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Slow Down for Old Love

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“McCree, it has been so long,” Ana’s sore voice rang surprisingly strong in the echoing halls of Gibraltar’s base. It was still under a great deal of reconstruction, but there was a hope in her heart seeing an old student – no – friend return to something that once was home. She watched the cowboy saunter over like he was a movie star, though he was too rugged for such a role now. Her heart clenched to see how weather beaten and scarred he’d become in the years on the run. Ana knew he was only in his later thirties, but he looked older. Perhaps he just needed some rest and, by the smell of him, a shower to clean up the rough spots.

McCree took a rough leather gloved hand to his hat and slipped it off, putting it over his chest. “Ana, I thought you were dead.”
Ana was surprised when McCree took her hand and brought it to his lips. She knew it was a half mocking half charming gesture of the cocky gunslinger. She’d almost forgotten how he used to act, before Blackwatch had started to drag him under the rug of conspiracy and immorality. As the years had seemed to do him wrong in appearance, the time on the run had seemed to restore his spirit.
In part.

Ana released a gentle crackled chuckle. “Oh McCree, you never lost that charm of yours. And I am sorry about the lies all these years. I—”
“I’m just glad you’re okay,” McCree said gently, cutting her off. Ana sensed a desperation in his tone that suggested he wasn’t ready to hear her story. He pushed further into the control room, looking around the old displays and various scattered parts. “Well well well! Winston certainly spruced up the place! Where the others?”

Ana adjusted her hijab around her silver braided hair before tucking her hands behind her back and tip-toing to his side. “Jack had other business, but he wants to return. Winston knows some answered the recall, Lena, Genji and a friend, but…”
“Jack…” McCree repeated and shook his head. “They ain’t here yet?”
“No,” Ana said gently.

McCree turned to face her and inhaled deeply. Ana could tell that already his charm and swagger was wavering being here. He struggled to give her another smile to put her at ease, but she saw past it easily, and it faltered in moments. The cowboy looked down and placed the hat back on his head.
Ana stepped closer and slipped a hand to the side of his cheek, feeling his surprisingly soft beard contrasting with the rough skin. He leaned into it and simply by the weight she could feel how sapped of energy he was. 


“Come. Let’s get you something to eat. I am made baba ghanoush, pita, and chicken sandwiches with tzatziki sauce.”
That immediately forced McCree’s smile and soft laugh. “Yer a woman after my heart,” he drawled gently.
“More your stomach, it seems,” Ana teased him.

Ana made McCree clean up a bit first before dinner, something the scruffy boy protested against greatly, but he agreed with a long drawl of complaints and curses, something about being bribed by the devil for food. Ana rolled her eyes and smirked as she stuffed hot chicken, greens, cucumbers, onions, and sauce into a pita sandwich.


If McCree’s appetite was like it was before, she’d be making about three of these, along with a healthy portion of the eggplant-based baba ghanoush. Ana remembered when her pita bread would summon hordes of Overwatch members to the dining halls, and Jesse McCree was no exception to that. She felt a bit of pride, being able to cook like this again. Winston had a budget, but he gave her a handsome portion to stock the kitchen with anything she wanted – as long as she included a healthy portion of peanut butter as well.
Ana smelled Jesse before she could hear him nearby. She glanced over and smiled at the cowboy, freshly clean and smelling of aftershave. She noted he’d shaved the sides of his beard but left a healthy portion around his mouth and chin, and his hair was damp and heavy, appearing longer behind his tucked ears now that it was wet. He wore an old pair of jogging sweats, and Ana frowned. He was swimming in them!


“McCree, you need a haircut, and look at you!” she exclaimed, pushing to him and placing both hands on his waist. She was making a big deal of it as a joke at first, and she hid her real concern when she could actually feel his ribs. “You’re a twig!”
“Ain’t much for good eatin’ on the run,” McCree complained.


“Well you aren’t running any more. In fact, you’re sitting. Sit,” Ana ordered, gesturing to the counter island in the kitchen. She brought over the plate of pita sandwiches, and the bowl of baba ghanoush and even more pita to dip it in and placed it in front of him. She got him a glass of water as well, and studied McCree as he sat there, staring at the plate.
“Well, dig in,” Ana urged him. She felt her heart pounding in her chest. She didn’t actually see how thin he was, but she was afraid for him.
McCree cleared his throat and carefully wrapped his fingers around a sandwich, dancing them along the pita like he was playing piano keys. He took a ridiculously small bite, and Ana rolled his eyes.


“What is the matter, Jesse?”
McCree slowly chewed and bought some time by wiping his mouth on his sleeve. “Kinda…forgot how to eat,” he admitted. “It’s a lot, comin’ back here. Comin’ back to this,” he looked down to the plate. “Comin’ back to you.” Ana deflated and stepped forward. She was the same height as him now that he was seating at the stool, and she wrapped her arms around him. He took a moment to set down the sandwich before he returned the strong embrace, burying his head in her shoulder. Ana felt him shake and fight against himself.
She pet the back of his wet hair and pulled him closer. “Sshh…it’s okay Jesse. It’s going to be okay.”
“Shouldn’ta come back,” McCree sniffed harshly.


“I am glad you did. We need you. The world needs you.”
“Ain’t no use to nobody like this.”
“Maybe not as thin as you are,” Ana said, but she knew what he was talking about. Compromised. Tired. Drained.
“Like a shell of the past,” he murmured.
“McCree… Jesse… listen to me,” Ana said, carefully pulling back and making him look up at her. She brushed away tears on his cheeks. “The world doesn’t need the old McCree. We need you.”
“I ain’t nothin’ like—”
“You are stronger,” Ana insisted. “We all are.”


McCree sniffed and wiped his eyes. He cleared his throat and picked up the sandwich again. Ana rubbed his back as he ate, and it was only a matter of time before he gave her a small smile and started talking a bit about what he had been through out in the wilds of the Southwest. She sat and listened, hanging onto his arm, his shoulder, his hand. She really did care for Jesse McCree in a way she could never truly put words to. He wasn’t like Fareeah, he wasn’t like Sam, he wasn’t like Reinhardt, or Jack, or anyone else she had ever known. He was simply Jesse McCree, and she had always held a special place for him in her heart.


“Hot damn! Look at that!” a young Jesse McCree called out, cocky as ever, fresh to Overwatch, and most importantly getting on Ana’s nerves no doubt. He loved pushing her buttons. “See told you I didn’t need no fancy forms to shoot good.” 

Jesse was only twenty. He puffed out his chest and raised his chin at his new “trainer”, a black-haired stern-faced woman that seemed none too thrilled to have taken him under her wing. Hell, if he was blackmailed to be here, he might as well make ‘em all regret that.
“You were supposed to shoot the round target not the square one.”
“Oh…” Jesse looked down range and scratched his head. “Well I was aimin’ for the square one.”
“Were you?”


