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time can never mend

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“Eggs, check . Coffee, check . Milk, check . Sesame seed salmon balls, check . Grapes… not check.”

Reaper resists the urge to wraith through the shelves to the produce section. He’s kept his hood up and his form stable so far, so no one has noticed anything… off about him, and he’d prefer it stay that way. He grumbles under his breath, complaining about being forced to go grocery shopping when there are two others perfectly capable, and who also have completely solid bodies. Well, Widowmaker’s blue, so she’d draw no small amount of attention. If only Sombra managed to buy anything more than a few snacks and sugary drinks when she was told to go shopping… His grumbling draws the attention of an old lady loitering around the apples. He shuts up and continues to where he knows the grapes are.

They’re not there.

Widowmaker will absolutely kill him if he returns without her grapes -- it’s some French thing, he assumes. He looks around surreptitiously, as if the grapes had been moved sometime within the week since he’d last been here.

Only after he’s scanned every surface in the produce section, his eyes lock onto his target: there’s a man -- greying, mid-fifties -- walking towards the frozen aisle, one bag of seedless red grapes perched inside his little basket.

Reaper stalks him.

Not in, like, a creepy stalker-y way, okay? In a predatory way. But not predatory in the creepy sense. Like a wolf! He’s like a wolf, or a leopard, or some other badass carnivorous mammal that stalks its prey.

There’s something familiar about the man’s gait, he notices briefly, shaking off the feeling before it distracts him from his mission. The aching familiarity in the line of the man’s nose as he turns, in profile for only a moment -- no! Reaper cannot afford to let this mark escape.

The man stands motionlessly in front of the ice cream for over five minutes, if Reaper’s internal clock is to be trusted. Impatiently, he goes to the checkout, resolving to meet the man outside rather than prowl around the store any longer. He keeps an eye on the man the whole time, barely registering his total and absentmindedly swiping the company card, signing his name in a way that more resembles the logo of a death metal band than an actual signature.

Then, he stands outside the store, figure half-obscured by the shadows of an adjacent alley, reusable bags in a death grip in his left hand, and he waits.

He growls after seven minutes without any sign of the man, startling a young man walking by.

At the twelve minute mark, he’s debating whether or not to go back in after the man when he sees him exit the store. He can see the top of the grape bag peeking out of the closest bag, and his vision narrows.

The man is heading his way, and his trajectory should lead him straight past the alley if he doesn’t make any sudden changes. Reaper tenses before he feels a familiar calm wash over him, ready for battle. When the man reaches his closest point, he strikes, reaching out like a viper to grab the man’s arm, drag him into the shadows.

To his surprise, the man doesn’t make a sound, but he does fight back. An elbow to the face takes Reaper by surprise before he can wraith out, and he stumbles backward, grabbing his nose and hissing.

“Maybe that’ll teach you not to rob old men,” says a gruff but commanding voice.

“I’m not trying to rob you ,” he spits, “I just need your goddamn grapes.”

He looks up to see the man raise an eyebrow.

“So, you’re trying to rob me of my grapes,” the man says, deadpan.

Fine , whatever. Could I just take those grapes?”

The man crosses his arms, bags still securely in his grip, and asks, “Why are you willing to go through all this trouble just for a bag of grapes?”

Reaper sneers, but then decides that maybe, maybe , diplomacy is key in this situation. Maybe. “I gotta friend who needs grapes, and you took the last bag,” he says. Then he adds: “She’ll kill me if I don’t get grapes.”

The man snorts. “Why’s your friend need grapes so badly that you were willing to rob a man for them?”

“Because she’s French!” Reaper throws his hands in the air. “And for the last time,” he advances, finger directed at the man’s chest, “I wasn’t robbing you--!”



“Shit,” Reaper says.

From his new vantage point directly in front of the man, Reaper can see his eyes, and he’d never forget those eyes -- startlingly blue, pointed at him confusedly now. He’s aged, of course, but the structure of his face is the same as he remembers it, and he can’t believe it took him this long to realize who this man is.

“Jack?” he says, voice so full of hope and longing that he doesn’t even recognize it as his own.

Jack’s eyes widen, taking in what little he can see beneath the hood. Reaper hopes his eyes are hidden -- he looks the same, mostly, maybe a bit more weathered than he was a decade ago, except for his eyes, the irises of which glow a steady crimson, while smoke swirls within his sclera.

“Gabe?” Jack’s voice cracks on the syllable.

Reaper feels like he might spontaneously combust, or maybe just vaporize completely and forever.

“What the hell,” he says. “What the hell! ” he hisses, wanting to yell but also not wanting to draw attention, so whisper-yelling instead.

“I thought you were dead,” Jack whispers, awe-stricken.

“Yeah! Me too! I thought you were fucking dead, Jack! ” Reaper throws his arms in the air again, spinning around helplessly, forces inside him warring over the contradicting impulses to turn away and to never stop looking at Jack. “What the hell! ” he whisper-yells again.

Gabe ,” Jack says, and Reaper looks at his face to find tears streaming down his cheeks.

Seeing Jack cry had never been easy for him, and it hadn’t gotten any easier post-mortem. “Oh, Jackie,” he says, gathering him up in his arms. To his surprise, Reaper feels tears on his own cheeks. He reaches up to swipe at them, bemused. He hadn’t even been sure he was capable of crying anymore. Well, nothing like the long-dead love of your life returning from the grave to kickstart the old tear ducts, right?

“Wait--” Jack stiffens, “your French friend.”

He pulls back, and Reaper lets him, pretty sure of where this is going and dreading it.


“Um.” Reaper chews on his lip. “Yup.”