“Well now, isn’t this a splendid little place? Small. Hidden. Secluded. I love it.”
Gabriel stood at the edge of a small clearing, thumb and forefinger on his chin. Jesse saw the beginnings of the first smile in days appear on his boss’s face. It made the man look younger. Happier. The bags forming under his eyes were less noticeable.
“Good work, Lúcio.” Gabriel turned to look at the small Brazilian boy, who was skirting the edge of the clearing and rustling in a bush like a frog. “How long have you kept this little place in your back pocket?”
Lúcio seemed a ball of boundless energy, eager and excited to get the family back together. He poked his head up from that bush on the other side of the clearing, smiling at them and waving. “I’ve known about it for a bit, but never had much use for it ‘till now! I call it Horseshoe Overlook. Came across it when I was wreaking havoc with the Vishkar’s oil refinery not to far from here a few years back. Used it as a little base for a few days. Good times! Think I left some stuff here by accident a long time ago.” He pulled out a small green harmonica, covered in dirt. “Hey, I haven’t seen this in ages! Camp welcome party on me!”
Gabriel placed his gloved hands at his hips and turned to Jesse, the picture of a confident leader. “Well, boys, I don’t know about you, but I say we should bring everyone in. I’m sure they’ll be excited after all of this stressful travel. Secret. Warm. Away from Blackwater. The river is even right over the cliff. A perfect little place to set up a new home, even if temporarily. You have any opinion, McCree?”
Jesse was simply happy to see Gabriel in a much better mood. “I say this place is mighty fine. Want me to go back and grab the others real quick?”
“Sure, son. Lúcio and I will scout the area for any remaining squatters or pests. Meet you back here in a few.” Gabriel smiled fully this time. Genuinely. For the first time in days. Jesse made a note to thank Lúcio in secret later. “Then we’ll be a real family again. Ready?”
Jesse gave one small salute and jumped onto Bounty, pulling the stallion’s reins. His heart jumped. After the chaos of the last few days, at least something was going right for once.
Horseshoe Overlook. Home.
“Say, how long have you known Reyes, McCree?”
Jesse had not expected anyone to bother him while setting up camp. Everyone was busy scurrying about and unpacking their saddlebags. Least of all, Jesse never thought he’d hear that voice address him without a blade in his hand. Their relationship these past few years had been nothing but professional. He dropped the bundle of wooden tent posts he was plucking from the back of his horse and jumped in surprise, sending them scattering across the grass. He placed a hand over his thumping heart.
“Jesus, Genji, you scared me shitless there for a second.”
The small man bent down and swiftly plucked the posts from the ground with more agility and speed than McCree could ever hope to achieve. He held them out to the gunslinger politely. “My apologies. I was simply curious.”
Jesse eyed the ninja, plucking the posts from his hands. “Why are ya curious now, of all times?”
“Uh huh,” McCree scoffed, turning from Genji and jabbing the stakes into the ground. What a liar. “I’ll believe that when gaters fly.”
“I believe the English saying is ‘when pigs fly’ if I am not mistaken.”
“Yeah?” Jesse laughed. “Pigs taste better anyway. Gater is too tough. What’s the saying in Japanese?”
Genji took some posts himself and began helping McCree stick them into the ground. Did the man not have his own tent to set up? “A more common idiom would be ‘when flowers bloom on dead trees’.”
“And what’s the idiom for ‘why does Genji wanna know how long I’ve known Gabriel Reyes for all of a sudden’?”
The ninja narrowed his eyes, likely surprised by McCree’s bluntness. A small, defiant smirk appeared on his lean face. “I believe it would be ‘Genji is trying to be more friendly’.” His eyes went wistful as he glanced down, peeling himself away from the work and ensuring that there was a few feet of distance between the two of them. A curiously sudden change of mood. “Although I will leave if you wish.”
Seeing Genji’s face fall to it’s usual stoicism made McCree’s heart twist. The Japanese man was being friendly and actually talking to Jesse for once. The least he could do was offer a good conversation. He lunged forward, clasping the smaller man’s shoulder, ensuring him that he was indeed welcome with a warm smile and a hearty clap. “That’s not at all what I’d like ya to do, partner. Sorry for bein’ a little rude. Yer even helping me put my stuff up without even askin’. Mighty nice of you. I just sometimes forget what ya even sound like, you talk to me so little.”
