The team head to a long-forgotten Watchpoint on the irradiated Australian continent.
The first chapter is here! This took ages to complete because of school, but it's finally done!
- 28 May 2017: Fixed some typos
- 30 May 2017: Added chapter-specific summary and notes
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"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.
Thank you for reading the first chapter! Any comments/kudos are appreciated greatly. Please stay tuned for the next chapters! We'll be getting into the meat of the fic starting next chapter - this first installment was more for establishment purposes.
Follow http://artumndiesirae.tumblr.com/ for chapter updates/art!
(Main blog: http://autumndiesirae.tumblr.com/)
Our three protagonists are up for a training match on the Watchpoint, but everything goes disastrously wrong.
Chapter 2 is finally here! Now we're really getting into the story!
- 30 May 2017: Fixed some typos and repetitiveness
- 31 May 2017: Added fall.mp3 Vocaroo link
- 24 Aug 2017: Updated Mercy's behavior in accordance with this Developer Update: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDlCqJ1tD3M&feature=youtu.be
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Lúcio stirred a bit, feeling his eyelids flutter open. At first, he was startled to find that when his eyes opened and closed, it bore the same black view, until he registered that his arm had flopped over his face in his sleep. Adjusting it up, he peered up at the owner of the voice. D.Va smiled down at him, brushing her hair out of her face. She smelled faintly of strawberries and had just repainted her pink cheek stripes.
“Good morning, my favorite international DJ,” she said. He became aware of her weight on his body, squishing him into the mattress.
“Unf...you’re crushing me, D.Va,” he mumbled, trying not to billow his morning breath in her direction as he rolled over. She giggled as his body undulated under him, keeping her head low to avoid hitting it on the bottom of the upper bunk.
“Hey, no going back to sleep! You need to come down for breakfast!”
He felt her papping at his face like an excitable kitten who had yet to be served its favorite canned tuna. Groaning softly, Lúcio swatted at her, burying his face in his musty pillow.
“You slept for like forever, you’re fine. Come on. Junkrat, you too!”
Lúcio heard the Aussie shifting on the plushy couch, the frame squeaking in protest. He was glad someone else was also not in the mood for early morning shenanigans.
“Ugh, you two are impossible sometimes,” D.Va said, pouting and nudging Lúcio’s back repeatedly.
“Mmm...I’ll be up in like a minute…” Lúcio grumbled, voice muffled by the fabric pressed into his face, “Just need to adjust my eyes…”
“Well, I’m not waiting for you two. I definitely don’t want to see you changing either…”
D.Va hauled herself up with a soft ‘hup’ and walked towards the door - Lúcio could tell by the soft tapping of her flip-flops on the tile floor.
“I’ll be in the cafeteria with the other responsible agents who get up on time,” she teased before shutting the door behind her. Lúcio knew she was right, and that he ought to get up and prepare for the day ahead, but he really just wanted to call in a raincheck and stay in bed.
Just a little longer, five minutes…
The sound bore into his ear, rousing him from sleep. It sounded like the grating of a knife slowly scraped against a metal pipe, but obnoxiously loud and far too close. Jerking his head up, Lúcio looked over and found the source was the body on his couch. Angling his head, he realized Junkrat had lolled over in such a position that his mouth was hanging open, emitting loud, incessant snores interrupted only by the occasional snort. To add insult to injury, he was drooling all over the fabric.
Knowing there was no way he’d go back to sleep with that racket, Lúcio rolled over and reaches instinctively for his wrist gauge. To his surprise, and quick annoyance, he realized in his exhaustion he had forgotten to take it out and charge it last night, meaning it was still buried deep in the contents of his duffel bag, on the other side of the room. He forced himself to sit up, stretching out his legs and arms and emitting tiny growls as his joints popped and his muscles unwound. He smacked his lips quietly, rubbing his neck as the crumpled feeling of sleeping in this constant heat was shaken from his bones. He tilted his head to look up at the wall clock hanging above the door when his blood ran cold - it read that it was 11:38.
“Son of a -!”
He sprung up, bolting to his duffle bag and digging around for his gauge, a pair of shorts, and a new shirt, all while throwing what he did not need behind his shoulder. He heard a loud wheeze as his heavy-duty synthesizer headphones smacked Junkrat right in his sleeping face.
“Ow -! Oi! What’re ya -?!”
“We’re late, Rat!” Lúcio interrupted, frantically yanking on a black tank top, “God, why didn’t D.Va come back to wake us up again?!”
Junkrat yawned wide, scratching his butt as he sat up.
“I slept in me peg again, didn’t I…gonna be raw…”
Lúcio threw off his pajama pants and struggled to get into a pair of cargo shorts, in the process growing unbalanced with one leg up and keeling over onto the rest of his stuff. Junkrat looked down at him.
“Fuck you! Help me up!”
He regretted this request when he felt the greasy, sooty hand of his roommate grip his own and yank him back up. He quickly rubbed off the stains on his shirt, not fond of the feeling, as he grabbed his toothbrush and red gauge and bolted to the bathrooms to wash up. The men’s communal showers smelled thickly of aftershave, German soaps, and some of McCree’s weird masculine shampoos, making Lúcio’s nose twinge as he brushed his teeth. By the time he was rinsing, Junkrat had joined him, sliding into one of the stalls to take a leak. Lúcio noticed that there was a small sign taped to the wall, encouraging the male heroes “let it mellow if yellow”. Wrinkling his nose in disgust, Lúcio focused on drying his face as Junkrat joined him, leaning against the nearby counter. The DJ gave him a long look as he secured the red strap of his gauge snugly on his wrist.
“...what? Have I got somethin’ on me face?”
“Aren’t you gonna...you know…”
“...wash your hands…?”
“Uh, why? Waste of water, mate.”
Lúcio cringed a little, “God, you’re gross.”
“I know where me cock has been, thank you,” Junkrat retorted, before looking him over, “Not sure I can say the same for ya, froggy.”
“Was that a fucking gay sex joke?”
Junkrat giggled naughtily, booking it down the hall as fast as his peg leg could take him, with Lúcio running behind him and threatening to kick his ass off the Watchpoint.
The two eventually found themselves in the cafeteria - the various doors in and out were opening and closing as heroes headed between the outer grounds and inner facilities, most making quick pit-stops to grab an icy drink off the bar counter.
“How nice of you to join us, gentlemen,” Mercy said, carrying a tablet and making notes on it with a stylus while keeping a feather duster tucked under her arm. Her hair was tied up in a tight bun, and she had traded yesterday’s blouse and blue mom jeans for a summery dress and sandals.
“Sorry...we overslept…” Lúcio responded, sheepish.
“I can see that…your shirt is inside out, Lúcio, and you forgot your shoes...”
Lúcio felt his ears warm as he quickly pulled off his tank and reversed it, now painfully aware of the feeling of his green socks against the cool linoleum of the cafeteria floor. Junkrat snickered under his breath.
“Don’t think you’re off the hook either, Jamison,” Mercy said, wrinkling her nose a bit, “When’s the last time you brushed your teeth?”
“Uh…what month is it, sheila?”
“I believe I have my answer…” Mercy said with a slight smile, “I think Hana saved you some breakfast, she’s outside with Mako.”
Winston squeezed his way by the two boys. “Excuse me, big guy coming through - Mercy, have a look at these new circuitry maps I found.”
Mercy nodded and sat at a table with the scientist, the two pouring over schematics of the buildings and discussing the logistics of converting it into a usable training ground. Lúcio took this as their cue to head out, elbowing Junkrat to communicate this and stepping out through the plexiglass double-doors leading outside. The two were promptly blasted with a hot wind that brought with it the itchy particles of sand picked up from the desert wasteland. Lúcio winced at the unpleasant crunch of the stuff under his socked feet, wishing he had gone up to grab some sneakers. Junkrat was, as always, unfazed, stretching and letting his joints pop in an obnoxious symphony of crackles. Like playing with a roll of bubblewrap, but with far less of the childish enjoyment.
Their teammates were training - Soldier:76 was running laps, shirtless, to acclimate himself to the heat. Or maybe he was just showing off, at this point Lúcio could never be sure. Genji was practicing wall-climbing with Zenyatta as a spotter, while Zarya was cleaning her Particle Cannon nearby, half-listening to Torbjörn proudly ramble on about how one of his many children just got accepted to a prestigious engineering program at such a young age. Occasionally a very overheated Mei, who was wearing a blue tanktop and yoga pants today, would use her Endothermic Blaster to put up an ice wall, at which time nearby heroes would huddle close and hug it for a brief respite from the burning sun.
D.Va and Roadhog were sitting together in the shade at the edge of the Watchpoint, him staring out at the great expanse of blue sky, and her leaning against his belly, resting the book she had found last night on her knees and flipping to a new page as the boys came over.
“The prodigal sons appear!” she said, grinning wide and holding up a white porcelain plate laden with round lumpy treats, “Ana used the leftover oatmeal to make cookies. I saved you lazy-bums some. Aren’t I such a great friend?”
“Not my fault you didn’t come to wake us up again,” Lúcio huffed, snatching and biting into the chewy cookie.
“I’m not your mom! Besides, I’ve been reading. I’m halfway through the section on Junker biology.”
Junkrat flopped lengthwise beside her, resting his head on his left hand while his prosthetic fingers grabbed two cookies and shoved them both unceremoniously into his mouth.
“You’ve been keepin’ ol’ Hoggy company, eh?” he said, though the muffled sounds that came out past the food sounded more like “-u’ve -een k-p’n’ -l’ H-ggy c-mp’ny, ‘h?”
Roadhog made a snort. “She’s quieter and nicer than you. Don’t talk with your mouth full.”
Junkrat swallowed loudly.
“Ah, but can she blow up a building and steal the Crown Jewels? I think not.”
Here he belched triumphantly before rolling over onto his back and putting his arms behind his head and his peg leg across his bent left knee, tapping his boot in some unknown rhythm.
“Oh, yes, how dare I be a good upstanding citizen,” D.Va said, chuckling quietly, “The humanity.”
“You’re disgusting, Jamison,” Roadhog mumbled, taking a deep breath.
“Would ya have me any other way, though?”
“Yes, a million times yes.”
Junkrat pretended he did not hear him as D.Va looked the two of them over, snuggling more into Roadhog’s soft side.
“Goodness, Lúcio, what happened to you? Your clothes are all messed up.”
A sly grin snuck across her face.
“Were you two having sex up there? Is that why you’re late?” she teased.
“Of course not, Hana, you’re awful,” Lúcio spat - D.Va cackled in response. He became aware of how hot his face felt, and wondered why. Looking for something to change the subject with, he gazed out at the horizon, eyes watering a bit from the intense glare of the sunlight and the ever-buffeting wind. There was not much to see, just an endless, infinite expanse of rusty orange earth dotting with the occasional russet of a stone structure.
“Where’d you say that Junkertown was, Rat?”
Junkrat pointed a mechanical finger from his prosthetic arm over his head, in the northeast direction.
“There. It’s not THE Junkertown, mind you, it’s just the remnants of ol’ Karratha. Last time me and Pigface were there, it was real fuckin’ shithouse. Full to the ears with shonky blokes and swaggies.”
“English, Junkrat,” D.Va reminded.
“Rack off, it’s perfectly understandable what I said. It’s a shitty place. Full of perverts and hobos.”
“Doesn’t sound like a place I want to go,” Lúcio said, balancing on one leg and using his foot to scratch at the back of his ankle.
“You ain’t always got a choice, mate. People will do anythin’ for water here.”
The loud screech of the PA system coming online nearly gave Lúcio a heart attack. He jerked his head up at the source - the big speakers dotting the various corners of the map.
“Uh...hello? Is this on?” came Winston’s confused voice, amidst the sound of shuffling and tapping.
“No, you have to press the blue button,” Mercy piped up.
“No, the one with the microphone on it, I believe.”
“This one, then.”
The telltale blip sound of an error message popup played.
“Wait, no, is it this one?”
“Oh my god, please, make it stop,” D.Va moaned, covering her ears.
The sound cut out abruptly, making Lúcio laugh. He was reminded of the many times he had attempted to Holo-Call his grandparents back in Brazil - they always spent the first ten minutes figuring out the controls, but the goodnatured Lúcio was very patient each time. He waved frantically at the long glass window of the tech centre overlooking the main grounds, gesturing to his ears to indicate the microphones were disabled.
“- on now. Can everyone hear me?”
Lúcio gave two thumbs up while D.Va just groaned again, frustrated by these old people and their technological incompetence.
“Alright, now then,” Winston cleared his throat, “May I have your attention, please? We would like you all to meet in the garage.”
“I hope they got the map fixed finally, I’m dying for some action,” D.Va said, leaning forward so Roadhog could slowly pull himself up.
“Pff, have ya seen yer rack? I betcha get lots of action,” Junkrat chuckled, grinning with his tongue poking past his teeth as he sat up. He was promptly met with a heavy leather book in the crotch.
The garage - or, more appropriately, the aircraft hangar - was one of the places visited briefly on the tour yesterday, though Lúcio remembered little due to his unbridled tiredness at the time. It was a cavernous hull in the side of the facility, air stale and tinged with the smell of industrial decay that all places lost to time had. Lúcio felt his neck ache as he arced his head back to look around at the enormous walls, which echoed the pitter-patter of the heroes’ feet back at them, amplified tenfold. While the details on the outer metal door had been worn off by the abrasive sand and harsh winds, the inner décor was largely intact, from the thick pipes jutting out of the walls to the spidery cables running along the corners of the concrete flooring. The deadly dryness of the Outback had long since eradicated any moisture in the area, meaning things that would normally be a staple of an abandoned building, like rot, mold, and mildew, were absent. The only water-based damages visible to Lúcio were the rust stains on the pipes - most of the vulnerable objects instead were fragile and papery from the evaporation, such as an old desk light whose lampshade trembled with each step taken past it, looking like it might collapse into dust if someone breathed too hard on it.
Winston and Mercy were taking the stairs down from the tech room, murmuring amongst themselves and jotting down notes on her glowing blue tablet, as Lúcio and his teammates spread out in the area. McCree was twiddling an unlit cigar in his fingers without looking, while D.Va had taken to inspecting one of the jet docking stations, likely wondering if she could charge her mecha there. Lúcio became poignantly aware again of how foolish he looked, standing amongst everyone without any shoes. Like he needed the lack of a height booster, being as short as he was - his head came just shy of Junkrat’s shoulder. Speaking of Junkrat, he had taken to climbing onto Roadhog, sitting on his bodyguard’s shoulders and preening like some bizarre combustible peacock.
“Is everyone here?” Mercy queried, pausing to adjust her shoulder-strap. Murmurs of agreement came from the throng of heroes.
“Good, meine Lieben . Well, Winston and I have been reconfiguring the system since last night, and we believe we have established a workable map for us to train on until we can resume our regular travel schedule. The structure is Escort; you all know that one. Just like Watchpoint Gibraltar, attackers will bring the payload to the final checkpoint. You will have two smaller checkpoints before that, those will appear on your UI gauges. We’ve set up the respawn rooms as well, three per team. As for the payload, Winston reprogrammed one of the aircraft repair droids to have the necessary path map.”
The doctor gestured to her right, at what looked like a flattened golf-cart with all manner of specialized robotic appendages sticking out of it, ranging from an automated rivet gun to a soldering iron and every tool in between. Lúcio glanced at Zenyatta out of the corner of his eye, curious of his reaction, but the monk’s face was unreadable as always.
“I do need to warn you all - avoid falling off the map. While I believe the killzones are established, given the height of the Watchpoint, I’m not sure if the boundaries are in the correct places, and I’m not about to throw someone off to check,” Winston said, adjusting his glasses, “Just stay as far from the edges as you can.”
A ripple ran through the crowd, clearly not fond of the idea. Lúcio clicked his tongue, knowing any chance he had of getting Play of the Match just got tossed out of the window - or rather, off the map.
“We have sorted people into teams,” Mercy continued, pulling up a spreadsheet on her tablet, “Let’s see…our attackers; Lúcio, D.Va, McCree, Soldier:76, Reinhardt, and myself.”
D.Va pumped her hand in a victory motion while Lúcio nodded, always ready for a new map to test his wallriding skills on.
“And our defenders; Zarya, Torbjörn, Ana, Zenyatta, Roadhog, and Junkrat.”
Lúcio’s excitement quickly melted into irritation. Great, now I’ve got Bombs McGee to worry about again. I swear the first chance I get, I’m using my Soundwave to blast him into a Helix Rocket. Boop boop, motherfucker.
“The rest of you are welcome to spectate with Winston from the control deck. Our competitors are reminded that this is a training regime designed to better our skills and grow together as a team. Toxicity is not going to be tolerated, and we’ll will tag out anyone with bad behavior.”
She looked directly at D.Va, “So no teabagging.”
“Pshhh, I earned it after that team kill in Dorado. D.Va Number One Tank KR!”
“I’m sure Winston would be happy to take your place this round.”
Mercy handled her tablet to Winston for safekeeping.
“Follow me to the locker rooms. We’ve already placed all your supplies there - since there’s less space, we’ve grouped people two to a locker.”
Lúcio grumbled under his breath, glancing back and eyeing the blond. Junkrat was still sitting in his lofty position atop Roadhog, resting his head on the biker’s with a gleeful grin as he was carried along. Lúcio hoped they won this round so he could wipe that smug look off his face.
The men’s lockers were quite cramped, akin to that of a small-town community pool. There were only two showers and a total of ten lockers. Lúcio was at least grateful that Junkrat’s ‘battle clothes’ were already on him, so he would not return after the match to find his own clothes stinking of sweat and gunpowder from being stored with his roommate’s. He also was happy that he finally had a chance to pull something on his bare feet.
“Are we ready, boys?” Reinhardt said, his ever-cheery voice booming loudly and making the fluorescent ceiling lamps rattle.
“Always a pleasure workin’ with you, Mr. Reinhardt,” McCree said, wrapping his sarape loosely on his shoulders.
“With our two healers and my shield, the other team doesn’t stand a chance!”
Roadhog made a soft snort, but did not say anything. He didn’t have to - Lúcio knew once Junkrat started firing his frags, both of the squishy Support heroes would die in two shots and the barrier would crumble right on their heels, leaving Rein and the entire team susceptible one of Roadhog’s wild hooks. He just hoped that D.Va would keep her Defense Matrix loaded to eat the spray of bullets and shrapnel long enough for them to regroup. This match was not going to go well.
The weapons and armor were all stored in big bins adjacent to the sinks, grouped by roommate again. Lúcio pushed Junkrat’s Frag Launcher aside, listening to the sound of it ding and creak. He did have to hand it to him - it was impressive that the Aussie had cobbled together two functional prosthetics and his own weapons from quite literal garbage he found scattered across the Australian wasteland. He would never give Junkrat the satisfaction of knowing he thought that, though. The last thing he needed was another gay joke coming out of D.Va’s mouth.
Instead he focused on pulling out his Sonic Amplifier and all the parts that came with it, setting them neatly on the counters so he could connect all the wires. First and foremost he needed to get his skates on. They were huge, and always made his thighs look uncomfortably big - not to mention the shock of the other heroes the first time he took them off in front of the team. He remembered the distinct noise of surprise Genji had made.
“Gomenasai… but I thought you had prosthetic legs ,” he had said, pointing at the robotic hinges at the joints of the skates. Even though Lúcio, after seeing how many of his teammates sported robotic arms and legs, was glad to not be among them, he had felt oddly guilty for making his team think even briefly otherwise.
As much as Lúcio complained about his ‘armor’, he did appreciate how they allowed him to glide along the walls and slide smoothly across the floor. It gave him a wonderful sense of mobility that he had loved feeling since he discovered rollerskating as a kid. Not to mention the satisfying shing! noise they made when the hard-light blades were activated.
He fastened his belt before pulling on his electronic backpack and armband, securing all the cables to their respective ports and turning on his Amplifier in a test. Sure enough, the We Move Together As One song started playing loudly out of the speaker. Lúcio let the gun dangle from his arm as he slid on his gloves, slipping on the little caps on the fingertips of his left hand. When he ran them across the touchpad at the back of his Amplifier, the energetic speed tune switched to the calmer healing one. Last but not least, he tightened the little yellow covers on the ends of his hair - he had learned the hard way that having one’s dreads unravel in the middle of a match was a horribly distracting situation to be in.
Junkrat had a far easier time - all he had to do was pull on his pipe bomb-loaded suspenders and his enormous spiked tire onto his back, and he was done. Now he had his signature slouch, hunched over at the waist and losing a decent chunk of height in the process. He never actually used the bombs he carried on his shoulders, since they had been ruled too powerful for training games, but he refused to take them off, claiming they were ‘lucky’ or something. Lúcio had a working theory it was because he didn’t want to lose the weird tan lines they gave him.
“I can’t wait to win this round, eh, Roadie?”
“Yeah, we’ll win not because you helped,” Roadhog grumbled, pulling up his pants.
“Oh, piss off, who got the best play last round, huh?”
“Stop pestering me and shut up for once.”
Junkrat made a noise in his throat, its tone oddly unrecognizable to Lúcio. It seemed mingled with sadness.
After waiting for Reinhardt to finish pulling on his massive costume, the men rejoined the women and split off into their teams, amidst Athena’s audio message welcoming them officially to the Watchpoint. It felt bizarre to hear “Karratha” instead of “Gibraltar” given how many times they had trained at the seaside Overwatch HQ.
Lúcio joined D.Va, who was already comfortably nestled within her mech, reading the encyclopedia yet again.
“You really like that book, don’t you?”
“I told you I like Junker culture,” she said, slipping a bookmark in before sliding it into one of the many inner compartments of her mecha, “They’re really cool, and I don’t give a crap what you and the other heroes think.”
“Don’t be naïve, Hana,” Soldier:76 warned, “You know Junkers mean trouble.”
“Oh, go be someone else’s overbearing dad for once,” she grumbled.
“I’m not your father.”
“Coulda fooled me, even Tracer thinks you act like it.”
“Respect your elders!” Reinhardt chuckled from the side.
Lúcio heard the spawn doors closing behind him, along with Athena’s announcement that the attack was to commence in 30 seconds. Reinhardt was fooling around with a projected map of Australia on the wall, making shadow puppets with his hands, while McCree was sitting on the floor near an old vending machine that had long since been cleaned of its contents. Lúcio joined him, bouncing his head to the steady beat of the music in his headphone.
“Well, I suppose I’ll be patching you up, as usual,” Mercy said, looking at Soldier:76 in the hopes memories of their glory days would make him less grumpy, but he only made a huff.
Lúcio hauled himself up as Athena began counting down to the start of the match.
Please let this be a good game. Please.
“…three…two…one. Attack commencing. Escort the payload.”
The weird four-wheeled droid was sitting by the spawn doors waiting for them, but Lúcio knew better than to charge out first. McCree, however, seemed to forget, and upon stepping across the threshold had his legs promptly rooted in place by Junkrat’s Steel Trap. The Concussion Mine stealthily put next to it went off immediately - first kill went to the defenders.
“Good job, McCringe, you didn’t learn from last time,” D.Va said, rolling her eyes. Mercy gave her a warning look before Damage-Boosting Soldier:76 and following closely behind him. Lúcio chose instead to stay sheltered Reinhardt’s rectangular blue shield, the two of them huddling by the payload as the other team members spread out, taking out heroes hiding in niches and waiting behind walls.
The loud cackle of a certain Aussie, accompanied by the rhythmic bunk! bunk! bunk! noises of grenades being pumped out of his gun, sounded above Lúcio, giving him little time to jump onto a nearby wall and skate out of the way. Reinhardt stayed put, keeping his shield up, and distracting the vermin long enough for Lúcio to wallride up behind him and push him down with a Soundwave.
“Get him, D.Va!”
The gamer girl boosted over, alternating between shooting with her dual Fusion Cannons and pulling up her targeting array to delete Junkrat’s return fire. Before she could land the killing blow, though, he threw his mine down at his feet and used it to neatly jump out of her reach, landing behind Roadhog and getting pumped full of Ana’s healing darts. He made a point of sticking his tongue out at Lúcio, who gritted his teeth in turn.
“Lúcio! I need healing!” Reinhardt called. The DJ blinked a few times, embarrassed - in his fervor to get some semblance of revenge on the obnoxious Defense hero, he had neglected his Support duties. He quickly switched to the tranquil healing song as Mercy flew over, already halfway charged to her ultimate.
“We need to keep the payload moving forward,” she reminded, jerking her head towards the droid as it started to roll backwards. McCree jumped on it, helping guide the cart along to the first checkpoint.
D.Va was on a roll, sporting the most eliminations as she paved the way for the rest of the team to push. McCree and Soldier:76 were darting around as well, cleaning up flankers and destroying turrets, while Reinhardt kept his team safe from stray bullets and fatal headshots.
“The payload has reached the checkpoint,” Athena announced coolly as they found themselves near the entrance to the cafeteria, where not much earlier Lúcio and his friends - well, calling Junkrat his friend was a huge stretch, and he was not too sure about Roadhog either - had been lounging and eating cookies.
The DJ was flung from his brief stupor when he felt himself a hook sharply snatch him from his payload perch and whisk him along right to the wrong end of Roadhog’s gun. Before the inevitable killing blow, however, D.Va flew in to save her friend, her matrix gobbling the hot ball of scrap while her boosters knocked the fellow Tank hero away. Lúcio was quick to use his Soundwave to push him further before bolting back to the safety of Reinhardt’s shield.
“Thank you, D.Va!” he panted.
Now was the growing time for ultimates to be used. Soldier:76, who had been harassing Torbjörn endlessly, was the first to trigger one - the angry engineer had unleashed the Molten Core, his Level 3 turret spitting bullets at a painfully fast speed as he chased the now appropriately fleeing ex-strike commander.
Lúcio, safely hidden behind Reinhardt’s barrier for the time being, used the time to check his gauge, which informed him his ultimate was still only at 70% charge, along with an insistent low battery sign in the corner of the UI. He was no use to them here.
“I can’t hold forever -!”
The shield broke apart into a collection of blue shards, forcing the German to back off as D.Va jumped forward, flashing her matrix up to keep her team safe. Of course, she could not block the bullets aiming at the flanking Offense heroes, and thus the turret took the lives of McCree and Soldier:76. Mercy, who had been anticipating this, neatly flew over from her hiding spot behind the payload and resurrected the older soldier who already had his Ultimate prepared, the familiar reassuring call of “heroes never die!” ringing out. They rounded a corner, hugging the edges of the map a little too close for comfort.
“Tactical visor activated - I’ve got you in my sights!” Soldier:76 said, using his auto-locking visor to take out the now weaker turret, the far less threatening Swede, and the defenseless Zenyatta, before booking it after Roadhog to finish the job.
“FIRE IN THE HOLE!”
Lúcio and D.Va both gasped audibly before switching to their respective speedy movement abilities and bolting behind a nearby truck to shield themselves from the blast. They were barely hidden before the loud bang of the tire bomb and the death cries of Mercy and Reinhardt could be heard. The repair bot halted with an obnoxious screech and a strange rumble sound. The yelp of a dying Soldier:76 soon joined the cacophony - he had been the unfortunate target of a combined sleep dart from Ana and a well-aimed headshot from Roadhog. The two were now likely healing themselves up, meaning it was up to Lúcio and D.Va to regain control of the payload until their teammates respawned and joined them.
Both made a mad dash back to the droid, just as an unwelcome Aussie jumped down from his secret hidey-hole on the roof and landed in front of them.
“Looks like we meet again, eh, cobbers?”
“I’m gonna punch you right in the dick!” Lúcio hissed, getting right up in his face instead of just taking the opportunity to start shooting at him. D.Va used her booster to push the advancing Roadhog back, forcing him to make use of his Hogdrogen healing gas while she used the last of her rocket power to land back at the payload.
“Really, and who’s gonna help y -?”
Before the blond could finish his sentiment, the noise from earlier returned, joined this time by a loud, bizarre creaking and the sound of cracking pavement. Lúcio felt his blood run cold as the ground under his feet began to give way.
“W-what the fuck -?!” chorused the three.
The combined force of the RIP-Tire’s detonation and the heavy weight of the big metal payload and bigger pink mecha was far too much for the edge of the Watchpoint to handle, the concrete crumbling underfoot in large chunks. Lúcio remembered far too late what Winston had said about staying away from the edges of the map. He tried to jump back to safety, but the pieces of ground that broke away were far too big for even his powerful legs to make the leap. D.Va’s expired rockets held no chance, and Junkrat’s mine just whizzed straight up into the air when he made a last-ditch attempt to propel himself back to solid ground.
They screamed. All three of them. Plummeting off the side of the Watchpoint, down, down, down, the droid tangled in the middle along with the rubble of the mountain. There was no relief that came in the form of a sudden dip to blackness as they entered the map’s designated killzone and then the respawn phase, like there was on the other maps - just endless, swirling terror as the air whizzed past them, making their eyes water and burning their skin from the speed. Their weapons were ripped from their hands, leaving them only to flail and cry out as their lives flashed before their eyes.
Roadhog, who had rushed to the cliffside when the first sounds of the break had occurred, made a desperate attempt to throw his Chain Hook down for Junkrat to grab, but the length came just shy of the smaller Aussie’s outstretched hand.
Mercy had similarly bolted to the sound, but Reinhardt had grabbed her arm to keep her from flinging herself after the younger heroes. She flapped her wings like a desperate bird, hopelessly reaching after them.
“No -! Lúcio! Hana!”
D.Va had been flung harshly from her normal position in the piloting hull of her mech. The harness that typically fit her snugly now dug hard into her gut, knocking the wind out of her and keeping her swung out of reach of her control panel. She had a sick chorus of male screams, one from each of her friends, ringing in her ears as she made attempt after attempt to grab her joysticks, repeatedly coming shy.
Hana, stop floundering! Think!
Whipping her head around, she felt her feet graze the back of her mech, where she normally would eject. With all the force she could muster, she propelled herself backwards, bending her long legs and using the wall as a springboard to launch up to the front and securely grab the two navigation joysticks.
She had to slow down, that much was certain. But while she could survive a fall of this magnitude with the mecha around her, there was no way the boys would. Checking to ensure her booster fuel had renewed itself enough, she blasted around, carefully positioning herself just under the two other heroes.
Lúcio could have sworn he felt a rib crack when he smashed into the wing of the Tank hero’s mech, but adrenaline kept him from noticing for too long. Gripping the protrusion with a tightness that hurt his fingers, he looked up as Junkrat was caught on the opposing wing.
“Both of you, hold on!” D.Va shouted as loud as she could as her rockets failed her again. She rammed hard into the side of the mountain, half of the protective green glass of her windshield smashing apart from the motion. The vibrations shook Lúcio’s body harshly, but he clenched his teeth and squeezed his eyes shut and hoped - no, prayed - that he was not about to die.
The payload whizzed by the three, before getting snagged on a rock face jutting out of the escarpment. D.Va continued to grind against the rock, doing her best to slow them down until her rockets came back online.
“I DON’T WANNA DIE! I DON’T WANNA DIE!” Junkrat kept screaming in the most undignified manner. Lúcio kept quiet aside from the incessant whine pushing past his teeth, which ached from being held so tightly.
Finally, relief. The turbulence ended, replaced instead by the stinging rush of wind as D.Va boosted diagonally towards the ground. Her rockets sputtered desperately before giving up completely, causing her mech to collapse the last few metres to the ground in a heap, throwing both boys off in the process. Junkrat landed on his back in a heap, while Lúcio landed face-first, smacking his head hard enough to see stars.
“Shit…is everyone okay?!” D.Va said, always concerned for her friends.
“God, I think I broke me arse…” Junkrat moaned.
“Yeah, you’re fine. Lúcio?”
Nothing seemed to want to work - not Lúcio’s muscles, not his head, not even his voice. Everything was spinning, sound drowned out by the rush of blood in his ears.
One thing Lúcio was aware of was the sharp pain in his jaw from keeping his teeth tautly pressed together for so long, accompanied by the pulsing pain in his forehead. He knew he was smart to have clenched them, otherwise the endless slamming of his teeth together from the vibrations could have caused him to sever his tongue in two, but it hurt nonetheless.
Eventually he found the strength to open his eyes, finding D.Va, still nestled in her mech pilot seat, and Junkrat looking over him. Her head was adorned with a long, bloody scratch from when the green glass exploded in her face - though, all things considered, she could have come out of it with much worse.
“Are you okay…?” she said, reaching her hand through her broken windshield to touch his face, “Your lip is bleeding real bad…”
The DJ became aware of the wet feeling on his chin. Poking his tongue past his aching teeth, he touched it to his bottom lip and promptly received the metallic taste of blood.
Junkrat put his hand on the smaller man’s back and pushed him into a sitting position, “The map broke, methinks…”
The three all looked up, arching their necks painfully and squinting against the sun. They had plummeted hundreds of feet, down from the top of the artificial mountaintop. Lúcio shuddered to think of what could have happened if they hadn’t fallen with D.Va and her mech around to save them.
“The payload thing is stuck up there…” she said, gesturing to the busted heap of metal suspended on a rocky projection. Lúcio looked closer, through the spidery cracks in his visor, and saw his Sonic Amplifier hooked by the handle around the mechanical wrench.
“Fuck, no, not that…”
“D.Va, ya think ya can fly up?”
“Let me try…”
She padded over, standing at the base of the mountain, before attempting to boost up. She made it just shy of the payload before her mecha failed again, and despite the scrabblings of its feet against the borderline vertical slope, it refused to go up higher, sliding back down in a futile fashion.
“I don’t have enough fuel in one blast to go that high up…how are we going to get that down…?”
Lúcio realized there was a more pressing question.
“…how are we going to get back to the others…?”
The query hung in the air, taunting the three heroes. It was misleadingly simple, and yet, had no answer to speak of.
“We don’t have replenishing ammo, so Junkrat can’t mine-jump up there…D.Va can’t fly for too long…”
“Ye can wallride…?”
“Not on this, it’s not smooth enough…”
He stood up, wandering to the base of the cliff and running his hands along the side. It was far too rough, and with too many protrusions and obstacles for him to ride back up to the top, even with stops, and lord knew riding up that many metres up would leave him an exhausted mess before he even hit the halfway point.
“What do we do…?”
There was another emotion brewing in Lúcio’s gut, pushing its way past the fear, the anxiety. It was anger. Pure rage, expanding its hot tentacles into the rest of his body. He curled his hand into a fist.
“This is all YOUR FAULT!” he yelled, whipping around to glare at Junkrat.
“Me f -?! Are ya fucked in the head, mate?!” the Aussie spat, defensively backing away when the DJ stomped closer.
“If your stupid Tire hadn’t put so much stress on the map, it wouldn’t have broken!” Lúcio jabbed a pointed finger accusingly into Junkrat’s chest, “This IS your fault!”
“Ya don’t know that!” the Aussie seethed, smacking his hand away “What if D.Va o-or Rein ulted first?! They coulda broken the map too, ya drongo!”
“But they didn’t, it was YOU, and that means it’s YOUR FAULT!”
“Get yer finger out of me face!”
“I’ll tear you apart, you bastard!”
The two promptly went at each other, scratching and hissing like it was a duel between two feral cats.
“Boys! BOYS! ENOUGH!” D.Va shouted, pushing her way between the two and using her cannons to keep them back, “You’re acting like babies, blaming and insulting each other!”
“Admit it, Hana, it’s his fault we’re stuck down here!”
“IT ISN’T ME FAULT, YA GARBAGE MEDIC! SHUT UP!”
The two pushed their way past her, wanting nothing more than to throttle the other and let the months’ worth of aggression and tension push their way out through fists.
“STOP! Both of you need to be quiet and calm down! Nothing will come of us beating the shit out of each other, or I would have done it already to both of you! Stop it, now! I said st -!”
Before D.Va could finish her sentiment, a great creaking sound filled the air. The metal droid, pushed to the breaking point from its position, severed into two pieces, each sliding down the wall of the cliff.
“Watch out -!”
D.Va boosted forward, knocking both of the boys out of the way before they were crushed, barely jumping to safety herself before the remnants of the payload crashed down where the two had just been brawling. A cloud of sand lurched up, making all three of them cough hard.
Plunk, plink, plunk.
Lúcio’s Sonic Amplifier came bouncing down with the sounds of a basketball against a school gym floor, rolling right to his feet like a puppy obediently returning home to its master. He roughly pushed the grimy Aussie off himself and scooped it up, cradling it and looking for damages.
“Okay, good, now we all have a weapon. Well, sort of…”
She pointed at Junkrat’s back, and all three became aware that his Tire was barely hanging onto his straps, broken and missing most of its parts from being landed on harshly when they had reached the bottom of the mountain.
“Nooo! Me baby!” Junkrat whimpered, cradling the pieces.
“Be grateful that wasn’t your skull, Rat.”
“That can still be arranged,” Lúcio muttered. Here D.Va completely snapped.
“Fucking - ENOUGH! No more fighting! You two are acting like fucking toddlers, and I am not your fucking babysitter! If you two don’t knock it off NOW, I will personally turn around and storm right into the desert and leave you two to try getting back up there on your own! Do I make myself clear?!”
The two fell quiet under her tone, akin to brothers being reprimanded by a haughty mother, and nodded.
“Good. Now, we need to think this through. We all have some sort of weapon, my mech recycles bullets so I have infinite. Lúcio, how many batteries do you have?”
“Three including the one in it…”
“And Junkrat, how many frags and mines do you have?”
“Uh…” he fumbled in his satchel and cargo short pockets, “Two trays and one mine…”
“Okay, we need to be conservative with our weapons. Now food and water. I’ve got two bags of my D.Va brand chips and two cans of lemon soda. I’ve also got a blanket and a first aid kit in my mech, per MEKA protocol. Lúcio?”
“I don’t carry food in battle.
“I’ve got me canteen of milk tea, that’s about it…”
Lúcio spat on the ground. “Why are you two acting like they’re not going to come get us? We’ve got our gauges and they’re not that far.”
He was largely convincing himself of this fact - denial was his favorite coping mechanism. He didn’t want to think being abandoned in the middle of nowhere with almost nothing for food nor defense. Surely Mercy had a plan to get them back and was already executing it, right?
“Yeah, get us how? You saw those Junkers make off with the fuel from the jet, and I doubt those little pod things have any either. Plus my tracker was in my windshield. My BROKEN windshield.”
“Wait, what?” Lúcio was shocked, “Don’t you have one for yourself?”
“I did, but since they programmed one into my mech, I never wore it into battle. Didn’t feel the need to.”
“You’re kidding me…”
He fumbled urgently for his own, looking at it. The screen was black, and pulsed with the low battery sign. Lúcio realized with growing dread that he had not charged it last night, and was now paying the price.
“No, no, no, shit! Mine’s not working! Rat, yours has gotta be on!”
Junkrat reached into his pocket and pulled out his own gauge. There was a huge crack clean across the middle, and the screen had long since gone black. It must have broken when he fell off the mech.
“See? Now how does that plan sound now?” D.Va said, putting her hand against her forehead as a headache began to brew, the fingertips of her white gloves growing red from the cut.
“S-shut up! They have to come for us, they can’t just leave us here, they have to -!”
“HOW, Lúcio? How?”
Lúcio bit his lip.
“…they will come! I know they will! We’ll wait and they’ll come!”
D.Va sighed, rubbing her temples.
“Fine…fine, we’ll wait.”
Junkrat snorted. “Fastest way to die. He’s too thick to realize this whole mess ain’t me fault, D.Va, do ya really think he -?”
Lúcio did not fully register what happened next. He became acutely aware of an explosion of pain on his hand, and the thud of a body hitting the ground. He realized, after seeing Junkrat flat on his back on the sand, gripping a bloody nose and howling in agony, that he had punched him in the face with a clenched, vengeful fist.
“Lúcio -! I said no more fighting -!” D.Va cried out, jumping out of her mech and rushing over to Junkrat to cradle his head.
“Me nose…! Ya punched it into me brain..!”
Lúcio didn’t say anything. He just looked down at his hand, at the red blood from Junkrat’s nose and his own raw knuckles mixed together under the scalding sun.
Once the three young heroes’ voices had gone silent, the remaining nine who had been involved in the training had bolted up to the tech room, where Winston and the other spectators were. Mercy was the first in, throwing open the doors.
“I know, I saw,” he said, expression grim.
“I will go get them, I have my rocket pack,” Pharah said, jumping to her feet.
“You’ll do no such thing, Fareeha!” Ana insisted, grabbing her wrist.
“Mama -! They’re children!”
“And you are my child. You know your rocket fuel is not enough to pull all three of them back up the mountain. I won’t have you also getting trapped down there.”
“I can go! I’ll Blink down slowly!” Tracer offered, desperate for a solution.
“You know you can’t bring anyone with you when you use your Chronal Accelerator, Lena,” Winston said quietly.
“You can’t possibly be saying there’s no way to bring them back here?!” Mercy cried, aghast.
“I…we don’t have fuel, so we can’t use the jet or the rescue pods. We can order some from Sydney, but -”
“That will take days, maybe weeks to get here! There has to be another way!”
“We can’t use the truck either, for the same reason. You can’t just launch yourself down after them, that won’t solve anything.” Winston’s voice was somber, knowing this piece of bad news was not something anyone wanted to hear.
“They could be hurt - or worse! They’re so small!”
“Angela.” Soldier:76 spoke up.
“W-we can go as a group, take some supplies, find them on foot!”
“That will take days, Mercy, especially if they’re moving too.”
“Stop acting like we just have to give up! They’re too young to die! Heroes never die!”
She flinched, looking at Soldier:76 as he rested a hand on her shoulder.
“They won’t die. Hana is a trained soldier. Junkrat has survived a nuclear apocalypse. Lúcio singlehandedly took down a corrupt organization. They will be fine.”
“You’re stressing. Nothing will happen to them. They are strong.”
“They’re so young…I’ll never forgive myself if something happens to them…”
She glanced up at Roadhog, the mask making his expression unreadable as his meaty hands remained clenched in fists. She felt as if he was angry with her. Like she was responsible. It burned in her chest.
“Angela…they’re going to be fine…”
“They’re the hardiest kids I know, tougher than nails,” McCree insisted.
“They are strong. Especially little rabbit girl,” Zarya added, nodding.
Mercy rubbed her face, looking like she might faint.
“A-at least they have their trackers…we can keep an eye on them until further notice…”
“About that…” Winston murmured, “We have a problem…”
The team crowded around his monitor as he pulled up the registrations of all the heroes. For almost all, there was a picture, a name, a hero classification, and other details. Most notably, a little green button reading “TRACKED” in the corner. These coincided with a map showing all of them as little dots huddled in the same location. But when Winston scrolled to the bottom, there were Junkrat, D.Va, and Lúcio’s cards, with the ever-pulsing red letters “ERROR: GPS SIGNAL LOST”.
Mercy burst into tears.
D.Va had opted to plunk her mech down between the boys, burying her nose in her history book. Junkrat was sitting down at her right, using a screwdriver to try and repair his RIP-Tire to no avail, while Lúcio was lying on his back at her left, blasting music from his single headphone. The pout had not moved from his lips since earlier - though he was becoming increasingly aware of how much time had passed. The sun, which had been hanging directly overhead during the match, now glared at them from just above the horizon, a sickly pale orange now.
“I’m fucking baking in here…” D.Va grumbled, wiping the sweat from her brow.
“D.Va, couldya kindly inform Lúcio that they are NOT comin’ to get us?”
“D.Va, could you do me a huge favor and smack Junkrat upside his fat, ugly head?”
“I am going to punch both of you in the cock if you don’t knock it off right now.”
Both boys sighed loudly.
“Listen, Lúcio...he has a point...if they could, they would have come for us by now…”
“They WILL come! They have to!”
“You’re doing that thing where you convince yourself of something, Lúcio…”
“I am not.”
“You’re doing it right now."
“Oh, for feck’s sake!” Junkrat said, throwing down his battered Tire, grabbing his Frag Launcher, and lurching up, “Ya two can stay here with the bities and blowies and cockies all night if ya want, waitin’ for those “heroes” who don’t give a fuck about us to come down and save yer arses, but I am leavin’. Yer welcome t’join me.”
He slung his gun over his shoulder and started walking off, towards the dying sun. Eastward.
“Junkrat…! Where are you going…?!”
“To Karratha. The actual town. Get some help.”
D.Va glanced from him to Lúcio.
“I am not moving.”
She gave him a long, hard look, frustrated with his unwavering denial, before finally heaving her mecha up and stomping after the Aussie.
“Wh - are you kidding me?!” Lúcio snapped, sitting up and glaring after her, “You’re going with him and leaving me here?!”
“Maybe you should come, then.”
Lúcio gritted his teeth instinctively, but had to stop when his jaw protested, still sore from the fall. He looked up at the enormous mountain, feeling incredibly small. He knew both of them were right, as much as he hated to admit it. If they could, the team would have already rescued the three of them, or at least found a way to send word down. But it had been just radio silence for hours now.
“Ugh...fine...wait for me!”
He rolled over and pushed himself to his feet, skating after the two.
Thank you for reading the second chapter! Any comments/kudos are appreciated greatly. Please stay tuned for the next installments!
This chapter was intended to have more content but it got SO long that I pushed that all to chapter three. I hope you guys are excited!
Follow http://artumndiesirae.tumblr.com/ for chapter updates/art!
(Main blog: http://autumndiesirae.tumblr.com/)
The three heroes wander through the desert, doing their best to survive.
Chapter 3 is here! It took a lot less time to get this one out, I hope everyone is excited about that!
WARNING: The following chapter contains a scenes of animal death and a semi-graphic vomit scene. Reader discretion is advised.
- 4 June 2017: Fixed some typos, added coldlucio.mp3 Vocaroo link
- 5 June 2017: Added animal death CWs
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Lúcio’s feet were numb from gliding along on his skates for so long. The sun was dipping towards the horizon; they would need to find shelter for the night soon. His throat was drying out and the sweat was clinging on his body in itchy streaks.
“Christ...how hot can it get out here…?” D.Va moaned, having long since taken off her gloves and tied up her hair. Given how overheated Lúcio felt out in the open, he could only imagine how boiling it was inside of her mech, even with the ventilation fans whirring endlessly to try and pump in fresh air.
Junkrat, who had been dragging his tongue up and down his forearm, looked up at her with the expression of a teacher whose student had proposed that the Earth was flat.
“It’s usually around...50 Celsius or somethin’. It’s not that bad right now, sheila.”
“50?! Is not bad?!” D.Va was aghast.
“Well, yeah. I remember this one time, it was upwards of 60 Celsius or some shit, and me and Roadhog were within cooee of this old shithouse inn - it was full of all these root rats and screamers - so we just nicked a whole bunch of grog and ran out the back door. The manager was spewin’, I say, mad as a cut snake.”
Lúcio and D.Va gave each other a long look, silently communicating how lost they were listening to the copious amounts of slang pouring out of Junkrat’s mouth like a broken faucet.
“Okay, okay…so what are we gonna do once the sun goes down…?”
“Hmm...probably start a fire...just because it’s hotter than Satan’s arsehole durin’ the day doesn’t mean it’s not bloody cold at night. If ya don’t wanna freeze off yer nips off, I would suggest we start early.”
“How? Do you have a -?”
Before Lúcio could finish his thought, Junkrat pulled a worn firestriker, the little steel and flint pieces bound together with a piece of rope, out of his satchel.
“I’ve also got me knife if the steel doesn’t wanna work. The bigger problem is findin’ flammable shit. I used to use me shirt, but…” he gestured down at his bare, muscular chest.
“I think I have some old gaming manuals and console order forms in here I don’t need…” D.Va said, running her tongue over her lips in some pointless attempt to moisten them.
“Good. Let’s find a lean-to or somethin’ to hide from the wind, before it gets too dark. The less sides we have open to the GAFA, the better. Last thing we need is a dingo sneakin’ up behind us.”
Junkrat resumed licking his arms, leaving Lúcio to grimace.
“Why do you keep doing that, it’s fucking gross.”
“Cools ya down. Kangaroos do it. Ya should try it.”
“No, I’m not disgusting like you.”
“Oh, piss off. You’ve been mad as a frog in a sock for the past few hours, take a lesson from Mei and chill out.”
“Stop arguing,” D.Va snapped, not in the mood for this. Her dehydration headache had yet to leave and she was in no way about to listen to the two boys bicker endlessly over trivial things.
Lúcio was not in a much better state. On top of the now swollen cut on his lip and the aching of his teeth, he was beginning to feel the steady prickle of sunburn on his exposed skin, and the clenching and unclenching of his hungry stomach. The oatmeal cookies he had eaten hours ago were not even close to enough to keep him full until now. All he wanted to do was complain and whine and lie on the sand and wait for someone to come carry him back to his soft bed, but he swallowed it down and kept walking. His legs protested each step.
Something roughly caught on his skate, yanking him out of his daze and making him stumble. He whipped around, expecting it to be a rock or some debris, but his blood ran cold when he saw the face of an Omnic staring back at him. Well, half an Omnic - the top half, specifically. The one-armed metallic corpse was lying face-up in the sand, long since ‘dead’.
“God…what happened to him…?”
“Serves it right. Bots should be scrapped,” Junkrat said gruffly. Lúcio glared at him.
“We’ve been to Numbani how many times now and you still think Omnics are bad? You’ve seen the traffic bots, the defense units like the OR-14s, the ones who are peaceful. Why can’t you just -?”
“Look around, ya drongo,” the Aussie snarled, jerking his hand out at the wasteland around him, “All this? Those damn bots are the cause of it. Don’t ya come the raw prawn with me, anyone with half a brain knows it’s true.”
Lúcio opened his mouth to argue, but realized he was right. The radioactive hellhole that was the remnants of the Australian continent was a result of the Omnium factory explosion, which was caused by the very human protesters in the Australian Liberation Front, seeking their land back - but the protests would not have even happened if not for the government’s desperate attempts to reconcile with the Omnics by giving them that land in the first place, displacing all those people. Lúcio believed with all his heart that there were good Omnics, like Zenyatta and Mondatta, out there, who wanted to live in peace and harmony with humans, but he could not just ignore that the Omnic Crisis happened and left the planet - and most poignantly, Australia - devastated in its wake.
D.Va was quiet. Whatever her opinions on Omnics and the Crisis, she hated talking about the repercussions of the war. Too many bad memories clawed at her brain, working their way into her dreams and haunting her even when awake. Sometimes, when they travelled to Eichenwalde, she would quietly mumble to herself how similar the destruction of the German town was to her own home, and then her eyes would glaze over until someone gently snapped her out of it. Lúcio had never developed the courage to ask her what happened to her parents, and he was not sure he was ready to hear the answer either. He had too many times walked by her door at night and heard soft crying. His Korean was weak, but enough time spent around D.Va had taught him that mian haeyo meant “I’m sorry”.
“Alright, alright, fine…” Lúcio murmured, glancing at her.
“Now come on, we gotta get this fire built. It’s gettin’ late.”
The sun was starting to dip below the horizon, the pale orange from earlier melting into a darker shade. Lúcio was reminded of the delicious sanguinellos his mama would buy, imported straight from Spain. As a kid, he would love to sink his teeth into the crimson flesh of the citrus, letting the juice run sloppily down his chin.
“ Lúcio, querida, você está fazendo uma bagunça,” his mother would reprimand gently, wiping his face with the pink handkerchief she kept with her at all times before kissing his cheek and reminding him that he was sweet enough as is. The dull pulse of homesickness that came from the knot in his throat seemed to want to choke him. He wanted to go home.
“Here’s a good spot,” Junkrat’s voice cut into his thoughts like a rusty blade. Lúcio looked over at the hulking boulder that the blond was gesturing to - it was three times taller than D.Va’s mech, and twice as wide. It would protect them from the harsh winds from at least one angle.
