And just like that, she was down.
Widowmaker fell, panting, crouched, trapped between air conditioners and rooftop access, Kestrel overhead, Tracer in front, rifle damaged but regenerating, chain broken but rebuilding, and entirely out of venom mines.
Nowhere to go. 45 seconds, she thought, glancing up, glancing ahead. 45 seconds to replenished ammo, she thought, watching Tracer, with her gold eyes burning. 45 seconds. They can't take me in, not in 45 seconds.
"Hey, love," said the smaller Overwatch agent in front of her, the annoying one, the one who kept getting under her skin, no matter what she did, no matter how infuriating she became. "Truce?"
...what? thought the spider, and she blinked.
Tracer lowered her pistols, well aware that the Talon assassin could still punch like a prizefighter. "Truce? Three minutes. I know you've got another 40 seconds or so 'till you have rounds again, I'm askin' for three minutes' time. Truce?"
Widow glanced up towards the flying agent, who saw her look, and in response, nodded back down to the assassin. "Truce," Kestrel said. "Three minutes."
I... what? Truce? What? They have me, and... what have I got to lose? the assassin decided quickly, not lowering her weapon. "Why? So you can take me in to be undone, cherie? I think not."
She spoke! thought Tracer, her already-rapid heart jumping just a little bit more. She spoke. "No! Not that, love," she exclaimed. "It's so I can apologise. Apologise proper, and all that. I'm sorry. I just want to say why."
Widowmaker... hesitated. Surprised, not in the combat way, but in the cognitive dissonance way, and she shook her head and failed to clear it, stuck on the idea of being apologised to, and overrode her reaction, sure she must've heard wrong, and tried again. "Three minutes, so your friends can close in, and..."
"I promise, no, that's not what we're doin'." Tracer pulled her earbud and thumbed her comm. "McCree, Tracer here. No sign of Widowmaker. Sweeping north for further recon." She received a brief "I hear ya" from McCree, and Widowmaker could hear it too, just, from the tiny exposed speaker.
Thirty seconds to bullets. Thirty seconds to possible escape. Or, three minutes to... what? She narrowed her eyes, but lowered her weapon. "Truce." she said. "Three minutes."
"I'm sorry," said Tracer, again. "I've been doin' everything wrong for three years and I am so sorry."
Widowmaker felt confusion, and again, not the uncertainty of battle, but an unfamiliar emotional reaction she did not want to admit she felt. "Pour quoi? We fight, it is what we are for. And you have hardly ever managed to hurt me."
"I think I have, though," replied the teleporter, earnestness clear in her voice. "Emotionally. Not on purpose, I swear. I talked to some..." - she nodded her head back and forth - "...can't say friends, can't say enemies, it's complicated, they're kind of Talon, they're kind of not... 'bout a month ago, and they set me straight about you. And about what I've been doin' wrong."
Mystifying, thought the assassin, but she mimed a bemused look. "Are you talking about the hacker? Are you and the Mexican woman talking about me? My controllers will be interested to know that."
"No," the Englishwoman shook her head. "Not Sombra. It's... look, it's nobody in your Talon. It's complicated and three minutes ain't long enough. But that's not important! What's important is I got shook up, but good. An' I realised I've been tryin' to get to Amélie, and trying to tell her we'd get her back, and I've been an bloomin' idiot because I've not been tryin' to talk to you."
Widowmaker snorted - this is nonsense, she thought, but something scratched at her, something in her head saying this is important - and flipped her rifle onto her shoulder. "I seem to remember a large number of rather one-sided conversations, myself. Even more, including the ones spoken only with bullets."
"Not what I mean. I've been..." she grimaced.C'mon, Lena, she thought, you've been practicing this, don't let's throw a spanner in these works. "You're real. I finally get it. You're a person, not some ... construct. And I've been promising we'd change you into somebody else, just like Talon did to Amélie, and that's wrong, and I'm sorry, and it's gonna stop, starting now."
Widowmaker tilted her head, dismayed, as she picked through what she was hearing. Is... that... why...? she thought, but did not know what to say.
