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Harmless Fun and Pastries

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“Still a menace, I see,” Amélie said, sliding into the seat at her favorite table at The Cafe, Reyes’ shop and front for Talon business. She flexed her hands and stretched out her forearms, dusting a small patch of flour that she’d missed.

Sombra rolled her eyes and gave the girl at the door a little wave. The poor dear nearly collided with the doorframe on the way out. Sombra smiled satisfied as she sat Amélie’s cup of coffee down, pouring the right amount of cream and sugar in then gave a quick stir.

“What? It’s harmless fun,” Sombra said, sliding into the opposite seat from her. “These college girls are so easy to fluster.”

“Just like your investment into the lives of those two regulars that you keep trying to set up?” she asked, taking a sip from her mug. Reyes always kept top notch cream that he got from a local farm run by one of his contacts. Just like he sourced coffee beans from another source whose cousin had a farm who grew everything organically and looked out for all his seasonal workers.

He even got pastries from a local shop down the street to supplement the ones Amélie either brought from Paris on her way back from various missions that took her to Europe or made herself when she’d felt like doing something with her hands. Baking required the same precision as sniping, the same focus. In some ways, her creations here in the cafe’s kitchen brought her more satisfaction than some of her more impressive kills. After all, there usually wasn’t perfectly glazed eclairs at the end of assassinations.

Reyes never pushed her to make pastries in the cafe, aside from the occasional mutterings about his cookies not tasting the same, but always kept the kitchen tidied in case she was inspired. Today had been a good day for baking and resulted in some perfect macaroon’s cooling in the back waiting to be assembled. She still had a touch of pastry flour under the edge of her thumbnail, that she refrained from picking at.

For being a front for Talon operations in Durado right under the noses of Overwatch, Gabriel’s coffee shop ran under quite a high ethical standard. Every time Amélie remarked on Gabe’s responsible business practices even though this was supposed to be just a front, he grumbled something about “Keeping up appearances” and “what do you care anyway? I don’t even charge you for your coffees.”

“Look, those two are fated,” Sombra said, bringing Amélie out of her thoughts and back to Sombra’s latest project as far as the customers of the shop were concerned. “They just don’t know it yet.”

Sombra had been trying to set up two of the regulars for the last two months. The first of which was a graduate student, glasses and an array of soft looking cardigans that he might have knitted himself, who frequented the shop while he worked on his thesis. The latter of the two men, tall and solid with light dusty hair, jogged every morning whose eyes kept lingering on the ruffled grad like he was a tall glass of water, but averted his eyes each time the grad looked over. Amélie thought they had names, but she’d never bothered to remember them. She supposed they were compatible. Sombra insisted their love would be “some fairytale shit,” but she didn’t know if she even believed in love anymore. She’d just have to take her word for it and hope if they did manage to get together that it’d at least be in two weeks when her set of betting pool dates were.

“You are manipulating them to win a bet,” Akande said, gesturing at Sombra to move from his seat, smiling at her indulgently. “And you should get back to work. Reyes jaw is going to start doing that tick thing it does if the line gets any longer.”

“I would never adjust data to get an ending that benefits only me,” Sombra scoffed, standing slowly, smoothing her apron down. “Besides, this gig is just a favor. My only investment in this is the happiness of two dudes who should have been banging weeks ago.”

“Are you gonna jabber all day?” Reyes called, gesturing at the line of three people at the counter, as he pulled some shots of espresso.

“Duty calls.” She rolled her eyes, gave a little wave, and stalked back over to the counter.

“Amélie, I’m glad that I found you here today,” Akande reached into his white linen suit and pulled out a pen then reached for a napkin. He carefully wrote something down and scooted it over to Amélie’s hand resting on the table.

Giving the note a glance, she mentally filed the coordinates. Somewhere in Russia if she’d identified them correctly, but she would look it up later for confirmation. She wadded the napkin into a ball and tossed it in the trash across the cafe. She suspected this trip involved checking to see if an omnium had started up again. Just because everything was supposed to have been disabled after the omnic crisis didn’t mean the AI wouldn’t put itself back to work to make more trouble.

“Well, you know I don’t mind the cold,” she said, taking another sip of her coffee. “Do you have any further details?”

“Just the usual rendezvous point, tomorrow at the usual times, with your usual kit,” he replied, giving Sombra a nod in thanks as she set a pot of tea, cup, and honey down in front of him. So armor piercing rounds and some of those mini emps Sombra had developed. Nothing she wasn’t already planning to bring.