“Okay, Rat, you’re the boss, what next?” D.Va said, looking around. Junkrat knelt to the ground and started digging with his hands, making a slight dip in the hot sand.
“Give me those papers ya were talkin’ about.”
D.Va dug through her mecha supplies and pulled out a wad of retro game emulator installation tips, handing them to Junkrat through her broken windshield. He ruffled them and placed them spread apart in the wide divot.
“Now ya two wait here so I can get some rocks.”
He scuttled off, collecting pebbles to line the sides of their makeshift firepit, as D.Va clambered out of her mech and made sure the papers stayed in place. Lúcio absently licked his thumb and held it up to gauge the wind direction - it was a tailwind, coming up from behind their shelter. Their fire would not be blown out so easily, at the very least.
Junkrat returned, neatly setting the stones around the dip before pulling out his firestarter. With a few quick strokes, the sparks fell on the pages, beginning to burn. He lowered his face down, far too close to the flame for Lúcio’s liking, and cupped it with his hands, blowing ever so gently. The tiny fire grew slowly, until they had a decently-sized blaze going, radiating warmth that became more and more welcome as the sun slid below the horizon.
“We’ll need to keep it fed, though…” D.Va said, worried.
“I’ll handle that. Ya two stay here.”
Junkrat rounded the corner of the boulder and disappeared. Lúcio, suddenly feeling rather anxious now that their guide was gone, sat down by the fire, warming his hands near it as his leg muscles finally got some relief from the endless walking. He knew that today was just the tip of the iceberg - after all, they had only walked for a few hours, give or take. Tomorrow, they would have to start in the morning. He already was cringing in preparation for the grueling hike.
The fire devoured the papers quickly, starting to shrink within a few minutes. D.Va was comfortable, settled in her mecha with its heating systems, but Lúcio began to shiver as the warmth subsided. It was genuinely shocking how drastic the temperature difference was between night and day in the Outback. When barely an hour ago he had been sweating bullets and wishing he could have an ice-cold glass of water, now he craved a hot bath and a jacket.
Junkrat returned, holding an armful of thin long twigs, borderline fossilized from the radiation and heat.
“Where did you get those?” Lúcio asked, surprised.
“Dug ‘em up. Ya can find lots of shit buried under the surface, down 10, maybe 20 centimetres. I also got this!” he gleefully held up a lizard, still alive, up its tail. It wriggled in protest, making tiny hisses.
“Junkrat, careful! What if it’s poisonous?!” D.Va said, terrified for her friend.
“Oh, please, bunny, its safe. Watch.”
Before she could say anything to the contrary, Junkrat shoved the reptile whole into his mouth, crunching it audibly in his teeth. Lúcio felt a wave of nausea pass over him.
“That’s fucking disgusting…” he groaned.
“Nah, its good protein. I’ll go get more if ya want.”
“…I’ll give it a try,” D.Va conceded. Lúcio looked at her like she was insane.
“No, I’d rather reserve our food supply as long as possible…but if you don’t want to try, I’ll give you my chips.”
She dug around in her mech and pulled out an unopened pack of D.Va brand nacho cheese chips, handing them to Lúcio. He would have loved to ravenously gulp them down, but knowing how precious the resource was, he controlled himself to eating one chip at a time, holding them in his mouth and licking at the powdery coating. Once he got about halfway through the bag, he forced himself to stop, returning the chips to his friend despite the despairing moans of his gut. He did his best to satisfy himself by licking the cheesy dust off his fingers and lips.
During this time, Junkrat had left again, hunting for lizards and more branches. He returned a good ten minutes later, carrying three lizards with their necks between his fingers and another handful of short, ashen twigs. He added them slowly, one at a time, before offering the live, squirming animals to D.Va. She recoiled a bit.
“C-can you at least kill them first?”
Junkrat scoffed, but obliged, placing them down one at a time and slamming his foot on them with such force that they died on impact. Quick, and hopefully painless. The animal-loving Lúcio winced with each stomp before Junkrat handed the corpses to D.Va. She nibbled on the tails, clearly not enjoying this, as he tended to the flames.
“If we had some petrol or a li’l diesel I could keep this fire goin’ much longer,” he grumbled.
“Foiyah,” D.Va mimicked, giggling. Junkrat clicked his tongue in annoyance at her.
“Ooo, ooo! Do your Tracer impression again!” she insisted.
“Eheheh… cheers, mate! The cavalry’s here! ” he said mockingly, causing her to laugh. Lúcio’s eye twitched, not pleased with their teasing of their friend.
A cold wind wrapped itself around them, ruffling the flames. Lúcio shuddered, blowing into his hands to try and warm them as he huddled closer by the fire, making little noises akin to when Mei turned her Endothermic Blaster in his direction.
D.Va pulled a relatively small orange shock blanket out of her mecha, throwing it to him.
“We’re supposed to use these for hostage rescue situations, but I doubt they’ll be mad if we use it here…”
Lúcio wrapped the fuzzy cover around his shoulders, grateful for the slight warmth. He would hog it as long as he could, knowing full well that when bedtime came, Junkrat would be sharing it with him. He hated the thought of sleeping with his back pressed against that snoring, filthy Aussie, who was currently spitting out some bones into the fire.
“What’s the plan for tomorrow?” D.Va asked, moving onto her second lizard as she spoke.
“We keep walkin’. Hate to break it to ya two, but the town is pretty fuckin’ far. At least another few days.”
If Lúcio could blanche, he would.
“There is no way we have enough supplies for that…!” he protested. Junkrat shrugged.
“Tough luck. Guess we’ll raid a camp. Get our knuckles bloody.”
“Junkrat, please, there’s gotta be another way…” D.Va murmured, tone begging.
“We’ll be fine,” he insisted, “Ya have me, dontcha? I’ll keep ya safe.”
“That’s exactly what I’m worried about…” Lúcio growled, ignoring the reproachful look D.Va shot him.
“Rack off, dipstick,” Junkrat spat in return.
“We should get some sleep…” she interjected, hoping a night of rest would soothe their boiling blood and help them think straight. Junkrat begrudgingly got up, shrugging off his pipe bombs and tossing them aside quickly, and sat next to Lúcio, who protectively clung to the blanket.
“D.Va, he won’t share.”
“Lúcio.” Her tone was suggesting he should not argue with her. With a sigh, Lúcio let go of one side of the blanket, allowing Junkrat to slide in next to him.
“Both of you stop it and go to bed,” D.Va snapped, having already folded her arms in a makeshift pillow under her head, trying to sleep.
“Night, Lú. Night, Junkrat.”
Lúcio laid down, pulling the blanket up in such a way that his cheek was protected from the itchy sand. Junkrat flopped next to him, their backs facing each other.
Time seemed to crawl by, with silence pervading the night sans the crackle and pop of the fire and the occasional sound of a dingo howl in the distance. Eventually, the soft snores of Junkrat to his left and the rhythmic breathing of D.Va to his right let Lúcio know he was alone.
He cried. The silent sobs wracked his body as he curled into a tight ball, wanting nothing more than to be home right now. He would give anything to barge back into the house he grew up in, throwing his arms around his mother and insisting repeatedly how he would never leave again, how none of this Overwatch business was worth being away from his people for so long. Hell, even if it was not his mom, but Mercy, or Reinhardt, or someone else he was close to, someone else who was family. It did not matter. He just wanted to be far away from this radioactive hellhole, sleeping with his back to a grimy idiot he did not trust. Anywhere but here. Anywhere but here. Anywhere but here…
There was hardly any transition between sleep and wakefulness for Lúcio. He had tossed and turned all night, back aching and eyes burning. And then, just when it felt like he had a chance of drifting off, he was forced up by the sound of D.Va’s voice. He opened his bloodshot eyes, staring blearily up at her.
Junkrat was already awake, and he had been long for a good while before D.Va had stirred. He had gone in search of some more lizards sunning themselves in the growing warmth of the sunrise, but had returned empty-handed. Instead, he lowered himself down as Lúcio slowly pushed himself up, offering his canteen.
“You know I hate boba,” Lúcio muttered, trying his best not to let his morning breath out. He felt itchy all over from the sand that had worked its way into his clothes, and his skin crawled from the bitter cold that was melting into blistering heat, slowly but surely.
“Ain’t got much else,” Junkrat said gruffly, shrugging and taking a drink. The DJ begrudgingly accepted the worn container, sipping thirstily. The milk tea was disgustingly warm and the tapioca pearl caught in his throat, making him shudder and quickly pass the canteen to D.Va.
“Methinks we’re better off travelin’ at night…” Junkrat said, adjusting his belt.
“There’s bugs and shit at night, Rat, I don’t think that’s a good idea…” D.Va said, returning his drink.
“We don’t need anyone gettin’ sick from the heat either,” Junkrat retorted, “We’ll see.”
They resumed walking. Lúcio’s stomach felt like it was caving in on itself, making little moans of desperation. He tried to busy himself with licking at his lips, collecting the salty sweat and faint taste of blood from his still-swollen cut. As the sun climbed higher and higher, the endless beating of the rays, multiplied by the radiation, ate at Lúcio’s unprotected skin. He could feel himself gathering sunburns on top of sunburns all over his shoulders and arms and neck.
“Hey...can we stop fer a minute…?” Junkrat said suddenly, voice wheezy and pained. Lúcio looked back at him.
“Me leg, it’s, uh...actin’ up again...just need a quick breatha.”
“Of course you can, Rat...let me see that,” D.Va said. She slid out of the back of her mech and knelt in front of Junkrat as he sunk to the sand, pushing up his camo shorts to see the damage. The stump of his leg was red against the mechanical peg, rubbed raw from so much labored walking. The Aussie hissed in pain as he pulled off the prosthetic, rubbing the spot to try and alleviate the discomfort.
“I thought you could walk in that thing for longer than this,” Lúcio said flatly.
“I can…but sleepin’ in it is a pain…I get sand and other shit in there…”
D.Va clicked her tongue in a motherly manner. “That must sting...Lúcio, could you heal him?”
Lúcio paused for a moment, something tugging at his hand when it reached for his Sonic Amplifier.
“… Lúcio .” D.Va’s voice was one of warning.
He made a noise, looking at Junkrat - he was still seated on the dirt, looking at him with a somber expression. Lúcio flipped on his weapon and swept his fingers over the touch patch, the loud and boppy We Move Together As One tune crossfading into the calm healing beat of Rejuvenescência . Junkrat exhaled in relief as the painful redness calmed down.
“Don’t call me that. We need to conserve the Amplifier battery for emergencies. Do what you have to so you don’t get hurt.”
“I…okay…” Junkrat said, pulling his prosthetic back on, muttering under his breath something akin to ‘cranky arsehole’. D.Va’s lips curled into a scowl as she stood up, looking at the DJ.
“May I have a word with you, privately?”
Lúcio looked around the barren landscape. “Private where?”
“Just on the other side of this rock formation here. Follow me.”
The DJ followed her into the shade behind the boulders. She promptly turned on him once Junkrat was out of earshot, glaring.
“I’m going to lose my temper now.”
Lúcio exhaled. “Listen -”
“No, you listen, Lúcio Correia dos Santos. I have had it up to here -” the gamer jerked her hand above her head aggressively, “- with your attitude. You’re so salty over all this shit we’re going through that you’ve turned into a total dick! You’re not the only one stuck out here without food and water, so fucking cut it out! You’re treating Junkrat like garbage! All over this blatantly wrong idea that he somehow caused us to fall! It’s not his fault!”
“It is his fault. You saw. His tire broke the map.”
“It could have just as easily been my ult! Or Tracer’s, Rein’s, or, I dunno, fucking Winston’s! It just happened to be that Junkrat got his first and used it first!”
Lúcio growled, looking away. He knew she was right, but was still so bitter about being stranded in the middle of the hot nuclear wasteland to admit it.
“Just be kind to the poor bastard. We can’t make it to that town near here without his help.”
“If there even is one.”
“Lúcio, come on!”
“Give me one reason to.”
“Because I asked you! Please , Lúcio...if you won’t do it for him, then do it for me…”
Lúcio rolled his eyes, hands on his hips. He was not looking at D.Va but could see out of the corner of his eye that she was genuinely concerned about the Aussie. And as much as he hated to acknowledge it, he knew he needed to do his job as a healer for the sake of the team, if not his friends. With a begrudging sigh, he nodded.
“Don’t make any mistake - I’m doing this for you, not him.”
D.Va narrowed her eyes. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
“Are ya two done makin’ out back there? We need to get goin’.”
Lúcio gritted his teeth.
“We’re finishing up.”
“Come on, Lú…”
She lead him out, rubbing his back gently. Lúcio looked up at Rat, feeling his stomach make a pitiful sound of hunger.
Hours bled into days, long stretches of time seemed to drag on, each step taken more painful than the last. Sometimes the wind would whip up, hurling sand in their faces like it was mocking them. Other times, the air would be still and suffocating in its dryness. They would take a break at midday to eat some chips and old milk tea - hardly filling - then walk some more until the sun fell and they were forced to make a tiny campfire to huddle around for warmth. Their supplies were running lower and lower with each day spent out here, as were their forms of entertainment - counting weirdly-shaped outcroppings of rock or measuring steps was only fun the first 200 times. The meal rations became smaller, the fires became barely enough to light a candle, but the heat of the day, the icy cold of the night, and the endless whine of their brains, desperate for relief in some form, stayed ever present.
Lúcio's bones themselves seemed to ache as he opened and closed his tired eyes repeatedly. He had not come from an especially well-off family, but hunger was a foreign feeling to him. At least, hunger like this. His stomach seemed to be wringing itself out like a laundress squeezing the moisture from a towel. His throat burned, parched from the endless heat of the Outback.
He absently ran a finger over his brow, finding it covered in dust and soot when he gazed upon it. He had become far too jaded to care about morning breath at this point, but the crawling of his skin under the layers of dirt was still ever present, stifled somewhat only by the horrible hunger and thirst pervading his mind.
D.Va looked no better, though Lúcio had trouble telling if this was due to her own starvation or from her constant vigilance to keep them from arguing. Or perhaps it was from listening to the incessant "low battery" alert noise her mecha was giving off. It was protesting, having gone way too long without being charged and maintained. Hearing it through one’s sleep over the nights could not be good for one’s mood.
The only one who remained chipper was Junkrat, and Lúcio's patience had rapidly run thin listening to the scatterbrained Aussie's endless chatter about the various hijinks he and Roadhog had gotten into back when they still lived here. Lúcio was sure he had heard about the time they bombed a bunch of ‘swaggies’ and stole their petrol at least four separate times now.
“Shit…” D.Va murmured, as the faint beeping started up again, for the third time in a row since yesterday. Junkrat watched as she wriggled herself out of the back with a little tool kit, pulling on her gloves before nimbly climbing on top.
“Careful, sheila…don’t burn yerself…”
“I’ll be fine,” she said, opening the top panel and working on the inner circuits with engineering skills that Torbjörn would envy.
A very strange smell was working its way into Lúcio’s nose. He registered it was the acrid stench of a bonfire mingled with the salty scent of cooking meat. His stomach howled.
“Rat…do you -?”
“Yeah, I smell it. D.Va, wait here, keep yer pistol on ya. We’re gonna go take a squizz around.”
The two boys followed the trail, noses wiggling eagerly. Lúcio squinted against the harsh glare of sun, pointing.
A spire of dark smoke was rising up from a few metres away, blotting out the blue of the sky behind it. At the base were roaring flames, far bigger than their miniscule sparks.
“It’s a gas fire…kero, smells like. I’ll reckon it’s those same dills that stole it from the jet back at the Watchpoint. Careful, Lú…”
He gripped Lúcio’s arm and pulled him behind the shelter of a russet boulder, peeking out slightly. Lúcio peered past him, at the darkened shapes moving around the flames. Upon closer inspection, he found they were all wearing mouth covers, such as gas masks and bandanas. They were severely emaciated, though their arms were muscular and all of them towered at least six feet tall.
“Christ…” Lúcio mumbled, feeling small, “Are all Junkers this fucking huge?”
“They’re not Junkers. They’re scum, I tell ya. Shonky as all hell.”
Lúcio peered out, struggling to see given their distance, but registered that they had a row of rabbits roasting on spiked metal rods, suspending over the fire. These bunnies looked nothing like the cute little visitors the DJ got in his garden back home - they were huge, double the size of a regular hare, and with weirdly purplish fur. Their ears had been ripped off, likely toasted a while beforehand and eaten as a pre-meal snack. Lúcio’s stomach was torn between natural disgust and desperate hunger.
“…come on, let’s go back to D.Va,” Junkrat said, hauling himself up. Lúcio looked up at him, aghast.
“You can’t be serious.”
“Wot? Ya wanna battle four perverts for a chance to eat some burnt rabbit that’s drier than a dead dingo’s donger?”
Lúcio grimaced at the analogy, “We’re hungry. We already are down on supplies, maybe we can -?”
“Ask? Ha! Prepare to get shot fulla holes. And that’s if you’re lucky.”
Lúcio decided not to ask what happened to the unlucky ones.
He heaved himself up, staggering a bit as his vision blackened for a minute. His stomach made another loud cry, audible enough for both to hear.
Junkrat paused, looking at him. His expression was unreadable, though Lúcio detected hints of concern in his eyes.
“…let’s get D.Va. A three versus four is better than a two versus four.”
Lúcio blinked in surprise.
“I thought you said -”
“I know what I said, mate. But I forgot the likes of ya aren’t used to goin’ without food like we are.”
The mention of food elicited another growl from Lúcio’s gut, making him wince. Those three chips he had eaten last night felt like they were years ago.
They returned to D.Va, who had managed to stop the beeping for now. She was clambering back into her mecha.
“Alright, sheila, we’re gettin’ into a brawl. Think this old hunk of metal can handle it?”
“Don’t insult my mech. What brawl? What are you talking about?”
“There’s a bandit camp down that way,” Junkrat jerked his head behind himself, “They’ve got food, likely water too. We’re gonna steal it.”
“That seems like a bad idea…” D.Va said, furrowing her brow.
“And starving is a better one?” Junkrat replied, giving her a long look with those wild orange eyes. She gazed at him quietly before exhaling.
“What’s the plan?”
“Lúcio’ll be bait.”
“Me -?!” Lúcio was stunned. “Why me?!”
“Because you’re the weakest one, I’ve got me bombs and D.Va’s got a fuckin’ tank,” Junkrat said, barreling on before Lúcio could protest, “Ya go in front, distract them, and we sneak behind for a surprise. We don’t gotta kill ‘em, we can just knock him out, but if they start gettin’ rowdy…”
“I’ve got infinite bullets, you keep your frags for an emergency,” D.Va insisted, “Same to you, Lúcio, keep that Amplifier off unless you need it. We can heal up after. Once we start attacking, you get to cover as fast as your little legs can take you.”
“My legs are the same size as yours…” Lúcio grumbled, too hot and hungry to argue.
“Have we got a plan?” Junkrat said, looking at his partners. They nodded.
“Then let’s get this party started.”
Lúcio went first, watching D.Va’s huge mech and the tall Aussie slink around out of view. He knew if he failed his job and got the two caught, their entire plan would fall apart faster that he could cuss. He was terrified, for sure. A small, lost, and, as Junkrat had put it, ‘weak’ medic, with drastically bright clothes and dark skin compared to the average Junker? Might as well have painted a target on his face with neon signs around him screaming “SHOOT ME”. His palms were clammy as he skated slowly up to the camp, breath catching in his throat.
The biggest one was the first to see him, jerking his head up and glaring at him over his half-gas mask.
“What the fuck are ya doin’. Keep walkin’.”
Lúcio swallowed hard, shaking.
Quick, you idiot, say something!
“I…need water…do you have any…?”
“What makes ya think we’re gonna share any with the likes of you?” spat another in a female voice, pulling out a submachine gun held together by tape and aiming it directly at him, “Rack off, ankle biter.”
Lúcio’s hands instinctively flew up in a surrendering motion. “P-please don’t shoot me…”
He was following the movements of D.Va and Junkrat through the broken lens of his visor. They were almost in position.
“Then start walkin’. I’ll give ya to the count of three before we pump your guts fulla lead.”
Lúcio’s legs were shaking beneath him, not wanting to work suddenly.
Please, please, please, just jump in, just get them to aim away from me.
Lúcio shut his eyes, bracing for it.
Before the leader could finish, he was knocked to the ground by a rocket-boosting D.Va, who used the remainder of her flight to throw the SMG out of the girl’s hand. Lúcio peeked out past his eyelashes, rooted to the spot in fear, as Junkrat sprung out of his hiding place, grabbing one thief’s head and putting them in a sleeper hold. Lúcio knew he should move, run behind something for cover, but he could not seem to make his muscles obey his brain.
“What the fuck -?!”
The girl and the other bandit were making a mad dash for their weapons, but D.Va was having none of it. She used her two Fusion Cannons to smash the heads of the two together, knocking them out and leaving them in a crumpled heap as Junkrat finished disabling the third. The leader was the only one left, struggling to get up from the sand.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were ya,” Junkrat said, voice low, as he put his boot against the beefy neck of the final bandit.
“Get offa me -!” he screeched, struggling to look up at him.
“D.Va, if you would.”
She stomped over to finish the job as the man rolled over, glaring up at Junkrat. He suddenly went quiet.
“…I know you.”
“No, ya don’t,” Junkrat said, though Lúcio could have sworn there was a weird twitch in his eye.
“Yeah, we all do. Jamison Fawkes.”
D.Va slowed, looking at Junkrat. His expression had gone dark.
“Everyone knows ya. Where’d ya hide yer treasure? All us Junkers are huntin’ for it. Did yer fat fuck of a bodyguard eat it all?” he cackled cruelly.
It was a blur of a motion - one second the man was sneering up at Junkrat, the next he was lying on the sand, head bent at an awkward angle. Lúcio registered that Junkrat had snapped his neck.
“…holy shit, dude…”
The Aussie was breathing hard.
“Don’t insult me Roadie.”
D.Va hesitated, then placed her arm on his shoulder through the hole in her glass.
“Are you gonna be okay…?” she asked, worried for him.
“I’m fine. Let’s just get this shit and leave. Ya two, take the meat, I’ll look for water.”
Lúcio inched aside, suddenly scared. There was no erratic giggles coming out of Junkrat’s mouth, no twisted smile gracing his lips. Just a cold, angry stare, before he swiftly kicked the corpse at his feet right in the sternum.
“Eat boot,” he growled, a little laugh pushing its way out of his throat before he headed off to find the bandits’ water tank.
Lúcio stayed close to D.Va, helping her collect the roasting rabbits.
“What was that…? That scared the shit out of me…” he murmured.
“He hates when people call Roadhog fat, you know this,” D.Va said, weirdly unfazed by what just happened, “Remember that story he told us? About the suit who set them up?”
“Well, now you know how to not get on his bad side,” she said, ruffling his hair.
“I found some water! Not much though…” Junkrat called, holding up two large water bottles, the good aluminum kind that kept the water inside cool without the added taste of metal.
“We got the meat.”
“Let’s go, before these drongos wake up. Though methinks their dead dipstick of a friend might be a good message,” he said, rather purposefully stepping on the leader’s body again as he returned to them, handing the bottles to D.Va for safekeeping in her mech.
“Come on, let’s go…”
It took every fibre of Lúcio’s being not to gobble down the meat right there and then, but he managed to control himself until they got decently far from the camp. They sat in the shade of a rocky overhang, digging into the food. The boiling sun had kept it warm.
Lúcio wolfed at the rabbit like a starved dog. Junkrat looked at him, raising an eyebrow.
“Chew yer food, Lú…”
Lúcio refused, far too hungry to do anything outside of rip the tough meat off the bone and swallow. Junkrat rolled his eyes, looking up at D.Va.
“How ‘bout ya?”
D.Va was far less eager about the meal, looking reproachfully down at the furless corpse in her hands.
“I feel bad…you guys know I like bunnies…”
“Trust me, sheila, this ain’t yer regular bunny. Look.”
He pushed what was left of the rabbit’s lips up, exposing big, sharp fangs. D.Va shuddered, disturbed.
“Besides, not like we killed it. It was already like that.”
She conceded, nibbling little by little at the meat as Junkrat took the last two, slicing them open butterfly-style and suspending them on the back of her mech with some rope from his satchel.
“We can dry them out and make jerky. Will last longer,” he said, licking his knife clean before tucking it back in its holster. Lúcio wanted to protest and say he’d eat both of those rabbits right here, but kept quiet, instead focusing on picking the bones clean.
Once all three were finished, and had drunk some water thirstily, they were on the move again. The sun was directly overhead now, just barely beginning its descent as the afternoon started. Its light bore into Lúcio’s eyes and skin, until they finally camped out for the night. Junkrat had looked around for the kerosene at the camp, but found they had already sold most of it and burned the rest, leaving them with only a couple of crumpled Korean gaming printouts to burn for the warmth. Junkrat and D.Va slept soundly - well, as soundly as they could - but Lúcio tossed and turned all night, his stomach aching something fierce. He could not tell if it was from the difficulty of digesting the huge pieces of meat he’d eaten or from the icy cold gripping his gut, but he shivered and groaned until dawn.
The next day was hardly any better. Lúcio could not seem to shake the night’s cold from himself as they walked, even as the sun climbed higher and higher.
Then, his stomach started to gurgle painfully, and the nausea started.
As the minutes seemed to drag by, it got steadily worse. The pulse in his abdomen grew more and more unbearable, making a cold sweat break out on his face. He started falling behind, breathing shallow. The horrible feelings hit him, wave after wave, making his skin crawl.
Please, please don’t, don’t get sick now…
“Lúcio? What’s wrong with you?” D.Va said, looking back at him as he dug his fingers into his stomach, “We don’t have all day.”
“W…wait a minute…” Lúcio gasped, shaking. His jaw was locking and his knees felt weak.
“What are you -?”
It surged up, acidic and hot, pouring uncontrollably out of his mouth amidst horribly loud, painful-sounding retches. His arms wrapped around his stomach as he bent at the waist, puking all over the sand. The sick splashed on his skates, a disgustingly watery brown.
“Oh, fuck -! Ewww!” D.Va cried out, immediately pressing her headphones hard against her ears. He knew very well she was an emetophobe, hating the sound of people vomiting, but as much as he wished and begged for this to stop, his body refused. Junkrat, on the other hand, responded in a completely different, unexpected way.
“Shit, okay - hang on, froggy,” he said, bolting over and holding Lúcio’s long hair out of the way with his prosthetic hand. His other hand moved down, rubbing the smaller man’s back gently, “Let it all out, I gotcha…”
Every time it felt like he was done, something else pushed its way out, leaving him sputtering and coughing. His throat and mouth and nose burned from the acidity, and his skin was clammy and cold. Tears were leaking down his face by the time his stomach was emptied of its contents.
“Shh, shh, it’s okay, I gotcha…are ya done? Ya wanna get it all out, it’ll feel better.”
Lúcio nodded weakly, making weird choked sobs. He felt Junkrat slid his hand under his knees, lifting up and carrying him in a bridal-style manner to a nearby rock for shade.
“D.Va, come here, I need yer help,” he said, laying Lúcio down so that his head was on the Aussie’s lap, “Sit yer mech down here.”
D.Va obeyed, sliding down beside him as Junkrat lifted Lúcio’s legs up, suspending them on the ‘thigh’ of the mecha, while keeping the DJ’s head resting on his lap.
“W…what are you doing…” he mumbled, still feeling like he might vomit again.
“Ya either have heat stroke or radiation poisonin’ or both. None of those are good news. D.Va, give me one of yer lemon sodas.”
“I thought you said to keep those for emergencies?” she said, handing him the can.
“This is an exception. Yer gloves, those two. Give.”
“Just let me do me bloody job, dammit.”
She huffed, removing her dirty, sweaty white gloves and handing them to him. He cracked open the can with his teeth before pouring out some of it onto the gloves and placing them on Lúcio’s forehead with a wet slap. The bubbly cool liquid seeped into his sweaty skin, a welcome change.
“Open up, froggy, ya need some bubbly.”
Lúcio did not exactly want to open his mouth, for fear another round of puking would start up, but he obliged, letting Junkrat gently pour the soda into his mouth. The gentle hint of lemon washed the taste from his mouth.
“Now, if ya need to burp after drinkin’ this, be sure to. Ya will feel better, trust me,” he said, “And if ya have anythin’ else in ya, get it out. I told ya to chew, dammit…”
He stroked Lúcio’s head, looking down at him with a remarkably concerned expression. Lúcio was unsure how to respond.
“I…thanks…” he murmured.
“Don’t talk, froggy. Just rest.”
Lúcio closed his eyes, breathing softly.
“You really think this is radiation poisoning…?” D.Va asked, worried.
“Well, yeah. All things considered, it’s one of the better outcomes. First comes anemia, ya bleed out more and more with each cut, and yer blood gets thin and shitty. Then it’s this, the pukin’ and the nausea. Then ya get the headaches, the fevers, the bad ones, y’know? Where ya can’t talk because yer teeth are chatterin’ so bad.”
Here he trailed off, looking a little grim.
“Then the long-term shit starts…”
“O-oh…?” D.Va asked, not sure if she wanted the answer. Lúcio opened one eye, looking up at him.
“Some of it’s not so bad…we get taller, y’know, us Aussies are all big. Sometimes our colors get all washed out, all pale and yellowish. But…the bad shit…it’s hard to ignore. Yer hair…just starts to fall out in these huge pieces…ya bleed real bad, and those cuts, they just get all infected and gross…ya get all these rashes and bleedin’ and shit…the girls…they have it worse…they start losin’ their, y’know, their lady functions. Can’t have kids anymore. And then the unluckiest of us, we get really sick. Shit growin’ on our necks, in our stomachs, our brains. People go crazy out here, they get all weird and loud and evil. They don’t care about people, they’ll kill their own ankle biters for a drink of water, that’s how bad the madness gets. We start to forget things, even the things that matter…names, faces, lovers, who we used to be before all this Omnium shit happened. And then they’ll just…keel over. Dead. From the inside out. I’ve seen it. It’s terrifyin’…makes ya wonder if you’re next…”
D.Va made a noise in her throat. “Will that happen to you…?”
“I’d like to think not, sheila. But I don’t know. Only time will tell.”
Lúcio swallowed a little harder than normal.
“But let’s not think about that,” Junkrat said, with a little giggle, as if he did not just tell his friends about the horrors of the radiation, “D.Va, baby, tell me about yer country again. All the gamers are there, yeah? Like you?”
D.Va cleared her throat.
“Yeah, uh, I used to be on a professional Starcraft team, the WCS Korea Code S League…”
Apparently at some point Lúcio had fallen asleep with his head in Junkrat’s lap, because he felt himself being gently nudged awake by D.Va.
“Hey…how are you feeling…?” she asked. He could tell by the way she was bathed in golds and oranges that the sun was setting.
“Fine…” he said, making an attempt to sit up. He was lying in a small depression in the ground, the soil beneath his fingers cool to the touch compared to the hot sand. He felt better than earlier, but the grogginess in his brain and limbs clung tightly, making his muscles ache.
“We dug you a little bed…” she said, offering him the remnants of the lemon soda from earlier, which he greedily drank. There was a dull throb in his bladder, making him shift.
“I need to pee…”
“Me too…but I didn’t want to leave you…”
“Where’s Junkrat?” he said, looking around.
“Right here,” came a muffled answer from behind the mech. Junkrat hobbled over, holding a slice of dried bunny jerky in his hand.
“Eat this. Slowly.”
Lúcio took it and chewed it, painstakingly taking his time this round. He did not want another radiation-induced vomitfest to take place. All that wasted food…
“I’m gonna go pee, don’t come around the corner,” D.Va said, hopping out of her mecha. Junkrat snorted.
“I don’t think either of us are gonna care if we see you pissin’, sheila.”
She gave him a look, gesturing to the full-body suit she would have to take off. Junkrat wiggled his brows pervertedly at her before she mimed slicing his throat.
“Fine, fine, we’ll leave ya be,” he teased, letting her go do her business as he looked at Lúcio.
“Nothin’. Just glad you’re okay…”
Lúcio raised an eyebrow, shifting more. Fuck, he needed to go. Lemon soda went through one quickly.
“What?” Junkrat said, grinning, “Ya gotta piss too?”
“Fuck off, Rat,” he grimaced.
“Sure ya can stand? Need me to hold yer cock for ya too?” the Aussie cackled.
“You’re gross…” Lúcio grumbled, though with far less spite than he could have mustered. He did not feel right insulting Junkrat given how the Aussie basically nursed him back to health from his earlier sickness.
Junkrat offered his hand to the DJ, letting him take it before hauling him up. Lúcio’s legs did not want to work right away, wobbling on his skates and forcing Junkrat to catch him.
“Easy, easy…I gotcha…”
Lúcio slowly woke up his body, standing on his own after a minute.
“There ya go, see? You’re aces.”
“Rat, can you help me? I can’t reach the zipper…” D.Va said, returning and clawing hopelessly at the clasps on the back of her neck.
“I gotcha, sheila. Ya good, Lú?”
“I think so…”
He took a few experimental steps before finally properly walking, going back to the same place D.Va had been moments before to relieve himself, exhaling gratefully. He closed his eyes and tried to imagine he was in a lavish hotel bathroom instead of pissing in the desert, but the illusion broke when he realized he had nowhere to wash his hands. Cringing in disgust, he wiped them on his armored thighs a few times instead.
Junkrat came around the corner to check on him, “How’re ya?”
Lúcio gave him a look. “I just peed in the sand in the middle of an irradiated…GAFA, you called it? That. After having thrown up the only food I’ve eaten in the past 48 hours.”
“Aw, lookit ya, learnin’ the slang,” Junkrat said cheerily, “And hey, could be worse. A little liquid laughter ain’t bad when ya could have the same thing but from a different hole.”
“Oh my god, ewwww…” Lúcio gagged at the thought as the Aussie laughed.
“Oh, also, Lú?”
“Ya left yer dick out.”
Lúcio squeaked and shoved it away, buckling his belt hurriedly.
“Hey, don’t be embarrassed, when you’re that hung, ya definitely should keep yer cock out.”
“WHY ARE YOU LOOKING AT IT?!”
“They don’t call me JUNKrat for nothin’, eh?! Eh?!”
D.Va peered around the corner, wearing a disgruntled expression.
“What’s this about dicks?”
“Oh my god, please, end my life now,” Lúcio moaned, horribly embarrassed, as Junkrat laughed hard.
“You two can be gay later, can we establish our plan of action, please?” D.Va said, tapping her foot but wearing a small smile.
“Okay, okay…” Junkrat’s giggles slowly subsided, “We still need t’get to Karratha…it should be a couple of days before we’re within cooee of it. Supplies?”
“We’ve got one and a half water bottles, one lemon soda, less than half a bag of chips, and basically two rabbit jerkies,” D.Va said with a determined nod.
“Good, that should last us until we get there. Now let’s try walkin’ at night this time. It’ll keep us safe and warm, save resources too. We can sleep in the day.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Lúcio said, flexing his leg muscles for the journey. Junkrat gazed out at the horizon, the sun just starting to dip beyond sight.
“Then let’s get movin’.”
The Watchpoint had lost much of its liveliness. Something did not feel right, now that three of the youngest, most vibrant heroes were no longer there. A somber cloud hung over the team as they went about their daily routine.
Mercy was on the phone with Sydney for the third time today, demanding their fuel, while Winston watched with a reproachful expression.
“What do you mean it’s been delayed?! Do you have any idea how important this fuel is, Schweinehund ?! There are lives of children at stake! …then tell the delivery source to put a priority on this! …I don’t care if you can’t, you must!”
She slammed the old-fashioned phone down with a vengeance, before resuming her pacing.
“Mercy, please…you have to calm down…”
“Calm down?! Winston, our youngest are out there! It’s been almost a week! They could be starving, hurt, worse! How can I be calm when I am their Doktor , their medic, their -?!”
Mercy looked behind her as Soldier:76 entered, holding a tray with some bowls of tomato soup for them.
“Jack, no, that’s not -”
“You view yourself as their mother, don’t you, Angela. You always get so personally involved with your patients.”
He was not saying it to hurt or taunt her, but rather as a simple statement of fact.
“B-but wouldn’t you be fretting too…?! T-they’re out there, alone…!”
“They have each other. They aren’t babies, they’re strong…I know they’re going to be fine…”
Mercy bit her lip, sinking into a chair and looking like she may cry again.
“I…I’m so scared…”
“You’re afraid something will happen to them because that would be ‘your fault’, but you know that’s not true…” Winston said, putting his huge hand on her back.
“Nothing will be happen to them. I promise.”
Mercy looked up as Soldier:76 offered the tray of soup, quietly taking a bowl.
“…has Mako said anything…?” she asked.
“He was sitting on the edge of the Watchpoint again today…didn’t come for dinner…”
Mercy sighed softly, “I’ll go talk to him…”
She’d been dreading this all week, terrified of what the huge biker would say or do to her now that his little friend was missing. She walked down the stairs, holding the steaming soup in her hands, and stepped out. There was little wind today - the air had a depressed stillness to it.
He was sitting on the edge just like the ex-strike commander had said. Staring out at the horizon, as if hoping he might be able to see the three in the distance. There was a sadness to his slouch.
She approached him cautiously, making sure he saw her before she said anything. She offered the soup quietly.
“I brought you something, in case you were hungry…”
No answer beyond the hard breathing through the mask.
“…may I sit with you…?”
After a long pause, a silent nod. She gracefully knelt next to him, looking out at the pale blue as it melted into the purple of night.
“…Mako…I’m sorry…about Jamison…”
“…I promise to you, we’ll -”
“What if he dies?”
Mercy jumped, not expecting him to speak.
“What if he dies?” Roadhog repeated, not moving his head.
“…Jamison? No…no, he won’t die…out of the three of them, he’s the best fit for being out here…”
Roadhog shifted in place, making a long sigh.
“…the last thing I said to him…was for him to shut up…what if something happens to him? And that’s the last thing I said to him?”
Mercy felt…privileged, for lack of a better word, to have Roadhog talking so much to her, exposing such a personal feeling. But the fears he was voicing were all too similar to hers, and now it was up to her to reassure him, and by extension, herself.
“…no, he won’t die. None of them will. We’ll find them, and bring them home safe and sound. I promise that to you, Mako.”
“How do you know?”
“…I just do…”
She put her hand on his, miniscule in comparison, hoping that she had convinced him somewhat to have hope. She prayed fervently in her mind that nothing would happen to the little ones, that they would be stay safe, as they both looked out at the vast expanse of wasteland below.
Thank you for reading the third chapter! Any comments/kudos are appreciated greatly. Please stay tuned for the next installments!
The next chapter is going to one of the longest ones for this fic - I hope everyone is ready!
Follow http://artumndiesirae.tumblr.com/ for chapter updates/art!
(Main blog: http://autumndiesirae.tumblr.com/)
The three heroes finally make it to Karratha, but they have some challenges to overcome at the town.
Chapter 4 coming at you! I'm real excited about this one, it's likely to be the longest chapter of this fic. I'm unsure if anyone needs any warnings for this chapter, let me know if you do!
- 11 June 2017: Fixed some typos
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Walking through the desert during the nights had messed up Lúcio’s internal clock. He could not tell what day it was anymore. They might have already been out there for a month, maybe two. They might have been out there for a year. It certainly felt like it. Everything hurt, and by this point their supplies had run so thin that even eating one or two nibbles of rabbit jerky was a welcome change.
All things considered, however, walking at night was much better than their original mode of operation. The coolness of the air and the lack of aggressive sunlight was far easier to handle, and their constant movement, with the shock blanket wrapped around their shoulders, was enough to combat the cold. The major problem was with keeping the night and its terrors at bay - the first time Junkrat had to grab a rock and crush a huge, bloodthirsty bat that was determined to eat D.Va’s arm was traumatic enough to forever be etched in Lúcio’s mind. The clawmarks on his friend’s skin, visible through her suit, were still a little swollen.
“Looks like we’re havin’ a dingo’s breakfast again,” Junkrat groaned, stretching. His back popped audibly as Lúcio sat up beside him, horribly overheated. His tank-top clung to his muscles, soaked in sweat from sleeping in the heat. The little frog emblem on the front looked like he was smilingly accepting his fate in this sooty, filthy prison. This is my life now, he seemed to say.
“A yawn, a leak, and a good look around,” the Aussie clarified, standing up and offering his hand to Lúcio. The DJ let himself be pulled up as they worked together to rouse the exhausted D.Va.
“Nooo...five more minutes…” she moaned, the matted clumps of long brown hair strung over her face.
“Come on, sheila, we gotta get goin’...we’re almost within cooee of that town…”
D.Va looked up, smacking her lips, as tiny blowflies buzzed around Lúcio’s sweaty neck. He waved them away with his hand, something he had learned from Junkrat was called an ‘Aussie salute’. And that was not the only bit of slang that was bleeding into his vocabulary - Lúcio had caught himself a few times calling D.Va his ‘mate’ or referring to the wasteland as the ‘GAFA’, and he was still embarrassed over the time he had tripped on a stray rock and yelled out “fucking dipstick” in his anger, eliciting loud chortles from Junkrat.
The lack of hygiene they had all been going through the past few days was wearing on him. His teeth had developed a surface film of plaque that clung to his long nail when he scratched at them, and he felt heavy with all dirt caked on his skin. His clothes were ripped, his armor battered, and the faintest bit of scratchy facial hair was forming on his cheeks and chin around his unkempt goatee. He spat on the ground, not caring anymore. Maybe he was slowly but surely becoming a Junker too.
D.Va looked the worst of all of them. Her long brunette locks protested this abuse, curling slightly into sweaty chunks with the humidity. Not to mention she had gotten her period a couple days prior, and was incredibly unhappy about it. “Of course it HAD to come now,” she had moaned in despair. She had pads with her in her mech, but the cramping multiplied by her hunger pangs had caused her mood to hit rock-bottom. It did not help that Junkrat had proudly proclaimed that he had known all along that “she was gonna start bleedin’ from her gash” because he had “smelled it comin’”. Lúcio had refrained from asking why or how he knew what a PMSing woman’s scent was.
“How’re ya feelin’...?” Junkrat asked, stroking her cheek tenderly.
“Like someone shanked me in the uterus,” D.Va grumbled, rubbing her abdomen. Lúcio helped her out of the back of her mecha, supporting her as she stumbled behind a rock outcropping to change. She hated doing that, having to peel off her body suit just to take a leak - it was perfect for matches, to prevent her clothing getting stuck in her mech when ejecting, but for basically everything it was miserable to deal with. Lúcio hoped that they could at the very least find her something else for her to wear once they got to Karratha.
“How many days, Junkrat…?” Lúcio asked, doing some stretches to awaken his limbs. He really wanted some hot yerba mate tea right now, to ease his aching stomach. The nausea from scarfing down the rabbit meat days ago had mostly gone away, but every so often when the hunger was severe enough, he would feel the seasickness start up again. At those times, he would call to his friends, urging them to stop, and then sit down on the sand with his head between his legs until his shallow breathing had calmed the gurgles. Junkrat had always stayed with him, rubbing his back and reassuring him that it would pass.
“Day…day, day…” Junkrat peered at the carvings he had made on the side of D.Va’s mech, just under the wing, “Today is day ten.”
He used his knife to add another jagged slice to on the paint, despite D.Va’s protesting growl from behind the rock. He had been carefully keeping track of the time they spent out here in the middle of nowhere, as a ‘sanity exercise’ as he called it. They had started their nighttime walks on day five, after Lúcio had gotten sick. Just over a week had passed since their fall. It felt like centuries.
D.Va returned, rubbing her stomach. She did not even have to ask anymore, Junkrat instinctively moved to zip up her body suit for her. He planted the gentlest of friendly kisses in her hair.
“Ya smell like garbage, bunny,” he teased, hoping his humor would brighten her mood.
“That’s a high insult coming from you , trash boy,” D.Va said, trying to sound sour but betraying her slight amusement, “How much further? I’m running out of pads…”
“Shouldn’t be far, I promise,” the Aussie said, putting her hair up in a ponytail so her neck could breathe, “But the closer we get, the more Junkers we’ll be seein’. Most don’t like t’stray too far from towns.”
Lúcio winced. The last experience they had had with the continent’s natives had ended with a snapped neck and a meal that quickly found its way back up and out. He was not looking forward to dealing with more of the local populace.
Once D.Va was securely back in her mech, the three started off again, the sun dipping low beyond the horizon. The cool of night was kept from creeping into their bones by quick footsteps and breathing into clasped hands. Lúcio busied himself with watching the colors of the night sky change - first, the golden glow of sunset, followed by the blues fading to purples and subsequently blacks. The starless void seemed to dig into him, but he stared right back, unafraid. Nearly two weeks spent in the Outback had made him brave, at least he liked to think that - maybe in reality it just made him arrogant and foolish. Eventually, the darkness began to lighten, turning paler and paler with the faint white tendrils of the rising sun rising in front of them. They would have to stop for the day soon.
It was sudden, the sound, but extremely loud. The death cry of an unfortunate nocturnal animal. Lúcio felt himself jump as Junkrat whipped his head around, searching for the source of the yowl that ripped at their eardrums moments ago.
“Whoa, shit…what was that? A dingo?” D.Va said, gripping her joysticks defensively.
“No…” Junkrat’s hand traveled back, reaching for his Frag Launcher, “Dingos sound different…”
Another sound, different this time, came again, closer still. Growls. Lúcio could faintly hear the scrabbling of paws on the sand and the animalistic growls of something. His breath caught in his throat, gripping the handle of his Amplifier tight as the sound came closer, basically on top of them.
A hulking beast rounded the corner of a nearby boulder. It was a dog.
Well, it looked nothing like any dog Lúcio had ever seen. It was huge, the size of a Great Dane, but the black and tan markings reminded him of a German Shephard. Granted, though, it was hard to focus on pinpointing the breed when there was not one, but two pairs of beady eyes staring at him. At first Lúcio thought the exhaustion had gotten to him and he was seeing double, but a few blinks showed he was perfectly correct - this dog had two heads.
“What…what is that…?” D.Va said, not sure if she should be enamored or terrified.
“Why, it’s a Kelpie! What a cutie!” Junkrat said, grinning wide and kneeling down, offering his hands, “C’mere, boy! Let me get a look at ya!”
The hound came over, furiously wagging its tail. One head had what looked like a dead mutant pigeon in its jaws, while the other was smiling and panting happily, licking at Junkrat’s fingers and face.
“What a pretty puppy…!” he crooned, giving the dog strokes and scratches in the right places as he looked it over, “It’s got a bandana, see?”
The red cloth was draped over the dog’s shoulders like a cape. Lúcio cautiously approached the canine, looking at him as he rolled over, exposing his belly for more pats.
“You think he’s someone’s pet…?”
“I’d reckon so! Probably a hunting mate. Who’s a good, pretty boy? Yes, ya are! Cute puppy!”
D.Va giggled, “I didn’t know you like dogs, Junkrat.”
“I don’t like all of ‘em, but Kelpies are special.” The Aussie giggled happily as his face received more licks. Even Lúcio felt a smile tugging at his lips.
“Ripper? Ripper, where’d ya go?”
The voice carried over from nearby. The three looked over as a man, a good six foot two inches tall, came around the corner, holding a bow in his hands and a quiver of arrows on his back. He had a camo pattern painted on his face, and loose, dirty clothes hanging off of his thin frame. He blinked, looking at them, as startled by them as they were of him.
“…g’day,” he greeted them cautiously.
“G’day!” Junkrat’s cheeriness could not be farther from Lúcio’s fear, now that another Junker was staring them in the face, “Is this yer puppy? His name is Ripper? So cute…”
“Yeah, he’s mine. Here, boy.”
The dog obediently came back to his owner, giving him the dead pigeon for safekeeping. The man gave him a few pats, never breaking eye contact with the three.
“What’s a couple of ankle biters like ya doin’ out here in the bush?” he asked. He did not seem to want to threaten them, which was slightly relieving to Lúcio, but he certainly was wary of their movements.
“We’ve been headin’ to Karratha,” Junkrat explained, standing up, “Mind pointin’ us there?”
“Lookin’ for supplies, huh?” the man said, nodding, “Ya three are in luck, it’s not two clicks to yer left.”
“Aw, I’ll be stuffed! We’ll be there in thirty minutes!”
Lúcio’s spirits soared.
“I gotta warn ya, though…try not to earbash too much…ya three stick out like a bloodstain, and given who lives in that town, ya might prefer to stay unnoticed…”
“Oh, tosh, she’ll be right as long as we’re together. Thanks for the help, cobber, we owe ya one.”
The hunter gave a nod as the Kelpie heads barked in chorus.
“Come on, ya two, we’re gonna make it!” Junkrat said, radiating joy.
Lúcio and D.Va followed their guide, excited. Finally, it looked like their efforts were paying off.
“Can I just say I had zero idea what either of you were saying?” D.Va chuckled.
“Ugh, ya two are such tourists.”
They hurried along, energy renewed as they all but ran the remaining stretch. The sun was creeping up the horizon, beginning to make their skin prickle, but their unbridled happiness was more potent than any sunblock. As they neared the town, Lúcio could hear the dull roar of people talking and shouting, mingled with the stench of gasoline and fire. D.Va was bouncing with excitement in her harness.
“Okay, okay, okay, hold on a tick,” Junkrat said, stopping them and spinning on his heel to face them, “Couple of notes. Number one, do not fuckin’ open yer mouths. Let me do the talkin’. Number two, ya stay with me, don’t wander off. And number three, try not t’make eye contact, it’s bad luck. Ya got it?”
“We’re not babies, Rat,” D.Va huffed, “I’m sure it’s gonna be fine.”
“Yeah, well, let’s hope you’re right.”
A question had been scratching at Lúcio’s mind ever since their previous encounter with the pack of Junkers.
“...if everyone knows you, Rat, I...I dunno if it’s a good idea to go here…is it…?”
“No one knows me,” Junkrat said, a little too quickly.
“B-but that guy said -”
“That dill was lyin’, trust me. Tryin’ to shake us. Don't listen to him, Lú.”
Lúcio opened his mouth to argue but refrained, knowing he had no chance of convincing their guide otherwise.
They walked into Karratha.
The entrance to the town was wide open, which surprised Lúcio. He had somewhat envisioned a protected fortress with huge walls and armed Junkers peering out at them, gesturing to beheaded corpses strung up on spikes and saying “you’re next!”. He clicked his tongue at himself.
Even though it was barely morning, Karratha was bustling. The three had stepped right into the marketplace, where Aussies were bartering over goods back and forth. There was not a single glint of coin or flap of dollar bills - all the exchanges were with, for lack of a better word, things. Lúcio observed a thin girl swap an old-fashioned brown beer bottle for a new set of goggles, a little boy slide a pair of sneakers over in exchange for a box of ramen packets, an elderly gentleman trade a screwdriver for a worn leather-bound ledger. Those who were not in the process of debating whether a computer cable was worth one or two packets of nails were eagerly inviting other passerby to come check out their wares, proudly advertising that they had the finest rope, the best petrol, the hardiest irradiated chickens. He cringed a little when one of the fowl looked at him, a foot sticking out of its head.
In his intent exploration of his surroundings, Lúcio had wandered slightly apart from his partners, and promptly paid for it by having a huge Junker bump into him, knocking him to the dirt.
“Watch where you’re goin’, fruit loop,” he spat over his shoulder, marching past. Lúcio coughed a little from the dust that was kicked up as Junkrat helped him to his feet.
“Pay attention, Lú…the last thing we need is us gettin’ separated.”
