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Pandora's Box

Chapter Text

Nisha wasn’t exactly sure what she was looking at. Her lips moved but no words came out. Scarlett was crouched over an ammo crate on the other side of her cabin, picking through the contents of the makeshift loot crate. A psycho mask was went flying behind her after a particularly good throw. It landed in the corner of the room with a thump. Nisha’s gaze fell back on the image before her. She was really beginning to regret agreeing to help Scarlett sort through her treasures.

She risked another look at the picture. She looked back up at Scarlett. Back to the photo. Obviously someone else had taken the picture. Scarlett couldn’t angle her arm to get that good of a shot solo. Nisha was leery of the fact that all Scarlett wore in the picture was her hat and a rather wicked little smile. Despite herself she had a hard time tearing her eyes from the lithe, tan body in the photograph. She had a feeling it was from when Scarlett and Moxxi were together. She was so wrapped up in her thoughts that she didn’t hear Scarlett’s uneven footfalls behind her.

“You got awfully quiet. I was worried you were plotting something.”

Nisha tried to toss the photo aside, but the glossy surface stuck to her glove. A burning heat rushed to her cheeks and chest. Scarlett snagged the picture, her face lighting up with a grin.

“Oh-ho! No wonder you’re flustered! I told you I’m quite a looker.”

“What the fuck, Scar?”

“Never took souvenir photos, did you?”

“Usually you keep pics of the other person, Scar.” Nisha shifted her feet; Scarlett was much too close for comfort at that point and her leering grin was making her nervous.

“I found this quite flattering. That it and it was only a casual fling.”

“Let me guess, with the planetary slut.”

Scarlett draped her good arm around Nisha’s shoulders. Her eye had a mischievous gleam to it. Nisha tried inching away, but the grip on her shoulders was much tighter than she initially anticipated. Great.

“Sounds like you’re jealous. I’ll happily keep one of you, Nish.”

Nisha drew in a sharp breath and expelled it. The heat was back in her cheeks and rapidly spreading. Suddenly she regretted wearing her leathers. She tugged at the collar of her overcoat. Scarlett leaned closer, grin firmly in place.

“I don’t hear you saying no, love.”

“I have a boyfriend, Scar.”

“Oh come on, Jack doesn’t have to know. It’ll be our little secret.”

“You suck at keeping secrets, Scar.”

“Stick in the mud.”

Scarlett’s shoulders drooped as she heaved an overly dramatic sigh. She took a few steps away from Nisha after releasing her grip on her friend’s shoulders. Nisha soon realized that she wasn’t thinking straight, especially after she opened her mouth.

“Maybe one day I’ll take you up on it. Just not now.”

Scarlett reeled around, baring teeth in a huge grin that looked absolutely painful. Nisha rubbed at her own cheeks, feeling a subconscious ache in her jaw. Oh she was definitely going to regret that. All of that. Mostly she’d regret stealing the picture from Scarlett when the pirate was distracted by shiny baubles.

Chapter Text

Sanctuary was silent, still and calm. It didn’t explain why Maya’s heart was racing. She crept toward the Pierce Station, breath hitching in her throat at the slightest motion of the shadows. She had a problem. An addiction to rival Lilith’s Eridium habit and it was just as dangerous. Drawing a shaky breath, she booted the Fast Travel. She fumbled with the controls until her trembling hands found the destination she so desperately sought: Lynchwood.

Curfew had settled into place three hours earlier. The only signs of life in the dusty borough were wild skags and the night deputies on high alert for vault hunters. Maya wrapped herself in shadows, willing her heartbeat slow. In darkness, she found the meeting spot. Soundlessly she slipped the steel door open and crept into the sheriff’s building. The holding cells were devoid of life, the would-be jail as still as a crypt. Her footfalls made no sound as she climbed the concrete stairs. Ascending to her descent into depravity. A long night spent in the company of…

The sheriff had her elbows propped on the sill of a barred window, her face framed by shadow and moonlight. In the darkness, her gold eyes glinted like her badge. She took a pull from a whisky bottle, ignoring Maya’s presence.

“Didn’t think you were gonna come.”

“It’s our last chance to do this. I… Uh, didn’t want to miss it.”

Nisha pulled off her hat, tossing in onto the desk beside her. A soft huff left her lips. She took another pull from her bottle before rising to her feet. Maya could feel those hawkish eyes tracking over her. The warm bottle was thrust into her hands.

“Have a drink. Get yourself ready. I’ve got a little something to take care of.”

Nisha drew back her trench coat just enough to expose the gleaming pistol at her hip. Maya’s eyes stayed locked onto the skin tight leather pants instead. Nisha left without a word, just a tiny grim smirk. Who needed foreplay when she could just go and kill a bandit in cold blood? As soon as Nisha left, Maya drew in a few slow breaths and started on pulling off her combat gear.

It was funny how Maya could still feel a chill in the middle of a warm night. She took a long pull of whisky. It was smooth until the burn hit. Heat radiated through her chest. She nearly dropped the bottle at the first gunshot. Pulse pounding, she took another gulp. The slight chill she felt was replaced with a rush of warmth that wasn’t just from the booze. She could already smell the acrid gunpowder, coppery blood, and heat of Nisha’s leathers. She could practically taste the booze on her lover’s lips. She didn’t need another dose of liquid courage. The biggest struggle came from keeping herself from started even before Nisha returned; she knew she should have been appalled, but something made it all the more tantalizing.

A shudder of anticipation coursed through her when she heard footsteps on the concrete stairs. Thick heels clicked over the wood-covered floors of the office-bedroom Nisha called home. Maya could hear the creak of leather followed by the soft thump of a heavy coat hitting the floor. A dull, pleasant ache blossomed below her belt.

“They taught ya well in the monastery, huh? If I had more time, I’d break it outta ya.”

Nisha circled her, staying just out of reach. She tossed her vest aside, hawkish gaze sweeping over the siren once more. Maya tried to hold still, but tension lined her lithe frame. Nisha may have been wiry and slim, but Maya knew power when she saw it.

“I’d like to see you try.”

Quick as a rattlesnake, Nisha was on her. A single, calloused palm wrapped around her throat. A slow grin worked its way across Nisha’s face, her eyes narrowing dangerously as she applied pressure. Blackness crept in on the edge of Maya’s vision. Darkness threatened to overtake her when there was a burst of light, of color. Maya heard herself moan even before the tight grip on her throat loosened.It had all happened so fast. Her brain struggled to catch up. The world spun as she tried to catch her breath. She wasn’t given long before Nisha resumed her attack.

The chair toppled over, spilling them both onto the hardwood floor. Maya struggled to loosen Nisha’s belt in the flurry of rough kisses. Eventually she managed to slip a hand into Nisha’s tight leather pants. The pressure and odd angle made her hand cramp almost immediately. Her discomfort went unnoticed when she felt teeth dig into her shoulder. At some point, Nisha had kicked the chair away. Maya had lost track of her position in the room not long after hitting the floor.

She knew she was wrong and that she really shouldn’t enjoy being pounded into a hardwood floor by perhaps the most evil person on all of Pandora, but hell, it was worth the ingot of shame she felt. Well worth the cost.

Chapter Text

The sun beat down on the red sand, its light harsh as the high heat. Scarlett’s eyes narrowed as she adjusted her hat. Treasure was all right and good, but sometimes a promise was far more important than booty. Well, one kind of booty.

She leaned heavily on a steel rail, gaze sweeping the searing sands and the bow of her pride and joy. It wouldn’t be the first time she was left high and dry. It sure as hell wouldn’t be the last. Didn’t mean it didn’t hurt to be stood up by one of the most powerful women on all of Pandora.

For once the smile was wiped off of Scarlett’s face. Daydreams about dark red hair and yellow eyes would haunt her for a while. Or at least until the next port.

She held perfectly still, no mean feat, when she heard hushed footfalls.

“Like I told you, killer, I wouldn’t forget.”

“You’re late.”

“I had god business to attend to. Things got messy.”

Scarlett allowed herself a half turn. She refused to admit she was overjoyed that Lilith didn’t forget her promise.

“No rest for the wicked, hm?”

“I didn’t come here to rest.”

Scarlett could feel the burning heat of Lilith’s tattoos through her breeches. The siren had a firm grip that screamed of her temporary claim on the pirate. Pirate’s booty indeed.

Chapter Text

Steele liked pushing her assassins until they either were on the verge of breaking or until they broke completely. There were a select few that she liked to push harder and harder in hopes of completely crushing the fighting spirit out of them. Athena was one of the stubborn few that resisted her brainwashing. That was willing to fight back. Every opportunity she had, Steele was after her. Toying with her, messing with her mind.

“Come on now, my dead Großmutter could hit harder than that! And I killed her myself!” Her accent was thick, the words spat harshly as she ducked out of the way of a wide swing.

Athena snarled, lunging at Steele, twin plasma swords arcing wide. In the blink of an eye, the siren was behind her, then back in front of her, her strong fingers closing over Athena’s throat.

“Are you even trying? Have I taught you nothing?”

Despite the crushing grip on her windpipe, Athena grinned. She had one strongly muscled leg wrapped around Steele’s hip.Taking one choking breath, she threw her body weight backwards, dragging the commandant down with her. A fist smashed into the concrete next to her head the instant they were sprawled on the ground. At least the grip around her throat was gone.

“Oh, you think you are clever. Clever will get you nowhere. Clever will get you dead. I did not train you to be–”

Steele was cut off when slightly chapped lips pressed hard to hers. She slammed Athena hard against the concrete floor of the hangar they used for sparring. Even through a grunt of pain, Athena refused to back down. Her distraction technique worked a little too well. She nearly choked when a tongue slipped into her mouth.

At some point her armor was tossed aside. Athena took some glee in ripping apart Steele’s stupid non-regulation vest. Not that she could revel in her victory long when her combat suit was torn open with superhuman strength. Cold concrete bit at her skin. Furiously blazing siren tattoos burned her eyes.

Steele’s teeth sank into her shoulder. Through the pain, Athena managed to take a hold of Steele’s braids. She pulled until Steele backed off, only to be slammed back to the floor once more.

“I am the commander, you obey me.”

“Like fuck I do.”

“Speak that way to me again, and I will end you.”

“Bring it on, bitch.”

Steele’s fingers were cold; her touches burned. Athena bit back whimpers of pain and pleasure in hopes of prolonging the inevitable. Her jaw tensed. Steele clucked in dismay.

“You are far too easy. I have to break you further.”

Athena wanted to scream. Wanted to bash her head against the concrete until she could no longer feel her overloaded nerves. Steele did have a thing for breaking her playthings.

Chapter Text

Despite the fact that things between her and the Crimson Raiders were good, Athena loathed going to Sanctuary. Janey was much more optimistic and was much happier to drag her fiancee to the floating city whenever they needed new supplies or whenever there were potential jobs for Athena. Athena usually contented herself by hanging out in Moxxi’s or in the shooting range down in Marcus’ basement.

Athena leaned heavily on the scarred kitchen table, slowly sipping at her coffee. One of her hands was buried deep in her hair, she was still half-awake. She thought she heard Janey puttering about in the garage. The new parts she had picked up from Scooter’s should have been more than enough to keep them in business for several months. Athena took a long pull at her coffee, waiting for the inevitable crash or bang or soft curse. Nothing. The door to the garage opened. The hinge no longer creaked; that was a plus.

Athena blinked slowly as Janey plopped into the seat across from her. Her fiancee was grinning far too brightly for that early in the morning.

“’Thena, we should chuck a sickie and go up to Sanctuary.”

“Uh, what?”

“Take a day off, plan a little somethin’.”

Athena took another prolonged sip of her coffee as though to make a point.

“What exactly are you planning?”

“I was thinkin we give the whole threesome idea a burl again.”

Athena spat out her coffee. She thumped her chest a few times, cringing. She pushed her mug away, feeling far more awake than she had been.

“You could have waited a minute longer, Janey.”

Janey hitched her shoulders, a lazy smile crossing her face. Her smug smile made her scars shift tantalizingly.

“Okay, so I’m assuming you have someone in mind. And please don’t say Lilith. Or Moxxi for that matter. Last time she tried to kill me.”

“I don’t think she meant it, ‘Thena. How about that other siren sheila, Maya, is it?”

Athena started to open her mouth to make a snarky remark, thought better of it, grunting in agreement.

