"60 seconds remaining."
Athena's voice rang out across the shrine, drowned out somewhat by the sprays of bullets, the woosh of healing streams, and the explosions of rockets and bombs. Though her voice was calm and collected, the tense battle going on in the Shimada Castle was anything but. The clock was ticking down the time left for the ever-contesting attackers to capture the final point. All they needed was to push off the defending heroes for a few precious moments to secure victory, but their opponents kept trickling in from the nearby spawnpoint to stop them.
Lúcio bounced tensely on his heels as he waited for his allies to group up with him. The excited speed-boosting song playing from his Sonic Amplifier did little to calm his nerves.
“Don’t give up, we can still win this!” he reassured Tracer, Reinhardt, and Pharah as they joined him - or was he reassuring himself?
“Pulse Bomb is ready! I’ll go around and clear the point while we all push!” Tracer said, ever cheery despite their rapidly depleting time. Lúcio checked his Overwatch special-issue wrist gauge, which neatly detailed his health, ultimate charge, and other invaluable information. 91%, it read.
“My Sound Barrier is almost ready. Once we get in there I’ll be able to protect you guys - we got this!”
With Ana and Genji now joining them, the six-man team hurried back to the second point, Lúcio leading the pack with a speed boost. 93%.
Tracer Blinked quickly to the side entrance to the castle, ready to throw down her bomb, as the rest of the team huddled behind Reinhardt’s Barrier Field. Lúcio switched quickly to healing mode, the calm sound of Rejuvenescência drowned out by Athena’s infuriatingly placid announcement that 30 seconds remained.
Lúcio saw Tracer flanking up on the balcony, darting back and forth to avoid Torbjörn’s turret fire. 95%.
She zipped down, throwing her Pulse Bomb at the thicket of people near the turret. “Bombs away!” she called, before using her treasured Recall to zip back in time as the explosion rocked the shrine - Torbjörn, Zenyatta, and the turret were down. 97%.
Reinhardt was pushing hard onto the point, shield still raised but beginning to fail, as Genji leapt around, throwing his shurikens to finish off the remaining defenders. The point was cleared and the telltale ticking sound of the objective’s capture meter started up, increasing in intensity as they neared their goal. Ana threw down her Biotic Grenade to keep everyone healed.
“Barrier destroyed!” Reinhardt announced urgently as Genji deflected one of Zarya’s particle grenades, killing her with the blow as she made an attempt to contest. Lúcio prepared himself for the Sound Barrier that would keep them protected long enough to take the point. Just a few seconds, that was all they needed to clinch victory. 99%.
“FIRE IN THE HOLE!”
Lúcio gasped, whipping around to try and find the source of the screeching tire crescendo. He glanced frantically at his gauge - 100%. He leapt up into the air, trying to unleash his ultimate, but with his Amplifier just an inch before the ground, there came the deafening detonation of the RIP-Tire above him, joined quickly with the death cries of his allies as the number of people capturing the objective dropped from four to zero in the final seconds of the match.
“Defeat.” Athena announced, voice frustratingly tranquil.
Upon respawn, Lúcio angrily threw his Amplifier to the ground, folding his arms and pouting as the Play of the Match was broadcasted on the spawnroom screens - of course it was Junkrat and his final blow with the Tire. Poor Lúcio never got Play of the Match unless he snuck in a well-timed Soundwave to punish a foolish flanker with a blast off a cliff.
“Great teamwork, everyone!” Lúcio heard D.Va congratulating her teammates as she stomped to the Docking Station and slid out of her mech, leaving it to shut down for the day. Others went to clean their rifles, change at their lockers, or to grab supplies.
Tracer flitted over to Lúcio in a blur of blue. “Lúcio! I’ll race ya back to the HQ!”
“Not now, T...maybe later.”
“Aw, okay. Winston and I are gonna get some lunch, we’ll see ya later! Don’t feel too bad, we’ll get ‘em next time!”
She Blinked away cheerily as Lúcio grumpily took the set of three batteries used in his Sound Amplifier out of his backpack, setting them to charge in the Docking Station. He watched as others who needed to recharge, refuel, and reload their weapons did the same, absently rubbing the muscles in his neck. He knew she was right - it was not a real situation, just another training regime set up by Mercy and the other original Overwatch members, but it still made him irritable to lose.
“You look salty,” D.Va said, wrapping her arms around his belly from behind him in a gentle hug.
“I am salty.”
“Aw, no, don’t be,” she said, planting a small friendly kiss on his cheek, “You did a good job healing, it’s not like it was your fault. That was a damn well-placed Tire.”
Lúcio snorted, not in disagreement but not happy about it either.
He watched Mercy and Winston walking side by side beside the temple bell, Mercy wearing a highly concerned expression. Probably another system update, since the two were responsible for keeping the electronics at all Overwatch locations intact and running. Or maybe they just were not happy with how this training regime went - they were spectating it, after all. Rubbing his temples, Lúcio turned to skate back to his Hanamura dorm room, ready to just flop in his bed and listen to music until dinner. Oh, how he needed this break.