“My apologies.” Genji looked back at McCree, although he didn’t maintain any eye contact. “I do not mean to be so distant. A lot has happened recently, though it is no excuse for being so quiet.” He plucked the rope from the gunslinger’s other hand and went back to work setting up the gunslinger’s dingy tent. “I am simply worried for us. Deadlock, Reyes in particular, have been very kind to take me in over these past several years. I have noticed Reyes appearing more… forlorn. I am worried for him.” He glanced to the forest, lips pulled in a thin line as he absentmindedly tied another knot without even looking. “I assumed that you and Reyes were the closest. I may be silent, but I’m a good observer. Am I wrong?”
Jesse chuckled. “Gabriel practically raised me. He had help, don't get me wrong. But, for all intent and purpose, he's the closest I have to a dad.”
"What of your real family?"
The question took Jesse off guard for a moment. Genji had never been so forward or open before. It was a jarring change of pace for the silent enigma of a man. “My my, that's a little bold of you, there.
“Oh!" Genji had the decency to look slightly embarrassed. "I'm sorry, I, uh..."
“No harm done, past is the past, yeah?” Jesse kicked his boot off of one of the stakes, testing how well it held up. He figured they’d be at Horseshoe Overlook for quite awhile. His place would have to stand up to more than simple sunny weather. “My real family is here. Reyes took me in when I was six, along with Fareeha over there. I’m thirty-six now. You do the math. It's been so long, I can't even think of what my old family even looks like. I was real shy and angry growin' up. Dunno how Reyes put up with me. Taught me how to read. Taught me how to live out here in the wild.” He tapped the gun at his hip. An ever present and needed weight. “Even gave me Peacekeeper, here.”
“He is a good role model to you, then.”
“More than that,” Jesse scrubbed a hand down his face, messing with his scruffy beard. "He truly is family, you know? Blood or not."
The ninja’s eyes seemed to glaze over for a second, lost in another place.
They sat in uncomfortable silence for a few minutes while working on McCree’s lodgings. Jesse was the first to break it. “What about you, partner?” He prodded at Genji with his elbow, laughing as the ninja was caught off guard and jumped. The gunslinger sat down next to the half finished tent, pulling out a small flask from his satchel to share. He patted the green ground next to him in invitation, spreading his tired legs out. “You got all these cool ninja skills. Ya gotta have a much more interesting story than lil’ old me.”
Genji slowly sat cross legged next to McCree on the soft grass, his gaze fixed forward on nothing. He accepted the shared alcohol with little hesitation. They traded the flask back and forth in a much more amicable silence, despite the fact Genji seemed to ignore McCree’s question… or he simply didn’t know how to answer. It was okay, though. Jesse was just surprised Genji even spoke so openly toward him. Blackwater must have really jarred the smaller man.
Jesse watched the rest of the gang as they scurried about the clearing with warm smiles and newfound excitement. It seemed as if they were all young and free of any cares for once. The gang’s change in mood lifted Jesse’s own spirits. Despite the failures they just endured, perhaps it was all for the better.
Genji was quiet for awhile longer, drinking from McCree’s flask. It felt like an eternity, but it was maybe only ten minutes before the ninja spoke again.
“My mother was a wonderful woman.” He offered the flask back to McCree. Alcohol really did seem to help. “She took care of my brother and I quite well when we were young. We were rich and received almost everything we wanted. She died when my brother and I were still boys, but I can remember her smile.”
“Yeah?” Jesse mused. “Where’s your brother and dad?”
“My brother is… somewhere else. My father? I genuinely don’t know. Last I knew, they were both alive and in good health. I am unsure now. Even if they’re both alive, they are not the same people I once knew.”
“I’m sorry there, partner.”
The two of them were silent yet again. Genji was tense next to McCree, lost in thought. It made Jesse question if this conversation was too much too soon for the smaller man. He could clearly see that the mention of his brother and father brought up unpleasant memories, and the last thing Jesse wanted to do was make the smaller man too uncomfortable. What type of family had Genji come from? Was it truly as terrible as it seemed? How much have they scarred this man’s life? He seemed to have a bright and friendly soul that wished dearly to break free from it’s gilded cage.