“…no,” Jesse grumbled out. He sighed and shrugged as she walked over to him again, pushing him back to the taped ‘x’ on the floor of the shooting range. She adjusted his arms and pulled at his pant legs to change his stance for what felt like the one thousandth time. He rolled his eyes and huffed, frustrated by her pushy hands.
“It does not take a lot of skill to be deadly with a gun,” Ana said. “You aren’t a bad shot McCree, you just lack the form and—”
“Discipline, I know, I know.”
“I was actually going to say focus…you are near-sighted aren’t you?”
“Uhh,” McCree honestly didn’t know. “No?”


“Name the order of the shaped targets over there,” Ana gestured.
McCree took a breath and squinted down range. “Blurry shaped circle, blurry shaped…somethin’.”
Ana chuckled gently. “You need eye correction. I’ll inform Angela. Should be a simply surgery.”
“Surgery!” McCree yelped. “I ain’t getting’ no surgery on my eyes! Nuh-uh! Hell no. Fuck that!”
“Then you’ll need glasses,” Ana said simply, though McCree knew that squinty keen eye smile was meant to convince him otherwise.
He groaned. “Fine, I’ll get the surgery.”


“That should help your aim substantially. You have a real talent, McCree. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen something quite like it.”
“I’ve got a reputation out in the Southwest. Deadeye McCree, that’s my name,” McCree took the opportunity to spin his revolver around just like she hated it. But this time she didn’t chide him as he holstered it at his hip.
“You’ll fit in well here,” Ana said. “Eventually.”


“Ain’t lookin’ to fit in, ma’am,” Jesse tipped his hat. “At least not with Overwatch. A pretty lady like yerself well…” he let out a low whistle and she scoffed and rolled her eyes, but he caught the last remains of a laugh and smile. “I think that yer a mighty attract—”
He paused as a man walked into the shooting range. Ana turned to kiss him, and he smiled.
“Finally found you. Who would have guessed you’d be here?” the stranger said.


“Sam, stop,” Ana patted his chest. “I would like to introduce you to our newest member of the team, Jesse McCree. He’s quite the talented gunslinger.”
“Gunslinger? Seems an outdated Hollywood term. And that hat? You serious kid?” this “Sam” snorted and laughed.
Jesse frowned, feeling like he was being made fun of, but he wasn’t sure what he was going to do about it. There was nothing to do. His eyes flicked to Ana’s and his lips split apart. Ana frowned a bit before turning back to Sam.


“Well I’m bringing it back,” Ana said, patting his chest and kissing his cheek. “Wait outside. I’ll just be another minute.”
Jesse shifted his stance as he watched Sam walk away, saying something obligatory to be polite as he left.
“Who the hell was that? He’s an asshole,” Jesse snapped out.
“My husband.”
“Oh,” Jesse said, turning away and hooking his thumbs in his belt.
There was a long moment of silence between them, before Ana moved to clean up the range from their practice. Jesse felt awkward, hearing his knee crack as he shifted his weight from one foot to the other.


“He’s not, really,” Ana finally said. “He’s just…”
“It’s okay. Sorry I said anything,” Jesse murmured out.
“It’s fine, Jesse, really. He can be abrasive sometimes, I know.”
“Didn’t know you were married,” Jesse said, finally moving over to help her remove the targets down range.
“You met my daughter, didn’t you?” Ana asked.
“Yeah but you didn’t mention him. Fareeha didn’t mention him either.”
Ana fell quiet again as she shrugged and removed the targets. She inspected the bullet holes carefully and handed them over to McCree. “Get your eyes fixed and you’ll be out shooting me in no time.”
“Doubt it,” Jesse said. “Not a sniper like you. You’re kick ass. Reyes let me read some reports.”
“You flatter me,” Ana laughed.
Jesse smirked and folded the paper targets. “Someone’s gotta.”

Chapter Text

            “Ate a bit too much,” McCree complained as he reached over for another small scrap of pita bread. Ana smirked as she watched him, happy to see his appetite not having suffered after all. Though, he admitted he almost had forgotten how to eat so much, and she was a bit worried that perhaps she had encouraged his appetite back a bit too quickly.

            Jesse burped into a closed fist and put a hand on his chest as he exhaled roughly. Ana came to his side immediately.

            “A bit of heart burn?”

            “A bit. Ate too much,” Jesse repeated.

            Ana moved to a small cabinet where they kept a meager supply of medication. She might be a healer, but she was nothing like Angela. An antacid would do for now. She opened the bottle and dropped a couple of tablets into her hand before placing them on the center island next to him.

            “Strange that the cure to my full stomach is eatin’ a couple more things.”

            Ana chuckled. “It is my fault, I made enough for the bottomless pit I once knew. I was unaware you had turned weak.”

            “Hey now,” Jesse chucked the tablets into his mouth and chewed. “Ain’t gotta be brutal now. Look at this.” He pulled the sweat shirt closer to his stomach and put a hand on the bloated portion. “I’m just full up!”

            Ana looked over the small orb of belly and immediately felt a wash of guilt. That didn’t look comfortable, but at least she knew the boy needed it. His belly was about the size of his large hand and he moaned again as he rubbed it.

            “Come, Jesse. Let’s go sit down somewhere.”
            “Yeah, all right,” he whined.

            Ana smirked and hefted him up, amazed at how quickly he slipped into the ‘helpless’ Jesse McCree when he had a little stomach ache. She remembered that around everyone else, even Angela, he’d get a bit snappy about any injury. Even if it was something as severe as the time he broke his arm. But, around her he had always turned to pudding, and it was no wonder that it wasn’t long before she was called down to supervise McCree’s healthcare from time to time as he was incredibly stubborn otherwise. She remembered it had made her feel special in a way, to make an impact on his life, especially when it came at a time when Fareeha was trying to stand out on her own without her mother, and Sam was growing more and more distant from their marriage. It hadn’t been his fault, and she never blamed him for it. Thinking back to such a thing just filled her with more guilt she knew she’d have to tackle later.

            Ana moved Jesse to the small rec room. Gibraltar wasn’t big as far as the common areas went, so it wasn’t that long of a walk from the kitchen to the room where the old TV sat neglected and broken. Ana had taken the time to dust out the old furniture though, so at least there was a place for him to sit.

            Jesse plopped down and release a frustrated ugh sound.

            Ana sat next to him and put her hands on her lap.

            “T.V. ain’t workin?” Jesse asked.

            “Sorry.”

            “One-star accommodations, Ana. Boo.”