“I know, I know…”
The thronging crowd began to disperse ever so slightly as they continued through, though when Lúcio looked back, he realized lots of people were staring at them. No, not them, at D.Va’s mech. He winced, knowing it was a big pink eyesore in the middle of this town’s washed-out colors, and hoped they would not get heckled for it. D.Va’s temper and his cowardice did not mix well.
They had reached what the DJ believed was the residential part, composed almost entirely of scrap heaps and trailers. A group of kids were gathered by the window of one of them, murmuring amongst themselves as they peered in. Lúcio registered what they were looking at by the familiar, flaky smell that filled his lungs. Mmm…pie…
“Let’s sit here and figure out what we’re doin’.”
The three gathered at an old iron anvil that had been repurposed into a makeshift bench. Lúcio refrained from sitting on the overheated metal, not exactly in the mood to fry his buttocks off.
“Right now our main goal is to get water and food, right?” Junkrat said, looking to D.Va, “What have we got to trade with?”
“Like…a rabbit leg, one lemon soda, some tools, and whatever’s left of my first aid kit?”
Junkrat swore loudly.
“Fuckin’ hell…that’s gonna get us maybe a bottle of grog, nothin’ else…water’s more valuable than gold out here…”
Lúcio became aware of a set of wide green eyes boring into his back. He angled his head back, looking at the owner, and found there was a little kid, maybe seven or eight, staring at the three of them with the same fascination as one would look at an exotic python in the zoo. He resembled a miniature Junkrat, with dirty-blond locks that stuck out in all directions and seemed to crackle with electricity. Lúcio noticed that the boy had no shoes on either, rocking back and forth on bare feet in the hot sand. Some memory, feeling ancient by now, surged up in the DJ as he remembered the day they fell, and how he had been standing out on the Watchpoint with just his socks, listening to his team prepare for a match, barely minutes before he and his two friends plummeted into the desert. His heart felt a twinge of sadness.
“…Junkrat…that kid is staring at us…” he murmured. The Aussie leaned forward, looking at the child.
“Whataya want, ankle biter? Go bug yer mama, we ain’t got time for -”
“Are ya gonna enter the mech battle with that?” the kid interrupted. The three blinked in surprise.
“Mech battle? What mech battle?” asked D.Va, intrigued.
“The Karratha mech battle, o’course,” the kid said, through a convoluted accent, thicker than Junkrat’s, “We do ‘em all the time. Winner gets prizes.”
Junkrat ears seemed to prick.
“Prizes, huh? Like what?”
“Water, food, naughty things,” the kid giggled smugly, as if proud of himself for knowing what sex was. His face suddenly grew somber, “But no one’s beaten the kings in ages.”
“Kings? Who the fuck is goin’ around callin’ themselves a king ‘round here? I’m the king!” Junkrat seemed to have taken a personal offense to this development. Lúcio had lost count of the times he had proudly proclaimed himself King Jamison Fawkes the First on their routine visits to King’s Row, before asking Roadhog each and every time what his name was. The biker would dutifully respond that his name was Mako, and Junkrat would nod, only to ask again by the time they returned to England again. Lúcio had registered it at the time as him being purposefully obnoxious, but now it dawned on him that the radiation had tainted Junkrat’s mind badly enough that he really did forget each time what his partner’s real name was.
The kid was giggling, “Then you’d better win the mech battle, huh?”
Junkrat leapt to his feet, invested now.
“Where is this mech battle?!”
There was an old junkyard just south of the town, full of various articles of trash and the broken remnants of Omnic bodies. The center of it had been cleaned out, set up as an arena, while the outskirts were dotted with the various onlookers, watching the bloody events unfold below. In order to get in, the three and their youthful guide had to climb up the sides of the scrap mountains, which served easy for D.Va and her jets, and hard for Lúcio and his slippery skates.
“There! They’re doin’ one now, yeah! Look!” the kid insisted, tugging at Junkrat’s shorts and pointing down at the arena center with a feverish excitement. Lúcio squinted against the glare of the sun, looking down.
There were two mechas, more akin to giant robot suits than mechs in the sense of what D.Va piloted. One was bipedal and rust-colored, sporting a claw hand on one limb and a long knife on the other. Riding in the pilot seat was a thin, tall man, with a black fluffy mohawk springing out of his skull, and what looked like an eyepatch on his left eye. He was absolutely decimating the other, smaller, quadruped mech, which had lost one leg and had another severed before their eyes. The losing opponent was aggressively flung from their cockpit, smashing to the sand as the sound of a bell rang.
“The winners, once again, the Standover Men!” called a female voice over a makeshift megaphone, “Tasmaniac is out of the roster! Better luck next time!”
The brutally defeated female pilot spat on the ground, digging into her satchel and pulling out a two litre bottle of what Lúcio presumed was water, handing it to the victor. He took it, making a big show of slapping her ass to the crowd, before scampering over to the left end of the arena.
When the kid had said the winners were kings, he was hardly joking. It was a group of maybe five or six men, with the middlemost one lounging in his seat like the wealthy jarl surrounded by mere peasantry. He was absolutely huge, maybe six foot eleven, with bulging muscles very atypical of the lithe, starving bodies of most Junkers. His skin was tanned, and he sported long brown hair that billowed up with the hot breeze, held in place only by an orange bandana. Facial hair akin to McCree’s adorned his face, though his brows were far thicker than the cowboy’s. What looked like a prosthetic right arm reached all the way down from his shoulder, strewn lazily across his bare chest. His legs were up, wearing construction worker boots and ratty shorts. He took the water from his pilot with a smug grin, taking a big swig of it before putting it amongst a collection of other bottles, weapons, food, materials - all things that the three desperately needed.
“No one’s ever beaten those guys!” the kid chirped, looking at them, “But I reckon ya three can!”
“This doesn’t seem like a good idea…” Lúcio said, concerned. He would hate to see D.Va get hurt.
“No way! If we win, we’ll be fuckin’ set for supplies! D.Va, whataya say?”
She didn’t answer, looking at the girl as she wandered back to clean the remains her busted mech, clearly ashamed. Some of the Junkers were booing and throwing garbage in her direction.
“…let’s do it. I want to wipe that look off of those guys’ faces, treating that lady like that.”
“That’s more like it!” Junkrat cheered, “Come on!”
“W-wait, guys -!” Lúcio desperately called after them as both sped down the hillside of scrap, but he was unheard.
“OI! Hey, you! The guy who’s up himself!” Junkrat jeered, marching across the sand with D.Va in tow. The big man looked up, raising an eyebrow.
“The fuck are ya doin’, ankle biter, get goin’. This is where the big kids play,” he sneered, looking down at the blond from his ‘throne’.
“Well, then, let’s play! Yer mech against me girl’s!”
D.Va smiled up at their opponent, but her expression wavered when he laughed heartily, cruelly, like Junkrat's challenge was the funniest joke someone had ever made to him.
“You?! Ya think some pink bitch is gonna win against our mecha? Ha! My boy Razor ain’t ever lost to anyone , and he sure as hell ain’t gonna lose to some cutesy sheila! Stop embarrassin’ yerselves and rack off!”
“Is that fear we smell up there? Or are ya not the full quid, so ya don’t know when you’re starin’ defeat in the face?” Junkrat mocked.
The leader opened his mouth to retort when the pilot from earlier piped up.
“Give ‘em a fair go, Sharktooth, ya know they’ve got Buckley’s chance of winnin’ against me. Let ‘em lose. It’s good entertainment.”
The Junker looked down at the three, Lúcio swallowing uncomfortably under those piercing eyes.
“What’re ya wagerin’, then?”
“If we win…if we win, ya give us supplies. Water, food, shit like that.”
“Just that?! You’re quite the dag, aren’t ya?!” the man laughed hard, “If ya win, I’ll let ya three stay with me cousin Schlockmeister as long as ya want. Ya can have all the supplies ya need, water, food, weapons, ya fuckin’ name it! But it ain’t gonna happen!”
Junkrat grinned. “And if we lose?”
“If ya lose, ALL yer shit goes to me for disrespectin’ me team, and ya get yer tiny sad bottoms out of me town! Understood?!”
Lúcio winced hard, terrified of this engagement. Junkrat turned, looking up at D.Va.
“Think ya can handle it?”
She looked up, glaring at the leader, before giving a curt nod.
“It’s a deal.”
“Ha! Ya just made the worst mistake of yer miserable lives! Get ‘em ready! This battle’s gonna end like every single other one!”
The three heroes were put in the right corner, while the announcer girl, a thin redhead with aviators, a ripped shirt, and threadbare short-shorts, pulled up the megaphone again.
“Ladies and gentlemen, looks like we have another challenger for the Standover Men! It’s…uh…” she looked over at D.Va, “What’s yer name, pinky?”
“Diva? Well, that’s fuckin’ lame, I’ll give ya my own name,” she said, using the megaphone again, “It’s the Pink Menace! This new challenger thinks she has what it takes to beat our undefeated champions! Place yer bets to see if she will!”
Lúcio watched with a sinking stomach as almost every single viewer put their wagers on the Standover Men. More and more were streaming in over the lip of the trash mountain, fascinated by this newcomer and her brashness.
“I know ya can do it!” the little boy said, excitedly holding up a button, “I’ve got all this ridin’ on ya three!”
Junkrat ruffled his hair. “We won’t let ya down.”
“This is such a bad idea…” Lúcio moaned, rubbing his temples, “Do you realize what we could lose if this goes wrong, guys…?”
“Are you saying you don’t trust me?” D.Va spat, flexing her grip on her joysticks.
“No, no, I do, but -!”
“Alright, alright! Bets are closed!” the announcer called, leaning out over the railing, “Ya know the rules - two mechs enter, one mech leaves. First person to throw the enemy pilot out wins! On the count of three! One!”
Lúcio and Junkrat clambered back onto the scrap, watching from a safe distance away.
D.Va ran her tongue over her lips, gritting her teeth.
Please, please, let her be safe… Lúcio begged.
The sound of the bell came again. The battle had begun.
Razor was the first to charge, but months of evading Reinhardt and Roadhog had taught D.Va exactly when to boost up and out of his reach. She landed behind her opponent, her Fusion Cannons firing rapidly into his back.
He whipped around, slicing at her, but she bunny-hopped out of reach each time.
“Fuck you!” she snarled, “Get good, noob!”
A combination of her period, the hardships they had endured over the past week, and months’ worth of training matches where her bad manners were restricted were all culminating in this release of aggression, and it was palpable how much she loved it. As she continued to shoot gamer insults at the increasingly confused and frustrated Junker, Lúcio realized what she was doing - she had told him about this technique before.
“It’s called tilting,” she had explained to him, a long time ago, when he had sat with her as she played Fighters of the Storm 2 and made sure to teabag each time she killed a specific person, “You get the enemy player real mad, and when they get real mad, they play worse. Now all they wanna do is kill you, or they start taking it out on their team in voice chat. Either way, it’s a great way to exploit emotion for an easy win.”
“Get ‘em, sheila! Ya can do it!” Junkrat cheered loudly.
“Come on, Hana, come on…I believe in you…” Lúcio murmured under his breath, hugging his knees to his chest.
During her incessant toxic mockery towards her opponent, she had been alternating between boosting out of his reach and shooting with her cannons, but she seemed to hardly be making a dent in his thick armor.
“Fuck!” she groaned, struggling to jump out of the way as her mech’s beeping restarted. With the weakened battery, it was difficult to stay out of reach of the enraged Junker, who finally dealt his first blow on her. His claw hand smashed hard into the side of her mech, sending spidery cracks down the remainder of her windshield.
“D.Va -!” Lúcio whined, instinctively grabbing Junkrat’s hand for support. After realizing what he had done, he quickly released his grip, face warming. The Aussie had not seemed to notice.
“Gotcha, sheila!” Razor cackled.
“Ugh -!” she boosted out of the way again, stumbling a few extra feet back on her quavering mecha legs. He jumped after her, forcing her to put up her cannons in an X-shape over herself. The two were almost nose to nose, him grinning in a twisted manner, her clenching her teeth.
“I’m gonna gut yer mech!” he snarled, moving to slice her mecha’s belly open. She barely flew out of the way of it, landing as far away as she could.
“Come on, D.Va!” Junkrat called, “Think!”
D.Va knew all too well that her weak little guns were designed for picking off low-health supports and flankers or bullying backlines, not for one-on-one combat against another Tank. Not to mention that with how much armor her enemy had, she was never going to break him out of his pilot seat like this. No, she needed another plan. Another angle. Another side.
When he charged at her again, this time, she boosted straight up. He looked up at her, and in the process, smashed his claw arm straight into the sand, getting it stuck.
Before he could finish, she landed on the backside of his mech, jumping up and down like an irritating toddler on the neck of their tired father.
“Can’t catch me! Can’t catch me!” she teased.
With an angry screech, Razor thrusted his other arm, the knife one, backwards, in a clear attempt to shove her up, but before it connected, she leapt out of the way. The giant machete swung down, slicing clean through the bottom of his mech, taking the legs with it.
An audible gasp ran through the crowd as his mech crumbled to the ground, but he clung hard to his own joysticks, refusing to be flung out. D.Va landed nearby, carefully positioning herself, then boosted straight for him, like her own version of a Reinhardt charge. His mech torso snagged on the front, eliciting a scream from his mouth, before she stopped dead. The momentum carried the enemy Tank a few metres before it crashed unceremoniously to the ground and threw Razor out into the air. He smashed his face against the sand, rolling a few feet away with a pained groan.
“Holy fuck -!” the announcer was just as stunned as the rest of the crowd - well, most of the crowd. Junkrat and the boy were whooping and hollering with unrestrained excitement, and Lúcio was breathlessly clapping, too relieved to even stand.
“…the Pink Menace wins! The Standover Men, previously undefeated, have just met their match! Everyone, let’s hear it for our new champion!”
“WHAT?!” came the raging scream of leader, completely in disbelief.
D.Va clambered onto the top of her mech, proceeding to do her famed little dance where she mimed breaking a heart with her hands. Cheers and applause erupted from the viewers, all of them in awe of this little fighter who had just stolen the crown off their king.
Junkrat and Lúcio bolted out, the little boy hot on their heels, and threw themselves on her, laughing and praising her.
“I told you I could do it!” she said, cackling.
“Ya piece of GARBAGE!”
The three looked around as the enormous Sharktooth stormed over across the sand, towering over the defeated Razor as he cowered.
“I’m gonna rip out yer other eye! Ya fuckin’ dill! How could ya lose to that - that - that GIRL!” he thundered, grabbing the Junker by his neck with the very clear aim to throttle the life out of him.
“Hey!” D.Va scrambled over, kicking him hard in the leg, “He lost, it's over! I’m just better than you! Let go of him, you big bully!”
He glared down at her, dropping the coughing Razor to the sand.
“That’s a fat lot of shit comin’ from ya! Ya stole my crown!”
He tangled his fingers in her matted brown hair, yanking her off the ground.
“Ow! OW! Lemme go -!” she shouted, writhing and shaking her legs.
“Get your hands off of her!” Lúcio snarled, scrabbling at the Junker.
“Oi! Ya lost fair and square! Stop bein’ a sore loser! Let her go!” Junkrat grabbed his Frag Launcher, ready to pump the grenades into the bigger man.
The gunshot was incredibly loud, making Lúcio’s ears ring. He winced, wondering for a split second who had just been shot. His gaze matched Junkrat’s and Sharktooth’s, looking behind him.
She was quite tall, over six foot. She also had tan skin and thick brunette curls held up by a tied cloth, lips pursed and hazel eyes glaring. She was lithe, with broad shoulders and small hips sporting a tool belt, and her left leg was an advanced prosthetic from the knee down. It was not a peg like Junkrat’s, instead ending in a realistic foot covered by an army boot that matched her other limb. Most notably, a glinting steel Star of David was hanging off her neck. Her right arm was cocked up, holding a pistol aimed at the sky. Lúcio understood she had fired it up to get their attention.
“What the fuck are ya doin’?” she hissed, glaring at their harrier.
“Hi, Schlock…” he mumbled, letting D.Va go. She fell to the sand with a soft ‘oof’.
“Ya made that deal like a fuckin’ idiot, and ya lost. Control yer temper, ya steroid-pumpin’ dipstick.”
She pulled D.Va roughly to her feet, looking over the three.
“Follow me. And you , Sharktooth, we’ll talk later.”
D.Va quickly clambered back into her mecha, stomping after the boys as they followed the woman.
“…what did you say your name was…?” Lúcio asked gingerly, not wanting to make a mistake. He was more than little intimidated by this woman.
“I didn’t,” she said gruffly, sliding her pistol into her tool belt, “It’s Schlockmeister.”
“It means junk dealer,” she snapped, clearly a no-nonsense person, “I’ll be takin’ care of ya lot until ya decide to get the fuck out of this shithouse town.”
Lúcio and Junkrat glanced at each other, both a little scared of her, as she led them along to a trailer home - the non-mobile kind - by the town centre. It was surrounded by a yard full of weird sculptures made from wire and metal chunks. A mutant Sphynx cat, the size of a Border Collie and sporting two tails and four ears, was laying across the welcome mat, which aptly read ‘Go Away’. The creature yawned and stretched before rubbing against its mistress’ legs.
“Shoo, Tinny,” she grumbled, unlocking her door and pulling it open with a loud creak. The cat looked up at the three visitors with a quizzical expression. Junkrat offered his hand to it, letting it sniff and then rub its face against his fingers.
“Is it a boy or a girl?” he queried.
“Girl. In, now.”
D.Va blinked, looking at her from her cockpit.
“Ya can go around, park it behind. I’ll let ya in through the back. Hurry up.”
D.Va quickly made her way to the rear of the trailer as the boys entered through the front door. Lúcio had seen the homes of hoarders on TV, and he was reminded of that when he stepped in. There was just…stuff. Everywhere. Bottles, first aid kits, books, papers, metals, absolutely everything one could think of was piled around on the tables and shelves. The kitchen had packets of ramen and popcorn and other such expiration-less foodstuffs lining the walls, with the living room brimming with old bike parts, tires, and scrap. Repair tools were in teetering mounds everywhere - Lúcio assumed Schlock must be a mechanic.
D.Va rejoined them momentarily, the cat having followed her in. It entwined itself around her legs, purring loudly and flexing its little goblin paws.
“Okay, ankle biters, let’s get somethin’ straight right off the bat. I’m not yer mum, yer sis, yer girlfriend, so ya treat me with respect or I make yer lives a livin’ hell. Are we clear?” Schlock said, cracking open a beer as she spoke. The three nodded submissively.
“Okay, house rules. Number one, ya each get a canteen of water a day. No more. Ya waste it before the day is up, tough luck. And that water is for drinkin’ only. Not washin’, not sellin’, not anythin’ else. It goes in yer mouth or stays in the canteen. Understood?”
“Number two, ya get a snack in the mornin’ and a meal at night. Ya eat what I give or ya go hungry. I’m not yer goddamn personal caterer.”
The thought of food made Lúcio’s stomach growl.
“Number three, ya get a mattress, a pillow, and a blanket each. Ya sleep on the floor and ya like it. No complaints. Number four, ya stay out of me way. I have shit to repair and kids to teach, so if ya don’t want me breakin’ yer kneecaps with me monkey wrench, go bother someone else for the day. Lastly, ya don’t loiter. Ya can stay until ya have everythin’ ya need. Then go. I have too many responsibilities in this shithouse town without three Seppos to look after.”
“Seppo?!” Junkrat was offended, “What’re ya on about? I’m a fair dinkum Aussie, look at me! And neither of them are American either.”
“Oh, look at that, me last fuck just flew out the window,” Schlock said, “Now give me yer bottles and I’ll give ya water. I have to get back to work and ya lot have eaten way too much of me time as is.”
The three begrudgingly gave their two thermoses, stolen from the Junker bandits, and Junkrat’s canteen to be refilled from a water tank, the kind one would find in an office building kitchen. The drink was stale and warm but might as well have been a delicious iced tea to the thirsty Lúcio. He peeked over at Schlock as she tied her shoes, clenching her beer bottle in her teeth.
Someone was knocking at the door.
“Schlock! Me generator broke again!”
“Oh, for fuck’s sake, Electrode! I’ll be right there…”
She looked at the two, an obvious exhaustion in her eyes.
“Wait here and stay out of trouble.”
She headed out, leaving the three alone to sip their water and pet Tinny.
“What’s her problem?” D.Va grumbled, scratching the bald gremlin behind the ear.
“Nah, she’s fine. She’s a den mother, methinks.”
“They’re these special sheilas. Usually some of the last few that are fertile. They know how to read ‘n’ write and all that. Or they know a trade. They say the best Junker camps and villages always have one. They’re important for educatin’ the ankle biters.”
“What was her name again?” D.Va asked, still trying to pronounce it, “Sh…shlo…”
“Schlockmeister, Electrode, Razor, Sharktooth…why do you Junkers all have weird names?” Lúcio chuckled, “You’ve got the simplest one, Rat.”
Junkrat gave a weird, sad smile.
“It’s a slur for the orphans who live in the junkyards. Heard it thrown at me so many times, I reclaimed it as me own.”
Lúcio sat on the veranda of the trailer, looking out at the Junkers as they came and went. He fancied himself a people-watcher - one of his favorite hobbies was to sit in coffee shops at the window, looking at the passerby on the streets of Brazil. Now, instead, he was nestled with his elbows on the railing, tapping his foot against the wooden slats of the porch and looking out at the Aussies going about their day.
The women intrigued him the most - those dramas and sitcoms about Australia Lúcio had watched in his teenage years, like Radioactive Raccoon and Tales From The Omnium , had often presented Junker girls as busty, feminine blondes, sporting sundresses or body-hugging rompers, more akin to beach babes from California. But the women here were hardy, rugged, jaded from years under the sun and radiation. Almost all had short hair, and those who did not had their locks tied up in tight buns and ponytails to keep the sweat off their necks. They all had vivid tan lines and copious amounts of dirt on their bodies. Few had bras, so most of their breasts sagged naturally. Their inner thighs sported stretch marks, their armpits were unshaven, their hair was greasy, their nails unkempt. Hardly anything like the gentle, pretty actresses who portrayed them on the screen. Yet Lúcio was certain, without a doubt, that any one of these fierce women could kick his ass without breaking a sweat.
The men were no different, though most had prosthetics and carried weapons on their backs and belts. While almost all of them were thin yet muscular, with body types akin to Junkrat’s, occasionally one that was incredibly beefy or sported a distended belly similar to Roadhog’s would wander by. Speaking of Junkrat, who was lounging nearby, he often commented cheekily that “there’s no way those muscles are natural”, making Lúcio think back to Schlockmeister’s “steroid-pumping” comment.
When sipping the water from his canteen took its toll on his body, he wandered back into the trailer home to use the bathroom. There was something incredibly relieving about being able to use a proper toilet again, though the lack of soap or running water to wash up with was still a poignant reminder they were far from home. Lúcio settled instead for using a tiny bit of the sanitizer on the counter. As he looked at himself in the dusty mirror, for the first time in over a week, he was struck by how foreign his reflection was. The soot and dirt on his face, the yellowing of his teeth, the tiredness of his eyes, the frizziness of his dreadlocks. It was like looking at an exaggerated caricature of himself, purposefully designed to be as demeaning as possible. He sighed softly, scratching his cheek and feeling the stubble audibly crackle under his overgrown fingernails. He’d have to invest in a shave soon.
Of course, as bad as he felt, he could tell D.Va was much worse. Her hair was a tangled mess, and her body suit was inappropriately ripped across the belly and chest from the mech brawl, exposing a hot pink bra that she kept attempting to cover with the remaining shreds of fabric. He hoped they would be able to find her some clothes in the marketplace, before she was forced to wander the foreboding Outback borderline naked.
Schlock returned as the sun was setting, twirling the now-empty bottle in her fingertips. She looked up at the three, making a small scoff.
“I suppose ya three are hungry.”
They nodded, eager for supper.
“Fine, I’ll get cookin’. In the meantime, sheila, show me yer mech. I wanna give it some repairs, I can hear that beepin’ a click away and it’s killin’ me ears.”
D.Va perked up, glad to finally get a professional to examine her treasured mecha. The two girls went through the house to take a look, leaving the boys on the veranda.
Lúcio turned his head, looking at Junkrat.
“Ya like Karratha?”
“...it’s not at all what I was expecting…” Lúcio conceded, looking out at the kids running home, swatting at mosquitos - or mozzies, as Junkrat called them - and laughing playfully.
“Ya thought it was gonna be a trash heap, right? Everyone does.”
“They...they show it really different in movies...I just...can’t really believe people live like this. That kids live like this.”
Junkrat scratched at his butt absently.
“Ya get used to it after a while. Yer body adapts. I can go much longer than ya or bunny can without a drink of water.”
“But still...kids...they don’t deserve this…”
Junkrat shrugged, and Lúcio was unsure if he was genuinely disinterested or if this was some well-acted attempt at disguising his feelings. The DJ felt it prudent to speak up, say something, but the words caught in his throat.
“Boys, come inside before ya catch cold,” clucked Schlock in an almost motherly fashion. Junkrat heaved himself up, wandering back in with Lúcio as the cooling night air began to nip at their exposed skin.
The house was already full of the smell of simmering meat in a pot on the stove as Schlock clambered back on top of D.Va’s mech out back, working at the circuits. The gamer girl watched, neatly sitting cross-legged at the doorjamb.
“Ya smell funny. Are ya bleedin’?” Schlock asked.
“Are ya on yer period?” she asked more clearly. D.Va’s face grew hot.
“See! See! I TOLD ya I wasn’t lyin’! Ya really do smell like it!” Junkrat insisted.
“Fuck you, Rat,” she huffed, irritated, “Yes, I am. Why are you all so interested in my bodily functions, fuck’s sake. It’s almost over, leave me alone.”
“Do ya need girl shit? I can get ya some. Do ya use pads or tampons?” Schlock asked, without looking up from unscrewing a back panel on the mech, as if this conversation was incredibly normal. D.Va blinked in surprise, not expecting the kindness.
“I...yeah, I would like that. I’m almost out of pads.”
“Yer hair could do with a trim too. Tell ya what, ya let me cut and sell yer hair, I’ll get ya some girl shit and I’ll throw in some new clothes to sweeten the deal. Give it a burl, I won’t mess it up.”
“Wait, sell my hair? What for?”
“Most girls sell it, to make rope or thread. Good shit for repairs,” Schlock explained, making a soft noise of pain when a spark shocked her finger, “Besides, ya don’t want long hair out in the Outback.”
“Because of heat, right?” Lúcio said, self-consciously touching his ponytail of dreads.
Schlock’s voice trailed off here, her steady working on the mech slowing.
“...ya don’t want yer hair getting grabbed either. Especially not the little ones, the smaller blokes and sheilas. Ya know, how Sharktooth grabbed yer hair earlier. Bad things happen to people whose hair gets grabbed and not let go of.”
D.Va stiffened a little as Lúcio swallowed hard.
“But…Sharktooth has long hair,” D.Va said, confused.
“Yeah, well, Sharktooth is a bloody fruit loop,” Schlock spat on the ground, “He’s a fuckin’ figjam, nothin’ more. His ego is gonna get him killed or worse.”
“I won’t let anyone hurt my friends, ‘specially not some fuckin’ bounce,” Junkrat said with a soft protective growl.
“I don’t question ya, Junkrat, but things happen. Worse still, we do lots of terrible, terrible things for the people we love.”
A soft sigh escaped her lips, the first bit of emotion to push its way past that hardened exterior since they had met. Lúcio’s eyes absently travelled down to her missing leg, and though the question scratched at his throat, he did not open his mouth to let it out.
“So, do we have a deal?” she asked D.Va. After a long pause, she nodded.
“Good. I think this mech is patched up for now, I’ll give it another squizz in the mornin’. C’mon, let me get at that hair, and clean yer face. Ya can hardly be an intimidating Junker sheila with pink makeup whiskers like those.”
“Makeup whiskers?!” D.Va was aghast, “Nuh-uh - this is WAR PAINT!”
The smell of meat was making Lúcio’s mouth water as he and Junkrat sat, waiting for the girls to finish their little makeover session. It made him laugh, though - so often in those chick-flicks Tracer and Mei watched and he would absently listen to, more as background noise than anything, these shy geek girls would be reimagined into glasses-less sparkling models in tight dresses, just so they could get some guy to ask them to the prom. Lúcio had always rolled his eyes, thinking that those girls should find a man to date that would accept them for who they were, nerdy or not, but he never voiced this. But now, here, it felt like some weird reverse of those makeover scenes. Instead of taking a girl and prettying her up, now they were making her rugged and hardy. It was…refreshing, to say the least.
Junkrat was bouncing with excitement, grinning wide. Lúcio chuckled, glad the blond was so hyped. He himself was unsure how to feel. The only time he had seen D.Va outside of her classic body suit and loose hair appearance, or her many casual tees and shorts, was when she and Mei had hosted the Lunar New Year party, and she had donned an adorable Palanquin outfit and braided her locks. She had gotten Lúcio an outfit like hers as well, which he still had hanging around in his duffel bag somewhere. Sometimes the two would wear them together and head out into the towns near their maps, like a pair of bizarre twins that were far too cool in their matchy-matchy garb to care about the opinions of passerby. Junkrat had refused a traditional set of clothes, opting instead douse his shorts and prosthetics in red paint and replace his lucky pipe-bombs with firecrackers and a pair of tassels superglued to the suspenders. Lúcio could distinctly remember the near-countless number of times the Aussie had attempted to do some fancy firework display, only to have them blow up in his face, tripling the soot on his body and leaving him with a dazed expression as Mei fiercely reprimanded him for wasting their party things.
“Alright, sheila, careful now…” Schlock was saying, “Those boots are a little old, don’t want ya fallin’ on yer face.”
“I’m fine, ma’am, I’ll manage…”
Junkrat leaned forward, vibrating a little, “Come on, come on, come on! I wanna see!”
D.Va peeked out of the side room before wandering into view. She looked quite cute. Her hair had been snipped down to a pixie cut, which suited her extremely well. She was wearing a worn-out white crop-top with a brown vest. Her arms sported long buckled leather gloves, up to her elbow. Below her toned stomach was a low-cut pair of boyfriend jeans, tan-colored and patched up with more brown leather details. Last but not least, she had on a pair of brown boots with gold-colored spikes sticking out of the front. The only things left of her old outfit, which Schlock was folding into a neat pile, were her headphones, which rested around her neck, and her pistol, shoved into the band of her pants.
“I used to have a pilot mask but I sold it ages ago. So no goggles for ya, sheila,” Schlock was saying, “I can repaint yer ear things, though.”
Junkrat went uncharacteristically quiet for a second.
“What…? You don’t like it…?” D.Va asked, disappointed.
Rather suddenly, Junkrat made a loud, long noise, which Lúcio could only describe as a “squee”. He leapt up, gripping D.Va by her waist and spinning her around.
“You’re a goddamn CUTIE, bunny! A fuckin’ treasure! Lookit ya! You’re like a Junker princess! Ahahaha!” he giggled, pulling her into a hug and swinging her back and forth in his grip.
“Junkrat -! You’re crushing me -!” she gasped, struggling not to laugh herself.
“You really look great, D.Va,” Lúcio said warmly, ruffling her hair.
“I feel so much lighter without all that matting…” she said, smiling, “And look! I can shank someone with my feet now!”
“Well, combined with your leg power, yeah, you can totally kill someone with those,” Lúcio chuckled.
“A goddamn MENACE in the bush, that’s what ya are!” Junkrat said, bouncing up and down a little, “All fear Princess D.Va, the Trash Queen!”
“Do ya want me to cut yer hair too, frog boy?” Schlock asked Lúcio. He knew he should probably say yes, but it made him whimper to think of losing his characteristic dreadlocks. He shook his head after a moment, while Junkrat and D.Va continued to squeal over her new outfit.
“Alright, alright, ya two, calm down, it’s time for supper,” Schlock said, walking over to the busted old slow-cooker, stirring the contents briefly, “I think this is ready. C’mon, ankle biters, sit.”
The three settled down at a scratched-up table that had been awkward forked into the kitchen space. The chairs were mismatched - one was a colorful folding chair, one was a plushy barstool, yet another was a rocking chair awkwardly propped up by a brick underneath. Tinny had joined them, sitting by the table and mewing pitifully at Lúcio in the hopes he would feed her some scraps from the table.
“Here we go…lizard stew.”
Schlock placed a big bowl in the centre of the table. It was full of thick liquid, with whole lizard bodies floating around in it. The expressions on the three guests were quite varied - Junkrat had a wide grin, D.Va’s mouth formed an interested O-shape, and Lúcio’s face curled into an uncomfortable gag.
“Come on …you Junkers and your lizards…” he moaned.
“Ya eat or ya go hungry, I told ya this,” Schlock huffed, passing out cracked ceramic dishes for them. Knowing he would not be healthy without nourishment, Lúcio begrudgingly accepted the meal, doing his best to drink the broth instead of the solid reptiles. It was honestly not as bad as he expected, and the warmth pervaded his body, bringing with it the comfort of knowing they were safe and sound, for now. His now officially two Junker friends were digging in, slurping the soup and crunching the meat excitedly. Schlock fished a lizard out and held it up, watching Tinny jump up and gently take it from her hand.
“Good girl…” she murmured, stroking the bald feline, “Ya three want some grog?”
“Oh, fuck yeah,” Junkrat said giddily.
“I’m good,” D.Va mumbled past a mouthful of stew.
“And ya, frog?”
“…oh, why not,” Lúcio conceded. He was feeling the best he had been since they had fallen off the Watchpoint, what was a little alcohol to celebrate?
Well, maybe he would have refused if he had anticipated how warm and gross it was. He promptly did a spit-take the second the fluid rushed into his mouth, spraying it all over Junkrat’s face.
“Hey, now, froggy, warn me next time so I can open me mouth,” Junkrat chuckled, running his tongue around to collect the drops.
After dinner, the combination of the room temperature beer and hot soup, multiplied by the exhaustion of staying up over 24 hours from the previous night, had left Lúcio weak and sleepy. He yawned, stretching his back as Schlock tugged three musty mattresses into the room, putting them on the ground and then throwing a pillow and a folded blanket atop each.
“Sleep well,” she said, “I’m gonna go check on Electrode’s generator again. Don’t wander off.”
Lúcio blinked tiredly, wondering why she thought they would do that in a foreign town at this hour. He sank down to the floor, pulling off his ripped, dirty tank-top before starting on his armored legs. The groan of relief out of his mouth when they came off was loud and borderline orgasmic, and for good reason. Over a week being shoved into those skates had caused the interior pattern to leave deep imprints on his skin, and his joints were slightly swollen from lack of circulation. He flexed and stretched his limbs, grateful for the release in pressure. He did not want to talk about the state of his socks and underwear - maybe he could convince Schlockmeister to find him a new pair of boxers, because he absolutely needed it.
Lúcio did not have time to think long on it, though. Once he had untied his hair and become vaguely horizontal on the mattress, he sunk deep into the clutches of sleep.
And that was when the nightmares started.
It was always the same one. The endless pleading of his family, friends, teammates, begging him to help them. Everytime he tried to step forward, his legs did not work. Everytime he tried to yell out, his voice hitched and sputtered out. The cries never stopped, filling his ears, reprimanding him for not healing them, for not saving them, for letting them die. It felt like he was falling into a dark abyss, down, down, down, never ending. He just wanted it to cease, but the screams just got louder and louder and louder and -
He jerked awake, jolting up into a sitting position as he panted. He could feel the blanket clenched under his fingers, the thump of his heart in his chest.
“Fuuuck…” he groaned, flopping back and rubbing his eyes. He felt itchy in unmentionable places, and his head was starting to pound. Maybe if he tried hard he could fall asleep quickly.
He lifted his head a little, looking to his left. The middlemost mattress, Junkrat’s, was empty, while D.Va’s was occupied by a twitching, shaking mass. She was nightmaring too, trembling visibly. Normally she woke up from her terrors, but tonight’s tiredness had locked her into sleep.
“Shit…” Lúcio crawled over, putting her head on his lap, “Shh…shh…I gotcha, Hana, shh…”
She shook a little, hands unclenching and clenching erratically.
“Shh…it’s okay, Hana…” he murmured, stroking her hair and praying she could feel him through her sleep.
Eventually, she began to calm, the quiver of her eyelids settling and her grip on the blanket releasing. Her breathing grew rhythmic, sinking against his lap as she drifted into the gentler realms of sleep.
“There you go…” he cooed, stroking her a little more until he was certain she was fine. He gently lowered her head back onto the pillow, moving some of her bangs out of the way and wrapping the blanket around her again.
Tinny had decided to come inside now, pushing her way in through the front door. She rubbed her tails against Lúcio’s shoulder as she wandered by. Now that the door was open, though, he could hear thickly-accented voices.
“…don’t know what I’m gonna do. It fuckin’ sucks.”
Lúcio blinked, confused, then silently crept over on his hands and knees, peeking out. Schlock was leaning on the railing and looking out at the quiet, sleepy town, while Junkrat was sitting on the stairs next to her, slouching sadly.
“It feels like I’m just gonna fuck it up,” he was saying, “They trust me, and I don’t want to make them regret that, but it’s a game of goddamn aerial pingpong tryin’ to look after them. And I just feel like they can’t fuckin’ stand me. They’re just…I dunno, toleratin’ me, and once we get back to the others it’s just gonna go back to how it was.”
Schlock was smoking. She took a long drag from her cigarette.
“If it wasn’t for ya, they’d be dead. They should be damn grateful to have ya near.”
The black smoke swirled around her face as she talked.
“I know, but…especially Lúcio...”
Lúcio pricked his ears, leaning closer.
“He decked me the day we got lost. Hurt like a motherfucker. And he’s just been…so cranky…mad as a frog in a sock, I told him so. I don’t want him to be. I want him to have faith in me, but I know he doesn’t.”
Junkrat sighed sadly.
“I just wish I could prove that I’m not some fuckin’ dipstick leadin’ them around the GAFA and slowly killin’ them. I want - I need - them to trust me.”
Lúcio sat back on his haunches. Some weird feeling was forming in his chest. Something best described as…pity? No, that was condescending. This was more like empathy, or at the very least understanding. He thought back on all the nasty things he had thought about Junkrat, the punch he had thrown, the bickering with D.Va about healing, all of that. Junkrat had snapped back a few times, for sure, but the fact he had been willing to put his life on the line to get them food, the comfort he had given to Lúcio when he had gotten so sick, his general unwillingness to abandon them. It made Lúcio’s heart clench to think how badly he had been treating the Aussie who was very much the reason the two inexperienced heroes were still alive.
“They will. They have to, otherwise, all three of ya are doomed,” Schlock said matter-of-factly, flicking the last of her cigarette onto the dirt, “It’s late, get some sleep.”
Lúcio made a noise of panic, knowing they were going come in and see he was eavesdropping. He frantically scuttled back to his mattress, rolling into his blanket just as the door creaked open, eyes shut forcefully tight. He heard the telltale thud of Junkrat’s peg as he came over, bidding good night to Schlock quietly before sinking into his ‘bed’ with a soft sound. He audibly dismantled his prosthetics and flopped hard against the pillow with an exhausted groan. Lúcio peered out past his eyelashes, waiting until the Aussie’s snores started up, before lifting his head. Schlock had fallen asleep in her own bedroom, D.Va was quietly cooing in her corner, even Tinny had retreated to her nest. Only Lúcio was awake.
He quietly scooted over, looking down at Junkrat. The blond was sprawled in his mattress, the blanket flung haphazardly across his waist as he drooled onto his pillow. Lúcio’s original reaction would have been disgust and annoyance, but this time he felt…something else. He could not put his finger on it exactly, but it was the same feeling he got when D.Va fell asleep with her head on his shoulder, or when he watched Ana and Reinhardt compliment each other before a match, or when he saw Mercy took the time to put a little bandage on Winston’s finger from a papercut. Something…warm and fuzzy.
Lúcio took the corner of the blanket and pulled it up, covering Junkrat’s exposed skin. The Aussie stirred a little in his slumber before drifting away again, more comfortable now.
Lúcio returned to his mattress and went back to sleep.
Roadhog had moved from his solitary perch on the side of the Watchpoint to the main control room with Mercy and Winston. Instead of gazing out at the desert, now he sat and stared at the screen that had the missing heroes’ cards and the ever-pulsing error message about their lost GPS signals. He was fixated on Junkrat’s, as if mentally willing the red letters to switch to green ones reading ‘TRACKED’. Though, even if it did, the team was stranded on the Watchpoint, with no fuel to go bring the three back to safety.
Mercy brought him some hot tea in a little mug, holding it out to him cautiously.
“I’m sorry it’s a little small…”
With surprising daintiness, the Aussie giant took the cup, holding it in one hand as he shifted his mask up a little. Mercy looked at the little tusks jutting out of his mouth.
“Are they real…?” she asked, genuinely curious.
“Yeah.” Roadhog’s voice sounded odd when not muffled by his mask.
“They suit you…”
A little color seemed to creep into the biker’s face. Or was that Mercy’s imagination?
“Thanks…I like your…thing.”
He gestured his hand above his head.
“My halo?” she asked.
The angel sat next to him, sipping her own tea.
Roadhog shook his head, eliciting a sigh from the doctor.
“…if you were out there with Jamison, where would you go…?”
“Mmm…a town, probably…but it’s dangerous for him to be alone like that…with no bodyguard…”
“Well, he’s -”
“Angela, the fuel’s been delayed again…” Winston interrupted, padding back with a dismayed expression.
“WHAT?!” she all but screeched, throwing her teacup to the floor, the shattering porcelain startling the two Tank heroes around her, “Are they joking?! Scheißkerl!”
“M-Mercy -!” Winston stuttered, “Language!”
“Don’t police me, this is the fifth time!” she thundered, lurching up, “It’s been nearly two weeks, Winston! I’ll WALK all the way to Sydney and carry that fuel back myself if I -!”
Before she could finish, she felt a big hand grip her arm. She looked back at Roadhog, who had wrapped his meaty fingers around her slender limb, pulling her back. He was expressionless, even with his mask half-off, but he did not need to show on his face what they both knew he was thinking.
She sunk down into her chair again, looking at the puddle of chamomile on the floor shamefully.
“Even if we had the fuel…they’re still not on the radar…” Winston murmured, “We can’t just go flying around the entire desert aimlessly looking for them…”
“…we’ll find them…” Roadhog said softly, “It’ll be okay…”
“…I hope so…”
Thank you for reading the fourth chapter! Any comments/kudos are appreciated greatly. Please stay tuned for the next installments!
What surprises await us in Chapter 5?
(Main blog: http://autumndiesirae.tumblr.com/)
Junkrat, D.Va, and Lúcio adapt to life in Karratha, getting themselves ready to head back into the Outback.
Hi, everyone! I'm SO sorry for the delay, but SHE LIVES! Thank you all for being so patient with me.
WARNING: the following chapter contains scenes of alcohol consumption, drunken buffoonery, and references to marijuana and tobacco usage. Reader discretion advised.
- 02 July 17: Added disgruntledlungfish's Drunkrat audio file
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
When Lúcio woke from his dreamless sleep, the feeling pervading his body was aptly describable as ‘sticky’. As awareness moved into his limbs and his tired eyes fluttered open, he found himself to be a tangle of limbs, arms and legs haphazardly bent and flung every which way with the blanket coiled around his middle. Intense heat was seeping through the walls of the trailer and leaving him a sweaty mess already - not to mention the heavy weight of bald cat that had decided to snuggle against his waist.
“Shoo, kitty…” he mumbled, gently nudging Schlockmeister’s pet. The cat stirred with a soft ‘mrrp’ and yawned, sending the classic fishy stench of feline breath in his direction. A disgruntled Lúcio rolled over, throwing the blanket off as he struggled to properly come to his senses.
“D.Va? Junkrat?” he called, rubbing an eye with his thumb.
The two mattresses next to him were empty. Even if he had not known from last night who had chosen which, he could easily guess now. The furthermost one had the pillow neatly replaced, the blanket folded and placed on top, while the middle one was an unmade mess that had little dark spots of saliva on the fabric. Lúcio chuckled as he hauled himself to his feet, doing some stretches. The symphony of crackles from his joints made the cat cock her ear in his direction, though she refused to move her head or open her eyes.
Feeling it acceptable to do since he was alone, he wandered into the kitchen without dressing. It felt nice to be without his ratty tank-top and bulky, hot armor for once, though he certainly needed to find a new pair of boxers as soon as possible. He scratched at his ass as he yawned, looking at his reflection in the scratched-up metal of the stove rangehood. His hair was a damn mess.
The dining table had his water bottle, filled, waiting for him, along with a small Styrofoam bowl of popcorn. He crunched the snack, the taste of salt and old butter flooding his mouth and settling the whines of his gut. He took a little longer with his water, swirling it around his mouth to loosen the little kernel bits that always found their way between his teeth. He knew it hardly would help, but it was worth a try. Maybe his tongue would fork out the rest later in the day.
Tinny had officially claimed his now-empty mattress, sprawled across it like a princess lounging on a four-poster bed. Lúcio clicked his tongue amusedly, deciding not to disturb Her Highness by cleaning his spot, and opted instead to wander outside through the back door, expecting his friends to be there.
Well, he was half-right. Schlock was there, but so was a collection of eight or nine Junker kids, who all burst into giggles at the sight of this borderline naked DJ with his filthy socks and saggy frog-patterned briefs. He shrieked in embarrassment, bolting back inside.
“Put some clothes on, ya animal!” he heard Shlock yell, “I have pants in me room, on the floor.”
Face hot, Lúcio headed into her quarters. She did have a pair of tattered sweatpants lying on the floor, along with shirts and shoes of random sizes, leaving the room an obstacle course to navigate. He scooped up the sweats and slid into them, grumbling a little when he felt how ass-hugging they were. Given how Sharktooth and most other guys were wandering around without shirts, he opted not to pull his tank-top back on.
Lúcio returned to the backyard, better dressed this time, though the kids all tittered again at the sight of him.
“Hey, I have pants on this time…” he chuckled.
“Pay attention, little ones,” Schlock said firmly, but with the gentleness of a mother. The children looked back at her as she continued her lecture.
“Now, we’re gonna learn how to write the letter ‘E’. First, ya draw yer bloke, like ya always do.”
She pressed her pen to the yellow notepad she was holding, dragging it down to form a vertical line.
“Now E is a right bounce. He sees another letter come on by, and what’s he do? He sticks his foot out, trippin’ the fella.”
She drew the bottom horizontal line.
“Then another letter comes, yeah, and now E sticks out his arm, punchin’ them right in the spleen.”
She added the second line, amidst giggles from the students.
“And now finally this dill’s got no arms nor legs left, but here comes another letter, so what’s he do? Now he headbutts ‘em in the maw, knockin’ ‘em right over.”
She added the final line at the top.
“Now go practice, draw this E five times. That’ll be all for today, y’all can play once you’re done. Make sure they’re good!”
Schlock turned to Lúcio as her students sketched the letter, looking at him with a small smile.
“About time ya joined us,” she said softly, licking her hand and using it to smooth one of his unruly dreadlocks back into some semblance of a cylindrical shape. It was like a mama cat grooming her favorite kitten, making Lúcio blush.
“Heh, yeah…I guess I overslept…where are the others?”
“They went to the market to fuck around, methinks. Should be back later. In the meantime, the ankle-biters are gonna be playin’, but I gotta check on Rusty’s gun - keeps jammin’, she said. Can ya watch ‘em for me until they get tired?”
“Sure…! I’m good with kids, I’d love to,” Lúcio nodded, eager to please the den-mother.
“Good, I won’t be long.”
She headed out, the telltale squeak and thud of the front door behind her.
The child from yesterday who had bet a button on them was doing keep-ups, bouncing an old soccer ball on his head as some of the others watched.
“Mister Frog, Mister Frog!” a little girl rushed up to him, tugging at his pants.
“Mister Frog…? Is that my name now?” Lúcio laughed and squatted down to be eye-level with the girl, “What do you need, princess?”
She blushed, “Spark says ya can play ball?”
He looked over at the boy, who was holding out the deflated sphere.
“Well, I can play futebol . You guys know what that is?”
They shook their heads.
“It’s basically like soccer…uh…I can also do some tricks, if you want to see?”
The children all cheered, bouncing and rushing over to see. Lúcio took the ball, bouncing it a few times on his knees to get a feel for it, before performing some of his best moves, like juggling, keep-ups, and even a few advanced ones. The kids were in awe, begging to be taught how to perform the tricks. It was harder than he wanted to admit without shoes, but he was far too giddy from making the little ones laugh and clap to mind it.
After some time, the sound of the screen door squeaking caught Lúcio’s attention. He looked over, spotting Junkrat stepping out into the backyard and waving to him. He waved back shyly.
“Uh…Spark, you take over for a second, show everyone your head-bounces, okay? I’ll be right back.”
The kids wandered a little bit away, taking turns playing with the ball, as Lúcio came over to Junkrat. The Aussie had sat down on the steps - he scooted slightly aside to allow the DJ to join him.
“G’day, froggy. Entertainin’ the babies?”
“Yeah, uh…but…I’ve been meaning to talk to you…”
Junkrat tilted his head like a curious dog.
Lúcio absently played with a scab on his knee.
“I…I wanted to say I’m sorry…for…for being a jerk for the past two weeks. And beyond that. It’s just…it wasn’t fair of me to do that to you. You’ve been very helpful, and…and I just want us to stop fighting from now on. I want to be your friend.”
He abashedly extended his hand to shake. Junkrat looked at it long and hard before clicking his tongue.
“None of that, cobber,” he said, before tugging Lúcio into a tight, bone-crushing hug, “But yeah, we can be friends. Ta for the apology.”
Lúcio wheezed in the embrace, patting Junkrat.
“Ah, pardon, froggy,” Junkrat giggled, “You’re fun to squish.”
“Junkrat! Mister Frog! Can we play… fute-ball ? Is that how ya say it…?” little Spark was asking.
“Yeah, we can! The Frogs versus the Rats! Get yerselves into two teams - you’re goin’ down, Lú!”
“Oh, we’ll see about that!”
They stayed in Karratha well into their third week in the Outback - it seemed Schlockmeister’s comment about them not loitering held no water by this point in time. Lúcio himself had begun to acclimate to the Junker lifestyle, though he did not sport the attire of the locals like D.Va now did. Certain things began to fall into place, routine from when he woke up to when he went to sleep.
For example, he found he naturally began to drift awake at around nine in the morning, at the same time as his friends. They would fill their water bottles and eat a light snack of whatever non-perishable food Schlock had on hand - popcorn, ramen, honey and crackers - before going about their day. Sometimes they would help the den-mother look after the kids, teaching them new letters or repair tricks, or they would assist in some miscellaneous task she had to do, from fixing a flat tire to feeding their neighbor’s mutant hens. Other times they went to the marketplace to barter their way into the possession of a new tool, or scrap of something to eat. Lúcio had learned from watching Junkrat how to haggle down a trade to be in his favor, how to bloat the value of whatever he was offering, to get the upper hand in a transaction. Soon, he put these skills to use and got himself a new pair of boxers, the kind of souvenir ones that usually expand in water. He unfolded them to find they were patterned with various Australian monuments and interspersed with the dialogue “Wish You Were Here!” and “Land Down Under”. Junkrat had not stopped laughing for a solid five minutes the first time Lúcio wandered out of the bathroom with them on. D.Va, conversely, was still searching for a pilot mask to put on, but kept coming up empty-handed. Her Junker appearance was disrupted by the pink headphones on her head all the time, so Lúcio secretly hoped for the sake of fashion she would find something brown to put on her ears soon.
