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Chapter 1

Hana Song handed over her passport for the third and final time, waiting with an outwardly patient expression while the man behind the counter flicked his gaze between the passport photo and her face, back and forth. As though the image somehow didn’t look like her, despite being only a year and three months old.

The man flipped the page to her visa, studied it for a moment. Hana bit her cheek to keep in an annoyed sigh. Patience. Patience.

“What’s the purpose of your visit?” the man asked, still examining her visa.

“Business,” she said.

“The nature of your business?”

She knew that he knew the answer already, since the visa clearly stated the nature of her business. “Military,” she said, keeping her tone carefully polite. It was especially silly because this was the Gibraltar International Airport, where basically the only people who arrived were military personnel. With minimal exceptions, the only thing inside the state limits of Gibraltar were military bases.

“Where will you be staying during your stay?”

She stared at him for a moment, face blank while inside she planned a three minute rant about the absurdity of security theater, and the self-importance of airport security personnel. She blinked. Smiled. “At the Watch Point. On the base.”

The man finally stamped her passport and ushered her through to customs. She retrieved her bag, assured the customs agent that she had nothing to declare, then shouldered the duffel and made her way to transportation.

A woman in Overwatch blue was waiting for her with a sign that said “Specialist Song.” Hana followed her to the car, handed her bag over to the driver, then pressed her nose to the window to see the foreign landscape. Overwatch had been disbanded ten years ago, and reinstated officially some two years ago now. She had started hearing about its unofficial recall when she was seventeen and had just started in the MEKA program with the Korean government, along with six other pilots. Now twenty, she had more or less been traded to Overwatch by her own military in exchange technology developed by Zhou Mei-Ling, the famed Overwatch scientist who had spent nine years cryogenically frozen during the Disbandment.

Hana watched the rocky cliffs pass by and tried not to be bitter about it. When she had given up her civilian life for service to her country, she had never imagined part of that service would be to leave her home and serve the military organization that had failed it.

The view was beautiful.

She missed the skyline of Seoul.

A man wearing something between civies and a uniform was waiting to greet her as the car pulled up to the base. She got out, fetched her bag, and made her way to the strangely dressed man. He wore the dark blue pants of the redesigned Overwatch uniforms but something that she thought was a serape covered the white long-sleeve shirt that Hana presumed would normally go underneath a casual uniform jacket.

“Hey there, Specialist Song,” he said, his English thickly accented with a regional dialect sound that Hana guessed was American Southwest. “The name’s McCree.”

“Oh! Strike Leader McCree, of course. I’ve heard all about you,” she said, shaking his hand. “It’s an honor, sir.”

He smiled, scratching at his chin. “Well, that’s mighty kind of you. You’re something of a legend ’round these parts, yourself. If you’ll follow me, I can show you around, get you situated.”

Hana had to admit she was a little bit flattered. She certainly hadn’t expected Jesse McCree himself to escort her onto base. Or to call her a legend. She had been under the impression that the Korean government had selected her based on its own criteria, but perhaps Overwatch leadership had asked for her specifically.

Or maybe this was just McCree’s legendary sweet talking.

He showed her to her room first so that she could drop off the duffel. It was a simple room, twin bed, closet with a mirror, desk and desk chair in the corner. She shared a bathroom that had two sinks, a toilet, and a shower stall, with another woman, whose bedroom was attached to the other side. “Two people per bathroom?” she said, poking her head in and observing the other woman’s blue and gold toiletries. “Living in the lap of luxury.”

“The GEs share bathrooms and bunks, barracks style,” the Strike Leader responded. “Specialists and low-ranking officers have suites like these, and higher ranking officers have their own apartments. Come on, I’ll show you the mess and then we’ll get your credentials sorted.”

She memorized the route to the mess hall from her room so that she could find her own way, then trailed after McCree down to administrative offices where she was given a “badge.” The badge, as everyone seemed to call it, was really just a glorified ID card with a magnetized strip that granted her access to any of the facilities for which she had security clearance, as well as her bedroom and the common room on her hall.

“You’re to wear your badge clipped to your uniform at all times while you’re on duty,” McCree told her, moving his serape aside to show his own clipped to its underside. “Let’s see about getting your uniforms.”

The rest of the afternoon was spent doing chores and errands, and again Hana had to wonder why they had decided that one of their highest ranking commanders would be in charge of doing this with her. It seemed like something they should have put a sergeant or even just some random civie worker in charge of. She was fitted for uniforms, shown the laundry facilities and the common room on her hall where she could cook for herself if she didn’t want to eat the mess meals, then the gym and outdoor track for running. McCree made sure that her digital ID was in place, too, so that she had access to the holoscreens scattered throughout base, her computer, and her tablet. All standard issue.

Well, that wasn’t true. She had requested, and been granted, a gaming computer. She had sent along very specific requirements, down to the model numbers for individual parts, and her Overwatch recruiter had simply assured her they would see to it. Once McCree bid her good evening (reminding her that dinner was in an hour), she set about checking all of the hardware to make sure she had been given what she had asked for. Sure enough, it was in order.

Hana started the process of installing all of her games and apps that she needed for streaming, then sat back in her chair and looked around her new digs. Honestly, this was way nicer than what she had been given in Korea, but it all just felt so… foreign. To make it feel more like home, she unpacked her bag, hanging up her clothing and situating the few personal touches she had brought to decorate.

She pulled out her favorite picture, relieved the glass in the frame hadn’t cracked during her flight, and set it up on her desk. It featured herself and the six other pilots from the experimental MEKA program, each sitting on their MEKAs in some manner. Hana was laying on hers, hanging down the front of it, while her friend Seungah sat nestled in her MEKA’s arm.

Hana checked the time. 1804 in Gibraltar, so it was 0104 in Seoul. Seungah and the others were undoubtedly asleep, and Hana wished she could be, too. At least her streamer life meant she was used to strange hours and long days… maybe the jetlag wouldn’t be too bad.