“Come to the pool with me. We’ll cool off together. How’s that sound?” D.Va said, dusting off his shirt.
“I want to take a naaap,” Lúcio whined as she continued to clean him up.
“A bit of fun will do you good.”
“Ugh, fine, but only for an hour.”
Lúcio headed back to his room to change into his swim trunks. He pulled off his big mechanical skates, legs relieved to finally be able to rest. The Vishkar technology he had stolen and used for the liberation of his people had a heavy weight to it, physically and metaphorically. He glanced towards the picture on his dresser of his mother, father, and brothers and sisters. He missed his family in Brazil, but he told himself every day that being here, in Overwatch, would make the world a better place for them and all the other people of his home country. But damn if it was not hard, especially when you had arrogant, horrible Aussies running around and sabotaging all of your hard work as a healer. Thank god he’d never have to be against Junkrat outside of a training regiment.
Lúcio pulled on his frog-patterned swim trunks and a loose black t-shirt before heading down to the Hanamura dorm pool in the basement. Even if it was more of a bathtub in terms of size, it was nice to lounge around in.
As he rounded the corner, he was greeted by a rather unpleasant sight, at least for him. D.Va was walking around as expected, her pink flip-flops making squeaks on the water floor, but she was accompanied by a familiar head of blond hair resting on the edge of the pool. Well, mostly familiar - it was a little off-putting to see it not constantly on fire.
“G’day, froggy! Come t’join the party?” Junkrat said, waving. Lúcio furrowed his brow - he had not known the Aussie could swim.
“Rat wanted to join us,” D.Va said, setting up a water polo net, “Can you ref us? I’m gonna kick his ass!”
“You wish, sheila, I’m the champion of polo!”
“No way! I’m going to own you like the noob you are!”
Lúcio groaned loudly, rubbing his temples, “Do I have to? I just want five minutes of peace.”
“Okay, grandpa , you can go rest,” D.Va teased, kicking off her sandals before cannonballing into the water, promptly drenching Lúcio in water. He glared at her as she resurfaced, giggling naughtily.
Exhaling, he turned on the jacuzzi in the corner, goosebumps forming on his skin from the cold pool water. The cozy hot tub was a welcome change, the bubbles neatly massaging his back and releasing the pent-up tension from the earlier match. Playing Support was a stressor he had not expected when joining the team, and it manifested in his joints and muscles, sometimes to the point where he’d wake up at night to find he’d been sleeping with his teeth clenched. Times like this where he could close his eyes and rest against the rhythmic grinding of water jets on his shoulder blades were always welcome changes.
Of course, his relaxation had the unfortunate accompaniment of D.Va and Junkrat squealing and laughing as they passed the volleyball around over the net. Occasionally a spray of water would hit the back of his neck as the ball smacked hard into the water, during which one of the two would make a delighted cheer and the other would groan in dismay. It was far from the quiet calming session Lúcio was hoping for - he hated to openly act like an exhausted parent watching over a slew of hyperactive children, but he certainly understood why Mercy and Ana liked to bicker to one another about their teammates’ behavior sometimes.
Lúcio rested his left elbow on the edge of the jacuzzi, lips forming a pout yet again.
It was nearing midnight, but none of the Overwatch crew was asleep yet. Instead they were seated in the dormitory lounge, each keeping to their small groups - to name a few, Torbjörn and Reinhardt were discussing armor design as Ana brought them a tray of tea to share, Junkrat was telling terrible jokes to Roadhog, who seemed greatly disinterested if not completely annoyed, and D.Va was avidly playing games on her Holovid while Lúcio looked on. He felt himself growing tired as the night wore on - as one o’clock neared, he heaved himself up.
“I’d better head to bed…don’t want to be sleeping on the job, right?”
“Boooooo. Leaving your friends all alone,” teased D.Va, stretching her feet in their bunny slippers, “Fiiine, I’ll come find you in the morning, if I’m awake.”
“Don’t sleep until noon again, it’s bad for you.”
“Alright, dad .”
As Lúcio got up and started plodding out in his green socks, he saw Mercy heading in, dressed in a white blouse and her high-waisted jeans - oddly formal for this hour. Shrugging it off, he rubbed his eyes and moved to head out.
“Ladies! Gentlemen! May I please get your attention?” Mercy spoke up, standing at the center of the lounge. Lúcio groaned but obliged, joining the crowd of Overwatch members.
“Thank you…” Mercy cleared her throat. “As you all know, we travel between our various watchpoints and old bases in secret to train for the eventual day we can prove to the United Nations that we are capable for reinstatement.”
“Hear, hear!” Soldier:76 cheered. Mercy shushed him goodnaturedly.
“Well, yes, that’s all fine and good, meine Lieben , but there is a problem.”
A hushed silence quickly fell over the crowd. Lúcio lifted his head a little more.
“Information about our map rotation was...well, discovered.”
A murmur ran through the crowd. The teammates looked amongst each other, suddenly distrustful.