Hoping to make the other man feel better, Jesse smiled down at him. “Look, I’ll make ya a deal.”
Genji seemed skeptical. “A deal?”
“Yeah, a deal.” Jesse chuckled as he clasped a hand around Genji’s shoulders and pulled him in tight. “I’ll be your new big brother. We’re all sons and daughters of Gabe, right? I’ll make sure we all treat you like true family, you hear?”
“That is very… very kind of you McCree. I am thankful. You don’t even know me that well."
“Naw, Genji. We’re all brothers and sisters here in Deadlock, blood or not like I said. Whether I’ve known you for four seconds or twenty years. Thought you’da seen that by now. Just means I gotta reinforce the idea a bit! Also, you can call me Jesse. Only call me McCree if yer mad at me.”
“All right, Jesse. But, uh- Reyes calls you McCree a lot, does he not?”
“Lesson number one of the Deadlock family,” Jesse winked. “Gabriel is always mad at me.”
Valentine was, in a word, filthy .
When Fareeha and McCree ran their initial search of the small town in search of wanted posters (and relieved to see none), Jesse’s boots were practically filled with mud. It was nearing summertime, making the air wet as a swamp and the ground even worse. There was barely any breeze, and the place stunk worse than the rear end of a cow, but the gang knew they’d have to get used to it. It was their new home for now, after all. Jesse aimed to make the most of it. Their shit covered goldmine.
The first thing on the agenda was to establish a foothold in the area. Scout around for clues. Get some leads as to what they were dealing with. Gabriel may be slightly disillusioned, demoralized, and only focused on impossible ideals, but there was one thing his boss was correct about; Deadlock needed money, and they needed it fast . Rival gangs in the area were sure to pose a threat, and the police force Overwatch had been close on their heels in Blackwater, so it was likely that they’d run in to one of their scouts sooner or later here in New Hanover. They needed money for food, clothes, ammunition, money… it was honestly a shame that money ran the world.
After a couple days of lying low at Horseshoe Overlook, Gabriel decided to kick everyone in to gear. Lúcio offered to snoop around the nearby Vishkar oil refinery and railway station to the northeast. In fact, he was absolutely ecstatic to be poking at the multi-million dollar business again for the first time in ages. He believed that there were a handful of bonds worth at least a couple thousand stored on the property. A couple thousand dollars that could belong to Deadlock very soon. What was a couple thousand to Vishkar’s twenty million? They would likely not miss the money. The business made that fortune by destroying the land, so the justification for such a risky mission was easy. Hana, Lúcio, and Oliva set out to snoop around the refinery with Gabriel’s blessing.
Jamison and Mako were experts at robbing stagecoaches. It was how they got their initial start in the crime business. Both of them knew a man in a place called Emerald Ranch to the east who was more than happy to purchase various stagecoaches in a multitude of conditions. One; stop an unsuspecting bystander with a wagon on the road. Two; aim your gun. Three; threaten and shoot if you need to. If everything goes well, whether or not someone dies, steal the supplies in the wagon and sell it all for a profit. A lucrative business, despite the fact it was very immoral. McCree did not participate in many of their stagecoach heists over the weeks, but he had to admit, it did bring in a steady amount of income.
Ashe was, as usual, more interested in talking with her gun. She and Moira were both interested in growing closer with the local sheriff to get the gang on his good side. As an added benefit, the sheriff had issued a series of bounties on some highly wanted individuals. Shooting people, hogtying low-lives, threatening others at gunpoint, and putting rivals into jail? Jesse could not think of another profession that fit Ashe and Moira so perfectly. The scariest part about the whole situation is that the women were good at it. Very good, in fact. The sheriff was practically their lovesick puppet by now.
As for Fareeha, Jesse, and Genji; well, the three of them were tasked to snoop around Valentine itself for anymore leads. Gabriel would often come with them, using his silver tongue to endear everyone in town. It had only been a few weeks, but the Deadlock leader was practically a local celebrity. In a good way, for once in his life.