Dinner was from 1800 to 1900, so she left her computer to update, changed into her casual uniform (blue pants, white shirt, no need for the jacket or hat since she was staying indoors), and made her way to mess.

She noticed him the minute he walked into the dining hall.

Hana was seated by herself at one of the long tables, facing the door, and wishing she had brought her own chopsticks to eat with. She was perfectly proficient with a fork and knife, of course, but she was maybe a little bit homesick. As she speared a bite of chicken onto her fork, she glanced up and saw a familiar face.

Well, familiar in the sense that it was plastered on posters and advertisements, not in the sense that she knew him personally.

Lúcio Correia dos Santos.

“Don’t freak out, Hana,” she whispered to herself, fork paused on its journey to her lips. “Don’t freak out.”

He was wearing the same casual Overwatch uniform as her and headed straight to the line to get a tray of food. She turned to watch him go by, surprised. Hadn’t he just played a concert in Copenhagen last month? What was he doing in Gibraltar? At the Overwatch Headquarters?

He disappeared behind the wall that separated the kitchen line and the rest of the room, then reappeared a minute later on the other side, tray in hand. He looked around the room doubtfully, and Hana’s stomach fluttered as their eyes met during his scan. He looked past her, then his gaze snapped back to her, his expression surprised. A grin spread on his face and he headed her way.

“Oh my god,” she whispered, turning back to her meal quickly, head in her hands. “Oh my god.”

“D.Va? You’re D.Va, right? The streamer?” Lúcio said, sitting down opposite of her and grinning widely.

“Uh… yeah?” Hana replied, dropping her hands and silently admonishing herself. Act normal, Song. Normal! “That’s me. Hana Song.”

“Oh, man, this is so cool!” Lúcio said, eyes squeezing shut with excitement for a second. “I’m such a fan! I love your streams. My favorite was the night you speed played that retro Mario Kart game all the way through, I watched the whole thing. You got first place every single race!”

Now Hana was grinning, too. “That was wild,” she agreed. “I was so tired at the end of it. Energy drinks kept me alive.”

“You were great,” he said. “Oh, sorry. I didn’t introduce myself. Lúcio—”

“Lúcio Correia dos Santos,” she interjected, cutting him off. “I know who you are. I have your album, I listen to it all the time. Oh man, can I get the rights to play it during a stream?”

“Hell yeah! I’ll contact my lawyers about it tonight, have them get in touch with your legal team.”

“Yes! Thank you! What game should I play with it?”

Conversation flowed easily then as they joked together about the best games to play with his album as the soundtrack, mostly suggesting horror and survival games because they’d be so incongruous with the upbeat, soothing sound of his music.

“How long have you been here? I haven’t seen you around before,” Lúcio said as their laughter at the game suggestions faded.

“I arrived just a few hours ago,” she replied. “It’s my first day here.”

“No way! Well, I’m glad you’re here. I’ve been here for three days and I haven’t really made any friends yet. I mean, I hope I can call you a friend? I know we don’t really know each other yet, but this has been pretty fun!”

“Yeah!” Hana agreed, nodding vigorously. “You wanna guest star on my next stream? New best friend Lúcio Correia dos Santos, suck it world!”

He laughed. “Hell yeah I do! But I don’t play many games, I don’t want to bring you down!” He looked like he was about to keep going, but something over Hana’s shoulder caught his attention. His cheerful expression faded, turning thoughtful, wary.

Hana studied his face for a second before glancing back to see what he was staring at. Lúcio’s gaze was fixed on an older man who was not wearing any kind of regulation clothing, but rather heavy black cargo pants tucked into heavy black combat boots, and a tight-fitting black shirt under a red, white, and blue leather jacket. Most striking was the mask and visor fitted over his face, metallic silver and red, making him look both angry and inscrutable. Above the mask was white hair and the top of what Hana guessed was a long, wide scar that would run right between the man’s eyes.

“Who is that?” Hana asked, turning back to Lúcio before the man caught her staring.

Lúcio shook his head. “Haven’t figured it out yet. He goes by Soldier:76, but I can tell by the way some people interact with him that he’s important. I’ve only seen him around a few times, but last time he was with Dr. Ziegler, Commander Winston, Commander Wilhelm, Strike Leader Oxton, and Strike Leader McCree.”

Hana whistled lowly. Besides Strike Leader Shimada, those were all of the biggest names since the reinstatement, at least in terms of the military operations. There were some famous scientists, too, like Torbjörn Lindholm and Hana’s personal hero, Zhou Mei-Ling. Most of the people who were in leadership positions of Overwatch were returning agents from before the Disbandment era, and were well known as heroes.

“Yeah,” Lúcio said, agreeing with the sentiment behind her whistle. “He clearly carries some weight here. Even with just three days here, I can tell something’s up. But I haven’t really started investigating yet.”

Hana nodded. “We’ll figure it out,” she said.

They said their goodbyes, Hana wanting to get to bed early since she’d been traveling all day and had an early orientation meeting the next day. Lúcio seemed to have the same orientation (or at least, they were both expected to check in to the main training room at 0730 after breakfast), so they agreed to meet up early and go together.

When she got back to her room, most of the installations on her computer were complete and she was able to run a few games, checking on her save data, before throwing a few messages out on social media to let her fans know that she would announce her next stream as soon as she knew her schedule and to expect a very special guest, then she settled into bed with her phone and sent a few quick texts off to her MEKA pilot friends for when they woke up. She made sure to brag about becoming friends with Lúcio, knowing her friend Ju Ho would be very jealous.

Double checking that her alarm was set, Hana finally turned off all her screens and lights, and settled in to sleep. Exhausted though she was, her nerves and homesickness kept her awake for a while anyway. At least she’d made a friend today, and the mystery of Soldier:76 promised to be interesting. These thoughts carried her into a deep, dreamless sleep, blissfully devoid of the usual nightmares.

