After dinner, Hoggy dragged him away to the workshop, mumbling something about needing his pig mask to filter the hogdrogen more efficiently. Junkrat rolled his eyes and called him a drongo, but he was always pleased to get some tinkering done and spend some time with his oldest friend. The job took about an hour before he declared it ready for battlefield testing, giggling as he showed the larger man how he’d rigged the canisters. Roadhog grunted in thanks and pulled the mask over his face as Jamison yawned loudly.
“Fancy the telly or a game ‘o cards before bed, mate?”
Roadhog glanced at the clock over the door, shrugged, and pushed himself to his feet. “Telly,” he rumbled, and Jamison sprang to his feet. He hoped it was Hana or Lucio’s turn to choose the program - Korean dramas and Brazilian telenovelas amused him in equal measure, and he much preferred them to Hoggy’s favored programming, the BBC, he thought with a sneer. Old fogey Roadhog and Lena just loved to sink into the bone-dry delivery of stuffy period pieces, but give him a good foreign-language shouting match over that any day. He was learning how to insult Hana and Lucio in their native tongues.
He said all this aloud to Hoggy as they strolled down the hallway, the smaller one prancing and skipping to keep up with his taller companion. Even with his long legs, Junkrat sometimes had a hard time matching Roadhog’s stride. It helped him to release his nervous energy, he thought as he did a little jig around the corner, giggling to himself as he went.
“Ya wanna know why I’m in such a good mood tonight, Hoggy?” he grinned through his teeth.
The older man grunted, which either meant yes or no but he was going to have to listen anyway.
“D’ya know it’s been a year to this day since we came to this bloody place? Never thought we’d last this long, meself, but here we are!”
Roadhog hummed in response, shrugging as though he hadn’t thought so, either.
“Things ain’t so bad once gone legit! Well, part-legit,” Junkrat giggled, since Overwatch still wasn’t officially a sanctioned organization, “Well-fed, lotsa friends, got me radiation sickness clearin’ up, not much more ta wish for, if ya ask me.” He smacked himself in the forehead, “Wouldja listen to me? I’m goin’ soft! Never thought I’d see the day.”
He prattled on as they ascended the stairs towards the main recreation rooms. On the main floor there was a gym, a library for study, a couple of meeting rooms, the dining hall, and the lounge with the base’s only broadcasting tv. The lounge’s double doors were closed, odd for this time of evening but not unheard of. Jamison stopped in his tracks a few steps short of the doors, eyes glazing over as he stared at the speckled tile floor, a prickling at the back of his neck telling him that it was time to… something. Roadhog followed suit, turning to look at him, puzzled.
“I’m… I’m glad we joined up, Mako.” Jamison said quietly, surprising himself with the tremble in his voice, “I’m glad we’re here together, mate.”
The older man blinked at him behind his mask. He rested a large hand on Jamison’s shoulder.
“Me too, Jamie.”
Then he pushed open the double doors.
Jamison nearly jumped out of his skin - he had a smoking grenade in his hand before he could stop himself, but Mako lifted him up by the crook of his elbow and pried the bomb carefully from his sweaty fingers, flicking the safety switch back into place. He set his shocked companion down with a mumbled, “Idiot,” and waited while the younger man stammered and sputtered at the sight before him.
Everyone from the base was there, even old Morrison, who usually only socialized during the older crowd’s weekly poker games. They were wearing matching bright smiles, raising their glasses high to the air. The room was decorated with colorful balloons, glittering streamers, and… Jamison’s mouth hung open, struck speechless for one of the only times in his life… a hand-drawn banner proclaiming “HAPPY BIRTHDAY JAMISON”.
“Ya…” he sputtered, “Ya… ya know it’s not me birthday, right?”
“Mako told us you don’t know your birthday,” Hana slurred, sipping from her cup. Her eyes were a little crossed and Jamison knew that meant she was getting right sloshed.
“I… I don’t! I never ‘ad one!”
“We know!” Lena laughed, rushing to his side and putting her arm around his shoulders, “When we realized you’d been here a year we asked Roadie if we’d missed your birthday! He said he didn’t know, you’d never been able to celebrate before! So…” she spun around him and gestured towards the banner, “We decided it was about time!”
