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Old Soldiers

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"He's gone?"

Laticia Delgado frowned as Gabe nodded.

"Surprised?"

"A little. I... it's..." She scratched at her head, concentration clear on her face. "He always acted like he was going to be... like he wanted to make us into something. I didn't think he'd just ... bolt, like that."

"He was always good at building a team," the former Blackwatch commander agreed. "Maybe he hoped to build one with you?"

"Maybe," she granted. "He..." She looked down, to her left. "He had a way of making you feel like... he was in charge, sure, but that he cared. That he'd take care of you." She looked back up. "But he was never one of us, you know? He..." She grunted, frustrated. "He always stood back, a bit. I thought it was just being a commander, yeh?"

"Some of it's exactly that," he confirmed. "You have to keep some distance."

"I know, but..." She stopped, and shook her head, clearly conflicted. "I kind of... liked him. But he... but then..."

"But then, Araceli."

"Yeah," she muttered. "Then that."

"Not having second thoughts, are you?" The old soldier gave her a sympathetic look. "You don't have to be there. Our friends can take care of this. They have," he chuckled, a bit grimly, "...experience."

She shook her head. "No. I'm just..." She set her expression and hunched her neck a little. "I guess I'm glad he's run. I mean, he's... away from my gang now. He's away from my friends. We can take him down and it's..." She stood up, suddenly, pacing. "They're good. They've, we've got ourselves out of all kinds of scrapes. And they can take care of themselves, believe me. But..."

She thought of Araceli's face melting, dissolving, into the monster that was Jack Morrison.

"...not against somebody like this. With them out of the picture... I know they aren't gonna get hurt now, you know? I might, but they..." A scowl crossed her face, and she stopped pacing. "This is out of their league."

Gabriel Reyes gave her a considering look. "Yeah," he said. "It is."

"It's out of my league, too. Isn't it."

"A week ago, I'd've said yes," he granted. "Now... honestly, I'm not so sure." He leaned back on the bench, with more than half a grin. "I like the way you think, kid, you know that?"

Laticia Delgado snorted. "I'm not a kid."

He raised an eyebrow - "When you're as old as I am, everybody's a kid" - and checked his watch. "They're gonna call us, soon. Brainstorm, try to figure out where he might've gone. I'm supposed to keep some distance between you and them, but I could push back if you want in on this."

She looked back and forth, a little, as she thought.

"Yeah," she said. "Push back. I might have some ideas."

-----

"Amélie?"

Widowmaker turned to the doctor, and gave her a little bit of a smile, perhaps a little bit more than she meant to, or thought she would, particularly given that not the slightest bit of it was anything less than entirely genuine. "Yes, Angela?"

"Do you have a moment?"

"For you?" The assassin gestured to another seat in the small room she and Lena had taken up as a remote office. "Of course."

"Thank you," Angela replied, as she closed the door behind her and sat down.

"Have you and Sombra had any breakthroughs in determining how to find and destroy that unfortunate video of the Captain's?"

"A little," the Swiss woman replied. "Now that I've given her better images of Ana, she's able to search more effectively for any sightings. But..."

She frowned.

"Have you considered how we got here?"

"I consider everything," the assassin answered, a you-know-better smirk on her lips.

"Of course. And I know that - if you're right - this has become important, now. But..."

"But... it didn't have to be?"

Angela hesitated, and then frowned her agreement, looking down, looking up, nodding at nothing in particular. "If... if Gabriel hadn't brought in that photo, if Lena had... just left Jack alone... none of this... none of this had to happen, did it?"

The spider smirked, but there was fondness in it. "If everything was completely different, then everything would be completely different, I think you are asking, no?"

"No," Angela replied, sharply, reconsidering it even as she did. "But... fine. Perhaps. But it's still true. Jack could've still been dead, as far as the world knew. Ana, as well. Eventually, he would've actually died - what he is would not prevent that, I don't think. Honestly, I am astounded he is still alive. The mice and rats did not last very long, but... well. He is human, and I cannot be sure of everything, regardless."

