“McCree!” Came the voice of Ashe causing him to sigh.
Just what he needed right now.
“What the fuck happened, dude, Flare is SO pissed with you?!”
“I told him where he could shove his stupid plan and he didn’t like it.” McCree answered, rubbing his arm which he was sure wasn’t far from being dislocated from the altercation him and the Deadlock gang leader had just had.
“Why can’t you just do as he says? It would make your life a lot easier in the long run.”
“Like hell it would, and no, I ain’t just gonna’ let him get us all killed for a few extra bucks. This whole meet-up seems shady and I don’t want anything to do with it. We have bounties on our heads higher than they ever should be and we need to be careful, not selling to someone outside our usual client list because that smells like a set-up from any angle.”
Ashe shook her head.
“When did you become such a bore?”
“I just quite like the idea not dying, that’s all. We don’t all have it easy like you.”
“The fuck do you mean by that?!”
“What do you think I mean?! You’re a spoilt brat rebelling against her parents by going out and playing cowboys and robbers with a bunch of criminals. You choose to do this, and I have no idea why. This ain't no game and it certainly ain't as fun as you make it out to be. You actually have a home to go back to, some of us ain't so lucky.”
“Deadlock is my family!”
“Then you’re crazy.”
“You’re just jealous.”
“You kidding, right?”
“Flare sees talent in me, you’re just angry that you’re not the golden boy around here anymore.”
“If you think I was ever the golden boy then you’re blind. Do yourself a favour and wise up, they’re using you, just like they used me. You think I joined this gang out of choice? No, they beat me up until I agreed, and haven’t stopped since. I’m just a tool to them. If they could rip Deadeye from me and throw me to the law they would do it in a heartbeat. They only care about what you can offer them, and for you that’s money and reputation. You’ve bailed them out more times than I can count, more times than you ever should have.”
“They do care about me!”
“Then you don’t know what care is.” McCree turned to walk away.
“Go home, Elizabeth.”
“YOU COWARDS, GET OUT HERE AND SHOOT BACK!”
McCree furrowed an eyebrow at the screaming outside from Flare, sitting upright from where he had been lying trying to get some sleep. Pushing back the threadbare blanket he grabbed his gun and approached the window just as a flurry of bullets came flying, smashing the glass as they buried in the wall behind him, McCree having dropped to the wooden floor to avoid them.
“You’re surrounded, come out, now!" Shouted an authoritarian voice from the gorge, maybe he hadn’t been so off about his concerns of their unnamed client.
McCree tried to ignore the ringing in his ears as he got to his feet and walked down the corridor of the shack to where Sticks was frantically shoving bullets into his revolver. He was interrupted as a bullet lodged into his skull, dead in the center of his forehead, falling dead to the ground with a thump.
Gasping, McCree stumbled backwards from the corpse, tripping over and landing on his ass, continuing to crawl away from the expanding pool of blood.
The door was kicked open, a blonde agent entering, unaware of McCree’s presence.
He reached for his gun, raising it towards the guy’s leg before pulling the trigger.
Two things followed.
The first was that McCree quickly realised his gun was empty. The second was the agent’s instinctual response as he turned his own weapon towards the source of the noise and fired.
Three projectiles flew down the corridor, the first two McCree managed to duck, but in the case of the third, McCree was too slow, the helix rocket striking him in the side, propelling him through the air where he abruptly slammed into the wall, crumbling in a heap as his vision wavered, consciousness seeming to be a hard thing to keep a hold of in that moment.
He winced, placing a hand over the wound as his eyes widened at the sound of further footsteps approaching the shack. Another agent entered as yet another weapon was trained on him.
It was then that McCree began to accept his fate.
This was it.
His gun was kicked away by the second again which caused him to growl, slamming his head back against the wooden wall.
“I’m arresting you on suspicion of the murder of five Overwatch agents and conspiracy with the Deadlock gang.”
He scoffed, looking up at the two men before spitting in their direction.
The guy next to Blondie rushed forward and grabbed him by the throat, holding him against the wall.
McCree’s eyes were wide and accidentally fearful as he looked up at the agent.
Reyes, as Blondie had called him, noticed this fear and furrowed an eyebrow, seeming to finally take a good look at the kid.
And found… that he really was a kid.
“How old are you?”
“Reyes, there’ll be time for this back at base, let’s just get him out of him so we can clean this mess up.”