Jamison still hadn’t closed his mouth. His chin shook as he looked from the banner to the smiling faces of his companions… to the handmade-looking monstrosity hanging in the corner, a Piñata he thought it was called, he recognized it from one of their telenovelas… to the table by the window piled high with… Christ, they’d got him presents.
“Y’know…” he trailed off, trying to hide the catch in his voice, “I was just tellin’ ol’ Hoggy how… how happy I am… to be here…” with that, his eyes filled with tears and he clasped his hand over his mouth, spinning around to leave before embarrassing himself. He walked smack into Mako’s waiting belly. His bodyguard was standing, arms crossed, in front of the doors, blocking his only exit. Junkrat balled his fist and beat it against the big man’s chest, trying to mask the sounds of his whimpers. He half-expected Hoggy to push him away, force him to suck it up and face his friends, tears or not… but Mako just rested his large hands on Jamison’s shoulders, patting comfortingly as Junkrat collected himself.
When he pulled away, Reinhardt was standing next to them, bearing a sad, understanding smile and offering a cup of something familiar.
“Drink, son!” the old man guffawed, “This is a party!”
“‘S…” Junkrat sniveled, “‘S that boba?”
He took a sip through the thick straw. The drink was delicious, though slightly sweeter than usual, along with a familiar bitter, chemical tang.
“There’s something…” he blathered to the old man, taking another sip and trying to place the flavor, “What’d you put in this?”
“Schnapps!” Reinhardt laughed, sipping his own drink from a much larger mug.
“Fuck me…” Junkrat took a third, long drink, now fully aware and in favor of the mixture, “Ya put alcohol in me milk tea…”
He turned then to the party, where his companions stood watching, their expressions ranging from expectant to nervous to worried. Jamison’s eyes filled with tears again, but this time he didn’t have the pride to turn away.
“Well if you drongos aren’t the best fuckin’ family a junker rat could ask for!!”
The group broke into smiles and laughter then, someone started to clap, and then there was a great round of cheering and applause as Roadhog lifted Jamie into the air and carried him to the center of the room. Lucio turned up the stereo and started to spin his tunes while Junkrat took turns giving each of his friends a suffocating hug. When he’d finished his first cup of spiked milk tea, someone replaced the empty cup in his hand with a shot glass and he found himself doing rounds of tequila with Sombra, Hana, and Lena.
Everything went a little fuzzy around the edges after that, but Jamison was determined to remember as much of the night as possible. He sneakily let Ana poke him with one of her healing darts in order to get a second wind after he fell down trying to hit the Piñata for the fifth or sixth time. He couldn’t stop giggling when Zarya seized his face in her hands, yanking on his ears and counting up to - he didn’t know - in Russian. He got a face full of ice when he lifted Mei into the air to thank her for the present (a new canteen that would keep his tea cold for days and through the hottest weather), and then the two of them tripped over themselves apologizing for what seemed like ten minutes (but was probably only about thirty seconds) before Hana finally dragged him away. When his eyelids thawed open there was a birthday cake, shaped like his signature yellow smiley face, and stuck full of fizzing and sparkling candles. He blew them out on the first try, but not before he had seized two of the sparklers and danced around with them, leaping and kicking and probably setting his hair on fire, until Morrison, face buried in his palm, explained that he was actually supposed to blow out the candles.
These and a thousand other moments that he never wanted to forget.
Later that night, when everyone had hobbled off to bed (except for Jamison, who had removed his peg leg in order to swordfight a rather belligerently drunk Reinhardt with it), Junkrat opened his eyes to see Roadhog looming over him, poking him in the chest with a thick index finger.
“Bed, ‘Rat.” he huffed, pulling the younger man up to a seated position and trying to help him reattach his leg.
“This me bed…” Jamison slurred, tapping the hard tile floor with the peg of his leg before hugging the unattached peg in his arms and flopping over with a giggle, “G’night, Hoggy!”
Mako grunted and lifted the tittering Junker from the floor, heaving him over his shoulder and making for the sleeping quarters.