Their shenanigans at the market were often forced to a halt by noon, as they and all the other Junkers found themselves struggling to keep cool from the oppressive sun. Karratha grew deathly quiet from the hours of 11:30 to 14:30, where no one wandered outside. The residents of the ghost town took this time to nap in the shade, or return to their homes to run repairs. Lúcio usually found himself falling asleep at this time, absently leaned back on the rocking chair in the dining room and letting the rhythmic movement back and forth lull him to sleep. He would typically be lurched awake after a few hours by D.Va flicking water droplets in his face and Junkrat scolding her for wasting it.
As the afternoon wore on and the temperatures returned to a somewhat bearable level, they would head out to play games with the children, or speak with other members of the town populace, before Schlock would call them home for dinner. More often than not it was something with lizard or rabbit or the seldom case of chicken, simmered in a slow-cooker until the tender meat all but melted away in their mouths. They would share a bottle of beer together - though D.Va always pointedly refused - followed by telling stories or jokes until their eyes struggled to stay open. Then, last but not least, they would retire to their mattresses, bidding each other goodnight and drifting into sleep. Sometimes, Lúcio would stir awake in the wee hours of the morning, when the pale streaks of the rising sun were just barely reaching over the horizon and the chill of the night was still present. During those random periods of alertness, he would adjust the blankets back over the sleeping bodies of his friends and fix their awkwardly strewn limbs to be more comfortable, before returning to his own bed and drifting back to sleep for a few more hours.
On top of their daily schedules, Lúcio learned a lot about the kinds of people Junkers were, and to his surprise, they were incredibly diverse.
There was Schlockmeister herself, who was apparently one of only three people who owned a functioning generator in the town. On top of her role as a mechanic and teacher, she was very clearly the most valuable asset Karratha had, and many respected her with the authority one would give a queen, granting her significant discounts on trades or offering her water from their own canteens. Though she typically refused special treatment, Schlock did on occasion accept gifts from the other Junker girls, such as from their neighbor, Thumper, the aviators-sporting girl who ran the mech fight arena and raised the chickens Lúcio had seen in the market. One evening, the three had returned to the trailer to smell the characteristic scent of cooking eggs, accompanied by the telltale pop and hiss of the wet yolks on a hot skillet. That evening’s dinner was among the best, though Lúcio found himself wondering how three eggs could have eight yolks.
Next, there was Sharktooth - Lúcio quickly and rather violently found out the hulking Junker was especially fond of men. The DJ had unfortunately rounded the corner of a building to find the man with one of his many thin companions pulled up on his lap, the two sucking each other’s faces with greediness and fervor. Lúcio had jumped visibly and thrown his hands up to cover his blushing face, apologizing for the interruption, to which Sharktooth had sneered at him and said “ain’t ya ever heard of ‘Aussie mateship’, ankle biter?”. In spite of the lustful behavior he exhibited to his minions, the bulky man seemed to have little patience for anyone else. He and his boys were ready to use physical violence to get what they wanted - Lúcio discovered this behavior was the primary reason behind their gang’s nickname of The Standover Men. On top of that, being one of the biggest people in town made the alpha male borderline immune to retaliation, sans that from the ever-sassy Junkrat, who feared no man, woman, or beast, it seemed. Lúcio initially felt he too should act like that, calling out Sharktooth’s bullying, but after seeing his friend nearly receive a black eye from the man’s fist after a particularly nasty insult, he quickly retracted that statement. This was no sneaking into the Vishkar base to liberate his people - it was easier to deal with a group of snobby architects than a huge, hot-headed grizzly and his minigun. Not that the incident put any fear in Junkrat’s eyes - if anything, they grew brighter and wilder.
In general, however, the Junkers seemed largely unafraid of anyone, or anything . At one point, D.Va had started screaming as if she had witnessed the worst horror of her life, and when Lúcio bolted to her side, he realized why - a massive, hairy spider, spanning the size of a house cat, was strolling through the dust as if it owned the place, its legs rubbing together and making audible shf shf shf sounds. It was very determined to get into Thumper’s chicken coop and steal away a hen or two for dinner. Lúcio, aptly feeling like he might faint in fear, had grabbed hold of D.Va, shrieking as she clung back to him, mimicking his panicked cries. Their chorus of terrified screeches attracted their redhead neighbor, who had scoffed irritably and smashed her boot against the arachnid repeatedly until it was nothing but a gooey puddle of legs.
“Fucking spiders…” she had grumbled, before spinning on her heels and returning to her fowl as if nothing out of the ordinary had just happened, a trail of spider guts following her footprints.
“...I guess that’s why they call her Thumper…” D.Va had said weakly.
Along with the badass sheila, they had also finally met the fabled Electrode, one of the other people in town who owned a functioning generator, though it was certainly struggling to stay alive by now. He looked like some bizarre alternate universe version of Junkrat, with a blond frizz that crackled with electricity instead of burned with fire, and a chubbier belly and waist compared to Junkrat’s lithe form. Lúcio realized quickly that Electrode was Spark’s father, which made their names all the more apt. He was not the only Junker parent. The girl Lúcio had fondly called “princess” before was named Key, and was one of two fraternal twins, her brother named Lock. Their mother, Deadbolt, was one of the few people in town who was known to still be fertile, and she had clearly had more than just two children in the past. The stretchmarks on her belly and waist were uncovered, and she walked with pride, like a tiger showing off its stripes. Apparently, though, she had no interest in having any more babies.
“Not unless I can find a good enough bloke to be the father,” she had remarked to the three, “Ain’t gonna let any more of me little ones grow up dad-less. I’ve got me eye on Electrode…”
Then there was Freezer Burn, whom they met after a few days. She apparently made weekly trips all the way to Sydney in her huge covered truck, to bring fresh supplies. Lúcio had been in disbelief of the idea, until Burn had opened up an enormous cooler box in the back of her pickup. Huge clouds of white had billowed out, and she had reached - barehanded - past the piles of dry ice to pull out bottles of beer, freeze-dried produce, and water tanks, all as intact as if they had just bought it themselves from the local supermarket. The kids all clambered up with her, enjoying the cooling breeze that came with the melting dry ice blocks, or to play with the accumulating snow that melted almost immediately when it touched their hot little fingers. Lúcio had attempted to pick one of the frozen cubes up, and promptly dropped it, cursing as his skin pinched in pain.
“Watch it, frog boy, just because I ain’t got no feelin’ in me fingers doesn’t mean ya want that too,” Freezer Burn had chided, lisping a little due to the weird fangs the radiation had given her, before roping her arm around Thumper and giving her a big wet kiss on the cheek.
Razor also appeared every now and then, always easily spotted due to his huge fluffy mohawk. He would shoot dirty looks at the three heroes whenever he saw them, and those heated glares could not be more different from the smitten looks he gave Sharktooth. Junkrat had scoffed and called him a “twinky bastard”, only to have D.Va snidely comment that “he must have gotten it from you”. The two had proceeded to bicker for the next 20 minutes while Lúcio groaned and rubbed his temples.
Petty arguments aside, the three were getting along much better, much to Lúcio’s relief. He and Junkrat would entertain the kids with games of soccer while D.Va refed, and they were more than willing to share water, food, and supplies between each other. At one point Junkrat sat Lúcio down asked him to pull off his tank-top.
“U-uh, what’re you -?”
“I’m fixin’ yer shirt,” Junkrat had said nonchalantly. Lúcio had blinked before tugging off the tattered remains of his frog tank and giving it to Junkrat. The blond sat next to him, using an old sewing kit he had traded a packet of gum for to mend the shredded fabric.
“Thank you…” Lúcio had said warmly when the repaired shirt was returned. The stitching was sloppy but the DJ did not mind it. It was more the thought that counted.
“Nah, it’s nothin’, froggy,” Junkrat had replied, patting Lúcio’s head with a gentle hand.
The evenings were also times when the three and Schlock would talk or play games. Lúcio discovered a few unexpected things - for example, Junkrat was fantastic at checkers. He won against all three of them within minutes, forcing them into awkward spots and snatching up three or four of their pieces at once. The first time it happened to D.Va, she made a face akin to a child that just ate a sour lemon and flipped the board over, making Schlockmeister burst out laughing. The stories Junkrat told, which had previously been irritating background noise to Lúcio, now captivated him, leaving him leaning forward and awaiting with baited breath to hear how the Aussie had escaped an encounter with the mythical Bunyip or rescued a gaggle of preteen girls from a giant mutant tiger snake. D.Va preferred instead to nitpick plotholes and point out discrepancies between stories, only to have the boys loudly shush her.
Near the end of their third week of life in the Outback, D.Va was playing with Spark and the other kids when she tripped, biting her lip badly on the fall. The blood seeping down her chin made Lúcio cry out.
“Hana! Are you alright?!” he said, bolting over and helping her up.
“Mmm…I’m fine, just cut myself a little…calm down, Lú…”
“What’s goin’ on?” Schlock asked, wandering out from the shade of the trailer, “What happened?”
“She fell and bit her lip…” Lúcio said, cradling D.Va’s head as he tried to get a better look at the wound.
“I have some healin’ shit, come in, I’ll patch ya up.”
Lúcio led D.Va back inside, glancing at Junkrat, who was lounging on the couch and reading a manual on chainsaws. He looked up at them, blanching a bit at the blood.
“Yeesh, princess, how does the other bloke look?”
“You flatter me,” she giggled.
“Here, sit and I’ll put this shit on,” Schlock was saying, returning from the bathroom with a glass canister and a metal spoon. She set it down, using the utensil to ladle what looked like yellow juice onto D.Va’s lip. It almost instantly healed.
“Ya be careful now, bunny.”
“Come on, Lú, let’s go finish the game…Lú?”
Lúcio was fixated on the glass. It was making some memory in his brain itch. Something familiar.
“That looks like…”
He picked up the can, looking it over. To his growing dread, he found the Overwatch logo on the side. This was a Biotic Grenade, like the ones Ana threw down on her teammates to heal them, or on enemies to disrupt their healer’s work.
“W…where did you get this?” he said, trying to keep the edge out of his voice.
“I traded for it,” Schlock responded, shrugging, “What’s the problem?”
“You didn’t steal it?”
“Lúcio!” D.Va’s voice was sharp and disapproving. Junkrat sat up a little.
“Hana, it’s got the Overwatch logo on it, look - someone stole it from the Watchpoint.”
“Well, it wasn’t me ,” the mechanic grumbled, “And besides, Overwatch should be stolen from. Buncha no-good fruit loops, that’s all they are.”
“Excuse me?! Overwatch helps people!” Lúcio hated arguing, but his face felt hot and his hands were shaking defensively as he tried to keep his voice down, “They’re n-not -!”
“Not bad? Ya really believe that? I dunno what to tell ya,” Schlock said, tone bored.
“Yes, I do believe it, because it’s true!”
“Lú, wait -” D.Va tried to interrupt, but Lúcio was having none of it.
“No! Overwatch makes the world a better place! They…what about the Crisis? All those kids they helped, all the Omnic destruction they repaired, all the -!”
“Yeah, they helped some lucky bastards during the Crisis, and then what?!” Schlockmeister snapped, glaring at him with fiery hazel eyes, “What about after?! Ain’t ya ever read a damn history book?!”
Lúcio’s voice faltered.
“A-after…after they got…disbanded…they weren’t allowed to -”
“No! Before that! When the sack of shit Australian Prime Minister traded HUMAN land for Omnium territory, to make those filthy scrap heaps happy, where was Overwatch then?!”
Lúcio found he could not say anything.
“What about when the Australian Liberation Front was protestin’? Where was yer precious Overwatch then?! Me dad, me mum, they were out there everyday, fightin’ to get back the home they had raised me in, the one they had before they got thrown out of it for the sake of keepin’ peace with some evil little bots! I was livin’ with me aunt, waitin’ everyday for me parents to come and get me and tell me we had a home again!”
Her breath was hitching in her throat from barely restrained sobs.
“But they never did, did they?!”
Lúcio’s hands trembled.
“It was a rhetorical question, ya fuck! No! Because the Omnium blew! It blew up! And with it went this entire continent! Turnin’ the Outback into a fuckin’ wasteland of radiation! Me parents…me neighbors…everyone! Everyone was DEAD! I don’t even know how I didn’t join ‘em…”
She jerked her head to the side harshly, refusing to look at him.
“Where was Overwatch…when this sheila…this little girl…was wanderin’ the desert…with no food…no nothin’…where was Overwatch when this little girl sold her hair, her teeth, her leg , just to get a drink of water…”
“…Schlock, I -”
“Overwatch never cared about people . They cared about their name, maybe. This fancy little unit, cleanin’ up bots and gainin’ medals. Known around the world for “helping”. Meanwhile little blokes and sheilas like me lost everythin’ they ever knew, and wandered blindly into the desert for days and weeks. Most died before they even got a chance to have the big, hungry, twisted fuckers to shoot them between the eyes for lookin’ at ‘em funny. That, or just to wander the GAFA for days on end, thirsty, hungry, dyin’ . That was the fate of so many orphans of the Crisis. I was a lucky one…I lived long enough to be known for me skills, to gain some respect again…but sometimes, I don’t even think that it was worth it…I would give anythin’… anythin’ at all…just to never have woken up that day and found everyone I loved was dead . To grow up in this irradiated wasteland among depraved monsters and mutants.”
She had long since turned away from them, shoulders shaking quietly as the shell hardened by years of abuse and misery broke away.
“Ya can think whatever ya like about Overwatch…if ya think they really do help people, if it helps ya sleep at night, then yeah. Do it. But don’t act like they didn’t leave this country and its people to die. I will never forgive them from abandonin’ us. Just like everyone else. We were abandoned by the U.N., we were abandoned by Overwatch, we were abandoned by God .”
Without another word, she swept out of the trailer, slamming the door behind her.
Lúcio felt numb. The nausea had returned, and his throat was tight.
“I did too.”
He looked at D.Va, aghast.
Her expression was somber.
“It was in the Junker culture book…”
Lúcio’s legs were failing him. He sunk to the ground, shaking.
“…Overwatch…has been my rock…it’s been everything I ever believed in…the only thing keeping me grounded since I left home…the only reason I did leave home…I…I joined it to make the world a better place…but…but this…”
The tears came, big and wet. They rolled down his cheeks, landing on his sweatpants and leaving big wet patches.
“Oh, no, Lúcio -! Don’t cry -!”
D.Va hurried over, joining him on the floor and hugging him tight.
“Please don’t cry…it’s okay, it’s okay…”
“It’s not okay…! Everything I believed in was a lie…!”
“It’s not a lie…! We’re in Overwatch now, we’ll tell Mercy, we’ll…we’ll learn! The new Overwatch will be better…!” D.Va pleaded with him to see reason.
“It won’t erase what happened to people like Schlock…” Lúcio mumbled, miserable.
He glanced over at Junkrat, who was not looking at them - given Schlockmeister’s story, the DJ was not sure he could stomach hearing what happened to his friend, what horrors he had lived through growing up in the Outback. His mind drifted back to the origin of Junkrat’s name, and his eyes welled up more. At the time he had been too stunned to respond, but the subtle sadness of the Aussie’s smile haunted him. Lúcio’s bottom lip trembled as he spoke again.
“They deserved so much better than this…so m-much…b-better…”
The sobs pushed their way out, refusing to be choked down anymore. This was just the icing on a cake of bullshit that had manifested from the day they fell off the mountain. D.Va, unable to do anything else, clung to Lúcio, burying her face in his chest and trying to reassure him, but it was to no avail. It seemed he could not be consoled.
As such, it surprised both to feel Junkrat’s big arms rope around them, to feel him press his cheek against the smaller man’s head and murmur that it was going to be okay. Lúcio was unsure how to respond initially, but somehow his face found its way into the crook of Junkrat’s shoulder, crying quietly as the blond stroked his back and shushed him gently. It took some time, but he finally calmed down.
“Ya good, froggy…?” Junkrat asked, using his left thumb to wipe away the tears that were clinging to Lúcio’s cheeks.
“Mmm…I’m better…” he mumbled softly.
“Good…” Junkrat planted a gentle kiss on his forehead. The gesture startled Lúcio a little, his face warming, but he did not speak.
“Now c’mon…those ankle biters were in the middle of a game!”
“Ah -! Right -!” D.Va stood up, leading the way outside, glad to end the depressing conversation and return to the soccer match. Junkrat followed her out as Lúcio slowly stood, a finger absently tracing the wet mark on his skin left behind by the Aussie’s swift kiss.
He kind of liked it.
It was nearing the end of their third week. The three heroes had been planning to head back out into the desert for several days, but something kept them in Karratha each time. The main problem was finding enough food and water to sustain themselves with. By the time they gathered any suitable number of edible things to take with them, something expired or ran out or had to be traded away, and left them scrambling to find something else to fill its place with.
“The wonders of the Outback…” Junkrat had grumbled.
In general, the supplies in the town were running low for everyone - now, bartering had to be done with higher quality items, or violence. The blood of the populace was boiling. It scared Lúcio enough to keep him inside more often than not - he was not interested in watching Sharktooth pummel another guy into the ground for refusing to give him three rounds of minigun ammo instead of two.
Truth be told, while he had certainly mellowed out in attitude towards most of the Junkers, Lúcio still felt a poignant hot fear when near the alpha male. Something about him, his demeanor, exuded a sense of cruelty and malice that made the DJ’s skin crawl. The way he glared at them when the three heroes walked by, the way he nonchalantly moved from minion to minion for a “quick pashin’”, as Junkrat called it, the cold, evil hunger of his grin. Lúcio made a point of hiding behind Junkrat’s back every time Sharktooth came to visit.
On a brighter note, D.Va’s mech had finally been fully repaired, so the obnoxious beeping was no longer a concern. She thanked Schlockmeister endlessly for her dedication, to which the Junker woman just scoffed loudly and ruffled the smaller girl’s hair.
As they reached the Saturday at the end of their third week, officially, Lúcio and Junkrat were sitting together in the back, looking up at the sky and going through what they needed to have packed and ready to leave with. All three had agreed that straining Schlock any longer was inappropriate, and that even with a lack of supplies, they ought to get going.
“We can always find a servo,” Junkrat was saying, though the tone of his voice suggested that was a poor idea.
“In the middle of the desert?” Lúcio queried.
“They’re…around. Not the easiest to find, though, I’ll give ya that…we could steal some stuff?”
“Junkrat, no, we’re not stealing from these people, they’ve been very nice to us.”
The Aussie huffed.
“Then what do ya suggest, mate? We can’t stay in Karratha forever.”
“Why can’t we, though…” Lúcio mused, despite already knowing the answer.
“I told ya. If we do, and Overwatch does find us eventually, how happy d’ya think a town fulla angry Junkers is gonna be when the people who abandoned them all those years ago shows up just t’collect three ankle biters and ignore the rest of them?”
“Not like Overwatch can find us anyway…our GPS signals are still missing…”
Lúcio took out his broken wrist gauge, which had at this point even given up the low battery pulse. Just a cold black screen that reflects his face. He was filthy, and his dreadlocks were fraying apart.
Junkrat sighed and absently leaned on the smaller man.
“This sucks, mate.”
Suddenly, the sound of a ringing bell carried in their direction. Junkrat lifted his head, confused.
“What is that?”
Lúcio shrugged, getting up and leading the way through the trailer to the front porch, where D.Va was leaning out over the railing.
“What’s going on, Hana?”
“Dunno, I can’t see from here, but everyone looks excited…”
Lúcio glanced over as Schlock joined them.
“Do you know?”
“One of two things…either a big fight has broken out and people are bettin’…or…”
She did not need to finish.
The team of Junker hunters, which including Thumper and Rusty, amongst other men and women, had caught something. Several things. Lúcio’s eyes went wide as the procession of cheering, whooping town residents came by.
Three boars. Well, to describe them as boars would be a massive understatement. Roadhog was a boar. These…these were monsters. The size of an ice cream truck, with tusks rivalling those of an elephant. Clearly the animals had put up a fight, because they were riddled with arrows and bullet wounds. Lúcio felt a weird sense of regret and amazement at the wondrous animals, and the mere thought of how much of a feat it must have been to take them down.
“Ya seein’ this, ankle biters?!” Schlockmeister said, bouncing on her heels a little. It was bizarre to see the serious woman acting as giddy as a schoolgirl.
“Does everyone get to eat?” D.Va asked.
“Of course they do! We all share when the hunters pull in a big catch like this!” she nodded, grinning, “We’ll get grog and mull and other shit too. Come on, ya gotta watch the bonfire go up!”
The wide grin of interest adorning Junkrat’s face when Lúcio turned to look at him made the DJ jump a bit.
“Christ, Rat, stop that, you look like a psychopath,” he grumbled.
“I’m a pyro! Of course I wanna see the bonfire!” he cackled.
The three followed Schlock down to the outskirts of town, where already people were gathering and throwing twigs, papers, and other flammable objects into a big pile, as the head hunter - a man named Snake Bite, Lúcio had learned a while ago - doused everything in diesel. The air reeked of the smell of gasoline, making him wrinkle his nose.
“This seems like a bad idea,” he murmured. But no one heard him.
When an adequate collection of drenched items had been made, another Junker - a solitary woman named Fireball, with a gas mask which was shaped to resemble a wolf, and sporting a flamethrower - came over to light the fuse. The fire that erupted from the ground made Lúcio briefly think they had set off an active volcano. He yelped, jumping back and landing in Junkrat’s arms.
“H-hey, easy, froggy!” the Aussie chuckled, righting his friend, “Lookit that beautiful fire!”
“ Foiyah ,” D.Va mimicked, tittering under her breath and ducking to avoid a cuff on the ear.
The boars were roasted in the roaring flames as beer started making its way around, an aperitif before the meat. Durries - the Aussie term for cigarettes, Lúcio learned - were also being passed from person to person. He politely declined when it reached him - he was more interested in finally having a decent meal. The scent of the crisped skin and searing meat, accompanied by the hiss and pop of fat dripping onto the fiery hot bonfire bed, made his stomach whine and mouth water.
When the meat finally began making its journey to the mouths of the hungry Junkers, Lúcio would have loved to start devouring the piping hot chunk in his hands, but after the rabbit incident he took his time, chewing the bites fully before swallowing. The barbecued meat, despite the lack of proper seasoning, tasted like heaven.
As the evening wore on, the Junkers seemed hardly interested in going to sleep. Lúcio himself was in a brilliant mood, and he was unsure if it was the good food in his belly, the ‘amber fluid’ he had drunk, or just the elated atmosphere of the people around him.
The smell of marijuana began to pervade the air at some point. Lúcio was surprised, not expecting the recreational drug to surface around here. Sharktooth and his group of lackeys were passing a little papery blunt around, taking a huff before moving on. Lúcio narrowed his eyes - despite what tabloids liked to say about him, he had never touched the stuff, and did not plan to. Though he felt like the longer he stayed here, the bigger his chances of getting a secondhand high from the skunky stench.
“Lúcio…” D.Va said, tugging at his arm.
“What’s up?” he asked, looking at her. She had a concerned expression on her face.
“I think you need to tell Rat to take it easy, he’s not listening to me.”
Lúcio chuckled a little. “He’s a grown-ass man, Hana, he can handle himself. Probably better than we can.”
“No…uh, here, let me just show you…”
She pulled him along, to where Junkrat was sitting with a group of other Junkers and talking. No, more like blathering. Loudly.
“Oh, dear…” Lúcio said, as one of the Junkers moved to offer the blond a joint.
“Ta, mate…” the drunken Junkrat moved to smoke it when Lúcio smacked it out of his hand.
“Absolutely not,” he said, gripping Junkrat’s shoulders, “You’ve had quite enough.”
“Oh, come on, Lú…! I’m - hic! - havin’ fun!”
“Junkrat, you’re gonna get sick and puke all over yourself,” D.Va huffed, folding her arms, “Don’t be a shit.”
“Ah, rack off, D.Va, you’re like 14….” the shitfaced Aussie mumbled.
“14?! Why, you -!”
“Hana, please, let’s just all move over and get some fresh air, okay?”
“Shit’s sake…stupid fucking Aussie son of a bitch…”
Lúcio managed to tug Junkrat over a few feet, checking him over. He was beginning himself to feel the pulse of an alcohol headache, and every so often he would lose focus on what he was doing and realize he had just been standing there for a few minutes staring into space.
“Ain’t that…that…fire a damn…damn fine beauty though…” Junkrat was saying, looking at the bonfire with an emotion that resembled lust.
“Ew…Rat, please, fires are not beautiful,” Lúcio said, as D.Va snickered nearby.
“Fires are beautiful…not as beautiful as me treasure, though!” he chuckled. Lúcio felt the blood drain from his face.
“ Junkrat! Shh! ”
“Treasure? What treasure?”
Lúcio winced hard, looking behind them as Sharktooth leaned back from his thicket of minions, looking at the three of them with narrowed eyes.
“Mmmyeah, me treasure, ain’t ya heard about it before, ya big bastard…” Junkrat hiccupped, “Ya know it’s…hic...still here…! Still in ‘Straya…! And I know where…!”
Sharktooth’s lip curled into a condescending sneer.
“Oh, do ya? Let me just grab ya another beer and ya can tell us all about it.”
“ No , the rat has had plenty as is,” Schlockmeister interjected, marching over and hauling the blond to his feet, “Bunny, frog, take him to bed, now .”
“What -?! But I wasn’t done eating -!” D.Va said, aghast.
“ NOW .”
Growling in anger, D.Va grabbed Junkrat by his prosthetic arm and started yanking him back down the central path back to the mechanic’s trailer.
“Aww, whassamatta with ya guys…? I’m havin’ a great - hic! - time!”
Lúcio glanced behind them, back at Sharktooth. His gaze had not shifted from them, cold and steely. A dark greed swirled in the depths of those irises, making the DJ’s skin crawl. He swallowed hard and bolted back over to D.Va and Junkrat.
“Fucking help me with this big oaf, Lú…” D.Va grumbled, struggling to pull the unbalanced, staggering Aussie along. He had started singing ‘Down Under’, loud and off-key, and as serious as Lúcio tried to stay, he could not help but grin, laughs pushing their way past his lips as he pressed a finger to them.
“S-shh…! Rat, quiet…!” he giggled.
“D-d’ya come - hic! - from a Land Down Under? Where w-women glow and…” the drunken blond paused to belch loudly, “…and men plunder…!”
Lúcio was struggling not to collapse in hysterics, snickering loudly as he tried to keep Junkrat upright.
“Oh my god, I’m gonna kick you both in the dick.”
They managed to pull the drunken buffoon back to Schlock’s trailer, though given his size and refusal to walk straight, they certainly struggled with it. Tinny had decided to fall asleep on Junkrat’s unmade mattress, nesting in the blanket. D.Va scooped her up and carried the protesting feline off as Lúcio helped Junkrat lie down, covering him with the blanket. He was still singing, though by now the lyrics were tapering off and quieting from exhaustion.
“…where b-beer doesss flow…and men chunder…” the tone-deaf Aussie continued to mumble, smiling stupidly at Lúcio through half-lidded eyes, “Know what - hic! - that meansss, froggy?”
“It means puke, I know…” Lúcio said, adjusting Junkrat’s head so he was comfortable.
“Yeah, ya got it…smarty…” he burped again, making Lúcio wrinkle his nose and scoot away before he resumed singing, slurring and stumbling over his words more and more as exhaustion kicked in and he began to sink into sleep.
“…can't ya hear…caaan't ya hear…the thunder…?”
The DJ’s small smile slipped a little as his mind drifted back to Sharktooth, and those greedy hazel eyes that had bored into their backs as they carried the drunk back home. Brimming with hunger, and unspeakable cruelty. That was certainly a brewing thunderstorm. They had to get going, and soon. Before something bad happened to Junkrat. To all three of them.
“Hic…ya better run…ya beeetter take…cooover…”
When Lúcio woke up the next morning, hot and sweaty, the first thing he was aware of was how tight his chest felt. At first he did not recall why, but as the events of last night returned to him, he bit his lip hard. He could still easily visualize Sharktooth’s glare, piercing and predatory.
He sat up, looking around. D.Va was not in her bed, but Junkrat was fast asleep, snoring loudly and making soft groans in his sleep. Lúcio gently put his hand on the Aussie’s shoulder, shaking him slightly.
“Mmngh…me head is explodin’…” was the muffled response.
“You’re hungover, let me get you some water…”
Lúcio hauled himself up, reaching for the pair of tattered pants he had borrowed from Schlockmeister, but felt himself hesitate. Some weird feeling brewing in his gut told him he should put on his armor instead. He went to the cardboard boxes in the corner where Schlock had collected their weapons and pulled out the skates, hauling them on and fastening the belt.
“Lúúúúú…” Junkrat was groaning and rolling over, flopping his left arm across his face.
“I’m coming, I’m coming, hang on…”
Lúcio hurried over, grabbing Junkrat’s canteen from the shelf and filling it with water before offering it to the exhausted Aussie.
“Fuck’s sake, do I have to feed you this too?” the DJ grumbled, putting his hand behind Junkrat’s back and pulling him into a sitting position, “Open up.”
Without opening his eyes, Junkrat pried apart his dry lips, allowing Lúcio to gently press the canteen to his mouth and help him drink. The blond gulped thirstily, clearly needy for the hydration.
“Hhh…ta…I needed that…”
“What even happened…I blacked out after me third rib…”
“You were beyond drunk. We found you going off about how hand sanitizer was an Omnic plot or something, and then you, uh…decided to blather about your treasure…”
“Oh, fuck …” Junkrat made a sharp intake of breath, “Fuuuck…who heard…?”
“Who didn’t hear? You’re lucky Schlock got Sharktooth off our asses, he was really adamant about you telling him about it.”
“Son of a bitch…” Junkrat rubbed his temples, clearly stressed, “Fuck…where’s D.Va? We need t’go.”
“Go?” Lúcio was confused.
“Yeah, like, now. We need to get out of -”
The front door to the trailer creaked loudly as it opened, making Junkrat jump and instinctively move his hand to his back, where normally his grenade launcher sat. Lúcio turned around and saw D.Va and Schlock were walking in, carrying armfuls of supplies.
“Alright, gremlins, we’re packin’ yer shit so ya guys can bugger off,” Schlock’s voice was calm and cool, but carried that edge of urgency that matched Junkrat’s panicked eyes, “Let me show ya what I got.”
They gathered around the kitchen table as Schlock took a battered old duffle bag and started to fill it with supplies. Three bottles of water to go with the canteens each hero had, two big packets of boar meat, dried and wrapped in little patchwork cloth napkins, and three of the Biotic Grenades, cushioned by a spare blanket wrapped around them.
“Food, water, meds, and a blanket. Ya three ain’t gonna need much else. Ration yerselves and this’ll last a good while.”
“Thank you, Schlock…” D.Va murmured.
“We really appreciate it,” Lúcio reaffirmed, as the Junker zipped up the bag and gave it to him for safekeeping.
“Ya three got yer weapons, clothes, all that shit?”
Junkrat went to grab his pipe-bombs and Frag Launcher as D.Va checked on her pistol before shoving it back in the waistband of her pants. Lúcio ended up having to grip his Sonic Amplifier with his teeth as he helped Junkrat secure his suspenders.
“Ya three got everythin’?”
“Yeah, but -”
Before Lúcio could finish his thought, there came the sound of a big, meaty fist banging hard on the door. He felt the blood drain from his face, knowing only one person would be doing that.
“Schlock!” Sharktooth snarled, “D’ya have the three? Hand ‘em over! …Schlock! Open this goddamn door!”
Lúcio became poignantly aware that Junkrat had pulled him and D.Va behind himself, a block between them and the door. His gaze was trained on Schlock, who was looking behind her, not them. The trailer shook with more pounding.
“SCHLOCK! Open the door!”
She turned her head back slightly, looking at them. Lúcio’s breath was hitching in his chest, full of fear. She could not sell them out, no, there was no way.
“…bunny…” she began quietly, “…I think ya should go check on yer mech…”
“…h-huh?” D.Va was confused.
“Yer mech. It’s out back. Go check on it. ”
For a second, Lúcio did not get what she was doing. Then, realization dawned on him. She was letting them go.
“…right…” D.Va said, inching backwards, “My..mecha…”
She and Junkrat quickly turned and scrambled out the back door. Lúcio moved to follow them, but hesitated, looking back at Schlockmeister. She had been their helper, their guide, their protection, for almost two weeks. He had to say something.
“…thank you, Schlock…”
She looked at him with a small smile.
“Go on. Yer family’s waitin’ for ya.”
He ducked his head and hurried after them.
To his surprise, what was awaiting them was not just D.Va’s repaired mecha, but rather, Freezer Burn. Seeing his two friends clambering into the back of her covered truck, Lúcio understood she was going to sneak them out of the town without Sharktooth and his friends finding them.
“Hurry up, I ain’t got all day,” she hissed. He quickly jumped in with Junkrat and D.Va as the truck revved up, getting ready to depart. Lúcio could hear the faint sound of the trailer door being broken down amidst loud, angry shouts, wincing at the noise.
“She let us go…” D.Va was saying, in shock, as the truck shuddered beneath them and started to drive off, carefully navigating past the scrap heaps.
“One of the last few Junkers with a damn heart,” Junkrat growled, tugging down the curtain on the back of the truck to keep them hidden from view, “Any other one woulda just sold us out for a cut of me treasure. Damn good sheila, she is.”
Lúcio pressed against the wall, hoping the bully would not hurt her for letting them leave. He could not bear the thought, grip on the duffle bag tightening.
They drove for a while, the town getting smaller and smaller on the horizon until it blipped out of existence. After a good hour, the truck slowly drifted to a halt.
“Okay, ankle biters, this is as far off me normal path I can take ya,” Freezer Burn said as she hopped down from the driver’s seat and banged her hand against the side of the metal hull they were in, “Gotta turn this hunk of junk around and head back to Sydney. Off ya go.”
Junkrat and Lúcio hopped down as D.Va scooted into the pilot seat of her mech, activating it before joining them in the sand.
“Thanks for this, Burn…” Lúcio said, smiling at her, “We appreciate it.”
“Ya three can return the favor by gettin’ home safe and sound, alright? I’ll pass news onto Schlock that I dropped ya three off. Don’t forget about us Karratha bastards, will ya?”
She ruffled the boys’ hair before returning to her truck and driving off. They waved goodbye, waiting until her truck was but a speck in the distance to stop.
“Now what?” D.Va asked.
“It’s the damn mornin’, fuck…if we’re gonna be out here, we need t’get used to sleepin’ durin’ the day again.”
“Plus we should take turns instead of sleeping all at once…” Lúcio murmured, glancing back in the direction from whence they had come, “We don’t want Sharktooth getting the drop on us.”
“You really think he’ll come after us?” D.Va asked, furrowing her brow.
“I know so. I saw the look on his face…and you heard how much he was banging on Schlock’s door.”
“Shit, you’re right…” Junkrat swore loudly, “Fuck, that means we gotta be on our toes all the fuckin’ time now... shit , I’m such an blatherin’ drongo…”
“Hey, you were drunk, it’s understandable, Junkrat…” Lúcio said, putting his hand reassuringly in the blond’s grip, “It’s fine. We can handle some…’bounce’, I think you called him?”
“Yeah. Yeah, we’ll…we’ll handle him,” Junkrat said, clinging to his grip. Lúcio gave him a small squeeze.
“She’ll be right as long as we’re together,” the Aussie said with a confident nod, “For now, let’s get goin’, the more clicks we put between us and Karratha the better.”
And they walked.
The members of the team were beginning to feel the effects of the radiation. Most stayed inside now, for fear they would get sick, more than they were. While some, like Soldier:76 and his super soldier build, or Genji and his cyborg body, were seemingly unfazed by the oppressive radiation that choked the heroes like a stifling blanket, everyone was sick of the heat, staying inside with cool drinks as best they could. But, even those were starting to dwindle. Mercy had put in an urgent delivery notice for supplies to Sydney, but given how long it had taken the fuel to arrive, it was seemingly unlikely they would be eating anything other than canned soup for the next few days.
The fuel had arrived, finally, and Mercy had given the delivery team a decent scolding for the repeated delays. Roadhog, one of the few people who seemed to have no issue with neither the heat nor the radiation, had stood by and watched. At one point, the doctor could have sworn she saw the biker’s shoulders shaking with laughter.
“Yes, but, even now that the fuel is here, we can’t go searching for the children,” Ana was saying, voice somber as she stirred the third pot of tomato soup in the past week.
“What are you suggesting, Ana, we fly around the desert aimlessly looking for them?” Soldier:76 grumbled, clearly not happy about it either, “We’ll just waste it all, and have to reorder again. And that could take days, days where they might actually turn up and we’re stuck here waiting for them.”
“But we can’t just sit here!” Reinhardt interjected, sitting on the bar stool nearby, “Three of our youngest heroes are out there, maybe hurt!”
“And how will they even find a way to get their GPS signals online?” Mercy sighed, cradling a mug of tea again as she looked to Roadhog, “Are there batteries out there? Charging stations?”
“Doubt they’ll find any that work,” he grumbled.
“We’re more likely to just wait and see if they’ll come back up here on the supply road…” Soldier:76 said, twirling his red visor in his hands, “They’re smart, that’s probably what they’re doing right now…”
“I just hope nothing bad happens to them…” Mercy murmured, looking out the big glass windows of the cafeteria at the russet horizon.
“I just hope they’re safe.”
Thank you for reading the fifth chapter! Any comments/kudos are appreciated greatly. Please stay tuned for the next installments!
I'm sorry once again for the delay - I hope to have chapter six up soon!
(Main blog: http://autumndiesirae.tumblr.com/)
Lúcio, Junkrat, and D.Va continue onward past Karratha. As Junkrat and Lúcio spend more time together, Lúcio feels something stirring within him.
SHE LIVES! Apologies once again for the delay, thank you for being so patient with me. I hope you enjoy this long, fluff-filled chapter!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
After getting dropped off by Freezer Burn, the three heroes immediately began walking, figuring it would be better to put as much distance between them and the angry Sharktooth as possible, despite the hot sun. Junkrat was musing out loud, trying to establish how they would keep each other safe - Lúcio listened closely, knowing their Junker guide would know better than either of them how to stay safe with thieves on their tail.
“Priority is to make sure we’re always watchin’ our arses,” Junkrat was saying, “We can sleep in the day and move at night, but we’ll take shifts, keep watch over each other. All of us sleepin’ at once is bad news. I’ll go first, make sure ya two can sleep fine.”
“I can go last, it’s easy for me to wake up,” D.Va offered.
“I’ll be in the middle, then,” Lúcio said.
“Good, that’s settled. Methinks those drongos won’t be too keen on runnin’ around in the desert durin’ the day, but just in case. At night is when we really need t’worry…”
“We’re gonna be fine, Rat, we’re adults, we’ve got weapons and supplies, and I’d like to think we’re smarter than a bunch of bullies who never grew out of their ‘give me your lunch money’ phase,” D.Va scoffed, eliciting laughter from the boys.
They walked, only stopping for the occasional break, for almost twenty-four hours. The longest rests they took were a short nap at noon in the shade of an old withered shack wall, and a meal at sunset before a nonstop nighttime trek. Despite the groans and gripes from his friends, Junkrat insisted that continuing on and resetting their internal clocks, so they could return to sleeping in the day and walking at night, was the best bet they had. By the time the streaks of pale dawn light were visible on the horizon, Lúcio’s leg muscles ached and throbbed viciously and he was struggling to keep his eyes open.
“Raaat…can we stop...” he groaned, stumbling a bit. His lips were cracked and bleeding from how much he had been chewing them in an attempt to stay alert, and an incessant exhaustion headache pounded in his head, like a little devil was banging at the back of his eye with a hammer, trying to pound its way out.
“Yeah…even I’m in bad shape by this point…” D.Va mumbled, rubbing an eye with the back of her hand.
Junkrat looked at the two of them, his shadowy eyes betraying his own tiredness.
“Yeah…yeah, let’s find shelter…”
The three gathered under the side of a large boulder, akin to the one they had huddled by their first night in the Outback. To Lúcio, that evening felt like years ago. The longer they stayed out here, the more the days began to blur together, seeming to Lúcio to just be a messy mush of memories with the occasional important event. He could easily remember the day he had gotten sick, and the day they had made it to Karratha, but the time in-between seemed devoid of details. Was this how the Junkers’ memories worked? Was Lúcio going slightly mad too?
The sun was beginning to creep up over the horizon, soon to bring with it the harsh heat of day.
“I’ll take first watch, ya two rest yer heads,” Junkrat said, sitting on the sand and scratching his leg.
“You sure you’ll be okay?” Lúcio asked as D.Va settled her mech down.
“Yeah, don’t worry, I’m not tiii…” Junkrat’s thought was interrupted by a big yawn pushing its way out of his mouth, “…not tired.”
Lúcio gave him a look, but refused to protest. Not like he could anyway. Just kneeling down to the sand and beginning to dig a little to expose the cooler dirt below the topsoil made him feel like he was going to black out at any given second.
“Gimme a prod if ya two need anythin’,” Junkrat said quietly, glancing behind himself as Lúcio felt his face press against the earth and his mind swirl into the comforting darkness of sleep.
He was unsure how long he was unconscious, but something eventually tugged him out of his slumber. Sounds, soft but consistent, boring into his ear. Lúcio lifted his head, blinking sleepily as he felt the sweat drops roll off his bedraggled body.
Junkrat was sitting up still, resting his forehead on his knees and making quiet whimpers. Lúcio realized the Aussie was in pain.
“J…Junkrat -!” he stammered, scuttling over on all fours, “A-are you okay?!”
The blond jerked a little.
“Dammit, froggy, damn near gave me a heart attack, why are ya up?”
“Are you hurt?! You sounded hurt -!”
“No, no, I’m fine, I just…dgh, fuck…”
The grip Junkrat had on his right upper arm tightened as he pressed his forehead into his knees again, quivering.
“S-shit, I just…it’s me arm…fuckin’ thing randomly started t’ache…it does this sometimes, she’ll be right, d-don’t worry about it, Lú…”
Lúcio bit his lip. “Phantom pains…?”
“Eh? Ain’t heard of those…”
“I think it’s a thing where people who have lost a limb think their missing hand or leg or whatever is still there and hurting…hang on.”
Lúcio went back over to his nest in the dirt and pulled up his Sonic Amplifier, clicking it on and switching to the calm healing beat.
“Lú, ya ain’t gotta waste that on me, don’t -”
“I want to. Shh...we’ll wake up Hana…”
Slowly, the tense muscles in Junkrat’s right stump relaxed, and the furrowing of his brow and curling of his lip from the stiffness and agony receded.
“Much betta…thanks, froggy…”
“Don’t mention it…want me to sit with you? Make sure it doesn’t come back?”
“Ya should sleep, Lú, you’re gonna be tired tomorrow,” Junkrat chuckled, before yawning again, “Mmm…but I was gonna wake ya in a bit t’take over for me anyway...”
“I’m not tired anymore anyway. Scooch over.”
Junkrat wiggled to the side a bit, allowing Lúcio to plop down next to him as he disabled his Amplifier. The Aussie was using his screwdriver to gently tighten one of the bolts in his prosthetic.
“You made that yourself?” Lúcio asked, watching.
“Well, mostly,” Junkrat explained, putting the tool back in the satchel around his waist, “I bought the hand. I used to live within cooee of this li’l Junker town, and they had their own currency system of tokens. Ya brought scrap or somethin’ tradeable in, they gave ya, like, these little colorful bits.”
He poked some dots into the sand with his metal finger.
“Like that. Was kinda like actual money. Just for that old town, though. I used me tokens to buy this, then I borrowed some tools and cobbled this shit together with some scrap. Took me a good while but I got me fingers to start movin’ eventually. That was a good town…very friendly…”
“Are all Junker towns like that? You know…close-knit communities?”
“Some are…there’s two kinds, really…the ones like Karratha, where it’s a bunch of blokes and sheilas all livin’ together, and the kinds where there’s one…I guess, alpha is what ya would call it. Male or female. Everyone works for ‘em and treats ‘em like a king. Usually they come about because they’ve got water. Everyone needs water…willin’ to do a lot of things for water…”
Junkrat’s eyes had gone out of focus, staring into the distance as if gazing at some long-forgotten memory. Lúcio gently rested his hand on Junkrat’s comfortingly.
“You don’t have to stay in any of those towns anymore,” he reassured, “You’ve got a place to stay now.”
“Ya mean Overwatch?” Junkrat scoffed, “That’ll never be me home.”
“I know, I know, Overwatch abandoned Australia…”
“Not just that, mate. I see how ya people look at me. Like I don’t belong. I know I ain’t meant to be there. S’not like me and Hog joined the damn team on our own will. We had no choice.”
“No choice?” Lúcio asked, confused, “You were forced?”
“We were on our way to a heist when we heard the coppers comin’. They’d been tipped off or some shit, they were expectin’ us. Roadie and me, we booked it down an alley, and there they were. That monkey, the angel sheila, the aimbot, y’know. They told us either we could come with them or stay there and get arrested…we didn’t have a choice. Jail or Overwatch.”
Lúcio winced, sensing that the team leaders were probably the ones who notified the police in the first place.
“That’s hardly fair…”
“No, it ain’t. But…to be honest, it mighta been a good thing.”
“Oh…? How so…?”
“Well, I met you , didn’t I?”
Lúcio felt his face warm.
“…yeah…I guess you did…”
Junkrat patted Lúcio on the back as he yawned again.
“You’re tired, Rat, go sleep…I’ll take over…”
“Ya sure ya will be fine alone?”
“I’ll be okay, don’t worry…go sleep…D.Va will wake us up in a few hours…”
“Mmm, see ya then…”
Junkrat limped over to the nest Lúcio had dug and shifted some more earth aside to expose the cool undersoil before laying down to rest. Lúcio looked back at him for a while longer before refocusing on guarding his sleeping friends.
It was deathly quiet, sans the occasional soft whistle of wind blowing across the sand. A lizard crawled over Lúcio’s foot before scuttling into the shade, making little hisses. The DJ was not paying attention - his eyes were fixated on the mountain they were encircling, deep in thought about the state of the other heroes at the Watchpoint up top. He really could not wait to get home.
Eventually he felt exhaustion tugging at his body, and sensing by the movement of the shadows how much time had passed, he gently woke D.Va up, stroking her hair until she stirred awake.
“My turn…?” she mumbled, rubbing her eyes, “Already…? Did you two cheat me?”
“No, Hana, it really is your turn…” Lúcio said with a smile, planting a friendly kiss on her short hair gently before helping her out of her mecha. She did some stretches, yawning quietly.
“I’ll wake you two once the sun is setting.”
Lúcio glanced back at the divot he had dug. Junkrat was still fast asleep in it, snoring quietly. Not feeling it was nice to steal the spot, or to lie down close to Junkrat and overheat them both, he knelt down onto the sand in the shade of D.Va’s mech and dug himself another small nest, before lowering his head down and drifting off, almost as soon as his cheek touched the soft dirt.
He awoke what seemed like seconds later, feeling Junkrat’s rough hands gently nudging at him.
“I took a squizz around for some lizards, got one…” he said, holding up a dead reptile larger than the ones Lúcio had become accustomed to seeing in his food, “D.Va didn’t want it, wanna share?”
As Lúcio sat up, yawning and stretching, Junkrat used his teeth to sever the lizard in half, chewing at his while offering Lúcio the other. The DJ crunched the scaly thing, cringing a little at the feeling - he could get used to feeling filthy, to drinking less, to conserving every drop of his battery juice, but never would he be happy to eat a whole boney animal like this. The only way this could be worse is if it was a frog.
“Are we heading out, then?” D.Va asked, re-buckling one of her glove straps.
“The faster, the better,” Junkrat nodded, glancing behind them as if expecting to hear Sharktooth and the other Standover Men driving over the horizon firing wildly at them. Lúcio swallowed hard, worried. He did not want to know what would happen if the bullies found them. If they found Junkrat.
Lúcio blinked, confused why his mind had drifted in that direction. Surely it would be bad for all three of them to be found. And yet, for some reason, his brain remained hyperfocused on the thought of Junkrat getting hurt. It made him feel a stronger sense of fear and sadness than the idea of himself in the same position.
They walked again, the few stars glinting in the sky down at them. Lúcio’s gaze latched onto them, steely and jaded, as if threatening them to come down and fight him and his friends. He did wish, aggressively, to return to the Watchpoint, to go back to the way things were, to have regular showers and meals again, to not be sleeping in the hot day in the itchy sand. But, of course, weeks of being out in the bush had allowed him to acclimate to this dirty, low-resource lifestyle, to become rugged and bristly. The glares of defiance he threw at the sky seemed like a manifestation of some hateful spite, like ha, here I am, your radiation, your heat, your cold, nothing you can throw at me can kill me. I’ll just come back.
As hardened as he was to the elements, Lúcio still feared the locals. If he was this cold after just a month spent in the Outback, how cruel and relentless would someone like Sharktooth be, who had years to grow up in this environment? Not to mention the added motivation of finding someone’s treasure. What exactly the alpha male would do with the stuff, Lúcio had no idea. Use it to get off of the continent, barter it away for water, gloat. But he did not want himself or his friends to end up on the wrong end of Sharktooth’s minigun.
When dawn came, peaking over the distance, Lúcio did not feel tired, at least not as much as yesterday. The three found shelter beneath another boulder, though unlike yesterday’s, this one was more like a pillar, spiraling up out of the sand a good 10 metres and providing less shade to hide under. He watched as D.Va settled down in her mecha, and Junkrat took a guarding spot, climbing the rock with ease and perching on it like a blond buzzard overlooking its nest of young. After a long pause, Lúcio scaled the spire to join him, though it was harder for him with his skates.
“Ya will get heatstroke,” Junkrat smiled as Lúcio reached him, sitting down next to him.
“So will you,” Lúcio said pointedly.
“Shit, got me there,” the Aussie chuckled, watching the horizon, “But ya should sleep. Ya need yer rest.”
“I’ll be fine. I want to talk.”
“Talk? ‘Bout wot?”
“Dunno. How about…we play 20 Questions?”
Junkrat tilted his head.
“How d’ya play?”
“I ask you a question and you have to answer it truthfully. Then you ask me one and I answer it truthfully. We keep going until both of us have answered 20 total.”
“Sounds easy enough?”
“I’ll start,” Lúcio nodded, thinking, “Hmm…”
He looked down over the edge of the pillar top, where his and Junkrat’s legs were dangling.
“Are you afraid of heights?”
“Me? Nah. Love being up high. Lots t’see. Ya ever been launched into the air by an explosion? Ya feel like you’re flyin’.”
Lúcio chuckled. “Your turn.”
“Hmm…ya like frogs, right? What’s yer favorite frog?”
“Oh, I can’t pick just one ,” Lúcio chuckled, “Buuut…if I had to, I guess the Brazilian Gold Frog. I actually modelled my Hippity-Hop suit after them. They remind me of home…”
An edge of wistfulness entered the DJ’s voice as he gazed into the past, of his child self, dressed in rainboots, stomping around in the muddy foliage and collecting toads. His mother always yelled at him for tracking mud inside.
“Lú…?” Junkrat asked, snapping him out of it.
“S-sorry, I got carried away.”
Junkrat hesitated, then gently rested his hand on Lúcio’s.
“Yer turn, methinks…”
“Uh, let’s see…favorite color?”
“Ya kiddin’? Orange, of course!”
“Bit egotistical to have your eye color be your favorite, isn’t it?” Lúcio teased, laughing. Junkrat gave him a funny look.
“Why not? Don’t ya love yer eyes?”
Lúcio’s laughter subsided as he looked down at his legs.
“I mean…what’s there to like? They’re just brown…boring brown…not pretty green or blue…”
Junkrat made a noise in his throat.