Athena decided that it would be far easier if she let Janey talk. Janey was the personable one, the one with people skills that didn’t usually end with holding someone over the edge of Sanctuary or pointing a sword at them. Maybe she had noticed Sanctuary’s second resident siren a few times. At most they had exchanged curt nods. Their longest conversation had lasted all of five minutes and it was merely to agree that no, they weren’t going to try to kill the other and that Maya was far more agreeable than Lilith.

Athena cringed internally when Janey led the siren to their booth at Moxxi’s. Rakk ale started flowing, though usually Moxxi sent someone else to deliver their drinks. Maybe it wouldn’t go so bad. Athena started to relax after a few drinks. Yeah, Janey could handle things. It wouldn’t be awkward, it wouldn’t be weird. Maybe they’d go back to Hollow Point, have– oh god, Maya just froze like a skag in the headlights.

“Oh my god, Janey, you can’t just go out and ask someone if they want to join a threesome.”

The flirting had been working up until that point. Athena wasn’t sure if it was the alcohol or the sudden embarrassment that caused Maya’s cheeks to flush. But to her credit, Maya didn’t run off right away. Athena was taken aback when Maya leaned across the booth, touching her forearm, tracing the owl tattoo on her forearm. Athena had a feeling she had missed some subtle clue while internally panicking. She felt her fiancee’s palm on her thigh, only to have her own hand pulled under the table.

She learned one thing very quickly: Maya was much more muscular than Janey. But she wasn’t half as toned as Athena was. Athena nestled a wad of bills in the corner of the booth, attempting to quietly herd the two women out of the bar lest Moxxi get a show. They barely made it to Maya’s quarters in the Raider’s HQ.

Chapter Text

“Holyshit, holyshit, holyshit. I can’t believe it’s you.”

“Uh, what?” Athena looked up from her rakkale, her eyebrow rising.

Gaige plopped down into the seat directly across from her, not caring that it was obviously not supposed to be occupied. She blew off Moxxi’s look of warning.

“Dude, you’re the person that’s been driving Lil nuts. You freaking evaded the freakin’ Firehawk, AND made Brick and Mordy look like morons all while using outdated Atlas tech. That is freaking sick.”

Athena’s gaze dropped back down to her rakkale. She drained the bottle, signaling for another.

“I don’t like to be found.”

“Okay, okay, I get that, but shit, you told me about what happened on Elpis, tell me what happened here. How you kicked Brick and Mordy’s asses. ‘Cause that’s freakin’ hot.”

The pinched look was back to Athena’s face. Gaige was leaning halfway across the table. Part of Athena wanted to pull the t-shirt up on Gaige’s shoulder so it would sit properly, a small part of her (that was quite insistent) was starting to get the idea that ripping said shirt off would be even more convenient. Janey had never been too keen on her battle prowess and it had been a long, long time since someone had really enjoyed her stories of bloodshed. Either that or she was drunker than she expected.

“No, seriously. You had a total noob with you and still nearly kicked their asses using what, a shield and a sword? I bet under all that armor you’re seriously jacked.”

Gaige’s fingers strayed across the table top, eventually finding Athena’s forearm in the dim lighting of Moxxi’s bar. She let her hand close around the solid flesh. She couldn’t even wrap her palm around the top of Athena’s forearm. The muscle was firm as a lead pipe. Gaige was surprised when the gladiator didn’t pull away.

“Just a little. You can’t survive on this planet skinny as you are for long. Years of training made me a weapon.”

There was a pause as Gaige attempted to figure out her next move. Why the hell not? She flashed a huge grin at Athena; subtlety was not a skill in her dossier.

“I bet you’re good with your hands.”

Moxxi set a fresh rakkale in front of Athena. She cast a sidelong glance at Gaige and then shot another incredulous look at Athena. She rolled her eyes as she walked off, hardly believing what she had just heard.

“I know a few tricks, if that’s what you mean.”

Gaige was practically draped over the table. Normally Athena would comment on it, but her mind was elsewhere. It had been… A while. Torture had taken quite a bit out of her. It wasn’t as if Janey hadn’t said she couldn’t explore outside options…

“Wanna show me some?”

Athena left the rakkale untouched. She did, however leave Moxxi one hell of a tip with a neatly written threat attached to it.

Chapter Text

Maya shifted on her bed, knees brushing together. No, that position certainly didn’t help. She readjusted, holding her Echodevice on her stomach. Slightly better, but not much. She chewed her lower lip as the scene’s intensity ramped up. Once more she let a guilty pleasure consume her.

Maya was very, very thankful that Lilith opened up the HQ so that they no longer shared a wide barracks. Granted, she should have shut the door, but still. Using Phaselock to launch a heavy piece of tech she salvaged would do the trick. But then again, none of the Raiders were supposed to be there. Content that she was alone, Maya dove back into her reading.

Absently, she let her palm slide down her firm stomach. Her hand slipped under her waistband easily enough. Her fingers trailed along her underwear, edging toward the damp spot dead center. Her focus moved from her reading material, her mind’s eye filled with the imagery offered by her book. She didn’t hear the small hitch in her breathing or the knock on her door.

The steel door cracked open a little further– Maya must’ve muttered “yes” at some point. Angel popped her head in the door.

“Hey, Maya, there’s an anomaly on the Echone–” Angel cut herself off.

It wasn’t everyday you saw one of the most powerful women on the planet with her pants around her ankles.

Maya came crashing back into reality at the sound of Angel’s voice. She desperately scrabbled to cover herself with a blanket, her face flushing.

“I, uh, shit.”

Angel didn’t bother thinking. “Need a hand?”

She honestly expected Maya to kick her out or tell her to fuck herself. She sure as hell wasn’t expecting Maya to beckon to her. She definitely didn’t expect the first lustful kiss. EchoNet problems could wait.
Angel chuckled when she heard the door slam shut with the aid of Maya’s Phaselock. Her laughter was cut off with another heated kiss. Her hand was guided exactly where Maya wanted it and Angel was all too happy to oblige.

Chapter Text

Karima took one last look at the framed photo, sighing softly as she placed it in a cardboard box. It was time to move on, after all. Danny had lost the lottery and had been fed to the grinder years ago, now she was just holding on. Holding onto what, she wasn’t sure. But packing up his old things made her feel better. Almost as good as the first time Overlook had received medication from the vault hunters.

Sealing up the box, Karima exhaled. Overlook was doing better than it had been since Hyperion tried to seize the planet. They had their shields, their medication, their freedom. (Not that many of the townspeople actually left their houses, but it was a step in the right direction.) Naturally after the long peace, she felt something was missing.

She would have continued to ponder what exactly was missing from her life when she heard knocking. The staccato rhythm started and stopped as though the person was struggling to figure out how to knock. Karima took up a shot gun she had purchased from Marcus in the off-chance a psycho had found his way to Overlook.

Keeping low, she crept over to the holomonitor connected to her door. The screen showed a woman. A certain blue-haired woman that had caught Karima’s eye the last time the vault hunters had visited Overlook. What a vault hunter was doing in the middle of this mostly empty town long after the defeat of Jack was beyond her. Karima set down her gun.

“I, erm, what brings you here?”

“I wanted to see you.”

Odd, but Karima didn’t really see much of a problem. The siren was rather attractive. Her fingers hesitated on the controls of her doors. No one had entered her home since– she bit her lip and let the door open. Maya staggered into the door; Karima could smell Rakk ale on her. She must have imbibed over at the Holy Spirits. They stood awkwardly for a moment, Maya swaying just slightly.

“You seem inebriated, do you need water?”

She felt a warm, calloused hand brushing her cheek.

“No water, please. I think I’ll lose my nerve. I’ve been thinking about you since we met. Constantly.”

Karima took a half-step back in surprise. Her cheeks flushed, a feeling she hadn’t felt in a while. Maya had followed her, but on unsteady feet. Maya wobbled, took a breath and closed the gap between them. Karima hoped she would melt at that moment. Maya’s lips were hot and wet. They felt far better than Karima could have ever hoped. Maybe late night visits weren’t all that bad.

Chapter Text

“I’m going to need you to put this on.”

Scarlett stuffed a black garment bag into Nisha’s hands without a second glance. She turned back to her closet and continued rummaging, humming tunelessly. Nisha unzipped the bag, took one look at its contents and let it drop to the floor with a soft thump.

“The fuck I will. I hate dresses.”

“At least for once let me wear the trousers. I can make it worth your while, love.”

“Nope.”

“Yes, I do know how absolutely fabulous you look in leather and gore, but, please, just this once do this little thing for me. It’s in your favourite colour after all.”

“Why do I have to wear a dress?”

“We are going on… A raid of sorts. We’re crashing a party to steal us a treasure map and then promptly carouse the night away.”

“And what exactly is in it for me?”

Nisha craned her neck, trying to spot Scarlett amidst the racks of clothing stuffed in her closet. She could barely make out the back of Scarlett’s prosthetic leg. She had way too many clothes.

“What, being on my arm doesn’t count?”

Scarlett clicked her tongue when she heard a disgusted grunt from Nisha.

“Obviously you’d get a share of the loot. Perhaps you would like something else?”

“Keep your god damn pants on, Red.”

“Oh, I do hate it when you call me that.”

“’S why I do it.”

Scarlett emerged from her closet, her arms full of clothing. She lifted an eyebrow before quirking a finger.

“So, are you in or no?”

“Fine, but I fucking hate you.”

“You keep saying that, and yet, here you are. Your definition of hate is kind of off.”

Nisha grumbled the entire way down the fancy hallway. The floors were marble, there were marble busts of dead people she didn’t give a fuck about everywhere. Gild, ornate chandeliers, the works. Even Hyperion events weren’t that damn snooty. Nisha rubbed at her bare shoulder, feeling terribly uncomfortable without her heavy leather jacket. Despite herself, she kept feeling her gaze drawn to Scarlett.
In all honesty, it pissed her off that Scarlett pulled off a suit so well. It pissed her off even more that Scarlett had been very careful with color coordination. Navy and cream for herself while Nisha had been put in a slightly lighter shade of purple. Nisha had no idea what the color was called. Probably something pretentious as fuck.

They had passed by a mirror at one point. Nisha glared at herself. Apparently a woman had complimented her on her iris purple dress with its empire waistline and how it suited her. What the fuck did that all mean, anyway? What really got her was whenever someone commented that her date was quite a looker and that they were a good match. Oh, that just made her want to strangle Scarlett more than ever.
An hour of dull socializing later, Nisha was sure that they were there only to torture her. She felt a warm arm snake around her waist. She was about to stomp on the lech’s foot until she heard Scarlett’s voice in her ear.

“The host is about to come out to really stir things up. His study will be empty for at least ten minutes. I say we go in, steal the map and some of his vintage rums and hoist the mizzen.”

“It’s about time the pirate’s life paid off.”

Scarlett’s hand didn’t leave her waist as the music came to a halt. There was some chatter until an older man in a rather fine suit stepped out onto a mezzanine and started addressing the crowd. They waited a beat before heading up the stairs as he walked down the other side.

As soon as the study’s door shut behind them, Nisha let out a low whistle. Rich, mahogany furniture greeted them. Old, comfortable leather chairs and a well decked out library full of curios awaited them.

“Keep watch, I’ll have us a map in no time.”

Nisha crept to the door, keeping her ear pressed against the wall. At least Scarlett let her keep Law even though it was in a ridiculous holster that was snug against her thigh. She hitched her dress up high enough for her to draw her gun just in the off chance that they had company.

Behind her, Scarlett rummaged through the desk. She expected to hear a few curses or more tuneless humming, but apparently Scarlett was in the zone, focused in a way that Nisha thought was impossible. Hardly a minute of standing around she heard a click. Nisha had hand ready to pistol whip the intruder, but instead she heard a soft creak and a low chuckle from the end of the room.

“Well, hello, gorgeous. You are coming with me.”

“You better be talking to that fucking map, Red.”

Something came flying at her. Nisha caught it underhand, cringing. She glanced down at the Echodevice with a frown. She would have commented if it weren’t for the door suddenly opening. Scarlett vanished, the safe she cracked shut and everything in order once more. Nisha flattened herself against the wall, momentarily forgetting about her gun.
A burly man in a surprisingly well-tailored suit stepped in, hand on his gun, looking ready to kill the first thing in sight. Instead his first sight was a redheaded woman in a suit making out with her date. The woman in the dress seemed a little taken aback.

“Hey, get out of here. Mister DaFoe doesn’t want anyone in here.”

Scarlett pulled away from Nisha with a wink.

“Oh, terribly sorry. I should really learn to control myself. Thank you.”

