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A Comedy of Eros (A Tragedy of Communication in Five Acts)

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    Hanzo was beginning to wonder why they even bothered to make mission plans when they all went horrifically wrong. In his six-month tenure with the Recalled Overwatch, there was not a single operation where the plan held up even to the halfway mark. The closest any had come was one time in Dorado when they actually managed to get to the payload and escort it a quarter of the way to the first checkpoint, only to discover that what they thought was a cache of stolen weapons they could reappropriate was, in fact, an armed bomb.

    The current mission in Ilios was supposed to be a quiet infiltration, acquisition, and extraction. Infiltrate the archaeological excavation of a recently discovered temple, acquire whatever artifact or artifacts were giving off strange energy readings, and get out. Instead, it was an all-out, all-in, all-or-nothing throw down between a Talon squad and the Overwatch team. All over a quiver of ancient arrows.

    Hanzo had no idea what made the relics so valuable. There were only five of them: four with a golden sheen and one matte black in a simple leather case. They were certainly well crafted, but even the best of Hanzo’s modern arrows, designed to supplement his carefully trained abilities, didn’t warrant a fraction of this kind of attention. Talon went as far as to send a top-tier mercenary, the masked menace known only a Reaper, along with their regular troops. And they were certainly getting their money’s worth; Reaper was simultaneously a tactician, leader, and front-line fighter, and he tore through the terrain like he had been bred for war.

    The black-clad mercenary dropped in on them as they reached the artifacts, his twin shotguns echoing like thunder in the ancient hall. Winston set a barrier to help cover their retreat, but they ended up scattering as Talon forces started swarming, each teammate taking a different opening. Hanzo barely had time to grab the relics and scale the walls of the ruins before his position was overrun. He emptied his quiver thinning out enemy numbers, picking off Talon agents before they could pin down Zenyatta and sending the dragons after the ones hounding Tracer and Winston. By the time he caught up with McCree and Soldier:76 in a recessed courtyard, so had Reaper.

    McCree was already on the ground, his side and leg dyed red with his own blood. Reaper had Soldier:76 up against the wall with his clawed gauntlets around the old man’s throat, seemingly unconcerned with Soldier’s increasingly desperate attempts to dislodge him. The pulse rifle and shotguns lay nearby, forgotten in the heat of the moment.

    “I know you,” Reaper’s growl echoed, eerily loud. “I’d know you anywhere, dead or alive.”

    Talon agents crested the sides of the killbox, closing in from all sides.

    Hanzo reached for a scatter arrow and found nothing. No scatter arrows, no sonic arrows, nothing but the antiques they came after. The dragons could not answer his call again so soon. He glanced down into the killbox and saw two Talon agents heading for McCree.

    Well. If they wanted the arrows so bad, they could have them.

    He nocked one of the golden arrows and shot the man approaching McCree from his wounded side, then drew another and shot the woman on his other side. The black arrow came to his hand next, and he hit Reaper square in the back, but the mercenary only froze. McCree hauled himself to his feet and finished off the two coming after him. Hanzo lined up another shot. There was writing on the shaft, he realized. Eros , it read.

    “Hanzo, watch out!” McCree yelled, firing directly at something over Hanzo’s shoulder. The bullet stirred his ribbon as it passed, and the Talon agent sneaking up behind him fell down dead. In the same moment, Hanzo released his bowstring. The arrow skimmed past McCree’s cheek, drawing a thin line of blood before it slammed into the back of Reaper’s head. Impossibly, the mercenary still didn’t fall. If anything, he pressed closer to his prey. His hands loosened from Soldier’s throat, moving up towards his face. Soldier shoved him back. Reaper’s footing faltered, and he ended up facing McCree’s back. Hanzo let the last arrow fly before he could turn his rage to a new target; Storge , he saw along the shaft, before it slammed into Reaper’s chest. Reaper jerked with the impact, swirling into smoke. The arrows fell to the ground and vanished.

    Soldier:76 took the opportunity to grab his gun and regroup with McCree, dropping a biotic emitter to help stabilize the cowboy. Hanzo reached for another arrow, remembered that there wouldn’t be one, and was surprised to find all five in the ancient quiver anyway. The remaining Talon agents closed in, only to stop as Reaper’s dark cloud resolidified into a berserker flurry of gunshots.

    “Die, die, die!” he roared, and bodies fell around him, but the ones that hit the ground were in Talon uniforms. Reaper dropped his empty shotguns and took a step towards Soldier, only to be shot with a burst of pulse munition. He ghosted through most of the bullets and looked down at the damage while Soldier reloaded. “Well,” he said in a grumpy but much less bloodthirsty tone, “that was uncalled for.”

    Soldier:76 balked.

    “A minute ago you were trying to kill me!”

    “And thirty seconds ago, I saved your life. A thank you would be nice.”

    “Are you kidding me? Thank you ?”

    “You’re welcome.”

    Jack shot him again.

    “Okay, I realize this is going to be complicated, and I have a list of frustrations I need to hash out with you too, but honey, do we really have to do this in front of the kid? You know how it upsets him when his parents fight.”

    “ Honey?!

