Mako was in the middle of the older crowd’s semi-weekly poker game when the whole mess started. He and Jamison had been stationed with Overwatch at the headquarters for a few months, and while the elder of the two had adjusted accordingly, the younger, less stable of the duo had decidedly not.
Mako sighed as he considered the hand he’d been dealt. Reinhardt grunted as he examined his cards, and Ana hummed to herself nonsensically, sipping her tea which Mako suspected she’d been slipping something stronger into, judging by her progressively relaxed demeanor. The Cowboy, McCree, sipped his glass of whiskey as their commander 76 poured himself another drink. While they came from wildly different backgrounds, Mako found it pleasantly simple to bond with the elder soldiers at the headquarters. He supposed it was because of their experience - each of them had learned, earlier in life, just how valuable these battlefield relationships could be. It was important to trust your comrades like a family. It made for better fighters.
Mako had not had a family in a long, long time. Before being recruited to Overwatch, he had supposed the little rat was the closest thing he’d ever have again, though gods knew that that situation had been, and would probably always be… complicated. Before meeting Jamison, Mako had systematically cut out all human bonds and emotions. But the feral junker had tunneled into his steely heart, exactly like the rat from which he got his nickname, and now it seemed he refused to leave.
Mako sighed again, placing two of his cards face down on the table and pushing them towards the center. He liked the little rat, truly cared for him, but he would be lying if he didn’t admit that he found the boy’s presence… exhausting. Having grown up in the wild devastation of the outback, Jamison had few social skills, no self-control, and seemed to lack a reliable circadian rhythm.
Case in point, it seemed, tonight.
Ana was dealing replacement cards around the table when the door to Mako’s shared quarters creaked open. Jamison was there, wearing a tattered pair of sleep shorts and dragging his prosthetic arm along behind him. His eyes were bleary and unfocused, his hair tousled.
“Hoggy,” he announced, slurring pitifully, “Can’t sleep.”
Then the little rat looked up, blinked, and finally registered the sight that met him in his friend’s quarters. Their peaceful little poker game in full swing, half finished bottles of brandy and other liquor spread across the table, the little plate of cheese and crackers Mako had prepared, to his suitemate Reinhardt’s delight… and five of the eldest and most fearsome warriors of Overwatch, lounging around a breakfast table like some elderly women’s bridge club.
“What,” Junkrat mumbled, still shaking the grogginess from his head, “The hell’s goin’ on?”
“Evening, young Jamison,” Reinhardt rumbled, slamming his mug of spirits onto the table and collecting his winning chips. “Care to join us?”
“Ya playin’ poker?”
Mako nodded tiredly. The last thing he needed was this bundle of chaos interrupting his peaceful poker nights.
“I ‘ad no idea you played poker, Hoggy!” Junkrat beamed as he hobbled over to the table, pulling up a spare stool and strapping the prosthetic arm to his stump. He flexed the fingers experimentally as it clicked into place, hands twitching in anticipation. “And drinkin’, too? Give us a spot o’ the good stuff, Shield Man!”
Reinhardt guffawed in response and poured out a helping for the young junker. Jamison took it, gulping greedily, as he eyed his cards. “Ah, that ‘its the spot!” he said, smacking his lips together. “Oooh you old folks ‘ad better watch your asses, the cards are lovin’ me tonight!”
“Junkrat!” Mako boomed, his arms folded. He hadn’t even looked at his cards. The boy gave him a quizzical look as his partner pointed to Reinhardt’s darkened adjoining room. “Talk.”
They all watched as the confused young junker bumbled in agreement, “A- all righ’.” and hobbled into the adjoining room. Mako glowered behind his mask as he watched the young man go, then he took his time gulping down his drink before getting up to follow.
When he shut the door to his roommate’s quarters and turned on the light, Junkrat was busy rummaging through Reinhardt’s liquor locker. He jumped and yelped and put his arms behind his back, failing to hide what he’d been up to.
“Stop that.” Mako rumbled, already too tired to deal with this.
“Bet Shield Man’s got some nifty treasures stashed in there, eh Hoggy?” Junkrat’s eyes gleamed and he grinned at his partner. “‘ow long have you been playin’ them at poker? Learned any good tells yet? I can tell a’ready, Cowboy stops ‘is snarlin’ when ‘e’s got a closeish hand.”
“Quiet.” Mako growled. “Why are you here?”
“Told ya, Hoggy, couldn’t sleep!”
Mako rolled his eyes behind his mask. “Ask the doctor for some medicine.”
