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In these small moments

Chapter Text

It wasn’t often Tracer had nights like these.

Usually she could keep calm and do her own thing; sometimes running or working out worked. Sometimes eating helped abate the gnawing fear. Sometimes she was just too tired to deal with her overworked mind, and just went back to sleep.

Tonight, none of those worked, and she was nearly out of her mind with anxiety.

She sat up in bed, the blurred images of a wire infested chrome dome fading from her vision, only to vividly crop back up when she closed her eyes again. She was looking through it, into a white room where people dressed in white poured over white papers and spouted sterile sounding terms. And she...she would blink and they would be gone. Or change. Or, God forbid the worse times where when nothing was there at all. It was all white and blurry and swirling and colored and she was drowning in it, why can’t she breath-

Tracer tried to swallow down that feeling. The feeling of drowning in reality - in the present. She kicked off her covers, suddenly thinking the room was just too hot for them. When had she broken out into this cold sweat?

Didn’t matter. The voice inside her head was telling her to get rid of this feeling - this chest tightening, stomach flopping, head spinning unpleasantness that happened every time she thought about being in that dome, about what happened in that machine. And that thought, prowling on the outskirts of her mind like a predator stalking prey, the all consuming fear that it would happen again. That she would just silently slip through the cracks of reality and nobody would notice a thing and nobody would be there to save her.

Running. Next thing she knew she was running out of her suddenly too small room and into the halls of Overwatch HQ. She needed space. She needed air. All these narrow hallways that blurred in her frantic vision, but the windows didn’t open, and there were no open spaces.

Tracer collapsed onto her knees, coughing and spluttering. Her lungs felt like molten in her chest, her head was swimming with the need to breath - to exist! But it felt like she was fading, fading away, slipping through the currents of time and space no, please no...

“Tracer?”

The voice was synthetic, echoey. Not at all what she had been expecting.

Not that he - for that was what he claimed he was - expected to find her either, curled up in on herself, choking on her own air. The moonlight from the narrow windows showed she was still in her pajamas; a simple pair of sports shorts and a loose white cotton t-shirt to fit her chronal accelerator.

“Zen-” was all the startled Tracer could get out before the difficulty of breathing kicked back in.

Zenyatta was by her in a heartbeat, one hand her back and the other settling on where her hand was tearing up the skin of her arm as she scratched.

“Do you require the aid of Dr. Ziegler?” He asked softly. Tracer shook her head, curling more into herself. Zenyatta didn’t look convinced.

“Are you certain?” She nodded again. He took a moment to take in her appearance - uninjured, but not entirely well either.

“Tracer? Do you think you can breath with me?”

His voice was distant, so distant, but it was still there, and she made a bid for it.

Now, robots don’t really have a function for breathing, since machine don’t need to breath. However, meditating does require some form of respiration, so it was just a small modification Zenyatta had done on himself to allow for such things. He exaggerated every breath, expanding his chest and making a soft noise on both the inhale and exhale. In soft murmurs, he would say “in” or “out” but that was all. It was just Tracer and Zenyatta, breathing. Eventually, she followed suit.

“I’m-” Tracer wheezed when she had gotten her breath back. “I’m sorry Zen. I didn’t mean tah wake ya-”

A slight tilt of his head sideways. “It is fine, my child. Are you feeling better?”

She managed a small, tired smile. She was still shaking like a leaf, and slightly out of breath, but her mind was clearer now. “Yeah. I just - I had a nightmare.”

“Must have been quite a nightmare.” Zenyatta stood gracefully. He extended a hand out to Tracer. She took it, and the monk hoisted her up, placing her arm around his shoulders so that she could keep balance on quaking legs. “Are you willing to share it?”

He obviously had a place he was going, as they both worked their way down the hallway. Tracer was just along for the ride, it looked like. She was okay with that - not like she was planning on going back to her room anytime soon.

Besides, if there was anyone who could help her talk things out, it would probably be Zenyatta. The omic was wise beyond anyone Tracer had ever met, and his deep seated spirituality just might be the solace Tracer was looking for.

“It was from after the accident. Ya know, before I had this.” She gestured vaguely to the faintly blue glowing machinery under her shirt. “Sometimes I’m afraid it’ll happen again. That I’ll just...flicker in and out of existence forever and not even Winston can save me.”

Zenyatta glanced over at her. “That is surprisingly dark for you, my child.” She gave a self deprecating smile in return.

“Yeah, not much my cuppa tea, is it? I guess I can’t always be ‘The cavalry is here, luvs!’ all the time, yeah?”

They entered a room. It was wide and open and one wall was made entirely of a window that overlooked the gardens. Tracer stepped on the matted floor with Zenyatta.

“Is this-”

“A room for meditation, yes.” Answered Zenyatta before Tracer could get the question out. “It is good for those with troubled minds.”

Tracer made a face, and Zenyatta caught it. “You are troubled by this?”

She shifted uneasily, trying not to lean too much of her weight on him. “Well sorta? I just don’t really want to close my eyes. Is that okay?”

The omnic considered this. “Yes. We can just speak, if you like.”

He settled her down first, then he came after. He adopted his usual pose, cross legged and straight backed. She laid out on her back, her head resting on his lap. They both had a view of gardens, bathed in silvery moonlight.

And they talked. Tracer asked him about how he became a monk. Zenyatta asked her how she became a pilot. They swapped war stories, nightmares, and personal philosophies. They talked about, good, evil, and existence in general.

That morning, when Genji walked into the meditation room and saw Tracer sleeping on Zenyatta’s lap while he meditated, he didn’t mention it to either of them.

Chapter Text

Route 66 was probably one of the places D.Va hated most.

It was dry and hot and dusty. It got into her lungs and made her cough. It got under her skin and made her burn. Everything was very cliche - like a setting straight from one of those horrible westerns.

Okay, maybe not horrible. Red Dead Redemption was an old game, but damn if it wasn’t still stellar. Also, she could forgive Tombstone and the Magnificent Seven. BUT other than that, it thematically overused and beaten down. It left her feeling gritty and gross.

Unfortunately this was the spot they had to hold today. Despite the location, D.Va would give it her all - she always did. She played to win.

Which is why she totally bailed out of her mech when Roadhog chain hooked it.

She dove onto the ground, ignoring the unpleasant feeling of sharp rocks and grit that rubbed against her suit, and twisted into a combat roll. Bullets sprayed out behind her, kicking up clouds of dust as she hoofed it to the nearest point of cover.

There was an explosion that rocked the ground - her mech, she knew and faintly smirked at the destruction it had made. Then something grabbed her around the back of her neck and yanked her into a nearby building.

For a moment it was all a bodily struggle - a melee that had her elbowing and punching wherever D.Va could reach on her assalit in her blind panic. When she had an arm free, she grabbed her blaster.

“Hey- HEY! Would you quit the shit, kid! Its me!”

The voice was familiar. Of course it was familiar - she had spent weeks posted at this station with the man. It was hard not to get familiar with someone in such a situation.

McCree looked like he belonged here, like he was the missing puzzle piece this land needed. The protagonist to a story that had been away for too long.

“What is wrong with you? You just don’t go grabbing people out of nowhere!” D.Va exclaimed, lowering her blaster and settling the cowboy with glare.

McCree scowled. “Its better than leavin’ ya out there - nearly ran into that there Bastion and got yourself blown to bitty pieces. And here I thought you couldn't get any smaller.”

D.Va hadn’t noticed the Bastion. That most certainly would have been an unpleasant encounter, especially without her mech.

“Yeah, well you could have gone about it a lot better. Thanks anyways.”

McCree gave a smirk. Digging through a pocket, he brought out a cigar and a lighter.

“Not a problem kid. What happened to your suit?”

D.Va crossed her arms over her chest, pouting. “Frickin’ Roadhog.”

McCree nodded. “Thats a shame. Not like you can do any real damage with that little toy you got there.”

Did he just...? Oh. Oh it was ON.

D.Va turned on her heels and starting walking towards where the Bastion was. McCree, seeing this, dropped his cancer log and his lighter.

“Hey! Whoa there, you can’t go out that way!” He warned. When she didn’t stop right away, the man grabbed her around the middle and lifted her off the ground.

“What in the sam hell is going on in that brain of yours? What part of BASTION THAT WAY, don’t you understand?”

“Nobody challenges my skill! I’ll show you just what this ‘toy’ can do!” D.Va struggled against the cowboy, who was starting to have a hard time keeping a grip on the squirming girl.

“Holy- It was a joke, Hana!” McCree grunted as D.Va landed an elbow on his ribcage. “For God's sake, the tiny thing doesn't even shoot bullets!”

“It doesn’t need to! I don’t need bullets - I have skill!”

“Yeah, well ‘skill’ isn’t going to help your pew-pew gun blast through a Bastion’s shield!”

“Like you’re Peacemakers can do any better! Put me down and I’ll show you what I can do!” She swung her foot back and dug her heel into his knee. McCree hissed but didn’t release her.

“Not a chance, little lady. You are going to get yourself killed!”

“McCree, I will not hesitate to kick you in the balls!”

“You do and I will give you the worst indian burn you have ever had in your entire life!”

“I don’t know what that is, but even if I did, it's not intimidating!”

Kathunk-hissssssss

D.Va and McCree had been so caught up in there own struggle they only noticed the now non-turret mode Bastion when it walked into the building.

All three parties froze.

Then: “Ah hell.”

McCree, taking D.Va with him, dove behind the nearest counter as the Bastion started to unload a barrage of bullets.

“Son of a -” McCree ducked lower as a bullet almost took his head off. He had to yell to be heard over the din. “Keep down!”

D.Va righted herself and put her back against the counter. They were pinned but good, and it probably wouldn't be long before backup came for the Bastion - not that it ever needed any. The most pressing matter at the time, however, was cover. Counters were, historically, not bullet proof and neither was this one. It was only a matter of seconds before it was torn to shreds.

“I have a plan!” She called over to McCree. He had a bullet in his teeth and was quickly reloading a gun.

“Yeah? Does it involve shooting the Bastion?”

“Something like that! I need you to draw its fire!”

He looked at her, mid-way through loading a chamber. “What?”

“I said-”

“I know what you said! That's asking an awful lot, especially when your last plan was a suicide mission.”

D.Va looked at him, hard, her expression serious.

“Do you trust me, McCree?”

The cowboy didn’t miss a beat. “Absolutely not. You’re young, reckless, and proud. All the things I was when I was your age.” He finished loading his guns with a flick of his wrist. “Which is probably why I’m gonna follow through anyways.”

McCree settled his hat more firmly on his head and took a deep breath.

Then he ran out of cover.

The Bastion was aiming at him immediately - he was the most obvious threat in the room after all. He made a beeline for the next nearest cover - an overturned table that would last him, oh, all of four seconds under the constant stream of submachine gun fire. He took it anyways.

“D.Va, about now would be nice!” He called out as he got as low to the ground as possible.

Then the room exploded.

It wasn’t your typical explosion with fire and smoke, but the roof over top of them blew out and something big and overwhelmingly pink dropped in and smashed the Bastion where it stood.

D.Va’s mech.

The girl peered out from her cover. “Boom!” She exclaimed. “Nailed it. And you know what, McCree: not a bullet.”

McCree just shook his head. “You are wild, kid. Come on, let's get out of here before anything else goes haywire.”

“Come on, McCree. You know that was cool!”

The cowboy sighed, rolling his eyes. “Yeah, I reckon it was.”

And he never lived it down.

Chapter Text

When Reinhardt had gotten the call from Winston, he had been skeptically hopeful.

He remembered the good old days - the golden age of Overwatch. When they were a force of good, upholding peace, protecting the innocent and prosecuting those that wished to do them harm.

But that Overwatch had gone down in flames, literally. After the incident in Switzerland, it had become nothing but a shadow of an organization. Heros that had once been glorified were criminalized and their family - already starting to crumble from the suspicion and in-fighting - had fallen apart completely with the Petras Act.

Did he really want to do it all again?

Whatever the reason, Reinhardt heard the call and responded. It was second nature to him now - something was threatening the good of the world - and now the lives of his old friends - and he was going to step up and do something about it.

He was one of the first responders, it turned out.

Watchpoint Gibraltar had very few residents; himself, Winston, Winston’s AI Athena, and Tracer. It had been nice to see them again. They had fought many fine battles together and he was proud to see them once again on the side of good. More were coming shortly, he had been told, and he would be the one to greet them in the docking bay.

And so he was there when the transport ship provided by Winston dropped off the next Overwatch agents.

He was expecting to see Pharah or Mercy.

He hadn’t expected the great, familiar bellow that echoed out into the docking bay over the dying jet engines.

“Well, if it ain't the big ugly knight back on the prowl! I thought you were too old for this?”

Reinhardt nearly slipped off of the crate he had been sitting on. Surprised, the old man’s previously stoic face split into an enormous grin.

“Torbjörn!” He exclaimed. Jumping up, he bum rushed the smaller man, sweeping him up into a gigantic bear hug. “Friend, it is good to see you again!”

Torbjörn let out a belly laugh, slapping the larger man on the shoulder. “It is good to see you too, you old coot. Finally hung up your armor, or is this just a dress down day for you?”

Setting the mechanic down, Reinhardt shook his head. “Nein, I vould never. It's in the shop for now - needed a little repair after a fight vith a dragon. But vhat are you doing here, friend? I thought you had a company to run and veapons to find.”

Torbjörn brushed the question off. “Ach, I’ll find the rest of those weapons if it's the last thing I ever do, but Overwatch took a priority. Some strange things are happening in this day and age, Sir, and it’ll be over my decaying corpse that they happen under my watch. Not after what happened the last time.”

Ah, the Omnic Crisis. Torbjörn had called it years before it happened, and it was his paranoid plannings that made it a survivable ordeal.

The dwarf paused a moment. “Wait. What dragon? A fake dragon, right? Maybe one of those Shimada fools?”

Reinhardt let out a laugh, slapping his companion on the back so hard that he almost toppled over. “Something like that. I think now is the time to catch up, though, don't you think? I haven't had the pleasure of drinking with you for many years.”

Torbjörn looked a little disgruntled at being displaced by his friend’s superior strength, but that quickly morphed into mirth at the mention of alcohol.

“Aye, too many years. You’ve aged.”

Reinhardt rolled his eyes, crossing his arms in front of his chest. “Vould you stop with the old jokes? You aren't much younger than me. You have just looked older longer. Probably because you’re -”

“Don’t you do it, Sir.” The dwarf growled.

“-short.” The knight spat out through a large grin. The engineer scowled.

“You tall kraut! Come down here and say that to my face!”

“I vould, but I’m pretty sure bending down that far vould throw my back out.”

Torbjörn broke out into a string of fast, foreign words, stamping his foot on the ground and going red in the face. Meanwhile, Reinhardt dissolved into laughter.

“Are you done yet?” Demanded the engineer. Reinhardt slapped a knee and attempted to catch his breath.

“Oh friend, that never gets old. It makes me happy to know that even vhen the entire vorld is changing around me, you are still the same after all these years.”

Torbjörn’s face softened, if only just a little. “Well, the same could be said for you, you great lump. What was that about getting a drink earlier?”

“Sure you still vant to go drinking vith an old knight like me?”

Torbjörn waved him off, already heading towards the main base. “Of course! We can drink and be old together! You still have yet to tell me of this dragon.”

Reinhardt beamed, jogging to catch up to his old friend.

“So ve ended up in this village; ve needed supplies and I needed currywurst...”

Chapter Text

The battlefield was chaos.

Mercy had lost Tracer somewhere in the endless winding turns of King’s Row. The child was much too fast for her own well being - and Mercy was that well being. Ideally, the doctor had hoped Tracer would double back for her, but it was more than likely that she hadn’t even noticed Mercy was gone and wouldn’t until she got shot. And who knew when that was going to happen - hitting a person who can control her own time stream was a harder feat than most thought.

Mercy wished Tracer’s health was the only thing on her mind at the time, but no, it was her own. She was alone in Kings Row during a time of conflict. That was bad for several reasons; one being that she wasn’t doing her job. The other being that she was extremely vulnerable. Mercy was a doctor, not a fighter verdammt! She could hold her own fairly well, but against highly trained assassins? Not likely.