Genji was very good at the stealth portion of snooping around town. While the man did not like speaking with anyone, he was a good listener. Scary good, in fact. Jesse and Genji would often be at the bar, laughing about something funny, when Genji would immediately grow quiet and turn his ear. The first time he did it, Jesse thought the ninja was having some sort of stroke, which was preposterous. Genji seemed in excellent physical health, and the gunslinger was quite convinced he’d have a stroke or heart attack before anyone else in the gang died of illness. The Japanese man informed McCree later that he was simply listening to something across the room, and apologized for being mysteriously distant. The two of them learned a lot of local gossip this way. Which families around the area had money. Which shopkeepers had secret businesses. Which people to avoid at all costs. Which guys and girls to strictly stay away from and never bed. (Which was, sadly, most of the town.)
Jesse had almost never seen Fareeha dress in anything other than pants and coats, so it was very disconcerting to see her suddenly dressing in more elaborate outfits. Dresses and stockings. Petticoats and corsets. He wondered where on earth the woman got enough money for the outfits. She said she had an excellent lead on the Valentine bank, which made anxiety bubble in the pool of Jesse’s stomach. Sure, the small, dank, muddy town of Valentine was no elaborate city like Blackwater, but the failure of their previous robbery made his skin crawl with dread.
Jesse was currently sitting with Genji in the local saloon, engaged in a game of Blackjack. He was much better at Poker (he felt like Blackjack had a higher degree of luck and McCree felt anything but lucky), but he humored Genji nonetheless. The Japanese man was surprisingly good at Blackjack. In fact, Jesse found out over the weeks that Genji was good at practically any game. He was a tad jealous, since Genji made each game look so flawless and easy. But honestly, McCree was happy to have someone else in the gang that was as good at Poker as he and Hana were. As much as he loved the small Korean gunslinger, it grew boring to play against the same person over and over again.
“Twenty-one.” The dealer announced matter-o-factly, drawing McCree out of his thoughts, followed by an excited hoot from Genji.
“Keep ‘em comin’!” Genji radiated excitement as he mimicked the gunslinger’s drawl. The dealer placed a large stack of chips his hand. “Man, Jesse, I haven’t felt this lucky in a long time.”
Jesse snorted and lightly punched the ninja’s shoulder. He hadn’t won a single hand that night and had lost quite a bit of money, but he was still enjoying himself. Jesse was more interested in helping Genji come out of his dark and depressive shell. “C’mon! Radiate that luck to me, fella. I need a seven or lower. Hit for me.”
Genji’s posture wobbled as he whipped his head back to the dealer and motioned toward McCree. “Hit him!”
The dealer seemed unamused by their antics. He probably thought they were drunk. They had only maybe drank three drinks each. Child’s play, really. He drew a card from the deck and turned it face up in front of McCree. A king. Ten points. “Bust.”
“Man!” Jesse tossed his cards forward and pouted. They fluttered uselessly across the table in a colorful heap. It probably angered the dealer even more. “If I wanted a king to bust me, I’d go to Saint Denis and pay for someone good with all this money instead.”
Genji’s eyes went wide and he sputtered at the lewd joke. To McCree’s amusement, he began to laugh loud and with genuine glee, face planting onto his cards and slapping a hand down.
“Can we kindly not break this table? It is saloon property.” The dealer grumbled as he went to stabilize the game chips from toppling under the abuse Genji gave the tabletop. “Are you two playing another round? To be honest, I hope you say no.”
Genji still seemed incapacitated in his laughing fit and buried his face in his elbows. Ooooh-kay. Maybe they were a little drunk and maa-aaybe they had more than three drinks each, but it was all in good natured fun. Jesse answered for him. “Well, fella, if my friend here don’t quit I think he might have a heart attack so we’ll just go cash out.”
“Thank Christ.” The dealer instantly shut the lid to the rest of the game chips and picked them up. “I mean- yes of course. Have a good day. Please don’t come back.”
“Awh, Mister, but yer my favorite person in town!”
The dealer had already turned away and paid them no mind, leaving McCree to deal with two sets of game chips and his half-drunk friend, hysterically laughing on the poor table. Jesse placed a hand on Genji, trying to coax the ninja in to a standing position. His attempt proved futile as Genji crumpled to the floor in more laughter the second he tried to stand.
“You- you-” Genji sputtered as he attempted to speak, taking in large mouthfuls of air in audible gasps. “You made a hooker joke with a completely straight face!”
“Yeah? I didn’t find it that funny.” McCree shrugged, but felt a twinge of mirth. “The only thing straight about me must be my face, then.”