“Don’t want no medicine, Hoggy, just need someone by me side so it’s not so quiet-like.” the young man’s eyes darted back and forth around the room, as though scanning for possible threats. “‘A don’t like it here much, Hoggy, there’s too much cover. An’ the sounds’re strange, me bed’s too soft, - ”
Mako grunted and turned to leave. The little rat kept up his babbling, which became louder and more agitated until it burst over the surface.
“Listen to me, won’tcha!!’ he cried as he punched the big man’s arm. “What’s the matter with ya?”
“Calm down, Jamison,” he said, as flatly as he could manage. The little rat was getting on his nerves.
“I’ll be calm when I’m satisfied! Why’re ya blowin’ me off?”
Mako tried not to glance to the door behind him. Jamison was getting loud and manic, and frankly, he didn’t have the energy to talk him down from it. When he turned to look at his partner once more, the young man’s face was fixed in a petulant scowl.
“It’s them, ain’t it?” He frowned, face twitching as he struggled to keep his voice low. “You don’ wan’ them knowin’ about the way we are? They don’ understand that’s just how it is in the outback, where it’s cold at night and everythin’ out there wants a piece ‘o ya for dinner?”
Mako remained motionless, trying not to show that the kid had essentially guessed it. The truth was, they weren’t in the outback anymore, but Junkrat had never known anything else. What had become tried-and-true survival strategies just weren’t necessary anymore, but he clearly had never even considered that fact.
Until now. Mako watched as his partner’s face fell. “I see,” Junkrat mouthed bitterly, “You don’t want me hangin’ round ya anymore. Don’t want to be my partner, now we’re taken care of. That’s it, ain’t it?”
“Well what the blazes is it? Stupid silent lug, won’t even tell me!”
With that, Mako slammed his fist into the door frame. The wall and floor shook, and Mako heard a crack as the plaster wall split under the might of his fist. The outburst seemed to rattle the bones of his partner, too; Jamison had recoiled into his combat crouch, and was gazing at him with a look of fear and fury.
There was a soft rap upon the door behind him, and Roadhog turned to greet the intruder’s voice - Ana, thank gods.
“Mako?” She inquired in that no-nonsense way of hers, “Is everything okay?”
Mako turned back to look at Jamison, but the little rat was halfway out the third story window, his bony middle finger held aloft as he used his prosthetic arm to propel himself down from the rafter. He heard a mumbled “Piss off!” as his partner leapt from the sill and disappeared from sight. He blinked behind his mask for a moment or two, heaved a deep sigh, and returned to the room where his comrades awaited.
“‘S fine,” he huffed as he closed Reinhardt’s door behind him, “I’ll fix your wall,” he told his roommate.
“Not to worry about, my friend.” the veteran laughed back at him, “If we didn’t have tempers we wouldn’t have jobs!”
“Speak for yourself,” Ana spat back, turning her gaze to Mako’s mask. “Jamison?” She inquired.
“Out the window,” Mako growled. He was met with silence and confused stares.
After a moment, the cowboy spoke. “Doesn’t seem to be adjusting to our ‘civilized life’,” he drawled, taking a pull off his cigar and laughing at his own joke. The Soldier, Reinhardt, and Ana herself joined in the laughter. While the creature comforts of the base and their lives with the Watch were certainly better than life the outback, things weren’t without their trials and tribulations.
Mako shrugged and returned to his seat, looking at his cards for the first time since Junkrat’s arrival.
“Give him time, Mako.” Ana assured curtly, examining the bottom of her teacup.
- - -
Junkrat hobbled down the rocks towards the beach, chattering under his breath and cursing everyone who’d brought them to this blasted place. The sea air was cool and salty, a strong breeze blowing in off the surf. It would be a lovely night if it wasn’t for everything being so fucking awful. Junkrat took a deep breath in and exhaled loudly, trying to release some of his ever-present nervous energy. It didn’t work. It never worked.
Safely out of view of the compound, he pulled at the bottle he’d stashed in the waistband of his shorts, unscrewed the cap, and took a long drink. Stupid Pigman hadn’t even thought to check him, even after catching him messing with the cabinet. Stupid Shield Man hadn’t even the sense to keep the good stuff under lock and key. Stupid Hogman didn’t like it? Stupid Hogman should’ve treated stupid Junkrat with a little more respect, shouldn’t he? Stupid Overwatch. Stupid Junkrat. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
Junkrat came to the beach path where he’d explored that first day, back when Roadhog and the Monkey thought he was sleeping off his seasickness. He’d stashed his spare frag launcher, along with a dozen rounds of ammunition and assorted tiny bombs and blasters, in a small crack in the rocks that provided cover from the misty air. He wasn’t quite sure what he planned on doing with it tonight, only that he felt more comfortable with his weapon on him, and that maybe he’d blow off some steam. He took another long pull from the bottle as he pulled the launcher out from its hiding place. He cocked the gun in his mechanical arm and pointed it at the tower of the Overwatch headquarters, lining up the shot perfectly.
