Zürich burns red. Gabriel takes the shot, keeps taking the shot, keeps going even as hell licks at his feet, as he becomes a dead man walking, and still he takes the shot. There’s soot on his hands and grit between his teeth, flesh hanging off his ribcage in ragged strips, Jack’s name on his lips like a benediction as the Swiss Headquarters crumbles around them. Maybe there was a time before when he would have turned and walked away, but he’s realized some things since then, and if he’s being honest, it isn’t even about Overwatch anymore, or maybe it never was, just Gabriel Reyes the man and Jack Morrison the legend, and everything in between.
Zürich burns red.
“I owe you,” says Jack, who is not Jack anymore but something else, something harder and more terrible, and he only says it because it’s easier than saying I love you but it’s no less true, in the end. Gabriel looks at him in that way of his, head tilted, eyes too tired, says, “Well, tough shit.”
And sometimes Gabriel wishes Jack would just hit him instead, hit him until he’s black and blue, until he bleeds, just to see if he can bleed anymore, if there’s anything left for him to feel but the yawning hollowness between his bones. Don’t fear the reaper, his momma told him, but the thing is, he’s not afraid of death anymore. He died once back in Switzerland, died again while strapped down in an underground lab with an angel looming over him, and by now he thinks he’s got the part down. Got something right for the first time in his damn life.
See here’s the thing: there’s a bullet inside of him with Jack’s name on it, nestled in between the cold parts of his heart, and he can’t for the life of him remember how it got there, or when it was put there, or maybe it was always there and it just didn’t hurt enough for him to notice till now.
I owe you, Jack says. Gabriel does not lower his shotguns, does not let his hands tremble, does not say, I know, so kiss me or fuck me or leave me, indulge me just this once. There are a lot of things he doesn’t say. He’s getting used to it, by now.
“Mercy, she’s not what you think,” Gabriel says, and he doesn’t have to make threats by now when they both know what they’re capable of.
Jack rolls his shoulders, grunts, says, “Yeah, well, it takes one to know one.”
It’s not until later he realizes that he wasn’t just trying to die; what he wanted was for Jack to do it for him. Wanted Jack around him, in him, his hands inside his chest, digging out what’s left of his insides like he can make it permanent this time, leaving nothing for regret. Let him try to rip out the bullet there, because he can’t, he can’t, Gabriel won’t let him, if it’s the last thing he’s got to give up. When he opens his eyes he sees the scar tissue wrapping around him like crooked roots, his breath like black ink, tastes the metallic tang behind his teeth. Oh, and he runs and runs and runs and he’s not sure if it’s toward or away from, or.
“Come back to me, Gabe,” Jack says, “Please, come back.”
Gabriel tenses and snarls, “That’s not my name,” and Jack just looks back at him patiently, waiting, hoping, five years and a lifetime between them, and Gabriel can’t look him in the eyes, can’t hold on to what’s already gone, and still Jack says come back, come back like he means it this time.
And Gabriel doesn’t turn, doesn’t pull away, as Jack pulls off one glove and thumbs his mask like he can still feel the warmth from under it. “We got this all wrong, didn’t we,” Jack says.
Gabriel tips his head, finally lets the mask fall, and says, “Yeah, that’s just the problem, isn’t it?”