            Ana chuckled gently, letting it roll like marbles in her throat. She suddenly felt sapped of energy; perhaps it was more emotional than otherwise. She closed her eyes as she kept her poised position, swaying only gently as she breathed. Her spot of rest was interrupted by a gurgling burping man that sat next to her, and she felt him shift what little weight he had beside her and lean back.

            “Feels good though, knowin’ I got steady cooking ahead.”

            Ana fell back into the couch a bit more and smiled, her eyes still closed. “I am glad you are here and safe McCree.”

            “So little word on the others? What about Fareeha?”

            “She did not get the recall, not yet. She has her own life doing exactly what her mother never wanted her to do,” Ana murmured.

            “Fareeha always was her own sphere of determination. God! She hated my guts.”

            “Oh? I thought she had a crush on you.”

            “Fuck no, she played nice but she made it clear that she ain’t want anythin’ to do with me.”

            “Oh?” Ana slanted her tone toward him and drew out that phrase in a particularly accusatory way. “I wonder how you got that message?”

            “I didn’t hit on her if that’s what you’re asking.”

            Ana was genuinely surprised to hear that. She’d always thought McCree an obnoxious Casanova, wandering the halls of Overwatch and snapping his fingers into guns, winking at everything that moved. She was relieved to hear that her daughter wasn’t on the list. Not that she hadn’t trusted Jesse McCree, but he was certainly one of those capable of being a giant heart breaker – unless that was just a silly assumption. Come to think of it she hadn’t remembered him talking much about his dating life back then, at least with her.

            “Well she would have kicked your ass certainly.”

            “She did often, believe me,” Jesse smirked. “You should contact her again, Ana…I think it’s important that she knows you’re alive. God… after I found out you died I just wanted to leave. I couldn’t take it anymore. Reyes’s and Jack’s mess got to me and you were the only one supposed to be keepin’ it together.”

            Ana frowned and leaned into Jesse, feeling even more sapped of energy than before. “I let everyone down.”

            To her surprise, she felt a heavy arm slip around her shoulders and pull her close. Ana would have resisted. She wasn’t much of a cuddler, but McCree had caught her at a rough time.

            “Nah, sorry I didn’t mean it that way. It just happened, y’know? It was a lot of little things that built up into a monster no one could fight. N’ Moira. Remember her? Got a nasty feelin’ she was behind the whole thing. Played Gabe like a fiddle with her experiments. Never liked her. Never did like her one bit.”

            “You should have been in Overwatch,” Ana said, as if saying it now would make a different. “You were a good man, McCree.”

            “Ain’t anymore?” Jesse smirked, but even he seemed tired with constantly teasing at every word she spoke. Ana didn’t respond. Instead, she turned into him and rested her head on his chest. She felt him hesitate before pulling her closer and tighter to him.

            “I know. But Gabe… he was like a father to me,” Jesse whispered. “An’ workin’ with Jack wasn’t anything I wanted to be doing.”

            “He was always a tough pill to swallow,” Ana agreed. “We all did our best. And that is all we can do now.”

            Jesse didn’t respond and Ana didn’t need him too. It wasn’t long before they were drifting off to sleep in their own right, finding a scrap of comfort in an old friendship and a stomachache. She felt him shift and groan sometimes, blowing air into his cheeks. Ana shifted and put a small hand on his belly, before rubbing it in smooth small circles. She heard Jesse’s salty chuckle but besides that, he didn’t say a word, relaxing into her care.


            “Don’t look too hard kid,” Gabriel murmured in young Jesse McCree’s ear. Jesse felt a spike of immediate irritation from being called out.

            The ocean waves lapped marvelously at the shore of the beach, a private corner rented just for the Overwatch company picnic. The smell of burgers and dogs and charcoal permeated the air and he could hear the distant firm arguments of Jack and Reinhardt by the grill. Jesse himself sat in the sand off to the side, building a rather intricate sand castle. He tossed the empty bucket to Gabe.

            “Get me another will ya?”

            “I don’t think you heard me,” Gabriel murmured.
            Jesse sighed and finally looked up to where the girls were. Angela, and Ana, that was, gently sunbathing on reclined chairs and enjoying some fruity drink. He had to admit, in an embarrassed reluctance that he had been staring. Though he knew the two women were older than him by decades, it was difficult to keep his fantasies – about one of them - at bay. He’d never tell Gabriel what he was thinking. He’d think the worst of him.

            “I heard you fine Gabe.”

            “We need to get you out more. If Angela is who you’re getting all heart-eyed for, it’s about time I knock some sense in to you. It’s a lonely world in Overwatch but that doesn’t mean we can’t stave it away somehow. There’s a nice girl I’d like to introduce you to in Human Resources. I think you two would hit it off. Go on a few dates, yeah?”

            “Can she cook?” Jesse murmured.

            “I have no idea, but neither can Angela,” Gabriel laughed.

            Jesse looked back over to Ana and Angela, and saw that Sam was trudging over from the ocean with Fareeha dashing ahead of him. He was a big guy, broad, strong, looking like he could knock anyone under the sand in a single punch. His bellowing laugh preceded his arrival, as Fareeha shook off ocean water at them all. Ana and Angela predictably yelped and tossed their towels at the two.

            “OW!” Jesse barked as Gabriel smacked him over the head. “What the hell was that for?!”

            “Girl. Human Resources. Might Cook,” Gabriel said firmly.

            “Fine fine! Set me up,” he hissed. “Jeez, you’re a hypocrite you know that? Everyone knows you’re fuckin’ Jack. Ain’t like I’m doin’ more than looking. I wasn’t even looking like that, I wasn’t, and you go n’ smack me over the head.”

            Jesse felt the silence settle before he was even finish talking, and when he looked over his shoulder, Gabriel was already walking back toward where the cars were parked. Jesse looked to the grill and Jack caught his eyes. The Strike Commander gave him an open palmed gesture. Jesse simply pointed before Jack surrendered his apron to Reinhardt and ran after Gabriel, sand kicking up behind him.

            Jesse shoved his foot in the wet sand castle, destroying an hour’s worth of work. He huffed uncomfortably as it shoveled a bit up his swim suit short leg.

            “Aww, I was hoping you’d finish it.”        

            Jesse looked up to the last person he wanted to see right now. “Hey, Ana,” Jesse murmured. He could barely make out her face as the sun backlit her giant straw hat. She caught the brim with slender fingers as a breeze threatened to catch is. She knelt down carefully.

            “Everything okay?”

            “No,” Jesse grumbled. “Said somethin’ stupid. Gabe got pissed.”

            He fell back in the sand and tossed an arm over his eyes. “He wants to set me up with a girl and I ain’t sure I’m ready for that. Seems like a lot of pressure,” he admitted.

            “Stacy from Human Resources?”

            “Someone from Human Resources,” Jesse confirmed.

            “She’s nice.”

            “Yeah, that’s the problem. I ain’t. I’m still rough around the edges. And all around. And inside.”