“PSHEWWWWWW” he vocalized, imagining blowing the whole place into the sky. Then he took another drink, wiped his mouth with his hand, and reached back into the hiding place to retrieve some ammunition.
A stray spark from his metal arm, aggravated by picking up his launcher, he suspected, traveled the length of his gun and caught alight on one of his small poppers he’d put in the hole to deter trespassers. The thing cracked to life and popped loudly, and the alcohol smeared on his human hand erupted into flame.
Junkrat hissed in pain and dropped the offending ammo, furiously shaking his wrist in a futile attempt to put out the flame. He dropped to his knees and shoveled sand over the light, but not before he felt the skin blister and pop with the searing burn. The cool sand soothed the burn, and Junkrat whistled, trying to expel some of the pain. Stupid popper. Stupid liquor. Stupid Junkrat...
He smiled and gave a triumphant giggle. Oh, what a glorious thought! What an excellent way to blow off some steam! Junkrat pushed himself back to his feet, shaking most of the sand from his still protesting burn, and took another pull from the bottle. Then he hobbled down towards the open beach, pouring a trickle of liquor behind him. When he got there he wet the sand in the pattern of his signature smiley face, along with the words “FUCK” and “OFF” on either side. It would look bee-autiful aflame! It was just too bad he didn’t have much of anything to make pretty fireworks with, apart from his ammo which was really just supposed to be for emergencies…
Except that he did!!
Junkrat cackled as he scurried back up the beach, prattling onto himself about the genius of his plan. Oh it was a lovely night, after all.
- - -
The poker night was winding down. The elder soldiers of Overwatch were feeling warm and satiated, basking in the relaxing aura of alcohol and companionship.
“A nightcap, Ana?” Reinhardt asked, eyeing the empty bottle on the table.
“Thank you,” Ana replied, resting her teacup on its saucer.
The old man grunted and pushed himself to his feet. “Anyone else?”
Their commander shook his head. The Cowboy was lounging back in his chair, his hat covering his face, the last embers of his cigar smoldering from the edge of his lips. He didn’t reply. Mako grunted and shrugged, examining the swallows left at the bottom of his glass.
“Suit yourself, Soldier.” the old man said, disappearing into his quarters to fetch a fresh bottle. The group sat in contented silence for a moment, just one moment, but a moment that could have lasted forever.
“I heard gunfire,” their commander announced, just as the others all leapt to their feet, reaching for their weapons, the same thought having crossed each of their veteran minds.
“WHAT IN THE BLAZES??” the old man roared from his quarters, just as another shot rang out across the compound. Mako’s heart pounded in his chest as he recognized the sound, his suspicions confirmed as they heard a second, louder explosion that followed the first. The name that then he uttered through clenched teeth answered all of their questions:
- - - -
The five eldest members of Overwatch raced down the path towards the beach. Well, four of them did… the fifth, Roadhog himself, had taken Junkrat’s route straight out the window and had quite the head start. He huffed angry, hot breaths in and out through his mask as he jogged down the path, trying not to imagine wringing Jamison’s scrawny rat neck the minute he found him. As he rounded the path closer to the beach, the intermittent explosions came into full view: there would be a shot from Jamison’s frag launcher, then a split second later, a fiery explosion high in the air that rained liquid fire down upon the beach. He could hear the idiot junker’s mad cackles of glee as he approached, childlike whoops and explosions of laughter that matched the explosions in the sky.
And there was the criminal himself: scuttling around the rocks like he hadn’t a care in the world. Roadhog could hear him chattering to himself as he reloaded his frag and prepared for the next explosion. He watched as Junkrat seized a glass liquor bottle from his pile on the beach, took a long pull off the top of the bottle, hurled it high in the air, and lined up his shot to fire as it sailed through the sky. The bottle exploded in glass and flame and lit up the entire beach. Roadhog heard Jamison coo at the explosion, howling at his light like a wolf at the moon. Down on the beach proper, lines of flame flickered in the sand; Roadhog could see the demented face, Junkrat’s signature, etched in fire in the sand.
“JAMISON.” he hollered down the path. The rat turned at the sound of his voice.
“Hello, Hoggy!” he drawled, high off his own lunacy and the stolen liquor he’d been guzzling. Junkrat waved before losing his balance and staggering across the sand towards the pile of bottles. His peg leg caught in the sand and he tripped over the bottles, landing flat on his back in the sand before firing his frag in the air at nothing.