"I've seen you, you talk about how emotions are my weakness, and you say you don't have any, but you do, it's obvious, even if you don't like it, and I've been takin' that as Amélie peekin' out, but it's not, it's you, it's just you, and I'm sorry for... for everything."
"What..." the assassin managed, feeling strangely light, strangely separate from her place on the rooftop, surrounded by her enemies. "...what is the point of this?"
"She'd given up on you," came Kestrel's voice, from above. Two minutes, she thought. "But I hadn't."
"...you?" the assassin looked up. "I do not even know you. You are not a priority target."
"I know," said the flying agent. "But my wife's into you, if it isn't obvious, and - cards on the table - I kinda am too. Giving up made her all depressed, so... here we are."
"Kestrel!" shouted Tracer. "C'mon, I'm not on the pull, that's not why..."
"It is so," retorted Kestrel, "underneath everything."
"...it is so, isn't it?" The Widowmaker smirked, grasping at a little more control of a decidedly out of control situation. "You are trying to, you say, chat me up? Pathetic. We are enemies, and that is all, and you are a fool to think otherwise."
"Oh no," said the teleporter, "Don't pretend this don't go both ways."
"It does not," sneered the assassin. "I am not burdened with such trivialities."
"Oh yeah?" asked Tracer.
"Yes," said Widowmaker.
"If that's true - you've had bullets again for 45 seconds. I don't even got my pistols out, and here I am, all not shot up. Why not?"
What?! thought the assassin, knowing her opponent was right. She hadn't even lost track of time, she just hadn't acted, and she could've. She should've. She grasped for a reason, and settled on, "...we have a truce."
"Okay, maybe. This time. But why ain't I dead? You fought anybody else who lived this long?"
"No," admitted Talon's most effective killer. "But it is not for lack of trying."
"Don't underestimate yourself, love. You've had your chances, I'm number one on Talon's hit list, and you ain't even been takin' the shots, even though I've been promising to take your mind apart and not even knowin' I was doin' it. It's more than I deserve. Thanks, for that."
Widowmaker raised her rifle, Tracer in her sight. "Should I fix it, then? Right now?"
Kestrel froze, gravity blade ready. But Tracer did not raise her pistols, or grin, or dodge, or dance. She held her ground, being very still. "Y'could, y'know. G'wan. I'm right here."
Widowmaker stood, looking through the site, the shot unmissable, time counting away. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. And, again, confusedly, she lowered her rifle. She couldn't even say why, other than it did not seem... right, to shoot. "70 seconds," she said, softly, almost distractedly, her focus disturbed, disrupted. What is wrong with me?
"Look," said Tracer, "I'm not gonna try to bring you in, not now, maybe not even later. I'll stop ya if I see ya at work, but... c'mon. Y'gotta admit, Talon's no good. Maybe Talon made you, and maybe I'll even give 'em that, but on the whole, they're no good."
From above, Kestrel quietly noted that Widowmaker did not bother trying to defend her makers, or even dismiss the attack. She'd just accepted it as a given. Halfway there, she thought to herself. C'mon, blue girl, show me. Show me you're real.
"From now on," continued Tracer, "I'm promising: no changin' you. No tryin' to turn you into somebody else, not even somebody you maybe used t'be. But if you want out - if you want out, as you - tell me. We'll find a way. And if Overwatch does catch you, somehow, if we bring you in, I will not let them change you against your will."
The woman built from Amélie Lacroix raised an eyebrow, sceptically. "No one in Overwatch would tolerate my existence. None of you..." - no, she thought, I don't believe that, do I? - "...present... company... perhaps excepted."
"I mean it, love," Lena said, as plainly and honestly as she knew how. "I swear. Even if I have to break you out of a Watchpoint myself, they won't change you. It won't happen. I won't let it."
Widowmaker believed her. Something inside her believed Lena's oath, believed every word of it, knew it to be true, and the spider dropped her rifle in shock. "I... I do not believe you," she lied, a hitch in her breath betraying her.