“Oh Tracer...” Mercy sighed aloud.

“What's the matter doc? Feeling lonely?”

The gravelly growl was unmistakable. Mercy drew her caduceus blaster and fired a volley into the location where she had heard the voice.

She hit nothing but black smoke, trailing in the breeze.

Then he was on her.

A powerful arm wrapped around her neck from behind, but Mercy turned her head so it wouldn’t crush her windpipe. She went to drop down, to escape from his grasp, but something cold was pressed against her forehead that made her freeze.

A shotgun. It smelled like gunpowder and brimstone. Reaper really liked to run with a theme, didn’t he?

“Goodbye Doc. I’ll see you in hel-”

Something whistled through the air and impacted.

Reaper hissed, dropping Mercy to try and dislodge the arrow from his back. Three more came whizzing from the alleyway of a nearby building. They struck true, and Reaper disappeared into a dark vapor.

Mercy rubbed at her neck where, no doubt, there would be deep bruises. A hand was extended out to her, one not occupied with a bow.

“Dr. Ziegler.” Hanzo greeted. She took his hand and he lifted her to her feet.

“Thank you for the assistance, Hanzo.” She smiled at the man. He nodded.

“Hai. It was no trouble. You would have done the same for any of us.” He was stiff, and, if Mercy was reading him right, just a tad awkward. She wondered if that was because of her gratitude, or the nature of her relationship with his brother.

Probably both.

“I think it would be wise if you stuck close to me until we can find the others, Doctor.”

She adopted a disarming smile. “Yes, I think I’ve had enough forays on my own for one battle. Thank you again for your assistance.”

His stoic expression twisted for a moment, but it was too quick for Mercy to catch it. “Follow me.”

Hanzo stuck to higher ground. He would climb up a building, quickly scout an area, and then allow her to follow. By the time they had gotten to the base, the fighting was over and night was starting to settle over the area.

“Mercy!” Exclaimed Tracer. The excited young woman nearly tackled the medic. “I’m so sorry! I didn’t know I lost you!”

Mercy patted the woman on the back. “No harm done Tracer, just make sure you don’t wander off so much next time?”

“Will do! Oh, but they need you in the med bay! Junkrat got pretty burned up out there and Winston’s got some bullet wounds where the sun don’t-”

“Alright, alright!” Mercy interrupted Tracer before she could embarrass the ape more than she already had. “I’ll go help them out. Anyone else who feels they need my assistance, please stop by the med bay.” She turned to address Hanzo, to thank him once again for saving her, but he was gone. Her face fell, but not for long. She had patients to attend to. If he wanted to talk about something, he could seek her out.

Turns out, he did just that.

It was late. Mercy had just finished patching up Winston (who had, in fact, had several bullets ‘where the sun don’t shine’) and she was just sitting down to type up a report when there was a knock on her door.

“Come in.” She answered. Hanzo stepped carefully into the room, softly closing the door behind him.

“Doctor.” he greeted with a short bow. Mercy stood and returned the gesture, with a soft smile.

“Hanzo. Is something the matter?”

He hesitated, face morphing from one expression to another faster than Mercy could keep track of. It finally settled on his constant neutrality.

“You are the one who...the one who saved my bro- the one who saved Genji, correct?”

Mercy nodded. She knew the tale of woe between the two brothers. Genji had told her, and he vented about it much to her in private. Hanzo was having a...difficult time accepting the present situation. Mercy believed it was because the thought of Genji surviving what had happened was more horrifying to Hanzo than believing he had died. And after seeing Genji’s current state of affairs...

Well, Hanzo had done that to him. That had to be difficult to deal with on a number of levels.

“I want to learn more about it.”

Mercy was taken aback by the request. “I apologize, can you elaborate?”

Hanzo looked like he was struggling, his muscles tense and hands fisted at his sides. “I want to know more about my brother's...condition.”

“You mean the cybernetics?”

The man flinched. “Yes.”

Mercy gave a sigh. “Hanzo...wouldn’t this be a more appropriate conversation to have with Genji?”

“No.”

“Can I ask why you want to know?”

Hanzo scowled. “Are you going to answer my request?”

“Tell me you aren’t going to use the information in a harmful manner, and I will.”

He morphed to anger in the blink of an eye, eyes aflame with wounded pride and rage. “I would rather die than see my brother hurt again.”

“Last I heard, he wasn’t the brother you knew.”

The archer fell quiet, shoulders slumping. He looked...tired. Running a hand through his hair, he looked up at Mercy again.

“I...have struggled greatly with a relationship with my brother. I have done some horrible things that I fear I can never atone for. First I killed Genji. Then I turned him into...that.”

His face twisted in grief. Mercy thought about reaching out to lend a comforting hand, but thought better of it. She didn’t point out that it had in fact been her that gave Genji his new body. That it wasn’t something to be pitied or scorned. That cybernetic body was to be cherished - it had meant a new life for Genji. She held her tongue.

“I do not like what he has become, but only I am to blame for it. I am trying to come to terms with it, but it is not easy. That is why I want to learn more about what he is now. I want to be able to help him, if it is necessary.”

Mercy thought that was enough for her. She let out a breath she hadn’t known she had been holding.

“Alright.”

Hanzo looked up at her, hope briefly flashing in his eyes.

“Really?”

“Ja. If this will help you with your relationship with your brother, then I can oblige. Although, I highly recommend going to see Zenyatta; he is who you really wish to speak with if you want to know your brother.”

“Arigatōgozaimashita.”

They spent the next couple of hours pouring over documents. Mercy demonstrated taking care of several issues that could happen with Genji’s body at any given time. Hanzo was an attentive student and asked plenty of question about how or why these issues might occur.

After a while it stopped being late and started being early. Hanzo noticed this and politely asked to continue the conversation another time.

“Oh, I hadn’t realized how much time had passed. I suppose we should call it a night.” Mercy rubbed tiredly at her eyes. She still had those reports to write up to. It was going to be a sleepless night.

“I apologize Dr. Ziegler. I hadn’t meant to keep you for this long -” He prattled on with profuse apologies for keeping her busy this late. In all reality, Mercy didn’t mind so much. She was happy that Hanzo was at least trying to reach out to his brother in some way.

She also knew that he wasn’t actually apologizing for keeping her up this late. It could be that he was just so deep in his self loathing that he didn’t realize it anymore. Either way, Mercy took a shot in the dark.

“Hanzo, you know that I don’t hate you right?” She interrupted him mid-sentence.

Hanzo stiffened, eyes darting to Mercy in confusion.

“I- I don’t understand.”

“I know you regret what happened with Genji, and I promise that I don’t hate you for it. You are not a villain, Hanzo. I truly hope you can find the peace you seek.”

Hanzo opened his mouth, then shut it. He sighed.

“Thank you Doctor. You’re words are more than I deserve.”

Mercy smiled. “Everyone deserves happiness, Mr. Shimada.”

He didn’t give her a reply, just a simple closing of his eyes. He stood and started for the door, pausing briefly before reaching for the knob.

“I would like to be your friend, Dr. Ziegler. I have done terrible things, and I may not deserve your friendship, but...maybe it would be a step closer to making amends.” A faint smile. “Besides, I can't have Genji’s ‘special friend’ getting shot if I can help it. Have a good night.”

He left before she could ask him what he meant by ‘special friend’.

Chapter Text

Lúcio slipped his head sets around his neck, grinning broadly. The mix he had just made turned out better than he could have hoped for. Leaning back in his seat, he wondered who he should show it to first - Lúcio told himself it was just testing the waters before he released it, but in reality he just liked to share his music with his friends. He had a couple of fans in Overwatch, and they would gladly sample his tunes before he sent them out to the general public.

D.Va was his first thought, but she had been sent out with McCree to Route 66. Tracer would love to hear it, he knew, but she had been spending more time with Zenyatta of late. It was around the time the two would do their morning meditation (or, Tracer would attempt to. It was hard for the women to settle down and stay in one place for too long. Lúcio wondered why the omnic even tried, but it worked for them, so he didn’t question it too much) so she was also out.

Mei should be around somewhere, though. He decided to track her down.

The DJ snatched up the recording off of his workstation and slipped out of his room. It was still fairly early, but the breakfast rush was over, meaning most of Overwatch HQ’s inhabitants were off doing there own thing. That being said, the first place he checked was the kitchen.

Winston was working at the stove, dexterously flipping a pan with a flapjack on it.

“Hey,” Lúcio greeted. The scientist gave him a wave.

“Good morning Lúcio. Have you had breakfast yet? I’m making banana pancakes.”

The DJ let out a chuckle. “Nah, I already ate, thanks for the offer though. I was actually looking for Mei; I finished up a recording and wanted her to take a listen.”

Winston paused, tapping a large finger to his chin. “I don’t think I’ve seen her this morning. I’m sure she’s around here somewhere.”

“Yeah. Thanks anyways.”

“Have a good day!”

The next place Lúcio looked was Mei’s room. He knocked a couple of times, but got no response.

“Mei?” He called out tentatively. “Hey, you okay in there?”

“She's out.”

Lúcio jumped at the sudden voice. Turning, he saw Pharah leaning against the door down the hall - assumedly her room. It was strange to see the soldier out of her Raptora. She seemed much smaller, despite carrying herself the same way.

“Out? Did she mention where?”

She shook her head. “Didn’t say. She looked like she was heading towards the gardens though, so you should check there.”

The DJ sighed, exasperated. “Okay, looks like I’m heading out that way. Thanks for the info.”

Pharah simply nodded, pushing off the wall and disappearing into her room.

Overwatch HQ was a large establishment. It had, at one point, housed many of the world's best and brightest and thus had accommodations for them. Along with several rooms of worship, they had numerous laboratories and living quarters. It hadn’t surprised Lúcio in the slightest when the sprawling complex had an extensive outdoor garden - Overwatch had been very invested in climate change and green technology, after all.

Still, the immense size and richness of the establishment boggled him. And this was just what the current Overwatch agents had been able to repair and power up! There were many room and workplaces that were still in varying degrees of disrepair - Winston had done his best to keep the place up, but he was only one ape. It also didn’t help that they were still trying to stay under the radar.

He wasn’t in Rio de Janeiro anymore, that was for sure.

Wandering out of the building, Lúcio came to the path to the garden. He half expected it to be overgrown, but it looked like Bastion had trimmed and tidied everything out. It was strange for the robot to have such a love for the natural weird, but he supposed it wasn’t any weirder for a robot to believe it has a soul.

It took him a while of searching to find Mei in the immense gardens. She wasn’t dressed in her usual heavy coat and boots, and instead in a simple t-shirt and jeans. She was kneeling in front of some sort of monument - Lúcio had seen it before. It was a large stone, carved in the shape of a great elder oak. He was going to call out to her, to ask her what she was doing, when he heard her speaking.

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry that it had to be you.”

It was so soft and quiet, the DJ almost missed it. It was reverent - the tone he had heard used in crowded, hushed churches. He stopped where he stood, and listened.

“You were my family. We were going to help save this world. Stop global climate change in its tracks, remember?” Mei touched the monument, her other hand going to scrub at something on her face. “Overwatch is being reinstated. I don’t how much good it’ll do. I don’t even know if the agents I work with like me. They probably just think I’m some...environmentalist hippie. I can’t even wield a normal gun. I’m not sure...I’m not sure I can be a normal part of a family again. I miss all of you so much.”

There was a pause as she sniffled.

“I have dreams about it still. About stepping into the machine and seeing you all through the frosting glass.” Her voice shook and wavered. “I wanted us all to survive, but instead...instead it was just me.”

“But I wish it hadn’t been. Why? Why am I alive, when all of you have passed? It consumes me, sometimes. I saw your corpses, frozen in time, like only moments had passed and not years.”

Mei seemed to compose herself. She stood, brushing herself off.

“I have to speak today. It's a memorial for you. Your families are going to be there; they’re just happy to have your bodies back, but the pain never really goes away. I know the climatology department thinks that they are doing something kind with this event; remembering those lost in a tragic incident. Honestly? It just feels like reopening wounds.”

She stroked the rough edges of the stone tree. “I’m sorry, that must have sounded rude. You’re more than just wounds - I loved you. I loved you all. I’m sorry.”

Gathering herself, Mei left the monument, following a path that looked like it lead back to the HQ. The only reason she hadn’t noticed Lúcio is because he had missed it in his blind wanderings.

The DJ looked after her and then towards the monument. She had left something there. Upon closer inspection it was a bouquet of roses - roses made entirely of ice. They were already starting to melt.

Looking up from the flowers, Lúcio examined the inscription;

In memory of Watchpoint: Antarctica
May their souls rest eternally in peace.

There was a date under it. Today's date, from several years again.

Oh.

Mei had been the only scientist to wake up from the emergency cryostasis that had happened at Watchpoint: Antarctica. And today seemed to be the anniversary of its uncovering.

No wonder she had sounded so...well, it wasn’t his place to judge. Mei was usually very light hearted, but it was understandable if she was feeling dark on a day like today.

But had she really meant it? Having wanted to have died with them? About her thinking that the current Overwatch didn’t like her? That she couldn’t have another team again? It didn’t sit right with Lúcio, and almost instantly he thought up a plan.

It might not be a permanent solution to her problems, but he was no Mercy or Zenyatta. It might be a silly gesture, but it had heart, and at the end of the day wasn’t that what mattered?

The DJ darted back the way he came; he had till Mei came back from her speech tonight.

It would be just enough time.

 

///B-B-B-BREAK IT DOOOOOWN///

 

Mei was tired.

She dragged herself into her room, slumping down onto the bed without even taking off her formal wear. She didn’t really care anymore if it got wrinkled.

She felt numb. The speech hadn’t been easy. Neither had the questions. They were just reminders and all she wanted to do was forget.

Survivor, survivor, survivor they had called her, over and over again. Like it was some achievement. Like she had done something heroic to starve off the technological failure that had claimed her teammates, instead of just getting lucky.

But was she really lucky? Their faces were burned into the back of her eyelid; first smiling and happy and full of life.

Then blue and cold and numb.

Numb like she was right now.

Mei shifted and something brushed against her hand. She examined it.

It was a recording device - one of Lúcio’s. The icon was unmistakable. Had he given her some new music to sample? A note confirmed her suspicions; he had left it here for her to listen to after she got back from her business today.

She almost didn’t listen to it. It had been a long, tiring day and she wasn’t sure she was going to enjoy the good vibes Lúcio’s music usually provided. Then again, he would probably ask her about it later, and she didn’t feel like disappointing anyone else.

Without getting up, she plugged her earbuds into the device and hit play.

It started with an upbeat bass, but if Mei was being honest, she wasn’t really paying attention. The tempo rose and the beat was on the pinnacle of dropping, when the music stopped altogether.

“Hey Mei!” Lúcio’s voice chirped.

Mei leapt up, pausing the music to locate the man. Her room was empty.

What...?

She unpaused the music.

“I know today is...well it’s not a good day for you. Something really bad happened and I know you're struggling to come to terms with some stuff.”

That was Lúcio voice alright, but it was on the device. How would he even know about all of that stuff? What was going on??

“I’m going to be honest with you Mei - I don’t know how to help you with this. But I can try and make you feel a little better. Despite what you may think, everyone here at Overwatch is really glad you survived. You are a kind, generous, and brilliant person. The world would be a little darker if you weren’t here.”

Where did he...? Since when did she deserve..? Mei felt her eyes sting and her lips start to tremble.

“Don’t believe me, right? Well, lucky for you, I asked a couple of others to put in their opinion.”

There was the sound of something shifting, probably the microphone.

“Hey!” His voice was a little more distant now and there was some static, as if he were running. “Tracer! What do you think of Mei?”

“Hm? Oh, she's adorable! Handy in a pinch too! She's an absolute treasure!”

“What about you Winston?”

“I feel better knowing that the future will have people like Mei in it.”

“Sweet! Talk to you later!”

And it just...continued. Zenyatta, Pharah, Reinhardt, Torbjörn, Mercy, Genji, Symmetra, Zarya even 76 and Junkrat had answered the question he poised without fail; they were all glad that she was here and that she was with them. They were proud of her achievements. They liked her.

She was crying, clutching the device close to her chest.