            “You aren’t so bad, McCree. It would be good for you to get out and try something new, you know.”

            Jesse felt like his gut was being tied into a billion knots. His heart ached. This was awful! How could he be so stupid? How could he dare have a crush on a married woman? With a daughter! Married! It was so bizarre not even Gabriel would have guessed who he was really looking at. This was hell, absolute hell. He would give anything to make these dumb feelings go away. He didn’t want them. They were mixed with shame and guilt, and everything ugly in-between.

            That was probably why it also felt sickeningly exciting.

            He swallowed hard and lay there, not wanting to look at Ana; just imagining her face right now in the darkness offered by his arm.

            What was he going to do about this?

Chapter Text

            “Damn, even on the hover track this thing is a bitch to push!” Jesse exclaimed, easing the payload packed with foodstuffs up the track’s hill and toward the first door. Ana was never sure why that awful dip under the compound existed, but even though she wanted to agree with Jesse, she felt herself chuckle.

            “If you are already whining about it, I can do it myself,” Ana chided.

            “Naw, now I’m a gentleman. I won’t leave ya hangin’. Why we movin’ all this food to the other end anyhow?”

            Ana took a good look at the hovering payload, stacked with boxes of canned foods, canisters of spices and stocks, and bottles of water, as well as other cooking supplies. It was difficult to inspect anything closely as she and her cowboy friend pushed the hover craft up the slope.

            “More are coming,” Ana said gently.

             Jesse didn’t answer, huffing and puffing away, turning around and using his back to push instead of his arms. Ana couldn’t help but watch him. She wasn’t delicate by any means and could have managed this chore by herself, but she found like he was doing most of the work when she kept getting distracted. Distracted by the little round orb of Jesse’s belly as of late. At first it hadn’t been too noticeable, maybe if he moved a certain way the shirt would tug on it and give the viewer a hint at the shape underneath. Now, it looked more persistently round, and his shirt was ill-fitting.

           A bit of pride struck Ana, having filled out Jesse’s frame in the past month. It was her duty to make sure everyone was healthy, and Jesse deserved a bit of excess. A stomach wasn’t going to kill him. She guessed he’d been starving so long that his body was going to hang on to everything for a while, and maybe it would even out later. Or maybe he was getting to that age where it wouldn’t. It was adorable! Ana couldn’t help but feeling uplifted by it. It was cute.

          “Why isn’t—Winston—doing this?! He’s like as strong as eight of me!” Jesse shouted as he pushed the payload to level ground and woke Ana from her thoughts. He panted and put a hand on his hip, bending over one of the boxes on top, his belly tugging his shirt to its limit of stretchiness. He took off his hat and wiped his forehead with his arm before hopping up onto the payload and taking a seat.
            “He has been having joint pain so I told him to rest and I could take care of it,” Ana smiled at him. “What are you doing?”

           Jesse took out his pocket swiss army knife and pulled out the blade, cutting one of the boxes open. He pawed around the cans before he pulled out some beans and tossed it in the air, catching it easily and flipping out the can opener.

            “Takin’ a break.”
            “Already?” Ana teased. “Jesse I cannot push this with you on it.”

            “Then don’t, not that you could anyway with how ya been feedin’ me,” Jesse smirked like an ass as he popped the can open and switched the army knife to a spork. He dove in and scooped the morsels of cold beans into his mouth. He patted his stomach. “Gunna have to take my pants out, Ana, gettin’ a spot too tight.”

            “I can do that for you,” Ana smiled, walking around and climbing up next to him. “Are you mad?”

            Jesse looked over, his cheek full of beans. “Bout what?”

            “The weight?” Ana asked, trying not to look but looking anyway. Jesse followed her gaze.

            “No, not really, I mean. Better than bein’ all skin n’ bones. It’ll drop off it no time, once Overwatch starts up again. I don’t want to stop eatin’ your cooking. Hell no, not ready for that.”

            “You flatter me,” Ana said gently, blushing. Actually blushing, and happy her hijab was hiding some of it from view.

            “Must be easy as telling the truth then,” Jesse smiled at her as he scrapped at the sides of the can. “So uh, who else is showing up?”

            “Jack, Leah, Torbjörn, Reinhardt, and I think Torbjörn’s daughter, Brigitte. She is with Reinhardt,” Ana whispered. “Not in that order and…not all together.

            Ana watched Jesse as he finished off the can of cold beans and licked the spoon clean. He then started to rotate the can in both of his hands, reading the labels. With a bored huff, Jesse tossed it back in the box and leaned over, digging through it. Ana smiled and put a hand on his arm to stop him.

            “I would rather make you a warm lunch. Come on, let’s get the payload to the other end, drop the food off, and I will cook you something.”

             Ana was confused when she watched Jesse huff and stand up on the boxes, pulling his arms up over his head. Ana saw the underside of his hairy puffy belly and she felt a jump in her gut and a heat wash over her body. She felt silly. How could she even be thinking what she was thinking? She didn’t even want to admit that she was feeling the way she was. It was just a bit of a …well… perhaps she was starting to develop a tiny crush on Jesse McCree, the way one might a movie star or some unobtainable heart throb. She was an old maid, he was the swarthy handsome cowboy with the charming smile and the little belly made for loving her food. She had always felt deeply for Jesse, but it was an unspeakable thing. She had never thought about him this way before. She wasn’t even going to humor it. It was silly.

            Ana adverted her eyes. “What is the matter, Jesse?”

           “Nothin’ just stretching. Lunch bribe it is.” He hopped off and took off his hat, sauntering over to Ana and gently offering her a dusty gloved hand. “May I help you off the cart ma’am?”

           “Puh, I am not old enough to be called ma’am just yet,” Ana heard herself say.

            “My apologies, Ana, I meant no offense. You’re clearly as young and beautiful as a white desert flower bloomin’ off a cactus.”

            “Now you’re calling me prickly,” Ana teased.

            “No, I’m callin’ you a sight for very very sore eyes,” Jesse whispered.

            Ana’s breath caught in her throat. The way he was looking at her, bright hazel eyes, crooked smile, stringy hair clumping down in front of his nose and cheeks. Ana gently slipped her fingers along the leather of his glove. She didn’t even realize how gently he clasped it before bringing the back of her aged and weathered hand to his surprisingly soft lips. Ana’s own parted and stole a quick, sharp breath.

            “They must be very sore to think I would do anything to heal them,” Ana whispered.

            “Yer the elixir they’ve been longin’ for.”

             It was at that moment when they exchanged glances again and cracked wide smiles, which soon transformed into loud laughs.

            “Oh god!” Ana laughed.

            “That was bad that was really bad!”

            “You’re rusty, Jesse!”