Before she could ask anything else, the bell chimed on the door and the three of them just stopped and stared at the new arrival. Commander Morrison stood in the doorway, mouth set in a frown. Amélie hadn’t believe he was actually retired until this very moment as she laid eyes on his outfit of a bright red Hawaiian shirt, khaki shorts and sandals with socks. Sombra snorted a laugh. Amélie shot her a look and glanced at Akande whose eyebrows were up.

“What, I’m just admiring his fanny pack,” Sombra said in a stage whisper.

“Admire quietly,” Akande said in an actual whisper.

“Children,” Amélie shushed.

Gabe stopped drying the mug he was holding and glared. Morrison gave him a nod and pulled up a stool to the counter and sat like Reyes wasn’t looking at him like he wanted to stab him with the pastry tongs.

“What does a man have to do to get some coffee in here?” Morrison asked.

“For you?” Reyes asked. “A lot.”

Morrison chuckled as Gabe put the mug he was holding down and poured a cup of house blend in it. “Same as always then.”

“Can I help you with anything other than you leaving in five minutes?” Gabe grumbled.

“Well, not help, at least not me,” Morrison unzipped his fanny pack and pulled out a worn paper file. “I’m just going to leave this. We seem share concerns about that omnium activity. Might even be a couple agents headed that way. Your little operation might be able to do some good. Especially if we joined forces.”

“This isn’t an operation. This is a coffee shop,” Reyes practically growled. “And what we do is no longer your business.”

“Of course, Gabriel,” Morrison said, a glimmer of a smile on his face as he took a sip of his coffee. He dropped some money on the counter and stood up.

“You all have a lovely afternoon,” Morrison said, tipping an imaginary hat in Amélie, Akande, and Sombra’s direction.

“Jack,” Reyes said just as Morrison was opening the door, “are you really retired?”

“As retired as it gets,” he answered with a sad smile. “Don’t forget to bring your coat,” Morrison said, looking at Amélie. “Not that you’ll need it.”

Once the door was shut, Sombra blew a raspberry at it. “Has he always been such a drama queen?” she asked.

“Always,” Amélie said, rising from her chair.

“Which doesn’t seem to have slowed him down at all,” Akande frowned. “Tomorrow is still on.”

“I expect nothing less. Stay for a macaron?” She called on her way to the kitchen.

“I’m gonna need at least three,” he said.

“I had plans to sell those,” Reyes grumbled.

“Your plans are adorable,” Sombra said, patting his cheek.

Amélie smiled as she walked through the door to the kitchen. She kept smiling as she vaguely listened to what she presumed was Sombra giving Reyes and Akande crap if the happy rise and fall of exchanged trash talk was anything to go by.

Just as she was finishing up, she noticed Reyes standing in the doorway, his arms crossed over his chest.

“Such good news in that file, I take it?” She placed a few of the cookies on a plate and handed it over in exchange for the folder. Flipping through it she noted that Overwatch had come to the same conclusion they had. Granted, Overwatch hadn’t factored in how much Talon’s profits could be hurt if this omnium had a chance to restart. Talon’s goals remained expensive. As far as she was concerned, Overwatch remained too idealistic with their insistence to do good for the sake of doing good. She appreciated Talon’s realism. Regardless, the file contained no indication of what agents would be there.

“More or less,” he confirmed taking the plate and trying one of the macarons. He made an appreciative noise as he chewed. “This is some of your best work yet.”

“Merci.” She tucked the file into the crook of his arm and plated up several cookies to take back to her table. She did not startle when Sombra materialized beside her nor laughed as Reyes swore.

“What have I said about using tech in the cafe?” Reyes asked exasperatedly.

“Yeah-yeah, but you both have to come quick,” she said, herding them back into the front. “I’m about to win that bet.”

Once they’d scooted to just past the door, to see if Sombra was about to win her bet. The grad student, siting in his usual chair, was looking up at the tall jogger with a look of hopeful surprise. The jogger was dressed in a clean shirt and jeans and was looking frustrated at himself.

“Just look,” the jogger said and reached out his hand to pull the grad up. The grad put his hand in the other man’s and stood.

“Okay, just take your time,” the grad said. Smiling encouragingly.

“I’m gonna kiss you now like I’ve wanted to for the last three months,” the jogger said quite earnestly.

“Sure,” the grad said in surprise and fisted the front of the joggers shirt when the man deepened the kiss. He looked dazed when the jogger pulled away. “Oh wow. Yeah. That’s. Yeah,” he spluttered. The jogger grinned brightly.

Sombra actually started clapping. Amélie gently elbowed her in the side. Reyes just shook his head and muttered, “Well, now I’m out 50 bucks.”

Amélie joined Akande in laughing at him.