The last one Lúcio questioned was Bastion. The robot only answered in a series of beeps and boops. The DJ laughed somewhere off to one side.

“Hear that Mei! It says it want to marry you!”

An alarmed boop, then a scuffle.

“It looooooves you Mei - Ow! Hey! No hitting! Bastion, I’m serious-”

There were a series or crashing noises before the recording stopped.

Mei rubbed at her raw eyes and reddened nose. She would have to thank Lúcio; really, properly thank him. For now though, she was tired. More tired that she had been before she started listening.

And for the first time that day, Mei was glad she was a survivor.

Chapter Text

Widowmaker didn’t like being watched.

She was pretty good at staying out of sight when she needed to - as a trained assassin that was part of her job, after all. Most people knew well enough to leave her alone when they were off the job. She was cold and distance at the best of times, downright rude at the worst.

That, however, didn’t stop Symmetra.

Widowmaker caught the woman looking at her more times than not; a glance in her direction on the battlefield, a hard stare during transport. She could have handled it better if the woman was leering at her, or trying to make a pass - Widowmaker had dealt with that before. But she wasn’t. The brief eye contact that they made was really the only interaction they had.

Well, that was until Symmetra stopped by her room after dinner.

It was, of course, unexpected. Nobody bothered Widowmaker. They especially didn’t come to her room.

Loosely holding Widow’s Kiss, she opened the door.

“Do you require zomething?” she asked tiredly, her expression blank. She had just been thinking about starting up a soothing bath.

Symmetra, obviously not phased by the firearm, straightened her back and gave a polite cough. If Widowmaker were any sort of judge, it looked more like she was about to speak at a meeting than just talking to a co-worker.

Or that could just be nerves. Widowmaker did have a habit of making people nervous.

“Hello to you too, Widowmaker. Yes, I do have something I require - a talk with you.”

Widowmaker rose an eyebrow. “Does zhis ‘ave to do with all your staring?”

Symmetra frowned. “I wasn’t staring. I was calculating.”

Calculating? That sounded like an invasion of her privacy.

“Elaborate.” The sniper demanded.

The hard light specialist nodded. “Of course. May I come in, so we can talk more privately.?”

“No. Zhis is fine.”

Like she said earlier; downright rude at the worst.

Symmetra looked slightly taken aback, but recovered quickly.

“Your suit isn’t very battle effective.” she declared. “The material used is thin, and while that is all and good for sniping, it leaves much to be desired in protectiveness. It also leaves you open to impact injuries - your gloves and boots aid you in stability, but you have to rely on your own strength and prowess for your acrobatics. This can lead to muscle injuries or even broken limbs, especially since you seem to have a slower than normal heart rate.” Symmetra pulled out a holoscreen and handed it over to Widowmaker. It had a perfect sketch of her suit on it, with all sorts of calculations and notes around it.

Widowmaker didn’t feel a lot of emotions. She was stunted in that aspect, for the most part, and that was the way she liked it. Emotions were a burden - a distraction from the logical course of action.

So, to say that confusion was leaking through her normal day to day numbness was unusual.

“My suit is just fine.” Countered Widowmaker. “It gets zhe job done.”

Symmetra shook her head. “With some small modifications, it could be so much better. Your survivability in battle would skyrocket and-”

Widowmaker scowled. “I don’t see why you are ‘ere. Why should you care about what happens to me and mine during a time of combat? Vishkar ‘as millions of other customers; I do not need to be anozher one of zhem.”

She went to close the door.

Symmetra stopped her, creating a hardlight doorstop. The woman sighed.

“Listen Widow, I know you have this charade about spiders and not feeling any emotions-”

“I assure you, it is not a charade.”

“-but it’s illogical to think that your teammates would not care about your wellbeing on the field of battle.”

“I do not need their concern.”

“That is probably for the best, but you have it regardless.”

Widowmaker was starting to get impatient. Why was Symmetra still here? Had she not made it very clear that she didn’t want to have this conversation?

“So, instead of coming ‘ere to convince me to sell my soul to Vishkar, you instead want to tell me ‘ow much zhe team cares about me and wants to protect my little spider body?” The sniper sneered, the mocking sing-song of her voice inflicting the condescension she had hoped it would.

For a moment, anger graced Symmetra’s face, but the woman schooled her emotions well.

“Alright. I can see when I’m not wanted.”

“Obviously not.”

The hard light specialist didn’t bother to hide the flinch.

“Turn to the next page on the holoscreen. It will have all the information about the adjustments that could be made. I would highly suggest turning them into a reality; not because I care, but because it would make you more effective on the battlefield. It would benefit the team as a whole. If you have any question - which I’m sure you won’t - you know where to find me.”

Symmetra deconstructed the hard light doorstop and slammed the door herself.

Widowmaker humphed, glancing down at holoscreen in her hands. She probably shouldn’t check the next page. The sniper didn’t plan on making any changes to her suit.

But her curiosity got the best of her. Symmetra had been watching her for weeks, and she was interested to see what data the woman might have gathered.

Swiping over, there was another sketch of her suit, only this time there were minor adjustments to it. The material was different, still skintight, but just a tad thicker. Clicking on it, there was a list of various materials, most of them with large addendums about how they would work with a ‘force suppression technology’. Something that Symmetra had devised herself.

The entire article was four or five pages long, with calculations of how the suit would work with both the technology, and her natural form to better enhance her performance in battle. This would have taken Widowmaker months to do. The attention to detail was startling.

Begrudgingly, the sniper admitted it would make her suit better.

Something bubbled up just under the surface of her apathy, but it wasn’t strong enough to break through. Something almost akin to guilt.

Maybe she had underestimated Satya.

The question now was did she talk to the hard light specialist about it? Some of these implements were out of her area of expertise. But wounded pride was a fickle things.

Widowmaker decided not to worry too much about it. She’d give Symmetra time. For now, she was going to continue fixing that bath that she had been craving.

Chapter Text

No matter where or who you were stationed with, dinner was always an eventful meal.

Breakfast was, for the most part, quiet. It had probably been a long night, and even the morning doves knew not to poke at those who hadn’t had their morning coffee yet. Lunch you could get away with quickly - grab a granola bar and go. Dinner was always a sit down meal.

Which is how you got combinations like Mei, Junkrat, Reaper, Zarya, Roadhog, and Bastion sitting together at the same table.

“Alright Reaper. You think you are so tough.” Zarya slammed her arm onto the table making the chipped and dingy china rattle against the force. She pivoted her elbow on the rough wood, hand open for someone to grasp it. She eyed the masked man with what could only be described as confident amusement.

“Prove it.”

A sit down meal that somehow always degraded into some high school level drama and pig headedness.

Gasps and ‘ohs’ came out from the other collected party members as they watched Zarya challenge the most mysterious and deadly of the team.

Reaper considered her. If he had an expression, his mask hid it.

“You have got to be kidding me. An arm wrestling match?”

“Wots the mattah Reaper? Ya chicken?” Cackled Junkrat. Roadhog grabbed the smaller man before Reaper could reach him.

“I am scared of nothing. I am fear.”

“Then a simple arm wrestling match should be nothing big, da?” Zarya flexed her fingers in a ‘come hither’ motion.

There was a tense silence where Zarya almost though he was going to walk away. It wouldn’t have been out of character for the broody man - as a matter of fact it was the most likely outcome.

So it was a little surprising when Reaper growled something under his breath and roughly pulled up a seat across from her. With as much venom as he could, Reaper pulled off a leather glove (revealing the mutilated oaken flesh, fingers like claws and veins of obsidian) and firmly grasped Zarya hand.

The russian woman smiled, showing off sharp canines.

“Are you prepared? We will start on the count of three.”

“Whatever. Let's get this over with.”

“One. Two. Three.”

Immediately Zarya felt his hand tighten against hers. He was strong - she knew that even before he started exerting force.You don’t become whatever it was that Reaper was by being weak.

Zarya, however, was stronger. She decided not to overpower him, but to match him, keeping their hands smack dab in the middle.

Junkrat and Roadhog were having a field day, yelling and cheering and carrying on. Mei and Bastion were politely interested (Or maybe Bastion was legitimately interested? It was hard to tell with him being a robot and all. Did death machines even emote? Reaper kind of did, sometimes.) for a little while.

Until a couple minutes became ten.

And ten minutes became an half an hour.

Half of an hour turned into an hour.

And an hour turned into two.

The spectator to hold out the longest was Junkrat, who finally gave up watching for a final death match at three hours. He grumbled obscenities as he exited the dining room to get some well deserved shut eye.

Now it was just Reaper and Zarya.

Neither of them had even broken out into a sweat. The only detail that let on that they had been hard at work countering the others strength was the slight tremor in their forearms.

Now it was time to get down to the nitty gritty.

“So Reaper, what are you?” Zarya asked. She had the feeling if she could see him under that mask, he would have an eyebrow raised. He gestured to their connected hands.

“Is now really the time to be asking personal questions?” He queried. She shrugged.

“I don’t see why not. Nobody is here anymore, and this is supposed to be a friendly competition.” She smirked wolfishly.

“I’m not friendly.” he rumbled.

“You still haven't answered the question.”

“I’m complicated.”

Zarya sighed. “That as good as I can get, da? Very vague. Very you.” She added more force. Their hands slipped more into her favor. Reaper quickly countered the action and they were once again in the middle.

“So what is it that you fight for?” Zarya asked.

Reaper growled. “What is this, an interrogation?”

“Nyet. I’m just making conversation. You could have done that hours ago, but didn’t.” With her free hand, Zarya rested her chin on her palm, as if relaxing. “Now I’m bored. So what do you fight for?”

The athlete could practically hear him grinding his teeth.

“Revenge.” He gritted out. “You?”

“Guess.”

“Really? This is absurd.”

“Well,” Zarya drawled. “You could always get up and walk away.”

He wouldn’t, she knew. Reaper was too prideful to just quit and give her the win. Especially since she wouldn’t keep her mouth shut about it.

In response, the grip on her hand tightened. The russian assumed it was supposed to be painful, but she had dealt with worse.

“Strength. You fight for strength.” He finally guessed.

“Almost.” She teased.

“Then what?” He barked. “You're the strongest woman in all of Russia - possibly even the world. That is all you’ve worked for up til now, why would it be any different?”

Zarya’s face fell into something akin to disappointment. The effect it had on the man was immediate; he got angry.

“What do you want from me?! Why are you holding me and my pride hostage here, asking stupid, inane questions?! Don’t you dare look at me like he did - like they all did! I’m stronger than you! I’ve been through more than you could ever hope to dream! I-”

His words caught in his throat as Zarya bared her strength - her true strength - down on his arm. It took everything he had to keep it above the table. Her hand was crushing his.

And she wasn’t even breaking a sweat, still looking at him sadly from the other side of the table, chin in hand.

“I have worked my entire life to become strong so I can protect the people I love. My village, my home, my nation...and now my world. I do what I do so that others don’t have to.”

“You think I don’t-”

“You work towards a cold, fruitless goal, Reaper. You want to hurt people just for the sake of hurting them. Revenge will not get you the strength you want, nor the satisfaction you seek.”

Reaper struggled against her, but it was like trying to bend an iron bar. She would not be moved unless she wanted to.

“You don’t know me.” He spat.

“You’re right. I don’t.”

Zarya slammed Reaper hand onto the table - a victory.

“I don’t need to. I know that I will always be stronger than you because I will always have something to drive me - my love for my people. My hope for a better future for them. It will be something that, in my dying days, I can look back on and be proud of.”

Zarya released him, standing. Reaper cradled his aching hand close to his chest.

“You,” she stated. “Will only ever have bitterness and pain.”

The russian turned away.

“I want a rematch.” Reaper hissed.

Zarya shrugged. “No. I have beaten you fair and square.” She turned to him, just ever so slightly, so the light caught the scar over her eye.

“Don’t worry Reyes; it’ll be our little secret.”

Chapter Text

Roadhog hated Omnics.

There really wasn’t anything much more to it than that. During the Omnic Crisis, they had murdered millions of innocent lives, but if he was being honest with himself (which he always was) it wasn’t even that. It was the hatred they had left behind - the corpse of a nation, filled with the ghosts of people he once knew. It drove them to violence. It drove them to madness. The Omnics had a way of bringing out something inhumane in humanity.

And he was no exception. Roadhog had watched the Omnium get blow to pieces just like the rest of them had, drunk with power and revenge. In the end, it had cost him his home. It wasn’t until it was too late that he realized some mistakes were too big to come back from.

He tried his hardest to curb the fire in his belly whenever he saw one walking around like it owned the place, but it never really went away. They were always the fall to his fire on the battlefield, priority targets be damned.

It was late. HQ was quiet; too quiet. Roadhog was used to hearing the symphony of nocturnal noises; the Outback was full of strange things that went bump in the night. They comforted him, lulled him; those noises were the backdrop music to his dreams.

Overwatch HQ was deathly still. No bugs or animals. No heavy machinery. No gunfire. Just...silence. It unnerved him. Soft beds and real rooms he could get used to, but silence was the loudest sound of them all.

He often went to go take walks like this when things got too quiet - Junkrat would be fine without him for a couple of hours. Most people found it frightening to see someone of his...ah, appearance, wandering the halls. He had frightened D.Va something terrible one night. Made her scream so loud that the entire base got up to see what the commotion was about.

They had suggested he stop.

Roadhog didn’t like suggestions, so here he was, wandering once again.

Only this time, the silence was broken. It was a strange noise, but not something unfamiliar to the junker. The faint hiss of twisting servos and beeps of binary was coming from somewhere down the hall.

Roadhog followed it.

The door was ajar, allowing a sliver of light to pool out into the darkened hallway. It was a workshop, the Aussie noticed. What was someone doing in a workshop so late at night?

Well, for starters it could be any of the dozens of people employed by overwatch who had cybernetic limbs. Dozens more had mechanical equipment, like D.Va, Torbjörn, Pharah, ect. Those that didn’t have either of those were probably Omnic. Or Genji.

(He still didn’t know quite what to think of the man. He was human, but robot? At the same time? Roadhog had often wondered what Hanzo had done to Genji that had made the ninja need such an extensive life change, but had thought better than to actually ask. The brothers were on thin ice with each other as is, and reopening old wounds would not help things progress for the better.)

Roadhog opened the door.

The noise stopped suddenly, as a large, clunky robotic figure turned away from his work.

Bastion.

Roadhog had to fight the urge to pull out a weapon.

Bastions were the worst. They could mow down armed villages and come out unscathed for their efforts. He had seen his fair share of the bots during the Crisis, but after that they were all made into scrap.

He never thought he would ever fight alongside one - one that had lost its programming and its mind.

Bastion gave a trill of greeting before turning back to its work. If it was cowed by the sudden appearance of Roadhog, it didn’t show it.

Not that it could pull off facial expressions real well.

Well, Roadhog felt all of this was rather skeevy. An Omnic working away at something in the middle of the night lent itself to suspicion. So he entered the workshop fully and closed the door.

What was it doing? Bastion didn’t seem to notice or care when the large man inched his way closer, looking over its shoulder.

There was a potted plant on the table.

It looked pretty simple, as far a plants went. Roadhog wasn’t much of botanist (despite coming from a place where nearly every plant could kill you.) but it just looked like some typical greenery. Maybe a fern or something. However, he was pretty sure it was supposed to be more...green. And less wilty.

Bastion poked at with a screwdriver, turning the soil with the tool.

“That’s not wot that's used for.” Mako said. If it wanted to garden, it could do so in the actual garden.

Bastion looked at the man and gave a series of beeps and boops. Roadhog just growled.

“Can’t ya speak? Every other Omnic can.”

Its single blue eye bore into his expressionless mask. Then it turned back to the plant, continuing to misuse the screwdriver.

The Aussie frowned. What was it trying to do? He leaned forward and snatched the screwdriver from the robot’s had.

Bastion let out an alarmed synthetic screech and immediately went to grab it back. Roadhog easily held it away.

“Wot are ya doin’?” he asked. “The garden is outside.”

More beeps and boops as it struggled to get its tool from him.

“Oi can’t understand a bloody bit o’ wot you're trying tah say!”