“It wasn’t leaked by anyone within the team, it was an outside source we linked back to a private government informatics unit of some kind,” Mercy insisted, not wanting a fight to break out now. “The point is that we cannot continue on our regular series of places, as there will be soldiers out to arrest us if we try to revisit any of our locations…”
“So what’s the plan?” McCree said, adjusting the brim of his hat, “We gonna turn ourselves in?”
“Of course not,” the Swiss angel sighed, “We’ve worked too hard to just give up now. Winston and I have found an alternate location. An old Watchpoint...in Australia.”
Roadhog straightened his back suddenly.
“Australia?! Blimey!” Junkrat piped up. Lúcio cringed a bit at the volume.
“Yes. Watchpoint Karratha is the name. We...used it more as a warehouse for storing fuel and medical supplies, but we instated it for the same purpose as Watchpoint Gibraltar. Right now, it’s our best bet to remain undetected and continue our training until the United Nations are off of our backs.”
“When do we leave?” D.Va said, excited. Lúcio knew she had always wanted to travel to Australia - she was certainly more excited for it than he was. For him, Australia was just a nuclear wasteland of heat and destruction, just as his history books told him it had been since the Omnic Crisis.
“Soon, at 800 hours. Eight o’clock sharp.” Mercy said, with a curt nod, “Pack your bags tonight, make sure you take anything that can be traced back to active Overwatch duty. Be thorough!”
Lúcio rubbed his forehead tiredly, feeling a headache coming on. It did not sound like he would have time for that sleep he needed, much to his dismay. He shuffled back to his room in the upstairs dormitory, hoping he might have time to make himself a bauru sandwich for the jet ride towards the Land Down Under.
“Lúcio? Lúcio! Wake up!”
The Brazilian jerked awake. “W-wha -?”
“Don’t leave me hanging!” D.Va chided goodnaturedly.
Lúcio looked down at the holographic chess game he was losing at, clicking his tongue. One wrong move and D.Va would neatly move her knight to checkmate.
His eyelids felt so heavy, and his focus was slipping again. D.Va snapped her fingers impatiently in front of his face.
“If you want to sleep, fine, just let me win!”
“Why are you playing with me? I’m garbage at this game,” said Lúcio with a huge yawn.
“Because Reinhardt is busy having tea with Ana and I don’t want to interrupt them, they’re too cute.”
“Fair enough…uh...” Lúcio purposefully moved his king out into a spot where he knew D.Va could not check him, but also prevented him from moving elsewhere on the board for the same reason.
“Stalemate - no safe moves remain for Player 2,” the game piped up robotically.
“Oh, for goodness’ sake…” D.Va grumbled.
“Now leave me alone so I can nap, I didn’t sleep all night and now I’m barely going to get anything before we get there.”
“Again? I thought you said you stopped having nightmares?” D.Va asked, her exasperation from the draw changing quickly to concern for her friend.
“No, I was...busy making some sick new beats,” Lúcio lied. D.Va raised her eyebrow at him.
“...it’s just stress…” he conceded, “...being a healer isn’t an easy job. I’ll be fine.”
Not convinced by his reassurance, but also not one for missing social cues, D.Va disabled the chessboard display and got up, adjusting her pink t-shirt and jean shorts. “I’ll probably talk to Junkrat, maybe he can tell me more about Australia.”
Her glow of excitement could not be more different from Lúcio’s tired scowl.
“I just hope the U.N. get off our tail soon so we don’t spend too much time there.”
“Oh, come on , you have to be at least a little excited to see a new Watchpoint!” D.Va chirped, clapping her hands together a bit. “I know I am!”
“That’s ‘cause you like Junker culture. I just see a country full of Junkrats up ahead. And don’t forget the heat.”
She clicked her tongue, irritated.
“Fine, have it your way,” she said, before walking along the aisle to the back of the plane, muttering in Korean under her breath.
Lúcio was grateful for the quiet he had finally achieved, snuggling into his patchwork quilt. Even though he had lugged it around the globe more times than he could count since being rehired for Overwatch’s underground training, it still smelled faintly of home, and he could count on it for nights when he could not sleep, or when the nightmares started up again.
It felt as if he had barely closed his eyes when he heard Mercy’s accented voice on the jet intercom.
“Everyone, we will be arriving in about fifteen minutes. Make sure you take anything important with you. It’s about 16 hundred hours at Watchpoint Karratha.”
Lúcio yawned, stretching. His back muscles were sore from the cramped curl he had fallen asleep in, and he could already feel the heat of the Outback seeping through the plane walls. Rubbing his eyes, he hobbled over to the jet bathroom to wash his face - his legs protested this sudden strain, making him stagger a bit on the way back to his seat.
“Good morning, starshine. The Earth says hello!” D.Va purred, wrapping her arms around Lúcio’s middle. He stroked her cheek absently as the jet rocked back and forth, preparing for landing.
“I’m so excited!” she said, bouncing a little as he sunk back into his warm chair, “I wonder if we’ll see any locals.”
“What makes you think they’ll want to see us? Aren’t they all, you know…” Lúcio wiggled his finger in a circle by his temple.