"I think maybe you do," said Kestrel, gently, "even if you don't want to." Oh fuck me, what am I about to say here? she thought, swallowing. "Lena's promise goes for me, too. I'm no Pharah - but I'll provide the air support. We'll get you out." C'mon, c'mon, be real...
Oxton nodded, looking up gratefully at her lover. In for a penny. "I'm not sayin' come with us now, love, I know that's not gonna happen. But if you want out..." started Tracer...
"...we'll get you out. And not to Overwatch," continued Kestrel...
"...unless that's what y'want," finished Tracer.
Widowmaker picked up her rifle. Twenty seconds, she thought, absently.
"Have they ever reconditioned you again, love? After the first time?"
The assassin frowned. "They did... once, after..." She did not finish the sentence.
"Yes," she nodded. "Because I laughed."
"Did y'like it?" asked the teleporter.
"...no," admitted the assassin, after a pause, resentment in her voice, and above her, Kestrel silently cheered, clenching her firsts, Yes!
"We wouldn't try," repeated Tracer. "I get it now. I swear."
"Never," said the flying agent. "We both swear," she said, in for a pound.
Widowmaker looked down at her Kiss, ready, pulse rounds fully charged and ready to go. Enough chain regeneration to get away, as well - three minutes is a lot of time, if you think about it, isn't it? Talon, signalling, in her headset, trying to raise her, trying to make sure she was alive and, if not well, at least functional. This could all be a new lie, she thought, warring against herself. But... it also might not be.
After Tekhartha, she'd learned now not to tip off her controllers. It wasn't the only thing they'd missed.
"Your three minutes are up," she said. "And I do not trust your masters, either." She threw her rifle onto her back, looked up at Kestrel, over at Tracer, and leapt up into the air, but not far, chain assisted to a nearby perch. "But your offer... a third way, all of us free from Overwatch as well as Talon..." she called, as her chain rewound, and she threw it again. "...I will consider it." And she vanished into the night.
Kestrel flew down to Tracer, eyes wide, after the assassin disappeared into the darkness. "I... I think we might've done it."
Tracer nodded her head, half in shock, but entirely in agreement. "I'm gobsmacked, love - I think we really might've. But... I... it can't be that easy."
"It wouldn't be," her wife agreed. "We made some hard promises. We'd likely have to quit Overwatch ourselves. Become freelancers, maybe."
Tracer shrugged, thinking of the many possibilities - and difficulties - involved. "Winston wouldn't throw us out, love - it's not like any of it's legal anyway. And even if he does, there's good money to be made in adventuring, I should know." She started shaking, as it all sank in. "Gor blimey, Em. What'd we just do?"
"Threw away our careers?" Emily giggled, weakly. "And maybe... just maybe... started saving some lives, too?"
Lena's half-grin popped back onto her face. "One life in particular, y'mean?"
"Yes," her lover confirmed with a grin of her own. "In particular. But also her targets."
"Hoo," breathed the teleporter, shaking tension out of her arms, out of her hands. "It's a big gamble. Long odds. We must be starkers."
"Better odds than we had a month ago."
Tracer snorted. "No question about that."
"None." Her lover put her arms around her, and kissed her nose, gently. "C'mon, sweetie, finish shaking it off. Risk is what we do, isn't it?"
Lena let out a little 'heh' sound, and rested her forehead against Emily's.
"And put your earbud back in," said the ginger. "McCree's getting curious about our sweep."
"Righto." She puffed out a big breath of air. "We've made this bed, might as well lie in it. North it is!" She keyed her comms. "McCree, Tracer here, your signal got week, you say somethin'? ... Yeah, we're still sweeping north. No sign of her yet - I think she's gone home. ... Right. We'll keep looking a bit more, then circle back in a few. Tracer out."
From closer than either of them imagined, the Widowmaker listened intently, laser microphone bouncing off the HVAC's metal shell. The part of her - and it was part of her - that had believed Lena Oxton implicitly sat proud, vindicated, and a little smugly in her mind. And the parts that did not...
...began, most reluctantly...
...to contemplate hope.