“PHEWWWWWW!!!” He shouted, giggling his stupid laugh at the shell as it exploded over the beach. Roadhog watched as the rat grasped for another bottle, unscrewed the cap, and poured an oversized helping into his open mouth. It overfilled his throat and he gagged, spitting up the alcohol and tossing the bottle into the rocks where it shattered.
“Oopsie!” He giggled as Roadhog finally reached his side. The bigger man seized the frag launcher and snapped it in half as though it were nothing, tossing the pieces to the side.
“Hey! That was my frag, you fragging’ fuck -”
Before Junkrat could finish his protest, Roadhog had seized him by the shoulders and hoisted him high in the air.
“WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU ARE PLAYING AT, JAMISON?”
The rat squirmed and thrashed in his grasp.
“Oi! Pigman! Put me down!”
Roadhog half-obliged, slamming the smaller man into one of the tall rocks at the edge of the path, but keeping his feet (foot) squarely off the ground.
“YOU WILL DESTROY EVERYTHING WE WORKED FOR, FOOLISH RODENT.”
Junkrat rolled his eyes, but Roadhog couldn’t tell if it was out petulence, drunkenness, or vertigo. The smaller man eyed the beach below him. “Everythin’ we’ve worked for, eh?” Roadhog could tell he wasn’t listening, so he lowered his voice, taking care not to lose any of its ferocity.
“How kindly do you think they’ll treat you when you’ve destroyed their base? Alerted every nearby vessel, sea and sky, to their presence here? Do you think they’ll keep you when you’re causing them more trouble than you’re worth?”
Junkrat had broken into nervous giggles, and he was wriggling in Roadhog’s grasp once more.
“Was just blowin’ off some steam, Hoggy, you understand - “
“LEARN SOME SELF-CONTROL!”
Roadhog wrenched his partner from the rocks and tossed him down into the sand. Junkrat, winded from the impact, struggled to scrabble away from the advancing giant.
“Since when do you care, eh?” Jamison snarled, “You only stayed so long as we were in the black, then once the heat got hot ya checked us into this forsaken place!”
Mako glowered behind his mask.
“We’re here because we’re needed. We’re here because it’s safe.”
“Read the beach.” the younger man slurred, “FUCK. OFF.”
Junkrat was pulling himself to his feet, using a rock to get some balance on his peg leg. He must’ve had a lot to drink - the prosthetic wasn’t great on sand, but usually Jamie managed to at least stand up straight. Straight-ish.
“Just brought me ‘ere to get rid a me,” he was mumbling to himself, teetering up and down the rocky path as he chattered senselessly, “Just got us cooped up on this stupid island with a bunch a losers, don’t even know us. Don’t even know what it’s like out on the outback..” Jamison had gained his balance at last, and was attempting to stand up straight to face Mako. Behind him, on the path, Mako could see the others, catching up. They kept their distance, their weapons lowered, but it was quiet enough on the beach that they could hear every word.
“No, YOU listen!” Junkrat shouted, staggering drunkenly “I don’t care if they make me leave! I don’t wanna stay here anyway! Been fine on me own before, could do it again, don’t need ya anyway, ya big stupid pig - STUPID GLASS!!“ Junkrat roared as he suddenly lifted his foot from the beach. Blood dripped from a wide incision, a broken piece of bottle jutting out of the ball of his foot. Roadhog tried to ignore it.
“You’d be a fool to leave this place. The Watch has made a home for us.”
“It ain’t no home for me!” Junkrat hopped on his peg, trying to keep balance, as he clutched his foot, trying to dig the glass out from the wound, “I’ve never ‘ad an ‘ome. Won’t never ‘ave one, neither. I’m just a junker, Hog, I don’ need nobody -”
With that, Jamison’s peg leg caught on a rock, and he twisted and tumbled over the path’s edge and down onto the beach proper. There was a sickening crack and a howl.
“AH. ME LEG. IT’S ME LEG. HELP ME, HOGGY.”
Panicked, Roadhog followed the younger man’s path down to the beach, anxious to see if he was okay. He stopped and scowled when he saw the rat. Jamison was clutching his peg leg, which had gotten jammed on a rock and bent out of shape. He had smashed the knee on the way down, bolts and hardware scattered across the beach, and he looked like a pitiful mess, writhing and rolling with his misshapen peg leg in the sand. Roadhog sighed and leaned down, hovering his masked face over Jamison’s.
“If they make you leave, I won’t come with you. You’ll be on your own.” He said. Jamie’s face fell, wide eyes shining and flickering in the firelight.
“Ya… ya don’t mean that, do ya, Hoggy?”
Mako sniffed, straightened up, and began to stalk away down the beach.
“Lucky it isn’t your real leg, this time.” he growled, and he was gone before he could hear Junkrat’s wails of protest.