“Lúcio! Rude! How would you like it if -?”
Before the gamer girl could finish, however, the jet jerked a little, the sound of wheels grinding against tarmac filling the hull of the plane. D.Va quickly sat in the chair across from Lúcio, pulling her knees up to her chest. Despite the number of times they hopped from map to map, she never did get used to the landing and takeoff of the jet. It would take a lifetime of travel for that.
Mercy’s voice piped up over the intercom again.
“Alright, we have arrived, meine Lieben . Before stepping out, please take a hat from Winston to ensure you keep your face and necks from burning.”
Lúcio blinked, surprised. He knew the heat from the Aussie sun, multiplied by the radiation, was likely to be hot, but to burn so quickly?
Winston padded down the aisle of the jet, handing out wide-brimmed straw hats. Lúcio undid his ponytail of dreadlocks and put it on, finding the weavings itchy on his scalp as his chunky hair settled on his shoulders. D.Va peeked out from underneath hers, sticking out her tongue cutely.
“No thanks, there, monkey man, Hog and I are just fine,” Junkrat said as he limped by, wearing a cheeky grin. Lúcio rolled his eyes.
Mercy, also sporting a straw boater atop her head, opened the hatch. Lúcio and the others were promptly greeted with a blast of hot humid air, akin to opening an oven door, sans the accompanying sweet scent of baking cookies. Lúcio gagged a bit, while Junkrat took a deep breath.
“Ah, the good old Outback. Didja miss it, Hoggy?”
“I knew ya did!”
D.Va scampered over, holding her pink bunny backpack close. “Move, Jamie, I wanna see!”
Lúcio joined the slow-moving crowd of the other Overwatch members, holding his duffel bag and quilt close. Beads of sweat had already begun to form on his forehead.
Upon stepping out, Lúcio felt his throat grow dry. The air was like a blanket charged with electrostatic energy, wrapped chokingly tight around his throat. The sun beat down harshly, making his exposed skin prickle and his hair stand on end.
“Wow...I think I’m a bit overdressed for this place…” Mei said, pulling off her woolen gloves and fanning herself with them. In contrast, Junkrat seemed incredibly content in the overbearing heat, looking around the Watchpoint. Lúcio’s gaze matched his, exploring their surroundings - there was sand everywhere, coating the red brick by the cracked black runway. The wind was incredibly strong, bringing the coarse dust with it and causing Lúcio’s eyes to tear up. The russet path led towards an odd-looking facility, gray and modernistic on the rocky landscape. Three big wind turbines were situated near the east wing. Lúcio could tell that the building had once been nicely painted, but the sand and wind had long since beaten off the colors and smoothed any defined edges of the building, leaving only the occasional patch of color in places where the abrasion did not reach. His throat already parched, Lúcio ran his tongue over his lips and hoped there was some potable water in those walls.
“Follow me, everyone.” Mercy instructed, leading the way.
“Where are we, exactly?” Lúcio asked, looking around. He could not see anything resembling a landscape.
“This is a false mountain, our Watchpoint is at the top,” Ana explained, “It kept us hidden and safe. We used to use small jets to get around the continent, and truckers would bring supplies up along the south road.”
She pointed at a long-forgotten pathway leading down the mountain, worn down by sand and cracked dangerously.
D.Va looked at Lúcio excitedly as she tied her hair in a ponytail. “Isn’t this so cool?”
“Temperature-wise?” Lúcio joked, wiping his forehead.
“You troll, you know what I mean. I’ve always wanted to come here, it’s so fascinating…”
“Quickly, meine Lieben , we don’t want anyone getting radiation poisoning,” Mercy said, taking out a battered keycard. Upon her saying this, Lúcio felt a bit of nausea pass over him.
“I remember being stationed here,” Ana said, “Reinhardt, do you remember?”
“I recall your terrifying gas mask, yes,” replied the tall German, smiling wide and putting his hand on her back as the team walked along together.
“I wonder if I still have it here. Perhaps in my locker somewhere.”
“Everyone could do with rebreathers and hazmat suits while outside, I think…” said Soldier:76, before glancing at Genji, “Well...those who need it.”
“Excuse me,” the ninja growled.
“Ah, here we are…” Mercy said, finding the door leading into the inner Watchpoint. She paused suddenly, looking over to one of the large glass windows - or what was left of it. It had been smashed in, shards littering the earth.
“Careful, D.Va…” Lúcio pulled her back to keep her from stepping on the pieces.
“What on earth happened here?” the Swiss doctor sounded shocked.
“Looters, t’be frank,” Junkrat said, boredly looking at his nails.
Mercy paled. “Oh, dear…I wonder what they took...”
She tapped her keycard against the door bar, causing it to emit a loud screech and jerk up a few inches.
“It must be too rusted…Reinhardt, could you -?”
“No need to ask, my lady,” Reinhardt said cheerily, using his impressive strength to heave the door up all the way, “Can’t do that with a turret, can we, my diminutive Swedish friend?”
“Puh,” was Torbjörn’s only response.