“ Just brown? Come on, Lú…yer eyes are a right beauty, I mean it.”
Lúcio’s face heated up, trying to find an apt response.
“U-uh…thanks, I need them to see?”
Wooow, very nice, Lúcio.
Junkrat burst into chortles.
“Well, that’s true, I suppose!” he laughed, roping his arm around Lúcio and tugging him closer, “You’re a right comedian, froggy!”
Lúcio’s face only managed to exude more heat from the gesture.
“Just ask me a question, dammit…” he giggled, trying to hide his embarrassment.
“Fine, fine, uh…”
Junkrat suddenly grew quiet.
“…that picture that ya carry around…that’s yer family?”
“The one on my desk?” Lúcio asked, recalling the little electronic screen that passed between photos of his home every few minutes. That slideshow was his favorite, especially the picture of his entire extended family, barely fitting within the confines of the frame. That was probably the one Junkrat was referring to.
“Yeah. That one.”
“Yeah, that’s them…I’ve got a lot of brothers and sisters, cousins too. And of course my mom and dad.”
Junkrat made a sad smile.
“Must be nice, havin’ a family…”
The DJ hesitated, then felt the question push its way out.
“You don’t have one…?”
It was a dumb question, Lúcio knew. He already knew the answer.
“No…not anymore…me dad left when I was born…and me mum…never saw her again after the Omnium blew…”
“You remember that?”
“Me memory is shite, it’s true, but I remember before the explosion. How everythin’ looked, how happy everyone was. And how I woke up after and just…everythin’ was gone. Nothin’ was ever the same…me family, me home…”
Junkrat’s eyes had misted, exuding regret. Lúcio paused looking down at the Aussie’s hand which was still resting on his own. He gently turned it upside down, intertwining his fingers with Junkrat’s.
“You have a family now…you have us. Roadie, the team, me and Hana…”
The blond looked at him, then smiled weakly.
“I guess that’s true…”
The two talked for a while longer, until Lúcio could feel the prickle of sunburn on his neck again. He was tired now, but his shift was starting soon.
“If ya see somethin’, we’re here…” Junkrat reminded, amidst yawns.
“Be careful climbing down with your peg…”
Junkrat moved to clamber down, but he hesitated.
“…s’not fair of me to not tell ya, I suppose…”
“Tell me what?”
“That day we fell…when you and me, we were sleepin’ together by the fire? I heard ya cryin’.”
Lúcio’s face flushed in embarrassment.
“I didn’t wanna say nothin’, thought I’d make it worse…but yeah…ya feelin’ better, at least?”
Lúcio nodded slowly.
“A lot better…”
Lúcio watched from his perch as the Aussie slowly climbed down the rocky tower and flopped onto the sand in the shade, curling up to sleep. He looked so oddly peaceful when he was like that, with the rhythmic rise and fall of his chest amidst soft snores. Lúcio absently squeezed his shirt a bit in his hands, unsure why his throat felt tight.
When D.Va awoke and saw him up there, she chewed him out immediately, reprimanding him for being unsafe as he sleepily climbed down.
“I’m a big boy, Hana, I can -”
“What if you fell?! Who would catch you?!”
“Ugh…whatever…I’m going to bed…”
Lúcio rubbed his eyes and knelt onto the sand near Junkrat, not caring when the particles clung to his sweaty skin, and passed out. As he sunk into the abyss of slumber, he felt his hand absently resting on Junkrat’s.
No nightmares. Just the dreamless sleep that came with exhaustion and heat.
The three continued on this pattern for the next few days, sleeping days and walking nights. Everyday, Lúcio promised himself he would go to sleep as soon as they stopped, that he would not waste half of his allotted rest time talking to Junkrat. And yet, every time, he betrayed himself, sitting next to the blond on a boulder, petrified log, or just the sand itself. Talking. Playing 20 Questions again. Joking around. Whatever it was, for some reason, Lúcio could not help but feel the accumulated tiredness melt away, replaced instead by some incessant desire to stay close to the Aussie until he started yawning to indicate it was the DJ’s turn to keep watch. D.Va kept scolding him for staying up and running on half the sleep the other two were, but Lúcio just argued that he would not get as good a rest as the other two anyway, given that his shift was in the middle, forcing him to awkwardly wake up and fall back asleep. She stopped bothering him after that, but made a point of sticking her tongue out impishly whenever he moved to sit down next to the Junkrat again.
After two days, the conversations began bleeding into their nighttime walks as well, leaving D.Va remarking loudly, but playfully, how she felt like a third wheel and the two apologetically trying to include her as well. Lúcio could not help it - he really loved talking to Junkrat. The conversations they had were fascinating. He hung on every word, listening carefully and storing away the tidbits of information. For example, he learned that Junkrat’s nails were painted - not only that, but he and Roadhog used to barge into nail salons all the time to steal black polish and “that fast-dryin’ clear shit ya put on top to keep it from chippin’”, and then paint each other’s nails in the shade of a boulder or old building.
“I noticed ya like to do it too, sometimes. Greens ‘n’ blues.”
“Yeah, I stopped…” Lúcio said, a little embarrassed that Junkrat had noticed the times he painted his nails, back when the two were new to Overwatch, “I just kinda forgot to after a while, I guess.”
“We should paint each other’s sometime! Roadie usually doesn’t do mine no more, but we can do it!”
Lúcio became very aware that during this, Junkrat had grabbed his hand, looking over his nails. They were overgrown and sported jagged ends from constantly getting battered on things - this could not contrast more from the gentle curve and smooth texture of Junkrat’s nails. Lúcio had never noticed that before, but when the Aussie reached into his satchel and pulled out an emery board, he realized how.
“I didn’t take you for the nail care type…” he chuckled, as Junkrat filed down the edges with skill, eradicating the painful claws that kept leaving scratches on Lúcio’s face and arms whenever he itched at himself. It was relieving.
“Ya have nice hands, froggy…” Junkrat purred softly as he worked.
“Soft. Mine are all rough and shoddy from being out here so long.”
“I…I can give you the shea butter thing I use back at the base. Works wonders.”
“Shey-yah? The fuck is that?”
“It’s like…a nut, I think? It’s like a moisturizer, basically. It smells real nice.”
“I’ll give it a think. Ta, froggy.”
Lúcio felt oddly warm. Maybe it was rising heat. Or, maybe it was because Junkrat was still holding his hand, even though he had stopped filing the now-smooth nails…
No, it was definitely the heat.
Another time, the two were talking about their weapons. Lúcio went in depth on how he snuck into the Vishkar base, stealing the technology and hotwiring it at home with nothing but a soldering iron he nicked from the high school woodshop class and half a semester’s worth of programming knowledge.
“Shit, you’re a right genius, ain’t ya?” Junkrat said, grinning ear to ear.
“Genius? No…I barely made it through high school, and we didn’t have enough money for college anyway…”
“Oi. Lúcio. Lookit me.”
Lúcio blinked - this was the first time Junkrat had ever called him by his full first name. He looked at the blond, gazing deep into the fiery amber irises.
“School smarts are just one kind of smarts. Ya can be smart without goin’ t’school. Don’t put yerself down, Lú. The only dill in this group is me.”
“Oh, come on, Rat, you know you’re smart…you built your own functioning prosthetics out of scrap. Look at your hand!”
Junkrat glanced down at his prosthetic arm and wiggled the orange fingers, grinning.
“I guess I did, huh.”
“We can mutually agree we’re all smart,” Lúcio giggled.
That particular conversation had derailed from telling each other factoids to complimenting each other. Lúcio had praised Junkrat’s excellent knowledge of positioning in the training simulations, while Junkrat had commented how he had never seen Lúcio go a match without out-healing all other Supports. At some point, the Aussie had also roped his arm around Lúcio again, snuggling him closer. After a short while, he had eventually reciprocated, resting his head against Junkrat’s chest. Exhaustion tugged at the corners of his eyes.
“Ya should sleep, froggy…”
Lúcio sunk into sleep, feeling Junkrat gently tug him closer so he was comfortable.
He was flung out of it by the sound of something grating in his ear. Jerking awake, he glanced up and realized Junkrat was snoring, asleep awkwardly in his sitting position with his head lolled down towards his chest. Lúcio chuckled softly, untangling himself from Junkrat’s grip and gently lowering him down to the ground to sleep. His snores quieted once he was horizontal. Lúcio rubbed his eyes, still horribly tired, but gazed out blearily at the landscape, trying to focus.
So tired…so, so tired…
He glanced back at Junkrat, feeling the tightness in his chest return as his tongue ran over his dry lips, but pushed it down.
He was unsure when he blacked out, but he certainly did remember waking up feeling oddly bent. He shifted in place, and came to realize he had his legs still up on the rock where he and Junkrat had been sitting, but the rest of his body was down on the ground. Except his head. His head was resting on something soft and cushy.
D.Va, who was sitting beside his armored legs on the rock, glanced back at him.
“Ah, good morning, you baby. You passed out so hard. I think you literally just fell backwards asleep.”
“I woke up from you two snoring. Good thing too, I dunno how long we were without a guard.”
Lúcio bit his lip.
“I told you to sleep better. But nooo, you have to talk to Rat every night.”
Speaking of Junkrat, Lúcio moved his head to the side slightly and felt heat rush to his face when he realized the squishy thing beneath his head was Junkrat’s butt. When he had fallen asleep and collapsed backwards, he must have fallen on top of the still-sleeping Aussie.
Flustered, Lúcio heaved himself up, sitting next to D.Va.
“How much longer till we go…?”
“Not long. I was gonna wake you two in maybe ten minutes. We could get moving early if you want, though.”
“Might be a good idea…Rat…Rat, wake up…”
He gently shook Junkrat, who groaned in protest.
“Five more minutes…”
“No, we’re gonna get moving…come on…”
Junkrat opened an eye and looked up at him before grinning wide.
D.Va snorted loudly. “I wasn’t going to say it.”
Lúcio reached up, touching his dreadlocks one by one, and made a noise of surprise when he found one of them was not only completely frayed apart, but also bent upwards. With a meep , he licked at his hand and smoothed it back into a cylinder as best he could. The cap that normally secured the dread in place at the end had long since fallen off, much to Lúcio’s dismay.
“I need to wash my hair…” he moaned in embarrassment.
The two also took to quizzing each other on various facts. Testing the knowledge they had on each other, and their teammates. One of those nights, they had opted to lie with their backs on the sand, Lúcio tugging off his visor and backpack and setting them aside before joining the trivia round.
“Okay, okay, me turn now!” Junkrat laughed, adjusting his position on the sand as he lay on his back. He propped his good leg up over his peg and tapped his foot rhythmically in the air. “Hmm...how about...Roadie’s favorite color? Ya gotta know that one.”
“Purple! How could you insinuate that I don’t know that one?” Lúcio said in mock horror, dramatically placing his hand on his chest. Junkrat giggled in his typical wild fashion.
“Alright, me now,” Lúcio chuckled, putting his hands behind his head as he lay beside Junkrat, looking up at the cloudless blue sky, “How about...oh, man, where is Mercy from?”
“Germany or some shit, yeah?”
“Where the hell is that?”
“Just south of Germany, I think?”
“Hell if I know, never learned me maps.”
“Yet you’re great with math,” Lúcio chucked, “I can’t do math.”
“Math is easy, mate! It’s all up here,” Junkrat said, tapping his finger against his temple.
“If you say so. Alright, your turn.”
“Yeah, I got one! Our Junker princess, D.Va, what’s her favorite food?”
“That’s a trick question, she likes everything!” Lúcio laughed, “Isn’t it...bibimbap?”
“Is that what it’s called? That smelly rice ‘n’ veggie thing?”
“That’s the one, yeah.”
“I hate when she makes it. The kitchen smells like shit for a week.”
“Oh, come on, now. It smells worse when you start making bombs.”
“Ammonium nitrate is a damn good smell!”
“How is your nose not completely ruined?! Trick question, it definitely is.”
Junkrat gave him a friendly push, cackling.
“Alright, alright, shhh, don’t wake the baby,” Lúcio hushed him, glancing back to make sure D.Va was still fast asleep in her mech. She stirred a bit, shifting in her harness and smacking her lips.
“Okay, my turn to ask. I got one for you - what’s Roadhog’s real name? Easy.”
They had only just been in King’s Row, not long before they were forced come to the Land Down Under. Surely Junkrat could remember. Right?
The Aussie’s big grin slipped. His eyes drifted down, watching his hands - previously resting behind his head like Lúcio’s - travel to his stomach, fumbling with each other.
“...Rat? Come on, it’s not a trick question,” Lúcio reassured, sitting up a bit.
“...uh...M...M...Me...Ma...no, that’s not right...um…”
“Oh, r-right. I knew that.”
The DJ gave him a look.
“...look, I’m not good with names, okay? Y’know this,” Junkrat said, not looking at him.
“What about D.Va? You know her real name, right? I say it all the time.”
Junkrat swallowed. “...H...Ha...Hannah?”
“That’s what I said! I just...just pronounced it wrong!”
Lúcio sat upright completely, resting his arms on his knees. Junkrat refused to look at him.
“Please look at me…”
Junkrat blinked a few times rapidly.
“...me brain just doesn’t work right, I told ya drongos this. Stupid fuckin’ radiation, messin’ with me. Things that don’t matter, I remember so easily, b-but names, and faces, I just...it all just blurs together…”
Lúcio hesitated for a second, then placed his hand gently on Junkrat’s shoulder.
The Aussie looked at him, clearly saddened. “No, it’s not...I thought I was gettin’ better b-but -”
Swiftly, before he could finish his sentence, Lúcio swept him into a hug. Despite their impressive size difference, Junkrat felt quite small in the DJ’s embrace, a rush of heat spreading across his face.
Junkrat clung back, smiling a bit.
“Ta, froggy…ya always know what t’say…”
On their fourth day, Lúcio slowed to a stop, in the middle of describing the plot of one of his favorite movies to the interested Junkrat, and squinted at the horizon.
“…Rat? What is that?”
“ That. ”
He pointed out at the weird shape ahead. It was far too angular and modernistic to be another weird rock outcropping. It looked more like the skeletons of buildings they sometimes found, except intact.
“Well, I’ll be stuffed! It’s a servo!”
“A wha?” D.Va asked, confused.
“Like, a gas station. And it looks like it’s still workin’! Let’s go take a squizz inside.”
The three heroes approached the station, looking between the sparking live wires and the flickering neon signs hung up in the window. The palm tree with the cursive lettering advertising an Aussie beer seemed to be winking down at Lúcio as he stared at it. The windows were dotted with displays ranging from cheap porno magazines to long-since unused hot dog brands. Outside, a motorcycle was chained to the wall.
“Wait a tick.”
Lúcio felt Junkrat grip him defensively, and he became aware of the yelling.
“Ain’t gonna ask again, sheepshagger! Where’s the damn petrol?!”
“Lemme go -!”
The responding voice did not bear the standard Australian accent Lúcio had become accustomed to hearing. He blinked in confusion.
“Is that a…?”
“A kiwi, yeah. The fuck is he doin’ in Oz? Weirdo…”
The angry other voice came again.
“Do ya want yer guts painted all over the wall?! Answer the damn question, ya whacka!”
“Junkrat, we should do something…” D.Va said, concerned.
“Ya reckon? Maybe we shouldn’t put more attention on…”
His voice trailed off as the gamer glared at him.
“Ah, well. Let’s, uh…”
Junkrat pushed his way in, clearly not wanting to argue with her on this despite his understandable reservations about drawing attention to themselves. Lúcio and D.Va followed close behind after she slid out of her mecha.
There were actually two bandits, one holding a massive machete and the other gripping the shirt collar of the New Zealander, propping him against a wall and shaking him a bit. The “kiwi” as Junkrat had called him was an older man, around Reinhardt’s age, with a scraggly white beard. It appeared the two thieves had not noticed the three come in.
“We’ll cut off your fuckin’ ears if ya don’t talk!”
“Oi!” Junkrat snarled. The two turned in surprise, looking at them. Lúcio did his best to look threatening, but his height and lack of Junker attire probably undid the illusion.
“Let go of the bloke.”
“The fuck do ya care?” hissed the one with the machete. Junkrat responded by pulling his Frag Launcher off his back and holding it up, while his left hand slid into his shorts pocket and pulled out one of the round explosive grenades he used. Absently, he tossed it up and down, expression cool. Lúcio glanced between him and the two bandits, who were now seemingly hesitant.
“Put. Him. Down.” Junkrat pressed, each word punctuated by him catching the bomb. The one holding the elderly gentleman against the wall grunted in irritation and dropped their captive.
“This ain’t over.”
“Keep tellin’ yerself that, ya ratbag.”
The two thieves, clearly knowing they were outnumbered and under-armed, backed off, leaving through the rear entrance amidst vocal grumbles.
“Tick tock tick tock tick tock,” Junkrat growled, forcing them to pick up the pace.
D.Va had moved over, helping the elderly man to his feet.
“Ya three are lifesavers…” he said, wiping the dust off his shirt.
“Sure thing, kiwi, anythin’ for a grandpa,” the Aussie mused with a grin, leaving Lúcio to gently nudge him.
“Hey…ain’t ya that blondie with the treasure?” the man said, adjusting his small half-moon glasses. Junkrat stiffened visibly.
“Some Junkers came in here earlier. Gave me a right shakedown and asked if I’d seen a frog, a rat, and a big pink rabbit. Told ‘em I hadn’t, but I guess I have now. Ya three are smaller than I expected.”
Lúcio made a small huff, scratching at the scruffy facial hair he had to shave.
“You’re not gonna sell us out, are you? Not after we helped you?” D.Va queried, fear in her tone.
“Naw…not to those shonky boys anyway. They ought to go do somethin’ better with theyselves. Anyway…do ya three need supplies? I got water and some food here, take whatever ya like.”
The three gratefully accepted some convenience store-esque supplies, including some candy bars and water, before bidding the grandfatherly man goodbye. He assured them they could stop by again at any time.
“By the way, kids…” he said, the New Zealander lilt now laced with concern, “Ya three best find shelter soon. Storm’s a-brewin’…”
Lúcio looked up at the busted weathervane constructed of various bits of scrap and perched atop the servo roof. It was rattling from the sudden strong winds, and there was a choking heaviness to the air that was previously hot, but bearable.
“You’re right…” Junkrat murmured, looking into the horizon. The DJ followed his gaze and felt the blood drain from his face. Off in the distance, he could see enormous, towering black clouds, crackling with thunder.
“Radiation storm…” the blond muttered, tucking his Frag Launcher back on his back and gripping Lúcio’s hand, “Come on. We gotta find a cave to hide in.”
Lúcio clung tightly to his hand, letting him be tugged along. He was glad Junkrat had such a firm grip on his arm - as they pushed further, the winds grew stronger, whipping up sand in their faces. Lúcio at least had his visor and D.Va had half a windshield to protect their eyes - he had no idea how Junkrat was tolerating it.
They had wandered closer to the base of the mountain, which was dotted with small caverns they had hidden in before, to protect themselves from the harsh sun during the day. This one was decently sized, and the interior was elevated, up over a ledge about ten feet high. D.Va easily boosted up to the perch with her mech, but Junkrat and Lúcio were at a disadvantage.
“Here, come on.”
Before Lúcio could react, Junkrat had grabbed him by his waist and was hoisting him up. Lúcio squeaked, face hot as he felt the Aussie’s cheek squished against his right thigh.
“Climb up, froggy, you’re a heavy bastard…!” Junkrat wheezed, a little strained from the weight of the DJ’s armor. Apologizing profusely, Lúcio scrabbled at the top of the ledge and hoisted himself up, peeking back over and offering his arms down to Junkrat to take. Once he felt Junkrat’s contrasting hands, the hot metal and the rough skin, gripping him back, he pulled him up as best he could, listening to the scrabble of boot and peg against the cliff as the larger but somehow less heavy blond began to be heaved up into the cave. Just as Lúcio had almost yanked him over the ledge, Junkrat slipped, the rush of weight forced Lúcio down and caused him to smash his lip and chin against the rock below, leaving him dazed.
“Shit -!” Junkrat cursed, “Are ya okay, froggy?!”
“Lúcio -!” D.Va leapt out of her mech and ran over, tugging the DJ back into the cave and bringing Junkrat with him. Both scrambled over, Junkrat cupping Lúcio’s face and running his left thumb over the bloody lip.
“Aw, man, and the wound from when we fell offa the mountain was just about healed too…” the Aussie murmured, “I’m sorry, I placed me foot wrong…”
Lúcio felt himself blushing, exuding heat under Junkrat’s touch.
“Are ya alright? Ya didn’t bite yer tongue, didya?”
“No…no, I’m fine…”
Lúcio regretted saying that when Junkrat pulled away, but did not speak up.
“Are you sure? I have my first aid kit,” D.Va said worriedly.
“Really, I’m fine,” Lúcio reassured, smiling a bit as he watched Junkrat wipe his bloody thumb on his shorts.
“It’s goin’ to get cold…” Junkrat said, looking out at the exit of the cave, “Princess, ya still got the blanket?”
“Right here,” D.Va said, unzipping the duffle bag and withdrawing the big black blanket Schlockmeister had given them. She tossed it to Junkrat, who caught it neatly.
“Ya can have this, Lú.”
“What? No. We can share it. It’s bigger than Hana’s shock blanket.”
Junkrat grinned coyly.
“Share, eh? Thought ya didn’t like sleepin’ back to back with a -”
Before he could finish, wind rushed down the tunnel-like cavern, buffeting the three hard. Lúcio felt Junkrat’s hand clasp his wrist to keep him from rolling away on his skates.
“Shit, that was close. Ya okay, froggy?”
“I’m fine. Should we move further down?”
“Yeah, let’s try and avoid the wind.”
The three moved decently far into the depths of the cavern, such that they were still able to see the entrance but were safer from the raging winds. Junkrat dug through the duffle bag and removed some food, sharing it amongst the three of them.
“What is a radiation storm, anyway?” Lúcio asked, nibbling the corner of a chocolate peanut butter bar he was pretty sure expired ten years ago.
“It’s like a thunderstorm,” Junkrat grumbled, chewing a bit of dried boar meat, “Lots of wind, thunder, lightnin’.”
Lúcio felt a bead of sweat form on his forehead.
“Yeah, real loud. The rain is the killer part, though. Ya two ever get lemon juice in a cut?”
Lúcio winced at the thought, remembering a time in his youth when he had been slicing lemons to make lemonade and the blade had nicked his little thumb. The juice that had seeped in had painfully stung, leaving his ten-year-old self yelping and rushing to wash it out and get a bandage.
“Imagine that, but all over ya. And about ten times worse. Acid rain, mates. No joke.”
“What are we gonna do? Sit here? We’re losing valuable walking time,” the gamer whined.
“Don’t whinge, D.Va. We can’t go anywhere like this. We just gotta wait.”
“Waiting is bad, what if Sharktooth finds us?”
“If he tried to go out in this weatha, he’ll be dead before he gets here. Don’t worry.”
“Whatever you say…I didn’t sleep last night for shit, I’m going to nap.”
“Ya might wanna follow suit, froggy.”
“I’m not tired,” Lúcio lied. In truth he was exhausted, but he had every reason not to want to sleep right now.
“Lú,” Junkrat chided, “I can see it in yer eyes.”
“I just…I don’t wanna…”
“Come on, froggy, it’s bedtime.”
Junkrat swept the blanket around the two of them like a cape before lying down, folding his arms under his head in a makeshift pillow. Lúcio slid down beside him, lying on his back. There was no way he could sleep. Not with this storm.
The first thunderclaps were so sudden and loud that the DJ could not help but jerk uncontrollably. He curled into a tight ball, quavering. Every time the lightning flashed, he would clench his eyes shut, waiting for the inevitable bang to follow, and yet each time he would spasm with fear to hear the sound.
He opened his eyes. It felt like he had been lying there for ages, quivering in anxiousness.
“I-I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you…” he stammered.
“No, no…are ya okay…? You’re shakin’…”
Lúcio looked down at his hands, clasped against his chest. They were vibrating uncontrollably.
“What’s wrong? Are ya sick?”
“N-no, I’m fine…”
“Tell me the truth, froggy.”
The DJ bit his lip.
“…I…I have a f-fear of…thunder…”
Junkrat’s eyes widened.
“But I thought ya said ya liked the rain?”
“I love rain, but storms are so -”
He cut himself off with a yelp as another near-deafening clap of thunder rang out overhead. He had snapped back into a balled position, shaking.
“Hey, hey, easy, froggy, easy…c’mere…”
Lúcio felt himself be pulled closer, wrapped in a tight reassuring embrace with his face pressed up in the crook between Junkrat’s neck and chest. After a second, he snuggled against it, grateful for the support.
“Nah, froggy, it’s the least I can do…ya gonna be okay? Wanna do somethin’ to calm down?”
“…wanna play 20 Questions?”
The Aussie smiled playfully.
“Only if ya are up for it.”
The two curled together under the blanket, talking quietly so as not to disturb the sleeping D.Va. It was easy to whisper to each other when their faces were but inches apart. The questions were largely tame, until Lúcio hesitated, feeling one query dance at the tip of his tongue.
“If…if you don’t mind me asking…what is your treasure? Where is it?”
Junkrat fell silent, blinking slowly.
“…why do ya wanna know?” he finally asked.
“I…I’ve heard so much about it…from you, from Roadhog, from all the Junkers we’ve seen…but…I don’t know what it is.”
Junkrat rocked back and forth a bit.
“…I need…I need ya to keep a secret, Lú.”
“Oh, of course.”
Junkrat trailed a pattern in the dust behind Lúcio with the pointer finger of his prosthetic arm.
“…I don’t know.”
Lúcio froze, unsure if he heard his friend correctly.
“…you don’t know?”
“What do you mean you don’t know?”
“I just don’t.”
“But…b-but it’s your treasure . How can you not know?”
“Well…it’s more that I can’t remember…Roadie knows. He always did remind me when I asked. But…I don’t remember on me own. Same as…same as when I keep asking Roadie his name back in England. I know it’s still here, in ‘Straya somewhere. But…that’s it. All the rest of me memories of it are foggy. I told ya…me brain, it don’t work right…I just forget everythin’…I hate it…”
Lúcio could sense how much this bothered Junkrat to speak of, and felt his chest tighten again. He slipped his hand into the blond’s, holding it tight.
“Ju - Jamie. Listen. I promise you, that it’s not your fault you forget. I swear.”
“B-but what if I forgot ya? Or D.Va? I c-couldn’t bear it…”
“You won’t. I believe in you.”
Junkrat bit his lip, looking down at Lúcio. The shorter man was trying to keep his eyes fixated on Junkrat’s face, but felt them slip down to the Aussie’s lips repeatedly. He mentally slapped himself for it, despite how taut his throat felt to look at them. A craving.
“Please. Please trust me.”
“…I do…I do trust ya…with me life, froggy…”
Some weird instinct was clawing at Lúcio’s brain, but he shoved it down, refusing to acknowledge it.
“We should get back to sleep…” he murmured, listening to the patter of rain, finally arriving out of the raging tempest that had seemed to calm down now. The desert sand hissed at the feel of the acidic water, as if the entire continent was sighing in relief.
“Yeah…seems the worst is over...ya sure ya will be okay, froggy…?”
Junkrat ever so gently pressed his lips against Lúcio’s forehead, just as he had when Lúcio had broken down in tears after learning how Overwatch had abandoned the survivors of the Omnium blast. The three heroes gave each other friendly kisses all the time, on the cheek and head, but this…this seemed different. It felt different. Junkrat’s lips seemed to tread on Lúcio’s skin a bit longer, and in his position snuggled against the taller man’s chest, Lúcio could hear the thumping of his heart, hard against his ribcage. It matched his own, frantic. Not from fear of the thunderstorm, but some other emotion he just could not discern.
The two locked eyes, briefly. There was something nagging at Lúcio, from the pit of his stomach, like he had a million things to say and yet could not find the words. He held his breath, waiting for Junkrat to do something, anything at all. Something to break the silence.
“…night, froggy…” he said, finally. A bizarre rush of disappointment filled Lúcio’s chest.
“Night…” he replied.
Junkrat moved to pull his hands off of the DJ, but Lúcio protested, making a tiny noise. Junkrat paused, then returned his arms to be around the smaller man’s waist, closing his eyes and breathing quietly. After a while, his grip began to slacken, and soon enough, the telltale snores of a sleeping Rat were echoing in their cavernous shelter.
When he was absolutely certain Junkrat was asleep, Lúcio very carefully withdrew himself from the blond, scooching aside a bit. After being held in that warm embrace under the blanket for so long, he shivered a tad to feel the cold acid-scented air against his skin, but that was hardly what he was thinking about right now.
What is wrong with me?
Lúcio chewed his nail, chipping at Junkrat’s hard work of filing it down into a smooth curve. He just was overwhelmingly anxious over this feeling that had manifested itself since near the end of their stay in Karratha, that had refused to leave him alone ever since. He had never felt quite like this before, whatever this was. Some sort of constant tightness in his chest and throat, a heat that spread across his face and limbs. It surged up when he looked Junkrat in the eyes, when he heard the erratic laughter pouring unrestrained from the blond’s mouth, when the two were talking and the Junker told him something deeply personal. What had once been unbridled anger and contempt for an annoying, loud Aussie, was replaced instead with some unknown fascination, some weird desire to…
Lúcio blinked, slowly turning his head to look at Junkrat’s sleeping form, fixated on his face. He had rolled over, no longer restrained in motion by Lúcio’s body, and was asleep now with his head resting on his outstretched left arm. The DJ’s eyes followed the curve of Junkrat’s shoulder, along the angles of his face, memorizing every detail with painstaking fervor. The freckle on his nose. The way his eyebrows bushed out on the ends. The patterns of soot and grime, unwashed for months. The eyes, now closed, lids twitching ever so slightly, hiding molten orange irises that explosively warmed Lúcio’s chest up like a firework display was trapped in his ribcage when he looked at them. And the mouth, usually split so wide in a joyous grin, exposing sharp teeth - two gold - that glinted in the sunlight, now was relaxed, open ever so slightly to allow soft breathes and snores to pass. Looking at those lips made Lúcio’s chest ache. He wanted something from them. Feeling them against his forehead earlier made his heart flutter. He longed for them, but he could not seem to understand why.
What do I want?
Something. Some desperation was clawing at the pit of his stomach. The longer he stared at Junkrat’s sleeping form, the more he felt it expanding, pushing against his chest from the inside out, craving release.
It suddenly became so obvious to Lúcio what he wanted, like he was just barreled into by a truck, or struck down by a bolt of lightning. A jolt of realization that made his eyes widen.
I want him.
Reeling, Lúcio leaned against the rock wall behind him, hands clenching his shirt. He wanted to feel Junkrat’s lips pressed against his own. To feel his hands work their way up those curved broad shoulders, to tangle his fingers in those blond locks. To feel Junkrat’s arms rope around his body, cupping the small of his back and pulling him closer. Kissing. Until their mouths were sore and they were left lightheaded from lack of oxygen.
I’m in love.
I’m in love with Junkrat.
The wind, worse than usual, was rattling the glass windows of the Watchpoint, as the rain pounded against the roof of the building. Winston had reassured everyone that the acidity of the water was no cause for concern, but still made sure everyone was inside for the remainder of the storm.
The weather was messing with the GPS tracking system as well, making the HoloDisplays flicker constantly. And yet, Roadhog did not move from his chair in the observation deck, staring at them with some hope something would change.
Mercy quietly came in, holding a tray with two porcelain mugs of coffee, black, as well as a creamer pot and some sugar packets.
“Coffee, Mako…?” she offered. Roadhog looked at the tray before accepting one of the mugs.
“No need,” he rumbled, jerking his head at the rest of the additives. Mercy nodded in understanding before gently pouring some milk into her own portion.
Roadhog shook his head as he moved his mask up slightly again, sipping the black coffee. Mercy sighed softly, sitting next to him.
“…has Jamison seen your face before…? Your…full face…?”
The biker paused mid-sip, making Mercy stiffen.
“I-I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to pry…!”
“Yes. He has. Once.”
She relaxed a bit, looking up at him.
“Doubt he remembers it now. He can’t remember most things that aren’t from when he was a kid. It’s an effect of the radiation. Memories from before, they seem to stay strong. But…when you live out there, getting hit with that shit all the time, you start to get problems. I was old when the Omnium blew. Didn’t affect me as bad as the kids.”
He took another sip of coffee.
“Shouldn’t have happened.”
“W-what shouldn’t have…?”
“The explosion. It was rebels. From the Liberation Front. Thought protesting with violence would work, thought destroying what stood in their way was smart. No. So many people died that day. So many kids lost their parents. Jamison was one of them. Dunno how he survived so long before me.”
Roadhog set his empty mug down neatly on the tray.
“He’s a good kid. Done some bad shit, sure. Got some screws loose here and there. But he’s a good kid.”
“Of course he is…” Mercy agreed softly, “All three of them are…I know they’re out there keeping each other safe…”
A good half hour had passed since Winston had last heard from Mercy. Wandering into the control room and brandishing a stack of papers, he padded around a corner.
“Angela? Angela, we need…ah.”
His voice trailed off at the sight. Both Roadhog and Mercy had fallen asleep before the still-stuttering GPS screen, her ever so slightly resting her head on his broad arm. The scientist wavered, unsure at first if he should wake them up, then felt it prudent to let them rest. Paperwork could wait.
Thank you for reading the sixth chapter! Any comments/kudos are appreciated greatly. Please stay tuned for the next installments!
Chapter seven is when this fic goes south. I hope you enjoyed the fluff while you could. >:3c
(Main blog: http://autumndiesirae.tumblr.com/)
Junkrat, D.Va, and Lúcio find themselves between a rock and a hard place, literally.
Back to semi-regular updates! This is the longest chapter thus far, and I put a lot of work into it. I also included a lot of audio to go with this chapter. I hope you all enjoy!
WARNING: the following chapter contains violence and sickness. The archive warning has been updated to reflect this. Reader discretion advised.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Lúcio. Wake up.”
Lúcio stirred, opening his eyes. Junkrat was looking down at him, concerned.
“Are ya okay?”
“Y-yeah, I…I’m fine…”
“Ya sure? Ya slept funny…”
Lúcio could not even remember how or when he had fallen asleep. He had sat there, hand clapped over his mouth, rocking back and forth and whimpering, for what felt like hours. Even now, the realization kept weighing on his chest like a pile of bricks. And Junkrat was so close to him now too, looking him over to see if he was okay.
“Hmm, yer lip looks better than yesterday…”
Oh, god, he’s looking at my mouth…did he notice me last night looking at his? Fuck, does he know? No, he can’t know. I couldn’t handle the humiliation.
Lúcio had never been good with dating. Or rejection. But especially not with a combination of the two. Too many broken hearts in the past, too many piles of snotty tissues in an overflowing trashcan while he sat and listened to oldies like Adele and cried into his bedspread. Too many times had those words left his lips, some confession of admiration, only for the look of disgust in return, the mouth curling into a poignant ‘no’. Lúcio could not bear to see it happen again with Junkrat. Certainly, he seemed to feel a greater tightness when near the Aussie than he had for anyone else - perhaps that was why it had taken him so long to realize what it was he was feeling - but he could not say it. He could not take the rejection.
“Lú? Lú! Snap out of it!”
Lúcio came to his senses with a jolt, aware that the Aussie was snapping his fingers in front of his face.
“I was askin’ if ya need meds.”
“I-I’m sorry. I’m fine, I swear.”
Junkrat furrowed his brow, looking down at the DJ, but did not press.
Lúcio pricked his ears, becoming aware of the pitter-patter of rain, still echoing inside their shelter.
“It’s still raining…?”
“Yeah…we’re still stuck here…not good…”
Lúcio swallowed, anxious.
“This is very bad, are you sure we can’t walk in this weather? Sharktooth is making headway on us!” D.Va urged, voicing his concerns. Junkrat gave her a look.
“Maybe you can, with yer mech. But froggy and I are flesh and blood. We ain’t gonna be much but skeletons in an hour.”
Lúcio made a nervous noise, not liking the sound of that. Junkrat slid his hand into the smaller man’s reassuringly, giving him a squeeze.
“Ugh…fine. But we’re still keeping watch. And we’re leaving early tomorrow.”
“Deal. I’ll watch first.”
Junkrat got up and moved closer to the exit of the cave, sitting on a length of rock. He glanced back at Lúcio expectantly, patting the spot beside him.
Lúcio was unsure if he could handle being alone with the Aussie, unsure if he could restrain the feelings he had from exploding out of his mouth. Unsure if he could handle what Junkrat would do, what he would say, if he knew. And yet, almost outside of his control, Lúcio felt himself moving towards the blond, sinking down next to him. Almost immediately Junkrat scooted closer, wrapping his arm around Lúcio’s body and tugging him a little closer so they could snuggle.
Lúcio’s eyes darted to the ground, shifting a bit.
“…nothing, never mind.”
The two sat in silence for a while.
“Hm?” Lúcio looked up at him.
“…’member when ya said ya don’t like yer eye color?”
“Well…more that I think they’re plain…but yes.”
“…um…ya feel like that a lot?”
Lúcio furrowed his brow.
“What do you mean?”
“Just, uh…in the training matches, and, uh, just…around the team…ya really just give off confidence. Like…when ya knock someone off a map and…ya say somethin’ like…”is it hot in here, or is it just me”, I think? It…it just threw me off t’hear ya don’t like yer eyes.”
Lúcio felt a little flustered that Junkrat had remembered that.
He glanced back at D.Va, who was, absently flipping through her encyclopedia again. She had read the entire thing front cover to back cover at least twice now. He knew what he was about to say applied to her too.
“…it’s not…ugh, how do I explain this…um…I used to be really confident. Like, actually. And it’s not like I hate myself. Far from that. But…I guess the older and more popular I got, the more I started hearing criticism…from music reviewers, from regular people…and don’t even get me started on Vishkar. I still try to be that positive guy…you know…for my fans. I know how hard it can be to not have a role model in your life. But sometimes it just…gets too much. D.Va told me she does it too. It’s a persona we put on. Something that we can show to other people. But even that isn’t good enough sometimes.”
He snorted here, kicking at the rock with his skate.
“One time my agent asked me to wear green eye contacts for one of my concerts. Told me I’d look ‘better’, whatever that means.”
Junkrat narrowed his eyes.
“I tried…but my eyes got so badly irritated I had to cut the concert halfway through and spent the rest of the week with itches and pain. I think he got the message after that, but…yeah. The critics had a field day with that event. Spent the next month watching tabloids get printed that I was secretly on drugs and that was why I left halfway through.”
“That’s fuckin’ stupid.”
“I know. I try…I really do try…to be as positive as I can. But…sometimes, I just feel…like I could be better. I get self-conscious that I’m not…enough.”
Junkrat made a noise, his grip on Lúcio tightening.
“Ya ain’t alone…me too.”
“ You? But you’re always so upbeat.”
“I mean…ain’t no good bein’ self-hatin’ out here in the GAFA. People take advantage of that. Weak people get killed, stolen from. Ya gotta look the part, gotta act like you’re a king. But…I still feel that way, sometimes. Like I ain’t enough. I mean…I’m only half a bloke, ain’t I?”
He wiggled his prosthetics.
“Don’t get me started on me hair. Or me freckles.”
“…freckles? You have more than one?”
Junkrat made a noise.
“Yeah. Hard to see through the dirt.”
Without thinking, Lúcio moved his hands up, cupping Junkrat’s face and using his thumbs to wipe off some of the soot and filth. Sure enough, when he squinted, he could see the faint spotty pattern on Junkrat’s skin.
“Ugly, ain’t they? Wish I could get ‘em removed, or some -”
“They’re cute, Jamie.”
Lúcio could feel Junkrat blushing under his fingers.
“…tell you what,” he said, “If you promise to like your freckles, I promise to like my eyes. Okay?”
Junkrat smiled weakly.
Lúcio became awkwardly aware of how close their faces were. Too close. He released Junkrat and looked away, cheeks hot.
The two sat together, quietly listening to the tapping of the rain for a while longer. It was not until Lúcio felt the weight on him increase that he looked up and realized Junkrat was leaning on him, eyes closed, in the process of falling asleep.
He jerked awake.
“Huh, what, what happened?”
“You’re tired…go sleep, okay?”
Junkrat slowly moved his hand off of Lúcio’s back, moving to get up. He slowed, then stopped.
“…Jamie? You okay?”
Junkrat tapped his foot a bit.
After a pause, Junkrat very quickly pressed his lips to Lúcio’s cheek, pulling away before the DJ could even register what occurred.
“H-have a good watch…” he murmured, before getting up and moving quickly back to where D.Va was.
Lúcio’s face was hot and his chest was extremely tight. He was unsure what he could do or say. What just happened? What did that kiss mean?
He crumpled his shirt in his hands.
God…I wish he kissed me on the lips.
“It’s a few hours to sunset. We’re gonna start early, try and make up for lost time,” D.Va was saying, checking on a new crack in her windshield. The rain had tapered off around mid-afternoon, barely an hour prior.
“Come on, let’s get a move on, I reckon ‘Tooth is on the prowl too,” Junkrat said, leading the way to the exit. Lúcio followed, bringing up the back, as he clenched and unclenched his tanktop repeatedly. The anxiety was back.
What do I say? What can I say? I just...I can’t think of what he’d do. He hasn’t shown any interest in me like that. Has he? Maybe...the way he looked at me...his lips on my cheek earlier... the way he held my waist last night…does he like me? Am I imagining it? What if it was just a friendly kiss? Is that all he sees me as? His friend?
Lúcio bit his lip hard, the hot tightness in his chest and throat prominent. He looked up, watching D.Va boost out of their raised shelter. Getting up had been the easy part. The hard part was getting down without breaking a leg.
Junkrat looked over the lip, then carefully sat down, swinging his legs over the sides before scaling down slowly, struggling to find good footholds for his peg. He slipped, crying out.
“Are you okay?!” Lúcio called, looking over the edge and trembling a bit.
“Fine, fine, just...give me a second…” Junkrat responded, finding a place to put his free-swinging foot. He lowered himself down the last few feet, landing with an audible oof .
“Alright, froggy...I don’t think ya can climb down easily with those skates...ya have to jump.”
Lúcio felt the blood drain from his face.
“Are you crazy?!”
“It’s only a small jump! I’ll catch ya!”
Lúcio swallowed hard.
“I-I don’t know about this…”
“Oh, for fuck’s sake, Lúcio, it’s a ten foot drop, grow a pair and come down already,” D.Va spat.
“I promise I’ll catch ya!” Junkrat called, tone more gentle and reassuring than their mutual friend’s. Lúcio took a deep breath, moving back a few steps, before jumping.
As soon as he did, he regretted it. Suspended in the air, even for a few seconds, was not a pleasant feeling. He felt himself plummet, remembering all too well the day they had fallen off the mountain.
Junkrat caught him - well, ‘caught’. The rush of weight into his arms was enough to knock him over awkwardly, both him and Lúcio collapsing to the dirt with the DJ laying on top of him. Lúcio felt a rush of heat to his face as he tried to scramble up, but Junkrat’s arms were still tight around his waist.
“I-I’m sorry -!” Lúcio stammered, “A-are you okay…?!”
Junkrat looked up at him, grinning weakly. He spoke too quietly for D.Va to hear.
“Didya turn on yer healin’ tune, or is yer heart beatin’ t’some other song…?”
Lúcio became poignantly aware of how fast his pulse was. His face was hot and his hands were shaking, pressed into the sand on either side of Junkrat’s face.
“W-we’d better get moving,” he managed to sputter, pushing himself off and standing. D.Va gave him a weird look.
He was not paying attention to her. All he could think about was how close his and Junkrat’s faces had just been. He wanted to slap himself for doing this, for catching feelings for someone who was probably still smarting over how much grief the DJ had given him since they met. A few weeks of friendship may have altered his own views, dug up some warm crush, but Lúcio had always been a hapless romantic. Junkrat was not. There was no way he felt the same.
Lúcio glanced back at the blond, who was picking himself up and shaking off the soil.
Why, why, why’d you have to go and do that? Look at him. He’s so out of your league. You’ve barely become friends, how could he possibly like you like that? I can already imagine the look on his face if I told him. ‘What’s the matter with ya?’ That frown, that angry look. He’d never look at me the same again. I couldn’t face it. I couldn’t face him. No, I have to...to…
Lúcio felt his train of thought go astray as he saw Junkrat was now talking to D.Va, who was ruffling his hair to get the sand out of it.
“That tickles, sheila!” he laughed, smile wide. Lúcio felt his heart flutter again.
God, I want him to kiss me again.
They walked further.
The rains from last night had been good at the time for cooling down the usual insufferable heat of the Outback, but now that the sun was back, the moisture was half-evaporated, leaving a humidity hanging in the air that only made them sweat more. Lúcio was drenched within an hour, much to his great irritation. He kept quiet, though, fearing if he opened his mouth to speak that an endless waterfall of words would pour out, rambling about what he was feeling and how desperate he was for Junkrat’s touch again, leaving his friends staring at him in shock.
God, STOP. Stop doing this to yourself. What will you do when he says no? How will you cope?
He could taste blood from how much he was chewing on his lip.
The three had to stop about an hour or so before sunset, when D.Va’s mecha started protesting. She swore loudly as the beeping restarted, something she had hoped had gone away from Schlockmeister’s repairs. She hopped out, scrambling up onto her mech with her screwdriver in tow, and began to mess with the control panel up top. A sudden slip of the hand caused her to drop her tool to the dirt.
“Ugh...I could use a hand!” she said, pointing down to the screwdriver. Without missing a beat, Junkrat unstrapped his prosthetic arm and threw it up to her. D.Va looked at it blankly, then scowled darkly when she realized the joke.
“I know,” he said, snickering. Even Lúcio had to laugh at that one, bending over and tossing up the screwdriver to her as she returned Junkrat’s arm.
The two boys sat next to each other on a nearby boulder as D.Va worked. Lúcio angled himself slightly away from Junkrat, fearing if he looked at him too long he would be unable to keep his heart from jumping out of his throat.
“Ya doin’ okay, froggy…?”
Lúcio could feel Junkrat’s gaze boring into his cheek. He swallowed.
The two were startled by the sound of a bang. Looking over, they saw D.Va’s control panel cover flying off into the sky and landing behind the nearby rock spire, a few metres away. A miniature spark flare-up had caused the hinges to violently give way.
“Son of a bitch!” she snapped, climbing down, “Give me a second…”
Grumbling, she started walking after it.
Junkrat and Lúcio were both giggling, helplessly amused by their friend’s grumpiness. Lúcio became aware, suddenly, that Junkrat was holding his hand. He must have grabbed it when the panel flew of. Almost...instinctually...
The DJ felt tight in his chest as he finally forced himself to look at the Aussie. His face burned. Junkrat’s eyes were heavy-lidded, smiling down at him with a gentleness that Lúcio could not read.
“D-D.Va will be back s-soon, and we...uh...w-we should…plan our next move...f-figure out...um...”
He was babbling now, trying to redirect the conversation, trying to…
...was Junkrat leaning in…?
I must be imagining it. There is no way.
Please, I want to kiss him…
Lúcio could not help himself. He felt his eyelids droop as he moved closer. Junkrat’s lips were so close to his own, barely a few inches apart.
Then D.Va screamed.
Lúcio and Junkrat scrambled away from each other, startled.
“H-Hana?!” the DJ stammered, feeling Junkrat’s grip on his arm tighten.
She was bolting around the rock, holding the control panel cover over her head. Lúcio could hear gunfire.
“RUN! RUN! ” she screamed, tossing the cover aside and leaping into her mech.
“It’s them -!”
Before she could properly finish her sentiment, Lúcio heard the loud revving of a car engine as a truck drove over the dunes. It was full of Junker men, armed to the teeth.
Not just any Junker men.
The Standover Men.
Sharktooth was in the driver’s seat, his long hair whipping out of the window, with Razor on his lap and at least three other men with the two of them. One was swinging a hook and chain like Roadhog’s out of the passenger side, another was cocking a harpoon gun, still another was on the roof of the truck, shooting at them with machine gun.
“Shit -! Froggy -! Run!”
Lúcio snapped out of his stupor, grabbing his Sonic Amplifier and switching it on. The speed song began playing, and he quickly pumped up the volume, the three scuttling away as fast as they could. This area was rocky, interspersed with jagged stones and large boulders. Junkrat made a loud cry of pain when one of them scratched the side of his leg, blood running down his calf, as he slipped to the ground.
“Junkrat -!” Lúcio gasped, switching to healing.
“No, no, stay on speed, just go -!” Junkrat insisted, shoving him hard as if begging the DJ to leave him behind. Lúcio refused, grabbing the Aussie’s wrists and pulling him along.
“I’m not leaving you!”
The gunfire was louder, closer. The sound of bullets whizzing past Lúcio’s head made his ears ring, little spirals of dust shooting up from where they struck the ground. He knew they would never outrun a truck. They would run out of steam much faster than it ran out of gas, as if they were not already exhausted and half-starved. He grabbed Junkrat and pulled them both behind a low boulder, hiding in its shade as D.Va towered over them in her mech, her Defense Matrix straining to delete the enemy fire. A stray one flew through Junkrat’s hair, making him yelp and duck his head, throwing a Concussion Mine blindly behind him. The sound of a cry when it went off was their only confirmation that it hit someone.
“Hold yer fire!” came Sharktooth’s bark.
The sound of bullet spray stopped abruptly. Lúcio held his breath.
“D.Va! What’s he doing?!”
“I don’t know…” she said, gripping her joysticks tight. Lúcio craned his neck, carefully peeking out past the edge of the rock. He could see the men - including Sharktooth, there were six - and their variety of weapons. There was no way a mecha with chip-damage, frags and mines, and his own Amplifier shots would take them all out. He swallowed hard.
Sharktooth was pacing in front of his men, back and forth. The wind whipped up his long hair, making it billow like a cape.
“Ya three know what we want…we don’t wanna hurt all of ya. Ain’t gonna start a fight if ya just give us what we want. C’mon, little ones. Hand over the Rat.”
Lúcio took a sharp breath, instinctively grabbing Junkrat’s wrist.
“You’re crazy!” D.Va spat, glaring at him, “We’re not giving anyone up!”
“I’ll make this easier to get, sheila…” Sharktooth said, swinging his minigun around, “Hand over the Rat, and I let ya and yer frog walk off. Refuse me again…”
He grinned wide, as if relishing the thought of pumping the three of them full of bullets.
The blond was quavering under Lúcio’s grip. When the DJ turned to look at him, Junkrat grabbed his other hand.
“M-maybe I should, what if he hurts ya?”
“Are you kidding?! No! We’re not turning you over!” Lúcio hissed.
“Ya two are more important than me or me treasure.”
“Forget it, Rat, we’re not giving you up!”
Junkrat swallowed hard.
“We need an answer, ankle-biters,” Sharktooth called. Lúcio could hear his gun whirring, but not shooting. Readied. He looked over at Junkrat, who was slowly loading a tray into his Frag Launcher. He wanted to say something, anything, before this battle began, but the words caught in his throat.
“Here’s our answer, ya dipsticks!” came Junkrat’s war cry as he leapt out from behind his shelter and started shooting grenades at their attackers.
The battle began.
D.Va knew her primary purpose was to act as a meat shield for the boys, so she pushed forward, eating bullets with her Matrix and firing rapidly back whenever the six men had to reload. The one who owned the harpoon gun was at a significant disadvantage there. Eventually, one of Junkrat’s frags blew a bit too close to him. One down, five to go.