- - -
The others watched as Roadhog stomped away, leaving Jamison wailing and rolling in the sand, clutching his twisted peg leg, blood dripping from his human foot. Ana beckoned and they crept towards the place where he fell. The four of them leaned over the edge and waited a moment until Jamison noticed their presence. His wails silenced to quiet, keening sniffles. Ana spoke.
“Come on, son. It’s time to go home.”
“Don’ need nobody,” Jamison mumbled, messing with the clasps that held his prosthetic leg in place. He pulled himself up to lean against the rocks, hoping that a better angle would help to detach the twisted metal. When it didn’t give, he grunted a guttural, primal howl and punched the rocks next to him. They heard a sickening crack as his knuckles met stone, and he gasped as he coiled the hand in towards his chest. Ana leapt down to the beach where he stood, cradling his hand.
“Won’t do that again, I’m sure.”
“Thought it was me other hand,” he mumbled, flexing his fingers and wincing in pain.
“I think you’ve caused enough damage for one evening, don’t you?”
Jamison sniffled, eyes glistening in the light of his fire.
“Hoggy…” he trailed off miserably.
“You will make it up to him.”
“You don’t understand,” the little junker pleaded, “He’s really angry with me this time, and now we’re here he’s got no reason to stay with me. He don’ need my schemes no more, not now he’s got the lot of you.” Jamison spit in the sand, lurching violently towards the ground again, but he kept his balance.
Reinhardt stomped down to Ana’s side, shaking his head. “Little rat drank or destroyed most of my stash. Will take months to get that much shipped over here again.”
“We should get inside.” announced their commander from his point above. Jamison was sobbing now, taking deep, rasping breaths in and out as he clutched his bloodied hand.
“Let’s give him a moment,” Ana replied. The waves were lapping up at the fires he’d set, slowly washing away the evidence of his tantrum.
“76 is right,” Reinhardt countered, “No safety out here in the open.” He took Jamison’s prosthetic arm and hauled him to his feet. The sudden movement proved too much for the beleaguered young junker, who promptly vomited the contents of his stomach onto the beach at Reinhardt’s feet.
The old man shook his head. “And even more waste.” He grumbled, pulling the young man along the path towards the base.
“I said we should give him a moment.” Ana mumbled, helping support Jamison from the other side. Even with his peg leg out of commission, Jamison was dragging his human foot, wincing in pain as they went up the beach. Looking down, Ana saw that he was trailing blood, glass shards poking out of the bottom of his feet.
“Hold on, Reinhardt,” she said, kneeling and pointing her rifle at Jamison’s foot. “This may sting, a warning.” She shot a healing dart into his heel, watching as the blood coagulated and eventually stopped flowing. Jamison breathed a sigh of relief as the healing dart entered his bloodstream. Ana patted his calf. “We’ll get you properly patched up back at home, but no sense in walking on a foot filled with glass.” She looked around, noting the shards of glass scattered across the beach.
“Well, you’ve certainly improved our defenses in some ways.”
“Against an army of barefooted omnics.” McCree drawled.
Jamison giggled, then vomited again.
- - -
Angela pursed her lips as the team dragged Junkrat, now mostly unconscious, into the infirmary.
“What happened?” she asked sleepily. She had only recently taken to bed when the sounds of explosions awoke her once more.
“Temper tantrum,” McCree shrugged as they hoisted their charge onto the nearest bed.
“A fight with Mako,” Ana added, beginning to gently unfasten the twisted clasps on Jamison’s broken peg. The junker whimpered in pain, keeping his eyes tightly closed.
Angela gasped, eyeing the blood on his foot and hand, the twisted peg, the sweaty body smeared with sand. “Mako did this?”
“Not so, my dear,” Reinhardt explained, “Young Jamison did it to himself.”
Angela scoffed in surprise, and tried to fathom what had possibly happened. “How…?” she began, but with that, the young man lurched forward, bracing for another expulsion of sickness. Ana quickly grabbed a wastebasket and shoved it beneath his chin as he vomited more contents of his stomach.
“He’s drunk,” McCree explained, gesturing to the pitiful sight.
“Off of my private collection,” Reinhardt added sadly.
Jamison finished his expulsions and set to gasping and spitting down the point of his chin. His eyes watered from the effort, and quickly his gasps became wracking sobs.
“Hoggy,” he moaned, squeezing the pain from his eyes, “‘m sorry…’m sorry, Hoggy...”
Angela pursed her lips and sighed. “I suppose let’s get him tidied up.”
- - -
Mako was angrily busying himself in his quarters, examining the damage he’d done to their wall and trying to straighten the door frame. He didn’t hear the quiet rapping, but he wasn’t surprised when Ana strode into the room.
