finally, A2 spots an opening and takes it, thrusting her arm out to push 9S back his by forehead, keeping him at bay while he windmills his arms in a manner very reminiscent of those small stubby machines.

“Hey, hey, break it up, you two!” 2B cuts in, but her voice is amused as she too stands from the bed. She yanks 9S back by his shoulder and kisses him on the forehead, then kisses A2 on the cheek in an attempt to broker the peace. “Don’t fight, please. For me?”

A2 and 9S glance at each other before both sighing. In perfect sync, they chime, “Whatever you say, 2B.”

A2 decides to stick around the Resistance Camp.

No longer as a series of intermittent visits, but as a permanent settling-down, because now, she’s got a real reason to stay. With her and 2B officially in a romantic relationship, A2 now has an attachment of her own, one that she wants to hold onto with all her might. 2B is more than happy to hear of A2’s choice when A2 tells her a few days after getting her new leg, and in her excitement, 2B promptly proposes that she and A2…get to know each other better.

Like, physically.

Which leads A2 to where she is now: in their room, atop the bed, looming over her girlfriend on hands and knees while 2B lies with her stomach pressed to the mattress. 2B’s skirt is off so as to reveal her white tights, her blindfold is a discarded cloth beside the pillow, and she’s holding herself accommodatingly still so as to allow A2 to run exploratory hands all over her body. A2 has yet to actually start touching her, though, already so mesmerized by the mere sight of 2B stretched out beneath her.

“You’ve just been staring for a while,” 2B teases, looking over her shoulder and tilting her head curiously. “Is my behind really so distracting?”

“Oh, absolutely,” A2 murmurs, then playfully smacks 2B’s ass with her open palm. She revels in both 2B’s yelp of surprise and the way toned flesh slightly jiggles from the strike. “You know, we’re supposed to be the same model, but I’m pretty sure Command gave you a way better ass than me.”

“Better?” 2B chuckles. “But yours is already so nice.”

“Well, yours is amazing.” A2 sharply pinches both cheeks in emphasis, and 2B squeals adorably. “Anyone who thinks otherwise must be blind.”

“I’ll take your word for it.” 2B wriggles her hips pointedly. “Now, what about the rest of me?”

“Hmm, let’s see.” A2 travels her hands down to 2B’s upper legs, tracing light circles all the way. “Beautiful skin. Strong muscles.” Still teasing the backs of 2B’s thighs, A2 bends down to press a kiss to her nape, resulting in a full-body shudder. “Sensitive here.” A2 kisses there again, open-mouthed and suckling, while her hands zip up to slide between the bed and 2B’s chest. Even through her shirt, the gentle massaging of her breasts is enough to make 2B moan wantonly. “Really sensitive here.”

A2 indulges 2B with the groping for about a minute, then pulls away in denial, prompting 2B to whimper in protest. A2 really enjoys seeing 2B like this: so open, so vulnerable, so fun to mess with. In the end, A2 just can’t resist impish temptation—feeling rather evil, she dances fingertips over 2B’s hips, not teasing but purposefully tickling.

“Ah, no!” 2B instantly bursts into laughter and starts writhing beneath her. “Don’t, d-don’t, please!” She rolls onto her back and snatches up A2’s hands to make her stop. “That was mean,” 2B gasps, but she doesn’t actually seem all that miffed, still letting out happy little giggles.

“Sorry.” As an apology, A2 bends down to kiss her, and 2B smiles against her mouth before kissing back. Everything’s perfect.

…Up until the door flings open, and A2 whips her head up to see 9S standing in the doorway.

(Shit, A2 really should have locked that. In retrospect, they all need to get better at locking that fucking door.)

“Crap,” 9S croaks out, eyes wide and cheeks already flushing. “Uhhh, so is it okay if I…?” A2 glares harshly, in full indication that he is not welcome to watch right now, to which he quickly spits out in a single rushed breath, “Yeah-okay-got-it-I’m-gonna-go!” and slams the door shut.

Upon his departure, A2 promptly buries her face in 2B’s chest and groans.

“Hey,” 2B says after a while, “you okay there?”

“Not really, but I’ll recover eventually.” A2 sluggishly lifts her head up to meet 2B’s gaze. “At least now he understands what it was like for me to walk in on you two that one time.”

2B must look upon that memory with more fondness than A2 does, because upon being reminded, 2B gives a choking cough before helplessly dissolving into giggles again. A2 huffs irritably—as much as she loves 2B’s laughter, she’s not all too pleased to know that 2B is laughing at her. So A2 repositions herself, bending until she’s hovering over 2B’s face, so close that 2B’s haggard exhales are brushing over A2’s lips.

“Shut up,” A2 hisses, dipping down to close the distance entirely.

And once A2’s insistent lips press firmly onto her own, 2B does exactly that.