Scarlett palmed the Echo, slipping it into her suit’s hidden inner pocket. With her free hand, a custom cybernetic number, she took Nisha’s hand and led her out of the study. They stopped momentarily to exchange pleasantries with the DaFoe fellow, Nisha thought he looked like he had a stick up his ass, but remained silent. At least until the point when they exited the overwrought mansion.

“The fuck, Scarlett.”

“Obviously we needed cover and I couldn’t have you going and killing someone.”

“Really?”

Scarlett shrugged with catlike ease, a lazy grin spreading over her face. “I’d like to continue if you wouldn’t mind.”

Nisha started to form a list of lines to describe the numerous ways Scarlett could go fuck herself. At least until she realized it would far more entertaining to give into Scarlett once and then deny her every last advance.

“You know what, why the hell not?”

Once more the cold lip ring was pressed against her lips. She felt a cold metal hand creep up the slit in the side of her dress. She slapped it away.

“Hey, how’s about we actually get away with the shit we stole first?”

“Point taken. Because as much as I love that dress on you, I want to see it off of you more.”

Chapter Text

Maya blinked sleep out of her eyes. She tried stifling a yawn to no avail. She swirled the brown fluid in her mug; Lilith had claimed it was coffee. She pursed her lips. She hazarded a sip. Maya cringed, but forced herself to drink more. God, she couldn’t wait to get her own place away from the Raiders.

Gaige plopped down into an empty chair across the table from her. A wide grin was working across her face; and that was despite the fact that she was a night owl.

“So, uh, I heard you had a busy night.”

Maya looked up from her so-called coffee. The halogen lights of the kitchen highlighted the dark shadows under her eyes.

“What gives you that idea?”

“You have hickeys. And I mean plural.”

Maya didn’t grace her with an answer. She forced down more of the brown sludge.

“I know it wasn’t Lil. She fell asleep at the war table after BnB night. Ax is at Ellie’s and it sure as hell wasn’t me, Sal, or Zer0.”

Maya glared over the rim of her mug. She took a great deal of care to avoid looking at the grounds at the bottom of it when she set it down.

“Why the sudden interest?”

“My room’s next to yours, Mai. If I hadn’t been up playing EchoSims you would’ve woken me up.”

Maya pulled at the collar of her t-shirt. She hadn’t even bothered putting on real clothes before she ventured downstairs. She shifted on her cold, hard chair, listening to the squeak of skin on metal.

“Noted. I’m still waiting on my move-out date.”

“You’re avoiding the topic. Are you embarrassed?”

Gaige leaned over the table, her grin resembling the Cheshire cat’s. And that was even before opening her usual morning soda.
“I’m not embarrassed. I just don’t see why it’s something that needs discussing.”

Maya got up. Her feet drug across the linoleum in an awkward shuffle. She picked up the coffee pot, grimacing as she poured herself a second mug. The brew tasted awful, but damn, she was tired.

“I heard two other voices than yours.”

Ceramic hit the floor with a distinct tinkle. Maya’s shoulders drooped as she surveyed the mess she had made. Lukewarm sludge trickled between her toes. She sighed loudly, finally turning to Gaige.

“I slept with Athena and her wife.”

Gut spilled, Maya started gathering paper towels. She stepped carefully around fragments of mug, placing each step so that she wouldn’t slip.

“High five, girl! That’s so badass. Were they good? Is Athena as buff as she looks? How do Janey’s scars--”

“You have an unhealthy obsession with my sex life.”

“Your sex life is fascinating as hell. I barely get any if I want some. So, you gonna do it again?”

Maya sighed as she tossed away the last of her coffee-stained paper towels. Aside from a burned coffee ground smell, there was no evidence.

“To answer your questions: Yes, it was good. Really good. Yes, Athena is very buff. Janey’s scars are interesting, though part of me wanted to try healing them.”

Maya paused, her jaw clenching and unclenching as she thought.

“Yeah, I’d do it again.”

Gaige leapt out of her seat, holding up her nonmetal hand. The manic gleam in her eyes gave Maya second thoughts as she slapped her friend’s hand.

“It must be amazing being that hot.”

Maya shrugged noncommittally. She honestly didn’t get where people got that she was hot. But a compliment was a compliment to her sleep-deprived brain.

“If you need me, I’m going back to bed to actually sleep.”
“Sure you don’t wanna--”

Gaige was cut off when she felt herself lifted off of her feet by a phaselock orb. A small scream of surprise escaped her when her feet left the ground.

“Hey! Hey! Whoa, that is not cool. Maya! Uggghhhh.”

Maya grinned to herself as she made her way back toward her room. She would never hear the end of it, but that was perfectly fine with her.

Chapter Text

All it was supposed to be was a con job. A means to an end and a fuckton of money. Fiona wasn’t supposed to fall in love; wasn’t supposed to yearn for a woman she stood no chance with. And yet, there she was. The vault had made her rich beyond her wildest dreams. She could have left Pandora, could have anything she wanted. Well, except for Athena.

Athena was terrifying. She was beautiful. She was powerful. Needless to say Fiona fell hard and fast.

She had one hell of a time focusing on her vault hunter training. She could still remember the feel of Athena’s calloused hands on hers as she taught her how to properly brace against recoil. She clung to memories of the cool press of Athena’s breastplate on her back during shooting lessons. The way Athena’s forearms flexed when she lifted Aspis. Athena made it look so easy.

She was gruff and awkward. The tiny smiles of pride when Fiona succeeded made Fiona’s heart flutter. The way her voice got huskier when she fought made chills run down Fiona’s spine. Fiona ached to reach out whenever the gladiator withdrew from their little misfit group. She wanted to reassure Athena that her past didn’t define her.

But Athena had a girlfriend. She had fought and scrounged until she could bring Janey to Pandora. But the two fought. Athena wanted action, blood. Janey wanted her safe. Fiona would have happily let Athena lead the life of a bounty hunter– of a vault hunter. The thrill alone had made the job worthwhile. They would have been an unstoppable power couple, taking vaults, kicking ass. But… Athena accepted Janey’s proposal.

The Purple Skag buzzed with conversation. Outside Tector could be heard heckling drunkards. Fiona mulled over her rakk ale staring into its amber depths. August gave her her space, only approaching her booth to bring her a fresh drink. By her third drink, she was feeling it. The buzz only made her more ornery.

She rested her feet on the seat of the booth. She stretched out as far as she could managed to ward away any one who dared to get close. At least until a fourth bottle of rakk ale was set before her. Fiona looked up, her dark sulk momentarily forgotten. Her heart thudded in her ribs when she spied worn red armor.

“I heard you were still in town. Mind if I join you?”

Fiona’s boots hit the scuffed wood floor with a resounding thump. She didn’t notice how much the jarring motion hurt. Athena slipped into the spot across from her. She offered a weak smile.

“How have things been going, Athena? It’s been a while.”

Fiona fought back the urge to blurt out her feelings. The words nearly escaped her. She forced herself to take a long pull of her ale. She didn’t taste it.

“Nothing’s really changed. I hate wedding planning.”

A dull pang shot through Fiona’s heart. She swirled her booze around, avoiding eye contact.

“Well, I heard weddings are crazy…”

“You, uh, seem upset. Something wrong?”

Once more Fiona had to fight back her urge to beg Athena to kiss her. She struggled against the little voice in her head telling her to confess her love.

“Just frustrated. There hasn’t been a good job since the Vault.”

The lie was smooth, easy as if she had practiced it a dozen times. The words burned as they slipped from her lips. Athena brushed her forearm. It was a clumsy gesture. The motion of someone unaccustomed to comforting.

“It’s Pandora, there’s bound to be something.”

Fiona tried to smile, but the expression fell flat. She sighed loudly.

“Okay, maybe there is one thing. I don’t know how good you are with relationship advice, but there’s a gir– woman, I’m really into. She’s damn near perfect. But she has a girlfriend and it’s killing me a little.”

Athena settled back in her seat. She took a long pull from her own bottle. The booth creaked as she moved. August called it “rustic” and “Authentic Pandoran”. Fiona called it crap.

“Uhh, not my strong suit. Try Moxxi. Last time I tried helping someone, well, it didn’t go over well. I’m pretty sure Nisha would still hate me.”

Fiona made a soft noise in the back of her throat. She continued swirling her beer.

“I guess you could try telling her? I don’t know.”

“Yeah, but she’s happy, I think. She has her life figured out. Wow, I’m stupid.”

Athena’s brow furrowed. She was quiet for a long moment. Eventually a slow smile crept across her face. Fiona felt her warm, calloused fingers on her forearms.

“I’m sure if things were different, she’d appreciate it. Maybe reciprocate.”

Fiona bit her lower lip, giving a tight nod in response. Athena patted her arm once more as she slipped from the booth. Fiona watched her leave, eyes stinging. She downed the last of her bottle. If only things were different. If only…

Chapter Text

Wind whipped around their heads, snatching Scarlett’s hat. She seized Nisha by the wrist, trying to speak over the howling wind. Nisha staggered blindly through the grit. Sand bit into her skin like tiny pinpricks. They stumbled as the sand blotted out the sun.

“We need to find shelter!” Scarlett sputtered through a mouthful of dust and dirt.

The wind battered at them until at last Scarlett spied a patch of darkness amidst the rusty hues. She drug Nisha along, taking cautious strides. She ducked down, pulling her companion with her. It was a tight fit but the makeshift shelter was good enough to get them out of the worst of the storm.

Once she cleared the dust from her eyes, Scarlett risked a look around their shelter. She had been expecting a skag den, but a few feet above her head were wood beams. An old mine cart lay half-buried in rubble. The cart was backed up almost flush with the entrance of the mine shaft; it was hardly tall enough for them to stand. Nisha rubbed at her eyes, muttering soft curses. Her curses redoubled when her head smacked into one of the wooden beams.

Scarlett slowly lowered herself to the floor. She didn’t bother peeping out of their hiding spot. Her legs barely had enough room to be fully extended. Her boot brushed Nisha’s calf.

“Well, if this isn’t a clusterfuck, I don’t know what is.”

Scarlett folded her arms indignantly.

“If you hadn’t insisted on torturing that bandit, we’d be back on the Bacchanal sitting pretty.”

Nisha grumbled under her breath. She leaned heavily against the mine shaft’s wall. Scarlett extended a hand.

“At the very least, let me tend to that wound.”

Nisha shook her head. Her arm was tucked close to her rib cage, her hand withdrawn partially in her duster’s sleeve to hide the damage. Scarlett seized her by the calf and tugged. Nisha fell flat on her ass, hissing in pain. Scarlett ignored her protests as she crept to her side. She tugged at Nisha’s sleeve until she managed to get it up over her elbow. There was a lump forming in the center of her forearm. Her left wrist hung limply.

“Figures, the one time I don’t have a spare med hypo.”

Nisha refused to look at her. Scarlett rolled her eye. She began sifting through the rubble in search for something that would make a decent splint. The darkness of their shelter and the lack of light from the storm made the search even more difficult. Nisha’s dark mood didn’t help either. Scarlett yanked a small metal bar from the rim of the mine cart. The metal pulled away cleanly enough. She scored the metal with her hook, setting the piece beneath her prosthetic leg. A little pressure and it broke cleanly in two.

“Give me your knife.”

Nisha scowled, but handed over her knife. Under her breath, Scarlett muttered about Nisha being a ‘bloody useless child’. She set the tip of the blade over her leg,cutting a swath of fabric just above her prosthesis. Tearing the cloth into strips turned out to be a difficult job; her hook kept shredding the fabric. She bit back a curse of frustration.

“I’m going to need you to hold the bars in place.”

“You’re too needy.”

“Do you want your arm fixed?”

Nisha cupped her wrist without so much as a snide comment. She went as far as using her thumb to support the first strip of fabric as it was wound around her arm.

“Let someone help you for once, Nish.”

“I can take care of myself.”

“Sometimes, I’m not so sure of that.”

Nisha’s nose curled. Scarlett felt her forearm tense, the wiry muscles constricting.

“Oh, calm yourself, you’re too testy.”

“In case you missed it, there’s a dust storm out there and we’re trapped in here. That asshole probably got away with the goods–”

“Ah, ah. Don’t worry your pretty head. We have the upper hand; I highly doubt he’s literate. What would it take to get you to relax?”

“A bottle of whiskey, and that dick’s head beneath my boot.”

Scarlett leaned just slightly closer. With a single head movement, she would be in perfect range for kissing Nisha.