The Omnic faltered, backing up from Mako to search for something at the desk. With a soft noise, it pulled out a notebook and pen.

“Ya can’t be serious...” groaned the Junker. He was starting to think that staying in bed would have been a better idea, even as restless as he was.

The bot scribbled something, then shook its head, crossing it out. It started again and, after a few moments, held the paper out to Roadhog.

It was comically tiny in his large hand, but then again, most things were.

The first line, the one that had been scribbled out, was just a bunch of ones and zeros.

The second line was written in a painstakingly well printed handwriting.

‘Trying to repair it.’ It read.

Mako sighed. Bloody robots, couldn’t do anything right.

“Listen mate, ya can’t repair a plant.” He shoved the paper back at the Omnic. Bastion shook his head, making more noises while pointing at the plant.

Roadhog pretended that Bastion was asking ‘why’, because it was better than thinking the robot was trying to prove him wrong with it’s superior intellect somehow.

“Plants are organic. Like human - ya know, we splatter when we go boom.” He made a little explosion gesture with his hands. Bastion flinched away from it.

“Ya can’t just go ‘round sticking a screwdriver in a human and thinkin’ that’ll make it all better, eh?” Well, unless you were Mercy. To be fair, though, Mako would bet that woman could pump a person full of poison and they would still walk out of her care in better health than when they left.

Bastion seemed to think about that, tilting its head forward, its eye dimming slightly. It took up the paper again.

‘Mercy?’ it wrote. The junker shook his head.

“Nah mate. Mercy has other things tah worry about than your pet plant. Try watering it or changing its soil. Might do the trick.”

Bastion tilted it head to the side, letting out a (and Mako can't believe he's ascribing emotion to these noises now) curious trill.

‘What?’

“Water. Plant soil. Sunlight. That's how ya take care of a plant.”

‘How? Can you show me these tools?’

Roadhog sighed. “They’re not tools mate. They’re...they just are. Listen, plants are like humans, right? They gotta eat and drink and have a place to live right?”

The bot nodded hesitantly, looking over his plant again. It was...interesting to see the bulky metal hand caress the wilted leaves with such tenderness.

“So wot ya need to do is water it - maybe once or twice a week. Change its soil when it starts to go dry, because ya wanna keep its home clean yeah? And make sure to leave it in the sunlight - that's how it eats. Ya don’t want it to starve, do ya?”

Bastion jerked up, hands going to its mouth, if it hand one. It shook its head vigorously.

Mako nodded. “Good. Then just do those tasks and it’ll be good as new.” He stretched, popping his back several times. It was getting late. He should check on Junkrat soon.

Without another word to the Omnic, Roadhog left the shop and meandered back on to his room. He thought about giving Bastion a parting pleasantry or some last words of advice, but he didn’t really deem it worth it. The ignorant Omnic could get along without him saying goodnight.

Two weeks later, Roadhog found a healthy looking fern sitting on the table in his room. On the rustic red pot was a crudely drawn picture of Roadhog holding out a sapling to an intrigued Bastion.

Mako scowled. “Fucking robots.”

Chapter Text

“You know who I am.” It wasn’t a question, it was a statement and it hung in the air like a lead balloon waiting to be dropped.

Winston didn’t look at him. His focus was on the computer. They were both in the ape’s lab, per Winston’s request for a ‘private chat’.

Morrison wasn’t stupid. He knew what that meant. The scientist had probably known who he was from the beginning; Winston was shrewd like that.

He never forgot the scent of someone’s blood once he got a whiff of it.

“Jack.” The ape nearly croaked, his voice was so full of emotion that it was hard to pin down which was more prevalent; sadness or rage.

76 sighed. It was going to be a long discussion.

“Winston, I-” He what? Escaped? Licked his wounds and abandoned his family while the world fell down around them? How was he going to explain that in justifiable terms?

“They don’t have an integration program for educated apes, Jack.” Winston said. The emotion behind his voice was gone now, leaving something hollow and numb and tired. “It’s funny because in this day and age, you would think they had everything. Sentient robots, floating cars; you’d think they would have something for me too. But they don’t. After the fall of Overwatch...my existence became complicated.”

No, no, no! That wasn’t what he had wanted! Winston had been a great friend to him, a close friend. Someone he could rely on! He had never given a thought to what would happen to him in the aftermath. Somewhere along the lines Jack Morrison had stopped looking at Winston as an animal, and more as a human. Hell, everyone had. Overwatch had such a cast of strange and unique individuals that you just had to roll with the punches and get used to it. He had assumed that Winston would just trickle back into the system, like everyone else.

He had never thought of the consequences.

He never had time to. Everything that day...it all happened much too fast.

“I had to escape, Jack. What was left of Overwatch covered for me, gave me time. They were going to take me away.” Winston turned in his chair, but 76 wasn’t looking at him. Couldn’t look at him.

“You weren’t there Jack. You weren’t there to vouch for us; for me. You were dead.”

“I still am.”

The scientist growled, baring large pointed teeth. “You know that is a lie.”

“I’m not the man you knew.”

“You smell like him. You bleed like him. You have the same fighting style as him.”

“Jack Morrison is dead!” The shout echoed through the room, empty and solitary. Behind his mask he was gritting his teeth.

Inside, he was trying to convince himself that it was true.

There was no more Jack Morrison. No more glorified farm boy turned war hero. He wasn’t the guiding light, the voice of reason and mercy. He didn’t inspire men to be the best they could be.

He was just Soldier 76 now. A ghost of a man. A vigilante. He struck fear into populaces, beat back the tide of crime with his bare fists. This wasn’t the Jack that pulled punches. This wasn’t the Jack that wanted diplomacy over violence. This wasn’t the Jack that had worked for a greater world.

This was Soldier 76, who only saw that the world was going to hell, and the only way to stop it was to be as ruthless to it as it had been to him.

“Then why are you here?” Asked Winston, leaning from his seat. “You could have joined any other force out there. You could have remained the mysterious vigilante. Why did you choose to come back to Overwatch?”

It had been a question he had asked himself time and time again. When he had heard that someone had been going after former Overwatch agents...well old habits die hard.

There were two tactics you could use to get to a person; you hurt them, or you hurt their friends.

Jack Morrison’s weakness was the latter, and even death couldn’t change that.

“I wanted to help.” 76 responded. “I saw what was happening and I didn’t want to stay in the shadows anymore. There is a second Omnic Crisis on its way, maybe even something more than that. I know we are the only ones that can stop it.”

Winston sighed, his face morphing into a tired smile. “Funny, that sounds like something Jack Morrison would say.”

“You’re right. It does.”

Soldier 76 watched as the tension dropped from the scientists shoulders and once again showed just how weary the ape was.

“I was alone, Jack.”

“I know.”

“They were going to experiment on me.”

“I know.”

“I don’t forgive you yet.”

“...I know.”

“But...I suppose it's better late than never. You came back at a good time.”

Leave it to Winston, even after confronting his formerly dead friend, still thinking ahead. God damn him.

“I’m not sure it’ll mean a lick to you, Winston, but I’m sorry. I wish things had turned out differently.”

“Me too, old friend. Me too.”

There was a beat of silence between the two, both in their own worlds.

“Overwatch is illegal.” 76 stated.

“Yes it is. We’ll be running it as covertly as possible.” Winston, as if just reminded of something, turned his seat and began typing at his keyboard.

“What happens to you if we get caught?”

Winston hesitated, fingers hovering over the keys. “The same fate as before, I presume. If I can escape, so be it. If not...” he trailed off, leaving the ending to 76’s imagination.

“You’ll escape.” 76 declared. Winston rose an eyebrow.

“You sound sure of that.”

“I am.”

“How so?”

“Because I’ll kill anyone that tries to stop you.”

Winston gave a huff to cover the shock that briefly passed over his face. “That definitely does not sound like something Jack Morrison would say.”

Soldier 76 smirked. “You’re right. It doesn’t.”

Chapter Text

Pharah had the man by the back of his neck, her grip bruising. He was lucky she didn’t test the full strength of her suit and make his eyes bug out of his head like a stress doll.

The man in question just giggled and squirmed in her grasp.

“Ah, come on Pharah! It was funny!” Junkrat squealed. The guard frowned.

“Trying to get yourself killed is not funny, junker.” She tossed him to the ground, where he scrambled to right himself.

“Nah, nah, it's a festival of lights, right? Wot better way to celebrate than lighting somethin’ up?” Junkrat gestured to the beautiful nightscape of Dorado around them. Pharah looked just about anywhere but the australian, searching her surroundings thoroughly.

“And a good way to draw the attention of the enemy.”

“Nah mate, who do ya think we burn?”

“Yourself, apparently. And I am not your ‘mate’. Please refer to me by my callsign.” Pharah deadpanned. Finally, she glanced over to her impromptu charge. The man was more charred than not, his prosthetic limbs slightly melting from the heat of the inferno that she had pulled him from. Pharah doubted he had any hair left on his remaining arm and leg - the stuff on top of his head was smoking slightly and blackened at the ends.

Whose idea had it been to let Junkrat off of Roadhog’s leash again?

The junker waggled his (charred, half gone) eyebrows. “But ya could be, if’n ya get me drift?”

Pharah wasn’t even going to dignify that with a comment. If she had thought it was a real pass, the guard probably would have knocked the teeth from his skull, but Junkrat flirted with everything that had two legs. Including Roadhog and Winston. She shuddered.

As it was, Junkrat had wasted enough of her time. She had a team to protect.

“Next time you decide to light yourself up along with a city block, I won’t be pulling you out.” Fareeha extended her suit’s wings, intent on taking off.

“Come on mate; ya know ya love me.”

“I certainly do not. Do you even know my callsign?”

All she got was a toothy grin before taking off, intent on finding someone who was actually worth her time.

//JUSTICE RAINS FROM THE BREAK//

Junkrat had a healthy respect for fire - which was saying something, since he held little to no respect for anything else. Junkrat was very much a learn-by-punishment kind of person, and you can only blow off so many limbs off before you learned a thing or two.

But two weeks in Dorado had made him antsy, maybe even enough for him to forget a couple of the rules he had set in place for himself (or ones that others might have suggested to him).

The junker was currently holed up in an abandoned shack not too far from the Talon base that they had been in conflict with. This was ideal for him; slink out, set up a trap and wait for some unfortunate sod to get stuck.

Then kaboom time.

It wasn’t unusual when the smell of smoke reached his nose. This was a battleground; any sort of weaponry could make smoke when fired. But this smelled...different. Junkrat had a nose for smoke, and this smelled less like gunpowder and chemicals and more...well, like a bonfire. He was lost in the smell for a moment, going back to when he was just a boy out in the Outback.

It started getting thicker, wafting into his little hut. He watched it swirl and dance, nothing more that an opaque draft on the wind, slowly getting more and more solid. Then along came an overwhelming heat.

“Oh.” Junkrat said aloud. “Well that's probably not good.”

It wasn’t.

The side of the shack burst into flames.

Junkrat collided hard with the other wall, prosthetic limb out to block any of the flaming debris. It did little against the onslaught, however. The entire shack was one big fire hazard, old wood bleached and dried from exposure to the mexican sun. What little of the shack wasn’t on fire from the explosion caught quickly.

He could feel the debris glancing off of his skin, hungry flames eating at the pale flesh and blackening it. The unholy heat was everywhere; in front of him, to the left, to the right, above him, slowly creeping down the wall behind him. The smoke made him woozy and deprived. It was ravenous and suffocating and Junkrat had never felt so estatically terrified in all of his life.

He tried to move, to escape, but that would have implied some sort of exit; the door was barred with flames and as much as Junkrat wanted to blow a hole in the side of the structure, he knew that would bring the ceiling down on him.

It came down anyways.

A beam cracked above him and landed right on his chest. The junker went down, the beam pinning him.

Junkrat screamed, because things in his chest cracked under the pressure, and the inferno from the beam raged at him, writhing and roaring until his skin bubbled under its wrath. He cried and called and laughed, because this was true agony and true madness wrapped into one package deal. The thing he loved in life giving him one more lesson in it merciless ways.

The beam was wrenched off. Pharah stood over him, her suit impervious to the flames and debris. Their tendrils reached out for her, light flickering off of the polished metal, and starved.

She was talking, but Junkrat wasn’t listening. It was getting hard to keep his senses any longer.

There was the sensation of getting up - the aussie knew this because it hurt. He must have blacked out after that, because the next thing he knew he was being repositioned to sit against a blessedly cool wall.

“Damnit, Mercy he needs to see you, NOW! I don’t care what you’re doing; his condition is CRITICAL, am i making myself clear?”

Pharah was kneeling in front of of him, her visor drawn back so her face could be seen. One hand was pressed to the com unit on the side of her head, the other was holding an oxygen mask to Junkrat’s face.

He attempted to move and whimpered. The guard’s attention snapped to him.

“Don’t move. You’ve taken a lot of damage.” She said cooly. He didn’t stop, his hand lazily fighting hers for control of the oxygen mask. Was it coming out of her suit? He stored that information for later incase it ever needed to set it on fire.

Pharah’s expression got hard. “Stop. You need this, Junkrat.”

He still didn’t stop.

“STOP!” She barked. “What is wrong with you?! Why do you have to fight everything so much?”

The junker tried to speak. At first it just came out as a ragged, wet cough. Blood splattered the inside of the mask. The second time he managed to get words out.

“Ya...said...ya wouldn’t...pull me out...again.”

Her confusion was brief, covering up genuine emotions with a cool collectedness.

“I lied.” She answered. “I just wanted you to stop messing around so you wouldn’t get hurt.”

He barked a laugh. It jarred something in his chest and he groaned.

“Ya...do care.”

For the first time since he had met the hard egyptian, Fareeha’s face softened.

“Of course I care. You are part of my team, Junkrat. Whether I want you to be or not. I will always have your back.”

Junkrat smiled. That felt...nice. Reassuring.

Or maybe that was just the smoke inhalation.

In the distance, he could see the light of Mercy’s wings.

“Thanks...Pharah.” He wheezed.

She just gave a relieved smile.

Chapter Text

The world had set Genji up for this moment.

His lifestyle before, his combat with his brother, his transformation and acceptance of his new android body. All of it was backdrop to this moment, the true joke the universe had set him up for the entire time.

‘What is a playboy?’ Bastions note sat heavy on the table, it's meticulously tidy handwriting burning a hole into Genji’s visor.

“Uh.” He eloquently answered. If he still had the necessary parts to sweat, he would be.

Bastion, completely unaware of the android’s struggle, leaned in, eager to hear the answer to its question.

Both the bot and the android were at a small pavilion somewhere in the center of Overwatch HQ’s immense gardens. Genji had sought out Bastion and asked that they meet up here - the android had wanted to ‘talk’ to the robot, it being the only other omnic he worked with besides Zenyatta. He had hoped to get a viewpoint from an omnic that wasn’t a member of the Shambali.

It mostly had questions for him. Apparently most people didn’t go out of their way to seek out Bastion, nonetheless have a conversation with it. It had asked him many questions, one of them being about what he had done before he had become a member of Overwatch.

Genji had answered, and this is situation that had developed.

His tense silence must have gotten to Bastion, as the bot quickly scribbled another note and slid it his way.

‘Did I ask something wrong?’

“No! No, it is just...a complicated answer. I have to think about how I answer it.” Genji responded. Bastion let out an affirming coo, nodding its head.

Maybe he could redirect it? Tell it to talk to Angela instead? Then again, he wasn’t entirely sure what she would say. Bastion would ask her what a playboy was, and he wasn’t entirely sure she would answer it with an explanation that would paint him in a good light. Also, he kind of felt like he owed it to the omnic; it had decided to meet him today for his little Q&A. It probably could have been off doing better things. Like...whatever it was Bastion did in its free time?

(Maybe he should seek the bot out more often. That sounded kind of lonely in his head.)

On the other hand there were some sensitive topics that needed to be breached with the omnic before he could dive into the issue. Genji had assumed that Bastion already knew about the birds and the bees, which was kind of silly in retrospect. It had been built to guard important points of interest (later altered to become one-bot human slaughtering machine, but that was all water under the bridge now) and to only serve that purpose. It made sense that nobody would have bothered to teach it anything of human biology or anatomy except where to shoot.