Even so, the Junkers were strong and outnumbered the three heroes - Lúcio could feel them being forced backwards, deeper into the rocky field. His Amplifier suddenly stopped working, and he realized he had been, almost unconsciously, firing his own gun at their enemies, as he usually did while skating around and healing his team.
Cursing his muscle memory, Lúcio swore loudly as he fumbled in his backpack pocket and grabbed one of his remaining two batteries, shoving it into the back of his weapon. The other one slipped out of his grip, landing on the ground and starting to roll away. He remembered, once again, Mercy's notes that the infinitely replenishing ammo only worked within the walls of the Overwatch facilities where the many training matches took place.
“My battery -!”
Switching from healing back to speed, he skated up to the front lines, trying to grab the precious ammo.
"Froggy, no, you're a prime target!" Junkrat insisted, grabbing the DJ’s arm and yanking him back before he could grab the battery. Lúcio noticed that he was not the only one running out of ammunition as the Aussie threw another frag, detonating it in the face of one of the Standover Men, before grabbing his final tray of grenades from his pocket. D.Va's mech, despite its own internal system of ammo replenishment, seemed to be losing this fight too, the insistent beeping indicating it was failing. D.Va frantically put up her waning Defense Matrix, backing up with them.
"Junkrat, we have to run!" Lúcio yelled. "This battle isn't going to get any better!"
"Run where?!" Junkrat stumbled backwards, as Lúcio managed to land a few headshots.
"Somewhere! We have to get outta here!" D.Va insisted, making a soft cry as a bullet grazed her shoulder through the hole in her windshield. Red blossomed across her shoulder.
"Hana -!" Lúcio skated closer to her, as if hoping his Sonic Amplifier would heal her more if he was closer, when he felt something hot and metallic grab him by his legs. A chain hook, thrown with the intent of snatching D.Va. This was not an unfamiliar feeling - the DJ had been nabbed by Roadhog many times before, pulled in and then headshotted before being sent to the comforting abyss of respawn - but this time it was accompanied by pure fear, and the knowledge of what was to come.
The shrapnel of the scrap gun burned his chest and shoulders, eliciting a harsh shout of pain. Somewhere, powered by instinct, Lúcio's finger squeezed the second trigger of his Amplifier, the Soundwave blasting the bigger man back a few feet. Lúcio crumpled to the dirt, trying to get back up but in a lot of pain. He could faintly hear someone screaming his name, feel the rush of wind as D.Va flew next to him, warding off Razor before he could jam his machete into Lúcio’s throat.
He felt someone pulling him to his feet and yanking him hard.
"Lú, froggy, no no no, mate, ya gotta keep goin’ -!" Junkrat insisted, pulling on him more and forcing him to back up. It was less of Lúcio hobbling along and more of his skates' inertia letting him ride as the blond tugged him back, behind a bigger rock structure.
"Ugh, mate, ya were - just - just lie down, okay, don't move...!"
Lúcio felt something warm and sticky on his torso - it was here he registered fully what just happened. The shards of shrapnel in his neck burned, achy in his muscles. Dizzy and nauseous, he curled into a ball. Half of his mind was insisting he just lie still, he would be fine, he would respawn, and the other half kept screaming at him to stay awake, that this time he would not wake up in the safe healing glow of the spawn room.
Junkrat heard a scream - D.Va's scream. Her mech had just failed, which meant she was out there, five against one, with nothing but a tiny pink pistol and her wits. Panicking, he looked back and forth between the bloody Brazilian and the sounds of his friend running for her life. Digging his fingers into his scalp, repeating "fuck fuck fuck" under his breath endlessly. He was out of frags and mines, his RIP Tire was long gone, there was nothing he could do.
“Agh! Let go of me! Junkrat, help me!”
It was only after hugging himself in a panicked frenzy that the Aussie felt the familiar weight of his pipe bombs, loaded on his suspenders. The team had ruled them too strong for use in the training battlefield…but here, the rules of Overwatch did not apply.
Junkrat pushed Lúcio’s strange frog gun closer to him, hoping it would provide some sort of healing, as he hobbled back to the field, wrenching a bomb from his shoulder straps. He saw D.Va writhing, a pistol up against her temple. Likely the men wanted to use her as a bartering tool against the boys.
"D.Va! Cover yer ears!" he yelled, ripping the pin out and chuck at the bandits. D.Va saw the yellow cylinder coming for her and ripped her hands from the meaty grip of her captor, clapping them up as fast as she could to press her headphones down hard over her ears.
The blast was immense - D.Va felt herself flying through the air before landing in a heap. Something crunched. Something else was leaking down her face. Yet another something was emitting an incessant high-pitched note, a loud PWEEEEEEEEEEEEP in her ears. Dazed, she looked around, trying to press the wrist-gauge button that summoned her mech to be come down, or for Mercy to fly over and let her Caduceus Staff's healing beam replenish her health - but neither ever came. Instead, she felt herself being pulled up and shaken by a furry blond creature. His lips were moving, but the endless squeak of her ears and the general confusion that cloaked her mind like a thick cobweb made it impossible to understand or even hear what he was saying.
D.Va squinted, concussed, trying to make sense of the information.
Something red got in her eyes. Blinking rapidly, she managed to point at her ears. The motion of her arm sent splitting pain through her body.
Can you hear me? Is that what he said? She shook her head, the motion causing her headphones to slip off, falling to the ground. She absently realized she would have to buy a new pair.
"D.Va! D.Va! Listen!"
Junkrat’s voice was a little less muffled. She could hear him, but barely.
"You! Need! To! Get! Out! Of! Here! Find! Lúcio! Please!"
She made a weak nod, feeling some semblance of balance returning to her body as her legs made contact with the ground again. Nausea washed over her like a wave, as the men who had run from the explosion began to return from their cover. There were four now.
She staggered off, left arm hanging uselessly by her side. She had no idea where her friend was, and would likely have wandered off into the desert had it not been for the thing that made her trip. She looked over and found it was Lúcio's leg, him curled up around his Sonic Amplifier, as if trying to leech the healing from it.
She dragged herself over with her good arm, breathing hard, trying to hold his hand. He opened his eyes slightly at her touch.
She blinked in confusion, eyelids sagging.
"No, I'm D.Va..."
"Hana is...your real name..."
Lost, she felt his hand pull hers to the Amplifier, the yellow light offering some relief from her ringing ears and mental confusion. She could almost feel the fracture in her arm repairing itself. As her mind grew clear, she blinked a few times, and came to properly.
Realizing what a bad state her friend was in, she briefly grew panicked, scared for him.
Focus, Hana! Focus!
"Lúcio, let me see your chest."
Army training returning to mind, and recognizing the DJ was in shock, she forcefully pried him from the Amplifier, looking at the pieces of metal buried in his torso. The healing boost had sewn up the skin, but the shards were still present, sticking out and causing pain. She winced at his sharp intake of breath when she touched a bigger piece.
"I know this will hurt, but I need to take them out. Please, just hang on."
She tried her best to block out the sound of his soft whines of pain as she clawed out as many pieces as she could. Her gloved fingers were soon red, soaking up the little trickles of blood. D.Va kept pressing the Amplifier up against his skin to alleviate the pain, but the weapon was beginning to fail. The battery in it must have been damaged when he was shot, or perhaps it was weak from lack of charge over the past few weeks. Whatever it was, it was stuttering, the healing song playing in glitchy fragments like a broken record. Lúcio was alert, at least. Breathing hard, and biting his lip.
“Where’s Junkrat…?” he asked.
It was here where the two heard the sound of someone bolting towards them - the sound was unmistakable; the alternating tap tap tap of a foot and the clank clank clank of a prosthetic peg.
"We gotta go!"
With unexpected strength, Junkrat pulled Lúcio over his shoulder and grabbed D.Va's right hand, pulling them as fast as he could. The two could hear the footsteps of people behind them.
"I thought your pipe bomb killed them!" D.Va protested.
They ran, desperate. Junkrat had to release Lúcio briefly, forcing D.Va to support him as the Aussie fell behind, throwing another pipe bomb. Only three left now. The smell of blood hung in the humid air.
D.Va, who was visibly panicking, was trying to find a place to hide, knowing they would never outrun a giant machine gun and its wrathful owner. Her eye fell on a crevice at the back of a rock wall. Barely wide enough to wiggle into. Knowing she had no choice, she straightened Lúcio and started pushing him in sideways.
"Lúcio, I know it hurts, but you need to get in there, okay?! Hurry!"
She helped him in as much as she could, the gunfire sounds that were drawing closer making her hands shake. When she had pushed Lúcio far enough along in the crevice that he had slumped down into a small alcove deeper in, D.Va felt Junkrat push her in after.
"Go! Quickly!" he insisted.
She struggled along until she fell on top of Lucio, making him groan. She whipped around.
Junkrat was trying to wrestle off his pipe bomb-loaded suspenders, dropping one in his frantic movements. D.Va saw one of the surviving Standover Men’s foot cross the threshold.
"GET IN HERE NOW!" she screamed, grabbing him by his cargo pants and yanking incessantly.
“W-wait, but me bombs -!”
Both were surprised at her scream of his real name for all of a second - D.Va recovered faster, grabbing his arm and yanking him into the alcove, forcing him to drop his bombs.
“No!” Sharktooth bellowed, his hands scrabbled into the crevice, trying to grab them. All three pushed as far back as they could, barely out of reach of his meaty hands.
"Dammit!" he cursed, backing up. His bulk was a disadvantage here - he could not squeeze in after them. Even the slender Razor was too wide to fit. It was silent now, save for the harsh heavy breathing of the three youths and Sharktooth himself. He looked down, nudging the suspenders in the sand.
“Boss, we got the short one’s gun,” Razor said, holding up the Sonic Amplifier, which was still desperately sputtering and trying to play the healing song.
“Got their duffle too…drongos dropped it,” chuckled the other survivor, holding it up. Junkrat felt the blood drain from his face. Their food, water, supplies, medicine …it was all in there.
After a long pause, Sharktooth angled his head over, looking at the three of them through the crack. He grinned, cruelly.
"Ya three will have to come out sometime. I reckon we hurt the frog bad. He won't last in there, and neither will all three of ya."
He turned to his henchmen.
"Set up base here, we'll wait ‘em out."
D.Va and Junkrat looked at each other, then back down at Lúcio, who was lying lengthwise on the ground, gazing up at them weakly. A cold sweat broke out on Junkrat's face as they realized they were trapped.
“…you left our supplies?!” D.Va burst out.
“I…they were with ya! In yer mech! Why didn’t you grab ‘em?!”
“Because I was running for my fucking life! I don’t have pipe bombs!”
Junkrat looked over, watching as his suspenders were added to the pile of things the Standover Men had stolen from them. Razor was trying to figure out how to shut up Lúcio’s Sonic Amplifier, and ended up deciding that smashing it against the ground was the best route to take. The Rejuvenescência song finally silenced.
He glanced down at Lúcio, who was struggling to sit up.
“G-guys, stop fighting, we need to figure out a w-way to - A-AGH!”
He slumped back down, a hiss of agony slipping through his clenched teeth as searing pain erupted across his chest.
“Lúcio, you need to lie down,” D.Va insisted, gently pulling down Lúcio’s tanktop to examine the wounds on his chest. The skin was red, growing inflamed, his shirt heavy with blood.
“The bleeding has stopped, but this doesn’t look good…”
She gently touched her fingers to the swollen flesh, eliciting another sharp noise from Lúcio and forcing her to retract.
“M-my gun…” he was moaning, “I d-dropped my gun…”
“It’s toast now, our only hope is the meds Schlock gave us…”
“Fuck…” Junkrat said, gripping his right arm with his left hand and digging his nails into his skin, “This is me fault, I should try and barter with ‘em, maybe they’ll let ya two go if I -”
D.Va grabbed his arm, gripping it tight.
“No one is giving themselves up, are you insane?!”
“D.Va, he’s hurt and they have our meds. Whataya suppose we do?! I’m out of ammo, Lúcio’s frog gun is ruined, yer li’l pistol ain’t gonna be able t’take out three huge blokes. What choice do we have?!”
“We are NOT turning anyone over, and that’s final! We can find another way out! Now stop talking about this, it’s NOT an option!” D.Va insisted.
“Please, Jamie, don’t…don’t do that…” Lúcio pleaded, wishing he could grab Junkrat’s hand and reassure him, “It’s not your fault, please…”
Junkrat whined, but obliged, falling quiet.
Night fell, disgustingly quick. With it came the familiar cold that had pervaded their bodies during their first few nights in the Outback - only this time, they had no fire, no blanket, nothing to warm themselves but each other.
Lúcio was shuddering and shivering violently, curled up in a tight ball with his hands sandwiched between his armored thighs. D.Va was doing her best to warm him, curled against his back with her arms roped around his belly, but she was arguably in a worse position than him with her crop-top exposing her stomach. She glanced over at Junkrat, who was in a half-sleeping state with his head pressed into his knees, and wondered how badly he was freezing, shirtless and wearing shorts, but for some reason she could not bring herself to speak.
He stirred, as if he had sensed her staring. His sharp teeth were chattering.
“H-h-how is h-h-he?” he stuttered, rubbing his hands up and down his upper arms.
“N-not good...” she said tiredly, rubbing Lúcio’s back. He continued to shiver, as if once again Mei’s Endothermic Blaster was aimed directly at him, freezing him in place relentlessly. Junkrat was doing the same, vibrating slightly in place.
The surviving Standover Men were camped directly outside of their little niche, sitting around a big warm fire. They were also more clever than the three heroes had given them credit for, taking shifts to watch their little hidey-hole while the others slept. Making sure they had no window to escape. Junkrat felt envy expanding its hot tentacles in his gut, wishing desperately he could join them in their warm huddle, to not be the one in this helpless, hopeless hole. The feeling was accompanied by pure, unbridled regret.
Why didn’t I let ‘em take me? Lúcio didn’t deserve this. D - Hana didn’t deserve this. It’s all yer fault, Fawkes. Can’t keep yer damn mouth shut for once in yer life.
He rocked back and forth, chewing his lip until it bled.
The next morning, Lúcio was far worse. His eyelids were heavy, and his head kept lolling to the side as he sunk in and out of sleep.
“Stay with me, Lú…” D.Va murmured.
Junkrat looked out at the three men. There was a fourth one now - it turned out the six of them were just some of the much larger gang, and this additional member had arrived with supplies. Supplies they needed. Desperately.
There was a weird rushing sound, loud and booming, that passed over their shelter. The men were looking up it, murmuring to each other in confusion.
“What is that? ”
“...too small for a plane, methinks…”
“Whatever, it’s leavin’.”
Junkrat furrowed his brow, wishing he could see through the roof of their hole. He had a sneaking suspicion what that sound was, but could not confirm it.
“Guys…” Lúcio was mumbling, voice barely above a whisper, raspy and exhausted, “We…need to…figure out what we’re doing…hgh…”
He moaned softly, shifting in place a bit.
“…do…we have water…?” he managed to say, delirious.
“I…Lúcio, are you okay…?” D.Va asked, mentally slapping herself for the asinine question. Of course he was not okay. Her only answer was a moan.
“…wait a tick…” Junkrat said, scooting over a little and pressing his left hand against Lúcio’s forehead. He had to withdraw it almost immediately from the heat.
“Oh no. No no no nononononono -!”
“What?! What’s wrong?!”
“He…he has a fever…” Junkrat said, voice a shrill whine of terror.
D.Va blanched visibly.
“…Lúcio! Wake up!”
She shook him desperately, watching his head awkwardly move side to side.
“H-Hana…” he groaned.
“Please! You gotta stay awake!”
“D.Va, knock it off!” Junkrat said, grabbing her hands, “He’s still hurt!”
“He can’t sleep with a fever, he’ll - he’ll -!”
She could not bring herself to say, instead breaking down in tears and burying her face in Junkrat’s chest. He clung back to her tight, shaking hard.
This is all me fault.
Night fell again. D.Va and Junkrat sat and watched the Standover Men outside loudly enjoying dinner. The blond could hear D.Va’s stomach growling loudly as she pressed her forehead against her knees. Lúcio was shivering and shuddering worse than before, amidst the frequent hacking cough.
Junkrat felt terrible. All he could think of was what Sharktooth had said.
We don’t wanna hurt all of ya. Ain’t gonna start a fight if ya just give us what we want. C’mon, little ones. Hand over the Rat.
“This is me fault. I shoulda let ‘em take me.”
“Rat, that’s enough,” D.Va snarled.
“Dammit, sheila, don’t ya see?! Lúcio’s gonna die and it’s all me fuckin’ fault! Look at him!”
The two gazed over at Lúcio, who was still shuddering and coughing in his sleep. Junkrat’s eyes were welling up.
“Why didn’t ya let ‘em take me. Now what are we gonna do. Sit here? There’s no way out except the one.”
“We ain’t got weapons to fight ‘em off, they take shifts so we can’t sneak off -”
“- they just wanted me, why didn’t ya give me up, ya two would have been safe, who cares about -?!”
“Jamison, please . I can’t lose you too. Please. You can’t turn yourself over, you just can’t ,” D.Va begged, gripping Junkrat’s arm, “We’ll figure this out, there’s gotta be some way for us to steal back our supplies, we’ll get out of here, but you are NOT turning yourself over. Okay?!”
Junkrat bit his lip, scrubbing his face.
“If he dies…if he dies, I’ll never forgive meself…how could I have done this…it’s all me fault…”
“It’s not your fault -!”
“Who blew up the map and sent us down here?! Huh?! Who got off his face like a complete drongo and earbashed about his treasure?! It was all me goddamn fault! A-all m-!”
Before he could finish, D.Va was hugging him desperately trying to communicate in a way that he would understand. After a second, she felt him embrace her back, burying his face in her hair. He was trying his hardest not to cry.
“It’ll be okay, Jamie…”
Thought he believed the complete opposite, he fell silent, too tired and thirsty to argue.
Eventually she fell asleep, burrowed into Lúcio’s back. The DJ was still shuddering and coughing, though it quieter, weaker. Junkrat could not sleep. Anxiety was chewing at his heart and lungs, mixed with self-blame and regret. It did not matter how much D.Va told him otherwise. This was his fault.
All night he sat and rocked back and forth, shivering, looking out at the diminishing fire the Standover Men had built. He could almost feel the hot gaze of Sharktooth’s hazel eyes on his face. They really had no chance. And even if he turned himself in now, he had nothing he could barter with to get them to return their supplies. If anything, the bounces might take some cruel, sadistic glee in refusing, leaving Lúcio to die.
Frustrated with this hopeless, helpless feeling, Junkrat kicked the wall of their hidey-hole, gritting his teeth in dismay.
The motion caused the sand to become disturbed, shifting noticeably, and something glinted up at him in the early morning light. Squinting, he realized what it was. The one pipe bomb that had fallen off his suspenders when he had been trying to wrestle them off. Just the one. Lying there, half-buried in the sand, unnoticed by the Standover Men.
Very carefully and slowly, Junkrat removed his prosthetic arm, using it to reach past the thin entrance and tug the bomb in. He gripped it in his flesh hand, shaking.
Junkrat’s mind was racing, trying to think of what he could do. It was just one bomb, one blast. But it was a powerful one.
If he threw it into the fire, in the middle of their four harriers, it would blow and kill all four, and he and his friends would be safe behind their little rock shelter. But their weapons, supplies, they would likely be torn apart in the blast as well. Not to mention their little hole might collapse from the force and kill all three of them.
He could threaten the Standover Men with it while his friends made a break for it, but that would defeat the purpose of getting their supplies. They would not be able to get back to the Watchpoint in time - Lúcio would not make it.
There was only one other option. The one that stood the best chance of working.
He looked over at Lúcio, taking a deep breath. The DJ was fast asleep, twitching and making small but hard coughs, ones that wracked his whole weak body, interspersed between small gasps and weak groans, akin to the ones he made when his health was low on the battlefield. All too similar to the ones he made when he was close to death. The fever was so bad that Lúcio had beads of sweat forming on his forehead, the sand around his body damp with moisture. Several times earlier in his sleep, he had mumbled for water, to which D.Va had bit her lip and settled for rubbing his back instead. He was in a bad state, that much was sure. If Junkrat did not do this, he would never make it back to the Watchpoint. Back home. He had told the Aussie all about his parents, his cousins, his many brothers and sisters - who was he, Jamison Fawkes, to take this little ray of light away from his family?
He knew he could not wake D.Va - if she knew what he was about to do, she would throw a fit and never let him leave. So he moved slowly, quietly, scooting a little closer. His left hand found Lúcio’s, holding it tight. His palm was clammy, slick with sweat, quavering ever so slightly. Junkrat whimpered a tiny bit, grip tightening.
“…be safe…” he murmured, before gently lowering his head and kissing Lúcio’s cheek gently. The DJ’s expression seemed to relax, just slightly, his furrowed brow unraveling a little.
Junkrat pushed himself back up a bit, stroking D.Va’s sleeping cheek, before slowly, carefully, wiggling his way out of the crack in the wall separating them from the Standover Men. He gripped the pipe bomb tight in his hand.
Junkrat never got scared. But Jamison Fawkes, that childish personality that had never really grown up, that had really just been beaten down by years of abuse in this hellish continent, he got scared. And he was scared now. Very scared.
It took Razor a second to notice him there, but once he did, he sprang up.
“Oi! ‘Tooth, boys, wake up, the bastard’s out!”
The sleeping men jerked awake, Sharktooth grabbing his minigun - which he had been cradling in his lap like a pet dog - and aiming it right at Junkrat. The blond grabbed the pin of the pipe bomb.
“NOBODY MOVE! NOBODY MOVE OR I PULL THE DAMN PIN AND KILL US ALL, Y’HEAR?!”
The four men froze, staring at Junkrat.
“…you’re crazy!” Razor spat.
“Drop yer shit. Now.”
Sharktooth glared at him with those cruel hazel eyes.
Begrudgingly, Sharktooth lowered his gun and placed it on the sand, stepping away from it.
“What d’ya want.”
“Ya already know.”
“I’ll…I’ll come with ya, if ya swear on yer goddamn life ya will give me mates back their supplies and leave ‘em be.”
“Oh, please. Forget it, Fawkes, we -”
Junkrat jiggled the pin of the pipe bomb a bit.
“…fine. We’ll give yer friends their shit. But on one condition.”
“If I ever, ever , see those two ugly sons of bitches again, I will not show mercy a second time. Are we clear, Fawkes?”
During all this, D.Va had stirred awake, the shouts snapping her light-sleeping mind out of the shallow reaches of slumber. She looked over sleepily at the exit of their hidey-hole, and blanched, bearing witness to her friend selling himself over to their harriers.
She bolted out, all but throwing herself on him, whipping out her pistol and brandishing it at the four.
“BACK OFF! BACK THE FUCK UP RIGHT NOW OR ELSE!”
Sharktooth looked at her and snorted.
“Fawkes, tell yer little mouse girlfriend to rack off.”
“D.Va…please…” Junkrat began, but she was having none of it.
“The FUCK do you think you’re doing?! I told you not to, we’d find another way! What’s the matter with you?!”
“When Lúcio wakes up, he’s gonna rip you a new one, just you wait! He’ll -!”
She winced a bit, startled that he called her by her real name.
“…please…Lúcio is…” he did not want to say it, but he had to, “…he’s dyin’…if he doesn’t get medicine soon, he…please…I need ya two t’get back to the others…if ya won’t do it for me, do it for Lú…”
D.Va looked up at him, pistol quivering in her grasp.
“P…please, Jamie, don’t do this…” she begged.
“Keep him safe for me…please…” Junkrat murmured, before looking back to the Standover Men, “Give her the bag.”
Razor begrudgingly threw the duffle over to D.Va, who caught it haphazardly, staggering a bit.
“J…Jamie…!” she said desperately, as he walked over to Sharktooth, handing over his pipe bomb as Razor threw the busted Sonic Amplifier over to D.Va as well.
“Please…!” she pleaded fruitlessly, sobbing, “Jamie…!”
“Go on back to yer frog, princess,” Sharktooth said, gripping Junkrat’s arm with a rough tightness that made D.Va wince, “Give him the meds yer mate sold hisself for.”
“You fucking bastards,” she spat, gripping the duffle bag tight and stepping back. Though every fibre of her being wanted to run at them, screaming like a banshee and firing off her Light Gun maniacally to kill these awful bullies who were hurting her family, she restrained herself, dropping their supplies and digging through to pull out one of the Biotic Grenades and the blanket. She slipped into the crevice, carefully opening the cap and pouring the yellow healing fluid all over Lúcio’s wounded chest before covering him with the blanket. By the time she had peeked back out of their niche, Junkrat and the Standover Men were gone.
“So…where to, blokes?” Junkrat was saying, trying to be nonchalant. Sharktooth and Razor side-eyed each other, grinning a bit.
“Ya look tired, Rat…why don’t ya take a nap while we drive there…?”
Before Junkrat could react, he felt a fist collide with his face, amidst an explosion of pain and the crunching sound of his nose breaking. He was briefly reminded of the day they fell, and how Lúcio had punched him in the face in a fit of rage.
Damn…froggy throws a great hook…
He finally succumbed to the swirling darkness.
Lúcio stirred. His body felt heavy, his skin sticky with sweat, his mouth tasting terrible. His head was pounding from dehydration in a manner he had never experienced - like he had been deprived of water for years. As he shifted a bit, managing to sit up, he felt the itchy particles of sand clinging to his muscles and hair. The blanket that had been draped over him slid down, exposing his tattered tank-top. He could still see a few shards of shrapnel buried in his flesh, the sight making him nauseous. He wanted desperately to dig them out, but he knew doing so was a bad idea.
“...Jamie? Hana?” he called.
He pulled himself up a bit more, wincing from the discomfort in his chest, then wiggled over to the little crack in the wall, pulling himself through it. He had some weird distant memory of having been shoved through that slit, and things after that were fuzzy, buried behind a haze of delirium.
D.Va was sitting in the corner with the duffle bag and his Sonic Amplifier, head buried in her knees. She looked small, lost. He knelt down beside her, putting his hands on her shoulders.
“Hana? Are you hurt?” he asked. She jerked her head up, looking at him, face slick with tears.
She sprang up, throwing her arms around his shoulders, hugging him tight and sobbing.
“I tried, I tried to tell him not to, he wouldn’t listen, he did it for us…!”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, Hana, calm down, what happened?”
“They took him, Lú…! They took Rat…! He sacrificed himself for us…!”
Lúcio felt the blood drain from his face, a cold rush of horror washing over him.
“Y-you were so sick, a-and he knew - he did it so they’d give us back our supplies…!”
She wailed, covering her face with her hands. Lúcio swayed a bit, unsure how to process this information.
“I was sick? I don’t -?”
“You were so feverish, you were coughing and moaning in your sleep…”
The repetitive, terrifying dreams Lúcio had some faint memory of recently experiencing suddenly made sense. His chest wound must have gotten infected, exacerbated by the radiation, and forced Junkrat to allow the Standover Men to steal him away, to ensure the DJ did not die.
He did it for me…
“…they took him…when? How long ago?”
“I-I dunno…sunrise or so…”
Lúcio glanced over at the distance, seeing the sun was sinking down low beyond the horizon. They could be miles away by now, riding in that truck.
He looked back over to the mountain they had been aimlessly traipsing around for weeks. Still no sign of the backroad that would let them back up to the others. And there was a sinking, dark feeling in Lúcio’s stomach that, just as they would not have made it back in time before his illness claimed him, if they tried to get back to the team to mount a group effort to rescue Junkrat, the Aussie might not have survived being in the hands of a pack of angry, greedy Junkers.
“…we’re going to get him back.”
D.Va jerked her head up.
“That man at the servo, he knew the Standover Men. He’ll know where they’re camping. We’re gonna go get Rat back. He gave himself up for me - for us - now let’s go return the favor.”
Part of Lúcio’s brain was screaming at him how bad an idea this was, how it was just a big suicide mission that could easily end up with all three of them dead, or worse. But he refused to acknowledge those thoughts. They had to save Junkrat. It was his fault the blond had been forced into that position. Now they had to make things right.
“Lúcio…are you sure about this?”
He looked back at D.Va, gaze hard.
“We’re going to get him back.”
Mercy and Roadhog were running out of ways to keep their morale up. Nearly a month had elapsed since the three had fallen from the mountain. The angel could only restrain her horrible thoughts about the various ways they could have perished for so long, and she had no idea how Roadhog was coping.
Of course, they were still at an impasse - without some GPS signal to guide them, they would only be aimlessly flying over the desert, looking at nothing. And she knew very well how easy it would be to fall into a position where they had wasted their fuel on pointless fly-bys, searching for the heroes, only to have someone’s GPS signal light up on the screen and leave them cursing their foolishness as they waited for another shipment of kerosene to arrive.
That did not stop them from trying, of course. Mercy and Winston had taken one of the pods out on a short flight around the mountain, looking for any sign of the three, perhaps trailing around the base of the cliffs, hunting for a way back up. But they had come up empty-handed - the only sight they had been graced with was a small group of four men camping near some rocks. Nothing they needed to worry about.
Mercy was returning to the control room now, glancing over at Roadhog. He had fallen asleep by the GPS monitor again, his enormous body sprawled slightly atop the metal table, snoring a bit. She went to the closet and fetched a blanket, draping it over his sleeping body and rubbing his back, somewhat calmed by the rhythmic motion of his breathing. She had not told anyone this, but she had been using her Staff discreetly to heal Roadhog while he slept. She had started the habit from the night she had woken up to hear the biker coughing in his sleep. He had confessed to her after she roused him in a panic and he had inhaled from one of his Hogdrogen cans, that the radiation and his age made a poor couple, sabotaging his lungs. He had reassured her he was fine after a good huff of gas, but she had remained unconvinced. So she gently used her staff to help undo a bit of the pain. The tool was not as good for long-term damage over recent wounds, but it still helped a bit.
She was reminded, briefly, of what Soldier:76 had said to her.
You always get so personally involved with your patients.
He had confronted her at one point recently, asking her the question she was not ready to answer.
“What’s your relationship with Mako?” he had queried. She had pursed her lips in irritation and answered that they were just friends, but she could tell even through his mask that he did not believe her.
“I am a grown woman, Jack. I can pick and choose my friends,” she had spat, before sweeping past him, visibly annoyed. Now, looking back, she was unsure about her own response. Perhaps she viewed the two of them as friends, and Roadhog did not. Perhaps he saw something else in their relationship. She did not know, and she was, frankly, afraid to ask. Afraid of the answer she would get. Afraid of the rejection.
She glanced up at the wall clock, wincing at the time, before quietly sinking into another chair near Roadhog and pulling her legs up to sleep.
Thank you for reading the seventh chapter! Any comments/kudos are appreciated greatly.
Are you guys mad at me? Probably. :3c
I did go through and thank people for their comments, I've been forgetting to do that lately - thank you all SO much for the lovely feedback and kudos, I love every single one of you!
(Main blog: http://autumndiesirae.tumblr.com/)
Lúcio and D.Va go on a wild chase to rescue Junkrat, but will they find him in time? And what state will he be in?
She lives! Apologies for the delay, I've been on holiday. But chapter eight is here, finally!
WARNING: the following chapter contains graphic scenes of torture, violence, and life-threatening situations. Reader discretion is advised.
- 17 Aug 17: Changed mentioned of Sharktooth's 'pistol' to 'revolver', to better fit the gun description.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Junkrat woke up when his head banged against something. Eyes watering in pain, he tried to get a sense of his surroundings.
He was on the floor of the truck, jostling back and forth. There was a weight on his leg that, upon glancing over, he realized was Sharktooth’s foot. He would have loved to chew the alpha male out, using some choice language, but found to his great irritation his mouth was gagged with some old, sweaty fabric. His hands were bound too, behind his back, his legs tied together awkwardly by the thighs.
“Mmmph…” he mumbled, squirming a bit. All he could smell was blood. His nose ached something fierce.
“Awake, Fawkes?” Sharktooth crooned above him, grinning down at his prey, “Ya were out for a good hour.”
Junkrat writhed in place, trying to free himself, only to wince in pain as the truck hit another rough spot and slammed his head against the floor. He was awkwardly sandwiched in the space behind the driver’s seat, his back cramping agonizingly from the position. He could feel his flesh arm chafing under the ropes as motion sickness began to tug at his gut.
“Mmmph...mmm…” he protested weakly.
“Almost there, Rat, sit tight,” Sharktooth said, taking a swig of water from his canteen. Junkrat became very aware of how thirsty he was, watching the droplets roll down the scruffy chin and fat neck of his captor.
“Turn on some tunes, ey, Bolt,” Sharktooth said, putting his hands behind his head and leaning back, using Junkrat as a footrest. The blond growled audibly, but knew his protests meant nothing to the bully. Smooth jazz, playing from the busted car radio, drifted down to him.
Lúcio had said he liked jazz. Said he wanted to redesign his Sonic Amplifier to look like a trumpet, but Mercy had advised against it. Said he liked the aesthetic of those jazz street performers, the way they dressed and talked.
Junkrat’s eyes welled up, praying his friend was okay.
They drove for a while. The endless bucking and swaying of the truck made Junkrat sick to his stomach. He shifted in place, making soft moans through his gag.
After what seemed like years, the truck finally braked, the jerkish motion of the halt making Junkrat wince. The Junkers hopped out, taking their sweet time to get their supplies. Junkrat wriggled a bit, as if trying to make a break for it, but he knew with his bound situation he would not get very far.
“Tryin’ to run, ankle-biter?” Sharktooth chuckled, cutting the ropes around Junkrat’s legs with a pocket knife and pulling him up by his hair, taking some sick pleasure in the whines of pain the gesture elicited. He set Junkrat down on his feet and shoved him forward, forcing him to walk. After being stuck for so long in the curled position without moving, the blond staggered visibly, feeling his stomach clench.
“Can’t ya walk straight?”
Junkrat growled loudly, righting himself and hobbling along to the place his captors had set up base. It was a ramshackle building, the remnants of a two-story store of some sort. The outside glass windows were long since shattered and left the inner rooms exposed to the elements. Sand was piled in the corners and littered the floor amongst other debris, crunching under Junkrat’s feet. He made a soft noise, trying to find a clear path through the mess.
Junkrat limped up the sunken stairs, listening to the creaking underfoot. He was confused where Sharktooth could possibly be putting him, but his answer became clear when he was on the second floor, which resembled more of an office. Windowless and dank, the linoleum floor disgustingly squishy under his feet. There was many an old chair, long since stripped of any cushions or support. Sharktooth grabbed one and righted it, pushing it over to Junkrat. Just a metal frame, gazing up at him.
Sharktooth forcibly pushed him down and wrapped another length of rope around his legs, tying him to the chair.
“Mmph…” Junkrat protested a bit, wriggling.
“Sit still, or ya might wind up needin’ four prosthetics instead of two.”
Junkrat winced at the thought, settling down. The ropes around his wrists and torso were tight, digging into his skin, and his leg bounced nervously until it was restrained further.
“Right…” Sharktooth said, cracking his neck as he moved in front of Junkrat and ungagged him, “Ya know what I want.”
“Yeah, this dick.”
“Don’t play with me, Fawkes. I’ll break yer spine.”
“Ha! As if! Yer threats ain’t mean nothin’ to me, bounce,” Junkrat snarled, grinning wide, “If ya kill me, then ya won’t learn where me treasure is. Defeats the purpose of snaggin’ me, don’t it?”
Sharktooth growled loudly, mentally conceding that the blond was right. He gazed down at Junkrat, who was trying to use his long tongue to clean the dried blood on his nose and upper lip.
“Fine. Fine. What do ya want.”
“Get me some water. Throat’s drier than a dead dingo’s donger.”
Sharktooth snorted, but obliged, pressing his canteen to Junkrat’s lips. The blond gulped thirstily, feeling like he had not had a proper drink of water in years. All too soon he felt the bigger Junker pull the bottle away.
“There. Now talk.”
“Hmm…why should I?”
“You’re testin’ me patience, Rat…” Sharktooth growled.
“What’re ya gonna do? Kill me? Ya know that won’t get ya what ya want. And ya have nothin’ I want. No leverage. Face it, ya dipstick. I have no reason t’tell ya anythin’.”
And with that, Junkrat managed to use his newly moistened mouth to his advantage to gather up some saliva and spit it right on Sharktooth’s face. The gob slid down his tanned cheek, before a meaty thumb moved up and wiped it away, slowly, painstakingly. Sharktooth had closed his eyes following the act, and he reopened them now, hazel irises gazing cruelly down at the bound prisoner.
“…no…I won’t kill ya…” he murmured, voice barely above a whisper, just loud enough for Junkrat to hear, “That would be too easy…”
He moved closer to Junkrat, their faces inches apart. Junkrat tried to pull himself back as far as he could, wrinkling his nose at the smell of tobacco and cheap beer. He suddenly felt very small, like when Roadhog got angry with him and grabbed him, hoisting him up and yelling in his face about some mistake. Except whereas the biker usually calmed down shortly and the two moved on, Junkrat knew all too well that Sharktooth was not interested in stopping.
“But…I can make yer life a fuckin’ hell…I’ll make ya wish I had let ya die.”
Junkrat swallowed, shifting a little.
“G-get away from me,” he tried to snarl, but the spite from earlier was largely lacking. He could feel the ropes digging into his wrists.
All things considered, Junkrat should have expected the punch. But all he could see was stars at first, horribly disoriented. He did not register what had happened until the pain hit, explosive and agonizing. His right eye suddenly felt like it had been speared though with a rusty fork, pulsing achingly in tune with his ever-hastening pulse. He could feel the skin beginning to swell already as he shook his head dizzily.
“The hell was that for?!” he spat, only to feel Sharktooth’s flesh hand grab his throat, squeezing it with seemingly full intent to break his neck. Junkrat struggled to breathe, writhing violently. He could almost feel the hand-shaped bruise forming, encircling his thin neck.
“L-let…go…!” he all but begged, lips turning blue and feeling a bit of blood ooze out of his nose. His eyes rolled back a bit, choking audibly, little black specks clouding his vision, until he felt Sharktooth release him. He slumped down, gasping and coughing hard, shaking a bit.
“Ya ready to tell me, Fawkes?” Sharktooth said, grabbing a fistful of Junkrat’s hair and tugging at it hard, forcing the blond to look up at him. Junkrat’s eyes watered from the pain, gritting his teeth as he looked up at his captor.
“Let go of me…” he hissed, wishing he could bite this bastard.
“Tell me where the treasure is.”
Sharktooth relinquished his grip, watching Junkrat slump back down into his chair, quavering visibly.
“You’re pathetic, Rat. No wonder ya got that name.”
“Shoulda named ya Shithead, suits ya more,” Junkrat spat, only to feel the back of Sharktooth’s normal hand strike his face with such aggression and fervor he felt himself knocked to the ground, biting the inside of his cheek in the process. The metallic taste of blood filled his mouth, making him cough hard.
“Shit…” Sharktooth was hissing, gripping his hand, “Why’s yer face so fuckin’ boney…”
The blond registered that he had broken a finger from the action.
“Fuck’s sake…I’m gonna go heal this…you’re lucky, Fawkes, ya get a break…but ya had better be ready to talk when I get back…”
Junkrat felt himself be righted, the chair pulled back up to its original position, before Sharktooth swept out. The blond spat out a mouthful of red-stained saliva on the floor, some of the scarlet drops spattering his shorts. He glanced up as he saw his harrier leave the room, then promptly forced himself upright. The chair was unchained, meaning that while he was stuck to it, he could easily sneak by, if he was careful. Spitting on the floor again, he struggled to his feet, wobbling a bit as he shuffled around, trying to get a bearing of his surroundings. He knew he could not just launch himself out of the second floor window, so that meant he would have to creep past the Standover Men who were on guard.
Junkrat swallowed hard, wiggling along slowly. The position of the chair against his back made his arms hurt even more, bent awkwardly and restrained by the ropes, but he gritted his teeth and tried to ignore it. Scooting carefully along, he wriggled down the stairs, one step at a time. The old rotten wood creaked underfoot, making him swear mentally as he glanced up.
Bolt was applying some of the Biotic Grenade juice on Sharktooth’s broken finger, murmuring soothing words as he glanced up at the alpha repeatedly, checking to see his reaction. Sharktooth was stoic, prosthetic hand resting on his hip. Neither were looking in Junkrat’s direction. He had this window to escape.
“Ya shouldn’t use yer hands, ‘Tooth…” Bolt was saying, carefully rubbing in the healing liquid into Sharktooth’s dry meaty hand.
“Don’t ya worry, Bolt, I have plenty of tricks up me sleeve,” Sharktooth grunted, “He’ll be squealin’ like his pig guard soon enough.”
Every fibre of Junkrat’s being wanted him to scream out at them for insulting his Roadhog, but he bit his lip hard, focusing on making his escape. He had reached the bottom of the stairs, and was carefully creeping along, taking cover behind the larger chunks of debris.
“Ya don’t wanna kill him, do ya?”
“Once he tells us what we need to know, then yes. He’s not gonna be any use to anyone after that, ain’t he? Just another dead rat.”
Junkrat winced a bit, glancing over at Sharktooth’s back with a menacing glare in his eye. He would have loved to grab that bully’s minigun and riddle him full of holes, to hurt him so badly for doing what he did to Lúcio, to -
During his internal storm of hatred, Junkrat had failed to pay attention to his feet. Too late, he felt something snag his boot, sending him crashing forward with a yelp. With his arms bound behind him, he could only shut his eyes tight as he smashed his face into the floor, the smell and taste of blood only doubling.
“What the fuck -?!”
Sharktooth whipped around, then stormed over, grabbing Junkrat by his hair and lifting him up.
“Are ya really so fuckin’ stupid that ya tried to run?!” he laughed, hoisting Junkrat higher so they were eye to eye. The blond writhed, tears leaking down his cheeks from the pain.
“LET GO OF ME! YA FUCKIN’ BOUNCE -!” he screeched, squirming in some vain attempt to shake off his binds.
“As ya wish,” the alpha chuckled, dropping him. The motion of being all but thrown to the floor was so startling that Junkrat unintentionally bit his lip, blood running down his chin as he wriggled more, horizontal on the floor.
“I don’t think ya will be needin’ this,” Sharktooth said, lowering himself and grabbing Junkrat’s flesh leg with both hands, one on top and one on the bottom of the calf. Junkrat felt the blood drain from his face as he realized what the alpha planned to do.
“No, no, please -! Please, don’t -! Please -!” he pleaded, trying to pull his way out of his captor’s grip. He could already feel the pain building as the two hands pushed in opposing directions, his bones protesting desperately.
“STOP IT! STOP! PLEASE! IT HURTS!” Junkrat shouted, shrieking in agony as the pressure continued to build, until finally, there came an audible snapping noise. He screamed, voice ringing into the desert, the pain so intense that he felt himself sink into the swirling darkness.
Lúcio and D.Va had been walking. After making a quick stop to loot the remains of her mecha for supplies, the two were immediately back on the road, hurrying back the way they came to find the servo and get some directions. The hot wind had long since erased the tire marks in the sand, leaving them nothing to follow but their memories and some vain hope.
Lúcio felt bedraggled, to say the least, and he had expected as much from lying semi-conscious for the past few days. Sometimes his legs just stopped working, crumpling to the dirt. D.Va would bolt over, kneeling beside him and rubbing his face, offering him a drink from their rapidly depleting water supply, anything to try and help. Lúcio would just shake his head, waiting for the black spots in his eyes to fade away, before hauling himself up and continuing. D.Va had insisted he eat some of the old candy from the servo to try and raise his sugar, but he had refused. He was too anxious to eat. All he could think about was Junkrat, and what horrors the Aussie could be facing with Sharktooth.
“Lúcio, do you need another break?” D.Va asked, holding his hand a bit.
“No, I’m fine, I just…I’m just thinking…”
“Really? Because you’ve been careening back and forth like a drunk for the past five minutes.”
Lúcio bit his lip.
“It’s fine. Let’s keep going. I’ll focus.”
They continued to walk, D.Va huddled under her shock blanket for warmth while Lúcio rubbed his hands up and down his upper arms.
“There, I see it!” he said, pointing in the distance and picking up his skating speed. His body protested each step and his vision swam, but he shook his head and continued, forcing himself to pick up the pace.
“Lú, wait up!” D.Va called, hurrying after.
The two reached the servo, the DJ pulling open the doors quickly and letting D.Va in after him before they looked around for the manager.
“Sir?” he called.
“Hey, dude we saved! Hello?” the gamer added.
“Huh? Who’s there?” came the wizened voice of the man they had rescued. The two wandered over to the counter and found him, sitting in a chair with a newspaper and puffing on a pipe.
“D’ya two need somethin’? More supplies?”
“Did a truck full of shitheads come through here?” D.Va asked, folding the shock blanket as she talked, “Like the ones that asked about Rat before?”
“Y’mean those bounces? Yeah. Came through and rattled me for gas. Gave ‘em the last diesel I had. Only got me motorbike stock now. Why?”
“Where did they go? We need to follow them. They took our friend,” Lúcio said, rubbing his arm a bit and picking at some raised bumps that had formed from lying in the sand. For some reason, the word ‘friend’ displeased him when he was referring to Junkrat. He shoved down the thought quickly.
“Methinks they’ve got a hideout somewhere in the east. Follow the risin’ sun. Ya will find it.”
“Just east? They could be hours, days away. We can’t get there on foot.”
“What’re ya suggestin’?” the man said, turning a page. Lúcio glanced at the front and saw it was 20 years old. He could only wonder how many years this man had been rereading the same articles in this yellowing old newspaper.
“…lend us your motorcycle,” D.Va said.
“What?! Are ya outta yer minds?!” the man sputtered, sending up a plume of smoke from his pipe, “Forget it!”
“Listen, kiwi, we fucking saved your ass from those two bandits. You owe us,” she spat, slamming her hand on the metal countertop, “Give us the bike. We’ll bring it back when we get our friend, but he won’t survive if we don’t get out there fast enough.”
Lúcio glanced at the nametag on the man’s shirt. In old, faded block letters, it read ‘Mason’.
“…please, Mister Mason…” he murmured, voice a quiet plea, “He put his life on the line for us…we need to get him back…”
Mason looked back and forth between the two, peering owlishly over the top of his half-moon glasses, before sighing softly.
“Girly, if ya wanna drive…” he said, digging into a drawer, “…you’re gonna need these.”
He held up a pair of pilot goggles and some big noise-cancelling headphones. D.Va’s eyes widened. She had been searching for a pair of each, especially now that her pink ones had been destroyed. She took them gingerly, putting them on one by one and looking at Lúcio.
“Do I look like a real Junker now?” she asked, grinning ear to ear.
“Perfect,” he said, smiling a bit. Mason threw the keys to D.Va before jerking his head to the door.
“Bike is there. Go on. Get yer friend back.”
The two scrambled over to the motorcycle, unlocking it from the chains around it before hopping on.
“Do you know how to drive one of these?!” Lúcio yelled over the loud revving of the bike.
“Nope!” D.Va called back, before the two of them shot off like a speeding bullet towards the distant rising sun, Lúcio’s screams echoing over the sands.
When Junkrat came to, his instinctive shifts in place proved a fatal error, as shooting pain ran through his left leg.
All he could taste and smell were blood, it seemed. Gritting his teeth in pain, Junkrat angled his head up as he heard the faint shuffling of feet.
“He’s awake, boss…” Razor was muttering, glancing over at him.
Junkrat tilted his head up, looking at Sharktooth with vivid irritation as he came in again. He was holding a canteen in his large hand, smirking. Junkrat shifted in place, knees pressed against each other.
The blond hissed angrily.
"Dunno what you've done with that."
Sharktooth chortled, uncorking the canteen and taking a big swig, his head tilting back. A drop oozed out past his lips, down his chin. Junkrat felt his parched throat clench a bit, suddenly aware of how desperate he was for a drink. Those few gulps of water yesterday - if it was yesterday - had barely done enough to hydrate him. The taller Aussie took note of this, grinning.
"Changed your mind?"
Junkrat growled. His swollen eye was pulsing in tune with his dehydrated headache, swelled too much to see out of.
"I need t’piss."
"Hmm, I wish I could help, but I appear t’have run out of fucks t’give about ya."
Junkrat groaned, his muscles aching from being clenched for what felt like years.
“Please...I really need to -”
"Come on, Rat...it's just one little thing ya need to tell me..."
Sharktooth walked around the chair, running his hands over the blond's shoulders. Junkrat flinched from the feel of his captor's cold metal hand, remembering how it and its flesh counterpart had snapped his leg bone in two like it had been a popsicle stick.
"Just tell me where the treasure is...and I let ya go...simple..."
The fire in his voice, the one that had been present for the first day of his capture, had evaporated, like dew under a hot sun. He was in so much pain, so tired...he just wanted to put his head back and sleep...
"What are ya doin’? Sit up straight."
The chair jolted under him, startling Junkrat into an upright position. He gritted his teeth, hating the feel of the ropes burning into his wrists and ankles. It hurt, it hurt, it hurt.
"Come on, Rat. Tell me. Tell your big daddy Sharktooth. Tell him what he wants to hear..."
Sharktooth cupped Junkrat's face with his 'real' arm, running his thumb over the smaller Junker’s mouth.
“Don’t touch me, dipstick,” Junkrat snarled. The thumb traced his dry, cracked lips, filling his thirsty mouth with the taste of dirt and gunpowder. Junkrat wanted to gag, hating the taste, the feeling, everything.
"Come on...just tell me...just - AGH!"
Junkrat, seeing no other method to get rid of the disgusting hand cupping his face, had sunk his teeth hard into the big, meaty fingers. Sharktooth tried to yank his hand away, but Junkrat was refusing to let go. He tasted blood.
The next thing he knew, the wind was knocked out of him by a swift punch delivered right to his gut by the bigger male's prosthetic arm. Unable to even gasp for air, Junkrat loosened his teeth from the other hand, hunching over and making agonized noises.
"Ya stupid twink -!" Sharktooth was gripping his hand, cradling the bloody fingers and listening to the breathless whimpers of his victim.
The smell of sharp acid hit them both hard. Junkrat flopped back hard against the chair, feeling his shorts growing damp. The blow had loosened his clenched muscles, leaving them helplessly strained and unable to function. It was not enough to make much of a mess, but the scent was palpable.
"Ugh...and ya pissed yerself too. What are ya, a baby?"
"I t-told ya...I h-had t’g-go..." Junkrat stuttered, still struggling to breathe and trying to keep the obvious relief out of his tone, mortified.
"Well, ya can sit in yer mess and think about what ya did. I'll come back later and check if you're willin’ to talk yet."
Sharktooth swept out, his long hair billowing behind him, and slammed the door shut loudly. Junkrat, feeling the ache of his gut, the exhaustion in his eyes, the chafing of his skin, could do nothing but lean his head back and stare up at the ceiling, hoping, wishing, praying, that someone would help him.
They came back again, later. Well, just Razor, alone. He looked over the hapless blond, clicking his tongue.
Hunger was clawing at the pits of Junkrat’s stomach, making him nauseous. He still ached all over from his various injuries, and all the while, sitting there, his mind was hyper-focused on his friends, scared for them.
Razor was smoking a cigarette, bending over to be eye-level with Junkrat before talking. Junkrat cringed at the stench as the smoke filled his nose.
“’Tooth is not happy with ya…”
“Ya think I care, mohawk. Rack off.”
“So d’ya. Ya tryin’ to play Good Cop Bad Cop here?”
Razor’s piercing blue eye was darting back and forth between Junkrat’s orange ones, while the blond did his best to just focus on the leather eyepatch. He then lowered his voice, down to a raspy whisper.
“Why don’t ya just tell him, Fawkes. Tell him what he wants. Do ya like bein’ put through all this…?”
Junkrat swallowed hard.