“And nothing else?”

Nisha’s gaze had dropped. She turned her eyes back up the the ceiling not far above them. Scarlett had to fight back her urge to laugh at the way Nisha held her lip between her teeth.

“Oh really, now, the one time you do find me fetching it’s when I’m covered in dirt and blood.”

“Suits you.”

Scarlett seized Nisha by the lapels of her duster, pulling her far enough forward so that she didn’t have to bend into the kiss. She expected Nisha to break away, grumbling about ‘not being into chicks’. She definitely didn’t plan for Nisha to relax into the kiss. She tangled her fingers into Nisha’s inky black hair, savoring every second.
The storm was largely forgotten about.

Chapter Text

Nisha drew Law, keeping it trained on Scarlett’s head. Scarlett raised placating hands, her one visible eye growing wide with horror.

“Really, Nish, we can work things out. We’re besties, right?”

Nisha took a step forward. Her eyes narrowed even as Scarlett’s back brushed against the tin wall of a bandit shack. She didn’t look half as intimidating without her hook.

“We’re been through worse, Nish. Remember? I was there when your mum died– when the vault hunters took–”

Nisha reveled in the look of shock on Scarlett’s face when she clocked her with Law. The blade had nicked her cheek. Blood streamed down her face.

“You were too late. You told me not to kill mom. You told me to run instead of killing those god damn bandits. You laughed when Jack died.”

Scarlett’s eye roved their surroundings. Nisha casually lowered the sights of Law, taking aim. The pistol’s blast was deafening up close. Shrapnel from Scarlett’s prosthetic leg embedded deep into her grieves, but Nisha didn’t take notice. Scarlett slid down the hovels wall. Her breath came in shallow pants. Nisha hadn’t expected that. It only made the grim grin on her face grow. A cold, feral gleam glowed in her eyes.

“But I always had your back. We could forget it all I— I’d walk away. I’d take my crew and leave I won’t show my face again.”

“You raided Lynchwood. You laughed. You took my revenge from me.” Her voice kept an even, acidic tone.

Once more Law was trained on Scarlett’s head. Scarlett’s eyes were wide with horror. Nisha could smell fear on her. She laughed as a single tear rolled down her victim’s cheek. She pulled the trigger, laughing bitterly at the blood splashed on her boots.

“Pathetic. Huh, and I thought I might’ve loved you once.”

Nisha turned on her heel. She spared a single glance at the shattered body behind her. Once more it was just her against the world. The slightest pang of guilt died when her Echo alerted her to the approach of Scarlett’s crew. Her hoarse laughter echoed around the cavern. Just like the good old days.

Chapter Text

“Winger, hold those bastards off, I’m nearly…”

The gunshot echoed through the streets of Lynchwood. Nisha redoubled her pace, bracing her shotgun as she ran through the town. Her booted footfalls were surprisingly quiet on the hard-packed dirt. She ducked into the passage below the bank, keeping her gun trained ahead of her. She slowed to a crawl, keeping low to avoid hitting her head. There was light at the tunnel’s end. The light flickered and there was the smell of smoke. As she drew closer she caught a whiff of burning skin and hair.

Winger was slumped over, his gun nowhere to be found. A neat hole had been blown through his skull.

“The hell--”

Something solid collided with the back of her head. She half-turned, trying to aim when a second blow caught her in the temple. Blackness crept into the corners of her eyes until she sank into oblivion.

Nisha awoke to the warmth of sun and a hot breeze on her skin. Her head throbbed; her tongue felt glued to her cheek. Her throat burned when she tried to swallow. Pins and needles stung at her fingers.Squinting, she could just barely make out rock formations in the distance. The breeze picked up, pelting her with sand and grit.

“Oh good, you’re finally awake. Welcome to the Bacchanal, Nish.”

Nisha opened her mouth to speak. The sounds that left her were hardly more than soft moans. She jerked, trying to rid herself of the agonizing tingling in her hands.

“In case you wondered: Lynchwood has burned to the ground. I have all your money. And all of your weapons. Oh, and your clothing.”

Nisha thrashed harder when she realized her hands had been tied above her head.

“Face it, love, I won. Though that strip search to find all your weapons… Oh now that was fun. However… I think I might have hit you a little too hard.”

Nisha found a small puddle of saliva. She wet her throat, wincing at the sting.

“The hell do you want from me?”

Glaringly bright light flashed onto her face when Scarlett shifted her hook. Nisha cringed away from the flash of silver.

“Ideally, I’d like you grovelling at my boot and then promptly licking it.”

“Like hell.” Nisha growled, or at least, attempted to growl.

The longer she stayed conscious, the more Nisha became aware of the fact that her left eye was swollen nearly shut. Her lip had been split at one point, but the blood had dried and crusted on her lower lip. She bared her teeth in a grim snarl.

“That is a bit of a pity. If you were willing to submit to me, I’d let it all go. I’d forgive you for all the times you’ve locked me up. I’d give you far more than a lousy town; you’d have the whole desert to patrol.”

Nisha was tempted to spit at Scarlett. The display would be less than threatening, but it would at least make a point.

“Hell no.”

She heard the odd ca-clump of Scarlett’s uneven footfalls as she paced a neat circle just out of Nisha’s range. Nisha tried to curl a finger, but she couldn’t feel her hands. The tingling had become numbness.

“Oh, I should have told you this, but I tied a knot that only tightens when you fight, and you were quite… Feisty, shall I say?”

Nisha rose on her toes to the best of her ability, trying to take the weight off of her wrists.

“Fuck you.”

“You’re all talk, aren’t you, Nish? Make big threats but you’re just scared that someone will see you vulnerable. It’s quite adorable.”

“Let me go, you bitch!” Her voice had taken on a metallic rasp.

“Beg first, then we’ll see how I feel.”

Nisha curled her upper lip. Her biceps strained as she struggled to support herself. She could feel the ligaments starting to tear. Her legs shook, jerking under her weight and her poor balance.

“Never.” Speaking was physically painful. Each word felt like it was searing her parched throat.

“Oh, I should mention, that if you keep that up, you will likely lose your hands. They’re starting to go a little blue.”

Nisha’s calves started to ache. As she slowly lowered herself, she heard herself wheezing.

“And another little fun fact: if your arms stay above your head much longer, you’ll probably die.”

Blackness was edging in on the corners of her vision. The world swam in a haze. Nisha took a shaky breath, it hitched half way, making her choke.

“I hate you.”

“A real pity. I actually enjoyed our little cat and mouse games. And those times we actually got on? Brilliant.”

Nisha’s shoulders creaked. She tried shifting the joints, only to feel her breath spill from her. Every exhalation came as a huff. Try as she might, she couldn’t fill her lungs to capacity. She barely could get a small breath in. The darkness was creeping in closer. Her vision swam.

“Please.” She spat the word, her lungs aflame.

“What was that? I didn’t quite hear you.”

“Please.”

Scarlett stepped closer. Nisha jerked her head away from the hot metal of Scarlett’s hook.

“You can do better.”

Every exhalation left her closer and closer to the blackness threatening to consume her. Each breath made her shudder.

“Please, let me go, Scarlett. I… I beg of you.”

The words left an awful taste in her mouth. Worse than the taste of her bone dry tongue. Scarlett’s hook pressed under her jaw, forcing her head up.

“I’m going to need you to do better than that. I’m sure you know how to get yourself out of this situation.”

“Fu.. Fuck you.”

“Oh, that’s a real pity, Nish. You were so close to freedom. It really was quite a delight knowing you.”

Nisha’s jaws clicked together when Scarlett let her head drop. A ragged breath escaped her. A new stinging pain burned through her chest. It was all too clear that the end was nearing. And that death was going to hurt like a bitch.

“Anything. I’ll do it. Jus’ let me go.” The words blurred together in a single burst of sound. Syllables mashed together, but Scarlett seemed to understand her.

“Anything, you say?”

“Anythin’.”

There was a devilish gleam to Scarlett’s eyes that Nisha found she was glad she wasn’t seeing clearly. The pressure on her shoulders was lifted. Nisha’s legs went out from under her. She toppled gracelessly to the Bacchanal’s deck, drinking in deep, filling breaths. Her moment of clarity and relief passed when the heavy weight of Scarlett’s prosthetic leg settled on her throat.

“You said anything. And I have an idea.”

Nisha’s eyes grew wide. She gasped for a breath as a new wave of panic settled in on her.

“You like to play it big and bad, so why not take a page from your book? I want you to lick my boot.”

“No.”

Nisha jerked, clutching her stomach after Scarlett kicked her. The pointed edge of Scarlett’s prosthetic forced the breath from her.

“You’re in no position to refuse. Now behave.”

Scarlett took another step forward, placing her boot in Nisha’s face. Nisha sneered when the boot pressed against her lips. She shuddered as she tried to find any traces of moisture in her mouth. Her tongue rasped against the sand-crusted leather. Nisha’s jaw tensed, her brow furrowing in disgust.

“Not so hard, was it?”

Nisha refused to answer. Scarlett chuckled darkly as her boot settled on Nisha’s cheek.

--

A few months after Nisha escaped from Scarlett’s clutches, she settled into a routine that brought the semblance of normality back to her life. Lynchwood may have been gone, but she could still hunt bandits. She mercilessly stalked them, working her way toward revenge on Scarlett. At least until one day when she received an Echo chimed.

At first, she ignored it. The notification continued in a constant drone until at last she opened the message. It contained photos of sacking of Lynchwood. And images of Nisha’s humiliation at the hand of Scarlett. She was expected grainy, off-centered shots, images filmed at the apex of the action. But each shot was well centered with surprisingly good composition.

“You have got to be fucking kidding me.”

There was an especially good shot of her at Scarlett’s feet. She threw aside her echo, placing a few rounds into its casing. She emptied the clip, just to be sure.

Chapter Text

Nisha knew she was at a loss. Knew it the instant the muzzle of Greed buried into her spine. Knew it even as she was shoved up the loading dock of the Bacchanal. What did she have to show for it? A busted lip, a bruised ego. She should have known better than to enter Scarlett’s turf.

The prodding of Greed’s muzzle was replaced by the pinprick edge of what could only be Law. She was jabbed in the back hard enough to make her stumble up the ramp leading to the lift. She kept trying to pick at her bindings, but they refused to give. They must have been Atlas surplus.

“Whatever you’re going to do to me, just get it the hell over with.”

“In a rush, Sheriff?”

Nisha fought back her urge to make a snide comment. She held it down, but just barely. The lift lurched under them, slowly rising. Her thoughts swam with possible escape routes. Nothing acceptable came to mind. Law dug a small niche next to her spine, the tip of the wicked bayonet poked through the leather of her duster. No sooner had they reached the top floor, she was shoved forward once more. Scarlett didn’t give her a chance to observe her surroundings. Any time she went to look, she felt the blade dig deeper until it started to pierce her skin.

She felt the heavy weight of Scarlett’s hook settle at the back of her skull once they reached a door. The pressure on her spine ceased. A warm arm slipped around her, pressing close to her lithe frame. The door swung open. Nisha was roughly shoved inside before she could risk a glance at the room. She stumbled headlong into surprisingly cool air. The room was dimly lit, but comfortable. Her skin began to crawl.

“I’ll let you live on one condition, Nish.”

“And the hell is that?”

“I need you to remove all of your clothing. To ensure you’re not hiding any more sneaky little weapons.”

“Like hell I am.”

Law was pressed to her spine again. She heard the hammer cock. The blade traced along the back of her coat until the tip brushed the nape of her neck. A shot from Law that close up was a death sentence. And she wasn’t about to go down like a bitch.

“Make your choice, love. Eat a bullet or get knocked down a peg.”

The words ‘fuck you’ rose to her lips, but she forced them down. It was like swallowing pure stactus pulp. Her throat stung.

“Gonna need my hands if you want me to do that.”

“I’ve already liberated your favourite knife, no tricks, or I will shoot you.”

Nisha swallowed dryly. She fanned out her palms beneath the cuffs as if to make a point that she was without a weapon. She waited for the click of the cuffs. Behind her came the sounds of someone taking a few cautious steps back, the gun never left the nape of her neck. Nisha counted the footsteps. She cursed at their height gap. Scarlett had a decent advantage over her. For once the pirate was ahead of the curve. There was a muffled click. The weight was released from her wrists. The energizing core of the cuffs hit the floor with a clink.

She slowly rotated her wrists, trying to bring the life back into them. The blade of Law dug a little into her neck. She let her hands slowly creep up to the lapels of her jacket.