And Genji was absolutely no teacher.

(Well, in a way he was, but not that way that Bastion needed nor wanted.)

“Bastion, how much do you know about human reproduction?” Genji was never so glad in his life that some of Angela’s clinical speak had rubbed off on him. It made things sound much less awkward.

Bastion shook its head.

‘Nothing.’ It scrawled. ‘That was not part of my programming.’

Nothing that he hadn’t figured.

“Um, alright. So, when and man and a woman love each other very much...” Behind his mask, Genji cringed. That was horribly cliche. He sighed. If he still had hair, he would have run his hand through it. Instead, he fiddled with his ribbon.

“Listen Bastion, humans copopulate...intimately. We have parts that interlock - male and female parts, like a socket and a plug - and it feels good.”

The omnic seemed to think about this before writing a response.

‘Is that love?’

No. Nonononono. Genji was - this was not - He and Zenyatta had spoken on the topic of love many times and what it may or may not have been, but that had all been in the spiritual and philosophical sense. What is love? What is beauty? What is living?

This was...the android was out of his depth.

“Uh, no.” Genji coughed. “No, that is not love, not always. People in love can get intimate, but, uh, you do not need it. Some people just do it for fun.”

Bastion hesitantly nodded. Genji took that as a good sign.

“A playboy is someone that gets intimate with other people for fun and not for love or copoulating.” Before the robot could respond, Genji hurriedly added. “And if you wish to know more about human biology or love, I suggest you seek you either Dr. Ziegler or Zenyatta. They can answer your questions much better than I can.”

Bastion tapped its pen against the paper, as if thinking about something. It scribbled something for a while, then passed it to Genji.

‘You were a playboy - someone who got intimate with women because it felt nice? Does it just have to be woman? Do you still ‘playboy’ now?’

Genji nodded. “Yes, you can have humans with the same parts getting intimate. They just...make it work.” As for the second question... “No, I’m not a playboy anymore. That way of life is behind me.”

‘Why?’

The quick reply, as well as the question, took Genji off guard. When he had first got his body...well that had been it. He had felt that nobody could love him as the monstrosity that he had become. And even if they had offered, he would have refused. Revenge and combat had consumed him. He waited with baited breath from one mission to the next.

After he had met Zenyatta, though, it was something else. The monk had taught him to take pleasure in the simple things, and those simple things had quenched a dry part of his soul like women and wine never could. He had to relearn how to love himself; other relationships would have just complicated things.

But why not now?

Genji closed his eyes. Brief images passed by; his brother looking into his eyes for the first time after thinking he was dead. Zenyatta following him after he had called him a ‘troubled soul’ on a long and lonely road. Angela, caressing his scarred flesh and whispering something sweet...

Teammates flashed before his eyes, supportive and kind. Tracer, Winston, Reinhardt, D.Va, Jack, hell, even McCree had given him little words of encouragement when he was at his worst.

“Maybe...maybe it is because I have found the love I always sought.”

Bastion tilted his head to the side, giving off a confused trill.

‘So it does have to do with love?’

Genji laughed, placing a hand on the bulky robot's shoulder.

“Maybe it does, Bastion. Maybe it does.”

Chapter Text

1. Panic (Tracer and Zenyatta)

“Must have been quite a nightmare.” Zenyatta stood gracefully. He extended a hand out to Tracer. She took it, and the monk hoisted her up, placing her arm around his shoulders so that she could keep balance on quaking legs. “Are you willing to share it?”

Tracer was about to speak, when suddenly she was jolted forwards. Both her and Zenyatta hit the ground - herself with a ‘thump’ and the omnic with a series of clattering clanks.

She heard the monk let out a sigh.

“I am very sorry. I’m used to floating everywhere, and thus not as graceful on my feet as I should be.”

Tracer felt the need to laugh bubble in her stomach. It started out as a giggle, and then grew into a full blown belly laugh.

“This wasn't supposed to go this way.” Huffed the omnic.

“No, no, love it's fine.” Tracer gasped between breaths. “Guess laughter really is the best medicine.”

 

2. Bullets (D.Va and McCree)

“What do you MEAN you don’t know what an indian burn is? What did you do with your childhood?”

D.Va huffed. “Spent it learning how you use a mech so I could combat robots that were trying to exterminate the human race.”

“Oh.”

There was a long pause.

“You wanna go get ice cream sometime? I feel like you could use some ice cream.”

“Oh my God McCree, PUT ME DOWN!”

 

3. Surprise (Torbjörn and Reinhardt)

Reinhardt rolled his eyes, crossing his arms in front of his chest. “Would you stop with the old jokes? You aren't much younger than me. You have just looked older longer. Probably because you’re -”

“Don’t you do it, Sir.” The dwarf growled.

“-short.” The knight spat out through a large grin.

The dwarf raised an eyebrow. “Size doesn’t always mean everything, Reinhardt. Its how you use it.” *double finger pistols*

 

4. Friends (Mercy and Hanzo)

Hanzo shifted in his seat. “So, when are you and Genji getting together?”

Mercy didn’t even look up from her documents. “When are you and McCree going to stop lying about being sexually active whenever I give you physicals.”

Hanzo spit out his coffee.

 

5. Good Vibes (Mei and Lúcio)

Mei shifted and something brushed against her hand. She examined it.

One coupon for McCree ice cream: because life really sucks, but at least ice cream makes it better.

Mei paused, her brow crinkling in confusion. “But I’m lactose intolerant...”

 

6. Design (Widowmaker and Symmetra)

*Widowmaker in tub*

*Symmetra bursts down the door*

“Widowmaker I have a - stop screaming please, it’s just me - I have a new design idea for your suit.”

 

7. Strength (Zarya and Reaper)

Reaper paused. “Wait...do you hear ticking?”

Zarya raised an eyebrow. “It's not you?”

“No, it's coming from under the table.”

Slowly, while not moving their locked hands, both heros peered under the table.

There was a familiar bomb strapped to the underside, ticking away.

Zarya paled. “Junkrat, no.”

Distantly, both competitors could hear “JUNKRAT YEEEEES!!”

 

8. Repair (Roadhog and Bastion)

Bastion put the small potted plant on its head. It made a noise that roughly sounded like ‘tah dah!’

Roadhog shook his head. “I hate ya so much.”

Bastion didn’t seem to be notice the statement, as it was too busy posing with the fern on top of his head. It flexed its arms, did the wave, attempted to do the running man.

“Now you're just showing off. Also that is not how ya do the running man.”

Bastion gestured to Roadhog, which he assumed meant “show me.”

Junkrat still thought it was a fever dream to this day. There was no way he wandered into a workshop to see Roadhog and Bastion doing the running man while the bot wore a potted plant on its head.

 

9. Regret (Winston and Soldier: 76)

“I’m not sure it’ll mean a lick to you, Winston, but I’m sorry. I wish things had turned out differently.”

“Me too, old friend. Me too.”

There was a beat of silence between the two, both in their own worlds.

“So, you wanna go out and get some banana splits? On me.” 76 shuffled nervously. Winston turned on him, a large hand pointing at the older man.

“First of all, fuck you. Secondly, yes I would. You owe me that much at least.”

 

10. Burn (Pharah and Junkrat)

“Yourself, apparently. And I am not your ‘mate’. Please refer to me by my callsign.” Pharah deadpanned.

The junker waggled his (charred, half gone) eyebrows. “But ya could be, if’n ya get me drift?”

“Over my dead body.” The guard grumbled.

“Yeah. I’d fuck that too.”

“What.”

“What?”

 

11. Playboy (Genji and Bastion)

“Bastion, how much do you know about human reproduction?”

Bastion tilted his head.

‘You mean like the movie I saw where there were tentacles and a lady and-’

Genji gestured wildly, crumbling up the note. “NO, no! Thats - where did you even -” The steam vents on his shoulder went off. Genji put his head in his hands.

“No, Bastion. That is not reproduction. Just...just forget that. I wish I could.”

Chapter Text

She couldn’t stand the sight of it anymore.

D.Va crashed through the infirmary door, hand over her mouth. She stumbled down the hallway, breath heavy and harsh.

It was everywhere. It was on her suit, soaking into her skin. Even after washing it off, scrubbing it until her skin rubbed raw and red, she could still feel it there. Stagnating, itching, a perfume of copper and carnage that clung to her like a cloak.

It had looked stark against the white of the concrete. Just like it had back home, against the white of the snow.

She was taken back to that place. It wasn’t so long ago now, when Hana had suited up to help save the human race. Gunshots rang in her ears, as if they had never left. The cold seeping into her very bones, only to be warmed by the blood of her companions.

Their enemies didn’t bleed. Anytime you saw red, you knew it was one of your own.

D.Va covered her ears. Everything was so loud, too loud. She closed her eyes and curled into herself - too bright, too much. Too much.

But it was just a game. A game where she had the controller, right? Every mission was experienced gained, every kill on the battlefield justified. It was black and white - those are the evil and she was the good. Every death was valiant, not a kid stuffed in a suit and killed before their prime.

Distantly, D.Va could hear something, but it was far away and hard to focus on. Her team captain in her com was louder, giving instruction. Mission details. Hold the point, protect the town - she was good at these types of quests. She played to win.

“It’s just a game.” She said to herself, hands pressing harder into her ears, eyes closing tighter. “It's just a game.”

She could restart whenever she wanted, but Hana never restarted. She was always good enough to get it on the first try. It was everyone else that she had to worry about. Followers with their own stories, their own lives. Followers whose AI just couldn’t compete.

Hana saw them again, their faces burned into her memory, burned into her dreams.

Then, suddenly, everything was very cold and very wet.

There was a long pause, where D.Va slowly, so slowly, began to regain her connection to the here and now. First of all, she was kneeling on the floor. It was carpeted - one of the foyers that Overwatch HQ had scattered about. Her back was against a couch, but she wasn’t sitting on it.

Secondly, she had been doused in ice water. It had already began soaking through her clothing, It chilled her skin unpleasantly, but it kept her anchored.

Third and final, someone was standing in front of her - although towered might have been a better term. At six plus feet tall, Junkrat was one of the tallest men D.Va had ever met. He also happened to be holding a now empty glass over her head, smiling his manic grin.

“A lovely day for a bit o’ rain, eh?”

D.Va squinted up at the tall man, removing her hands from hers ears. Dully, they still rung.

“W-what?”

Jamison righted the glass then tossed it over his shoulder. There was the sound of glass shattering and he giggled madly.

Then, with a tenderness she didn’t think that the rogue possessed, he reached down and swiped a droplet from under her eye. Unlike the cool water, it was warm - a tear. Her tear. When had she been crying?

“Or maybe not so lovely.” He mumbled to himself, appraising the wetness of his thumb, then her.

“Just a game huh? Betcha I’m the coolest character.” He meandered over to the couch and collapsed down on it. He was next to D.Va, sprawled out so that his peg leg just brushed her shoulder and arm.

So she had said that out loud. Damnit.

“I-” She what? Had trouble dealing with her experiences of real world warfare, so she had turned her video game obsession into a coping mechanism? That sometimes, when things got too much, she just disconnected from reality altogether to favour a situation where extra lives were an option?

“Wasn’t supposed to hear that bit, was I? That’s okay; I wasn’t supposed to hear when Michael was going to double cross me ‘n Mako either. Made for a very interestin’’ heist though; let him think he had us till the end. Then I blew him up.”

There was a very long silence.

“You think I’m crazy.” Hana croaked.

Junkrat made a ‘pffffft’ sound. “Did it work?”

D.Va looked up at him. He wasn’t looking at her, instead staring at the ceiling far above them.

“Did what work?” She asked him, confused.

“Did thinking it was a game work?”

She stared at him. Hard. “Does pretending that everything you blow up is an omnium work for you?”

Jamison grinned his manic grin, looking down at D.Va.

“Nope” He answered, popping the ‘p’.

She had thought not. It was just...easier to think that way. A habit, born in fear and concerted in practice. D.Va curled more into herself, putting her head down on her knees. How low had she fallen?

“If it makes any difference, we can be crazy together.”

Hana whipped her head up to look at her companion.

“Huh?” she queried.

He was still grinning at her. “Together. Crazy. How do ya think me ‘n Roadhog get along so well? Misery loves company ‘n all that. Didja expect to get out of all this sane?”

She had never thought about it. She supposed so - D.va had never really considered the consquences of the choices she had made, just that she would be doing something good for the world.

“Didn’t think so.” Junkrat answered. “Anyways, I didn’t come here to get all mushy with ya. Just know that when things are looking topsy turvy - ya ain’t alone.” He leapt off of the couch just as violently as he had mounted it, swaggering down the hallway.

D.Va was having too many emotions coursing through her to actually know what to feel, so she when with the next best course of reaction.

“W-wait! What were you here to do? Weren't you in the waiting room with Mercy and Reinhardt?”

Junkrat waggled his eyebrows at her. “Gettin’ a glass ‘o water.”

He skipped off around the corner and out of sight. D.Va remained sitting on the floor staring after him.

Maybe she was crazy.

But at least she wasn’t alone, for once.

Chapter Text

It had started with a conversation with Reinhardt. Simple really; Lucio, D.Va and Tracer had wanted to demonstrate some of the newer dance moves to the man. He had found them anywhere from amusing to strange and confusing. He was good about it though; he never said anything negative about the moves just that “Maybe I am just too old to appreciate it, Ja?”

Then Lucio - kind, good Lucio - just had to ask. “Well, how do you like to dance?”

And this is how Tracer got here in the mess hall with all the tables pushed to one side to make room. Standing as tall and broad as ever in front of her was Reinhardt, looking kindly down at her, his smile able to light up the dimly lit room.

Lucio and D.Va were on the sidelines, fiddling with Lucio’s music system.

Tracer was nervous. That wasn’t an emotion she felt often; she usually was able to adapt to most situations readily. This wasn’t most situations. Dancing wasn’t her forte - she was not nearly as good on her feet as she would like people to believe. While she could get away with the bare minimum of dexterity with the funny little dances she performed with Lucio and D.Va, Reinhardt was something else altogether. She had never ballroom danced before.

Reinhardt cocked his head slightly, grin waning at the sight of an obviously fidgeting Tracer. A large hand dropped on her shoulder and she stilled.

“Lena?” he quired. “Are you alright?”

Tracer did her best to brush his concern off, but it ended up seeming more suspicious.

“O’course I am! Just ducky! Just...you know learning something new! Fun stuff!”

The large man raised an eyebrow in amusement. “You know it is okay to be nervous little one. I vas vhen I first learned to ballroom dance.”

Tracer snorted. “Yeah, but how long ago was that?”

“Back before the var.” His voice was different, deeper, more whimsical and fond. It looked like he was seeing something far away, and for some reason that made Tracer feel a bit sad. “My mother taught me vhen I was a strapping young lad. Told me that all noble knight should know how to dance vith ladies in vaiting.”

“How did that work out?”

She was glad when Reinhardt belted out a laugh. “I vas a fool on my feet, but my mutti was a stubborn voman.” His face dropped into something soft. “I do miss her so these days. Do yourself a favor little one, and don’t get old. And if you do remember to cherish those you are vith. Age has a vay of making you reflect on the past vith bittersweet eyes, and you vant to make sure it's more sweet than bitter.”

Something panged deep in Tracer’s heart. She managed a small smile. “Well, I guess I’ll have to spend more time with you then, ya big softie.”

Lena could count on one hand the amount of times she had seen Reinhardt look surprised - this was number three, the ring finger - and he followed it up with such a blinding smile that Tacer couldn’t help but return it.

“Okay, I think we got the music working now.” Called over Lucio. “You got the song you want in here Reinhardt?”

“Ja! Just give us a moment!” The German bellowed back.

“Okay, whenever you're ready!”

Reinhardt turned to Tracer, who gulped.

“Alright small one, follow my lead.”

He adjusted their positions so that they were somewhat correct; Tracer failing miserably at reaching up for Reinhardt’s shoulders and Reinhardt’s enormous hands engulfing Tracer’s shoulder and hip. Tracer took in a breath.

“So you’re not going to crush me...are ya? Because I’m not that great on my feet already and I would love to be able to still walk after this.” she joked. Reinhardt gave her what could only be described as a devilish smirk.