McCree found himself cuffed and dragged from the shack out to a ship just across the gorge. There seemed to be other ‘Overwatch’ agents aboard including some tall German guy, some British chick who didn’t seem able to shut the fuck up for five seconds, a dark-skinned woman who must have been placed in charge of keeping him in check as her rifle never left him during the journey, a cute blonde woman fussing around with medical supplies, and of course, Blondie and Reyes.
Rifle woman asked.
“You’re a motley bunch.”
“And you’re carrying a bounty for crimes including illegal weapons trafficking and murder.”
McCree glanced around some more.
“You will do well to remember that you’re talking to Commanding Officers and Captains, you will address us with respect, boy.”
In that moment, the ship hit a stretch of turbulence which caused the vessel to shake. McCree, still handcuffed, winced as the rough motions irritated the wound in his side, eyes darting around in concern as to what was happening.
“You never been on a plane before?”
“Do I look like I can afford any of that kind of shit?” McCree hissed, trying to hide the pain he was experiencing.
“Well, to us, you’re quite an enigma Mr… Jesse McCree.” She read, having taken out his file and flicking through it. “Family, blank, early life, blank, we don’t even know if that’s an alias you’re using or your real name.”
“I ain’t telling you shit, lady.”
“Captain Amari.” The cute blonde walked over. “Permission to assess the prisoner, he seems to be in some discomfort.
“I’m fine…” McCree deflected.
“Then my assessment will be a quick one.” The woman replied before receiving the nod from ‘Captain Amari’ and immediately finding the source of the problem in his side. “Helix rocket?” She asked him.
“I told Commander Morrison not to use those at close range…” She seemed to grumble to Captain Amari before walking over to her supplies and returning with a staff, bandage, and medical tape.
Hovering a hand over the glowing golden whisps swishing around she pulled a few strands from the staff and placed her just above his wound, the gold seeping through into the skin disappearing from view. She then proceeded to dress the wound, securing it in place.
“That should heal fully in a couple of days, maybe more depending on how deep the wound is. If there’s any discomfort then please tell someone.”
“Thanks.” McCree replied genuinely. “I appreciate it, Ma’am.”
The woman nodded before walking off.
“We’ll be landing soon.” Was all Captain Amari offered as she returned to reading the file.
“We can make you talk, you know that, right?”
McCree smirked to himself, knowing fine well that they could, but not easily. He doubted they would be able to do anything worse than what the Deadlock leaders had already done to him over the years, his body showing proof of that in countless scars to remind him of their harshness.
He thought of Ashe and how glad he was that she wasn’t there for any of this. They hadn’t ended things on good terms, something that McCree didn’t fully care about, but despite her tendency to be an asshole, he still never wanted to see her hurt.
The agent, clearly sick of his silence, slammed his fist on the table before storming out of the room.
McCree noticed that the door hadn’t fully clicked closed meaning that it was sitting unlocked. Not that there was any advantage he could even use from that fact, the handcuffs were pretty advanced to the point where his old paperclip trick wasn’t going to work this time.
The door was slowly pushed open.
“That was quick…”
Instead of the agent he had been expecting, it was… a young girl?
McCree furrowed and eyebrow.
“You supposed to be in here?”
The girl giggled, as if knowing she was doing something she wasn’t supposed to, taking the seat opposite him.
“Well I guess you must be the one in charge around here then.” He pretended, the little girl seeming to light up in happiness from the comment.
She nodded eagerly with another giggle, reaching across the table and sliding the hat back over to herself to take a look.
“Can I wear it?” The girl asked politely.
“Of course you can, Sweet Pea.”
Grinning, the little girl placed the hat on her head.
“Yee-Haw!” She exclaimed.
“You never told me you were a cowboy too!” He played along in fake amazement.
“I’m a cowgirl, duhhhh.”
The little girl looked around at the room and then down at the handcuffs on his wrists.
“Why are you in here rather than in the dorms with the others? You should be, you’re really cool.”
“I don’t think the other people here would agree with you on that one. I won’t get a dorm; I’ll just be here until they decide what they’re going to do with me.”
The little girl looked confused but he clearly had her full attention.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, not everyone that comes here is part of whatever this is.”
“Yeah, that. I’m not in that, and I’m never going to be.”
“Trust me, kid, people like me don’t get gigs like that, we get jail cells or worse.”
“Maybe I could talk to Mama about you being with us.”
“I’d rather you didn’t, but thanks anyway, Sweet Pea.”