“You should go to him,” she announced, without prelude. Never one for niceties, much like him in that way.
Mako grunted in reply and turned away. Ana repeated herself.
“You should go to him, Mako.”
Mako sighed and made like he was examining the wall, although he’d already gone over that part. “Nothing to say.”
“It won’t be your words, but your presence, that will comfort him.”
“Idiot rat doesn’t need to be comforted.”
“I disagree. He needs you, Mako.”
He grunted again, turning to the table and clearing up their cups and bottles. “He needs to feel remorse for his foolishness.”
“A child needs remorse, but equally he needs to know you won’t abandon him.”
“Jamison is not a child.”
“He may as well be.” Ana frowned. “I’ve seen it before, and you have too. Those who grow up through the devastation of war are never truly children, but they’re never truly grown. He doesn’t understand that parents don’t abandon willingly. Not in times of peace.”
Mako scoffed, looking out over the beach to the ocean. Jamison’s fires had completely gone out. “You call this ‘time of peace’.”
“If it’s peace in your heart,” Ana explained, “if there’s peace in yourself. I see you, Mako. You’re doing well, here. This is a good place for you. Take care of your family. Be sure that he can be well, too.”
Mako nodded solemnly, then strode out of his quarters and down towards the infirmary.
- - -
Jamison looked so small, curled in upon himself on the side of the bed. His chin lolled over the side of the mattress, lined up over the basket below in case he got sick again. His good hand and good foot were bandaged, his hand cradled protectively by his chest. His brow was beaded with sweat and furrowed with worry and suffering. A tall glass of water sat by the edge of the bed.
Mako sighed as he lifted the glass, holding the straw to Jamison’s dry lips. “Drink,” he rumbled quietly. Jamison did. Once the rat had taken his fill, coughing and spitting into the basket, Mako returned the glass to its place and carded a big hand through Jamison’s hair. Jamison opened his eyes. They were bloodshot and sticky with tears and remorse.
“Hullo, Hoggy,” he mumbled before squeezing his eyes shut again. “‘M sorry.”
Mako stayed silent, continuing his ministrations on Jamison’s scalp. The younger man sighed a shuddering, gasping sigh. “‘M sorry,” he repeated again, “‘M sorry, ‘m sorry, ‘m sorry…”
Mako still didn’t say anything, heeding Ana’s words that his presence was more necessary at this moment. After a moment, Jamison spoke again, a rasping whisper.
“You’ve made friends.”
It wasn’t a question. Mako considered and realized that yes, he had.
“Never thought you’d make friends.”
Mako hummed in agreement, continuing to smooth Jamison’s wild hair.
“Don’t think they like me, much.” the little one mumbled, “The others. Why would they? ‘M just a stupid junker…”
Mako trailed his hand down to the younger man’s shoulder and gave it a squeeze. Jamison sighed again, sniffling and whimpering.
“I wanna go home.”
Mako blinked behind his mask. He never thought anyone would miss the outback. But, he supposed, in this moment of clarity, that the chaos, devastation and madness was all the little rat had ever known. It must be difficult.
He finally spoke. “This is home, now.”
“No it ain’t. It’s a garbage pile, here.”
“Better than the outback.”
“I don’t mean the outback!” the younger man moaned, “I mean… hell, Hoggy, I mean seeing the world with you! Just the two of us, ‘n our frags ‘n that bike… no one to tell us what to do or where to go… no one to trust apart from you ‘n meself… it was better, Hoggy, there’s too much uncertainty, here.”
The young man’s thinking was all turned around, but Mako thought that for once, he could follow it. All the structure and camaraderie, Mako had been part of organizations like that before, but Jamison hadn’t. All he’d known was chaos, where no one asked him to trust in anything. Here, in the structure of Overwatch, that trust was paramount; but there were too many variables at play, too many things that could go wrong, too much at stake when they inevitably did. It must have been terrifying.
Mako sighed and gave the young man’s shoulder another squeeze.
“You’re right,” he lied, trying to spin Jamison’s reasoning into something he could learn from, “This may not last forever. But it’s good now, right?”
Jamison gave an uncommitted whine.
“You have food and a roof and a team of companions,” Mako continued, “Abundance you’ve never experienced before.”
Jamison shrugged, mumbling again, “Don’ need nobody.”
“You’re right that things can’t always be this good. That doesn’t mean we can’t be grateful.”
Mako sighed and placed his big palm on the back of Jamison’s head. Slowly, he pulled closer, until their foreheads were almost touching. He spoke the truth he’d been trying to wrap his head around this whole time.
“We will always have each other,” he began, “But we may not always have them. It’s time to enjoy their company in every moment that we can, and know that when it falls apart, we still will have each other.”