    “The kid? Is he pointing at me?” McCree yelped.

    The rest of the Overwatch team converged on their location, then. There was a clamor of confusion and outrage that only intensified as Reaper took off his mask. Given the sheer volume and intensity of invective being hurled, some of the team seemed to recognize him. There was a lot of cursing, some of it quite creative and anatomically impossible.

    Hanzo slid down the wall and gripped the quiver tighter. All five arrows clattered gently inside: four golden and one black. But the holes in the back of Reaper’s coat where the arrows pierced him were equally real, and they started to paint a clearer, if distressing, picture of why the quiver and its contents drew Talon’s attention.

    “Maybe he got brain damage when he got head shot.” Jack growled.

    “I’m right here, and I’d say I’m thinking pretty clearly.” Reaper snorted. “Junior’s ridiculous threats of improbable bodily harm aside, we’re having a coherent conversation.”

    "You literally went from strangling me to straddling me after you took an arrow to the back of the skull!”

    “Give me a break. Can’t I change my mind?”

    “Not that fast and that extremely!”


    Jack shot him again.

    “Oh come on! What the hell was that for?”

    “I’m not coming on! You’re the bad guy!”

    “I don’t think you’ve noticed, but I literally just shot everyone I came here with for pointing a gun at you.”

    “You pointed two guns at me, and you tried to strangle me!”

    “Strangling wasn’t intimate enough for you?”

    “The fuck?!”

    “I mean, I was really pissed off at the time?”

    “Why is that a question?!”

    “Well, I’m not right now.”

    “Because your brain is scrambled!”

    “Actually, I’m having a moment of sublime fucking clarity, and I’d really like it to last because it’s a lot better than the pain I’m usually feeling, but you keep shooting me, and that’s making it difficult.”

    Hanzo felt like he was watching a tennis match in a sports anime. There was a lot of raised voices, fiery auras of determination, and the distinct feeling that the whole storyline was about two pages away from being shrink-wrapped for adult content or spinning off into doujinshi. Despite this, he still noticed immediately when McCree sidled up closer to him. The sharp tang of blood cut through his usual scent of smoke, leather, and gunpowder, and Hanzo winced to think how bad the wound had to have been to overpower that combination.

    “I never seen anyone shake off one of your headshots like that,” McCree muttered. “I mean, that thing ought to have been coming out the other side!”

    “And yet the arrow is back in the quiver, and the man stands before us unharmed.” Hanzo murmured back. “He does not seem much bothered by Soldier’s pulse rifle, either.”

    “Oh, that? Nah, he’s feeling that all right. Reyes never let pain show. You could tell how hurt he was ‘cause he’d get awful damn polite and calm when it was real bad.”

   “So you do know this man.”

    McCree let out a low, soft whistle, barely more than an exhale between his teeth.

    “I knew someone like him, darlin’, but he died a long time ago. I’m… not really sure what’s going on here, to tell the truth.”

    “Neither am I,” Hanzo shook his head.

    Soldier and Reaper escalated to shouting, but the guns no longer featured in their argument. Instead, they snapped and snarled about decisions years in the past with pointed words that hit just as hard. It sounded like a conversation that had been long coming.

    McCree shook his head and turned his full focus on Hanzo. The archer felt the heat of that gaze on his skin like it was the sun in a cloudless desert sky. McCree had a knack for splitting his attention across multiple targets, but when it came together on a single point, his focus intensified exponentially. Hanzo let his eyes drift to the shallow cut on McCree’s cheekbone so he didn’t burn up under that stare.

    “Listen, I know my timing is shit, but we both nearly died today, and we’ll probably do the same tomorrow, so there ain’t really any better time to ask,” he said.

    “A better time for what?” Hanzo asked.

    “You maybe wanna grab dinner or something sometime?” McCree rubbed the back of his neck, an awkward gesture that simultaneously suited him and seemed out of place against his usual self-assuredness.

    “We eat dinner together regularly.” Hanzo’s brow creased. “Everyone does. It is the only way to keep from eating the same thing every night since most of the team can only cook one or two dishes.”

    “That’s not what I meant,” McCree groaned. “I mean just you and me. You know.”

    Surprise turned Hanzo’s blood to frozen lightning in his veins. McCree’s shoulders slumped.

    “You don’t know,” he growled, low and deep with self-recrimination. “Shit, this is so much easier when it don’t mean nothing.”

    “It means--?” Hanzo’s befuddlement was quickly pushed aside as Soldier and Reaper hit some new level of aggression and they started yelling in each other’s faces.

    “Why the hell are you doing this?” Soldier roared.

    “Because I’m in love with you, you asshole!” Reaper howled back.

    Some little bit of Western iconology clicked for Hanzo in that instant, and he stared down at the arrows in shock and dismay. One golden shaft caught his eye in particular, bloodless and pristine like thousands of years of time and Hanzo’s furious, momentary audacity had never touched it.

    Eros , it said, even though Hanzo suddenly realized he shouldn’t be able to read ancient Greek.

    He looked at the hole in Reaper’s hood.

    He looked at the graze on McCree’s cheek.

    He looked at the arrows and his bow.

    “Oh,” he said. “Damn.”