Chapter Text

Chapter 2

On the morning of her second day in Gibraltar, Hana and Lúcio were sent with a group of recruits to do fitness tests. They ran five miles with heart rate and other vitals monitors. Hana, competitive to a fault, ran faster than she should have in order to beat one of the GE recruits who looked like he had been picked out of a soldier catalog. He had given her a dubious look during roll call, and that had been it. He was going down.

She made it back to base a full minute before he did, but not before Lúcio, who ran faster than anyone Hana had ever met before. They high fived, though Hana was secretly a little bit irked that she hadn’t gotten first place. Not that it was a race.

Then they had the rest of the tests, vision and hearing, flexibility, push-ups, lung capacity (assessed through jumping rope). Reaction time was Hana’s favorite because it had been set up as a little game, targets appearing and the recruits having to fire their pellet guns at them. Of course Hana got all of them, and the doctors made her sit out the second round so that the other soldiers in her group (including the asshole she had marked for slaughter earlier) had a chance.

By lunchtime, the whole group was starving. Hana and Lúcio sat together and grumbled about the fast, hard pace set by the sergeants and doctors, wondering what else they might have in store after the group was done eating. Instead of all of the heinous things they brainstormed, though, they were given an hour to rest before reporting to the medical wing for blood tests and measurements.

Finally, at 1600, they were sent to report to the Specialist Zone, or Spec-Z. They made their way there alongside the one other new Specialist, a woman from America called Tanya Williams, who specialized in explosives.

Spec-Z was an impressive part of the Watch Point campus, spanning two buildings, a shooting range, an airplane hangar, and a large field. Waiting for the new Specialists was the man Lúcio had pointed out to Hana at dinner the night before, Soldier:76.

“Survived Ziegler’s tests?” he asked them as they fell into line. They all nodded. “Good. Williams, you’re to report to Strike Leader Oxton. She’s in building B, room 210.” Williams nodded, said her farewell, and set off for B building at a trot.

“You two are with me,” 76 continued.

“And who exactly are you, Daddy-O?” Hana asked, folding her arms and frowning at him.

She thought the way his brow moved above his visor might have indicated a smile. Or a scowl. It was hard to tell. “That’s ‘sir’ to you,” he said gruffly. “I’m your new team leader. I don’t have a formal position in Overwatch, but Winston needs my particular… skills… for some upcoming missions. And yours, as well.” He rotated his shoulder as if it were stiff, an unconscious gesture that Hana silently noted, wondering if she could search medical documents for clues to his identity. A scar like the one his mask hid and a shoulder injury… maybe she’d get somewhere with that.

There was only another hour of time for training by that point, so 76 had them start with some basic shooting and team-based exercises. Lúcio wasn’t a great shot, but he would rarely be using his sidearm in favor of his sonic amplifier, a device that 76 mentioned casually but that Hana had never heard of before. Hana was pleased with her own shooting, using a small automatic blaster that she carried with her while piloting her MEKA in case she had to eject.

76 wielded a giant pulse rifle, something straight out of the Omnic Crisis. Hana had played the Omnic Crisis games and knew that this was the kind of gun used by the American soldiers who joined Overwatch out of the Soldier Enhancement Program. Another clue, filed away for later analysis.

Finally, it was dinner time, and 76 walked with them back to the mess hall but disappeared after fetching his meal.

“He can’t eat without taking off that mask,” Lúcio muttered. “Doesn’t want us to see his face.”

After dinner, Hana brought Lúcio with her back to her bedroom and they compiled what they knew about the mysterious soldier. He wasn’t a part of Overwatch officially, but he was going to be leading their specialized strike team. He was probably in his sixties, based on what what little of his face they could see and his white hair. He used a heavy pulse rifle, a modernized model of those built in the USA for the Soldier Enhancement Program.

“Do you think he was in the SEP?” Lúcio asked as they scrolled through images of the original heavy pulse rifles on Hana’s tablet.

“Hard to say,” Hana answered, tapping her lips thoughtfully. “He’s the right age and uses the right gun, but those guns aren’t specific to SEP veterans anymore.”

She flicked past another image, then went back. It was a well-known photograph from almost thirty years ago of Jack Morrison, Ana Amari, and Gabriel Reyes. The photo had been returned by her image search because Morrison had the older model of the same gun 76 used propped on his shoulder, a sunny smile on his face. Reyes loomed behind him, arms crossed, frowning at the camera, while Amari was tucked under his other arm smiling.

“It’s so sad, how it all ended for them, isn’t it?” she said, studying the faces of the now infamous three founders of Overwatch. “I mean, don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a lot of good feelings toward the original Overwatch or anything, but… look at them. They were heroes.”

“Yeah,” Lúcio agreed. “All of that original crew were incredible. I think Overwatch can be like that, again.”

Hana scoffed. “Unlikely,” she said. “How can a multinational organization with vague jurisdiction and a history of abuse and neglect, ever come close to what Overwatch was in its first years? A close-knit group of people who went through hell together for the good of humanity, before all the politics and infighting. That’s a special thing. It can’t be replicated by force.”

Lúcio shrugged. “Maybe,” he said easily, turning his attention back to the tablet.

It took less than a week for Hana to get herself in trouble with her new commander. Soldier: 76 was serious, focused, and grouchy, and Hana found it particularly rewarding to needle him, trying to get a rise out of the impassive man. She tested limits every way she could think of, from showing up late for training, to goofing off during her MEKA demos, to constantly running her mouth to see what he would do.

At first, she got almost nothing. She dropped the more obnoxious of the tactics quickly, knowing her efforts were making Lúcio uncomfortable and not getting payoff, anyway. But the sassing stuck around.

When they breaked for lunch on the third day, Hana made a wisecrack about 76 never eating with them.

“Kid,” 76 answered, “I trained McCree and Shimada back in the day. There is nothing you can try that those troublemakers didn’t do first.”