Lúcio peeped in, coughing a bit at the musty air, thick with dust. He could see the trail of glass shards leading off into the dark.
“Anything worrisome, Lúcio?”
“No...looks abandoned. But someone’s been here, definitely…”
The other members of the team made their way in, D.Va turning on her small pink flashlight to light the way. Ana jiggled the lightswitch, exhaling an expecting sigh when no light turned on.
“Is there a generator we should enable?” Pharah asked, using her foot to push an upturned chair away.
“Yes, in the storage room...it would be a good opportunity to check what supplies we have,” Mercy nodded, “Let’s set jobs. Jack, Torbjörn, you two wait outside and make sure nothing - er, no one - comes up here.”
“I hear ya,” Torbjörn said, following Soldier:76 back outside.
“Genji, Zarya, see if you can find the way to the dorms.”
Zarya shot the cyborg a disgruntled look, clearly not thrilled to be working with someone who was part machine, before following him down the east hallway.
“Ana, Zenyatta, you two come with me to check the storeroom. Reinhardt, you stay here with the younger ones.”
“What!” D.Va was aghast. “You think we can’t watch out for ourselves?”
“No, dear,” Mercy said with a sly smile as she led the two other healers down the south hallway, “You need to keep Reinhardt safe.”
The tall German chortled as D.Va pounced onto his back and crawled up to sit on his shoulders. “Don’t worry, Rein, I am your Defense Matrix!” She mimed shooting at Roadhog, who snorted.
“Watch out, sheila, the big bad Rat here is to destroy yer shields!” Junkrat cackled, throwing a crumpled piece of paper at her head.
“No, no, this isn’t a shield! I eat your projectiles! Pew pew!”
“Agh, y’got me, bunny, I’m dyin’! Hog, help me!” Junkrat grabbed his chest in a facetious manner and keeled over, sticking his tongue out and miming death.
“Ugh…” Roadhog nudged him with his foot, “Get up.”
“No, I died.”
D.Va cackled. “Play of the Game! D.Va as the most bomb-ass Tank hero!”
Tracer hopped up on Winston’s back. “Wotcher, girl, here comes T-Racer!”
“No way, you’re not stealing my Play! My bomb is better!”
“Not when I’ve got Winston!”
The two girls swatted at each other playfully from atop their respective tanks’ shoulders, Reinhardt laughing joyously and Winston smiling along.
During all this, Lúcio had found himself leaning against the south hallway wall and slowly sliding along, hoping to see what the other healers had found in the storeroom. It was humid and musty, dust drifting off the empty shelves. There was nothing sans a few broken Biotic Grenade shells and intel boxes, torn open. The floor was littered with papers and boot prints.
“Lúcio? Dear, I told you to stay upstairs,” Mercy said, smiling kindly.
“There’s nothing here…”
Her smile slipped. “...no…”
“No food, no fuel - everything has been scavenged,” Ana said, coming around another set of shelves and holding up a packet of paper envelopes, “Oddly enough, the paperwork in the backroom is untouched.”
“Of course it is, Junkers can’t read,” Lúcio snickered before getting a reprimanding smack on his arm from Mercy.
“I believe this area has attracted some troubled souls,” Zenyatta said, picking up a broken can that supposedly was once filled with tomato soup, according to the label.
“Troubled souls is the nice way of putting it,” snorted Ana, muttering something in Arabic under her breath.
“All of you stop, you’re being insensitive to your teammates and their heritage,” Mercy chided.
“So...what? Are we going to starve?” Lúcio queried, suddenly feeling quite ravenous.
“Easy, Lúcio. We have supplies in the jet, there is still fuel in the tank enough for us to fly to another place, maybe Lijiang. Mei has connections there, she could maybe get them to house us.”
“Bad idea. We have no base in China, where would we train? The market?” Ana said, sifting through the intelligence papers, “Ah, here is a map of the Watchpoint.”
“Good, we can use that...I don’t think there’s anything else down here…”
The four healers returned to the common area, where it seemed Junkrat and Tracer had broken into an argument about bombs.
“Listen here, good old-fashioned dynamite is all y’need! None of that fancy tech stuff!”
“I am not carrying around a massive Tire on my back all day just so I can blow some people up!”
“Grow some muscles then, sheila!”
The two started a sissyfight, slapping each other with limp wrists while Roadhog and Reinhardt attempted to peel the two apart.
“So...what did we find down there?” Winston said, attempting to redirect the conversation.
“Uh, nothing, actually. Literally. Just the intelligence from previous missions...everything else has been ransacked.”
“So...no food?” D.Va said, aghast.
“No ammunitions, no weapons?” Pharah added, equally horrified.
“Hold on now. Everyone stay calm,” Winston reassured the crowd, “We will be fine. We have supplies in the jet and Mercy can organize a fuel order. This Watchpoint runs on electricity generated by those wind turbines. That will give us heat and power for the next few days at the very least. We’ll play it by ear, see how things go until then.”
“And if the electricity is working, we can probably even run test matches until the U.N. is off our backs,” Ana added.
Zarya and Genji returned from their search.