“Ah-ah, turn around.”

Nisha’s nostrils flared. She bit her lower lip to stifle the curse that rose on her tongue. The insistent pressure from her own gun dissuaded her from commenting. Her hands fell limply to her side. She turned on the ball of her foot, keeping her movements slow. The bayonet drug across her throat, leaving a faint white mark in its wake. She turned until she looked the pirate in her one good eye, scowl firmly settled on her lips.

“I hate you.”

Scarlett fixed her with her usual devil-may-care grin. That grin that said ‘no, you don’t.’

“If you truly hated me, you wouldn’t have come all this way to track me. Now, resume, I don’t have that much patience.”

Nisha brought her hands up to the lapels of her trench coat, glaring darkly. She started to pull at the corners, but paused as her fingers seized the metal brackets. She dropped the edges of her jacket. Instead she pulled off her hat, letting it fall to the floor. Scarlett wore an unamused look.

Nisha smirked to herself as she changed tactics. She loosened the buckles on her armored wrist guard, letting it fall to the floor with a solid clunk. No aim assist, no armor reinforced punches, not that she was concerned about punching the life out of Scarlett, not when her hands around the pirate’s throat would do just as well. As she pulled off her gauntlet a wicked idea surfaced. She wasn’t keen on the concept, but it had potential.

She used her teeth to remove her leather glove. She caught the slightest hint of weakness when Scarlett bit her lower lip. Nisha let the glove fall to the floor. Her fingers slowly walked up the front of her duster, steadily making their way to the clasp that held her chest strap in place. She slowly slid her thumb beneath the layers of fabric, letting loose the one solid snap. The strap dangled loosely over her vest. She let the moment settle in. The jacket hit the floor in a hiss of heavy fabric. Her toned arms were bared, her sleek frame made all the more obvious thanks to her tight leather pants and well-fitted vest.

Nisha let Scarlett admire her, she could feel the tip of Law’s blade resting just against the surface of her skin. She unhooked her belt slowly, dragging out the motion. There went the rest of her ammo and her holster. The digistruct hardly held anything more than her old whip and a throwing knife. Neither of which were very useful.

Nisha took a half step back, Scarlett following closely until she brushed her hand against Law’s barrel.

“I gotta kneel if you want the greaves off.”

Scarlett backed off, but just barely. Nisha couldn’t help but notice how dilated her one pupil was -- and it wasn’t from the dim lighting of the room. She bent slowly, her fingers working the buckles and straps of her armor at a painstakingly slow pace. The left greave had held her knife. It now rested lost in one of the bandit camps lining Wurmwater. The other held spare ammo and a Hyperion beacon. Not that it would do any good. The armor fell away. Her leather pants clung to her legs, only highlighting how shapely her legs were. Scarlett was biting her lip again.

Nisha hesitated when she got to the buttons of her vest. She had come unprepared for this job. She certainly didn’t want to think of the circumstances. She swallowed as her nimble fingers worked each button open. She let the vest fall away. Her crop top clung to her. It was cool and damp to her skin. She let her hands fall to the waistband of her pants.

She hardly felt herself shimmy out of her pants. But soon she stood there in just her underwear, cool air tickling her overwarm skin. She hated to admit that she was slightly aroused by the threat of her own gun in the hands of Scarlett. Slightly turned on enough to enjoy the way Scarlett’s eye tracked her. She realized she could have stopped. Should have stopped. But she didn’t.

--

Nisha awoke to the sunlight blazing harshly on her. She groped the ground around her until her hand found her hat. She settled it on her head, momentarily content. At least until she looked down. All she wore was her hat and her belt. Her holster was empty. Her digistruct device was no longer hooked up to the holster. Squinting in the harsh light, she found a roadsign. It was written in the broken English of the bandits, but she knew well enough that it said Lynchwood was a good twenty miles to the north. And that she had enough hickeys and bruises to make the solemn march back home that much worse.

Chapter Text

In all fairness, she had been through worse. Hell, she had done worse. However, as far as mistakes went, this one took the cake. At least compared to the time she drunkenly sent Scarlett nudes. Nothing could top that. Perhaps she had let her anger get the best of her. Maybe she had a drinking problem, too. It didn’t explain how she wound up in bed with Athena, though.

She tried retracing her steps. It only led to more questions. She gave up when her temples started throbbing.

Hadn’t she promised herself she wouldn’t do it with a chick? Not even if the chick was hot and she was desperate. And definitely never with Scarlett.

She all but sulked when she found that she had nowhere to go. The only option was the Vorago Solitude; and she sure as hell didn’t want to deal with Eridians or those Lost Legion asswipes. She settled back on the cot, nose creasing in frustration.

Her ass had gone numb from her awkward position on the cot. She rolled over to her side. Athena was sound asleep-- something that surprised Nisha more than she wanted to let on. She glowered at the woman, lips pursing.

“Move your ass, Athena. You’re hogging the bed.”

Athena was awake and sitting up in the blink of an eye. Her biceps tensed, ready to strike at a moment’s notice. Nisha nearly flinched at her speed. Nearly.

“Well, shit, if I knew that’s how to get you movin’, I’d have done it sooner.”

“The hell, Nisha?”

Nisha propped her head up with her hand, one eyebrow rising.

“You’re asking me?”

Athena relaxed. She tried to stifle a yawn, but the effort failed.

“So we made a dumb decision, it happens.”

“You’re telling me.”

“Then why are you still here?”

“I don’t wanna go back to Helios yet.” Not exactly a lie, but close enough.

Athena grunted in acknowledgment. She started to swing her legs off the cot, over Nisha. Quick as a whip, Nisha had her ankle in her grasp.

“I thought you said you weren’t into women.”

“Shut up.”

Athena lazily scratched the bridge of her nose. She glanced down at the grip on her ankle, knowing all too well how easy it would be to break.

“You wanted me to talk. Make up your mind.”

“Still haven’t figured what I want. How’d we end up in this mess, anyway?”

Nisha slowly sat up, letting go of Athena’s ankle. The nerves along the back of her thigh tingled. She could feel the dull throb of bruises on her jaw and shoulder.

“We got drunk and you picked a fight.”

It came back to Nisha like ramming a moon zoomy into a wall. Clips of their voices raised in anger, the first clumsily thrown punch that connected with her jaw ran through her mind. And then the sloppy kisses and desperate fumbling to tug off Athena’s armor.

“Your armor’s a pain in the ass to take off.”

She left it at that.

Chapter Text

Scarlett walked a neat circle around her. Fiona squirmed. She felt like a treasure being appraised under that scrutinizing gaze. Idly, she wondered if she was on the keep or sell pile. Scarlett’s single eye roved over her. Fiona adjusted her grip on her hat, not losing sight of the irony of where she held it.

“So do we have a deal or what? I can just pack up and leave.”

Once more Scarlett stood just a tad too close. Her perfume smelled of spices and maybe a hint of ocean. The con artist swallowed, her throat dry as the desert surrounding them. Somewhere deep in her there was a flutter. The thrill of the con, of having a sucker hook-- oh, well, maybe not that phrase.

“All you need is transport to the other side of the desert? Surely you need something else.”

“Nope. My caravan’s busted and my sister’s waiting for me on the other side. So whaddya say?”

She offered her hand, flashing what she hoped was her most winning smile. Scarlett tapped her hook against her lips, making her point all too clear.

“I don’t see why not. Shame you don’t want to join the crew; I could always use another hand. Er, pun not intended.”

As fast as the Bacchanal was, a desert crossing was not a quick trip. Fiona was thankful for her takings from the Vault. Granted, in the long run, she’d profit from screwing Scarlett over later. After all, Scarlett had warned her that there was a chance she’d stab her in the back. Fiona figured she’d even out the odds.

She leaned on a railing on the foredeck, scanning the horizon. In the twilight, the sand was the color of blood, but rapidly turning purple as the sun dropped. The desert air was cool enough for her to tug her jacket closer. For a moment, she thought she saw her breath form clouds. The sky far above her was dotted with stars, free of the giant H of Helios.

“Enjoying the view, are we?”

Fiona flinched, her derringer drawn fast as a blink. Scarlett lifted her hand, cocky smile on her face.

“Neat little toy, but I’d rather not get shot, thank you.”

“Shit, you scared me.”

Scarlett’s lip ring gleamed in the semi-darkness, only highlighting her shit-eating grin.

“My apologies.”

She gave a little flourish, which Fiona took for a bow of some sort. She tried her hardest not to roll her eyes. She let the derringer slide back into her sleeve, sitting flush with her elbow.

“You want something?”

“Only if you have something to offer.”

Fiona turned around fully, letting her back rest against the railing. Athena would yell at her for it being bad form, but what the hell, she fought through worse. She let her scarred eyebrow rise, slipping back into con mode.

“Really?”

“I may be a pirate, but I do have some standards.”

Fiona tilted her head, sizing up the other woman. Scarlett was much taller than her, but lithe.

“So, what’s with the pics of the broody chick in your cabin?”

The smug look vanished from Scarlett’s face, but she didn’t jump right to surprise. She had a good poker face, but Fiona’s was better. Scarlett shifted on her prosthetic, her good eye narrowing.

“We… Were close. Besties. Well, more than besties, really. But, still…”

“You break up? Got a jealous ex you’re trying to get back at?”

Scarlett broke eye contact, shifting on her feet. Her metal leg groaned with her movement.

“She… She’s gone. Vault hunters killed her.”

Fiona flinched, mentally kicking herself for showing it. Everyone died on Pandora; some sooner than others, but it still hit close to home.

“Oh shit, I’m sorry. I didn’t…”

She half-expected Scarlett’s face to light up and hear her go ‘got you, didn’t I?,” but there was nothing. Fiona reached out to her, palm brushing the cool leather securing her hook in place. They stood in silence for a beat. Fiona decided to do something reckless. She tugged Scarlett closer, rising on her toes to capture her lips. It was stupid, yes, but, she wasn’t known for making the smartest decisions.

Chapter Text

Maya knew it was stupid to want someone. More than anything. Hadn’t the Brotherhood of the Impending Storm told her that to yearn for something was the root of all evil? Granted, they were corrupt bastards, but still. They had a point. But it all stood before her. Stripped her down to her barest soul. At some point, she’d have to accept it.
She wasn’t sure when the longing began. Was it during a conversation they had when she couldn’t sleep late one night? Was it the fact that they had such a wide range of similar interests? That they both felt trapped at some point in their lives? Or was it just loneliness?

Maya lost a lot of sleep as she mulled it over. She would think and overthink. And puzzle. She needed answers. Night after night she would search the Echonet, seeking answers to what she was feeling. She felt a little ashamed that she needed technology to break things down into simpler terms for her. All the words led her to one thing: she was smitten. With an AI.

Something nagged at the back of Maya’s mind. It gnawed at her as she climbed the mountain side that would lead them to the bunker. Why did an AI hold the key to Jack’s power? Why did she care so much about a mass of programing and data?

It all became clear when she laid eyes on Angel for the first time. She let go of a breath she didn’t know she was holding. Her gun nearly dropped from her hand. She was real. All too real, and Maya realized that she was in over her head. That it was time to give in to just that.

Chapter Text

She had lost her temper far too many times. Flown off the handle so often that the others started to wonder if she really had her Eridium habit under control. Her fingers twitched, the power still running through her. She wanted more. Always wanted more, but she could see what she was doing to her loved ones. She decided to let it all go.

No one stopped her as she ran down the streets of Sanctuary. No one seemed to see her. She didn’t care, the edge grew closer. It was time to see if Firehawks could fly.

It didn’t feel like she jumped. Falling didn’t feel like anything to her. Her blood sang, wind whipping around her. Lilith clutched the hunk of Eridium in her palm. It was stupid, it was crazy, but if it didn’t save her, it would end her. She closed her hand around the lump, letting it absorb into her. She squeezed her eyes shut so she didn’t see the ground that was growing closer.

Brilliant, fire-colored wings spread from her, pure siren energy. They flickered as she fell, straining against the pull of gravity. The drag didn’t catch. Her descent slowed, but her heart hammered as terror finally began to sink in. The high had worn off, the rush was gone. She forced herself to try and breathe, try to focus. Slowly, her fingers started going translucent. Before long her arm was see-through and the effect was spreading.