Jamison sniffled again, “Ya can’t promise me that. Ya said it yerself. Ya can’t come with me if they make me leave.”
Mako gripped the boy’s shoulder tightly.
“Don’t let them make you leave, then.”
Jamison’s eyes glistened with sudden understanding. He nodded, gulping.
“I won’t, Hoggy.”
Mako grunted and stood to leave.
“Hoggy?” Jamison’s eyes were closed again, his voice a desperate whisper. “Don’t leave me, either.”
Mako sighed and returned to the bed. He crawled in next to the younger man, grateful for his scrawny frame, and wrapped his arm around Jamison’s middle, holding him close. He felt his partner breathe a sigh of relief, relaxing for the first time all evening.
“Jus’ like in the outback,” Jamison breathed, “‘cept there’s no one gonna get us here, right Hoggy?”
Mako grunted, holding the young man closer.
“Jus’ like home,” Jamison breathed as he drifted off, his deep, even breaths finally signalling sleep. Mako closed his eyes and huffed contentedly, and soon he followed suit.
- - -
When Jamison awoke, he was alone. His head throbbed, his mouth dry, a foul taste in his throat. Fuck. He rolled over to his side, trying to ignore the lurching of his stomach, and saw that he was alone in the infirmary. His metal arm rested on the table beside him, but the wreckage of his leg was nowhere to be seen. A single crutch was leaning in the corner. Junkrat sighed, rolled his eyes, and pushed himself out of bed. His head started to spin as he changed elevations, and he had to hold onto the table to steady himself.
Strapping his arm into place took longer than usual; his human hand was bandaged and braced, and Junkrat assumed that he’d splintered a few bones. He bit his lip, beads of sweat breaking out on his brow, as he pulled on his arm and hoisted himself to standing.
He winced and immediately gripped the table for support. The bottom of his foot stung with any pressure, and looking down, he noticed it was bandaged too. What a fucking fool he’d been. Carefully balancing on the outside edge of his foot, Jamison edged towards the crutch, took it, and sandwiched it under his arm, using it to support most of his weight. He looked around the infirmary, then.
He was parched and his stomach rumbled with hunger, not to mention the throbbing in his head, in his hand, in his foot… Jamison growled to himself and set off for the dining hall, hobbling on the crutch not nearly as adeptly as he used his peg leg.
When he arrived, he stopped short in the doorway. Most of the legion of Overwatch was already present, conversing and laughing, chowing down on their breakfasts. He tried to remain unnoticed as he slid inside and went for the water dispenser, pouring himself a cup and gulping it down greedily. As he did, his eyes caught sight of Roadhog across the hall. Jamison smiled sheepishly and raised his eyebrows. Roadhog’s table was full, crowded with the poker crowd from the previous night, and additionally the stout building man and the woman who ran the infirmary. Jamison grinned awkwardly, trying to make his eyes look pitiful as a plea for an invitation. Roadhog shook his head and pointed over towards another table. There was the group of Overwatch agents closest to Jamison’s age… the musician, the game girl, the Spanish one with the colorful hair… Junkrat gulped down the last of his water, trying to swallow his anxiety along with it. He refilled the cup and was about to go fill himself a plate when he realized he had no way to carry it. He would have to take a couple of trips. Sighing and muttering to himself, he turned and headed towards the table, but noticed that it had suddenly emptied, abandoned trays left half-full in their hurry to not be seen with him.
Jamison wrinkled his nose and sniffed angrily. What did Hoggy know about friends? He kept his head down and hobbled over to the empty table, carefully setting his water glass down and sliding into the seat, his appetite gone.
All of a sudden, a flurry of multi-skin-toned hands appeared before him, all bearing plates and cups, placing them before him in a clatter of porcelain and glass. He jerked his head up in surprise - the musician, bearing a plate of bacon and eggs, the quick girl, gifting a large stack of toast, the gamer, presenting a tall glass of orange juice, and the colorful girl, holding a steaming mug of light, sweetened coffee.
“Wha… wha…” he stammered in surprise, turning his head to look over to Roadhog. The larger man was looking down at his book, not paying attention. Jamison lifted his head again to the others, who were settling down in their chairs, all bearing big smiles and laughter on their tongues. He finally found his voice.
“What’s all this for?” he asked, his voice higher pitched than he intended.
“You look like you needed a pick-me-up!” the quick girl smiled, “We heard you had a rough go of it last night!”
“Yeah man, what’s with the crutch? What happened to your leg?” the musician grinned.
“Is it true that you raided the old man’s liquor cabinet?” the colorful girl drawled, her mouth twisted into a sardonic smile, “I’d love to get a taste of his brandy!”