“We found the entrance to the dormitory, upstairs. Seems intact.”
“Perfect,” said Mercy, “I’ll go open the way and see how many rooms we have to our disposal. In the meantime, we can set up in the dining area or the common rooms.”
“So...we’re stayin’?” Junkrat asked, “Dinnertime, then?”
“With what? There’s nothing here, they said.” D.Va said, dismal.
Ana smiled. “I have something we can make.”
The plexiglass-lined dining area overlooking the barren wasteland outside was soon full of the scent of cinnamon, apples, and maple sugar. Ana was stirring one of many brimming pots, filled with bubbling oatmeal, from the many instant packets she carried with her from map to map. She had always been looking for an opportunity to make a meal for the team, and was more than happy to cook a sweet, sticky dinner.
Mercy was ladling out the oatmeal to the hungry heroes, each getting their preferred flavor. Lúcio cradled his warm bowl, looking for a place to sit in the food court-style cafeteria. The windows creaked a bit, scuffed and scratched from years of harsh winds buffeting them. He could barely see outside.
“Lúcio! Sit with us!”
He looked over, finding D.Va waving to him from a window-side table. She was sitting with the Junkers - Junkrat was wolfing down the hot oatmeal and making a mess, while Roadhog had his mask slightly pulled up to expose his mouth, daintily eating with a spoon far too small for his big hands.
“Hey, D.Va…” Lúcio sat down in the only seat left open, across from his friend and next to the messy Rat.
“Which did you get?”
“Boo, you’re boring. Apple is the best one!”
“I grew up with plain,” Lúcio chuckled.
“Rat has the right idea, he and I both like apple. And Roadhog likes cinnamon.”
The big biker grunted in response.
“They’re all good, bunny. Haven’t had this shit since I was a kid,” Junkrat said, grinning ear to ear.
“Clean your face, Jamison,” grumbled Roadhog.
“Oh, come on, Pigface, I’m the cleanest one here,” Junkrat said, running his tongue over the corners of his mouth to gather the sticky bits of oatmeal. Roadhog’s response to this was to take out a small pig-patterned handkerchief and roughly scrub the smaller Junker’s face, eliciting muffled squeaks of protest. D.Va giggled loudly as Lúcio leaned back in his chair, chewing his breakfast-dinner. The corners of his eyes still felt the tug of exhaustion - maybe he would get a cup of coffee to jolt himself awake. In the meantime, he looked around him at his fellow heroes, examining their routines.
Mercy was writing something down nearby on her clipboard, discussing with Winston. Zarya and Torbjörn were examining the map of the facility that Ana had found with the intelligence, while Genji and Zenyatta sat in meditation by the windows. McCree had fallen asleep, leaning against the wall a bit with his hat pulled down over his eyes, while Pharah, Mei, and Reinhardt chatted quietly nearby. Everyone seemed occupied, except for Lúcio, who simply ate his oatmeal and stared into space, half-listening to D.Va and the Junkers prattle on. God, he was tired.
“Everyone, if I could get your attention for just a moment…!”
Lúcio rubbed his eyes, looking over at Mercy as she waved her hand.
“Yes, sorry to interrupt...but we have been deliberating. The number of dorm rooms in this Watchpoint is few, since it was made when the team was much smaller, so we will be putting everyone into groups of two or three,” she cleared her throat, looking at her clipboard, “When I call your names, come up to receive your keys from Winston. These are older, so don’t put them near any magnets.”
Lúcio closed his eyes. Please don’t be Junkrat. Please don’t be Junkrat.
“...Reinhardt and Torbjörn, D.Va and Tracer, Lúcio and Junkrat…”
“Ey, looks like we’re roomin’ together, froggy!”
“Don’t call me that.”
He begrudgingly followed Junkrat, who happily grabbed his key and started towards the stairs. Lúcio gave Mercy a pleading look. “Can’t he room with Roadhog…? They’re always together anyway…”
“I tried to group you by age. Would you rather sleep with Reinhardt? He snores.”
Lúcio groaned, taking the keycard. “Fiiine. You owe me for this, Mercy.”
“I’ll be sure to buy you some German chocolates,” she said with a dainty smile before returning to her clipboard.
“Come on, come on, come on, froggy! I hate waitin’!”
“I’m coming, I’m coming…” Lúcio growled, grabbing his duffel bag and following the hyperactive Junker down the hall towards the dormitory. There was a faint smell of mildew, and the carpet had an unpleasant crunch underfoot, saturated with dust and god knows what else.
“Here we go, room 206,” Junkrat said cheerily, swiping his keycard and opening the dorm room. Both boys were promptly hit in the face with a humid, musty blast of air, making them both cough. The room was quite small, with a bunk-bed pushed up against the left wall and a desk on the right. An old couch was in the middle of the room, facing a window that spanned from the ceiling to the floor. There was a battered glass door leading out onto the balcony as well.
Lúcio flicked the light on experimentally, watching the fluorescent bulbs flicker a few times before they properly turned on. Junkrat took this opportunity to throw his black bag up on the top bunk.