Lilith sunk through the ground as she crashed. Her body disappeared, as she submerged through the pit of Sanctuary down to the Caustic Caverns. She jerked as her body returned to normal, most of her momentum lost. The fall was enough to wind her, but as far as she could tell, everything was intact. She lay panting, not far from a necrophage. Her fingers twitched spastically. She felt more drained than she had been in years. The caverns were good enough. It was time to fix herself.

Chapter Text

A brilliant scientist like myself really shouldn’t have feelings like this. This pathetic fluttering of my heart muscles-- a tachycardia for the neurotic. The sudden weak knees and the urge to salivate. Not to mention the excessive-- Now, now, Patty, best not think about that.

Tannis glanced up from her bank of monitors, slowly becoming conscious of a change in the room. She turned away from the computers, heart pounding. The other blue haired goddess was back. The one with the bigger and more beautifully sculpted forearms. The one that always seemed to wear the expression of a grumpy feline.

She had to grab a handkerchief off of her desk. Blood started to trickle down her face. Athena had that effect on her. Long after she had fallen out of her infatuation with Maya, not that the book-learned goddess didn’t make her knees all weak and quivery in that loathsome way.

Truly it confounded her to be so stupefied in the presence of someone she would usually rank with the sycophants and mouth-breathers. All hard Atlas carved muscle… Chiseled, really. And Athena didn't look at her with scorn or confusion like the others. If anything she was equally as emotionally stunted.

“How is that data looking? Any reads?”

Tannis harrumphed. Athena always cut to the chase. Too direct, too forward. It left her frustrated in more than one sense.

“Aside from the positively archaic computers, the reads are fair. Promethea is a hotbed of insanity much like this cesspit of planet.”

Those plush lips of hers pursed. Tannis hated her. Not true, but she did feel irate.

“So do you think there is a vault?”

“Relative seismic and Eridian readings indicate that there is, in fact a Vault on Promethea. And troop movements.”

Athena had her arms folded. Tannis had the strongest desire to run her tongue along the defined lines of her forearms. The musculature was superb and she could even overlook the tattoo.

“So business as usual.”

Tannis’ throat was dry as the Dust. She quivered involuntarily, question posed on her lips.

“While normally I am extremely adverse to human social interaction, I have an unusual inclination to desire your company and would like to request you might end my horrific need to bed you.”

“Uh, what?”

Those dark blue eyes of hers were intensely focused on her. Boring into her. Melting her innards. Tannis braced herself for a night spent alone and groaning in the most mortifying manners.

“I… I have this most pressing desire to have a carnal interaction with you even if it is only in passing. I cannot seem to think straight when I'm in your imposing presence. You and your impeccable arms.”

Athena’s eyebrow arched. There was the slightest hint of a smile to her lips. Tannis cursed herself, cursed her loins, cursed the entire damn planet. She was better off sticking to lab equipment or mechanical implements, it suited her better.

“So, what you’re getting at is that you want to hook up.”

“Yes, hook-up. If that is the proper vernacular.”

Athena had uncrossed her arms. Tannis swore at herself for her lack of social skills. At least it wasn’t the dry heaving again. And the nosebleed had stopped. Now it was just her tripping over her words and making an utter fool of herself-- in a way she was unaccustomed to. Yes, definitely a long night. Perhaps with one of those foul Rakk Ales that Moxxi always tried to peddle to her. She could see it now. Drinking, becoming a true sycophant. Drowning her sorrows much like the rest of the plebians.

“Springs and I are on a break right now… And it has been a while…”

Whatever did that Janey person have to do with it? Was Athena a taken woman? Was she pining for someone-- no, not pining. Lusting. Definitely lusting. Romance was for the weak-willed. For children and those with far too much free time.

“And…?”

“Why not?”

Oh. She hadn’t considered what she would do if Athena said yes. Surprisingly, her nose did not bleed. She did not break down and start crying in the corner. In fact, she continued on much the way she had after Clork had propositioned her. And god, he was such a gentleman.

“Er, right, yes. My bed is on the third floor.” She offered lamely.

“I usually prefer desktops or workbenches.”

“Don’t you dare touch my research.”

Athena’s eyes widened in shock. Tannis’s heart sunk. How did she suddenly gain courage now of all times?

“Noted, your bed then?”

Tannis nodded, dumbfounded. She guided Athena up the stairs as in a trance. She had never expected that to work. Every other paramour she had ever tried to take would usually laugh at her and run away. She was elated. And disappointed. She should have spent more time cleaning her quarters. Not that she used it much.

They both stood awkwardly, unsure of where to start. Tannis could count the number of sexual partners she had on a single hand. And two of those were ceiling chairs. Her throat was utterly parched. Praise the Eridians for such a divine looking being, an imposing goddess of sinew and anger.

Tannis opened her mouth to comment when a rough hand seized her by her collar and drug her in. It wasn’t so much kissing as smashing their faces together. Totally barbaric. Utterly disgusting and uncivilized-- and yet she wanted more of it. Her last clear thought was to do research on human sexual function and to why she craved such vile things as contact and sexual release.

Truly it should have been utterly reprehensible to be bodily lifted and thrown onto her bed. Should be the operative word in the situation. With her armor tossed aside it was all too clear how well-toned her paramour was. Despicable. Hardly a step above the savages that ran amok on the surface of Pandora. And irresistible like a grant during a funding crisis.

She hated it. She loved it. Her nails left gashes on broad shoulders. Normally she would chalk up such activities as to being on the level of Lilith, the wild woman, or perhaps lower, Moxxi, the… Did she even have a suitable word for her? No matter.

Those lush lips were everything she had anticipated, everything she could have desired. Highly irksome considering the circumstances. It would all be so disappointing when it went back to being fantasies.

Chapter Text

Moxxi was no stranger to having unsavory sort show up in her bar. Psychos, exes, stalkers, Mordecai on a bender (also in column B). Personally, she had hoped to never run into Janey Springs again. Not that it mattered because Springs had snagged Athena, but still.

The bar was quieter than usual. Not dead, but not super busy. To pass the time, Moxxi cleaned her glasses until they sparkled. Might as well make the sad saps that drank the cheap stuff feel like they were drinking the high end reserves. Usually they tipped better if they thought they got the better stuff. Times were tough, after all.

When Janey walked in, Moxxi was ready to call her bouncer, not that she needed him. Her hand strayed below the bar, seeking the comforting weight of her hidden shotgun. The look on Janey’s face stopped her. It wasn’t the usual puppy-dog look. There were no hints of longing, no coy looks. She looked drained. Perhaps Moxxi was starting to get soft, or maybe her morbid curiosity was piqued.

The junker took a seat at a stool on the far end of the bar. By the time Moxxi got to her, she had pulled out a wad of cash and slapped it on the bar.

“Just give me the strongest that this can buy.”

Moxxi didn’t touch the money. The way Janey handled it gave her an odd chill. Instead she pulled out a highball glass and a cocktail shaker. A scoop of ice, some Hodunk brew, and a splash of soda to soften the blow. Usually she’d use water, but that usually just made the buzz worse. She expected a snide remark when she set the glass down. She expected Janey to cringe and gag. The scrapper just drained the glass in what had to be a single swallow.

Moxxi stared. Only Hodunks could handle that hooch. She swallowed, suddenly parched.

“Why the long face, sugar? It’s not like you.”

“Soz off, Mox.”

Huffing Moxxi poured her another drink. She moved back to her glasses, taking up a rag to repolish one she had smudged. All things considered, Janey was a good patron. She didn’t yell when she wanted a refill. She didn’t throw glass, and she wasn’t smoking at the bar. It was her eerie silence that bothered Moxxi the most. Halfway through the third drink, Janey spoke.

“She’s dead, Mox.”

The glass fell from Moxxi’s hand, shattering the instant it hit the floor. Glass skittered over the top of her boot. There was only one other ‘she’ that Janey would talk about. Short, strong, and broody. Athena.

“I just saw her--”

“She jus’ died. Got a call from those Vaulters. Said she got done in by a Bandit lord that raided their caravan. Her armor migh’ as well bin a tinny.”

Janey stared off into space as she spoke. Her words slurred less than they should have.

“I’m…”

“They’re bringing the body here. Gonna give her the full bloody Crimson Raider honors. I didn’ want to plan another sozzin’ funeral. Not again.”

Janey broke into sobs, broad shoulders heaving. A pang of guilt smacked Moxxi in her heartstrings. She had only just laid Scooter to rest a year before. She still missed that screwball. The ache was still very real, still terribly painful.

“Now don’t tell anyone this, but I’m going to bring you to the backroom so you can have some privacy and we can have a little talk. I don’t want any word of this to get out, you hear?”

Janey looked up at her, brown puppy dog eyes red rimmed and teary. She gave the tiniest of nods, one that Moxxi still fondly recalled when she thought of her kids. That tired, trusting nod. Smiling faintly, she swung up the panel in the bar. She barely had to gesture for Janey to stand. The scrapper wobbled on unsteady feet. She bumped into a few walls on the way to the back room.

The backroom wasn’t a terribly big space. Most of it was taken up by a desk and a workbench. The scent of motor oil and old booze hung in the air. It was as close to a happy place as Moxxi could find without the Underdrome.

“Have a seat, get comfy.”

Janey complied, soundlessly. The chair was a little low for her, so her knees rose almost to her chest. She didn’t complain. Her arms hung limply between her legs. Every now and then, she backhanded stray tears.

Moxxi set her hat down on a wig form, sighing softly as she took the seat across from Janey.

“Now, I’m only doing this because I’ve been in your shoes before, Springs. I know you’re gonna be hurting for a long while. Trust me on that. Now it’s going to be hard, there’s no denying that. But if I find out you gave up, I will find a way to make your afterlife hell, got that?”

Janey nodded. Her eyes were starting to glaze over. Her head wobbled a little.

“The worst thing isn’t getting over the shock, hun. It’s the fact that at some point, you’ll start forgetting her. You’ll forget her scent. The way the air is sucked out the room when she walks in. The way she slept. Those dirty little habits that you hate more than anything. Those tiny, stupid little reasons why you fell for her. Try and find something to hold onto. Scents fade. I know you’re mad now, but trust me, you don’t want to throw out anything while you’re mad.”

“Why?”

“You might throw away that one thing that reminds you so strongly of them. And forgetting her might as well be letting her die a second time. You do your best to remember Athena. You hold onto those damn memories like a life raft until after that funeral. Then you go through your things, then you make your choices. ‘Cause I’ve got good money on you being pissed and sad-- and you’ll be kicking yourself in a few months if you don’t.”

Janey didn’t respond. She drug her toe along the floor, kicking up a little dust. The sat in silence for a beat. More dust clouds. Moxxi coughed.

“Why’re you doin’ this?”

“Now don’t go takin’ this as we’re all buddy-buddy now, but I liked Athena, the stubborn bitch. We may not have gotten along all the time, and I may not have agreed with all she had done, but I doubt she would have ever settled with anyone who wasn’t good for her. She’s one hell of a woman, and I was proud to have known her.”

“Thanks, Moxx.”

Moxxi offered her the warmest smile she could spare. She didn’t have much sympathy left in her any more, but for this one occasion, it was okay. She just had to make sure no one found out she had a heart. Easy enough. She did her one good deed for the year.

“Should you need anything, sugar, you let me know. But you remember that promise of a shallow grave if you let this get out.”

Janey nodded. She wiped one last stray tear from her cheek before she rose. Moxxi watched her wobble a little as she made her way out of the backroom.

Sometimes you just had to bury the hatchet. And not necessarily in someone else’s back.

Chapter Text

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

You look into her haunted eyes only to realize how much of yourself you see reflected in them. You see the scars of war, the pain. You see the way that both of you had been ostracized yet at the same time revered. You are both otherworldly and alien.

They never expected you to crack, you who held stoic in the face of death and destruction. Who held her comrades as they cried. You had seen almost all of them break at some point. You saw the change in Gaige’s eyes, Axton’s bone-weariness. They all like to act as though they are not haunted by the war against Jack, but the burden on their beings is clear.

Her death is the one that tears through your armor like a hollow point. Suddenly, you’re no longer a warrior goddess devoid of love and free of emotional ties. You scream in anger until your throat is raw and you taste blood. Your eyes have never shed so many tears.

She was supposed to live, she wasn’t supposed to succumb to the poison. Try as you might, you can’t quash the guilt. You should have saved her. You have powers, and yet- Axton reminds you it’s okay. That the survivor’s guilt will pass, just like everything on this godforsaken planet.