“Oi! Didn’ ya hear me? I live here now! Don’ make me!” Jamison struggled, laughing all the way and whacking Roadhog’s bottom with his peg leg. He was still giggling when the older man heaved him into his bed, pried the leg from his vice grip, pulled the covers up to his neck, and began unstrapping his prosthetic arm. Jamison closed his eyes and relaxed into the soft mattress… behind his eyelids, he was still spinning, like he had for the Piñata, and it wasn’t his favorite sensation anymore.
“Woah,” he moaned, putting his hand to his face and pressing against his eyes, “Hoggy, I think I’m drunk, mate.”
The older man guffawed behind his mask, “Happy birthday, then.”
“Don’t get smart with me, ya drongo!”
Jamison smacked his friend playfully across the arm. Mako disappeared for a moment, then returned with two pills and a very tall glass of water.
“Sit up,” he commanded, “Drink before you sleep.”
“Alright, alright, thanks for everythin’, Mum,” Jamison grumbled as he complied, popping the pills into his mouth and swishing them around before gulping down the rest of the water. He sighed deeply, already feeling the spins start to subside as hydration returned. Mako was still sitting beside him on the edge of the bed, staring at nothing in the dim light of Junkrat’s quarters. Jamison swung his one intact foot down to rest on the floor, setting his empty glass on the table next to them, and scooted closer to his friend.
“Ya didn’ have to do all that for me, mate,” he mumbled in way of thanks.
“Wasn’t my idea.” Mako grumbled in reply.
“Yeah, but you let ‘em do it. Almost gave me an ‘eart attack, back there.”
Mako snorted a short laugh, then pulled out a flat package Jamison hadn’t realized he’d been carrying.
“Should’ve done this earlier,” he grumbled quietly, words nearly unintelligible through the mask, “Was embarrassed, likely. Stupid.” The older man sighed and handed over the package. It felt heavy and hard in Jamison’s lap, and he started to undo the wrinkled paper. Inside was a rectangular piece of wood, smooth and beautifully carved, curved at the edges. Junkrat ran his fingers over the carvings, cooing at the delicate woodwork. In the center was a design he recognized - the pig from Roadhog’s tattoo.
“Did you do this, Hoggy?”
Mako huffed and nodded in response.
“What is it?”
“A pare. It’s Maori.”
“Oh…” Jamison stared at the thing again. “What’s it for?”
The older man waited a long time to respond. Mako ran his fingers along the carvings, brushing them over Jamison’s, as he spoke.
“Used to hang them in the whare tipuna, over the door. S’posed to show ancestral gods or something. Can’t -” Mako cut off his sentence with a bout of coughing. He continued once he’d caught his breath, “Can’t remember what they look like. Just carved the pig.”
Jamison nodded, a lump growing in his throat as he listened. Mako coughed again.
“Should’ve been remembering, I guess. For years, just wanted to forget.” The older man sighed, “Tradition is to give one for the twenty-first birthday. You’re older but… you missed a couple. Would’ve made one for my daughter…”
He trailed off again, coughing, and Junkrat felt his chest tighten. Mako never talked about his family, his life before all of this.
“Hoggy…” he began, feebly, but the older man cut him off.
“Thought once this is over, you might have a house to hang it in.”
For the second time that night, Jamison was struck speechless. He held the pare to his chest tightly, then tucked it under the stump of his right arm and flung his left around Mako’s middle. He buried his face in his friend’s chest, squeezing tightly, trying to convey his thanks without words. A large, warm hand curled around his back and stroked softly.
“Would probably just burn the house down anyways, once I had it,” he mumbled into Mako’s chest.
“I sealed the pare with flame retardant. Don’t you dare let it burn.”
“You think of everything.”
Jamison sighed and relaxed into the embrace. He closed his eyes and noticed that the spinning had completely stopped. He hummed and nuzzled into Hoggy’s chest, holding his friend tightly. He found himself drifting off to sleep this way, and after a moment he felt Mako pull away, lay him down on the mattress, and pull the cover over him once more. He heard the click of the light and a soft whisper, “Hari huritau toku hoa.”
Jamison shifted and hugged the pare to his chest, humming delightedly as his friend wished him goodnight.
“Ahau aroha koe.”
Or at least that’s what he assumed it meant.