“What! No fair!”
“Yes fair, I got it first.”
“God, you’re unbearable.”
“Why thank you.”
The Aussie clambered up the ladder with surprising dexterity, flopping onto the top bunk and causing the thick coat of dust on the mattress to fly into the air. Lúcio fanned his hand in front of his face before going to open the balcony door to let the air in.
“This place hasn’t been touched in years.”
“Kinda like your dick,” D.Va piped up. Junkrat burst out laughing.
Lúcio whipped around, startled, “Where did you come from?!”
“Hell, clearly,” she said smugly, closing the door behind her by leaning on it.
“Shouldn’t you be unpacking?”
“Nah, there’s no point. It’s not like we’re not going to have to pack it up again soon anyway. Besides, as soon as we got there Tracer started a Holo-Call with her girlfriend. I can’t listen to that mushy shit.”
“You’re such a child, D.Va,” Lúcio said, ruffling his friend’s hair.
“Oh, please,” she rolled her eyes and slid down along the door into a sitting position on the ground. As she looked around their double room, her gaze fell on the crevice below the lower bunk.
“Hey, what’s that?”
D.Va knelt down, reaching under the bed and dragging something large into view.
“What’d y’find, sheila?” Junkrat said, looking over the edge of his mattress.
“I think it’s a book?” she angled it towards the open door and blew hard, sending the dust flying off, “Hmm…’A History of Junker Culture’. Hey, Rat, it’s about you!”
Junkrat hopped down and came over, resting his chin atop her head as he looked over the worn cover of the hardcover book.
“Shit, that’s way too long. I ain’t readin’ that.”
“Well, I will,” D.Va said, opening it up and poring over a map of Australia.
“We’re here,” Junkrat said, pointing at a small dot on the map, leaving a greasy fingerprint, “Karratha. There’s a smaller Junkertown just over here, I think,” he tapped his finger slightly to the right.
Lúcio looked over D.Va’s shoulder, hands on his hips, “Sydney’s still around?”
“Yeah, never lost that one. Good thing, too, otherwise we’d never get anyone out of this blasted GAFA,” Junkrat grunted, picking at his nails.
“The wasteland. The Great Australian Fuck All.”
Lúcio made a noise, too tired for Junkrat’s strange idioms today.
“But it’s really expensive, I bet?” D.Va ventured.
“Too right. Most just can’t afford it.”
She flipped to the table of contents, looking over the chapters. “This is so cool…hey, there’s a chapter on Overwatch!”
Junkrat snorted audibly. “Yeah, I bet it’s a pile of -”
“Hey! HEY! Get away from there -!” came a loud shout from the exterior of the dormitory.
Lúcio jumped a bit, looking out the open door leading outside. “What’s going on?”
The three younger heroes hurried out onto the balcony, looking at the brick and tarmac as the hot wind, thick with dust, buffeted them. Soldier:76 was running back to the jet, firing his Heavy Pulse Rifle. Lúcio saw a pack of three thin men, all deeply tanned and sporting patchy clothes, bolting back to a truck and taking off down the steep road leading down the mountain. They were jeering and whooping loudly, clutching cans of what Lúcio assumed was fuel.
“Jack! Stop firing!” Mercy shouted, bolting over. She grabbed the rifle and pushed it away.
“You want us to attract attention, Dummkopf?! ”
“They were taking shit from the jet, Angela! Move, they’re getting away!”
“Enough! Put your gun away!”
Ana, who had been hurrying after Mercy, slowed and looked over at the ship, watching a pale yellow puddle of gasoline form by the jet wing, the stench of kerosene permeating in the air. “And whatever they left just leaked out…”
“So no fuel...great. You should have let me shoot them, Angela, what are a bunch of dead thieves to you?” Soldier:76 said, stomping his foot angrily, “And now we’re stuck here.”
“We can special order fuel from Sydney, we need to get more food anyway…” Mercy said, holding his arm, “Don’t be angry…you know it’s not right…”
“Nice shootin’ there, aimbot!” Junkrat teased from the balcony, “Couldn’t hit the side of a barn, let alone one of me Junker mates!”
“Respect your superiors, Jamison!” Soldier:76 shouted back, clearly not in the mood for Junkrat’s antics. Lúcio took this opportunity to smack Junkrat on the arm.
“Ow, froggy, ya throw a mean punch…” he rubbed the sore spot, disgruntled.
Mercy ended up taking the interested members of the team for a tour of the base, showing off everyone from the computer systems - which Winston happily took to enabling and updating - to the exploration pods, small and compact, also stripped of their fuel and scratched up by greedy thieves. Soldier:76 and Ana had stayed behind to clean up and manage security measures, while D.Va, Junkrat, and Roadhog had decided they were more interested in a co-op stream of Starcraft. Knowing he would not get any sleep with the three of them making noise, Lúcio had begrudgingly joined the tour.