“Ya know he’ll just kill me after. Don’t ya get it, Razor?”
The Junker puffed on his cigarette a bit.
“Ain’t nothin’ we can give ya to make ya talk, huh?”
“Ha! As if!” Junkrat spat, “I already gave meself up for me friends. What else are ya gonna take away from me? Me life? I’d give it up a hundred times for them. There’s nothin’ else ya can barter with.”
Razor took one last drag before flicking the butt of the cigarette into Junkrat’s face and heading out without a word. The blond glanced down at it as it rested on his thigh, the lit end burning a small circular hole into fabric.
When the sun came up, D.Va and Lúcio were forced to stop their wild joyride, pulling over into the shade of a rocky outcropping and huddling in the cool dirt. D.Va urged Lúcio to sleep, helping him take off his backpack and visor for comfort, but he could not. Lying on his back to the rock, staring up into the blue sky, running a finger over the bumps on his chest of the shrapnel that was still buried in his skin. All he could do was think about the foolish mistake he had made. If he had not gotten so badly hurt, maybe, just maybe, Junkrat would not have sold himself out for the two of them. Maybe the three of them would be back at the Watchpoint by now, instead of separated in this hellhole.
He pressed a hand to his mouth as the tears came, big and hot. One rolled down his face, running along his thumb before dripping into his ratty shirt.
Lúcio was unsure when he drifted to sleep, but he knew when the nightmare started. Only this time, instead of the distant, indistinct voices begging for healing, it was Junkrat, hobbling towards him, a mess of blood.
"Why didn't ya help me?! Why didn't ya save me?!" he screeched, orange eyes striking fear into Lúcio's heart, "I HATE YA!"
He awoke when D.Va started shaking him.
"You were crying in your sleep..." she murmured, clearly scared, "Are you okay...? Was it the nightmare...?"
"I'm fine...just thirsty..." he lied, wiping his face and feeling the salty tears against his fingers, mingling with sweat, "What time is it?"
"Almost sundown...you want to get going...?"
"Yeah. Let's go."
The two took turns drinking water and relieving themselves before getting on the bike.
"...it's really impressive how much you've changed," D.Va said with a small smile as she revved the bike. Lúcio looked at her.
"It feels like yesterday you two were fighting like wild cats and telling me much how much you hated each other. Before...it happened...you two were inseparable...one would think you two were dating."
Here she laughed. Lúcio did not, swallowing hard.
"...Lú? Did I say something wrong? It was just a joke."
Lúcio averted his gaze, feeling D.Va's bore into his face.
He bit his lip.
"Ha! You're in love with him, aren't you?!"
"I suspected but I didn't want to say, thought you'd get offended. But you totally are, aren't you!"
Lúcio covered his face with his hands.
"You can't tell him."
"Wait, you mean he doesn't know?"
"No. I just...I can't bear the rejection. Unless..." he looked up, peering through his fingers, "Unless you know he likes me too?"
D.Va's smile slipped.
"No...I don't know for sure...he hasn't told me anything..."
Lúcio sighed and leaned back, rubbing the bridge of his nose.
"But...I'll tell you this, Lú. The way the two of you look at each other...how you talk...I really do think he likes you too. I've known both of you a long time, and...I've never seen anything like this between you two. It's like watching a younger Ana and Reinhardt."
She rested her hand on his shoulder and gave it a comforting squeeze.
"Let's focus on getting him back. Then you can tell him yourself."
The two drove further into the desert, away from the setting sun. The hot orange glow made Lúcio’s neck prickle as the wind whipped sand up in his face. His broken visor at least granted some protection from the itchy particles. He zoned out, thinking about Junkrat, praying he was alright.
Lúcio suddenly lurched, bumping into D.Va’s back, as the motorcycle pulled to a stop.
“Hey -! What happened -?!”
Lúcio craned his neck up, looking at the nearby building. It was run down, gaping holes exposing the debris-ridden innards. The kind of place that looked as if it might collapse if someone sneezed on it.
“…that’s it…” D.Va said, turning off the motorcycle and hopping down, “C’mon, let’s go.”
“Wait, D.Va, what if someone sees us?” Lúcio protested, grabbing the duffle bag. He felt oddly helpless without his Sonic Amplifier.
“If any of those - those - those monsters come into my line of sight, they will have to beg for my mercy,” she said darkly, taking out her Light Gun and walking straight for the building. Lúcio hesitated, then skated behind quickly.
Neither, in their urgency to find and rescue their friend, seemed to notice Bolt nestled on the roof of the decrepit store, peering down at them just out of view. Furrowing his brow, he turned and scampered over, sliding down the ladder and making a beeline to the room the Standover Men were keeping Junkrat.
Sharktooth was attempting again to wring more information about the treasure out of Junkrat, almost literally. The other Standover Men were there as well, as if taking some sick enjoyment out of watching their leader batter the blond. Razor, perched on a stool nearby, lit another cigarette absently and watched as Sharktooth’s meaty hand gripped the blond’s neck, squeezing until his lips were blue.
“’Tooth!” Bolt piped up, “Sharktooth!”
“I’m in the middle of somethin’ here, dipstick. What.”
“That frog and bunny, they’re here!”
Sharktooth relinquished his grip on Junkrat’s neck, listening to the cacophony of gasps and coughs that bubbled out of their captive’s mouth.
“The ones Fawkes told us to let go. They’re here.”
Junkrat jerked his head up.
“W-what?!” he stammered, writhing against his binds.
“Well, what’re ya waitin’ for?” Sharktooth snapped, “Kill ‘em!”
“NO!” Junkrat cried out, begging, “Leave ‘em alone! Please!”
Razor rested a hand on Sharktooth’s muscular pectoral.
“Wait a tick, ‘Tooth…if we get ‘em, we’ve got leverage on the Rat. He’ll have a reason to talk. He won’t let his cobbers get hurt, now would he?”
Bolt hesitated at the door, glancing back at Sharktooth and Razor as Junkrat writhed more.
“D.VA! FROGGY! RUN!” he tried to scream, to alert his friends they were about to walk into a trap, but before he could choke the words out, the alpha male had pressed his hand against Junkrat’s mouth.
“Hide. Don’t let those two drongos see ya. I’ll wait here. They’ll find the Rat eventually, and when they do…”
He grinned cruelly, before removing his bandana with his other hand and gagging Junkrat with it in a swift motion, leaving the blond squirming and making muffled screeches. The other Standover Men scattered quickly, while Sharktooth propped the door open with a smirk and neatly sat behind it, just out of view.
D.Va and Lúcio had not heard anything. A brief thumping and what sounded like a shout, but the copious amounts of rubble and sand made the noises largely indistinct.
“Where are they…?” D.Va murmured, grip on her pistol tightening.
“They must all be upstairs where Jamie is…” Lúcio replied, nervous. The two were creeping along slowly, silently, almost flat against the ground. They reached the stairs, which were loud and creaky underfoot. Lúcio winced with each step, gripping D.Va’s hand tight.
His stomach was doing somersaults at the thought of what state they would find Junkrat in. Would he be bloody, beaten, but still with that wild gleam in his eye? Would he be weak, near death, leaving Lúcio scrambling to grab a Biotic Grenade for him? Would he be…no, Lúcio could not bear to think about it.
What had the Standover Men done to Jamie? To his Jamie?
D.Va suddenly stopped at the turn of the staircase, pointing up.
“Look,” she whispered, voice barely above an exhale in volume. The door was slightly ajar. Just slightly. The two craned their necks to listen, and could hear the soft sound of muffled whines and scuffling.
“C’mon,” she urged, shuffling up the last few steps with Lúcio in tow. He braced himself for the sight as she slowly moved the door a little more open, peering in.
To the two, there was no one there - except Junkrat. Lúcio felt his gut lurch at the sight of him, his leg bent at an awkward angle, covered in bruises and bloody cuts. His right eye was swollen shut, but his left eye was wide open, and filled with an intense panic the DJ had never seen before. He was shaking his head, as if desperately trying to communicate something to them.
“Junkrat…!” D.Va wailed softly, bolting over to him and cupping his face. He writhed violently, making muffled screams, jerking his head in the process.
“What did they do to you…?” Lúcio said softly, feeling his eyes welling up.
“Quick, Lú, ungag him while I untie the other ropes. The chair is tied up too…”
Lúcio moved quickly, his shaking hands untying the fabric from the tight knot behind Junkrat’s head. Barely was his mouth free when he immediately started yelling.
“YA DRONGOS, WHY DID YA COME FOR ME -?!” he shrieked, making both of them look at him in confusion and dismay, “FUCKIN’ RUN! RUN! ”
“Run? Run wh -?”
Lúcio became somewhat aware of the sound of footsteps behind him before there was a sick sound of metal on bone. D.Va’s head jerked back, making a soft cry before she crumpled to the floor.
“TURN AROUND, FROGGY, TURN -!”
It was too late - Lúcio was able to rotate his head just a bit, enough to see the butt-end of the monkey wrench before it collided with his face. There was the audible crunch of something breaking. His nose? His visor? He was not sure. There was a faint sound of someone screaming in fear, but it was whisked away into the gathering darkness.
Lúcio was unconscious before he hit the floor.
It hurt. A lot.
That was the first thing Lúcio became aware of when he stirred, eyelids twitching as he came to. He could tell his nose was broken immediately - it felt somewhat swollen, and stiff. Attempting to move his facial muscles indicated that his bloody nose had left a trail of crimson that had long since dried, crusted under his nose. He tried to move his head the way he wanted, but it just lolled back and forth. Sharp pain shot through his neck.
“Finally decided to join us, ey, froggy? Now we can start the show.”
Lúcio forced his eyes open, shifting a bit. His vision was swimming, but he could feel his arms and legs were bound, not dissimilar to Junkrat’s. He squinted a bit, trying to get his bearings.
“Please…” Junkrat was begging, struggling against his binds, “Please, they don’t know anythin’, let ‘em go, please -!”
“I think you’ve done enough talkin’ for a lifetime, Fawkes, now shut yer gob before I blow yer boyfriend’s head off.”
“You’re sick!” D.Va snapped, squirming in her own binds. There was blood on her shoulders - the back of her head must have been bleeding from the blow.
“Yeah? And both of ya are idiots! What did ya think would happen if ya came for yer little Rat? That we’d just let ‘im walk off?”
“Fuck you…” Lúcio managed to mumble past his dry, cracked lips, glaring up at the blurry mass he figured to be Sharktooth. Nausea ran over him, wave after wave, “Let him go…”
“Please, ‘Tooth, what would Schlock say if she saw ya like this -?!” Junkrat pleaded with Sharktooth to see reason before the alpha male jammed the end of the monkey wrench up against his sternum, making him wince hard.
“What Schlock doesn’t know what won’t hurt her. Besides, ya three really think she ever gave a shit about ya three? Ya really are a pack of dipsticks, ain’t ya?”
“She had more balls than all of you!” D.Va screeched, “You’re all just fucking trash!”
Sharktooth ran his hand over his brow, chuckling softly.
“We may be trash…but we ain’t stupid. Now…”
Sharktooth extended his hand out, allowing Razor to hand him the machete. He shifted over to Lúcio, pressing the hilt of the blade against the crease of his abdomen, pushing. The DJ whimpered a bit from the discomfort.
“I’ve always wondered what color a frog’s blood is…”
“DON’T YA HURT ‘IM!” Junkrat screamed, writhing hard as if trying to get closer, “LEAVE ‘IM ALONE, HE DOESN’T KNOW ANYTHIN’!”
“No, but you do, don’t ya. Ya will do anythin’ to protect yer friends, wasn’t that what ya told Razor?”
“Yes, but -!”
“But nothin’. Talk, Fawkes.”
Lúcio made a wheeze of pain, as the pressure was relieved only to be replaced with the feeling of the massive metal blade against his neck. Beads of red formed where the machete pressed against his throat.
“Please, please, leave ‘em alone -!”
“I’ll kill all of you!” D.Va shouted, seething, “You fucking monsters!”
Sharktooth angled his head back, amused, the blade leaving a nick on Lúcio’s Adam’s apple.
“I’d do it with my bare hands, and I’d enjoy every fucking second of it!” she said, struggling hard against her binds.
“D.Va, stop it -!” Junkrat pleaded, before looking back at Sharktooth, “I’m beggin’ ya, leave ‘im alone, please! ”
Sharktooth looked back at Lúcio, adjusting the angle of the machete and gazing down at him with a smirk. Lúcio’s heart wanted to explode out of his chest. He could see a thick drop of blood ooze down the length of the blade and pooling at the alpha male’s thumb. The DJ felt weirdly lightheaded.
“Tell me where the treasure is.”
“I - I don’t know!” Junkrat finally confessed, shaking in his chair, “I swear t’God, I don’t know!”
“Ya expect me to believe that?” Sharktooth said with a barking laugh, “Stop playin’ games, Rat.”
“I’m tellin’ the truth! Please! I don’t know!”
“Ya really like playin’ with yer friend’s lives, don’t ya…” Sharktooth chuckled, moving the blade back and forth like a saw. Lúcio whimpered loudly, feeling breathless as blood continued to leak out of his neck.
“STOP IT! YOU’RE HURTIN’ ‘IM! PLEASE, PLEASE STOP!”
“Pick on someone your own size!” D.Va shouted, though her anger was starting to break out of panic for her friend.
“Ugh, so clearly yer boyfriend isn’t gettin’ ya to talk,” Sharktooth grumbled, relinquishing his grip on Lúcio, “Let’s try a bit more…lethal force.”
He stretched his hand out, allowing Bolt to toss him a revolver, akin to the one McCree carried around. He checked to ensure it was loaded, spinning the chambers, before aiming it directly at D.Va’s forehead. She stiffened, shaking.
“NO! NO, DON’T SHOOT HER -!”
“Ya have until the count of three to tell me where the treasure is or yer girlfriend’s brains are gonna paint this wall, Fawkes.”
D.Va stared down the barrel, a bead of sweat sliding down her cheek visibly.
“Please - please , ‘Tooth, I’m tellin’ the damn truth, please -!”
Lúcio whined loudly, struggling a bit.
“PLEASE! I don’t know, I swear t’God, I don’t know where it is! Please! PLEASE! ‘Tooth -!”
“ Two. ”
“NO! PLEASE, ‘TOOTH, PLEASE -!”
D.Va was quavering, eyes untrained from the revolver that was only a few inches from her face now. Sharktooth moved his thumb to the back, removing the safety.
“Hana…!” Lúcio cried out, shaking.
Junkrat, do something! he mentally begged.
“OKAY! OKAY, I’LL TELL YA! JUST PLEASE! PLEASE DON’T SHOOT HER!”
“Tell me,” Sharktooth pressed.
“P-put the gun away -!”
“TELL ME OR I PULL THIS TRIGGER, RATBAG.”
Junkrat flinched, shaking hard.
“The Omnium! The bones of the Omnium! I swear t’ya, ‘Tooth, that’s where me treasure is -!”
Sharktooth looked back at Junkrat, their eyes connecting. Those hazel eyes seemed to bore into his orange ones. Lúcio swallowed hard, wondering where Junkrat was going with this, praying Sharktooth would not realize it was a lie.
“…pack ‘em up. We’re headin’ for the Omnium. All of us.”
He finally lowered his revolver-bearing hand, allowing a sigh of relief to escape Lúcio.
“The Rat can’t walk, boss,” Bolt said, gesturing to Junkrat’s broken leg.
“Then heal ‘im and let’s go. Put ‘em in the truck. Take their shit too.”
Bolt dug into their duffle bag and pulled out a Biotic Grenade, tossing it sloppily at the floor by Junkrat’s feet. The splash radius was enough to cover and repair his leg, though a large puddle of the yellow healing liquid was now all over the floor as Bolt walked out with the bag slung over his shoulder.
“You fucking monsters,” D.Va snarled, her energy back, “You’re all -”
“Ya talk too much, sheila,” Sharktooth snorted, before pistol-whipping her with enough force to knock her out. The gamer slumped over.
“D-D.Va -!” Junkrat cried out, sounding like he may burst into tears. Lúcio trembled hard, glancing behind him as Razor untied him from the chair. He staggered hard, his arms and legs still bound together by the wrists and ankles, feeling the one-eyed Junker push him along down the stairs. Two other men came to take Junkrat and D.Va, the bulky one resembling Roadhog carrying her by her jacket, her body swaying limply like a ragdoll.
The three were shoved into the very back of the truck, behind where the men would sit. The duffle bag was thrown into the passenger side as the remaining five Standover Men - Sharktooth, Razor, Bolt, and two others Lúcio did not recognize - went to gather some supplies before heading to the Omnium.
Junkrat was staring down at D.Va’s limp body, shaking visibly. Lúcio looked up at him, craning his neck to try and see his face.
“Junkrat, listen to me, it’s going to be okay. Please look at me. Jamie . Jamie, please, listen to me, it’s okay. I promise we’ll be…Jamie?”
Junkrat was digging a sharp tooth into his lower lip with such force that a drop of scarlet trickled out, oozing down his chin. When Lúcio’s gaze travelled up from the blood to the blond’s face, he was stunned.
There were big tears in Junkrat’s eyes, leaking down his face and dripping into his stomach and shorts. In a manner as explosive as everything else he did, the Aussie burst into tears, sobbing openly.
“GOD! This is all me fault! All of it! Ya two - everythin’ - FUCK! FUCK , what have I done?! What have I done?! ”
He made horrible chokes as he cried more, tears gushing down his face. Lúcio found his throat growing tight. He had seen many of the Overwatch members cry before - he had cradled D.Va during her episodes many times, letting her soak his shirt in saltwater. He had watched Ana close her eyes and a single tear slide down her cheek as she reminisced about the old days, when everyone was a team. He had seen Reinhardt’s eyes grow moist as they neared Eichenwalde for the first time, overheard Mei lament her research partners, long since dead from the blizzard that destroyed their Ecopoint in Antarctica, even noticed McCree curse his past when they visited Route 66 and saw evidence of the Deadlock Gang’s latest plots.
But Junkrat, Lúcio had never seen cry. In fact, he had never even imagined that Junkrat could cry. Something about the wild, happy-go-lucky behavior that the Junker regularly exuded made it seem like sadness was a foreign emotion, especially the kind harsh enough to manifest in tears.
Lúcio wished desperately he could fling himself into Junkrat's arms, silencing his sobs with kisses, comforting him and cradling him and cupping his face to tell him it would be okay. But their positions and the stiff binds refused to allow them to do so. Instead, the DJ settled for pressing his body against Junkrat's, resting his cheek against the Aussie's arm.
"I'm here, Jamie...I'm here..."
Junkrat all but melted into his touch, arching his back down painfully to bury his face in Lúcio's filthy hair, sobbing loudly.
"It's gonna be okay...I promise..."
The two remained closely entwined, Lúcio putting as much effort as he could into snuggling his body into Junkrat's, murmuring comforting words until he finally quieted. It took a long while - the Standover Men had already piled into the front of the truck and started driving. Knowing Junkrat was close enough, Lúcio very quietly allowed himself to whisper, drowned out by the loud jazz.
"Why the Omnium...?"
Junkrat shifted his head so his mouth was against Lúcio's ear, lips grazing the lobe. Lúcio felt his face inadvertently warm.
Lúcio thought back to the Overwatch special-issue wrist gauges he and Junkrat had absently tossed in the duffle bag after leaving Karratha. His was dead, and Junkrat's was broken. He racked his brains to think back to school, and what he knew about the Omnic-building factories.
" Omniums operate on paired coils that transmit electricity through the air, " his history teacher had said, pulling up a picture of a magnetic field on his HoloSketch to project to the class, " Wireless electricity, created from magnetic induction between these paired coils. To summarize, electricity can be generated in the air between two spirals as long as there's a magnetic field between the two - enough to activate light bulbs, charge batteries, and even power entire Omniums without the additives of wires. Standing near an Omnium factory will often make people's hair stand on end from the sheer quantity of electricity in the air. "
Lúcio tilted his head up to Junkrat.
"The electricity..." he murmured, barely audible, mind whirling with both fear and praise for the blond’s quick thinking.
"Hey, boss, lookit these cool bracelets," Bolt was saying, taking out the wrist gauges from the depths of their bag, "I'll take these back after we get the treasure, use the parts."
"Gimme that -!" Razor said, snatching one up and admiring it as Bolt tied the other one to his waist, neatly secured on a belt loop.
Lúcio looked up at Junkrat, nodding grimly. This was going to be a bumpy ride.
Mercy quietly carried in two portions of dinner for herself and Roadhog to share in the control room. Croissant sandwiches, with lettuce, tomato, and provolone, warmed in the oven. The others had gone for added deli meats to theirs, but keeping in mind Roadhog’s strict vegetarianism, the angel had insisted Ana make at least two variants without it. He thanked her for the thought before the two quietly ate.
“…you’re not like the others,” Roadhog said softly, wiping his mouth with the corner of his pig-patterned handkerchief after they had finished eating.
“How so, Mako?” Mercy asked, pouring some hot water from the kettle that all but lived in the control room with them now into the two tea mugs they used.
“You aren’t scared,” he said, stirring a spoonful of honey into the dark depths of the tea, the soft smell of lavender and bergamot drifting between the two.
“Scared of what?”
Mercy looked up at him as she sat back down.
“…I was, before…more so intimidated than scared. But it is from a lack of familiarity. You are big, quiet, and powerful, but you have a soft side. I’m very grateful you trust me enough to let me see it.”
Roadhog made a soft, rumbly laugh.
“I’m grateful you…listen.”
A lull formed in the conversation as the two sipped their teas. The silence was almost deafening.
“…do you want to see?”
Mercy looked up again.
“…the rest of it.”
She realized he meant his face.
“…if you would…allow it…” she murmured.
Slowly, his hand moved up, undoing the straps on the back of his mask and pulling it away from his face. He shook his head a bit to loosen the stray hairs, before gazing down at her.
He was older. Not quite as much as Reinhardt, with his thick snowy beard, but the furrows of age ran deep across his face. His eyes were a striking blue - Mercy had not expected the vibrant shade. There were scars on various places, the largest running down over his left eye. The tusks Mercy had become accustomed to were there as well, neatly peeking out past full lips. When she peered closer, she could see the very faint patterns of facial tattoos, faded with time and the deathly erosion of the irradiated wasteland.
“Do I scare you?” he said, the Aussie lilt a little more clear now that the muffling mask was fully removed.
“No,” she said. It was the truth. She rested her hand on his, and felt him gently grip her slender fingers with his huge thumb. She felt small, but not scared.
The two sat like that for a while longer, holding hands. Mercy was unsure if she should pull away, worried she was making the biker uncomfortable, but he made the occasional contented rumble and rubbed his thumb against her hand, reassuring her it was okay. It was a brief respite from their constant worry about the three heroes.
She gently leaned on his broad side and watched the monitors.
Thank you for reading the eighth chapter! Any comments/kudos are appreciated greatly. Please stay tuned for the next chapters!
Are you all mad at me? I would assume so - here is your complimentary Sharktooth dartboard, please enjoy: http://i.imgur.com/tGkdFZz.png
(Main blog: http://autumndiesirae.tumblr.com/)
Murphy's Law is an adage or epigram that is typically stated as: "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong".
Chapter 9 is here! Between plane rides, packing for college, and other things, this installment got a little delayed, but its finally here! Enjoy!
WARNING: This chapter contains graphic depictions of violence. A lot of them. Reader discretion is advised.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Lúcio could not sleep. How could he? Fear was spreading its poisonous fingers around his gut, exacerbated by the shuddering and jostling of the truck. He ran his tongue over his dry lips, pressing more into Junkrat’s body.
The blond was not sleeping either, though he certainly looked exhausted. Lúcio wondered how many days he had been in the throes of sleepless torture before he and D.Va had found him. The state he had been in when they had thrown open the doors to the second-floor office haunted the DJ. The idea of what could have become of Junkrat if the two of them had not found him struck more terror into Lúcio’s heart than the machete pressed against his throat ever had.
The desire to break down and confess what he was feeling for Junkrat kept clawing at his throat, wanting to jump out of his mouth, but he bit his tongue. Now was not the right time. What kind of an admittance would that be, pressed against each other in the hot, sticky back of the truck? And what if the blond did not reciprocate? Lúcio could almost imagine the look on Junkrat’s face as he slowly scooched away, so their skin was no longer touching. It burned in his gut.
D.Va had finally stirred as well, going cross-eyed as she attempted to examine the bruise on her forehead from the revolver strike. Junkrat had sunk into a weak, trembling mess again, apologies bubbling out of his mouth, and had not stopped until D.Va had gently rested her head on his arm and rubbed it against his skin like a cat nuzzling its owner. She and Lúcio had taken to sandwiching the emotional Aussie between them, trying to keep him comforted. It seemed to be working, for now.
The Standover Men took turns driving, taking breaks to eat and drink beer in the backseats. Lúcio’s stomach squeezed itself uncomfortably, reminding himself of their first week in the Outback - the characteristic clenching of his gut as they had raided the bandit camp, from a mixture of anxiety and starvation. Just like now. A weird sense of déjà vu washed over him.
His mind drifted back to the Watchpoint - were the members of Overwatch still looking for them? Did they even care? Lúcio could not be sure anymore. It had officially been over a month since they had fallen off the mountain, and it had just been radio silence from the team. He just hoped and prayed Junkrat’s plan to get their one remaining wrist-gauge to turn back on would work - it was their only link back to the other heroes. Their only chance to get out of this alive. What would happen when Sharktooth realized Junkrat had lied? Lúcio was petrified at the thought of what he would do to them. His neck wound stung a bit, almost instinctually.
They drove for hours. Sunset came, the hot orange light beaming down on the three and making them squint and shift. Lúcio felt his eyes burn with exhaustion, a painful accompaniment to the aching of his arms from being tied behind his back.
Their captors stopped at night, refueling the truck with a spare can of gas they had lugged along, before making a small fire and eating dinner around it. Lúcio, Junkrat, and D.Va watched from the truck - the smell of roast meat and the audible crackle and pop of fat sizzling on an open flame made Lúcio's stomach groan audibly. He could hardly remember the last time he had a decent meal, or drink for that matter. His parched throat prickled when he mustered enough saliva to swallow. He could only faintly recall the alcohol-ridden feast of boar they had eaten in Karratha, and the oatmeal when they had arrived at the Watchpoint felt like a distant dream - ethereal and out of reach. Lúcio remembered the sanity exercises Junkrat had talked about and tried one, recounting the members of Overwatch that he had come to call his family. There was Mercy, Roadhog, Reinhardt, Zarya, Genji, McCree...
The sound of his own stomach howling distracted him and made Junkrat visibly wince.
"Wish I c-could help..." he said, voice small and depressed. Lúcio cuddled into him reassuringly.
"It's okay. Maybe we can talk about something."
"Like what?" D.Va said, blowing a puff of air up to push a stray lock of hair back into place, not dissimilar to Tracer. Tracer, how could Lúcio forget her in this list? The time D.Va had escaped the Brit's HoloVid call and wiggled into their shared room to talk seemed like it had happened centuries ago. The encyclopedia about Junkers she had found under their bunk-bed was now buried somewhere now in the depths of their duffle bag, which was resting on Bolt’s lap. Lúcio realized he could barely picture how the gamer had looked before she had cut her hair and changed her clothes.
"Oh, fuck me..." he mumbled.
"I can't remember how Hana looked like before Schlock gave her a makeover. At least not well. Fuck. Is this how Junker memory loss works?"
"Somethin' like that," Junkrat said softly. "At least ya remember her name..."
"You don't remember my beautiful face?" D.Va teased, grinning a bit. The boys managed a chuckle each as Lúcio searched for a topic to discuss - something to fill the void of silence in the hot truck, now that they could talk freely without being silenced by the Standover Men.
"D.Va, in your encyclopedia, did you read about Junkertown?" the DJ queried.
"Yeah, it's got big walls around it. And supposedly it has a king?"
"How old is that book? Been a queen long as I can remember," Junkrat corrected, "She's a right terror. Threw me and Hog out. Can't recall what exactly it was that got us the boot. Reckon it was the bar fight..."
"Why don't all Junkers live in Junkertown, then?" Lúcio asked.
"Ya try livin' in a place where all day ya hear this big alpha sheila talkin' over the speakers about how we're all wretched scum and whatnot. I used t'get thrown awake before the sun was up from her ramblin'. Fuckin' nightmare."
"You had a house there?"
"Sure did. Little place. Smelled like gunpowder half the time. But it was home. I miss it. Was the first place I called me own since...since..."
Junkrat grew quiet, as if looking into the past and reliving the Omnium explosion again. Lúcio winced at the thought of dragging the blond back to the place that had destroyed his homeland. It was like forcing himself to walk into Vishkar headquarters. Lúcio pressed more against Junkrat.
"We're gonna get out of this. I promise," he reassured. D.Va copied his snuggles, sandwiching Junkrat between them in a cuddle puddle. The Aussie relaxed a bit.
The Standover Men eventually returned to the car to sleep, taking shifts to ensure the three did not get any ideas of escaping. D.Va was the first to succumb to her tiredness, slumping against Junkrat's arm and making quiet ‘mmph’ noises in her slumber. Lúcio and Junkrat stayed curled into each other, listening to the faint sounds of the Outback. The gentle rustle of lizards and the faint howl of wind over the dunes was soon drowned out by Sharktooth's snores and the wet smack of Razor and Bolt making out on the roof.
"Gross...I hope they don’t start fucking…not sure I could take it…" Lúcio murmured, feeling the rumble of Junkrat laughing against him.
"Shut up back there, ankle-biters, people are sleepin'," snapped one of their harriers, shifting in his seat. The two fell quiet, resting against each other. Lúcio sunk in and out of slumber, jolting awake seemingly every five minutes. The ache of his arm muscles from being awkwardly tied behind his back refused to let him sleep, and the few times he managed to drift away did not go unpunished. Lúcio lost count of the number of times he felt the onset of panic that came with the beginning of the nightmares. It was always the same now - Junkrat’s accusatory screams, begging for help, for healing, things he could not seem to provide. The DJ’s eyes would snap open, beads of sweat rolling down his forehead, before he succumbed to tiredness again. Only when the pale light of dawn was peeking over the horizon did the DJ register how long he had been napping.
"Ya alright, froggy?" Junkrat asked. His eyes were shadowy, indicating he had not slept. The entire truck was quiet sans the soft breaths and snores of those around them. Sharktooth was not amongst them - judging by the open driver’s door he was likely off to take a leak somewhere.
"Yeah, I'm...I'm aces..." Lúcio lied, smiling a bit. Junkrat seemed happy to hear the slang, pressing his cheek against the shorter man's head. Lúcio felt his face warm inadvertently. After a long pause, he spoke.
"If...this doesn't work...this plan... I just...want ya to know I...I..."
Lúcio felt the words catching in his throat, refusing to come out.
Before he could finish, the sound of the truck horn blaring frightened both of them into a bolt-upright position, throwing D.Va out of her slumber.
"Up and at 'em, ratbags, we're close to the Omnium!" Sharktooth cackled as he climbed back into the driver's seat, taking some sick delight in the fear he saw in his captives’ eyes. Lúcio growled at him, visibly baring his teeth.
"Frogs don't scare me," the alpha male chuckled, honking the horn again as his minions slowly came to, sharing some water and stretching around the revving automobile. Lúcio knew he could not speak now, or else they would get snapped at, so he sat quietly and mulled the things he wanted to say over and over and over again in his mind. Just three words, and yet, they were so difficult to admit.
They shot off along the sand, headed for the Omnium.
As the sun started its slow, hot ascent up from the east horizon, a strange quality began to percolate in the air. It felt oddly fuzzy, crackly, akin to the feeling Lúcio got when he scooted around on a carpet with socks, only stronger. He felt the hair on his arms begin to rise up, his neck prickling. Glancing over at Junkrat, he could see the blond’s fiery hair was also beginning to grow stiffer, and D.Va’s own brunette pixie-cut looked more bushy.
"We're getting close, aren’t we..." the DJ mumbled, tense.
Lúcio craned his neck to look out of the closest window as best he could, hoping to see a glimpse of the factory. He had only ever seen pictures of the one in Australia prior to its destruction, and the one in Russia at Volskaya Industries on the news. Some weird dark blot was in the distance, too far to discern the details of.
There was a faint sound. It was describable as the sound in old-fashioned dubstep music that Lúcio was familiar with - a faint wub wub wub rhythmically pulsing over their ears. It seemed to work its way into his brain, making it throb along to the artificial tune that only intensified as they drew closer.
The very world seemed to grow more alien as they approached the mark. Sharktooth had to carefully maneuver the car around scrap and junk scattered around, sticking out of the ground like bizarre art sculptures. Dead Omnic parts littered the earth, some even seeming to spasm as they passed. Maybe the thick blanket of electricity in the air was enough to make their bionic nerves briefly activate, like how the whole octopuses Genji sometimes ate flapped their tentacles around limply when soy sauce was poured on them. Lúcio could not be sure. His head was protesting, a migraine far worse than any dehydration headache, pounding against his skull, clenching and unclenching his muscles. The little devil that had sat behind his eyeball weeks ago when they had had no water, seemingly hammering on it with the intent to escape, was back with a vengeance, refusing to be restrained in his head any longer. Lúcio pressed his forehead against his knees, fighting off rising nausea with shallow breaths and weak moans.
"The radiation is real bad here..." Junkrat murmured, straining to rub his elbow against Lúcio’s back reassuringly, "Be glad ya ain't eaten in a while..."
"Quiet, drongos, I'm focusin'," Sharktooth snapped, voice somewhat weaker than usual, maneuvering around the debris. The wubs were louder now, amidst the sounds of crackling and what could only be described as the scraping of metal on metal. Lúcio felt like he was going mad. The sounds, the increasing pressure against his head, the rising of his body hair, it was a sensory overload that was driving him to the brink. Only the reassuring feel of Junkrat's skin against his own kept him anchored.
The truck pulled to a stop, the lurching movement not doing Lúcio's vertigo any favors. He watched bleakly as the Standover Men clambered out, before Sharktooth's meaty hands grabbed them one by one and shoved them out. First D.Va, who was decidedly green, then Junkrat, then lastly Lúcio. When his tired legs made contact with the ground, the weak DJ collapsed, shaking a bit before craning his neck up. His mouth fell agape and his eyes widened. The sight before him drove such fear into his heart that he would see the vision in his nightmares for years.
The Omnium - or, whatever was left of it - was enormous. Far bigger than Volskaya. Seemingly as big as the mountain their Watchpoint was on. Everything was blackened, and cut sharp. Like jagged, foreboding teeth bearing down on the group, gnashing and deadly, ready to swallow them up. From what he could see of the interior, it was not picked clean like many of the other places where Junkers roamed and scavenged. Instead it looked almost frozen in time, untouched, as if terror kept the inhabitants of the continent from coming close. One of the metallic coils was to their left, high as a skyscraper, spiraling up out of the ground like some dark evil unicorn horn. The air seemed to swim - whether it was from the heat of the metal, the sheer quantity of radiation, or just the pulsing electricity in the air, Lúcio did not know. All he knew was that it felt like his brain was being pushed into his feet from the oppressiveness of the place, and the hot fear in his belly was not helping.
He was pulled up by his hair before being set back down and shoved hard by the back, into a single file line by the others. D.Va was swaying weirdly up in front, looking like she might puke. The loud retching of Razor behind the truck was only exacerbating her visible nausea, it seemed. Even Junkrat appeared deeply uncomfortable by the copious radiation, panting a bit as he glanced back at Lúcio.
"Ready...?" he said softly. Lúcio gritted his teeth.
"As I'll ever be."
“Are ya done yet, Razor?” Sharktooth called over his shoulder exasperatedly. The sound of sick on sand was his only response.
“Fuckin’ dipstick…catch up with us when you're finished, then," Sharktooth said, nudging Lúcio along with the front of his minigun. The three started walking, stumbling, into the bowels of the terrifying hull before them.
Lúcio cautiously angled his head back at Bolt, who was alternating between aggressively shaking his canteen of water and chugging it, as if trying to carbonate the water to ease his nausea. Lúcio could see his old wrist-gauge suspended on the Junker's belt loop, bouncing against his hip with each step.
Please, please charge. Please, he begged mentally.
The darkened screen lit up suddenly and silently, the Overwatch logo glinting back up at the DJ. Lúcio inhaled sharply.
His gauge had power.
Blip. Blip. Blip.
Mercy and Roadhog were fast asleep, the angel curled up against his broad side with his big hand resting on her back like a warm blanket.
Blip. Blip. Blip.
Mercy stirred from the noise, confused who set her an alarm at this hour. A glance at the clock indicated it was barely past six. Only Soldier:76 would be up at this hour, running laps. Rubbing her eyes, Mercy yawned and stretched, feeling Roadhog's hand slide off her back from the motion. Swinging her legs down, she moved to start the kettle, glancing sleepily at the monitors.
Blip. Blip. Blip.
Lúcio's hero card was flashing, the letters under his name, previously red and bearing the same error message about his GPS signal being missing that it had for the past month, had changed. It was now green. Like that of the heroes on the Watchpoint.
"GPS signal relocated," Athena announced calmly.
Mercy was frozen in place, disbelieving. She pinched her thigh, half-expecting this to be a dream, but the message persisted its urgent beeping.
She bolted back to the sleeping Roadhog, shaking him awake.
"Wake up! One of their GPS signals is back!"
Roadhog promptly lurched awake.
"You serious?! Junkrat?!"
"No, it's Lúcio...but I believe that the others will be with him!"
"We gotta go, quick," Roadhog urged, heaving himself up and following Mercy swiftly to one of the smaller pods. She hurriedly activated the engine and pulled up a map showing the location of the signal.
"The feed is a little weak...where is that, Mako?"
She pointed at the blue square of the map. Roadhog peered over her shoulder and stiffened a bit.
"The Omnium. If they're there...something bad is happening."
"Then we have no time to lose."
Mercy activated the smaller ship, feeling it rise up beneath their feet as Roadhog squeezed into the passenger seat. The white angular pod positioned itself before flying neatly off towards the Omnium.
Neither in their haste to scramble to the ship had noticed Mercy had not taken her Caduceus Staff.
Lúcio ran his tongue over his dry, bloody lips in some vain attempt to moisten them. He felt the minigun nudge against his back again and pushed on, trying his best to ignore the pulsing migraine in his head and stewing nausea in his gut, focusing instead on the details around them.
The innards of the factory were just as paralyzed as the exterior. Whatever had survived the blast - and that was hardly much - was frozen in place. Omnic arms were strewn about on conveyer belts and shelves, their hands stuck in some death clench. There were humanoid shadows on the walls, stuck in a variety of horrified poses - arms thrown out in front of them, cowering on the floor, midway in a sprint. Lúcio realized with growing dread those were the only remains of the Omnium maintenance crew, immortalized in their final seconds before being vaporized in the explosion.
“Move faster, ya dipsticks,” Sharktooth spat, pushing him again with such force that he nearly fell against Junkrat.
“Knock it off!” Junkrat snarled, glaring at Sharktooth over his shoulder.
“It’s fine…I’m fine…” Lúcio mumbled, barely moving his lips for fear if he opened his mouth too much he might start vomiting.
“Where did ya put the fuckin’ treasure, Rat, start talkin’!”
“I’m workin’ on it, I gotta see the clues, alright?!”
Lúcio bit his lip, knowing Junkrat was stalling. They were running out of time. The Standover Men were brutish and not very smart, but they would catch on eventually to the blond’s lies. If the Overwatch team were not here by then…
“Why would ya even keep the treasure in the same place ya found it?”
Junkrat made a point of dramatically wheeling around, in a manner that read as incredibly deliberate to Lúcio.
“Because , no one thinks t’look in the same place someone found somethin’ for that thing, they think ya will take it somewhere else.”
Sharktooth growled threateningly, but Lúcio’s eyes were trained elsewhere - on Junkrat’s back. Below his bound wrists, the pointer finger and thumb of his prosthetic arm were moving as he talked. As if he was snapping his fingers, but in place of a telltale pop of flesh, there were tiny, inconspicuous sparks flying off. Just like how he lit matches and fireworks. A small portion of the rope was already blackened. Lúcio realized what the blond was doing - trying to light his binds on fire, to break them off. He glanced furtively at D.Va, and found she was doing something similar, by carefully wiggling her wrists to slide her hands out of her tall gloves, since she was only restrained by the wrists. Only he would still be tied up at the end of this, and either of them could cut the binds off.
They kept walking, Junkrat angling his arms so that the burned bits of rope were not visible to Sharktooth and the others. Lúcio made a point of obscuring the marks as much as he could with his body. If they were found, this entire plan would collapse on itself.
Junkrat’s binds were only just holding together at that spot now - a few fried tangles of rope keeping his wrists together. He could easily break them by moving his arms apart violently, and Lúcio had a feeling that was the idea. D.Va had also managed to loosen herself - he could tell by how the fingers of her gloves looked oddly deflated now. That left only him. If worst came to worst he could cut off his own binds with his hard-light skates, if he angled himself the right way. He just hoped they would get a chance. They would only have one.
Razor was throwing up again, all over a nearby mess of cables. He had dropped their duffle bag near the others to avoid getting sick all over it. Sharktooth glanced at him without a hint of concern before glaring at Junkrat, spraying saliva as he yelled.
“You’ve dragged us all over this godforsaken Omnium, ratbag! Talk, or I might hafta put yer little bunny at gunpoint again.”
“Go fuck yourself,” D.Va spat.
“G-give me a fuckin’ second, can’t think straight with all this noise…” Junkrat mumbled, sweating.
Sharktooth opened his mouth to retort when Bolt piped up.
“Boss. D’ya hear that?”
Lúcio pricked his ears, listening carefully. A new sound had entered the mixture of wub s, crackles, and his own head’s incessant whine. A humming. Like a motor.
The motor of a plane.
Lúcio’s head snapped up with a gasp as the sounds grew, an intensifying crescendo, until it was nearly deafening. Right on top of them. Everyone craned their heads to look as a big, white, shapely rescue pod hovered over the blown-out roof of the Omnium. Peering closer, the DJ could see a hulking masked man and a delicate blond angel looking down at them.
“There! I see them!”
Mercy pointed down as best she could, at the familiar dots of blond, brunette, and green.
“Who are they with…?”
“Bad news. We need to get them, now,” Roadhog urged.
“I can’t land the ship here, we need to find somewhere else.”
“There’s an empty room over there, they’ll have to run to us.”
Mercy bit her lip but nodded, repositioning the thrusters of the pod.
“Those Junkers aren’t looking at them. Don’t move yet. Wait ‘til the kids run.”
A movement caught the corner of Lúcio’s eye - glancing over, he saw that Junkrat had broken his binds, reaching over and tearing the DJ’s off as D.Va slid out of her gloves, dropping them with the ropes to the ground before she snatched them back up. The Standover Men were still looking up at the ship, confused and distracted - one had absently tried to shoot it, the bullet making a hollow tink on the side of the hull - but they would not be for long.
D.Va had grabbed the duffle bag that Razor had set down. They had to go. Now.
Junkrat seized Lúcio’s hand and all three began to bolt, over to a pile of rubble that had clogged up the hallway between their current room and the next - only a small gap at the top was left. Enough for them to slide through. Lúcio had a sense of déjà vu, and hoped this time their choice to sneak through a crack would end better than the last.
Razor was the first to see they had run.
“…oi! OI! BOSS! THEY’RE GETTIN’ AWAY!”
Sharktooth whipped around, enraged.
“Don’t just stand there! SHOOT ‘EM!”
Bullets, shrapnel, and steel bolts from the big one’s crossbow began to fly at the three. Lúcio instinctively dodged and weaved to avoid getting struck, though he could feel the occasional shred of ammo on his skin.
“QUICK! C’MON!” Junkrat yelled. He grabbed Lúcio’s hand and hauled him up as D.Va brought up the rear, returning fire with her Light Gun. Her shots were skilled and accurate - the small bullets were low in damage but a menace when aimed correctly at heads and hands, making their assailants lose grip on their own weapons and become distracted long enough for the boys to slip through into the other room.
“Hana! Come on!” Lúcio urged, reaching back through the hole. D.Va swore loudly as her gun clicked, empty, before turning and shoving the duffle bag in. As she scrambled to the hole, about halfway through she made a loud screech of pain.
Lúcio grabbed her by her shoulders and tugged her through, sliding down the rubble with her gripped tight in his arms as she gasped in pain. Blood, far too much of it, was running down her right thigh, and Lúcio realized with horror that one of the steel bolts had gone right through her.
“Fuck, my leg, I think the bone broke - fuck - ngh -!”
“Bunny! Oh, shit, no -!”
“Can you walk, Hana?!”
“N-no, I don’t think - a-agh -!”
Without a moment’s hesitation, Junkrat grabbed the gamer and hoisted her and the duffle bag up, gripping her securely as he lurched upright.
“The shit in the doorway will keep ‘em off our tails, but not for long -!”
Lúcio glanced up as the whirring of the plane returned, flying over them.
“They must be looking for a place to land, come on, quick!”
The three ran, D.Va gripping Junkrat’s shoulders tight and making little whines of pain. She was a soldier, hardened by war, and that was likely the only reason she was not wailing and screaming in agony right now. Lúcio gritted his teeth, trying not to think about the fact that he should be healing them, speed-boosting them, and yet his Sonic Amplifier, broken and useless, was lying in the depths of that black duffle bag.
There came a sound of crumbling behind them - the Standover Men were breaking through the debris. They were running out of time. As the three rounded the corner, they found themselves in the remnants of a server room, with big, boxlike cases that once housed wires and a wealth of information lining the walls and positioned haphazardly around the room. Some were knocked over from the explosion, their contents strewn all over the floor.
The telltale whirring had stopped.
“They musta landed in the other room -!” Junkrat shouted, before glancing back as the rocky barrier finally broke, leaving them exposed. He and Lúcio ducked behind an upright server, panting.
“Spread out and find ‘em! I want ‘em all dead! ”
The Standover Men were starting to file into the server room. Junkrat bit his lip before turning to Lúcio and pushing D.Va into his arms.
“Take her,” the blond said.
“I’m too slow,” Junkrat gasped, out of breath, “Me peg, it’s slowin’ ya down, please -”
“We’re not leaving you!” D.Va pleaded, “Look what happened last time we -!”
“ Please , Lúcio, take her and the bag, please, I’ll hold ‘em off as long as I can but ya need to get her to Mercy. Please. ”
“Come out here and fight like men, ya little lyin’ bastards!” Sharktooth was shouting, on the prowl for them. They could hear the sound of something being upturned or kicked over in a fit of Junker rage, the loud crash making them all wince.
“…fine, but I’m coming back for you,” Lúcio conceded, “Take your bombs and I’ll take D.Va.”
Junkrat fully handed their wounded friend to him before unzipping the duffle bag and digging out his remaining string of pipe bombs, and the single loose one. He shoved the individual into his pocket as Lúcio hopped to his feet, D.Va and the bag in tow, and skated as fast as he could to the small, open passage leading to the larger courtyard.
“There! Shoot ‘em!”
Bullets whizzed by him, one grazing his shoulder and making him wheeze in pain, but Lúcio was too fast with his skates to get a decent shot in, ducking out of sight.
Mercy and Roadhog had landed a decent ways away. Lúcio could already see Roadhog squeezing out of the door, Mercy behind. He sped up, bolting over to the pod.
“Hana! Lúcio! You’re alright…!” the Swiss angel said, on the verge of tears.
“No, Hana was shot,” Lúcio panted, pushing past them and laying D.Va on one of the plush backseats of the pod. By now her tan pant leg was a dark red. Mercy reached for her staff and blanched when she realized she did not have it.
“…Hana, lie back, keep your leg straight,” she instructed. D.Va obliged, gasping softly in pain.
“Where’s Junkrat?” Roadhog asked as Mercy knelt beside the gamer, examining her wound with a worried expression.
“I’m gonna go back for him -” Lúcio managed to say despite how out of breath he was, turning and starting to skate back to the server room.
“That doesn’t answer my question, frog! Get back here!”
“Lúcio, it’s dangerous, come back -!”
Lúcio was not listening. The blood roaring in his ears nearly deafened him as he forced himself to go faster, desperate to get back to Junkrat.
Roadhog moved to follow but stalled. He turned quickly, gripping Mercy’s shoulders.
He wheeled around and started lumbering after the DJ as fast as he could. He was slow. Mercy prayed that he would make it on time.
As it were, Junkrat had ripped one of the grenades off the suspender and tossed it wildly down the centre of the room. The sound of panicked yelps and the thudding of running feet had quickly been deafened by the explosion, during which Junkrat had taken the opportunity to hide behind a different, horizontal box, flat on the ground. The thudding of his heart made it hard to hear.
“Come out, ya fuckin’ lyin’ little vermin!” Sharktooth had shouted between coughs from the smoke. Junkrat had pressed himself more to the floor, quivering.
“I’m gonna fuckin’ rip yer throat out with me bare hands!”
“Boss, the bunny and frog are gone,” Razor had said, voice choked.
“Fuck ‘em! I want that rat and I want him now ! Find him!”
Junkrat raised his head just slightly, trying to gauge what he was up against. Only Sharktooth, Bolt, and Razor were left, it seemed. Sharktooth had a crazed look in his hazel eyes. The blond knew this time he would only shoot to kill. He gripped his suspender of bombs tight. There were three, and the one in his pocket. If he could just -
“JAMIE! JAMIE! ”
Junkrat gasped in terror, lurching up, as he saw Lúcio skate back into the server room, completely unarmed.
“Lúcio! NO!” he screamed, reaching his hand out in some futile attempt to stop the DJ.
“There he is! Get ‘im!” Sharktooth bellowed, pointing at the blond.
Bolt and Razor were on Junkrat before he could blink, grabbing him by his arms and restraining him. The suspender of pipe bombs in his hand skittered away, landing at the base of the wall. He writhed hard, terrified for Lúcio, who by now had recognized his mistake. Quick and unthinking, he leapt onto the wall, riding away on it to try and distract Sharktooth away from Junkrat.
“FROGGY, YA DRONGO, FUCKIN’ RUN! ” Junkrat begged.
Sharktooth spat, revving his minigun to shoot Lúcio, only for it to sputter in protest, out of ammo. The alpha male swore loudly before grabbing the revolver that not too long ago had been pointing at D.Va’s forehead, and started firing. Lúcio leapt off the wall, strafing as best he could and ducking behind cover.
“Lúcio, what are ya doin’ ?!” Junkrat cried out, feeling like he might start sobbing in sheer horror.
“Come on out, froggy, come be a hero and save yer little lyin’ cobber!” Sharktooth snarled, as if getting some weird glee out of taunting the two of them. Lúcio narrowed his eyes, listening carefully as his eyes followed Sharktooth’s shadow on the floor. He had to get the harrier to aim away from Junkrat. The shadow was getting closer.
Everyone was holding their breath.
Lúcio leapt out, kicking off the side of the server and lunging for Sharktooth. He felt his hands clasp around the metal prosthetic limb, yanking at it in some vain attempt to tear the revolver from the bigger man, feeling it jerk awkwardly up. Sharktooth’s finger was still on the trigger.
There came a loud bang, deafening. Lúcio felt his visor shatter from the force of the gunshot, staggering back and grabbing his face. He could not hear anything but a loud ringing PWEEE and the faint, garbled yells of someone in the distance. Sharktooth was also holding his ears, stumbling backwards, before shaking his head hard and taking a wild, experimental shot, only half-aimed.
Fuck, the pain.
Lúcio felt himself collapse, his senses disabling. His stomach hurt. Not in the sense that he had eaten something and was regretting it. No, this was a fiery, intense pain that felt like he was being pulled apart in two separate directions. He curled into a ball, hit hard by the smell of blood.