“You all… you all…” Jamison was sputtering again, overwhelmed by the attention. His stomach grumbled, and he stared at the feast before him. His mouth was dry, and coughed a rasping cough, at which the group quieted, waiting for him to speak. “Eh…” he trailed, gulping nervously, entirely out of his comfort zone. “...They don’ got any boba?”
“On it, chief!” The quick girl smiled, saluting, and in a flash she was gone and back, this time bearing a glass mug of boba. Jamison sniffed it - half-sweet, the way he liked it. He took a sip and smacked his lips gratefully.
“So that’s what that stuff’s called,” the musician laughed to the table, breaking the silence with his confident voice, “I think you’re the only one who ever drinks it!”
Jamison took another sip, eyes darting around the table at his new companions. He still couldn’t fathom how they had taken such an interest in him all of a sudden. Or perhaps it was just his perception that had suddenly changed.
“So we brought you your food,” the gamer girl chirped, perturbedly, “So now you have to tell: what happened? How did you steal Reinhardt’s alcohol?”
Jamison smiled, setting down his mug of boba and starting on a piece of toast. They wanted to hear about his exploits! That, he knew how to talk about… though usually he recounted the same stories to Roadhog over and over again, repeating and embellishing stories that Roadhog had even been present for. He tried to play it cool, not letting on how excited he was for the chance to show off a little.
He shrugged, trying to appear nonchalant. “I crashed their poker game.”
Everyone gasped, leaning in, eager for more. The quick girl burst into laughter, “The old ones have a poker game? That is just too funny!”
Jamison laughed and nodded, continuing with his tale. “Yeah! They tried to make me leave, but not before I got a good look at their ticks an’ tells. I’m tellin’ ya, you ever want to know when Cowboy’s lyin’...”
He continued with his tale, shoveling eggs and bacon into his mouth, hardly stopping to chew or swallow. He gulped down alternate sips of coffee, juice, and boba, and found himself smiling and laughing the whole while. At one point, he looked up to catch Roadhog looking their way. The older man pretended he hadn’t been watching, but Jamison grinned, knowing he had.
“So, eh…” he asked as he finished his breakfast, “What’re you all doin’ with your day off?” He’d never bothered to find out about the others’ activities, usually spending their infrequent days off tinkering with his explosives in the workshop.
“Oh, we never plan much of anything.” the musician smiled, “Just hanging out, mostly. What do you want to do?”
“Oh...” Jamison trailed off, “Should probably see to fixing me peg. ‘M useless without it, can’t even carry me frag.”
“We’ll come with you!” the gamer girl smiled, “I’d love to give my MECH a new color paint!”
“I wanna see how that gun of yours works,” the colorful girl smiled wryly, “Looks pretty sweet, like you built and customized it yourself.”
Jamison smiled sheepishly, “I did.”
The girl raised her eyebrows, nodding, impressed.
The group was piling its way out of the dining hall, stacking Jamison’s dishes on top of theirs as he couldn’t practically help clear the table.
“Thanks for the boba, Racer,” he grinned as she took the emptied mug from his hand.
The girl giggled, “It’s Tracer,” she beamed, “You’re a funny one, J.R.”
A few steps from the exit, Jamison felt a heavy hand upon his shoulder. He turned to see Reinhardt towering over him, his face curled into a serious frown. Jamison’s stomach dropped; he’d forgotten in his glory just how much trouble he truly had gotten himself into - so much for his new friends, he thought glumly.
“Is it true you have figured out all of their tells?” the old man growled quietly.
Jamison nodded, heart racing at the thought that he might never get this chance again, “Nearly there, it ain’t so hard once you know what to look for.”
The old man’s face broke into a smile, and he guffawed loudly before leaning in and whispering in Jamison’s ear, “Then, little rat, I think I know how you’ll pay me back for the liquor you stole…”
… And that was how Jamison Fawkes found himself more at home with Overwatch than he ever expected to be. He had a group of friends - weird, loud, eccentric friends like him, who didn’t seem to care too much about his peculiarities... He was officially invited to all further poker nights, not to partake, but to watch, keep quiet, whisper instructions to Reinhardt, and to refill everyone’s drinks on demand... With the help of his new friends, he repaired his peg leg stronger than before, even adding some colorful paint borrowed from the gamer girl, Hana… He even started to learn some of their names, which even he had to admit was an enormous accomplishment.
Most importantly, he still had his Hoggy, who seemed calmer and less worried about him every day. Some nights Jamison was so tired he even drifted off to sleep before his thoughts could keep him awake, but on the nights that he didn’t, he was always welcome to creep into Roadhog’s quarters and slither his way under the covers, just like they had in the outback. It was new, and it was different, but it was becoming a home. And Jamison liked it that way.