“What do you mean?”
The door opened as Captain Amari walked in.
“Fareeha! What are you doing in here, get away from him!”
She rushed over, scooping her daughter up from the chair, placing her down between herself and the door.
“What did you say to her you Deadlock filth?!”
McCree winced; this looked as bad as he knew it was going to as soon as someone noticed.
“I didn’t say anything, we were just talking.”
“Oh yeah, about what exactly, her releasing you?!”
“No, of course not.” McCree sighed. “She’s just a kid.”
“And yet you tried to manipulate her no doubt.”
“I’m a cowgirl, Mama!” Fareeha proclaimed, still wearing the hat.
The agent who had previously been interrogating him rushed back into the room, having heard the eruption. Clearly angered by the involvement of the little girl he stormed over to McCree and slammed a hard punch across his face, truly not holding back.
McCree winced, trying not to cry out from the pain of the swing.
Reyes walked into the ever-crowding room. He also looked pissed as he grabbed the agent’s collar.
“The fuck are you doing?”
“He hurt Fareeha, Sir.” The agent tried to defend himself.
“I didn’t do anything to her…” McCree stated before being cut off.
McCree growled, slamming his hands down on the desk before slumping back as much as he could in the chair.
Captain Amari, who had been crouched beside her daughter, looked at him carefully.
“Why is she wearing your hat?”
“Because she wanted to wear it.”
She furrowed an eyebrow.
“And you let her?”
“Well… yeah. She’s a cute kid. Won me round in a few seconds. Beat any interrogating force you guys have if you ask me.” He joked, although he doubted many in the room would find the humour.
The Captain however did chuckle a little as she removed the cowboy hat from her daughter and placed in back on the table.
“Come on.” She led the little girl out of the room.
“Out!” Reyes ordered interrogation guy who followed command and left the room. He then took a seat across from him. “So, Jesse McCree, that legit?”
“Okay look, I am not dealing with this bullshit so you either start talking or I bring Commander Morrison in here and he can bore you to death with all the juicy details of how many years in jail you’re going to get for each count of involvement you have with that little gang of yours.” He paused. “And you never did tell me how old you actually are so why don’t we start there?”
“I already told you, twenty-two.”
“And I already said, bullshit…”
The agent looked shocked as he looked back at the file, writing something down.
“What do you think?”
“Can I ask how?”
“Government picked us up at the border. We’d rehearsed what we were supposed to do if anything happened but I never expected to have to use it. My parents played up their ignorance so we could get away, and they died for it. I spoke enough English that I could at least blend in a little, but my little sister wasn’t so lucky. She got picked up one day when I was out scavenging and I never saw her again. They sent her back and she died three weeks later when a gang decided they had nothing better to do then kill a seven-year-old.”
“And so you fell into your own gang, I’m sure your parents would be so proud.”
“What choice did I have?! I was starving… not that they gave me a choice anyway.”
The agent sighed.
“I truly am sorry about your family, kid, that must have been hard on you.” He rested his hands on the table. “What if I said I had an alternative to the government deporting you back there too?”
McCree furrowed an eyebrow.
“We’ll make it so Jesse McCree was born seventeen-years-ago in New Mexico and in return, you join Blackwatch under my command.”
“Why would you do that?”
“Because I think it’s time someone actually takes a chance on you.” The agent rose from the table. “And the name’s Commander Reyes, you will address me as such.”
“Thank you, Sir.”
“Come on.” Reyes began to unlock his handcuffs. “I’ll show you to your quarters.”
The other recruits around the base didn’t like him much which was painfully obvious in the glares, stares, and ‘Deadlock Scum’ comments thrown his way. Even the other Overwatch agents didn’t trust him, so he kept to himself and tried to stay occupied despite the lack of much to do.
His dorm was a bed, a table, and a chest of drawers. Most would have found this bare and lifeless but to even have the chance to call it his own was something he hadn’t been accustomed to in a great number of years.
The clock on the chest of drawers beeped to indicate lunch. Despite his hunger, the anxiety washing through him made the concept of sitting somewhere filled with so many recruits nauseating so instead McCree made his way out of the dorm area and down the corridor towards the living area.
The ‘crash room’ as he heard it referred to by passing agents was an open space with a huge window which stretched 180, showcasing the beauty of whichever part of Switzerland this was. It was light and airy and full of places to sit down and relax.