“Holy SHIT - I need you to FUCKING stop, McCree.” Genji choked as another burst of hysterical laughter came from him. “Oh my god.”
It took a few minutes for McCree to wrangle Genji to a standing position, his arm slung over the gunslinger’s broad shoulders. Jesse swiped the chips off the table and began to maneuver the both of them down the saloon steps. A horrible idea, really. Despite Genji’s slender nature, McCree was surprised to find the smaller man to be a weighty ball of solid muscle. Solid muscle that threatened to topple face first down the stairs multiple times.
They hobbled to the counter and McCree exchanged the chips for money. He was surprised to see Genji had won at least one-hundred dollars. The hell? He hadn’t exactly been keeping track of his partner’s earnings, but was glad to see such an extravagant number for backwoods Blackjack. A perfect donation for Deadlock supplies.
Genji slumped on Jesse, groaning.
“Whoa there.” Jesse said. “Look, I just cashed out. Ya made a good deal of money here, Genji. Just gotta get to the horses and we can hightail it back to camp.”
“Nonsense!” Genji pushed the palm of his hand to the side of McCree’s face, ruffling his beard. “I never took you for a lightweight! You ruined our Blackjack fun with your humor, scaring the dealer away! The night has just begun!”
Jesse smoothed his rumpled facial hair back in to place and chuckled. “Lightweight? Have ya looked in the mirror recently?”
“Yeah, and I look ten times better and can hold more alcohol down that you can, cowboy.”
Jesse snorted. “Oh, partner, is that a challenge? You’d best take that back. I’ll win.”
“Judging by your Blackjack skills, I would say you lose.”
The nerve of this ninja. Jesse outright barked in laughter this time. “Well that’s mighty offensive. Blackjack ain’t nuthin’ like drinkin’. Blackjack is luck, drinkin’ is pure skill.”
Genji gurgled. “I’ll buy the drinks with the Blackjack money. First one to pass out or puke loses.”
Jesse’s thoughts tripped on themselves. He knew Deadlock could probably use the money, but the stress of the last few days was certainly taking its toll. The promise of free drinks and amicable company was too enticing. He was allowed to be stupid and carefree for one night, right?
“All right, challenged accepted.” McCree slapped the hundred bucks onto the counter. “And what do I win? A hangover tomorrow mornin’?”
Genji wavered in place. Oh, this was going to be easy . He almost felt sorry for taking advantage of his friend’s inebriated state of mind. “A favor.”
“A favor?” Jesse echoed.
“Yeah like… like a debt. Whoever loses-” Genji hiccuped. “-owes the victor a favor of any sort.”
“Sounds like my kind of game!” Jesse laughed again and turned to the bartender. “We need as many rounds as one-hundred dollars can buy!”
Time slipped by, fuzzy and intangible.
Where were they again?
Valentine? Where’s that?
Who the heck is Ijneg?
Jengi? It must be Jengi.
JENGI? JENGI, WHERE ARE YOU?
Oh God, he lost Jengi.
Jengi was gone forever.
Oh, never mind, Jengi was on the floor. Looked asleep. Drooled on the floor. Best not wake him. Would be mighty rude.
Everyone in the bar had drinks in their hand, laughing maniacally.
They were all so friendly.
These were the nicest people he had ever known. Brought him to tears.
Time to dance with them.
Are they dancing with him? Is this the can-can? Holy shit, who’s in the corner making out? Is that a plant?
The whole saloon seemed pretty plastered.
What’d they do again?
Oh… oh he didn’t feel very good.
“Jesse McCree!” A rough and low familiar voice jarred the rattling in McCree’s brain. A loud ringing persisted in his ears, like a church bell wouldn’t stop chiming. Why did everyone feel the need to yell his full name lately? Angrily?
Jesse jolted upwards, immediately regretting the decision. His hands shot up to his pounding head, shielding his eyes from the morning light that seeped through the tent awning. He groaned. “Ugh, good mornin’ to you too, Gabe.”
In the silhouetted halo of the sunrise, burred by his fuzzy eyes, Gabriel seemed every bit the angel he was named for. Too bad his boss seemed furious. The opposite of angels.
“What in the actual hell did you think you were doing last night, McCree?” Gabriel came closer, stepping under the awning of Jesse’s tent. His face and demeanor radiated complete irritation.