“Reinhardt?” she asked slowly.

“Lucio! You can start the music!”

“ReinhARDT!” Tracer was lifted off of her feet, hovering about the ground. She scrambled to grab purchase on Reinhardt’s arms - the only things currently keeping her aloft. Said man was laughing at her surprise.

But he was still dancing, bringing her along with him as he gently swayed and moved to the rhythm of the song that tinkled out of the Lucio’s speakers. Eventually, she relaxed, moving her body as best she could with his from her position and letting the music wash over her.

“Lets go in the garden,

You’ll find something waiting,

Right there where you left it,

Lying upside down.”

“When you finally find it,

You’ll see how it's faded,

The underside is lighter,

When you turn it around.”

He looked so happy, right then. So happy that she was with him here and dancing. Tracer wondered how many people really spent time with the old knight when they weren’t fighting. She wondered if maybe he really was starting to feel his age. Had he ever wanted to settle down and have a family of his own? If he had, she could imagine a little daughter in her place right now, laughing and being twirl around by her papa.

“Everything stays,

Right where you left it,

Everything stays,

But it still changes,

Ever so slightly,

Daily and nightly,

In little ways,

When everything stays.”

The music petered off and, with one final flourish and twirl, Reinhardt set Tracer back on her own two legs. The German winked.

“See? Vas that so bad?”

Tracer leaned forward and hugged the man.

“No,” she said quietly. “Not at all.”

Chapter Text

Ka-zap.

Zarya looked up from where she was hunched over her particle cannon. The noise wasn’t coming from her gun was it? She checked it over again. No, no everything was perfectly in place. She had just cleaned it after all.

Z-z-z-z-fffffffzzzzz.

She stood up from the long bench this time, looking around. Originally, Zarya had thought she had been the only occupant of this room - the team wasn’t due to ship out for at least another two hours. She was just making sure her locker was prepared with all the essentials when they were ready to leave so she wasn’t scrambling like Mei.

And yet, there was Bastion, standing in the middle of the room. It looked like it had just been at its locker - the door was open, revealing a little potted plant inside and several crudely drawn pictures - but for some reason it had backed away.

Then it sparked, its box head twitching and the light of its ‘face’ flickering from blue to red. It's clunky metal hand came to grasp at it, clutching at the metal as if it were in pain.

But robots didn’t feel pain. Zarya frowned deeply at the omnic.

She didn’t trust omnics, didn’t like omnics. Zenyatta she could simply ignore; its not so much that she trusted him, as she would be less likely to expect worldwide genocide from one of his order. Also she was fairly convinced she could crush him like a trash compactor.

Bastion though...Bastion she only knew as a killing machine.

Zarya had seen real Bastion units on the field. They had mowed down men like they were blades of grass. Eradicated entire villages. Murdered innocents. Images that she would have burned into her brain till the day she died.

In Overwatch, it was a teammate. In her heart, it would never be anything other than a killer.

Which was why she grabbed her particle cannon when Bastion fritzed again and it's blue light turned from blue to red and stayed that way.

The omnic seemed to freeze, its entire body going rigid. It’s gun arm hung limply at its side, while it’s other limb was stationary in front of its face. The red light leaked out between metallic fingers and gave the bot a malicious glow.

It twitched again, its gun arm convulsing a bit under whatever internal struggle it was undergoing. It let out a low grinding noise, and moved to look at Zarya.

Now, the Russian had two choices at her disposal:

Plan A: Kill the robot now and ask questions later.

Or

Plan B: Don’t kill the robot and probably get killed as it goes on a murderous rampage.

Plan A was the easiest. Zarya had killed Bastion units before, and it was obvious that right now this one was in quite a bit of distress. She had her gun, and really she didn’t even need that.

The downside was that Bastion was a member of Overwatch and so was she. Overwatch probably didn’t take kindly to murder (even if she could argue it wasn’t actually a living being to begin with) especially when the situation could have been avoided or fixed. Also, as much as she hated to admit it, Bastion was a teammate. Zarya would kill without hesitation, make no mistake, but she wasn’t cold blooded. Even if she had requested not to be paired up with the omnics as much as possible, she had been. They had, at one point, been comrades in arms. She had saved them and they had, in turn, saved her.

It was, in fact, probably the only thing stopping her from pulling the trigger now.

Plan B was the hardest in the way that the obvious threat wasn’t immediately disposed of. It meant that Zarya would have to go about a different way of dealing with the issue. On the upside, she probably wouldn’t get charged with murder and she would get to stay in Overwatch.

That didn’t mean she was putting her gun down. The russian trained it steadily on the still twitching omnic.

“What is wrong?” She demanded. The Bastion unit twitched again, taking a step backwards from the woman. Its hand worked to cover more of its face, like it was trying to hide behind it.

Zarya suddenly felt very silly. She had almost forgotten that the thing couldn’t speak. Growling, as if to show the omnic she meant all business, Zarya blindly reached into her open locker and retrieved the magnetic paper pad and pencil that stuck to the inside of her door. She tossed them on the bench near Bastion.

“Write.” she demanded. “Tell me if you need repair. I will take you to Torbjörn. If you try and shoot me I will not hesitate to dismantle you like the models before you, da?”

Bastion managed a nod, the wires in its neck sparking in a way that looked painful. It face flashed again, from blue to red, and with a quaking hand it took the paper and pencil.

It took a while for it to write. Zarya recalled its responses rather swift in memories past. She wondered if the robot was just toying with her, or if it’s physical functions were really that impaired.

When the pad of paper was slid back over to her, she noted that its handwriting was almost illegible.

Almost.

‘I see men dying and I don’t understand.’

Zarya looked from the paper to the robot, then back to the paper. She licked at suddenly dry lips.

“What do you mean you don’t understand? You killed them.”

The paper was taken back.

‘I don’t understand why.’

You couldn’t pay Zarya enough to deal with this, Overwatch or not.

“Is there something wrong? Why do you spark and studder?” She growled. Bastion looked down at its gun, then at its own hand. It clenched it into a fist, then spread the finger out.

‘Maybe. Maybe I was never right to begin with.’

Okay, there was clearly something wrong.

Bastion wasn't supposed to remember its time in the war, right? Because if it did, that would trigger it dormant or broken programing. But this wasn’t so much remembering as it was...a flashback. Zarya had had enough of those to recognize it, even in something like Bastion. But that couldn’t be right.

Robots weren’t supposed to have flashbacks.

...Right?

Either way, it let Zarya approach and smash the butt of her particle cannon into the crook of its neck. It would force the bot into a ‘sleep mode’ of sorts - the equivalent of knocking it out. It dropped with an echoing clang onto the locker room floor. Zarya stood over it, pulling a communicator from her pocket.

“Torbjörn? Yes it is Zarya. Bastion’s in the locker room - give it a once over. It was acting...strangely. Thank you.”

Looking down at the bot, Zarya scuffed a boot against its side. It would be up and running again soon enough, wandering the gardens and feeding furry woodland animals.

But there was a spark in her - a pang somewhere in the bottom of her stomach - that made her feel something other than apathetic. As a matter of fact, it might have been a little curious. What had Bastion seen and heard back in the first omnic crisis? Enough for it to have flashbacks of its fragmented memory, apparently.

Zarya growled and pushed those thoughts away.

Even if it was life, it was fake life. Fake life that had tried to kill other real lives.

And so the spark dwindled...

..but did not completely die.

Chapter Text

McCree wasn’t usually one for late night walks. When the sun fell from the sky, he knew it was time to catch some shut eye. The warmest part of the day was over, and from here he could relax as the chill of evening washed over him.

But he wasn’t with the Deadlocks or on the road again. There was no camping out below the grand expanse of space. It always took him a while to get used to four walls and a ceiling; it made him feel confined. And feeling confined made him feel nervous and restless.

Thus, a trip outside.

Or more appropriately, the roof. Jesse was hankering for those stars above. He missed their flickering lights and silent company; many a night he had fallen asleep to counting their vast numbers. At some points in his life, they were the only ones he thought he could trust.

Making his way up the ladder on, it never even crossed McCree’s mind that someone might already be up there.

He wasn’t sure how Hanzo hadn’t heard him - while he wasn’t wearing his usual outfit, his footsteps weren’t exactly light and the man had the senses of a predatory animal - but when he peeked over the roof there the archer was laying on the concrete. His hands were behind his head, pillowing it from the rough ground. His gaze was skyward and lost.

McCree couldn’t help but appreciate how ethereal Hanzo looked in the moment. The night was dark, but the shine from the moon caught him just right, glowing off of the man’s features and making him look less real and more like a warrior spirit from a tale long forgotten.

Not wanting to stare too long, McCree made his presence known.

“Didn’t expect anyone else to be up here.” He called out in lieu of a greeting. Hanzo simply turned his head to gaze at the man.

“It seems you thought wrong.”

“Oh now don’t be like that. What’re the odds that you’d be up here at the same time I was?”

“It is funny you bring up odds, since you have a strange way of always beating them.”

The transition was smooth. Were it anyone else up here, McCree more than likely would have left them to their peace. But this was Hanzo, and they slipped into their banter seamlessly, his southern charm and Hanzo’s subtle, dry humor complemented each other nicely. It was an unlikely friendship, but one that McCree wouldn’t trade for the world.

Jesse wouldn’t have denied being quite smitten with the man. He could only hope that he was smitten with him in return, but he doubted it. Romance hardly ever went the way he intended it to.

McCree chuckled. Wrapping his serape more closely around his shoulders, he sank down next to Hanzo, sitting instead of laying like the archer was.

“Ya like lookin’ at the stars?” He asked after a moment of quiet. Hanzo let out an affirmative grunt.

“They help me think.”

“Ya got somethin’ on yer mind specifically?”

“Constellations.”

McCree knew it was a redirection, but figured that if Hanzo didn’t want to talk about it, nothing McCree could do was going to make him. Besides, constellations were something that he actually knew a little something about.

“Constellations huh? Just in general or are ya lookin’ for somethin’ specific?”

“Just in general.” Answered Hanzo. The archer stretched and McCree had a hard time keeping his eyes star-bound. Lazily, Hanzo reached out to point at a portion of the night sky.

“I’ve heard tell of that one. It is a lion, correct?”

McCree nodded. “Right. That's the tail end of Leo. Ya can always find it in the sky by followin’ the big dipper.” McCree pointed out the boxy set of stars. “It's a good reference point for a lot of other stars, so take note of it.”

“It does not look like a lion. And what is a...dipper?”

“A dipper is a ladle. Like you spoon out soup with, ya know?”

Hanzo considered this a moment. “I can see that. What about Leo? That in no way resembles anything feline.”

McCree hummed. “Well, I guess you just have to use your imagination a bit. Leo is supposed to represent the Nemean lion, a vicious beast that had a hide no weapon could break. Hercules killed it as one of his twelve labor by stranglin’ it to death, and then placed it in the heavens to show off his triumph. Cocky little bastard.”

Looking away from the cluster of stars, McCree found Hanzo was staring at him instead, expression unreadable.

“What? Did I get my history mixed, or something?”

That seemed to bring Hanzo back to the here and now. A light dusting of pink coated his cheeks and the archer made it a point to look back up at the night sky.

“No I just...I didn’t expect you to know that. It is...impressive. Do all constellations have such myths?”

Jesse chuckled. “Most that I know do. Some of them are just symbolism, like Libra.” He pointed to a constellation on the other side of the sky. “Its supposed to be a scale measuring the weight of the day and night, or something like that. Near that,” he pointed again. “Is Hydra. Big ol’ constellation. The biggest, I think. Another of Hercules triumphs. Had nine heads that grew two more when you cut one off. Nasty stuff. He only has one head in the constellation, though, because apparently only one of them was immortal. And that,” McCree points to a large collection of stars in the middle of Libra and Leo. “Is Virgo.” The cowboy allows himself a light chuckle. “She represents Persephone, the maiden of spring. Supposedly she's supposed a naked lady. Raunchy, if that's your preference.”

“It's not.”

To be fair, McCree probably looked just as surprised as Hanzo did, and Hanzo was the one who said it.

There was a long, pregnant moment of silence, before McCree bursted out into laughter. Hanzo just looked lost.

“I-I did not-I just-” The archer stumbled over his words.

“Whoo,” McCree sighed, finally speaking through his laughter. “Thank God, that makes trying to court you a ton easier.”

Hanzo froze, his entire body going stiff. A deep flush started at his neck and bled onto his cheeks. Jesse thought it was extremely cute, “W-What?”

The gunslinger stood, brushing off his pants. He was still smiling. “Well I think that's enough stargazing for one night. G’night Hanzo; I look forward to charming the pants off of you in the morning.” He winked, before making his way to the ladder of the roof. Hanzo was sputtering something out behind him, but he ignored it for the time being.

He had plans to make, after all.

Chapter Text

Pharah had trained her whole life with heros, but none had held a candle to the one that she had called mother.

Had.

That woman...that woman with the missing eye and the the loosely held biotic rifle. That woman with the same tattoo, fading black ink etched on sun worn, wrinkled skin...that was not her mother.

Pharah’s mother had died.

The woman crashed through the halls like a storm, electric anger rolling over her in palpable waves, her charge scattering papers and rustling curtains. Even years of practiced stoicism and control could not keep the emotions from bubbling in her gut and frothing in her veins.

Ana Amari had died.

Pharah crumpled the letter in her hand again, letting out a growl. Lies. It had all been lies. Years of mourning a messy mother-daughter relationship that ended far too quickly for nothing. Of trying to follow in her footsteps. Of trying to reach Ana again, if only because she was doing what her mother had loved.

Crushed. Denied. Wasted.

The soldier found herself in a side office. Carpeted and furnished with a nice open window wall overlooking the track below. Private, for the most part.

Fareeha slammed her fist so hard into the large wooden desk that it buckled and broke under her strength.

They burned in her like acid, these toxic feelings; anger, hurt, betrayal, sorrow. She wanted to scream and cry and kill all at the same time, but she couldn't because she was better than that. She was trained to be above that.

Pharah had slapped Jack Morrison the day she met him again after he had died. Then she hugged him, because she had missed him.

To her own mother? A salute before she walked away.

“Knock knock?”

The woman didn’t bother turning around. She just lifted her fist from the table and straightened herself out.

“I’ll pay for the desk.” She said in an even tone. Winston chuckled, but there was little humor behind it.

“No need. Needed replacing anyways.”

They both knew this was false.

Winston adjusted his glasses and gave an awkward cough.

“Are you...are you alright?” He hesitantly asked.

“I am fine.” Was the immediate, snapped response. Pharah continued to keep her back towards him, but she knew her shoulders were shaking.

“Fareeha...” Winston sighed. She turned on him.

“I wish to be left alone.”

“She missed you. You didn’t even say hello to her. She wanted to talk to you.”

Pharah’s next breath stuttered in her throat. She didn’t know if it was from stopping herself from screaming at the top of her lungs or attempting not to break down into a sobbing mess.

“Well, she should have thought of that before she played dead.” She had meant for the tone to come out as neutral, but instead it sounded bitter and angry. The woman attempted to brush past Winston to leave the room, but a large hairy arm blocked her path.

Pharah made the mistake of looking up at him.

She had known Winston for years; he was only a little bit younger than herself. They had been close friends in the golden years; a young gorilla and a young girl exploring all that they could find in the shadow of Overwatch.

It never ceased to amaze her how expressive his eyes were. Like looking into emotion itself. Pharah looked down at the ground, away from them. Her throat constricted and she felt the familiar burn that she had been doing so well to ward off.

“She lied to me.” She said in a voice barely above a whisper.

“Ana lied to all of us.” Winston responded.

It was as if all her emotions had been sealed tight in a little glass bottle and Winston just pulled the cork. Later, she would wonder if that was what he had meant to do - that he had baited her purposefully into a tirade that would allow him to look at the heart of her issues. At the time it didn’t matter. At the time, she had an outlet.

“No, she lied to me!” She yelled, eye blazing with anger and jabbing a finger into the muscle of Winston’s still outstretched forearm. “I was her daughter! I thought she was dead! She left me in the shadow of a war that I couldn’t fight without her! She left me with the crumbling remains of an organization that I always dreamed of joining! She disappeared when not only the world needed her most, but I needed her most! And for what? Because she failed at a mission? Because people died?”