This was more personal information than he had let slip at any other point, though, so she was going to call her strategy a success. Surely 76 hadn’t meant to let that much about his identity slide. Lúcio was intrigued, too, and they spent their lunch hour digging into the histories and biographies of Jesse McCree and Genji Shimada, to see if they could find anything out about who might have trained them during their first rodeo with Overwatch.

“It’s all the same useless crap about their relationship with Reyes and Morrison,” Hana complained, tossing the tablet away from her in disgust and wolfing down a few more bites of mess hall lasagna. “Nothing new there, and nothing helpful since, you know, the big guys are dead.”

A few days later, 76 started them on drills with Hana in her MEKA and Lúcio trying out some healing settings on his amplifier. It was a strange sensation, to be taking damage from 76’s rifle while simultaneously enveloped in the healing aura of Lúcio’s amplified music. The things they could do with technology these days.

She mastered the basics of the drill quickly; it was like a game to her, a sequence of moves to execute to properly deflect pulse shots from 76 while protecting Lúcio from damage.

“Top of the scoreboard!” she said in her streamer voice as she ejected from her MEKA, flipping up and over its body to land gracefully in front of it, whipping out her cell phone for a quick duck face selfie. So retro.

“War isn’t a game, Specialist Song,” 76 snapped.

By now, Hana was tired of 76’s preachy mannerisms and lack of personal disclosure. He went on and on about teams and trust and missions, but never gave them any kind of information about himself. So she snorted a little laugh at his comment.

“Sure, gramps,” she shot back, getting the angle on her selfie right and snapping another shot. “That’s why you go by your screen name IRL, right?”

76 shook his head. “Damn kids,” he muttered. “You’ll put the mission in danger with that attitude.”

Hana rounded on him, suddenly angry. “Don’t treat me like a child,” she snapped. “I’ve been on the frontlines. I know what a battle is like.”

76 scoffed. “You don’t know jack shit about war, kid.”

She bared her teeth in a savage grin. “You want to test that out? My MEKA versus your outdated pulse rifle?” She tossed her head so that her hair flew over her shoulder. “At least I’m not living in the past, too stubborn to retire, too ashamed to show my face.”

He stepped into her space, looming over her. “Whatever you think you know about me,” he growled, “I promise you, you don’t understand what you’re talking about.”

Honestly, the man was intimidating, using his physical size and robotic looking face to scare her. But Hana had never reacted well to being intimidated. She stepped forward, too, almost nose to nose with the man. Well, nose to… mask. “I know you’re a Crisis veteran, and pre-Disbandment Overwatch,” she said. “I know you were probably pumped full of illegal chemicals by the American government when you were, what, nineteen? Twenty? No older than I am now.”

Judging by his face, she had hit a nerve. She pressed on.

“Tell me, Soldier: 76, what was it like growing up before Overwatch ruined everything? Was it nice, living in a country where the Omnics hadn’t leveled all of the major cities? Did you have both of your parents around, instead of being just another kid on the block with at least one dead soldier parent? How many days did you spend locked in your house waiting for reinforcements to help flush out robots hellbent on murdering you from your streets and school? Reinforcements that never came, by the way, because Overwatch was too busy jerking itself off over the Morrison/Reyes drama to be bothered to help.”

She reached a single finger up to his chest, poked it into the middle of his sternum, and pushed him away from her with a mild jab. Though he could easily have resisted, he fell back from her with the poke. “You answer some of those questions, and then we can talk about my ‘attitude.’”

She took a few steps back, called her MEKA, and boostered away.

She flew the MEKA up to a rocky cliff face overlooking the ocean, then sat it down, climbed out, and nestled into its mechanical arms to watch the waves crash onto the rocks below.

It was unlike her to lose her temper and run her mouth like that. Sure, she was always sassing someone, and she had very few boundaries for what she would or wouldn’t say as a joke. But when it came to keeping her cool with authority figures… that was something she generally had down pretty well. Usually it was like with the passport control officer the other day; outward calm, inward seething, eventual ranting on the internet to her followers and fans.

Shit. She was going to have to apologize. 76 was going to be pissed when she reported for duty in the morning, and she couldn’t really blame him.

A scraping noise followed by a grunt drew her attention away from the shore. She stood up on her MEKA’s arm, looking over the top to figure out the source of the sounds, only to watch first one gloved hand, then another, followed by a mess of white hair, peek up over the top of the boulder she had perched her MEKA on.

Okay, honestly, she was a little impressed. Not only had 76 figured out where she had gone, but he had apparently climbed his way up to her.

She raised an eyebrow. “Pretty impressive for an old man,” she offered.

“All those SEP chemicals had to pay off somehow,” he answered, surprising her.

She crossed her arms, eyebrows furrowing as he came around and sat down on the rocks next to her MEKA. She was still standing on the machine’s arms, debating whether to stay up high or to jump down to be on his level.

A sigh passed her lips and with it, she released the knot of anger still burning in her stomach. She hopped down and sat between the MEKA’s legs, leaning on the one farther from 76 so she could look at him.

“Come to make peace?” she asked.

He shrugged. “I’m too old to lose a good teammate to stubbornness.”

“So, you gonna tell me who you are?”

“Smart kids like you and Lúcio haven’t figured it out yet?” he asked, tone gently teasing.

Hana felt her competitiveness rear up. “Is that a challenge?” she responded, eyes narrowed.

He shrugged. “Listen, I’m not going to tell you right now. That hatchet was too hard to bury just to dig it up any time a curious punk demands to know. But you were right, also. I haven’t been giving you enough credit.”

“Is that an apology?” Hana said with a smirk.

He actually chuckled. “Sure. Yeah. I’m sorry.” A long pause. “Your turn.”

She drew in a deep breath, suppressing the immediate defensiveness. She knew she had to apologize, and he was perfectly within his rights to ask for one, especially right after she did so. “I’m sorry I’ve been a little shit,” she said. “To be frank, I’m always going to be running my mouth, so that’s not what I’m sorry for. But I’ll stop trying to make you lose your temper, and I’m… I’m sorry I lost mine.”