Did Gabriel say last night? God, had he passed out from drinking so much?
More importantly, did he lose the bet?
“Boy, I sure wish I knew what you was talkin’ about.” Jesse wiped a hand down his face, scrubbing at the cold sweat there. He felt filthy.
“Fareeha found you and Genji, shitfaced and barely cognitive!” Gabriel growled. “Genji wasn’t even conscious, and you were so drunk you weren’t even speaking English. You apparently almost punched Fareeha as she tried to wrangle you two out of the saloon.”
Jesse grit his teeth, but couldn’t stop the pained chuckle from escaping his mouth. It seemed pitiful. Oh, but Gabriel said he was awake . “I was still awake when Fareeha came?”
“I mean, you may have been awake, but you certainly-”
“Don’t matter if I was spoutin’ Spanish or complete gibberish or talking to imaginary folk that no one else could see. I was awake!” Jesse said triumphantly. “Means I won.”
It was the wrong thing to say. Gabriel appeared to be at the end of his rope. “What?” He shook his head. “Never mind, I know what you did. I know exactly what Jesse McCree does. Nothing but bad things. How much did you spend on a stupid bet this time, then?”
“Oh boss, ya probably shouldn’t find that out. Would rather spare Genji the scoldin’.”
Gabriel was exasperated, completely done, and incredibly angry. He gave Jesse one last hard stare before gripping his shirt collar and dragging the younger gunslinger out from under the awning.
“Christ!” Jesse staggered forward and stumbled after the older man. He clutched onto Gabriel’s wrist and attempted to break free weakly. “Hold up, ouch! By God, Gabe, my head-”
“Yeah, I’m sure it hurts like a bitch. Oh well. You and Genji have been out cold all night, and Fareeha has a lead on the Valentine bank that she has so nicely waited to elaborate on since you an Genji decided to get drunk. So y’know what? You’re going to come to the camp meeting, because you are a part of this gang and we need your help regardless if you’re dead on your goddamn dumb feet.”
The mention of a bank made McCree’s blood run cold as ice. Oh yeah.
“Besides, all of that money you spent on drinks for the entire town of Valentine could have gone to Deadlock. But for some reason, drinking is more important that feeding your family.”
Jesse huffed. “That ain’t true, Gabe. I work very hard-”
“Shut up and sit here.” Gabriel all but threw McCree to the ground. Jesse groaned and straightened his collar.
It was fairly early in the morning, so McCree was surprised to see the majority of the gang awake and relatively excited. He was further surprised to see Genji on the other side of the campfire, attention on something that Olivia was saying. The ninja seemed to be faring better than McCree in terms of a hangover, making Jesse mildly peeved. No matter- he won, yeah? Fareeha and Gabriel were their witnesses. He’d endure the hangover for this once in a lifetime chance to poke at one of his best friends.
Scratch that; one of his brothers .
He tried to get Genji’s attention by waving, but was stopped when a pair of short, skinny legs stopped in front of his vision.
“Wow, Jesse. You look like shit.” Hana’s arms were crossed over her chest and she was chewing on something.
“Gee, make a guy hungover like no tomorrow feel better about himself, why don’t ya?”
Hana giggled as she plopped down next to McCree and crossed her legs. She plucked a shiny wrapper from her pocket and offered it to him.
“Uh?” Jesse hummed in apprehensive question, taking the wrapper from Hana’s hand slowly. It was chocolate… why?
“It’s chocolate.” Hana said, as if it were the simplest concept in the world. She elaborated when Jesse’s face remained skeptical. “I’ve gotten drunk a couple times before. I get pretty bad hangovers, too. Chocolate seems to make it better for me, so I thought maybe it might work for you.”
Jesse felt a warmth grow in his chest like the morning sun. How nice. The thought that Hana was genuinely trying to be helpful made his hangover already seem less pounding. “Oh, that’s mighty nice of ya.” He paused, opening the candy bar and breaking off half to share. “Thank you.”
“No problem.” Hana munched on her half, looking up as Fareeha ducked out of her tent and began walking toward the group. The meeting was about to start. “Old people don’t seem to know all the tips and tricks when it comes to drunk partying.”
Jesse laughed. “I’m that old?”