            “Hey, believe it or not I never had much practice!” Jesse admitted.

            “Lies,” Ana said, finally jumping off the payload – Jesse was still there to help her down, thankfully.

            “No, it’s true. There was a time I was screwing around, but it was all rodeo no class,” Jesse explained, moving back to the payload. “I never really had to do much talkin’. I never dated anyone either.”

            Ana had no idea.

            “You’ve never fallen in love?” she asked.

            Jesse didn’t answer.


             Young Jesse McCree sat in the car like a pouty dejected teen who had just been caught doing something bad. Gabriel gripped the steering wheel tightly, his mouth a pinprick of anger and disappointment. It was raining and pitch black save for the headlights in the front of the car. Gabriel was a good driver, but as fast as he was going, it was scaring the shit out of him.

            “Look I was just trying to follow your advice—”

            “Don’t,” Gabriel said. “Don’t you dare twist my words.”

            There was another long, pained silence and the thing that hurt most about all this is that it hadn’t worked one damn bit. He had made this trip a lot of times over the past months. Something blind. Something dumb. Something he didn’t have to think about. Just pure pleasure and no tangled ugly conflicted emotions. He didn’t want to be him right now. He just prayed this day would be over and he could move on before he could realize it.

            But he knew Gabriel wasn’t going to let it go.

            “So that’s where all your funds have been draining into hmm? You even know how irresponsible you’re being? That is an illegal establishment. You could have gotten sick. They don’t have regulations there you know! Those girls could have stolen—they could have sold information. You tell them anything?”

            “No!”

            “Jesse you’re a member of a top-secret organization. Did you pillow talk?”

            “Ain’t much talkin’ at all! Just the way I wanted it.”

            “McCree, if anyone else finds out about this, you could be fired.”

            “Okay, I know, I screwed up, just leave me alone.”

            “You’re not a kid, McCree,” Gabriel lectured.

            “Then stop treatin’ me like one!”

            “STOP ACTING LIKE ONE!”

            “WHICH ONE IS IT?! I’M NOT YOUR KID!”

            Jesse felt like the pained silence after that eruption was worse than being lectured. He tried his best to make it better, but Gabriel just sat in the ring of seething silence.

            “I’m sorry,” Jesse managed. He knew he didn't deserve Gabriel. He knew just how to hit him, and no matter what he said, Gabriel was there to stay. He hoped that Gabriel's patience would never run out in that regard. “I’m just…tryna….feel something different. I was running away. I was trying to follow your advice I was trying to forget shit and how stupid I am all the time and how stupid I feel when I see her and how I feel when she looks at me and I just can’t take it anymore.”

            More silence.

            “I’m in love with Ana,” Jesse confessed, because fuck it. What did it matter any more? He was up shit creek anyway. “I told you I had a crush and you said I should try to find someone else and move on. And then….” Tears filled his eyes. “And that awful date with that girl from HR and so I just felt like I was in this dumb pit by myself and maybe somethin’ is wrong with me like my heart is too big and I can’t control it or nothin’ and I just want it to end Gabe cause I don’t like feelin’ this way I know it’s wrong I just—” he breathed deeply, but it was no use. “I am – I can’t breathe!”

            Gabriel sighed and opened up the glove box, pulling out an old fast food bag and dumbing the trash on the car floor. “Breathe into this kid. Calm down. Deep breaths.”

             Jesse listened, breathing into the bag and crying like an idiot.

            Gabriel finally spoke. “I didn’t know it was Ana. I see why, though. You were training under her for a while. She’s nice. She’s beautiful. It’s okay Jesse. I get it. But… it’s got you that bad?”

             Jesse didn’t want to answer that but now the floodgates were open. “I c-can’t stop thinking about her. Wasn’t that what it was like with Jack? You never stopped thinking about him. Finally you just went for it.”

            “Well you can’t go for this one.”

            “I know.”

            “Maybe she needs to tell you that in person.”

            “Don’t! Don’t tell her!” Jesse managed, panicking.

            “I’m not going to,” Gabriel said. “Tell Ana how you feel. Let her tell you no. You need to let her shut you down. And then you can come find me and we can eat a tub of Rocky Road and play Final Fantasy XLVII. We’ll just take the day off. All right? It’ll suck but it’s the only way.”

             Jesse nodded. That did make sense.

            “Okay, I’ll do it….I’ll do it when I get back. Am I still in trouble?”

            “Yeah,” Gabriel murmured. “But we’ll deal with it later.”

Chapter Text

            Ana couldn’t help but notice the cowboy was watching her as she moved about the kitchen. She aimed to make something a bit more familiar for lunch, though all her cooking was always inspired by her mother and grandfather. For hours they would argue in the kitchen about spices and techniques, how to properly prepare new and traditional dishes. Ana’s grandfather was a simple man, and her mother had fire in her. This always showed in their cooking, creating a menagerie of traditional and authentic foods.

            Funny, she always thought of McCree as the same. Simple, honest, gentle, but not in a fake way. Despite his time in Blackwatch, despite what his mentor taught him and his actions as an agent of secrecy and sabotage, his character had always managed to keep above the waves, even when they came crashing down.

            Ana turned and smiled at McCree as he hunched over the island counter, his hat tipped just low enough to shield most of his brow line, but not those sharp hazel eyes. She was happy when he took it off the next moment and smiled at her.

            “So, whatcha cookin’ this time?” Jesse asked.
            Ana opened a package of ground meat – the fake stuff that could keep for a long time. She’d grown used to it since real meat was hard to come by these days. “I’m not sure. Some kind of burger patty probably, I want to use the rest of the naan for the buns.”

            “Need help?”

            “That’s not necessary, Jesse. I told you I would make you lunch if you helped me.”

            “Yeah, well, feels weird just sittin’ here,” Jesse said, hefting himself up and sauntered over. Ana heard every bit of him jingle, thump, and scratch. Metal clinking, leather stretching, boots hard on their heels. Ana felt his large frame hover over her, his new belly pressing lightly against the back of her arm.

            “Yah putting leaves in the meat?” Jesse asked, worried.

            “All right, all right, back up,” Ana laughed. “They’re spices and sprigs. Adds flavor. Let me cook.”

            “Yah ruinin’ it. Fake meat already tastes bad as it is.”

            “That’s why I’m adding to it,” Ana said. “The flavors have to be three dimensional.”

            “Ain’t gunna help if it’s three dimensions of yuck.”

            Ana laughed again, turning around and putting her hands on his chest. “Please! You sound like my grandfather. Don’t make me kick you out of the kitchen Jesse McCree.”

            Jesse put his hands up and grinned. Funny, she expected him to back away, but he didn’t. He just stood there. Smiling down at her. “All right all right,” he said, dropping his arms. The next moment he turned to the counter, his orb of a belly bumping into it and making him sway back, almost as reflex. Ana smiled. He probably wasn’t used to it being there yet.