76 nodded. “Apology accepted. Like I said, I handled McCree and Genji during their angsty teenage years, I can handle a little sass.” He held out a hand. “Truce?”

“Truce,” she agreed, shaking. An itch of an idea was forming in the back of her head. Soldier: 76 couldn’t be… could he? But… wasn’t he dead? Still, besides the death thing, the facts seemed to line up.

This needed investigating. “I’ve got to find Lúcio,” she said, springing to her feet. “Good talk, Daddy-O.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 3

After Hana and 76 had their talk, practices streamlined to the point that Hana and Lúcio were regularly exhausted, leaving little time to investigate more into their new hypothesis about the masked soldier’s identity. Both Hana and Lúcio also had to give up much of their free time to keep up with their business ventures, responding to their legal and marketing teams’ emails and phone calls, and creating content for fans.

Lúcio appeared on Hana’s stream and they co-played a special, early-release demo of a new game that Hana had been paid to stream. The developers had been thrilled to offer Lúcio a similar payment for him to join the stream, which he donated to the favelas of his home city. Fans of both Lúcio and D.Va loved the idea of them teaming up, so plans were made for additional charity streams. Soon enough, they conceived the idea of sampling D.Va noises and phrases into a song, which would be free to download with donation options, the proceeds from which would be sent to educational endeavors in Korea.

With that much going on and their training getting surprisingly more intense, they were quite distracted away from their investigation into 76’s identity. But Hana hadn’t forgotten her hunch, the itch that tickled at the back of her mind.

When they finally had a day free from both training and business obligations, they had one thing on the mind.

Lúcio looked over the supplies they had gathered, spread out on his bed. Chips, energy drinks, cigars, cupcakes, notebooks, binoculars, and fake mustaches. The last being for fun, of course.

Hana yawned again, sucking down some coffee and rubbing sleep out of her eyes. “This better work,” she grumbled. “Otherwise we’ll have gotten up at five on our day off for no reason.”

“It’ll be something, at least,” Lúcio said, grinning at Hana’s disgusted eyeroll. She was not a morning person, and not an optimist. Maybe that was why they made such good friends.

He handed her a local comms set they had checked out from Winston’s assistant. The equipment was meant for agents to take on missions where other comm channels would be unsafe, but it was a slow week and Hana was good at getting what she wanted.

They packed up their bags and affixed their fake mustaches, then made their way toward the mess hall. It wasn’t time for breakfast yet, but they had yet to see 76 in the mess in the mornings, but he always had coffee cups that only came from the dining hall. The only explanation was that he showed up before anyone else to get his coffee and breakfast.

So they had a stake out to perform.

They were reasonably sure the old soldier would be by the mess hall soon, but less certain they could hide from him and successfully sneak up on him.

Hana and Lúcio set up under one of the tables with a view of the door and also of the kitchen line. It was out of the way, and there was no reason for 76 to look their way as he came to get his breakfast.

They waited there for twenty minutes before the lights came on and the kitchen line opened, the smell of eggs and sausage filtering its way out to their noses. A minute later, Lúcio tapped Hana’s arm excitedly, pointing urgently toward the door.

76 came in, side-by-side with Commander Wilhelm, the giant German gesturing emphatically as he spoke, entering mid-sentence. Luckily, Reinhardt was notoriously loud, and the two had no reason to think they had to be quiet, given the emptiness of the room. “—she isn’t ready to come back. She’s holding out hope for Gabriel.”

Hana choked on an excited squeal, squeezing Lúcio’s arm with anticipation. Gabriel? Like Gabriel Reyes? Holy shit! Who were they talking about? Who was this ‘she’?

76 responded, too quietly to be heard from their hiding spot.

“Don’t say that,” Reinhardt said, a little quieter, voice gentler. “There’s always hope.”

76 shook his head, then the two men disappeared into the kitchen.

Hana and Lúcio exchanged wide-eyed stares. “We have to get closer,” Hana whispered. “We have to hear what 76 is saying.”

Lúcio shook his head sharply. “That was really serious, Hana,” he said slowly. “This isn’t just a casual conversation.”

There followed a quiet but intense argument, Hana pushing for action while Lúcio cautioned against rash behavior that could result in punishment. In the end, Lúcio got his way, mostly because 76 and Reinhardt reappeared before they had settled the issue. Hana gave her friend a dirty look but fell silent, wanting to make sure their hiding spot was not discovered.

“—is all I’m asking from you,” Reinhardt was saying.

76 cut him off, raising his voice in frustration. “I know what you’re asking, Rein. I’m saying no.”

Reinhardt scoffed. “Is it so easy to forget you don’t get to decide anymore?” he said, his voice gentle despite the clear reprimand of his words.

“But what you’re asking isn’t about Overwatch,” 76 protested, an edge to his tone. “I’m not trying to change what you’re doing here, I’m just not interested in….” His voice finally faded out of earshot as the two men exited the room, still arguing.

Hana shot Lúcio a pointed look. He sighed, and nodded. With a victorious (but silent) fist pump, Hana scrambled out from under the table and began a stealthy, rapid pursuit, Lúcio on her heels. She had to know. What were they arguing about? Had Reinhardt implied that 76 had once outranked him in Overwatch? That would fit with her theory….

She peered around a hallway corner and saw 76 and Reinhardt disappear around the next corner, Reinhardt’s booming voice insisting something about involving Winston.

She hurried along, then peered again to see the two men stopped in front of the commander’s suites. 76 had his hand on a door knob, facing Hana, but her view of him was obscured by Reinhardt’s giant back.

“Winston has no right to make that call,” 76 said firmly, and Hana could hear the impatience in his voice. He was nearing the end of his rope with this argument.

“Does Fareeha?” Reinhardt asked.

There was a strange sound of metal clicking, and Hana craned her neck to see what was happening. 76’s hand now held the metal visor and mask that normally covered his face, but he was still hidden behind Reinhardt.