“Fareeha, I don’t think-”

“Don’t call me that!” She screeched, voice cracking. Something trickled down her face, hot and wet. Pharah pointedly ignored it. Winston, despite being at least twice her size, took a step back.

“She...she...” Pharah scrubbed at her eyes, running the heel of her palm across her tattoo. “She didn’t even give me a message. I buried her in a bodiless casket! I never got to touch her tattoo again, I never got to hug her again, I never got to hear her sing me to sleep again. I never got to apologize for the argument we had before before she went on that mission. She never got to explain why she didn’t want me to follow in her footsteps.” She hiccuped, shoulders slumping. “And she thinks she can just...come back. And everything will be okay, like she didn’t just...just...”

Winston slowly approached. A large arm wrapped around her shoulder and pulled her close. Her nose was buried in a warm furry chest, thick black hair wicking away at the tears that had gathered at her cheeks. He held her tenderly, a hand rubbing mindless, comforting circles on her back. Pharah cried harder, burrowing into Winston’s offered warmth until she felt empty and tired.

“I’m sorry.” Winston said.

And they remained like that, reminiscent of a similar moment from so long ago.

Chapter Text

Mei rubbed the sleep out of her eyes, blinking owlishly at the tile floor. Her glasses were somewhere on the counter next to her, safe from her exhaustion induced fumblings. The climatologist really should have been asleep; she had just got back from a month long mission, after all. She deserved to rest in a comfortable bed with nice soft blankets and pillows in an environment that wasn’t trying to kill her.

But a month’s worth of habits die hard. Sleep was hard fought and often interrupted by battle at a moment's notice. So after a particularly bad night of paranoia and restlessness, Mei headed to Overwatch’s sprawling kitchen to try and fill the empty void in her stomach that was part hunger and part something else.

Retrieving her glasses from the counter by her side, Mei was confronted with what might be the hardest task of the night.

What would she make?

She only really wanted a snack; something small, hopefully sweet, but she wouldn’t say no to something salty and crunchy. Did D.Va have some of those shrimp chips left? They were pretty good. Mei was pretty sure someone had a Pocky stash hidden in the pantry that she stumbled upon last time, but stealing other people’s food was, well, stealing. She could make something, she supposed, but what? Just some cereal? A sandwich? Did she really feel like baking something at this time of night?

Mei was so absorbed in her own thoughts that she failed to noticed the great looming shadow until it engulfed her whole and blocked out the light of the fluorescent bulb above her.

Instincts kicked in almost automatically. Mei spun around, hand whipping to her hip to grab at a gun that wasn’t there. In her mind she could see a Talon agent, weapon at the ready and trained on her.

In reality, she came face to stomach with Mako, who was towering over her dressed in his flannel pajamas and gasmask.

One of these was obviously a more startling outcome than the other, as Mei let out a yelp and stumbled backwards.

“Roadhog, what the heck!” She breathed out, putting a hand to her racing heart. “You need to wear a bell or something.”

The man, expression concealed by the thick black rubber of his mask, just shrugged murmuring a “Sorry.”

Mei waved him off. “It's fine. Just startled me is all.” She turned away from the large man, going back to her mental checklist of the kitchen. The climatologist was almost tempted to open the fridge up to see what was there, but she knew that would just end up being a solid ten minutes of staring into the contents and letting the air out while she over thought stuff. That would be a last resort.

“Wot cha makin’?” Asked Roadhog from behind her. She could hear him take a seat on one of the stools.

“I don’t know yet. I was kind of hoping something sweet, but I’m not sure.”

“Wot cha tryin’ to achieve?” He asked. Mei looked back at him, confused.

“Um? An end to my hunger?”

Roadhog let out a snort, but didn’t elaborate. She narrowed her eyes at him before turning back to her own debacle.

Food.

Another couple of minutes past by Mei and Roadhog in complete silence, Mei still thinking and Mako apparently just content to sit and watch.

That was, until he spoke up.

“Ya don’t know wot ya want.” He said and Mei sighed.

“No. I don’t.”

“If ya were just hungry, ya woulda picked somethin’ by now.”

She slumped her shoulders. “I know.”

“So wot are ya try’in tah fill?”

The woman looked at him, big brown eyes looking into twin, unexpressive pools of tar.

“Grief.” She answered. “And shame. You?”

“Homesickness.”

“What works for you?”

Mako didn’t answer verbally, instead standing from his stool and grabbing something from one of the very highest shelves. With the sounds of metal scraping and wood groaning, he brought down a large tin and placed it on the counter. Wordlessly, he slid it down to Mei and gestured for her to open it.

She did. It was filled to the brim with rows of chocolate chip cookies. Not the store baked ones either; these were the real deal.

When Mei looked back up, Roadhog was filling two tall glasses with milk and bringing them over. He handed her one and kept the other.

“Mum’s recipe.” He explained. “Said that they always tasted best with good company.”

Mei felt a flush grace her cheeks and hope it didn’t show as much as she thought it did. “You really loved your mom, huh?”

Roadhog nodded, already delicately dunking a cookie into the pool of milk. With the other hand he slipped off his gas mask and put it on the table beside him.

“She was as good as a woman as we could have hoped for. Better than we deserved, that's for sure.”

“We?”

“Had some siblings. Don’t anymore.”

Mei winced. She hadn’t meant to sour the mood like that. She was just about to apologize when a cookie was shoved in her direction.

“Ya can have some, ya know. This was an invitation.”

She could hear the humor in his voice, a tone that she had never heard before, and smiled in spite of her faux pas. Gingerly taking the cookie, she dunked it in the milk and bit into it.

Hooooo boy was it good. She made an appreciative hum and Mako gave a huff.

“Don’t have anyone that bakes often?” He asked. Mei shook her head.

“No. Not here, anyways. And before that it was -” It was her old team. They couldn’t bake to save their souls, poor dears. All science and no practical skills. Cooking dinner each night was an adventure unto itself. She loved it, and missed it dearly.

Mei swallowed the cookie heavily.

“Was...?” Mako prompted.

“Nobody at Watchpoint Antarctica could cook very well. It was a struggle to make edible food everyday, so something complicated like baking never really came into the equation.” She said quietly. Roadhog nodded.

“Was the only one of mine that could bake. Mum taught me all the recipes she could. Said that they should be passed down.”

“You baked these then?”

“With Jamie. He's a decent baker. Excellent at measurements.”

Mei laughed, because honestly what had she expected?

“Well, I’m sure your mom would be proud of how well these turned out.”

He smiled, big and broad.

“Was yer family just as riley at Christmas too?” Mako asked.

“You have no idea. Half of us didn’t even celebrate it. They just wanted to party. They set a christmas tree on fire one year.”

They swapped stories there for a while; Mako talking about his family before the Omnic Crisis and Mei talking about her old team at Watchpoint Antarctica. Slowly, as they muched on cookies and laughed at stupid stories, Mei felt her hunger abate until it was nothing more than the ghost of a pang.

She felt it had more to do with the company than the cookies, but they were a great bonus.

Chapter Text

It was often that Torbjörn drank.

It wasn’t often that he drank with Mercy.

‘Angela.’ He reminded himself. They had little need for codenames here, although it was a struggle sometimes to break the habit.

The bar was small and homey - a little, sophisticated, hole-in-the-wall pub that offered a private place to drink. It was brick and mortar with deep oaken furnishings, worn and battered with age and use. The patrons weren’t too rowdy and the selection of drinks suited both Torbjörn and Mercy’s tastes. It was perfect.

He was laughing at a joke Mercy made; she was half in the bag off of whatever fruit drinks she had been ordering one after another.Torbjörn wouldn’t touch the stuff; sweet drinks were sweet for a reason. You had to hide the taste of all the alcohol in them somehow.

He was nursing his fourth beer - the other three murky glass bottles contrasted with the clear, clean round cups of Mercy’s choice drink.

“Those were the days, eh? Fighting Omnics without a care in the world.” He sighed, settling back in his seat. Mercy rolled her eyes at him.

“Maybe you had no cares. Some of us were busy making sure people didn’t die.”

“You signed up for that. I signed up to slaughter the robot threat.”

“I would remind you that they are beings, just as you and I are, but I’m afraid we’ve had this debate far too many times to think I’d convince you on this try.”

The engineer took a long draft of his beer. “And you’d be correct.”

“Yet you treat your turret like it's your child.”

“It is.”

“But is it not a machine?”

“Aye, but it isn’t Omnic. Doesn’t have a mind of its own. It does what I instruct it too. You made Genji a new body - do the parts not do what you intended them to do?”

“Well, no, they work perfectly as intended, but-”

“They don’t have the mental capacity to rebel. Omnics do. A gun shoots someone, it's not the guns fault - it's the wielder. An Omnic shoots someone? That's the Omnic’s doing. Machines that can think for themselves will always be more trouble than they are worth because they can deviate from the path set for them. ”

Mercy pulled a disapproving face. “Those are some of our friends and coworkers you are talking about.”

Torbjörn shrugged. “All rules have exceptions, but I digress - I’ve been thinking about some adaptations to your Valkyrie suit that could make it more durable in combat. It's been awhile since I last looked at the blasted thing, and knowing you, you probably wore it to every warzone you could find.”

Mercy mercifully followed along with the change in topic. It bled into a lot of shop talk - Torby knew the schematics of Mercy’s suit and staff almost as well as she did. Things like weight and survivability and aesthetics came into play, (“You know, you’d get shot at less if you weren’t a bloomin’ beacon of white and shining light.” “Says the man who erects a bright red turret in the middle of battlefield.”) but as always, as they order more drinks, the conversation dissolves into catching up. Where Torbjörn had been hiding while the world’s eyes searched for him and his weapons of mass destruction. What Mercy had been up to in her extensive time going from warzone to warzone in search of those in need of aid.

And inevitably it would lead back to Overwatch. Not the rag-tag Overwatch they were in now, but the real one. The Golden Days, with Jack Morrison and Gabriel Reyes, the one where they were on top of the world and could do no wrong.

The dwarf scoffed as Angela danced around the subject The Fall on the timeline. Maybe if he had imbibed less, he would have noticed the wistful sadness in her eyes.

He didn’t, though, and stumbled drunkenly into the next sentence with all the grace of a toddler trying to ride a bike for the first time.

“Bah, I have no regrets - Old Overwatch was the time of my life. I was doing what I loved with the people I loved and it's a shame that it went belly up. Still, can’t say I did anything that I could look back on unfondly on. Right Angie?”

Angela had gone awfully quiet and deathly still, eyes glazed over and staring hard at the wood of the table. Maybe the sweet drinks had finally gotten to her? She was usually pretty good with knowing her limits; maybe she had tried to surpass them in his good company? The engineer called out to her again.

“Angie?”

“I do.”

He was a little taken aback, eye darting over his drinking companion’s now shaking form.

“Do what?” He asked.

“I do have regrets. I have so many regrets, Torby.” She choked on his nickname, hands clenching and unclenching around an unfinished drink. One hand came up to move her golden bangs from her face and Torbjörn got a glimpse of her haunted expression.

“I had to turn a young man into a weapon. I went into battle so many times; I had to kill people, Torbjörn. I had to kill them or else they were going to kill me. Everyday I worked tirelessly because the people around me - I loved them. They were my family. And God, we were in the middle of a verdammt war and my family was on the front line everyday. I had to make sure they came back safe or else their blood was on my hands. The Fall...” Angela sobbed into her hand, tears leading tracks down her cheeks and trailing down her wrist. “I wasn’t there and so many people died. Jack, Ana, and God, Gabriel. Torbjörn I tried everything to save him and I turned him into...that! I tried to play God and look what it did to him?”

What could only have been years of bitter self loathing and guilt spewed forth from Angela's mouth and Torbjörn was struck frozen in its wake. He had never realized...but of course she would have taken all of those things to heart. She was Mercy, the Angel of Overwatch. But more than that, she was Angela, and Angela always had played Atlas, trying to keep things tidy and in order and at peace. Trying to sort the greater good out of a world that was more shades of grey than it was black or white.

And here Torbjörn was talking of everything in tones of gold with Midas sitting across from him.

Shame and concern burned in his stomach, and fewer than three tears had met the table before he scrambled over to her sobbing form.

“Oh Angie, Angela.” He cooed softly, cupping her face in his work worn hands, roving a thumb to brush a tear away. “None of those things are your fault!” Had nobody told her? Of course they hadn’t, he realized. Where in any of the aftermath of Overwatch had any of them had time to reassure one another? Who would have been there to tell Mercy that these things weren’t her fault? There had been nothing but pointing fingers and blame and issues from before just snowballed into...into this.

“B-but it is, Torby. I turned Genji into a living weapon!”

“You saves his life.”

“I killed countless lives.”

“In defense. And you saved countless more.”

“I turned Gabe into a monster.”

“You tried to save to save the life of someone you loved.You cannot be blamed for that.”

Mercy ripped her head from his grasp, suddenly angry. “Stop! Stop it! Stop trying to paint me as a saint!”

Torbjörn simply looked up at her. “I’m not. I’m trying to paint you as a human. Humans make mistakes. That doesn’t mean that they are your fault or that you should tear yourself up because of them.”

Watery blue eyes stared down at the man.

“Have I deviated from the path set for me?” She asked in a quiet voice.

The engineer gave a warm smile, leaning in and wrapping his arms around the doctor.

“No, it's just lead you to places you didn’t think it would.”

There was a long beat of silence. Then;

“Thank you, Torbjörn.”

“Twas nary a problem. You start thinking that way again and you come see ol’ Torby. I’ll set you straight.”

Mercy gave scoff.

“Only because you are stubborn enough to argue it.”

“Oh, I think I know more people who could argue this point. You just decided to go drinking with the most stubborn of them all; excluding current company.”

He released her, keeping his hands on her shoulders, and felt his spirits rise when she gave a laugh.

“Thank you. I have to come out of this interaction with some dignity.”

“Angela, you are dignity incarnate.”

“I’m a mess is what I am.”

“And what a beautiful mess you are, then.”

Mercy shot him a glare, but there was absolutely no heat behind it. “Flattery will get you nowhere.”

Torbjörn just waggled his eyebrows. It elicited another giggle from her.

“Come on, “ The engineer tugged her from her seat, slapping down some bills on the table. “Let's go get something to eat. We are both going to need it.”

Mercy cocked her head questioningly to the side, but otherwise went along with his action. “You know a place?”

“Don’t I always?”

The two figures tottered out of the bar hanging off of each other - as much as they could anyways. Angela was only slightly unsteady on her feet and Torbjörn was shorter than her by quite a bit. They both took solace in the contact though, as only old friends could, laughing and chatting as if one of them hadn’t just bared their soul to the other. Unseen at the bar, a heavily cloaked figure watched them go, a slight smile on her face.

The bartender approached her, glass in hand. “An odd pair. You know them?”

“Yes,” She answered in a heavy accent, the light of the bar shining off of an eyepatch as she looked up to the bartender. “Its nice to know some things never change.”

Chapter Text

Acquiring Sombra had been...interesting. And McCree wouldn’t even call it ‘acquired’. That would have implied Overwatch sought her out and hunted her down.

No. No, it was most certainly the other way around.

Jesse didn’t know what Winston had hashed out with Sombra after she hacked into Athena’s systems; that was something the ape and only the ape knew. He wasn’t even sure that Winston had told Jack and Gabe more than “She's going to be here in two days. Get a room ready; I’m sure she’ll be here for a while.”

And so two days went and here McCree was with everyone else waiting around the hangar for the automated ship to land deliver its cargo.

Sombra. An honest to God hacker. Going by what Reaper and Widow had said, she was the best of the best. Annoying, but worth it (barely, Reaper had growled) for the work she does.

When the woman slides out of the transport, cocky and sure, jagged lines of purple circuitry trailing along where she touched the door, Jesse is now sure that she is going to be more of a handful than not.

She had to be in her thirties? Young thirties, if he's as good as a judge as he thinks he is. Half of her hair is shaved away to reveal two strips of lightly glowing cybernetics that caused McCree to grimace. Those were not cheap nor were they painless. The rest of her hair was long and highlighted with purple - a color which was repeated in her ensemble. She was lean, and McCree doubted that her skills were only hacking, if the machine pistol at her hip was anything to go buy.