“You’re ancient.” Hana teased. The devil.
They grew quiet as Fareeha stepped up to the campfire and smiled at the rest of the gang. Dressed in her normal jacket and pants for once and not a dress and petticoat, she looked every bit like the smart and beautiful sister he grew up with.
The gang gathered close. Moira sat next to Ashe, long fingernails resting on her thighs. Ashe slung her shotgun over her shoulder as she kneeled by the fire. Lúcio plopped down next to Hana, smiling at her and McCree. Olivia seemed more interested by the pamphlet in her hand than Fareeha, but she glanced up every few moments. Genji sat on his knees, fists curled at his side as he likely tried to hide his hangover. Mako and Jamie stood in the back, both very interested in what the Egyptian was saying. Lastly, Gabriel brought a stool over and sat next to Fareeha, keeping an eye on all of them.
“Thanks for getting together everyone. Despite the fact some of you,” Fareeha’s eyes shifted toward Jesse, but they held mirth instead of irritation, “decided to party all night. It’s not like we’re in a hurry or anything, running from the police to avoid being arrested.” She laughed. “Anyway, I spoke with Gabriel yesterday about this. I know it’s only been a few weeks since we’ve been here in Valentine, but I’ve found a lead. A lucrative lead. Uhm, it involves the Valentine bank.”
“Another bank robbery?” Moira interjected. “We barely survived the last one.”
Fareeha sighed. “I know, but that was Blackwater. This is Valentine. I’m not talking about a hundred and fifty grand. I’m talking only like, twenty grand.”
“Only twenty grand?” Lúcio seemed starstruck. “Man, I’ve never even seen that much money in person, and you say that like it’s a small amount of money?!”
“We are not saying it is small.” Gabriel stated. “We are saying that twenty grand will not cover the entire group of us hightailing it out of New Hanover. You still want to go to Tahiti? Or New York? We’ll need more, but it’s a good start. We’d only need a few scores afterwards and then we can start our new life.”
“We only need a few people to rob the Valentine bank.” Fareeha continued. “It’s a much safer mission than Blackwater. Less guarded, and the people here are far stupider. We only need a group of four. Far less noticeable than the entire gang. I’ll be the first one to volunteer. It’s my idea.”
“I’ll go.” Jesse blurted without hesitation.
“As will I.” Genji agreed. Surprising.
“Count me in!” Lúcio piped.
Fareeha smiled at the three of them. “Excellent.”
“Are you sure a bank robbery so early after Blackwater is safe?” Ashe challenged. “What if they’re on alert?”
“I have spent weeks watching the Valentine bank.” Fareeha pursed her lips, casting a daring look toward Ashe. Jesse was thankful that he was not the only one entirely fed up with the white haired woman’s attitude. “Our faces are on no wanted posters, and the security of the bank has not changed much. We’d better hit it sooner rather than later.”
“What about those guys in black suits that have been crawling around these past couple days?” Ashe argued. “I’ve never seen them before. Look like nothing but trouble. The sheriff ain't to happy about them either. They been makin’ demands, think they own the place.”
Guys in black suits? Huh, come to think of it, Jesse did notice a few people looking decidedly more clean and well kept than the usual Valentine townsfolk.
To McCree’s shock, Genji gave a straight and pointed answer to their questions. “They are the Shimada Clan.”
“Shimada?” Fareeha asked. “Aren’t those the guys that run Saint Denis? Some big rich Japanese crime syndicate or something?”
“Yes.” Genji answered, his tone level.
“Will they cause us any issue?” Jesse looked at Genji, unsure of whether or not to get up and place his hand on the man’s shoulder. The ninja seemed to have retreated into himself again. Had Genji had run in to these Shimada folk before?
“No. Likely not. I do not know why they have come so far from Saint Denis, but their dealings certainly have never spread this far.”
Gabriel turned his piercing gaze toward Genji. “So they won’t be a problem then?”
The ninja was tense, but held little hesitation in his voice. “They will not be a problem.”
“Then get ready and get those hangovers taken care of.” Gabriel stood from his stool, looking pointedly at Jesse, Genji, and Lúcio. The sawed off shotgun on his hip shined in the morning sunlight like a beacon. Deadly and beautiful. “You’re robbing that bank this afternoon.”