Junkrat let loose a wail that seemed to ring across the entire continent.
He wriggled, screaming.
“FROGGY! YA GOTTA GET UP!”
Sharktooth was breathing hard and wiping blood off his forehead, looking over at the helpless Lúcio as he lay on the ground, curled around his belly wound. Completely vulnerable. The alpha male grinned in sick delight.
“…lift the rat’s head up, blokes! I want him to watch his boyfriend die!”
Junkrat felt Razor grip his blond hair as his arms were pushed behind his back and his head was yanked up. Hot tears were streaming down his face as he screamed incessantly.
“PLEASE! NO! NOT HIM! KILL ME INSTEAD, NOT HIM! DON’T KILL HIM, DON’T KILL ME LÚCIO! FROGGY! FROGGY! RUN! ”
Sharktooth checked the chambers of his revolver, finding one bullet left. He cracked his neck before walking closer, determined to make this shot count.
“NO! NO! LÚCIO! LÚ!” Junkrat screeched desperately.
Lúcio groaned softly, struggling to lift his head. His vision was swimming - some big, tanned blob was moving towards him. He knew somewhere in his mind that was a bad thing, but he could not seem to will his body to move. There was too much pain. He just wanted to sleep.
Someone was screaming. It was faint, as if being shouted to him through the water of a swimming pool. Lúcio coughed weakly, pushing himself up a bit.
It hit him like a truck. The realization of what situation he was in. Lúcio snapped out of it, struggling up to his elbows as his vision managed to focus a bit. Sharktooth was barely a few feet away, coming right for him. Panicking, Lúcio turned and started wriggling along the ground, gripping the tile with his fingers and dragging his body along, a red smear following behind his sliding belly. He did not have the strength to pull himself up all the way, there was just too much pain in his abdomen - but fear was a stronger emotion than agony, forcing him to keep moving.
“Where are ya goin’, froggy?” Sharktooth crooned, running his tongue over his teeth as he raised his revolver-bearing hand, aiming right for the back of Lúcio’s neck, “Don’t ya want to give the rat a show? Well, I guess the brains will look the same from this side too.”
Junkrat had stopped screaming, sinking into a stupor. He was about to watch his friend die. No, he could not. Not after all this.
He jerked his head back, spying the coil of pipe bombs that had rolled away earlier, and felt the nudge of the one in his pocket against his thigh. This was his only chance.
Junkrat slammed his peg down right on the top of Razor’s foot, eliciting a yelp and instinctive release as the one-eyed Junker grabbed his boot. That was all Junkrat needed - he slammed his elbow hard into Bolt’s sternum, knocking him over, before reaching into his pocket and grabbing the lone bomb. Lúcio glanced back to look at Sharktooth, but found himself looking to the blond instead.
A moment’s hesitation.
Junkrat’s and Lúcio’s eyes made contact.
Lúcio realized what was about to happen.
“…n…NO! JAMIE, NO! ” he screamed, reaching his hand out, but it was too late. Junkrat shut his eyes tight and yanked the pin out before wheeling around and chucking it right to the wall, amongst the others. Razor and Bolt shrieked in panic, bolting in separate directions, while Sharktooth, distracted, turned to look at the commotion. His eyes widened as he dropped the revolver and tried to run, but Lúcio saw faintly that a big chain hook snagged around his legs, knocking him to the ground and restraining him in place.
Lúcio managed, somehow, to lurch to his feet. Everything seemed to be happening in slow motion. Terror and shock muted the pain just enough for him to move. He could see Junkrat running away from the impending explosion, towards him, covering his head. Lúcio moved to run to the blond, but felt something big grab him by the arm and yank him behind one of the servers for cover.
Everything shook. The volume was immense. The sheer force was earthquake-like, shaking the entirety of the Omnium bones. Back at the pod, Mercy jerked her head up as D.Va gasped, both in fear for their boys.
Lúcio quavered in the warm, fleshy grip he was in, and only when the rumbling finally subsided did he dare to open his eyes. Roadhog was holding him, his ponytail of white hair singed. The biker slowly released him as the two looked at each other, panting hard.
“You came…” Lúcio murmured.
“You’re too fast…barely made it before he shot you…” the bigger man rumbled, retracting his hook, which was thick with, presumably, Sharktooth’s blood, “…where’s Rat?”
Lúcio drew a breath sharply, tearing himself away from Roadhog and skating frantically around the smoldering server room. Many of the other objects in the room had been blown to bits, especially those closest to the explosion. Only two servers, including the one he and Roadhog had hidden behind, remained. The metallic smell of blood hung heavy in the air, and Lúcio could not distinguish if it was his, one of the dead Standover Men’s, or…
“JAMIE!” he screamed, the sound raspy from how much he had been yelling, “JAMISON!”
He spun around on his skates, looking for something, anything, to indicate Junkrat, his Junkrat, was okay.
“JAMIE! JAMIE! ” he cried out, voice breaking as his eyes welled up, “God, no…please…”
There was a faint moan. Lúcio pricked his ears and bolted towards it - it was coming from under one of the server boxes that had toppled over.
He pushed the debris away. There was a shred of blond hair. He scrabbled more at the rubble, uncovering Junkrat’s face. He was pale, covered in scratches, eyes heavy-lidded.
“Jamie, oh god -! Roadie, help -!”
Lúcio strained to push up the server, ignoring the intensifying pain in his gut. Roadhog appeared at his side, helping lift it up as the DJ yanked Junkrat out from under the weight. The Aussie was in a horrendous state. His whole body slick with blood, his prosthetics shattered, his flesh arms and legs bent in the most awkward and sickly positions. Like a doll that had fallen into the hands of a sadistic toy destroyer. There were wounds of various sizes all over him. Far too many. The only indication he was still alive was the rise and fall of his chest, fast and shallow, and the soft noises pushing themselves out of his mouth. Agonized gasps and groans, like the ones on the battlefield when he was in critical health.
“No…no, no, no, nononono, Jamie, please, please, you can’t, please -!”
Lúcio grabbed instinctively for his Sonic Amplifier and felt his hand clench nothing but air. He realized, with a poignant fear he had never felt before in his life, that his nightmare had come to fruition. He could not heal someone he cared for. Voices rang in his ears, begging for healing. Asking him why he was letting them die.
Roadhog gripped Lúcio, trying to pull him off of Junkrat, but the DJ protested, screaming and kicking and refusing to be torn away from his friend. It was only when Roadhog’s big hands gripped his chest and set him aside that he went limp, sobbing hopelessly. Lúcio felt crushed. His friend was dying and he could do nothing about it. Nothing.
The biker, however, was not giving up yet. He untied his mask quickly and covered Junkrat’s face with it before taking out a can of Hogdrogen. It was just one, but it was enough. He secured it to the filter on the mask and turned, letting the yellow clouds of healing gas flood the interior. Junkrat’s chest inflated almost comically wide as his flesh fingers spasmed a little. Some of the wounds slowly patched up.
“Junkrat -!” Lúcio gasped.
“It’s not gonna heal everything,” Roadhog rumbled, his voice clearer without the mask. He reattached it to his face and picked Junkrat up. The blond was breathing a little better, but it was labored, and he was still gushing blood from the bigger gashes that refused to fully sew themselves shut, “We have to get him back. You too. Come on, hurry.”
Roadhog lurched to his feet, holding Junkrat with a tender gentleness that seemed impossible for such a behemoth of a man, and began lumbering along quickly back to the pod. Lúcio moved to get up as well, then gasped loudly in pain, clapping his hands to his stomach. Something sticky gathered at his hands. He looked down, breathing growing faster, as he saw his shaking fingers were slick with red.
He was bleeding out.
The panic over Junkrat had briefly allowed the DJ to ignore his pain, but now that he had even slightly relaxed, it was back, and it was pure, unbridled agony. Lúcio gritted his teeth, forcing himself to stand. It hurt, fuck, it hurt. He wanted to collapse and curl into a ball, waiting for Mercy to heal him, to make it go away. This hurt more than any wound he had ever sustained, in the training simulations or otherwise. Searing, shooting pain that felt like he was being torn in half.
He moved, taking the first step, bent at the waist and with his hands pressed against his stomach to try and provide some sort of pressure. The gliding of his skates helped, allowing him to use less energy per step, but the surging agony that came with each movement of his muscles was destructive. He could feel the base of his tank-top was heavy with blood, his armored thighs coated with the stuff. He just wanted to sleep. He was so tired.
You have to keep going. You’re almost there. Mercy will take you back and fix you. You have to keep going. For Jamie. Keep going for him.
Lúcio’s breathing was heavy, his vision starting to swim again. His movements by now were automatic in a way, driven by some deep instinct in his core. He could faintly see the ship. He was close. He had to keep going. He briefly saw his own red handprint on the frame of the door as he slid in and sank into the seat next to D.Va.
“Go. Quick. They’re real bad, both of ‘em,” Roadhog was grunting, voice wavering just a bit. Just enough to indicate he was losing his composure, out of fear. Mercy nodded firmly, putting the rescue pod to max throttle as they rose up and shot towards the base.
“Lúcio, oh god…!” D.Va burst out, gripping the DJ’s shoulders as she looked at his stomach. He could not even moan at this point, he was too tired. There was a faint numbness in his fingers and toes, and a chill over his body. Why was the air conditioning so high?
Mercy tapped the commlink button, activating it and waiting for a response.
“Winston repor -”
“Winston, tell Ana and Zenyatta to be ready, we have t-two critical patients and one who isn’t much b-better,” Mercy said, her tone’s evenness breaking.
“Oh no…I’ll alert them, and the team.”
“Hurry, we’re nearly there.”
“Lúcio, stay with me…! Mercy…!” D.Va urged, gently slapping Lúcio’s face to try and keep him grounded. Mercy did not answer, instead murmuring under her breath. A prayer.
Lúcio glanced down at his lap. Were the velvety seats of the pod always this red? He could not remember.
The ship landed back at the base. The team had swarmed to the launch bay, with Ana and Zenyatta waiting at the doors as Mercy had requested. Barely had the ship touched down before Roadhog stood up, pushing himself out. Junkrat’s breathing had started to fail again. Mercy hurried after the Junkers, calling to her fellow Supports.
“I understand,” the Omnic monk reassured, throwing his Harmony Orb on Junkrat and pulling him back from the edge. His breathing fixed itself a bit as the wounds began to reconstruct themselves, now with a more consistent, if slow, healing source.
Mercy turned to D.Va and Lúcio, paling at the sight of him.
“Take him first, Mercy, please, he’s…he’s…!” D.Va pleaded, eyes welling up.
“I know,” the angel said grimly, sliding her hand under Lúcio’s back and pulling him up to his feet before draping his arm around her shoulders, “Come on, Lúcio, just a little further…”
Lúcio made a faint noise that sounded like ‘Jamie’, head lolling to the side. He was struggling to breath at this point. Darkness was clouding what was left of his vision.
Reinhardt was the first to notice Lúcio’s condition - most of the other team had their eyes trained after the bloodied Junkrat. The elderly German made a horrified cry at the sight of his favorite healer.
“Lúcio…!” he gasped.
“Lú!” Tracer Blinked over, gripping the DJ’s other arm, “Doc, what happened?!”
“They’re all hurt, they’re all…all…”
Lúcio felt something in his throat. He felt himself cough instinctively, forcing a fluid, warm and tasting of iron, to push its way out. Tracer made a yelp, staggering back.
A nightmare. That’s all this is, a nightmare, Lúcio thought absently, before his legs buckled, slipping out of Mercy’s grip unexpectedly. He felt his head smack against the tarmac.
Darkness. Just darkness.
Thank you for reading the ninth chapter! Any comments/kudos are appreciated greatly. Please stay tuned for the FINAL chapter!
(Main blog: http://autumndiesirae.tumblr.com/)
After all this time, the final chapter.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Lúcio drifted into awareness a few times after collapsing. He faintly recalled seeing Mercy, soundlessly screaming, reaching down to him, Ana loading a syringe with healing Biotic juice, Zenyatta unrolling a length of bandages. But these were fuzzy, weak glimpses. For the most part, there was darkness. Silence, the kind that pressed hard against his eardrums, and darkness.
The first time Lúcio drifted awake for longer than a few seconds, he could only hear faint, muffled murmuring in the distance, the beeps of monitors, before exhaustion grabbed him after barely a minute and yanked him back under. There were no dreams, no nightmares, nothing.
It was not until the second time he came to that he truly, in the sense of the word, awoke.
He was tired, cold, and weirdly out of breath. His body felt heavy, especially his eyelids. It was as if they were lead pipes, pressing down against his eyeballs and refusing to move up. His body temperature also seemed lopsided, as if half of him was cooler than the other. Goosebumps formed on his skin as an inadvertent shiver coursed through him, making little prickles of pain form in his gut. His fingers twitched in the motion, feeling fabric beneath them, soft and cool. Something was draped over his body, some continuation of whatever he was blindly clutching at - a blanket, most likely. His chest felt stiff, as did his face when he moved his eyebrows weakly, trying to force his eyes to heed his will and open.
Lúcio lay like that for a long time, feeling things without opening his eyes. It took a great deal of effort to finally do so, feeling them burn upon being exposed to the air. A tear squeezed its way out, rolling down his cheek.
The first thing he saw was white. As his vision slowly sharpened, he could make out the square creases of the ceiling tiles. He must be in the infirmary, nowhere else was this white. His eyes travelled down, head tilting just a bit, and found he had been correct to assume his body was not evenly covered - his right arm was gently placed atop the sheets, the IV needle glinting up at him. A wave of nausea ran over him - he had never been good with needles. Another reason he had never pursued a job as a doctor. He blinked slowly, trying to get his left one, buried in the depths of the warm blanket, to move, but it just flopped uselessly around at first, faintly knocking against his hip. Once he managed to will it to behave as he wanted, he fumbled with the edge of the blanket and lifted it up a bit, viewing his chest. It was covered in bandages, as was his belly. The good kind, used in surgery. He rested his hand on it, running over the thick pads of soft cotton and polymer - smooth. The bumps of shrapnel were gone. He moved his arm up further, past his scab-coated neck, and pressed his hand to his head - there were smaller gauze pads on various spots on his forehead and cheeks, and one big bundle of bandages on the side of his head. Lúcio let his arm collapse down again, exhaling a little through his nose. He was achy, freezing, exhausted - but not dead. All things considered, he could be in a much worse situation. Like Junkrat had been in.
“JAMIE -!” he shrieked, lurching up into a sitting position, only for splitting pain to erupt on his abdomen. Hissing in agony, he fell back against the pillows, clenching his teeth.
Mercy, who had been sorting the medicine cabinet at the other end of the infirmary, whipped around and hurried over, holding her staff in one hand.
“Lúcio…you’re awake…” she said. She took his temperature and examined his vitals with the monitor.
“What…happened…?” Lúcio mumbled.
“What is the last thing you remember…?”
Lúcio wracked his brains and found himself thinking about the nightmarish state he had found Junkrat in.
“You both were. You were shot in the abdomen, and the bullet was lodged in your muscles. I’m surprised you didn’t black out from the pain…we brought you and Jamison back, and while I was taking you to the infirmary you slipped and fell. You really hit your head…we were worried there would be trauma…but you normalized after we began to heal you…after you were stabilized we surgically removed the bullet and the shrapnel in your chest…now you’re recovering...”
Lúcio shifted a bit.
“Can’t you just…?”
His gaze fell on her staff.
“I can’t just heal you, no…the biotic technology is good for repairing immediate injuries…long-term wounds, and loss of blood, it cannot fix…”
Mercy made a bitter smile.
“You and Jamison both. Nearly exsanguinated. Hana begged me to give you some of her blood - she’s a universal donor, you know - but she lost a lot as well from her leg…I couldn’t in good faith take more, even for her friends.”
“How are they…? Hana and Jamie…?”
“Hana has been conscious, she’s sleeping now…it’s about three in the morning…Jamie is the same as you. Stable, but weak. He…hasn’t woken up yet. Given his situation, it might take a bit longer.”
“Yes, Lúcio. You both will.”
Lúcio exhaled in relief.
“Do you want anything to eat or drink? Or do you just want to sleep?”
It seemed almost dirty to ask. After a month of barely having enough to drink and constantly fretting about where they would be getting hydrated, now Lúcio had food and water at his fingertips again, whenever he wanted. His mind drifted back to Karratha, and Schlockmeister’s rules about canteens.
Mercy brought him the cool, refreshing drink in a big cup. He gulped it down greedily, not sure when he had tasted water this good.
“Once you’re feeling up to it, we’ll see how your body has changed due to the radiation…now you should sleep…” Mercy urged. Lúcio nodded weakly, laying back in the soft sheets and almost immediately drifting off.
He awoke to the sound of soft chatter. Angling his head over, he saw D.Va sitting up in bed, quietly eating something that smelled delicious as Mercy asked her some questions and Ana poured her some hot tea. The gamer looked horribly morose and lonely. How long had he and Junkrat been out? How long had she sat there, glancing between the two of them and waiting hopelessly for one to wake up?
“…Hana…?” he mumbled, shifting a bit. She looked over and immediately perked up, a small gasp escaping her lips.
“Lú…! You’re okay…!”
He made a weak grin.
“Can’t kill this frog…”
She smiled wide as Ana came over, stroking Lúcio’s head.
“Good to see you awake, dear. Would you like something to eat?”
Lúcio’s stomach growled audibly and the elderly sniper chuckled.
“I’ll take that as a yes.”
She left to get some food as Mercy helped Lúcio into an upright position. He groaned in pain, his stomach spasming in protest, as he sunk against the pillows propping him up.
“I know it hurts…it’ll pass soon, the worst is already over…” she murmured, rubbing his back and gently using her Caduceus Staff to alleviate the burning. Lúcio exhaled softly as his body relaxed, looking up to see Ana returning from the nearby kitchen, with a small bowl of tomato soup, an oven-baked dinner roll, and some more hot tea. Lúcio found himself cradling the bread in his hands as he ate it, the chill of blood-loss slowly lifting just a bit from the warm meal. Even so, he could not bring himself to finish the soup. His stomach seemed to have shrunk to the size of a quarter over the past month, and this little tray, to him, seemed to be just too much food. As he cuddled the tea mug and sipped the dark Earl Grey with honey, he absently wished it was someone’s hand. Junkrat’s hand.
He and D.Va talked as they ate, voices soft to avoid disturbing the still-sleeping Junkrat. He was quiet. No snores, no moans, just the soft inhales and exhales of a sleeping man and the occasional creak of the bedsprings beneath him as he shifted a tiny bit. Lúcio bit his lip, hoping everything would be okay. Mercy had said they would all be fine, but the nagging fear of losing the blond was still present. He was unsure if he could take having something else go wrong.
Dinner was spicy spaghetti, peanut butter cookies, and more tea, green this time.
“Only one each?” Mercy asked, looking at the little trays, “I thought you made more, Ana.”
“I did,” the sniper grumbled, “But a certain peanut butter lover ate them all.”
Lúcio chuckled, sipping the tea to help alleviate the gripping cold that kept returning to his body every hour. His eyes felt the tug of exhaustion, but Lúcio was not one to complain, watching absently as Mercy screened some blood from the other members of the team. Reinhardt had vehemently demanded that he help them, informing Mercy that he too was a universal donor, and she had begrudgingly accepted. The machine whirred and clicked as it speedily scanned the blood, listing on the small blue screen the various components - blood type, plasma count, insulin level, and such. After ensuring the quality, Mercy carefully began to administer it to Lúcio, hanging the blood bag up and gently slipping the needle into his right arm’s vein. He shuddered at the sight, looking away.
“You won’t feel the effects of this right away, but you will wake up feeling better,” she said, smiling gently as he looked with slight discomfort at the shapely bag of red.
“I’ll be sure to thank him once I can…” Lúcio murmured, glancing over at the napping D.Va.
None of the other members of the Overwatch team were allowed in besides Ana, Mercy, Zenyatta, and Roadhog. Lúcio could not seem to understand why she let him in, but given that he did nothing other than sit in a chair besides Junkrat’s cot and wait, he did not mind. Mercy would always bring him tea as well, rubbing his back with a gentleness that Lúcio could not seem to read.
On his fourth day of recovery, already with more color in his cheeks, Mercy began running tests to see his general state after being in the Outback for so long. Showing pictures and playing sound bytes, mostly. His memory seemed largely intact, if fuzzy due to exhaustion. On the rare occasion he seemed to blank out on a detail, Mercy’s gentle nudges immediately reminded him.
“Who says this upon using their ultimate?” she asked, before playing a little audio clip. ‘I’ve got you in my sights’.
“And what is his real name?”
“Aw, without my mecha, how am I going to stop his hacks?” D.Va asked, peeking over the top of her S-Tier monthly magazine.
“We will see if there is any way to rebuild your mech, Hana…I’m sure MEKA would be willing to re-issue you one, given the circumstances you lost it in.”
“They’d better, I am their top cadet.”
Lúcio had lost 50 pounds as well, especially around the waist and thighs, while his muscles had grown firmer. The main thing bothering the DJ was how filthy he was - Mercy was changing the sheets everyday as they were gathering soot and dirt from his hair and body.
“You will be able to clean up very soon. You’re nearly recovered,” she reassured.
D.Va had been let off, and the first thing she did was bolt to the showers. When Lúcio saw her later that day, she looked almost like a different person, fresh and clean and wearing her casual pink shirt, shorts, tall white socks, and pink sneakers. She had even repainted her makeup whiskers - if her hair had been long as it had been before, and she had not lost so much weight, she would almost look as if she had never left the team.
“Did you come here all nice and pretty to make me jealous?” Lúcio chuckled. She planted a soft kiss on his forehead in response.
Now that she was on her feet, albeit with a slight limp as she recovered from the shot she had sustained, D.Va was insistent that she help out in the infirmary, changing the blankets, bringing water to Lúcio, and supporting him when he started walking. The pain was largely gone, but as he took his first steps, he wobbled and swayed, dizzy from the rush of blood to his legs. D.Va kept him straight, holding him gently as he stretched and flexed a bit, getting a feel for his extremities and adjusting himself to being upright again. Once Mercy said he had done enough for the time being, he would wriggle back into the warmth of his blanket, shivering a bit from the cold tile that had been pressed up against his feet.
After a few days spent in the infirmary, Mercy did some final checks before granting Lúcio permission to return to his normal quarters. While she had done her best to patch up the wounds, there were faint pale scars here and there, and a purplish one on his belly where the bullet had gone in. D.Va commented they made the DJ look rugged and rough, to which he ruffled her hair amidst squeaky protests.
As he quietly undressed from his hospital gown into a white infirmary bathrobe in the shade of a privacy curtain, his mind drifted to Junkrat. As if it did not do that already, all the time. Unless Lúcio was distracted by something, he was always thinking of the blond, sleeping in a bed just a few feet away from him. He still had not awoken, except for once when he weakly stirred and murmured something along the lines of ‘Gerald, me bloke, the mouse”, before sinking back into sleep. Lúcio bit his lip and hoped - no, prayed - Junkrat would wake up soon. He missed their talks. He missed the feel of Junkrat’s skin on his own. Holding tea mugs in lieu of the Aussie’s hand was not nearly enough.
As he slowly made his way to the dormitories, gingerly taking his time with each creaking step of the stairs, Lúcio’s mind drifted from innocent thoughts of holding Junkrat’s hand and playing 20 Questions again to cupping his face, pulling him down into a kiss, feeling him melt into the smaller man’s embrace. He mentally slapped himself for this - they may be back at the Watchpoint now, but Lúcio was unsure if he could bear to possibly ruin their friendship with this confession. It was better this way, he told himself. Better to be just friends.
Something was nagging at him. Something dark and poisonous that made his chest tense. But he could not narrow down what it was. Just, something.
Lúcio unlocked his and Junkrat’s shared room, glancing around. It had been cleaned out by the other heroes, all his clothes neatly folded on the couch, their beds made, their floor vacuumed. Lúcio smiled faintly as he found his toiletries in their little bag on the desk, and his own robe and towel amongst his clothes, before toddling to the showers. They were empty, quiet, personal. He stripped, hanging his infirmary-given bathrobe on the hook, before turning the knob of the shower on, feeling the lukewarm water rush over his back. He let loose an exhale. Finally. Finally. One month of filth, grime, and God only knows what was finally going to come off.
He scrubbed his body first, wrinkling his nose at the dark brown water pooling at the drain. He painstakingly massaged every inch of himself with his loofah, taking extra care to massage his soapy fingers on his face, before moving onto his hair. He had to wash it three times over, working his fingers repeatedly through the matted dreadlocks, before the water ran clear. Then he grabbed his razor, briefly remembering with a wince the mohawk-bearing Junker of the same name, and shaved the excess hair on his face and such. Lastly, he squeezed a hefty amount of mint toothpaste directly into his mouth and brushed his teeth with a vigor that one usually reserved for pre-dentist visits.
For some reason, even when he had cleaned himself over at least twice total, he still felt hesitant to leave. Lúcio rested his head against the tile wall, letting the cool water run over his back. It truly felt like a luxury now. He felt this way after one month of not bathing - he could only imagine how someone like Schlock, who had likely not had a proper wash for decades, would feel in his position. He looked down at his feet and watched the water swirl away down the drain, blinking a bit when it got in his eyes.
Eventually he did shut off the shower, grabbing his towel and rubbing himself dry. He bent at the waist, gritting his teeth a bit at the brief spasm of pain, as he wrapped his wet hair in the towel and donned his robe. He felt light, fresh. As if on top of the 50 pounds he had lost in the Outback, he had shed a couple more from the washing. Looking in the mirror, he recognized himself. He was no longer some exaggerated caricature, like he had been when he had seen his reflection in Schlock’s bathroom. The Lúcio he was familiar with was gazing back at him. Granted, he was thinner, dotted with scars, and had a look in his eyes that spoke of the hefty turmoils they had gone through. But, even after everything, it was still him.
Lúcio returned to his room, carefully dressing. He did not want to ask where his old clothes were. They were probably unsalvageable. It felt good to put on a new pair of boxers and something other than that froggy tank-top and his leg armor. His joints still ached from being shoved in those hot casings for so many weeks. His sweatpants hung low now, sagging around his hips and exposing the striped underwear. Lúcio chuckled and gripped the band with his thumb, pulling them away from his waist and marveling at the gap.
“I could be in a weight-loss advertisement…” he said to no one in particular, before tightening the bow of the pants and pulling on a shirt. He sunk onto the couch, leaning against the plush and letting his head rest back. A vision swam in his mind of Junkrat doing the same thing, with D.Va nestled on his lap. It was such a distant memory, from a time when they were not friends. From a time before he developed this crush. Lúcio glanced at the cushion of the couch - the plushy fabric was marred by a stray soot stain, from Junkrat’s hair, that had been neglected in the cleaning process. He ran his fingers over it, a soft sigh pushing its way out of his mouth.
It was not a crush, he knew that much. Crushes were cutesy passing things, when one gazed on an attractive stranger and felt their heart swell a bit, or from people who found the mannerisms of an acquaintance cute. Lúcio had crushed on people before. They ended the same - with an unreciprocated confession of admiration, or some brief dating that fell apart after Lúcio uncovered that the person he had once been fond of had other poisonous flaws that made the affection he had felt erode.
What he felt for Junkrat was not a crush. It was love. The absurdly strong type that one would think was reserved for fairy tales and animated kids’ movies. The kind Lúcio had grown up seeing between his mother and father. The kind he had thought he never had.
Well, it was not like he had it now. He, and he alone, felt that way. He had no idea how Junkrat thought of him. He was scared to know. On one hand, Lúcio knew that there were signs that the Aussie may feel the same way - the kiss on his cheek, the hand-holding, the lean-in he may have hallucinated. But he did those same things with D.Va, sometimes. For all he knew, Junkrat was trying to express his friendship in a way he knew Lúcio would be familiar with. The sheer mortification of telling Junkrat that he loved him only to see a look of shock and disdain on his face made Lúcio’s heart sink. He was too afraid. Enough to be prepared to keep this swallowed down as long as he had to.
It’s better to just be friends.
Lúcio sighed, pushing himself up, freeing his hair from the towel, and moving to plug in his hairdryer. It was not like he could do anything now, anyway, Junkrat was -
Lúcio lurched, dropping the blow-dryer in panic and whirling around to see D.Va at his door, out of breath.
“Hana, what the f -?! I thought I locked that, why’re y -?!”
Lúcio froze, stunned.
She grabbed him by his wrist and tugged him after, bolting down to the infirmary. He ran after, ignoring the pricks of pain, before slowing at the doorway, looking in.
Junkrat was awake, sitting up slightly on a nest of pillows. His skin was pale and sallow from blood loss, and he was cradling a mugful of tea for warmth in his one hand, but his eyes were ever fiery. He looked up a bit at the two of them and glowed, grinning wide.
“Me best mates…” he cooed, allowing Roadhog to take the tea as he reached his hands - well, hand and stump - out to them.
Lúcio and D.Va were on him in seconds, all but crushing him under their hugs and smothering his cheeks with kisses. Junkrat laughed weakly, doing his best to reciprocate the hugs.
“Hey! Careful, you two -!” Mercy insisted, her and Roadhog peeling them off. Lúcio rubbed his wet eyes, overwhelmed.
“…what in the name of the GAFA did ya do t’yer hair, froggy?”
Lúcio blinked, reaching up to touch his locks, and became aware they had started to airdry, puffing out like a frizzy long afro.
“Uh…let’s not talk about that,” he said abashedly, making Junkrat laugh. The warmth in his chest was back the second he heard the sound. It felt good to hear him laugh.
He and D.Va sat with Junkrat for hours, talking and recounting what had happened as Roadhog and Mercy looked on. The angel piped up occasionally with details and corrections, but the biker was silent except for his standard heavy breathing. Lúcio found himself moving to hold Junkrat’s hand repeatedly, but pulling back at the last second. It was only when Junkrat gently lifted his arm up weakly, cupping Lúcio’s cheek, that he allowed himself to press his right hand over the blond’s, eyes welling up again. He had missed this.
When night came, Mercy and Roadhog forced them out, the angel reassuring them they could visit tomorrow.
“Damn...well, now you can go finish your hair,” she teased, tugging at the completely dry curls of his loose locks. Lúcio did not answer, looking back into the infirmary as his hand moved back up, to his cheek, feeling the faint sensation of Junkrat’s hand.
For the next few days of the Aussie’s recovery, Lúcio and D.Va were there from the time he awoke to the time he slept, making jokes or telling stories or helping the one-armed hero eat. Lúcio felt that telltale tightness in his chest - the same intense sensation he had had when they had been hiding out in the cave from the radiation storm and he had first recognized his feelings. The words clawed at his throat, demanding to be expressed, but he bit his tongue. Fear was too strong.
It’s better to just be friends.
“I’m afraid you may be stuck in here a little longer,” Mercy said to Junkrat gently on the fourth day, “Torbjörn is working on repairing Lúcio’s Sonic Amplifier right now, but he will start on your prosthetics soon.”
“Oh, tosh, angel, I can build me own arm and leg, I did it before,” Junkrat said with a chuckle. Roadhog made a snort but said nothing further.
“I would kill for a cuppa, though.”
“Tea? I can get some,” Lúcio said immediately, standing up.
“Not if I get there before you!” D.Va challenged, running for the door.
Lúcio chased her down, laughing happily, as they battled for who could prepare a full tea tray first. Ultimately they declared it a draw when neither was tall enough to reach the sugar on the top shelf and had to resort to asking Reinhardt for help. Instead of just getting the jar and offering it to the small heroes, the German senior happily lifted both up with his gentle hands, delighting in their thanking kisses on his fuzzy head while Ana looked on and chuckled.
Lúcio put everything together and carried the tea tray back, carefully adjusting the lid of the ceramic pot as he walked. The smell of lavender and bergamot floated up from the steeping leaves inside.
“Oh, shit, you know what we need? Biscotti! I know Ana had a box of the stuff, let me get it!” D.Va insisted, running to go get the cookies, “Don’t go in without me!”
Lúcio chuckled and leaned against the wall outside of the open door of the infirmary, smiling as he waited for her.
“…fucking mess you made.”
Lúcio pricked his ears and leaned in a bit, listening closely. Roadhog was speaking.
“You nearly died. What the fuck were you doing?”
“Rack off, Pigface, I did it t’save Lú.”
“He could have died in that blast too if I didn’t grab him. No one had healing besides me too.”
“He - I - listen, okay, I didn’t know what else t’do. I couldn’t let him die, he…he means too much to me…”
“You know that’s not a reason to throw away your life like that, Jamison…” Mercy’s voice joined the ensemble.
“Ya don’t get it! Of course it is! I would die for me mates a hundred times over! I couldn’t - ‘Tooth was gonna shoot him, that sunuvabitch! He - I couldn’t - whatever! It doesn’t matter, we’re all fine now!”
“You almost died. You were worse than the time you lost your leg. I nearly...idiot!” Roadhog snapped, “He couldn’t heal you. Neither could my girl. What if I hadn’t been there? What if you didn’t make it back?”
“Let’s not dwell on what-if’s, Mako…” Mercy said softly.
“I already said it!” Junkrat snarled, “I would die for me friends! I don’t care if ya take offense to that, Hog! It doesn’t fuckin’ matter, I’m fine, he’s fine, we’re all fine! Rack off!”
“You absolute -”
“Both of you, enough,” the angel insisted, stopping the conversation.
D.Va had joined Lúcio, holding a tin labelled as containing butter cookies.
“Here we go, I just hope this one isn’t full of sewing supplies, or… Lú? What’s wrong?”
Lúcio was reeling. The hot anxiety that had been brewing in his gut had resurfaced, and he knew why.
He couldn’t heal you.
Why didn't ya help me?! Why didn't ya save me?! I HATE YA!
“Dude, what’s the matter with you?”
The tray slipped from his grip, smashing to the floor and spilling hot tea everywhere as Lúcio bolted back to the dormitories.
“Lú?! Lúcio! What the f - LÚCIO!” D.Va shouted after him, but he could not hear. He slammed the door to his room shut and collapsed onto the lower bunk, sobbing.
He couldn’t heal you.
He heard D.Va banging on his door, demanding to be let in, but did not even acknowledge her. He was falling apart. It was like there was no distinction between being awake and asleep anymore, it was the same nightmare, over and over and over again.
He couldn’t heal you.
Lúcio did not visit Junkrat on the fifth day. Or the sixth. He just sat in his room, absently eating granola bars and staring at the wall. The warmth in his chest was replaced with burning. Shame. Regret. Fear. He had failed at his job. His role. He was a Support, a healer, and yet he had not been able to heal the one person he cared about the most. What kind of medic was he?
On the seventh day, D.Va managed to get Athena to override his door lock remotely, pushing her way in. She stood beside him, staring down at the bed he was laying on and folding her arms.
“What…” he mumbled, tightening his grip on the pillow that was already wet with tears.
“You know very well what, Lúcio Correia dos Santos.
“Whatever, Hana Song. Just because you say my full name doesn’t mean I’m gonna tell you anything. Go away.”
“You don’t have to tell me anything, I’m not stupid. I already know what happened. You think you fucked up.”
“I don’t think I fucked up. I did fuck up. I didn’t do my only job. I’m a healer, and I didn’t heal. I’m a fucking failure and I don’t deserve to speak to Jamie ever again.”
“You never act this upset when you spend matches on speed all game wallriding and knocking people into the Ilios well,” she said snarkily. Enraged, he sat bolt upright, glaring at her with bloodshot eyes.
“Goddammit, Hana, that’s not real! It’s just training! What happened in the Omnium, that was real! He could have died! He would have died if Roadie wasn’t there! I didn’t do what I’m supposed to do! I didn’t -!”
“Neither did I.”
Lúcio fell quiet, confused.
“When you got hooked. I should have flown in with my Matrix up. I could have deleted the scrap shot before it hit your chest. I could have prevented us getting forced to hide in that hole. I could have prevented Jamie selling himself out. I could have prevented us ever getting put in a situation where anyone could have gotten as hurt as we did.”
She sighed, rubbing her temples.
“But I didn’t react in time. By the time I realized what had happened to you, it was too late. You were already on the ground. It ate me up. I’m a Tank with the ability to protect my teammates, and I didn’t do that. And I don’t even have the excuse that my mecha was broken, whereas your Amplifier was dead. Razor destroyed it, you know that.”
Lúcio bit his lip.
“I…I didn’t know you…felt that way…”
“Because I could only get so far with self-blame, Lú. And you can only get so far with it, too. You can’t keep beating yourself up over it. Nothing will come of that.”
“I know. It’s your nightmare. The one you always have. And it sucks a buttload to see your friend get hurt and you can’t do anything about it. Believe me. But it’s okay now. He’s safe. You’re safe. I’m safe. We’re all back home, with the team. Nothing else is going to happen to us anymore. Please, Lú. You have to move on. You can’t keep dwelling on the past, it will eat you up and tear you apart.”
She sat down beside him, rubbing his back. He knew she was speaking from experience, though he did not want to ask how many of her comrades in South Korea had fallen in battle and she had been forced to watch helplessly.
“I...okay, fine…I’ll move on…”
“And you need to tell him how you feel.”
Lúcio made an exasperated noise.
“Hana, I can’t, I -”
“You’re afraid he’ll reject you, because people in the past rejected you. Do it anyway. If he rejects you, fine, you know. If he doesn’t want to be friends after that, that would suck, for sure, but that’s life. It happens. But for all you know he feels the same way, and you will never know. Not unless you try. Tell him the truth.”
Lúcio swallowed, rubbing his arm.
“You love him. Love should be stronger than fear, Lúcio.”
He looked at her miserably before resting his head atop hers, breathing in the smell of her strawberry shampoo.
“…okay…I’ll do it…but I need time to think about what I’m gonna say.”
“Fair enough. But you haven’t talked to him in a while. He really misses you.”
D.Va kissed Lúcio’s forehead tenderly before getting up and heading out, leaving him sitting on his bed and thinking.
He did not go down for the rest of the day. He wanted to make the confession well-spoken. Lúcio was a musician, a song-writer, one would think he would be good with words, and yet for some reason they were failing him today. He was traipsing back and forth on the balcony in his socks and pajamas, rubbing his neck and trying to think.
Jamie, I really feel like I…no, that’s too weird…Jamie, I need to tell you something I’ve been hiding…no, no…Jamie, I need you to know I…no, goddammit, no...
Lúcio exhaled, rubbing his eyes and resting his elbows on the railing. He stared out at the night sky, feeling the prickle of misery in his eyes. He was so afraid. So afraid of what would happen. It was amusing. He had never felt a throb of nervousness when taking down Vishkar, he never felt more in his element than in a concert hall full of thousands of fans, and yet the seemingly simple task of saying ‘I love you’ made him shake, made his breath catch in his throat. Even if he could come up with the most nuanced, beautiful way of telling Junkrat how he felt, when it came time to look the Aussie in the eyes and say it, he knew he would fall apart. The words would get swallowed in his throat just like they had every single time before. This was absolutely useless.
Lúcio rested his chin on the bar, rubbing his face and feeling the hot tightness in his chest only increase. D.Va was right - he could not keep this to himself forever. But he just could not seem to find the courage. Every single thing that could go wrong just kept playing itself over in his mind, punctuated by the background noise of Roadhog’s comment. Who did he think he was, marching up to someone who might not even like him and announcing that he was in love? He would not at all be surprised if Junkrat just glared at him and said -
Lúcio’s eyes snapped open as he lurched up, wheeling around. It was Junkrat, standing in the frame of the balcony door, leaning on a crutch. He had not even heard the blond come up behind him, too consumed by his own depressed thoughts. D.Va had mentioned they had been trying to get him to move around a bit for some physical therapy, though it was much harder given that he had only one leg. He also still had bandages over a variety of places on his body. The fiery amber irises from the day he had woken up were dulled, filled with a deep sadness and loneliness.
“J-Ja…Junkrat,” Lúcio said, voice a little high-pitched, “W-what’re you…you should be in bed resting, you know it’s not good t -”
“Did I do somethin’ wrong…?”
Lúcio started, not anticipating the question.
“Did I…did I make ya mad? Or, did I say somethin’ ya didn’t like…?”
“Wh - no! No, no, not at all, Junkrat, not at all!”
“Then why won’t ya visit no more?”
Lúcio swallowed hard, painted into a corner. He turned, gazing out at the sky, not wanting - not able - to make eye contact with Junkrat.
“I just…I figured you needed some space, you know…I was…kinda smothering you...visiting everyday…”
“I liked that…” Junkrat murmured, voice ringing with honesty. Lúcio felt his throat growing tighter.
Say it. Say it.
No, NO, what will he think of you?
“I just…it’s nothing to do with you, Junkrat, I swear, I just…I really…I…”
Fuck, fuck, fuck.
“Please, tell me the truth, froggy, I don’t want to hurt ya…”
“Wh - no! You could never hurt me! If anything, I hurt YOU!”
Junkrat furrowed his brow.
Lúcio ran his hand back over his hair, strained.
“I...I couldn’t heal you. At the Omnium. It just - it’s eating me up. I was so scared I would lose you. If Roadie wasn’t there, you could have died. And it would have been my fault.”
Junkrat shook his head.
“Ain’t yer fault, mate. Now you know how I felt when we were stuck in that hole and ya had a fever. Nothin’ that happened out there was anyone’s fault but mine. If I hadn’t broken the map, we would never have fallen and none of this shit would have ever happened.”
“You’re still -? That wasn’t your fault, Junkrat.”
“Yeah, it was, and I would lay down me life for me friends for puttin’ ‘em through that hell.”
Lúcio swallowed hard.
“You can’t say that, man, you almost died!”
“ You almost died. ‘Tooth was gonna kill ya. I was…I was so scared…I couldn’t lose ya, I couldn’t live with meself if ya died…no one cares about some Aussie vermin, but I couldn’t tear ya away from Overwatch, from yer family, from Hana, from everyone else.”
“Wh - no! I care! I care about you! You’re not vermin, this is your home too! If you died, what about Roadie? Hana? Dgh, even me? What would we do? How could we cope?!”
Junkrat shook his head again, clearly refusing to believe that he meant anything to anyone. It felt like being punched in the gut to see him think no one cared about him, and yet Lúcio just could not say it. It was driving him insane to try and find another way to tell the blond what he meant to him without those three words.
“I don’t matter. Ya do. Why d’ya care anyway?”
“Why do I care?! Because you can’t just call yourself worthless and throw your life away because of someone else!”
“That don’t matter, froggy! What was I supposed t’do, just let ya die?!”
Lúcio gripped two of his dreadlocks in his hands, tugging them in frustration.
“Why don’t you believe me?!”
“No one would care if there was one less Junker in the world, mate! But you , you’re important!”
“I WOULD CARE!” Lúcio cried out, stamping his foot.
“Why?! Why d’ya care?! Why would -?!”
“BECAUSE I LOVE YOU!”
It burst out, hanging in the air. Junkrat stood stock-still, stunned, as Lúcio shut his eyes tight.
“Ya…ya wot…? But...but ya hated me...?”
“I did , I did hate you, I just thought you were this annoying self-centered prick who just likes to steal and blow shit up, but you’re not! The more time I spent with you out there, the more I understood who you were, and I…I just…I changed…! We became friends and then I just…I just…”
Lúcio sunk into the bench, putting his head in his hands as a choked sob worked its way out. His face and ears were burning hot, with embarrassment and fear.
“I’ve been trying to find a way to tell you…I’ve felt this way for a while and I just couldn’t find the words…and I was…I was so scared…so scared you wouldn’t feel the same and I just…I’m sorry…”
He felt his eyes well up with tears, scrubbing at his face. He could not bear to look at Junkrat, to see what his expression looked like. He was certain it was disgust, or disdain.
He felt Junkrat sink down onto the bench, next to him. Their legs a few inches away. An awkward, deafening silence hung between them.
Lúcio blinked in confusion, raising his head out of his hands just a bit. He was still not looking at the blond, staring instead at his socked feet.
“How long what…?”
“How...how long have ya…been…feelin’ that…?”
“...um…I realized when we were in the cave…but I think it...might have started all the way back in Karratha…I don’t really know…”
Junkrat cleared his throat a bit.
The Aussie drew a deep breath.
“I’ve felt that way for…a long time…longer than ya have, I think…”
Lúcio lifted his head fully, stunned, before finally looking over at Junkrat, whose face was scarlet and body was stiff as a board.
“No...I…I’d been...fuck...I’d been crushin’ on ya since…dunno…sometime after me and Hog joined Overwatch…I always thought I was…bein’ dumb…and ya hated me so I just…told meself to forget it…I had no chance…”
He swallowed hard.
“A-and when we fell, we didn’t get along at all at first and I just…I thought ‘well shit, this is sealin’ the deal, ain’t it…he’ll never ever see me as anythin’ but Junker trash’…but…but then ya started warmin’ up…and I was…I was so happy we were finally friends…I wanted t-t’confess and tell ya b-but then I thought I would ruin it…make ya hate me again…I was so scared...”
Lúcio chewed his lip, reminded of himself. He felt faintly like he was floating. Some weird sensation of relief and shock. Junkrat moved his left hand up, rubbing his neck.
“…but…” the blond glanced over, eyes shining with tears, “…ya really…really love me…?”
After a pause, Lúcio nodded, face hot.
The two sat in silence a bit longer, Lúcio trying to even out his breathing. Slowly, instinctively, he started moving a little closer to Junkrat. He felt the brush of his thigh against the taller man’s, felt him stiffen instinctively from the sensation. Lúcio willed himself to look up at Junkrat, who was not making eye contact, a deep blush spreading across his face to his ears and neck.
“Didn’t think I’d get this far, y-y’know?” the Aussie was babbling, amidst nervous laughs. His face a deep red now, which Lúcio found adorable, “J-just thought I’d…I mean…I really…”
Lúcio felt himself vibrate a little, a mixture of adoration and nervousness in his gut.
“I j-just…thought I’d...I mean I...I-I…”
Lúcio felt his hands move up, seemingly of their own accord, cupping Junkrat’s angular face and gently, slowly, pulling it down, as his eyelids sagged a bit.
The kiss was nothing like Lúcio had expected - it was better. Junkrat's lips were incredibly soft for someone with such rough hands and uncouth demeanor, and he tasted faintly of spice. One of Lúcio's hands traveled, finding its fingers tangled in those blond locks. Junkrat was rock-still under his grip, and for a split second Lúcio feared he would feel the sting of a slap across his face. He felt his eyes open a tiny bit, peering up at Junkrat, only to see his wide, stunned eyes slowly close as he pushed back against him, deepening the kiss. Lúcio almost burst into tears from sheer relief, so happy.
He knew Junkrat was at a disadvantage with one arm, so he scooted closer, purring when he felt the blond rest his hand on the small of his back. A single tear squeezed out past Lúcio's closed eye, rolling down his cheek. He did not want this to end. He wanted to stay like that forever. It felt like home.
Eventually, though, they had to break apart, softly gasping for air. Junkrat was decidedly crimson, shifting in place.
"I...oh, man..." he wheezed, as if in a trance. Lúcio giggled shyly, flustered.
"I guess I oughta...say I love ya too...make it formal..." Junkrat managed to say, overwhelmed. Lúcio held his hand gently, feeling him cling back.
"This turned out so much better than I expected..." the DJ said softly.
"Y-yeah, s...same here..." Junkrat stammered.
The two sat quietly together, Lúcio leaning against the blond's chest and listening to the rhythmic thumping of his heart.
Lúcio lifted his head.
"C-can we...do that again...? Gave me a right glow, that did..."
Lúcio smiled tenderly, pulling Junkrat down to kiss again. This time he melted into it right away, pressing closer and moving his hand up to the space between Lúcio's shoulder blades. Wrapping his arms around Junkrat’s neck and gripping him securely, Lúcio pulled him more into the warmth. Lúcio could not help it - he felt himself opening his mouth just a little, greedy. Junkrat took right to it, mouthing at him with a fervor that made Lúcio wonder if he had practiced. He could feel the months of pent-up sexual tension flooding out as Junkrat shifted a bit, kissing along Lúcio's jawline and down to his neck.
"God, you're so pretty..." he moaned, voice breathy as he kept kissing and mouthing at Lúcio's neck. The DJ bit his lip, feeling his hands moving along Junkrat's chest, exploring every groove and detail. A soft noise worked its way past his lips as the blond nipped at him just a little.
"Ya wanna...take this inside...?" Junkrat asked huskily.
"But you're still recovering..." Lúcio said worriedly, looking down at him with concern.
"We'll be gentle, I...I just...I need ya..." the Aussie pleaded, amber eyes shining. Lúcio was weakened, knowing he felt the same.
"I do too..."
Junkrat pushed himself up, grabbing his crutch and struggling to get to his feet. Lúcio supported him before all but impatiently giving up and scooping the blond into a bridal style hold, carrying him back to couch inside despite his embarrassed protests. He silenced Junkrat with another kiss as he set him down, crawling on top and running his hands over the broad shoulders.
"I love you..." Lúcio murmured against his lips, feeling the best he had felt in months, lost in the quiet bliss.
"Love ya too..." Junkrat whispered, tugging him closer into a warm embrace.
No one bothered them. Not Mercy or Roadhog, who has fallen asleep in the infirmary, cuddling against each other. Not the other heroes, who were all either in their rooms or lurking in the cafeteria. Not even D.Va, who woke up and wandered down the hall to use the bathroom and pricked her ears to the soft noises coming from their room. She just smiled a wide, knowing smile.
“I’m not! Lemme see!”
“Let me seeeeeee!”
Lúcio and Junkrat lifted their hands from D.Va’s eyes. She squinted a bit from the sun, then gasped loudly at the sight before her. A Junker variant of her mech, painted orange and adorned with spikes, towered over the three.
“OH! OH MY GOSH, IT’S PERFECT!” she squealed, scrambling over and hopping in, testing the function of the joysticks.
“Hog and I built it all ourselves!” Junkrat said, puffing his chest out proudly.
“And I provided coffee breaks,” Lúcio added with a smile.
“And ta for that, froggy,” the blond purred, placing a gentle kiss on Lúcio’s forehead. The smaller man leaned against him, at ease.
Roadhog and Mercy were standing nearby, the angel holding a tray of cold drinks while Roadhog rested his hand on her back. All of them watched as D.Va gleefully explored her new mecha, beaming happily as she stomped around the courtyard.
“Are you packed yet, meine Lieben ? We’re heading for Karratha tomorrow morning to drop off the water for your friends.”
“Almost done, just gotta get the last few things together,” Lúcio reassured, stretching his arms up.
“Ya have too much stuff, froggy, ya gotta pack light, like me!”
“I enjoy wearing lots of different clothes sometimes, Jamie,” the DJ chuckled, extending his hand. Junkrat slid his in, their fingers intertwining as they watched D.Va play. He felt himself leaning against Junkrat’s shoulder again, the blond reciprocating by resting his head down on top of Lúcio’s. He was warm and happy, held lovingly in the blissful touch of his boyfriend.
Thank you all for reading the tenth and final chapter.
I had a wonderful time writing this project for everyone - the past four months have been an absolute blast. All of your comments, kudos, support, etc, are all incredible and I appreciated all the feedback. This was my first multi-chapter fanfiction on AO3 and my first fanfiction in the past five years or so, and given how nervous I was going into the project, I came out with a wide smile. Thank you all for coming on this journey with me.
I will be writing more fanfictions, both one-shots and multi-chapters, in the future - I already have one planned. Feel free to follow http://artumndiesirae.tumblr.com/ for updates on my writing (main blog: http://autumndiesirae.tumblr.com/), or just pop into my AO3 profile.
Thank you all again.