"I see," Amélie said. How... interesting, she thought. Perhaps that would solve our problem, eventually. But he'll last long enough, despite that.

Angela plowed ahead, heedless of Amélie's thoughts. "Instead, the Overwatch project is endangered almost as soon as it's been reborn. Jack has almost killed Lena in view of Ana, who almost certainly recorded both that and her revival, and might expose Talon and Overwatch both, and has... what she said to Fareeha, it is unforgivable, and..."

"And Lena is entirely willing to kill both of them, and eager to kill one, and you don't like thinking of her as being... like that. Like me."

"I..." The doctor sighed, and closed her eyes. "I... do not. I do not deny what she is - what you are. And I've never denied that I have also been a soldier, of sorts."

"It is not the same," the assassin stated, knowing it was not.

"It isn't. I like to... play one, with Fareeha. I joke about the Swiss military, and how we are all trained - and we are - but... now, we are here, and almost ready to move, and..."

"I understand, I think." Améliie gave her a thoughtful look, and leaned back, a bit, in her chair. "I can't tell you if he would never have begun to matter, eventually, even had none of this had happened. But..." She allowed herself a little bit of a laugh. "How many people would Jack have... absorbed... keeping himself alive, until he died? How many would he kill, or would Ana kill, trying to kill him?"

"We can't know."

"Similarly, we cannot know this. We cannot know how it would've gone, had Gabriel, and Lena, done nothing."

The doctor frowned. It seemed valid to her, but...

"And most of all, as far as I'm concerned - had none of this happened, would Fareeha have accepted your gift? Would I have received mine?"

Mercy shuddered, and closed her eyes. "...I know."

Ah, the spider smiled. There it is. She stood up from her small desk, walked around it, and knelt beside her friend, and, once, a little more. "Angela?"

The doctor looked up, eyes open, again.

"You do not need to feel guilty that you have benefited from this."

"But I do. I'm... all this has..." Angela shuddered again. She was so happy about everything Amélie mentioned, but the reasons, the why it had happened... it hurt. "It all hinges on killing - on assassinating - someone, Amélie. Someone who... used to be a friend, even if he has become something else. It's not what I am. But... Lena, and... you..."

"It depends upon assassinating someone - stopping someone, permanently - who has killed hundreds. Many, many people would consider it no less than overdue justice. You seemed to agree with that, back in... back at our previous stop."

"I did. I thought. As... as far as it goes. As long as we can spare Ana. But even if it's just him, I can't look away from what I'm doing. I won't."

"Knowing what Jack is, can you live with there being only one way, really, to stop him? Can you not live, after all, with that? Does benefitting from it make it so much worse?"

"It's hard. Everything I've ever done has been about stopping death, not about... dealing it."

"I know. But you will save lives, by helping us end his."

"That's different than... perhaps it is hypocritical of me," the doctor granted, "but it is different to helping do it."

"And yet, you were a field medic for Overwatch."

"And not for Blackwatch. Ever. That was why."

I see, Amélie thought. So she did draw that line, before. At least, insofar as she knew.

She reached over, and took Angela's hands in her own. "I wish," she said, after a moment's hesitation, "I wish... our world was more... compatible, with your ideals. I wish the lines could always be so clean. That my art, and Lena's art, were not so necessary."

Angela managed a sad little smile. Somehow, she thought, that helps. "Thank you. So do I."

"It is nothing. Talon is... pragmatic, in our own way. Gérard and I were even more so, which is why I know he would've understood what I did." She sighed. "This is the world we have, and we do what we think we must, for the best. But that doesn't mean I can't admit... sometimes, I wish, perhaps... that it wasn't."

"Even though... it is."

Amélie nodded, resolutely. "Even though it is."

"I've missed you," the angel said, looking into those golden eyes.

"I've missed you," her friend replied, those eyes soft, and warm.

"Let's not let it happen again, shall we?"