“Fareeha can do what she wants,” he said tiredly, and his voice sounded strange without the mask obstructing his mouth. “That’s between her and Ana.”

Hana excitedly hit her hand against Lúcio’s shoulder a few times. Gabriel. Ana. This was clearly about the old commanders of Overwatch.

“Jack,” Reinhardt sighed, and Hana had to bite back a gasp. “Fareeha needs you on her side for this.”

“No,” 76 growled. “Ana is making a mistake, and I’m not going to coddle Fareeha just because she doesn’t want to acknowledge that.”

Reinhardt sighed. “More stubborn than ever, my old friend.”

“I don’t know what to tell you,” 76 replied, but the words held no heat anymore. “More of the good than the bad in me died in Zurich, and there wasn’t that much good left to begin with.”

Reinhardt shook his head, and started to move away. Hana and Lúcio ducked around the corner quickly, but not before Hana got a brief glimpse of the scarred, aged face of the man who had once been the golden boy of Overwatch. Her heart froze even as she hid away.

“You’re wrong,” Reinhardt said simply as the sound of his footsteps started to recede. “About yourself, about Gabriel, and about Ana.”

“See you at lunch, Rein,” 76 answered, the door to his room finally clicking open, and then shut again.

Hana and Lúcio stood stock still for a long moment, eyes wide as they stared at each other with shock. Earlier, when they had set out from Hana’s room, it had felt like the day would be a silly adventure, but what they had just heard painted a rather grave picture.

And there was no denying it anymore. Soldier: 76 was Jack Morrison, the “deceased” ex-leader of Overwatch. The very man who had failed to intervene in Hana’s home country when the giant Omnic would rise from the sea and send its drones into the towns and cities. The same Strike Commander whose infamous fall from grace coincided with the years that Hana’s home had been ravaged, and whose inaction would eventually lead to her own military recruitment.

Lúcio laid his hand on her arm, face sympathetic and worried. She tried to smile for him, hide away the unease settling into the pit of her stomach, but she knew he wasn’t convinced.

“Hana,” he started, but she brushed past him and started walking back toward the mess hall.

“Is it breakfast time?” she asked, the forced chipperness in her tone making even her cringe.

“Hana,” Lúcio tried again, catching up to her and trying to get her to stop to face him.

She kept walking, her pace increasing. “You know what? I’m not hungry,” she said, her voice still thick with false vim. “I’m gonna catch a nap. I’ll text you later.”

She ignored Lúcio’s last attempt to get her to stop and talk to him, and practically ran the rest of the distance to her room. Once inside, she slumped into her chair and thought about her father, whose portrait had hung on the wall of her childhood home, whose handsome young face she only remembered from that portrait in his military cap and uniform, who had died before she was old enough to say “Appa.”

It had been easier to reconcile her participation in the new Overwatch when she had thought Jack Morrison dead.

Hana flew her MEKA back to the cliffside where she had retreated to weeks ago after losing her temper with training, nestled into its arms to watch the ocean crashing into rocks below. She was not especially surprised when, just a half hour since she had made her way up here, the sound of someone climbing up to join her met her ears.

She sent a quick traitor text to Lúcio, but otherwise didn’t react as she waited for her companion to settle himself down on the rock next to her.

Jack stayed quiet for a while, also watching the sea, until finally Hana sighed and looked over at him. His face was unmasked, the front of the metal headgear laying next to him. “So,” she said.

He glanced up at her, squinting against the sun. “So,” he agreed.

“Jack Morrison,” she said, shaking her head in disbelief and looking back to the water. “Not dead after all.”

“Sorry to say,” Jack sighed.

Hana scoffed. Silence stretched for a few minutes, and then she said, “You lied to me.”

“I did?” he replied wearily.

“You made me trust you, hid your identity.”

He shrugged. “That’s not a lie, Hana.”

“It is!” she snapped. “Lies of omission are still lies. You knew I wouldn’t want to follow you if I knew who you were, and you hid like a coward.”

He snorted, a wry and humorless smile twisting his once-handsome features. “Kid, believe me when I say, this isn’t about you.”

“It damn well is!” she snarled. “I hated your Overwatch! I hated everything you stood for, in the end. And I was glad you were dead.”

He winced, but otherwise just looked… exhausted.

“Well?” she demanded, angry that there was a bubble of remorse already forming for her harsh words. “Say something!”

“What do you want me to say, Hana? That I’m sorry? I am. That I wish it hadn’t ended like it did? I do. None of that will bring your parents back, or give you your childhood back. None of it will change the fact that pretty much everyone feels the way you do about me.”

“Am I supposed to pity you?” she scoffed.

“No,” he said. “But maybe if you considered how many people share your rather low opinion of me, you’d understand why me choosing to wear this mask has nothing to do with you.”

“Sounds like the opposite to me. You don’t want the people who hate you to know who you are. That’s about me, old man.”

“No,” he said again, his tone gaining some emotion as he tried to make her understand. “It’s not… it’s me, Hana. I’m ashamed of me. What I did, but even more what I’ve lost, what I’ve… what I’ve become.” He paused to gesture over his shoulder at Spec-Z, then at her MEKA. “The world has moved on since I ran Overwatch. There’s no place for Jack Morrison here.”

“Then why are you here?” she said, refusing to release her hostility.

“Because maybe I can do something good as Soldier: 76,” he snapped back. “There’s no future that needs Jack Morrison, but I can’t just… give up. I can’t just stop.” His voice lost its fire. “I have to try to leave something better behind.”

They sat in silence for a while, until Hana finally asked, “Why didn’t you send troops to help in Korea? Overwatch was supposed to keep the peace. It’s why you existed.”

Jack sighed, leaning forward to rest his face in his hands. After a while, he said, “I could tell you the whole story, if you want to hear it. But it won’t change your opinion of me. It’s just excuses.”

“I want to hear it. I want to know what was so much more important to the man who ran the world than saving my home. My parents.”