Every little thing is a reminder of a life snatched before your eyes. You desperately try to cling to memories of her voice, her face. Those sad eyes that had watched out for you in the dark of night. The voice that guided you through those first few hours in the wake of the train wreck. The presence of a lost friend, an ally. You start to forget her as the war comes to an end. You never really had much to hold onto in the first place.

Some nights, when sleep evades you for the hundredth time. As guilt wracks at your brain, you sit on the edge of Sanctuary. You tune in to the wide open EchoNet, fighting back tears. You keep hoping that somewhere out there in the void there is a sign, a message, anything. Even a crumb to show that she wasn’t truly gone. It hurt to love an angel.

 

Self-Made

You are fierce, confident, bold. Power flows through your blood and you laugh in the face of danger. Unlike the other sirens, you’re a self-made woman. Fire is written into your genetic code. You fought, you clawed your way to where you were. And damn straight were they going to fear your power.

But that power came with a hitch. Everyone holds you at arm’s length. You can feel their hesitation when you approach. You’re like a wildfire, out of control. You burn anyone in your path and your anger has become a legend. There’s also the craving.

The itch, the need. More power could flow through your veins. There was always something to prove, always someone that needed to be brought down. You had to be stronger, had to be the brightest star in the sky. Your flames burn brighter than a supernova.

You know the crash is coming. It’s inevitable. Roland’s gone and he was one of your only anchors even though your relationship crashed and burned. You still hate yourself for your part in his death. You hate your part in Jack’s uprising even more. And god forbid anyone who helped Jack cross your path. You’d bring the war and heat to them.

You’d burn God himself if you had the chance. But, fuck, you needed that fix. A little rid rock to take the edge off. A little boost to get through your day. The pressure of running Sanctuary weighs on you. You feel the weight of the responsibility dragging you back to the ground. Burning, burning. Burning yourself out.

You know you’re going to go down in a blaze. But not necessarily a blaze of glory. And that scares you.

 

(Wo)Man in the Box

Your world is a single room. At least, physically. Mentally you are unbound to such constraints. The whole of the EchoNet is at your fingertips, almost literally. Your physical senses have long since atrophied. Your body is slowly collapsing in on itself. Chemicals are the only thing keeping you alive, and you’re very well aware of that.

You watch the world around you through digital screens. You live through them, you feel freedom through the guns of the Vault Hunters. Just once you want to feel the world around you. You want to remember what it felt like to truly be alive. Spite is such a strong motivator. You pass off a facade of calm. You hate him.

He is the only way you address him mentally. No longer Dad, no longer Jack. Just he and him. He’s a monster. You’re his captive. You don’t even feel the needles he has jammed in you. The ports are ice cold but you’ve been numb so long.

You follow the script. Nothing really has meaning. Especially nothing he tells you. He says he loves you. You know it’s a lie. He loves your power. He loves using you. You’re a charger to that damn key. You’re his one way ticket to the Vault. As far as you’re concerned, you’re not his daughter and your father died years ago.

The day you go off script, you feel a jolt. A spark. For once, you feel your heartbeat. The little thrill surprises you. You watch the Vault Hunter’s progress with a renewed vigor. You’re no longer restless and lost. Your trap is laid. You’ve accepted your fate and are prepared for the sacrifice. A life of servitude come to an end.

That one breath off of the machines was the sweetest you’ve ever tasted. You finally rest. You’re finally free.

Chapter Text

It wasn’t supposed to end like this. But truly, nothing was. Pain wasn’t a word in her vocabulary at that point despite the fact that she had the whole of the universe’s knowledge at her fingertips. Dead nerves only did so much.

Maybe the whole ‘my dad is an evil dictator’ had dulled her to the harsh realities of life on Pandora. Maybe she was a monster, bound to fall into his footsteps, swathed in his shadow.

Images flickered over her holoscreens. Only a few weeks earlier, the vault hunters dealt with the train wreck. The Gunzerker had died in the crash. The little man had been crushed under a car when the Hyperion transport derailed. She carried the weight of his death on her subconscious. She watched on, hollowly as the remaining five picked themselves up.

For some reason, they took the time to bury their dead. That actually made her heart ache. Her father had always called them bandits, always called them monsters.

“They don’t care about anything but themselves and loot, Angel. Petty murderers, all of them. And the vault hunters are the worst. They’ll kick you right when you’re at your lowest, Angel. And then rub it in your face.”

Face. She tried not to think about her father’s face. She watched the footage, followed his commands. She watched the video feed, hooked like a junkie on Rid Rock. File upon file covered her screens. She had to know. Had to know every tiny detail that she could about these strangers, these so called monsters. It was a sick fascination.

She didn’t share all her knowledge with her father. Some things she kept to herself. Things like Salvador’s grandmother who was likely mourning his death. Axton’s failed marriage. Zer0’s last known planetary location. Krieg’s patient number from the slag testing. Maya’s IQ. Gaige’s school records.

When the Eridium pumps kept her awake at night, she ran over her gathered data. Sure, she had helped them a little, but the growing fascination consumed her. She started talking to the Vault Hunters. Started helping them. She was the fondest of Gaige and Maya. The girl who was close in age to her, and the siren. They had so much in common… Was friendship supposed to feel that way?

Angel threw up when she watched Axton’s death in the barrage on Sanctuary. If she had ignored Jack… If they didn’t take the shield core… It was her fault he was dead. It was her fault Gaige cried herself to sleep that night, her thin ribs having racked from sobs that became dry heaves. Maya refused to speak to her.

All she could do was watch. She wept for her lost friendship, all the while rage burned in her gut. Her cost her the only good things in her life. Her mother, her freedom, her friends.
However, unlike him, she had control. She could wait. She was patient and steadfast. After all, the whole universe was at her fingertips. All she had to do was set everything up.

Krieg’s death caught her off guard. She knew how violent Wilhelm was, but it never occurred to her how unhinged he had become. She was sickened by the sight of a grown man being torn in half by cybernetic arms. Even though Krieg wasn’t her favorite, a cold rage ate away at her. Once more, Jack stole from her. Took away the light in her little world.

All he did was take, take, take. Take like he took her mother. Like her life. Her power. She heard herself laugh for the first time in years when Nisha was killed. Zer0’s surgically precise strike blew half of the sheriff’s face off. Angel didn’t care that she was next on the list. It felt damn good to laugh at her father’s pain. If she couldn’t have friends, he couldn’t have Nisha.
The plan fell into place. She set the bait, guiding the events to the end.

Her heart thudded in her thin chest when the day of the Bunker assault came. It was a high she had never felt before. A new rush, unlike the first hit of Eridium. That first tiny taste of power, the rush, the thrill. Her twenty-three year life was coming to an end-- but so was a legacy of pain. She was actually ecstatic.

Angel watched their progress, floating effortlessly on her digistruct wings. They carried her high, higher than she had ever dared before. Her cyber tether snapped, pulling her back down. She waited for just the right moment to hit her call command. Everything had fallen into place.

Security footage rolled in to show a plain loop. Speakers dulled out the gunfire. The video feed was perfect, an exact copy down to the timestamp and weather conditions. Her personal Echo sent off a feed, bound to be good bait.

She tracked the vault hunters on her holoscreens. And then tracked his progress. A ping alerted her to the BNK3R’s activation. The elevator was already in use.

She waited. The lift doors opened. She pulled the first tube free. Eridium oozed between her fingers. Faint purple stains spread across her side. She pulled the second tube out of her stasis suit. Her tattoos glowed as she poured energy into the Eridium injectors. Acrid smoke filled the Control Core.

“Angel! Angel, baby! Daddy’s coming.”

The second injector burst. Three out of six tubes were liberated. Eridium coated the floors. Thick, purplish sludge oozed down her sides. She was feeling lightheaded. Tube four had her wobbling. Her digistruct wings blinked in and out of existence. Somewhere below her, Jack was screaming her name.

She gathered all of her power into the final injector. Curling a finger, she directed its head to its target far below her. She shut her fist. Eridium spattered on the ground below her. She was falling, but took no notice of it.

There was a surprising silence to the control core. Holoscreens started fading into blackness. Cooling metal ticked. There was a soft wheeze and then nothing. The lift doors opened, sending clouds of smoke billowing around the room. Ozone crackled in the air. Even her dulled senses were struck by the stench of fried electronics and Eridium. She tore her last tube free as her feet made contact with her throne.

“Dad, you’re an asshole.”

She knew what the vault hunters were going to see when they entered the Control Core. It actually brought her a great sense of satisfaction. It made the pain of dying feel like nothing, like a dream. The headrush of her first and last Eridium free breath was fantastic. She slumped in her throne, her father’s corpse bent over at the foot of her plinth.

Jack was dead, and revenge was hers.

Chapter Text

Oasis, was for lack of better terms, perfect. How couldn’t it be? It had everything a man could want. Sun, sand, a totally-safe for consumption source of water, good neighbors, lots of friendly faces. Everyone liked you there, or at least knew who you were. Maybe sometimes they’d even acknowledge you. What else to say? It was perfection.

Yeah, sure, occasionally he felt lonely, but who wouldn’t? A man couldn’t have everything he wanted or needed, surely. And that sun sure did burn bright overhead. And there were the pirates. God, the pirates. They never smiled. They weren’t very friendly either. Really, all he did was try. But they just never seemed to want to be friends.

Shade cried when he packed up his few belongings. His hat, his custom accessory, his floral print shirt collection. He had a few guns and a few pipes, things that he had held onto because they just seemed like something he would own. He packed light when he left for the World of Wonders.

It was a new beginning after all. Life after the Vault Hunters came was ever so dark and he did need a change of scenery after his failed engagement. It was going to be good for him. Oh so good.

Chapter Text

Hold it together, just try to form a coherent sen-

“Feast on the rats!”

Krieg’s inner voice sighed. It wasn’t a particularly important social scenario, but still, manners. Tina lowered her tea cup. Her eyebrow rose.

“Really, Sir Buffington? That’s an interesting comment. Do tell more.”

Krieg hesitated. The mental meat train had a head on collision with social acceptance. Needless to say, it derailed him completely. He cocked his chin, gesturing to the table. When Tina didn’t understand, he settled for none-too-gracefully slurping his tea. His inner sane side was convinced it was whisky. He was certain his sane side was right, but he didn’t complain.

“Light the fires! I will polish my cockatiel with their ashes!”

Tina set down her tea cup a little harder than necessary. Krieg flinched, momentarily shocked with his own actions.

“Now, that is just rude. Apologize at once!”

“Nipple salads?”

Oh my god, you idiot. Use your damn words.

He paused, struggling from the sheer mental effort. There was a word on the forefront of his mind, something he hadn’t said in a long time. He strained, trying to form the words with his actual physical mouth.

“S--sorry.”

The effort alone left him drained. He spent the rest of the tea party staring vacantly into space as he drank more and more of Tina’s Pandoran brew.

Words. He spoke actual, sensible words. It made his head ache more than the whisky brew. It would keep him up that night. Not that he slept much at all. But still.

Maybe he did have a chance. Maybe he could be saved.

Chapter Text

Maya craned her head, looking around at the deck of Sanctuary III. Lilith was leaning against a console, lips drawn tight. The Vault Hunters had set off for Promethea again, leaving the ship surprisingly quiet. Ava was sulking in her room.

“So, uh, who all is on this ship?”

“Ellie, obviously, Marcus. Earl’s down below decks, not sure why he came along. Moxxi’s got a bar on board.”

“Zed?”

Claptrap rolled by, beatboxing. They both ignored him.

“Nah, he’s back on Pandora. Something about reworking his franchise.”

“Then who’s in the med bay?”

“Tannis.”

Maya snorted. One of the Pandoran citizens that was poking at a monitor lifted her head and then went back to work.

“Tannis? Does she even— I mean, Zed doesn’t have a medical degree, but can she, y’know, patch people up?”

“She’s been doing alright so far, less nosebleeds lately.”

Maya’s lips pursed. She shifted on her feet, crossing and uncrossing her arms. The silence of space was already starting to get to her; god she hated the silence.

“On a scale of one to massive nosebleed, how bad do you think she’d react to seeing me?”

“Look, if you do give her a nosebleed, just, patch her up, okay? I can’t afford to lose anyone else on this tub.”

“You say that as though you think I’m going to do something bad.”

“Trouble has a way of following you around— almost as bad as it follows me.”

Maya waved her hand dismissively as she walked off. Her, trouble? Who did Lilith think she was, Gaige?

Mumbling softly to herself, she wandered Sanctuary, peering into every odd nook and cranny she could find. It was an odd ship, but she was growing fond of it already. How couldn’t she? Her mood was bolstered by the familiarity of friendly faces.