The blue assassin smiled a most un-spiderlike smile. "Never."

-----

"So you think you might know where he's gone, then?"

Lena looked at the young gangster sitting next to Gabe, across the display, her own image and voice disguised via software. Amélie sat across from her, at the same table, at her own display, her voice and image similarly distorted; Angela and Sombra watched, out of camera view, across the room.

"Not exactly. But he's got someplace down south." Laticia leaned forward, her image and her voice not disguised at all. "He never said where, but it's somewhere people won't go, and won't be found, at least, not easily."

"People stay away on their own?"

"I think so. And he can't be spotted from above."

Sounds about right, the junior assassin thought. "Well, it's a start. I don't suppose you have any more specific ideas..."

"'Course I do. But I want some promises."

The younger assassin smiled. "Fair enough. What?"

"I want in."

Lena blinked, surprised, face quizzical. "Wot? You want in with us? We're not recruiting, luv."

"No," the gangster dismissed, "I want in on taking him down. I want to be there. I want a shot."

Oh, Lena thought, unhappy at the suggestion. "Nope. That's for me. I've owed him for more, and for longer."

"You owe him for more? What do you know about it? He was on my side, and killed my last family."

Venom growled, now angry. "Yeh, well, he killed my..." she started, before biting her lip, stopping herself. No. She looked up at Amélie, across the table, who'd tilted her head just a little bit, her hands under her chin, giving her one of those looks, and Lena understood, Professionalism, she thought, and nodded. Control.

"You aren't us, and you aren't going to be - so you have to stay with Gabriel. Got that?"

Laticia nodded, knowing that few people who saw Talon agents in the field ever lived to tell about it. "Got it."

"But if your information checks out... then... if you get a shot... we won't stop you from taking it."

"If we're both there, I want to fire first."

Then I'll have t'make sure that doesn't happen, Venom thought. He's mine. But aloud, she said, "Then you can fire first. Deal?"

Lena watched as Gabe leaned in, and spoke, quietly, off microphone, with the Los Muertos gangster. She tracked Laticia's eyes as they flicked nervously from Gabriel, back to the camera and screen with Lena's distorted image, and back, and eventually, she nodded.

"Deal," she said, a little reluctantly. "Okay." She straightened a bit in her chair. "Here's what I know."

-----

"What," Venom asked, eyes alight, "is that?!"

Angela snorted, adjusting the 'horns' on her headset, securing them down into place. "You don't like it?"

"Gordon Bennett, there's a tail. There's a tail!" The assassin turned, calling down the hallway. "Amé, Sombra, c'mere - you have got to see this!"

Amélie arrived first. "What is the matter, aren't you..." She blinked, seeing, and smiled. "That... is a delight."

Sombra trailed in, behind her, and beamed. "Ah, la ángel - a demon? Or..."

"A devil, if you are to be particular about it," the Swiss doctor said, thinking, and if I am to be honest about it, as well. "A surprising amount of this is my basic kit, with the camouflage modes reprogrammed."

"I adore it," Lena said, finally finding her voice again. "Didn't think y'had it in you, luv!"

"I did," Widowmaker said, a knowing smile on her face.

"I could hardly go into this with my Overwatch colours, now could I? I can at least pretend someone has..." - she whirled her staff around, careful not to scrape it against the ceiling or floor - "stolen, or perhaps reverse-engineered, my technologies. It's far from a perfect solution, but..."

"I think it's pretty great, luv. And absolutely, I get it."

"You know, conjita, I have a lot of makeup, including temporary hair dye... want me to make the eyebrows match the rest?"

"Would you?"

"We have time, rápida?"

"Can you do it in ten minutes?"

"I can make her into a completely different person in ten minutes."

If only, Angela thought.

"Brilliant!" Venom chirped. "We'll finish loading up, and meet you outside!"

Angela almost nodded, but stopped, as Olivia grabbed her chin. "No, no, none of that. Let me work!" The hacker grinned. "Trust me. You're going to look amazing."