Jack nodded. “Fair enough.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 4

Zurich, Overwatch Headquarters. Ten years before the Disbandment. (Hana Song, age 9 months.)

“What are we going to do about Korea, Jack?” Ana asked impatiently, pacing in front of the wall of holoscreens in the Com Center. “And it’s not like things in Egypt have gotten any better.” She paused to look at the collection of video feeds from the various live missions, as well as newsreels from press drones in the various places where conflicts were ongoing without Overwatch intervention.

“Gabriel’s team is handling Egypt, Ana. Give him some time,” Jack answered, trying his best not to let his annoyance with his long-time friend and second-in-command show. Ana was his most dependable lifeline to sanity these days; he relied on her not just for the daily executive functioning of Overwatch, but also for his own wellbeing. Especially when Gabriel was away.

“Gabriel’s team,” she sighed. “Why doesn’t that bring me any confidence?”

Jack bristled, as he always did when they disagreed about Gabriel. “Ana,” he said in a warning tone.

She held up her hands, face pinched with displeasure despite her concessionary gesture. “I know what you’re going to say, but Jack, it’s been ten years since the Crisis and Gabriel still acts like he’s in the middle of the apocalypse.”

“We made it out of the apocalypse because of his leadership,” Jack snapped, “and he’ll get us to the other side of this, too.”

“That’s your job now, Jack!” Ana said, slamming her hand down on the tabletop. “Don’t you realize you were promoted to Strike Commander for a reason? This isn’t the Crisis anymore, and it’s on your more level head to get us through—”

“And my level-headed decision,” Jack growled, “is to trust Gabriel to take care of Egypt. So unless you want to talk about something else…?”

She rubbed at her face, muttering in Arabic for a sentence or two, before sighing and flicking her hand up and away. “Fine,” she said, shaking her head. “Fine. What about Korea?”

“Petras isn’t too keen on committing troops,” Jack said, trying to shake off his defensiveness. He hated arguing with Ana, hated that he always felt backed into a corner and pulled between his utmost regard for her opinion and his complete faith in Gabriel.

“Well, Petras can go fuck himself,” Ana growled, startling Jack with her foul language. Their argument must have been wearing her down more than he thought, too. “What are we going to do?”

Jack drummed his fingers, looking again at the several screens of footage dedicated to Korea. The monstrous Omnic, dubbed the Geomul by Korean reporters, that had appeared out of the ocean was truly horrifying, enormous and, by their best guess, capable of producing drones from within itself. From what they had observed, the drones were scavenging in Korean towns and cities for scrap metal and other supplies, which they took back to the Geomul so it could repair and produce more drones.

What its larger goals were beyond this, they had no idea.

“It’s been thirteen days since the Geomul appeared,” Ana said, tone milder now. “And the Korean army has lost three thousand soldiers. Three thousand in thirteen days, Jack. And that’s not counting the civilian deaths.”

“I know, Ana!”

The problem was the global efforts for peace between Omnics and humans had been going well, dammit. Omnic’s rights groups had been fighting for years for Overwatch and the UN to start including Omnics in leadership, to find ways to decrease hostility between the two groups. Committing Overwatch troops—still exclusively consisting of humans—to the fight in Korea would look very bad for the global peace-making progress. Overwatch humans going in to slay Omnics, all over again.

Russia wasn’t making it any easier, either. Overwatch had been intervening there, committing troops to try to quell violence on both sides, protecting innocent humans and Omnics alike. Yet no matter how hard Jack tried to impress upon his team leaders that they were impartial in the conflict, it never failed that when push came to shove, the Overwatch teams prioritized human lives. Too many Crisis veterans, too recent of memories from the goddamn robot apocalypse… too much prejudice.

If they didn’t find a way to balance out the clear favoritism, Jack doubted they could keep the trust of Omnic leaders much longer.

Committing troops to Korea, no matter how dire the circumstances nor clear the sides of right and wrong, could easily tip the scales and lose what little inroads they had been making toward peace.

An alarm started beeping from the holoscreens showing the Korean crisis. Jack and Ana whipped their heads around to stare at the screens as more and more reports started populating the space with unfathomable news.

“It’s… retreating?” Ana said, shocked.

Sure enough, press drone footage was following the organized, unhurried retreat of Geomul dones back to the Geomul itself. Jack and Ana watched in shock as the giant Omnic gathered its thousands of minis and turned itself around, walking back into the depths of the ocean from which it had emerged not even two weeks ago.

“What the hell?” Jack muttered.

Com lines started beeping, first just a few and then so many that Jack had to shout for the AI to shut off the alerts.

“What the hell?” he repeated, incredulous. Ana shook her head in mute disbelief. In the span of minutes, the Korean crisis had gone from full-scale warfare to… silence. As if the Geomul had never existed, except for the thousands of humans left dead, and the utter destruction of countless towns and city sectors.

A long stretch of silence passed as the world held its breath, wondering if the Geomul would come back as quickly as it had left. Jack and Ana waited, too, eyes glued to the screens, ignoring the myriad calls demanding their attention, but the Geomul did not emerge again.

(Though they did not know it at the time, it would not emerge again for years, long after everyone had stopped waiting for it to come back.)

Ana turned reproachful eyes to Jack after almost an hour of silent watching. “Don’t think you dodged a bullet,” she warned him. “Even if it’s gone for good, the world will not thank you for your indecision.”

“Athena,” Jack snapped, angrily glaring at Ana and purposefully not answering, “I’ll take the call from Director Petras in my office.”

Zurich, Overwatch Headquarters. Less than one year before the Disbandment. (Hana Song, age 10 years.)

“Strike Commander Morrison,” Athena’s cool voice cut in, for the third time.

“What!” Jack snapped, turning his attention away from his ongoing shouting-match with Gabriel. Gabriel started to yell about Jack not getting away with ignoring him just because the damn AI was interrupting, but then Athena said words that made both their blood run cold.

“The Geomul has emerged again, sir.”