She had missed the Raiders. Sure, now with Brother Sophis gone, the abbey was peaceful. But peaceful was sometimes boring. All that time searching… And she still knew hardly anything.

Her musings stopped as she approached the glowing pink lights of the infirmary. The door slid open. When she peered inside, she didn’t spot anyone. She took a step in, if solely to check the place out when she heard Tannis on the other side of the room, tucked in a corner by the vending machines. Mostly what she heard was tuneless humming interspersed with occasional curses.

“I will be with you momentarily. Try not to bleed to death on my floor if you can. If you have space sickness, there is a perfectly suitable refuse container outside.”

“Uh, it’s just me, Tannis.”

Tannis poked her head out of the tiny backroom. Her brow furrowed. She ducked back behind the curtain and reappeared in her red jacket. Somewhere in the back of Maya’s head a thought pinged about how she had never seen Tannis without her jacket. The thought started to clarify around the time Tannis emerged fully.

“Just cleaning the autoclave, nothing suspect and morally questionable going on here---”

Tannis stopped dead in her tracks. Maya did her best to smile.

“Making the rounds, saying hi to everyone.”

Tannis’ eyes swept over her. Her lips pursed. Maya had to fight back her urge to laugh; Tannis reminded her of a stubborn cat.

“So I see you’ve deemed us worthy enough to make an appearance. I can still— ugh— hardly tolerate your intimidating attractiveness. I do not like what you did to your hair, it seems highly inefficient.”

“Yeah, it’s a real pain in the ass. How have you been?”

“Functioning as well as I possibly can given the working conditions and my colleagues. Progress on Eridian research marches on as the parlance would say— if the parlance was speaking to me as of late.”

The smile was hard to keep in place. It completely left her face when Tannis seized her by the wrist and drug her to the nearest exam light. Tannis’ index and middle fingers were wrapped around her wrist, the grip surprisingly firm.

“Uh, what are you doing?”

“Examining your tattoos for any changes. I have several saved images of your tattoos that I have used to study your individual markings. On occasion they have helped me sleep better. Have you noticed any changes? I notice the glow isn’t particularly strong after you used Eridium, perhaps it is because you only used it once?”

“Please tell me you’ve done this to Lilith as well.”

Tannis jerked her wrist forward, tilting the angle. Her lips were thin. She had a look of deep concentration.

“Usually she would Phasewalk away as I was trying to study her. I contented myself by gathering more surveillance footage of her or have waited for the rare occasion where she fell asleep near me to further my data. Unfortunately now I no longer have her as a test subject. You are far more cooperative, if not more disgustingly attractive. This pains me as much as it pains you, I assure you.”

Standing that close to Tannis made her face flush. Tannis’ thumb brushed over her pulse point.

“No visual changes in pattern or luminosity. How are your powers?”

“Uh good as ever.”

Tannis made a soft humming sound in the back of her throat. As if nothing had happened, she let go. They still stood awkwardly close for a long moment.

“You get the data you needed?”

“Oh, yes, quite.”

Tannis’ face was a touch pinker than usual.

“Uh, you don’t sound as though you’re done.”

“Ideally I would like a full map of your tattoos. Lilith did not consent to that either and any attempt that I have made has been futile since she has seemed to learn how to bar the shower room doors.”

Maya was left in stunned silence. She bit her lip to keep herself from commenting.

“Apparently the phrase ‘if you show me yours, I’ll show you mine’ is not an appropriate way to gather data.”

Maya had to abruptly turn her head. She snorted. The snort became a loud laugh.

“What could possibly be humorous about that?”

“You asked Lilith to sleep with you.”

The flush to Tannis’ cheeks had deepened. They were still standing fairly close. Just close enough that their arms brushed.

“Hm. And yet that method worked quite well with Moxxi, which was scientific curiosity, if you needed to know.”

Maya smirked, brushing her hair out of her face. They grew quiet. A machine beeped in the background. Tannis hushed it. Maya started to turn toward the door after awhile. At the very least she could say hello to Moxxi and Marcus.

“You know, that standing offer still exists. I was quite serious about that.”

She was halfway to the door and turned. “Yeah?”

Tannis lifted her shoulders in a small shrug.

“Just, I’m not sure how they put it. Testing the waters, was it?”

“Eh, what the hell. You only live once.”

Tannis seemed even more flummoxed when she kissed her.

Chapter Text

There was a loud hiss as the steel door slid shut. A bang followed a second later. Maya ineffectively smacked at the door, a chill coursing through her veins. When she turned back to the computer bank in the lab, she found that Tannis wasn’t the least bit perturbed.

The only sound in the eight by five room was the tapping of Tannis’ fingers on a keyboard. Her keystrokes didn’t even remotely vary as the door slammed shut. A small warning light flashed on the ceiling, casting a reddish strobe on every surface in the lab. Tannis tapped away.

Maya groaned softly. She leaned heavily against the metal door, lips twisting into a grimace.

It was supposed to be a simple get in, get out with the data kind of job. Nothing fancy, nothing complicated. Supposedly the old Hyperion security system had been disabled. She snorted at the thought.

“How long do you think it’s gonna take?”

Tannis looked up from her monitor. Her nose wrinkled. A strobing light highlighted her pale face.

“Considering that my expertise lies in Eridian archaeology and Slag testing…It will take anywhere between a few hours and our eventual, inevitable death by starvation.”

Maya folded her arms over her chest. There really wasn’t a smart-alecky come back for such a statement. Or if there was, she sure as hell couldn’t think of it. At least the alarm was silent.

She checked her Echo. No signal. She ran the mental math. Lilith knew their location, however, it was an underground bunker. So no Phasewalking into it. Even in their fastest outrunner, it had taken several hours to get to the bunker, let alone navigate the labyrinthine innards. They wouldn’t come searching for at least a day of no contact. That narrowed down their potential rescue to either three days, or at worst, on the cusp of death from starvation.

Maya blew out a loud breath as she pushed away from the wall. She decided that if they were stuck then the least she could do was rummage in the cabinets of the lab and see what loot she could find.

It was a small lab room compared to the others they had passed, but all evidence had pointed to this being the more important of the refined slag labs. It had a chemical hood, a sink, and a bank of computers. In the very back of the room, adjacent to the computers was a door. Maya had tried the handle when they walked in-- locked.

She poked her head into each cabinet, keeping a running tally of everything she found. Flasks abound, chemical cleaners, test tube brushes, biohazard disposal bags, one sharps container, a bag of skag jerky, a manual on proper lab safety, printouts of old data, and one mylar hazmat suit. Outside of the jerky, there was no food. And she refused to take a risk on eating the Hyperion leftovers. She loaded the hazmat suit onto her digistruct for safe keeping.

Safety manual and data sheets in hand, Maya lifted herself to sit on the edge of one of the formica counters. Her legs dangled over the edge, the toe box of her shoe brushing the ground. She settled in and began to read.

The manual was just as dry as she imagined it. It wasn’t enough to keep her mind stimulated, so she let her thoughts wander as she skimmed the text. Tannis had refused the other Vault Hunters. She had blatantly insisted on either herself or Lilith. Maya idly wondered if Tannis had a thing for sirens. Part of her still wished she had declined the job. Not that she didn’t mind working with Tannis since they had some weird kind of mutual respect. It was just the matter of the awkwardness between them. Especially since she owed Tannis her life. However, the message she had left with the body of Maya’s would-be assassin still lingered.

Tannis still tapped away at the keys, but her keystrokes had slowed. Every now and then she would mutter a soft curse.

“Hey, Tannis.”

“What is it?”

“How’d you make an anthrax straw?”

Tannis scoffed loudly. The incessant key tapping came to a halt. It was quiet in the lab.

“If you’re not a total incompetent, it’s quite a simple process. It requires a preparation of anthrax, a binding agent, and a mold that would pass as a straw. Unfortunately, the mold is the most complicated part of the entire process and took several attempts to make it passable for one of those atrocious paper straws.”

“What made you think he’d use a straw?”

Tannis rubbed her temples. She wore a look that screamed of a teacher talking to a slow student. But there was a slight hint of a smile on her lips.

“Who doesn’t use a straw for their libations? Regardless, it would have dissolved into the beer in time. Granted, it would probably taste even more like uria, however, I imagine someone who would stoop so low as to consume it wouldn’t notice the difference.”

Maya made a soft humming noise under her breath. She swung her legs idly.

“So why’d you ask for me specifically?”

“What is this, ask the scientist twenty questions?”

“You stopped typing, so I figured I’d help get you to relax a little. Getting frustrated won’t get us anywhere especially at the rate we’re going.”

At first, Tannis was tensed up, looking ready to explode. And then her shoulders drooped. She sighed, a little louder than Maya anticipated.

“It is quite hard to concentrate when your godly physical form is in my presence.”

“Um, what?”

Tannis shoved her rolling chair away from the computer. When she stood, it smashed into the wall from her haste. Maya shifted on the counter, suddenly aware of just how small the room was and how final that lock shutting sounded. A weird rush of heat spread across her chest, making her bodysuit feel a tad tighter than she remembered.

Tannis was in front of her, shaking gently. Her green eyes darted across the room, the flush on her cheeks more prominent.

“What I meant to say is, how would you types even word this?”

She looked as though she was trying to pick words out of thin air, searching like a bandit digging for scraps.

“You make my most primary mammalian instinct come to surface and its allure has grown far too powerful for me to resist for too much longer. And quite frankly, I’m normally above this nonsense of heart palpitations, pupil dilations, and excessive discharges.”

“What?”

Tannis swallowed loudly. She grimaced. Her green eyes flicked to the ceiling. She was struggling. Maya realized just how close she was. The weird feeling was getting stronger. More irresistible. But what she was resisting, she wasn’t entirely sure.

“What I’m meaning to say, if this is the correct parlance, is that I wish to have sex with you.”

“I, uh…”

Tannis didn’t give her a chance to respond. The kiss was a little awkward at first, but Tannis seemed to figure it out quite quickly. The lab manual slid off of Maya’s lap and flopped onto the floor. Her hand landed on the old data sheets and sent them flying as she adjusted her position on the counter.
Maya parted her lips in anticipation of Tannis’ tongue. She buried her fingers into Tannis’ short hair, knocking the goggles off of her head. Maya moaned softly when the kiss deepened. She had to guide her lover’s hands to the zipper on the back of her combat suit. She tugged at the button of her lover’s collar until it sprang free.

They were pressed close together, breaths short, hearts racing. Tannis was clumsy, but gained confidence with every article of clothing they shed. Teeth grazed Maya’s neck and she gasped, her breath hitching. Long, slim fingers slid up her thigh. Maya ran her nails across Tannis’ scalp.

“Have you even done this before?”

“I could ask the same of you.”

Tannis’ inexperience was made up for by enthusiasm. Fresh bruises lined her collarbone from aggressive kisses. She ran her fingers up Tannis’ back, tracing her delicate shoulder blades. Her nails grazed pale skin.

Maya had to stifle a gasp when Tannis slipped her hand into her pants. For one who did a lot of delicate lab work, her touch was less than gentle. She took her wrist in hand, gently squeezing the slim bones.

“Whoa, go a little easier, there.”

She expected Tannis to flinch or to back off entirely. Her green eyes had narrowed, but there was a studious, calculated look to her. Logic checking, no doubt. A second, much softer touch nearly winded Maya.

“F-- yeah…”

Tannis’ breath was hot on her ear. Her own breath caught in her throat. Her hands explored more of her lover’s pale skin. Her nails left trails. She tried to resist the tension building up in her, the sensation that made her nails break skin, her breaths sharp. It was an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object; inevitable.

She cried out Tannis’ name as she came. Barely breathing, she pulled Tannis back for a kiss. She was just as rough with returning the favor, nipping at delicate skin. By the time she processed the tattoos, it was far too late-- she was too into it, driven by something she couldn’t quite name.

Tannis leaned against the counter, eyes squeezed shut as though trying to shield her eyes from a painfully bright light. Maya found her slick and eager.

She seemed to come undone under Maya’s fingers. The tightly wound body melting into the touch. Maya had to grit her teeth when nails dug into her shoulder blades. Tannis’ face rested in the crook of her neck. She shuddered violently, her breath shaky. And then she grew still.

“We speak of this to no one.”

“Right.”

They hastily pulled away from each other, dressing quickly in the off chance that rescue came. Neither seemed to notice the green light above the door frame.