It was also empty, which McCree saw as an immediate plus.
Taking a seat, he sighed, scrubbing a hand down his face as he gazed out the window. He could just about make out Morrison and Reyes stood outside the headquarters seemingly arguing about something (more than likely him).
His admission to the ranks had proven unpopular with just about everyone besides Commander Reyes, and it didn’t look like it was going to get better any time soon.
Quick footsteps could be heard approaching along with a light, childish voice singing away to themselves in another language.
McCree furrowed an eyebrow before the little girl, (Fareeha?), entered the room. Her eyes lit up as she noticed him.
“Cowboy!” She rushed over and clambered up on the couch to sit next to him.
“Hey, Sweet Pea.” McCree took the hat from his head and placed it on the little’s girls. “You on your own again?”
She looked sad as she nodded.
“Mama, Uncle Jack, and Uncle Gabriel are busy.”
McCree couldn’t hide the chuckle at ‘Uncle’, finding it hard to imagine the two men in those kinds of roles.
“Everyone says I just get in the way.”
“The other cadets, they aren’t as nice as you.”
“Well that’s their loss. You wanna’ stay here with me, I got a pack of cards we can play with?”
The little girl’s face lit up.
And that’s how Morrison and Reyes found them an hour later, Fareeha lying on her stomach across the couch playing Snap with McCree.
“Oh, you’re too quick, Missy.” He smirked.
Someone cleared their throat from the doorway.
Looking over, it was Blondie.
“Don’t you have places to be, Agent?”
McCree held his ground regardless, his attention not straying away from Fareeha and the game.
“Not really… Snap!”
The little girl groaned.
“Would Captain Amari appreciate you spending so much time with her daughter?”
“I don’t know, maybe she should try it sometime…” He muttered under his breath.
“Excuse me?!” That angered Blondie quickly as he began to approach.
“Woah, hold on there.” Reyes placed his hand on Morrison’s shoulder. “The kid’s just playing cards with Fareeha, it’s hardly something punishable.” He turned to the little girl. “You get lonely, sweetie?”
“That meeting was taking forever…” Fareeha groaned.
“Yeah, sorry about that.”
“Mr. McCree was lonely too though.”
McCree smiled a little at the nickname, once again amazed by the perception of even the youngest child.
“Well it was very nice of you to keep him company, but we need to have a word with him if that’s alright. Why don’t you go and see Mama?”
Fareeha put the cards down before jumping down from the couch.
“Thanks for playing with me, it was really fun.”
“I had fun too, kid.” McCree lifted the hat from her head and placed it back on his own, tipping it to the young girl as she left the room.
“What’s your business with Fareeha?”
“She has everyone wrapped around her little finger and she knows it.” McCree answered.
Reyes smirked a little at that.
“Look, I know you don’t trust me, but I would never do anything to a kid, and I’m offended that you’d think otherwise. I’m a bad guy, but I’m not evil.”
“You’re just a kid yourself.”
“I never had that kind of innocence.”
Reyes looked him over.
McCree shook his head.
“Come on, I’m sure I can get the cooks to whip you something up, but don’t think that you can just skip meals in the future, you need to keep your strength up ready for physicals, the last thing we need on a mission is you passing out.”
They headed off down the corridor.
“Why do you even give a shit?” McCree asked truthfully, having spent the past few weeks trying to work out just why exactly Commander Reyes was even giving him the time of day after what he’d done in his past activities with the Deadlock gang. It didn’t seem to be Deadlock but they hadn’t even asked about that, McCree feeling pretty certain that they weren’t even aware he was able to do that.
“I see a lot of myself in you. I was temperamental and stupid at that age too, I made bad choices that I was luckily able to rectify through joining Overwatch. Our job is to help people and I think you will be an asset to this organisation somewhere down the line, we just have to make you see that there’s more to be gained from you than just a steady shooting hand.”
“They don’t let criminals into Overwatch.”
“Then prove to us that you’ve cleaned up your act. We’ve seen the way you are with Fareeha, there’s good in you, and you have a kind heart. Jack said your gun was aimed at his leg not his head, you meant to incapacitate him, not kill him, there’s a difference.”
“Where do I even start?” McCree asked, voice smaller than he’d ever admit.
“You start by eating some damn food.” Reyes teased. “Get in there and tell the chef Commander Reyes sent you. I’ll see you in the training room in half-an-hour, don’t be late.”
McCree tipped his hat with a smile.