For a minute, they just stood there in shocked silence, Jack’s hand still raised from where he had been pointing at Gabriel in a ‘just wait a goddamn minute’ gesture. Gabriel was at the kitchen table, still in his gear from when he had returned just hours ago from another mission, Jack in his boxers and a t-shirt. It was the middle of the night, and their home (ha, it hadn’t been a home in years now) was deceptively warm and inviting for the hour of the night and the tone of the reunion between the two men.

Jack looked around at the beautiful furniture and art he and Gabriel had spent years collecting, back when their relationship had been happy, and a bitter, disbelieving laugh escaped before he could stop it. This place that had once been a refuge, had once been his sanctuary, now mocked him with its sticky affect, all the same trappings of comfort and peace, all the same memories of better days, but soured by the inescapable truth.

“Everything is falling apart,” he said without meaning to.

London was a warzone. Ana MIA, presumed dead. Gabriel suspended (but doing who-knows-what on secret missions anyway). McCree in the wind. Gerard killed. Investigations ongoing, public protests, the Omnic leaders refusing to even sit down to talk.

And now the Geomul was back.

He met Gabriel’s eyes. Gabriel collapsed into one of the kitchen chairs, hand massaging his forehead. “You’d better get going,” he said, very clearly disgusted that once again Jack would be running away from the fight they had been having.

“Gabriel,” Jack almost begged. “Don’t—you know I have to go.”

“Yeah. I know. And what are you going to do, Jack?”

Jack’s jaw worked for a second as he tried to imagine what he could do. He was already on thin ice, having come dangerously close to being arrested for his decision to ignore the British Prime Minister’s express forbiddance and send in a strike team to assist with the uprising in London. Meanwhile, every time the Geomul appeared spelled disaster for Overwatch’s public image because they continued to fail to act to protect Korean citizens.

So what would it be? Send in troops and end up in prison? Or don’t send in troops and put the last nail in the coffin that held the public’s goodwill for Overwatch? Either way, he couldn’t see a way out of this mess without serious, even career-ending consequences.

“Fuck,” he muttered, scrubbing at his face wearily. “I don’t know.”

Gabe snorted, disdain clear in the noise. “Well, with that insight, hurry up and go,” he said. “How will the world go on without your decisive leadership in this time of trial?”

It stung, so much more than Jack would ever admit—which was saying something, because he didn’t have much say in the way his body recoiled at the words like physical blow had been dealt.

“What would you do?” he asked helplessly, blinking back the water in his eyes.

Gabriel gave him a disgusted look. “I would never have gotten myself into this mess,” he said.

This added insult to injury, and as his anger boiled up again, he temporarily forgot about Korea altogether. “Oh, fuck you, you fucking asshole! Do you know how many times your bad decisions got me in trouble? Do you even know how many times I stood up for you when everyone, even Ana said I shouldn’t? You did get yourself into this mess, Gabriel, and you would have been in it a lot sooner if it hadn’t been for me!”

“Well, thank you very much, sir,” Gabriel drawled sarcastically, getting to his feet. “If only I’d known that I was such a liability to your goddamn career, maybe I would have stopped saving the world while you sat on your backside—” his volume was escalating again.

Jack barked an angry laugh. “Oh, sure, is that what you call kidnapping? Torture? Assassination?” he yelled back. “Really virtuous world-saving, there, honey—”

“Am I interrupting?”

Jack and Gabriel fell silent immediately as the voice of Director Petras cut in over their apartment’s Com system.

“I overrode Athena’s privacy protocols,” Petras said when nobody answered his question.

Jack’s blood boiled. What the fuck was the point of a privacy protocol if Petras could just override it? He already felt like the property of the director, and now he wasn’t even free of the paper-pushing, good-for-nothing bureaucrat in his own home.

“Morrison, the situation in Korea looks like it’s under control right now,” Petras said, unaware that the Stirke Commander was a breath away from exploding. “Their army has gotten more sophisticated; they’re holding the drones at bay on the beaches.”

“That’s good,” Jack replied through clenched teeth.

“Was that Reyes you were talking to?” Petras continued, as if that was all there was to be said about the Geomul. “We have to discuss his most recent violation of the Blackwatch Suspension—”

“With all due respect, sir,” Jack said, temper flaring, “the Blackwatch Suspension was a terrible solution to a problem that could have been nipped in the bud if you had just permitted me to—”

“The Suspension was the only logical response to Reyes’s increasingly rogue decisions, Morrison. If you weren’t too busy sucking the guy’s cock, maybe you’d—”

A crash, and the call cut out. Gabriel had ripped the panel from the wall, effectively disabling the entire AI system in the apartment until Athena’s remote cell could initialize and take control.

Jack knew it would mean trouble down the road, probably even tomorrow, but he couldn’t pretend that he wasn’t grateful in the moment. He and Gabriel faced each other across the room and the distance between them never felt so extreme as this bizarre moment of unity amid the larger context of their long-failed relationship. It hurt in ways Jack hadn’t expected, to feel for even a second like Gabriel and he were on the same side again. God, did he miss the days when they had been an indivisible team, trusting each other completely.

They escaped before Athena came back online, leaving behind their phones and earpieces and anything else through which Petras could find them. It was the wrong move, they both knew it, but Jack was too tired to care. He needed this moment of solidarity with Gabriel (it would be the last), and apparently Gabriel needed it, too, because he didn’t bring up the fight again, nor pick another. It was bittersweet, but after so much straightforward bitterness, even bittersweet felt like perfection.

The next day, Jack was suspended from executive control of the strike teams pending investigation into his insubordination and going AWOL. Petras denied all requests for aid to be sent to Korea, but Jack was blamed. Trial by public opinion was swift and brutal.

Talon bombed the Zurich building just a few months later. As Jack hauled himself through the rubble, bloody and in shock, wondering about Gabriel’s fate, he thought about the early days of Overwatch after the end of the Crisis. How naive he had been, to ever think that it could have ended any way other than this.