            Ana gave him tasks, simple ones that didn’t interfere with the stories she was trying to tell with the flavors she was adding. Making the meat into patty shapes was one of them, as she put them in the pan to fry them up, another pan on low for the naan and a spread of herbs. She then had Jesse slice up some potatoes to make some fries. The two worked together well, dancing around the stove and each other. Jesse spoke of memories from his early childhood, stories Ana had heard from him before. About his farm. His parents. His brothers and sisters. Every time she heard the stories though they seemed to change a bit, become more embellished or miss a detail. A part of her wondered if they were true. Maybe it didn’t matter. All that mattered was that Jesse was a good storyteller, and that he still had the energy to tell them.

            When the food was finally prepared, she heard a loud growl coming from Jesse’s stomach.

            “My! Worked myself a fierce appetite!” Jesse laughed, sitting down and loading a plate with two of the ‘burgers’ and a big heap of fries. Ana watched as he stacked the fries on the burger and heaped a load of the tzatziki spread on top before replacing the naan bun. As he took a first bite, the crisp crunch on the fries almost echoed in the kitchen.

            “Mmm…. MM!!!” Jesse made a face of pure enthusiastic enjoyment, rolling his eyes up toward the ceiling. He shoved the lump of food to his cheek so he could talk. “So good.”

            Ana smiled and prepared a meager plate for herself, leaving as much to Jesse as possible. He needed it. “I’m glad you think so.”

            Jesse took another bite and repeated the same enthusiasm, and only a few more bites after that before the rest of the first burger was engulfed. He stuck his finger tips and thumb in his mouth to suck off the juices before preparing the next burger.

            Ana watched.

            She took small bites of her own but, nonetheless, she watched. Bite after bite, Jesse was like a machine. His appetite massively improved. He would do an odd ritual, where he would slip his tongue underneath the naan before replacing it with his teeth, carefully chipping away at the softened bread just so he would have the perfect bite. His full lips pulled in and then puckered when his cheeks puffed out. He would swallow with a little bob of his head. Ana’s bottom lip pressed firmly against her top teeth. Finally, as Jesse sopped up the last of the sauce with the fries and shoved them into his mouth, he leaned back and put a hand on his stomach. He took a deep breath and Ana watched it swell, straining against the ill-fitting shirt. A rough hand soon obstructed her view as he dragged his fingers across the surface of taut skin under fabric.

            “Gotta make more room for your cookin’,” Jesse complained with a soft groan. “Too good to leave that last burger on the platter over there but I’m not sure if I can eat no more.”

            Ana blinked at his words and she felt herself blushing as she reached for the last burger. “I suppose we can save this for later. Won’t be as good though.”

            Jesse sat up immediately. He brought his fist to his mouth and burped into it, a rough gurgle of his stomach soon to follow. With a stubborn grumble, he grabbed Ana’s hand, squeezed it, and shoved it away before scooping up and dropping the last burger on his plate. “I got it,” he insisted.

            Ana smiled and gave him more fries. He didn’t seem to argue, somehow packing it all away. Ana rested her chin in her interlaced fingers, a thin smile on her lips. She watched his stomach engorge to the point where the shirt refused to cover up the bottom, a small strip covered in dark fuzzy hairs. Jesse unclasped his belt with a soft grumble, rubbing his hand on the newly exposed skin. He tried to pull his shirt down, but it was no use. Ana stood and walked over to him.

           “Ate yourself into a tummy ache?” she chided.

           “You surprised?” Jesse asked with a grumpy moan.

           “You deserve it to eat so much,” Ana said, placing a hand on her hip and the other on the island. “You came here half starved.”

           “Not starved no more,” Jesse smirked. “Thanks to you.”

            Ana gasped. “I did nothing.”

           “Please, you’re cooking is too good for me to pass up.”

           Ana smiled and put a hand on his belly, patting it gently. “Well, let’s get you put up somewhere. I’m sure we have some seltzer for the stomach ache too.”

           Jesse McCree didn’t move, simply smiling up at her. His smile turned into a keen sharp grin and Ana was genuinely confused by it. He almost looked as if he was about to say something. But the very next moment he grabbed his hat and placed it on his head.

          “Yeah, gonna have to sleep it off.”

 


 

            Young Jesse McCree stood outside Ana’s door for almost ten minutes, pacing back and forth.

            Ana, there’s something I gotta tell you. It’s dumb so just…don’t laugh. It’s just something I gotta say to get it off my chest and then we can move on with our lives. It’ll be that easy right? That’s what Gabe said. Ana… I think I’m in love with ya. Yeah. Sounds really dumb but I am so just turn me down right quick so I can…can stop thinking about you…

            Jesse sighed and paused in his pacing, zoning out a little more.

            Jesse I thought you’d never say it. Truth is, I feel something too. Kiss. Yeah we kiss and then maybe Sam never comes back well that’s kind of sad so she’d be sad about that but I’d be there for her, ya know I could – Jesse stop! Just knock on the damned door!

            Jesee pounded his fist onto the door a bit harder than he should have. He swallowed hard, standing there stiffly, his heart pounding in his chest. He heard heavy footsteps walk up to the door. What? Heavy? Not Ana’s? Who was there?”

            The door opened just as Jesse backed up to bolt.

            “McCree right? What can I do for you?”

            It was Sam. He was back already? Jesse hadn’t known!

            “Uhh…uhm.”

            Sam smiled. The large man was broad and square, almost like a miniature version of Reinhardt. He had bright eyes and darker skin, and his arms were covered in faded tattoos.

            “Hey Ana!”

            “Oh sorry, sir, I didn’t mean to –” Jesse squeaked out.

            Ana appeared and smiled. She was wiping her hand with a cloth. “Jesse! Come in, I just made dinner. Unless you had something quick to say?”

            Jesse McCree barely knew how he got from the door to the table, but it happened. There he was, sitting across from Ana, Sam at the head of the table and Fareeha beside him. Everyone settled down to eat, what Jesse could only describe as a colossal collection of dishes. Ana looked like she had cooked for twelve, when it was just the three of him. But then he noticed how Sam ate. The man was like a dumpster truck.

            God, he hated what an asshole this guy was. Ana deserved so much better.

            “So, Ana has told me a lot about you,” Sam smiled. “She said you’re quite the talented marksman.”

            Jesse blinked back to the living. “Oh uh, sure. I mean I ain’t Ana but I guess I’m learning.”

            “Mom says you could shoot a flea off a dog’s back,” Fareeha added, taking a bite.

            “I did say that,” Jesse said. He looked to Sam, that smug look on his face. Or was it just a smile? He watched him take Ana’s hand and play with her wedding ring.