By the time the exploration had finished, many of the team members had grown tired, and Lúcio could barely stand straight. The seemingly miniscule amount of sleep he had gotten on the plane was not enough to keep his eyelids from feeling heavy and his muscles from aching. He pined for a chance to flop into a soft mattress and sink into the sweet embrace of sleep. He probably was not going to get a dreamless rest, but at this point, he was willing to cut his losses. Nightmares be damned, he needed to shut down for the day.
With energy he managed to pull from somewhere in his core, Lúcio hauled himself up the stairs to the second floor of the dormitories and down to his room. He was put off by the silence - he had expected to hear D.Va cursing out a hacker or celebrating a flawless victory, with the Junkers cheering her on. Entering his room, he noticed a mess of blond hair attached to a head leaning against the plushy back of the sofa. Lúcio glanced at the wall clock, which read that it was nearly one in the morning.
“Why are you still awa -?”
Before Lúcio could finish his sentence, Junkrat jerked his head up and shushed him quickly. Lúcio furrowed his brows.
“Excuse m -”
Junkrat, clearly knowing his hushing would do little other than irritate the DJ - as if it was not already happening - motioned his head in a manner than beckoned Lúcio closer. Making an exasperated sigh, Lúcio came over and looked down. To his surprise, D.Va was curled up, fast asleep with her head in the Aussie’s lap.
“...is she okay…?” he whispered.
“Yeah. She’s aces. Just got tired. Said she could nap on me lap. Told her I’d keep her safe.”
Lúcio watched Junkrat run his hand slowly down her back, tender and comforting. He was genuinely taken aback by the gentleness shown by the normally unruly, wild man - his regular abrasiveness seemed to have melted into brotherly compassion.
Lúcio was no stranger to how important sleep was for D.Va, and how difficult it could be to get her get to bed. Over time, he had developed a schedule of setting a recurring alarm for himself, for three in the morning. He’d haul himself out of bed, dragging his tired body down the hall to D.Va’s room. She would always be awake. Sometimes she’d be deep into a round of Starcraft or some other game, other times she’d be perusing the internet for guides and forum posts. Either way, he’d sit down next to her, rubbing her arm.
“It’s time for bed, Hana.”
“Just a little longer.”
“No, Hana, you’ll be tired. Come on, it’s time to sleep.”
“I’m not tired.”
This would go back and forth for a while, as if Lúcio was a doting parent and D.Va was a rebellious child, protesting bedtime. Eventually, however, she would concede, changing into her pajamas and crawling into her cot. He would sit with her, sometimes playing music, sometimes just stroking her back akin to how Junkrat was now - anything to make her feel safe.
Lúcio knew all too well what would happen if he did not. If D.Va got to sleep at all, her dreams would be plagued with terrors of war, of omnic destruction and the death of her friends and allies. She was so young and yet had experienced many horrors Lúcio was not sure he could begin to comprehend, and her sleep was saturated with these nightmares.
So he would stay with her, making sure she did not get back out of bed. Eventually, his soothing words and touch would let her drift to sleep, after which he would remain longer still, ensuring she did not jerk awake or start to quaver in her rest from the visions of carnage. Only once he was certain she was deep into a calm slumber would he get up and return to his own room. And then, the next night, it was the same thing all over again.
Sometimes, when the stress of the day was overwhelming, or on days when the team had to travel from one map to another and jetlag hit Lúcio like a brick, the exhaustion would be too strong, and he simply could not find the strength to pull himself out of bed. He always regretted those days, as the following mornings at breakfast he would see D.Va with dark shadows under her eyes, far too tired to coherently play a training match. The guilt would eat at him for days after.
“You’re good with her…”
“Of course, I’m her friend. Just like you,” Junkrat replied. Lúcio was unsure if the intended tone was that of affront or confirmation.
“Will you stay with her?”
“Yes. Go sleep.”
“Don’t tell me what to do, Rat,” Lúcio retorted goodnaturedly, smiling a little. His weary bones were all but begging for rest as he grabbed his pajamas, brush, and towel, heading to the bathroom to wash up. The water’s taste was tinged with rust, likely from being stagnant so long in the old-fashioned pipes and tanks, but knowing how limited the resource was, Lúcio did not complain as he brushed. He silently pulled on his musically-themed pajamas and wandered back to his room, the scratchy carpet of the hallway tugging slightly at his now socked feet.
“Rest well, my little hero!” Reinhardt said, waving to Lúcio from his own room nearby, “Tomorrow, we will rise to a new challenge together!”
“Goodnight, Rein…” Lúcio said, smiling as he slid back into his room. Junkrat’s head had returned to lolling back on the back of the couch, eyes closed.
“Don’t you want to get in bed?”
“And wake up the bunny? Fat chance,” Junkrat responded, without even opening his eyes, “I’ll be spiffy, mate, don’t worry your pretty head about it.”
Lúcio raised an eyebrow at the comment but chose not to respond, instead clambering into the bottom bunk.
“Night, ya bastard.”
Too tired to retort, Lúcio pulled his patchy, patterned quilt close, breathing in the familiar scent of home. Wrapped in the comforting grip of thoughts from better times, Lúcio felt his tired brain slowly wind down, drifting into the dark and quiet land of sleep.