Her eyes, though, her eyes roved over the collection of people like a predator watching prey. A slow, toothy grin spread over painted lips and it took everything the cowboy could muster not to shoot Sombra right there on the tarmac. That grin promised trouble and trouble in Overwatch meant trouble for the world.

Instead of gripping Peacekeeper and putting a bullet through the lady’s head, he adapted a small smile and tipped his hat in greetings.

Sombra had been having a conversation with Reaper (who looked none too please and all too exasperated; Jesse could recognize that body language anywhere, even with it shrouded in black leather) When she glance over at him. Then she did a double take, smile gone, replaced with a furrowed brow and and tense frown.

“Who the hell are you?” Sombra asked, giving him a once over. McCree shifted, uncomfortable with the woman’s attention on him, but never the one to be impolite, stuck out a hand.

“The names Jesse McCree. It nice to finally meet you-”

“No.” She stated, holding up a perfectly manicured finger. McCree’s introduction stuttered and died on his lips. “No, no, no.” She continued. Without looking away from him, she pointed at Reinhardt. “Reinhardt Wilhelm, 61 years old, born in Stuttgart, Germany. Forced to retired from the old Overwatch at the age of 57.” She pointed to Symmetra, who had been half hidden in the back of the group. “Satya Vaswani, 28 years old. Grew up in a slum, got picked up by Vishkar at age 11, and made into an Architect by the age of 22.” Now Sombra twisted around to gesture the the rest of the group as a whole. “Jack Morrison as a masked vigilante, Gabriel Reyes as “The Reaper”, the disappearance of Anna Amari; there is nothing I didn’t know about Overwatch and its employees.”

She scowled. “Well, there was nothing. So who are you?”

McCree was decidedly out of his element. He didn’t really know what to say except “Aw, what did Gabe not talk about me?”

Sombra whirled on the man. Reaper’s shoulders sagged.

“Really?” He growled. “And my name is Reaper.”

“Who is this...this cowboy!” She exclaimed. “Why did you not tell me about him!”

Jesse could hear the smirk behind the mask. “What, I thought you knew everything Sombra?”

Immediately the woman brought up a opaque purple hexagonal holoscreen. Text and pictures whizzed by much faster than he was able to keep up with. That was until she paused on an all too familiar poster.

There was a icy feeling settling somewhere in McCree’s gut. Somehow, it had made him feel better to think that this woman had known everything about him and just hadn’t cared that he was an outlaw with a 60 million dollar bounty on his head. Now that she was actively looking him up (not only in front of him, but in front of all of his teammates) it made him nervous. More than nervous; panic was vaguely starting to rush through his veins and it made his trigger finger twitch.

“Now hold up just a moment there-”

“You have a bounty on your head. Quite sizable.”

“See here, I don’t think this-”

“Deadlock? Nice little establishment they have, although I’m sure it wasn’t like that back in your day, am I right? Probably a lot more dangerous, since there wasn’t an Overwatch to put them down.”

“You know, I just wanted to introduce myself, not have you gleaming through my life story on your fancy hacking tech there! Can you just quit it!” McCree yelled. His voice echoed around the now silent area. Sombra looked up, shocked at first, and then settled on mischievous.

Sombra stepped up to McCree. Like most people, he was taller than her by a good head and usually he liked to use that to his advantage, but it just wasn’t doing the trick in this situation. She just leaned in real close and tipped his stetson up with those (now that he got a better look at them) manicured claws.

“My apologies.” She sing-songed. “I look forward to getting to know you more, Mr. Jesse McCree.” Then, in a lower voice; “Hanzo favorite dessert is Anpan. I know a good recipe if you're interested.” She winked, gripped the brim of his hat, and pulled it over his face. By the time he had replaced it, she was already mingling with the younger recruits, asking them to show her to her room.

And she had one of his cigarillos in her mouth, uncut and unlit.

“Damn.” McCree cursed.

He knew trouble when he saw it.

Chapter Text

Reaper liked having moments to himself.

With him having recently joined Overwatch, there weren’t many of those to be had. They were keeping a close eye on him (and while most of him was bitter and angry about it, a little voice that sounded suspiciously like the old Reyes told him it was because he had tried to kill everyone on the team at least once)

(Another voice, this one dark and sinister, commented that he couldn’t even manage to do that.)

The Gibraltar cliffs were good for a moment alone, so long as neither of the Shimada brothers were going through some existential crisis, there were few people who could get up there. It was a nice view and he had missed it; not that he would ever admit that to anyone.

Sitting on the edge of the cliff, coat flipped out to trail behind him and legs dangling off the, he could almost feel Reyes come out. A figment of himself shifting just under his skin (or what was left of it) leaking out of him in small amount and breaking down the hard persona of Reaper. Taking a glance around him just to make sure he was truly alone (he was) the ghost let out a rattling sigh. Taloned hands removed his mask and he let the heavy, honeyed rays of the setting sun sink into his scarred and vaporous visage.

It was both foreign and familiar to feel the sun and wind on his skin again after so long. Part of him basked in in. Another told him he was being foolish to enjoy something so trivial.

Yet another, the same dark voice from before, told him he didn’t deserve it.

That voice kept talking, and the smile that had almost graced Reaper features twisted into a grimace.

He did deserve any of this, it said. He deserved to suffer for his sins - a list that was a mile long and thicker than the bible that he no longer carried with him. That what Angela had done to him (“In a moment of passion.” One voice argued. “No,” another raged. “A moment of fear.”) was truly an act of God, following a fate that he deserved.

It sang to him, in the familiar voice of self loathing and angst, that he was worth nothing to them but the bullets he could shoot. That nobody could care for him again - that nobody could see past the mask of Reaper to the Reyes underneath.

(“That's not true, Jesse still loves you.” A voiced tried to scream, but it was too far away, too muffled by the darkness that seeped through his being.)

Nobody wanted him. Nobody. And here he was at the edge of a cliff and he wondered if gravity could do a more thorough job of death than a bullet or a bomb. He wanted so badly just to scatter himself upon the ground -

“Good evening Reaper.”

Solitude broken, and train of thought derailed, Reaper snapped his head to glare at Zenyatta before realizing that he had yet to put back on his mask. That was fine (no, no it really wasn’t) his glare would be more effective this way.

Zenyatta wasn’t fazed, giving the ghost of a man a simple wave in response.

“Do you mind if I join you? I usually come up here to meditate at this time. I do not wish to intrude.”

Alas, the bucket of bolts already had. The moment was over, and the sinking sun and ocean breeze now felt more stale than refreshing.

Reaper rose, snatching up his mask before mockingly gesturing to his spot. “All yours, tincan.”

“Ah, yes, my name is Zenyatta, if you have forgotten.”

A hidden sneer. “I haven’t.”

It was odd to say that the omnic stilled, since there wasn’t much about him that moved in the first place, but he seems to do just that. Unseen eyes appraised Reaper and he watched as Zenyatta’s head tilted ever so carefully to the side.

“I sense discord within you, my friend. Would you like to share your troubles?”

Reaper growled. “Trying to get me into the ‘Meditate your troubles away’ club just like you did with the Shimada freak? Not going to happen tincan. I’m beyond your ability, Omnic. I would tell you to stop trying to waste your time, but just being alive does that for you.”

“I would like you to address Genji with his proper title please.”

“Oh? Sorry. I didn’t know we should be referring to him as Outcast now.”

Zenyatta sighed. “Mr. Reyes please-”

“That's not my name anymore.”

“-you are acting petulantly. I am only offering my assistance.”

Reaper grit his teeth, glad the noise is muffled by the mask. “I’m not here to become another pet project for you Omnic; another mind you can play with ‘in the name of the iris’.”

“Why are you like this Reaper? Why do you think people are out to get you?” Asked Zenyatta and his serenity made Gabriel's blood boil in his veins. Did nothing faze this thing?

“Ah, ah, ah. Thats ones of those personal questions that I don’t have to answer. If I want to be moody and spiteful, it is my own business. It's not like anyone cares anyways.”

“I care.”

“No, no you really don’t.”

“You do not believe me?”

“What tipped you off?”

There was a beat of silence between them, tense and uncomfortable. Reaper couldn’t get a read on the machine, but even with his mask on, it seemed like Zenyatta was looking right through him.

“Just a moment ago, you were thinking about jumping weren't you?” Zenyatta stopped floating, instead resting on his two feet.

“No.” Reaper and Reyes lied.

(“Yes.” Whispered Gabriel.)

Zenyatta merely nodded, approaching the man. “There are many ways to connect to people, Mr. Reyes. I prefer a more personal approach than my brothers did. Speeches are all well and good, but not every person to can connect to words that they perceive to be empty.”

Reaper narrowed his eyes at him. “Does this mean you’ll leave me the hell alone?”

Before Reaper, Reyes, or Gabriel could even anticipate the move coming, their shared shell had been flipped over the omnic and slammed into the ground hard enough to wind them.

“What the fuck?!” Wheezed Reaper as he struggled to his knees. Zenyatta was staring calmly down at him in a loose fighting stance.

“Fight me.” He demanded.

“You are fucking crazy.”

“You don’t want to?”

“Oh no,” Gabriel rose to his full height, towering over the bot. “I’m going to kick your ass.” He growled.

Zenyatta gave a synthesized huff, and Reaper swore he could hear the smirk in his voice. “We shall see.”

The fight went for hours, well into the night, but neither opponent backed down. Zenyatta was skilled, it seemed, and he met Reaper’s knowledge of hand to hand combat with blows of his own. He would talk during the fight - insightful sayings, advice on stance, questions that Reaper didn’t dignify with a response. And while most of it just fueled the ghost’s rage, some of it slipped through the cracks of adrenaline and sweat.

They were finished when Reaper successfully pinned Zenyatta.

A voice inside him screamed for him to finish the omnic, to break him into so many pieces that even Genji wouldn't recognize them.

But he was tired. So, so tired. The darkness, the rage, it had abated making him feel hollow and empty. Instead he just reached out a hand to help Zenyatta up.

“Thank you.”

Reaper waved him off. “You aren't as shitty at fighting as I thought you were.”

The omnic gave a lighthearted chuckle, as if Reaper hadn’t just spent his entire evening trying his hardest to smash his metal skull in. “Yes, I have been told as much, although I am sure you could teach me a thing or too.”

Not much, Reaper thought, not much at all. But some.

“Are you asking? Don’t you have a vow of peace to keep up with or something?”

Zenyatta let out a light chuckle. “I am not helpless Gabriel. When faced with harm, I will defend myself and other. You should recall that quite clearly.”

He did. A miasma of discontent that oozed through his body like thick slime, before the crash of a mala against his mask. A sickening combo. Reaper growled at the memory.

“I am glad we had this time together.” Zenyatta bowed. It was almost jarring to see the omnic on his own two feet. While they were fighting, Reaper had given it little thought, but now that he could see it clearly it was...strange.

The ghost huffed, resuming his spot by the edge of the cliff and deliberately turning his back on the bot. “Yeah, whatever. Come back if you wanna get your ass beat again, tincan.” (“Maybe I could even teach you something.” Reyes wanted to add, but didn’t)

“I figured it was better than meditation. Don’t stay out too much longer, or Athena will start to pester you.”

Wait...what?

Reaper turned to question the monk, but he was already hovering out of sight. There was a temptation to call out to him, but Reaper bit it back. He wouldn’t give Zenyatta the satisfaction.

“Stupid robot. Doesn’t know anything.” He mumbled to himself. The hollowness was still there, the empty spot where his loathing and anger used to be. Reaper didn’t like it; it was part of him; what drove him; what kept him sane.

(Gabriel... Gabriel thought it could be filled with something else. Maybe something better. He had lost enough of himself, what was losing a bit more if he gained something good?)

The ghost gave one last look to the scenery. The stars were out; it looked like someone had flicked white paint upon a black canvas. It was the only way he could tell where the horizon was; where the sky ended and the ocean started.

Then he stood. Body sore. Mind numb. Emotionally gutted.

Maybe he would go and find Jesse. Or Jack. Or even Ana.

Not because he wanted to. He just needed someone to bother right now, and those three had the worst sleep schedules of anyone he had even met.

(Another voice said that he was lying. It wasn’t corrected.)

Chapter Text

A stuttering of breath was all the sound he ever made.

It was almost silent in the dark, muffled by the ambient sounds of the night; the low hum of electronics, the static from the TV screen, the rumbling of the pipes. If Ana had not known to listen for the sound it would have been hidden within the world, another voice lost to time, alone in its descent into forever.

Ana put down her teacup, the steam wafting from the hot liquid calling to her, but she resisted. One eye glance over the counter of the kitchenette to where the commons room was. She focused in on the couch, a silhouette against the beady static of the television somebody ad left on.

She listened again, holding her breath. Closing her eyes.

Again. There it was again. A gasp in the dark.

Ana abandoned her tea on the table, an act she did not perform lightly, and slowly shuffled into the dim commons room. The light from the TV made the shadows long and jagged, shifting as the light manipulated them into strange geometric forms. She ignored this; too old and much too wise to let something like that bother her. When she was younger, she would have thought the room eerie, but motherhood and combat had made her fearless of such trivial things.

Rounding the couch, Amari saw one Jack Morrison curled prone on his side. His mask was askew, but not off, the red tinted glass reflecting the light and making it look like warning lights. Were anyone to look by in passing, if they dared to enter the room at all, they would likely think he was sleeping.

But Ana was not just anyone. And she saw his furrowed brow and tense shoulders. She noted the way his body trembled and the way his fist was clenched in a white knuckle grip.

She heard his stuttered breath.

Slowly, she sat down next to him, settling herself in the narrow space between his head and the arm of the couch.

“Hello Jack.” She greeted. Not for her benefit, but for his. He grunted in response.

“Amari.”

She chuckled at him. With a tap on his shoulder, he lifted his head so that she could settle her lap underneath it. Carefully, gently she undid the rest of his visor and placed it on the coffee table in front of them - well within reach of old man, if he so chose he wanted it back.

He looked up at her with blank, bleary eyes. Ana ran a soothing hand through his hair and Jack closed them, water beading at the corners.

“I fucked up Ana.” He gasped, like a man who couldn’t get enough air, but with his last breath was determined to air out his sin. “They all believed in me and I let them down.”

Ana sighed, brushing away a stray tear before it was able to make the journey down the man’s face.

“How many times have we had this conversation Jack?” She whispered.

“Too many.”

“We are only human Jack. We make mistakes. We just had the resources to make bigger ones than most.”

76 grasped her hand, leaning his forehead against it. “We were so good Ana. We were so good. What happened to us? Why am I still here? Why do I see it every time I close my eyes? I’m so tired Ana. So tired.”

Ana’s heart ached in her chest. She had had this conversation enough to know that he didn’t want an answer - didn’t need an answer. So she just leaned back on the couch, holding his hand and having her other one replace the one that was no longer in his hair.

And above the sounds of the base, the silence of night, Ana Amari started humming. And shortly after that, came words.

Her voice wasn’t perfect by any comparison. She stumbled and croaked on some notes, lost her breath sometimes. But it was the honeyed voice of a mother, of someone who didn’t sing for amusement,but to sooth and delight those closest. A warm voice, one that made Jack think of sunny days on a farm far away with a loving family and a big floppy eared dog.

“You taught me the courage of stars before you left.
How light carries carries on endlessly even after death.

With shortness of breath, you explained the infinite.
How rare and beautiful it is to even exist.

I couldn’t help but ask,
for you to say it all again,
I tried to write it down,
but I could never find a pen.

I’d give anything to hear,
you say it one more time,
that the universe was made,
just to be seen by my eyes.

The grip on her hand had loosened, and the wetness had dried on his cheeks. The tenseness was nearly gone now, and his breathing was less stuttered and more smooth. Jack’s eyes were closed, cheek pressed against the top of her thigh.

“With shortness of breath, I’ll explain the infinite. How rare and beautiful it truly is that we exist.”

Ana smiled a small smile. Leaning down, she kissed Jack’s forehead.

“Have sweeter dreams this time Jack.”