            “You’ve been wearing it to the range again? I can see the gun grease on it,” he teased.

            “I hate taking it off,” Ana said, waving him off. Sam laughed like the asshole he was. Or maybe it was just a normal laugh. Jesse wanted to shrink down and die.

            After dinner Sam got up and cleared the table, he came back to Ana for a quick kiss. “I’m going to rest off the meal,” he chuckled. “Fareeha, wanna play a game?”

            “You mean want to get your ass kicked at Space Wars?”

            “Yikes!”

            They both laughed and moved into the living area, just off their small dining room. Jesse longed to walk through it, to get out of this nightmare where Ana was happy, and Sam was a decent guy. What little interaction he had with him, Jesse had built the man up to be a monster. But Ana’s smile was undeniable. Though, the longer they sat there, the less she smiled.

            “So, do you want to tell me why you dropped by?”

             Jesse looked to her, feeling his throat close up. “Gabe…uh… said I needed to tell you something.”

            Ana frowned. “What is it?”

            Jesse inflated his chest as he took in a deep breath. “He wanted me to tell you that…uh…I can’t train with ya anymore.”

           “What? Do not be absurd! We have been making such progress.”

           “I know but I think it’s a good idea,” Jesse said. “I need to focus on some other stuff and uh…focus.”

           Ana studied him and cocked her head. “All right, Jesse. That makes me sad, but I think I understand.”

            Jesse got up and Ana walked him to the door. He felt her hand on his back and it was sucking the life out of him.

            “You’re welcome to have dinner with us any time, Jesse. Even if it’s just Fareeha and I.”

            “Thanks,” Jesse said gently. “Uhm. You’re happy right?”

            “About not training you anymore?”

            “No, I mean in general.”

            Ana managed a small smile and turned Jesse’s body to face her. She pulled him into a hug. Jesse carefully returned it, listening to the muffled shouts of Fareeha and Sam’s competitive banter. Ana squeezed him once, before pulling back.

            “Take care, Jesse.”

            Jesse slipped out without remembering if he had actually said goodbye.

Chapter Text

            It had been a month since returning to Gibraltar, and half of that time had been spent rebuilding the base. A lot needed to be done. Beds made, wires replaced and tested, power restored. It was going to be a long time before any of them would see any real battle, though the world around them didn’t seem to be slowing down.

            McCree noticed something was slowing down though.

            His metabolism.

            A month off from running his ass into the ground, combined with Ana’s cooking, well. It was starting to have some real consequence. Not just the cute belly that was growing earlier, the one that only an idiot wouldn’t notice Ana staring at, but a beer-style gut. It was something that decided to catch him off guard. It had been fun eating as much as he had, and there was a lot of time to catch up on sleep, mostly because he felt like he hadn’t at all for five years. But now, here he was.

            Jesse pulled up his old desert pants on over his thick thighs and jumped a little just to squeeze them over his ass. The seams were stretching impossibly. He huffed, watching his distended belly push out against his wrists as he worked to close the button. With a sharp inhale and a signature suck-in, he was able to zip up and button the pants. The button didn’t stay in place long though, stretching the fabric until it popped open again. His belly rapidly distended to fill in the free space.

            Jesse huffed. He was frustrated.

            He tried not to think about how fat he was getting. It wasn’t like it wouldn’t all go away once he got back to fighting the good fight, right? It was easy to ignore during the day when he was working. But when it came to clothes and the shower? Pretty undeniable. He pulled up the waist of his pants and looked in the mirror. With a quick glance around the bunk room to confirm no one was around, he turned to the side and relaxed, watching his belly spread outward even more, and over the seam of his pants. A crease was starting to form at the hip as gravity pulled the weight downward.

            Jesse pinched his side with strong fingers. It was like grabbing a handful of dough, soft and squishy. He placed his hands on the sides and wiggled the bulk, before running his hand over the large domed surface. He picked it up and let it drop. It wobbled so much he had to place a hand on it to stop the momentum. He chuckled a bit. It felt good in a way, after being thin for so long, and he wasn’t just talking about when he was on the run. After Blackwatch started to crumble, his appetite had pretty much disappeared. Now, his belly was stretching out and amble, covered in a thick layer of body hair. His chest was growing softer and his arms even looked thicker. Jesse even noticed that his neck and face were starting to get a little rounder too, but his beard mostly covered that up. He finally concluded that it was a good look for him for now, all things considered.

            Damn Ana’s cooking was amazing. There was no way he could stop eating the portions she was giving him, which somehow seemed to grow every time he ate. It was always ‘this is going bad’ or ‘I made too much this’. Jesse was only doing his duty by helping clear the pantries right? At least that was the story they were both weaving. Deep down he knew it had to be more, and that terrified him. It wasn’t as if Jesse didn’t remember the pain he went through to get over his indomitable crush on Ana back in his youthful days. There were parts of him that thought it had been dumb and silly young boy stuff, but also, a part of him that felt like…there was still space left for her. Even now he couldn’t help but flirt with her, and it seemed like she always flirted back. Their little banters, their shared meals, her stares, his smiles, it was a little building into a lot.

            But what if it was all delusion?

            Jesse plopped down on his bed and huffed, giving up on his thoughts and knowing his pants probably weren’t going to button up today. Ana had taken them out once, but this? This was beyond hope. He looked down at his belly drooping into his lap, and slapped his palm against the surface a few times.

           “Yer the price I’m payin’ for some time with Ana, Belly.”

            Jesse chuckled again and slipped a hand under his pillow and grabbed a cigarillo and a lighter, preparing for a thoughtful smoke.

           “Thought we weren’t allowed to smoke indoors,” a playful voice rang out.

           Jesse jolted. Ana! She was hanging out in the door, and here he was, shirtless and slouching, his belly resting on an unbuttoned pant seam. He looked around for a place to stash his lit cigarillo, or grab a shirt, too many actions to cover him up at once.

           “Jeez! Ana!?”

           That came out a bit more irritated than he meant it too.

           “I’m so sorry, Jesse, I will come back later!”

           “No no, it’s fine!” Jesse stood and laughed, holding his pants up as he placed the cigarillo on the endstand. “Sorry. I actually need a bit of help.”

           He didn’t want to look Ana in the ‘eye’ but he felt like he was forced to. She held her hands in front of her, her keen gaze flicking between his face and his stomach. He watched as she smiled and stifled a soft chuckle. That deflated a bit of the tension, thankfully.

           “Let me see what I can do,” she said, walking over to him.

            Jesse straightened as she grabbed the front of his pants, slipping her fingers between his puffy stomach and the seams. He felt his face heat up as she tried to pull the two halves together.

           “Hmm…” she murmured.

           “Time to commit these pants to the grave?”

           “Mm, wait,” Ana held up a finger. “There was something I used to do when I was pregnant.”

           “You sayin’ I’m as big as–!”

           “No! not at all Jesse,” Ana said as she chuckled, pushing back her hood for a moment so that she could access the end of her braid. Jesse couldn’t help but drink her in with his eyes, trying to hide his stare but failing hard at it. She was perfect. Though age had taken hold, to her she was just like a beautiful cactus flower, just as she had always been. As she ran her fingers over her braid and trailed them down to the end, all he could think about was how hopelessly beautiful she was.

           Slender fingers snagged the tie from her braided ends.

           “This will do,” Ana said, looping the tie around the button and through the button hole, and back around the button, weaving it tight so it would hold as close together as possible. Jesse reached forward and zipped his fly, but his belly was still front and center. Ana pulled up his pants here and there, and Jesse noticed she was sneaking small finger brushes against his stomach. The longer she adjusted, the more and more Jesse felt like her stares at his belly meant something.

           “That is a handy trick,” Jesse said, feeling like he was overheating from the situation as he tried desperately to keep his cool. This was impossible. There was no way. How was he going to handle this? His chest clenched at the thought that Ana thought he was attractive, that she enjoyed watching him eat as much as he enjoyed eating.

           Ana moved to his trunk and dug through his shirts and finding a large gray t-shirt. When Jesse pulled it on, she grabbed the bottom and tugged it over to hide the fly of his pants. He released the breath he hand been holding, looking down at her, and she up at him. Her gorgeous silver hair was unraveling without her tie. Jesse moved closer, wanting to test this. He couldn’t help himself, brushing her cheek with his thumb and tracing it down the band of her eye patch Ana slipped her hands to is soft, grabbable love handles. Something was happening!

           “Ya really lost an eye?” Jesse asked. Dumb question, but it was smarter than asking her about this spark he was feeling between them.

           “Mm, yes, better than my life though,” Ana said.

            Jesse’s hand didn’t know where to land, sliding down her neck and onto her shoulder.

           “God, Ana to think I almost lost ya…you were my best friend.”

           “I seem to remember you stopped talking to me,” Ana said. Jesse was sure she was teasing but it fell flat.

           “That had nothing to do with how much you meant to me…actually, that had everything to do with…how much…”

            Ana slipped her hands up his sides, squeezing gently. “What, Jesse?”

           THUNK-BUMP!

           Jesse felt like he was going to have a heart attack as the door slammed open so fast that the handle crashed into the wall. A man stood there, wearing a motorcycle jacket and strange mask and visor.

          Ana pushed away and Jesse felt like his plug was being pulled.

          “Who the hell are you?” Jesse snapped defensively.

          “Jack?” Ana whispered.         

          “Soldier: 76,” the man’s gruff voice commanded, dropping a duffle bag on a cot. “Did I interrupt something?”


 

On The Eve of Retribution

            Only Sam knew Ana’s secret, and he always tried his best to humor her. As they grew older, and his job less strenuous as he pushed toward retirement. He was okay with putting on a little weight for her. It’s not that Ana would ever ask it of him, but she loved it when people appreciated her cooking, and she loved it when her partners were on the larger side. One could put two and two together, she supposed, but it wasn’t something she liked to broadcast. Sam was her best friend. He was always there for her and their daughter.

            Except when he wasn’t.

            And those exceptions were becoming more and more difficult to ignore.

            At this point she wasn’t sure what she was going to do. Now that Fareeha was older and finding her own path it was easier to consider all that Sam wasn’t in the next stages of their life and marriage. And that was scary.

            The only big fight they had was after Sam returned from a stint of duty. Ana had just found out she was pregnant with her daughter, and she was excited to tell him, except Sam had a truth of his own. He had been planning to stay overseas for a lot longer than he had ever told her, and he had sprung it on four months into her pregnancy. Ana carried her baby alone, and birthed her alone. When Sam returned things had been... rough. It wasn’t until at least six months later that they had decided to stick together for their daughter and renew their bonds again. It took a lot of hard work. There were times when Ana thought that they were actually going to make it….

            But here she was, dangling her feet off of the cliffs near the Gibraltar Watchpoint, alone, dead of night on their anniversary. She had survived the night knowing about his intentions for go on a two-year tour of duty - she couldn't follow. After all that had happened recently, she just wanted one night of bliss with someone she trusted. He had left his phone on the counter while he went to pick up some garlic for their meal. It had buzzed to life and Ana had mistaken it for her own phone. She never would have looked otherwise. She saw the emails.

            Perhaps that was because she had a feeling. Sam wasn’t eating so much for Ana anymore, suddenly worried about how he looked, about his figure. Ana of course didn’t mind it, but she just wondered what had changed. They had been having fun. She, at least, had been having fun which only made her feel guilty about it, blaming herself for putting too much pressure on Sam that he felt like he had to back away from her secret desires. But no, it was because he wasn't retiring after all, not like he had promised. But then again, neither was she. 

            Ana barely remembered what happened tonight. She placed the phone back on the counter. She cooked dinner. She used the garlic Sam had brought her. They talked, they laughed, they ate, but not too much. They made love. He fell asleep. Now Ana was here. Wondering how she was going to pretend she never knew because now was the worst time of any time to know.

            “Whatcha doin’ out here?” a familiar voice asked.

             Ana had heard the signature spurs of boots drift behind her, but she hadn’t processed them. Nor, had she expected McCree to ever talk to her again. She turned to see the man, older now, chewing on a cigarillo and dipping a black hat on his head. He seemed to be in his jumpsuit, but without his full gear.

            “I could ask you the same thing, Blackwatch Boy.”

             Jesse chuckled and plopped next to her. “Ugh…ain’t findin’ much sleep these days and Gabe won’t let me smoke indoors anymore,” he murmured.

            Ana didn’t really have anything to reply to that. A big part of her wished he would leave her alone.

            “Everything all right?”

            Ana swallowed her answer.

            Jesse remained quiet for a long while.

            “It was a hard loss,” he said.

            “I know,” Ana whispered.

            “Goin’ to Rialto tomorrow. We’ll fix this. I’ll fuckin’ fix it.”

            “Sometimes there is no fixing things, Jesse. Sometimes we have to let go.”

            “How can you say that? Not till they get what they deserve,” Jesse growled out.

            Ana was too tired to argue, and Jesse released a big, drawn out sigh. He slipped closer to her and tossed an arm around her shoulder.

            “Sometimes it just takes awhile for the good stuff to catch up to us. Rough times on us now, sure. Rough times on all of us. But Ana…I gotta promise ya that we’ll get our good days back. You n’ me building sandcastles on the beach, Jack cooking burgers, Reinhardt popping the volleyball again.”

             Ana deflated into his hold and turned into his chest. She wanted to believe that.