Angela feels a hand grab a fistful of her medical coat and yank her back.
She gasps and twists around—the clipboard in her hands is thick and metallic and she's more than willing to break it over someone's head—when her wide eyes fall upon Gabriel Reyes, who arches an eyebrow, still gripping her coat.
"The wall, Doc," he states flatly.
Angela blinks twice at him, color creeping into her cheeks as she turns around—the tautness of her coat drops as Reyes releases her—and glances at the solid wall she'd been preparing to stride right into.
"It's only because—" she begins, a defensive edge to her voice even though all Reyes has done is keep her from humiliating herself.
Reyes just holds up a dark hand to quiet her.
"The layout is flipped," he supplies, because this is the fourth time they've met like this in Angela's first two weeks at Blackwatch's building. "Back at Gibraltar, that's where your infirmary was."
It's true. The Blackwatch base had been constructed to mirror its law-abiding counterpart. Angela, whose feet had long memorized the path to her infirmary from any point in Overwatch's HQ, often finds herself taking wrong turns, ending up in everything from janitor's closets to one regrettable trip into Jesse McCree's quarters.
An accident that she still maintains is his fault for leaving his door unlocked.
She and Reyes just look at each other then. They've been doing that a lot, lately—saying things without words. Communicating through a language of eyebrow dips, mouth twitches, and head tilts.
You can leave any time you want, his arched eyebrow says.
I dare you to say that out loud, her tensed jaw replies.
"If y'all are done canoodlin' like a couple'a rookies," an unmistakable Southern drawl has Angela preemptively rolling her eyes, "we gotta situation."
Angela and Reyes step apart, both glaring at McCree, who tips his hat with a toothy grin.
"Morrison's waitin' fer ya in the war room," he explains, and Reyes strides past him with a nod. Angela loiters behind, shooting the gunslinger a sharp look for his canoodling comment. McCree just smirks back.
"Do you think this is about King's Row?" she asks.
McCree snorts, crossing his arms and making the Blackwatch logo he bares on his shoulder shift. "Knowin' Morrison, this could be a call for us to pick up his damn dry cleaning."
Angela sighs, weighing the clipboard she still holds in her hands and gently persuading herself not to whack the cowboy upside the head with it.
"Be serious, Jesse, please—"
"I honestly don' know," he amends, eyeing the clipboard in her hand like he'd just realized how sturdy it looked. "Could be King's Row. Could be a million other things." He offers her a one-armed shrug. "World of problems 'n all that, y'know?"
Angela bites back a scoff. A world of problems indeed.
She's preparing to turn back the opposite direction—to where her infirmary actually is—when she catches Reyes doubling back, leaning around the corner he'd turned to look back at her.
"Ange," he calls, frowning as he peers at her from down the hall. "You coming?"
Angela hesitates—she'd never been invited to any kind of war room meeting. Not unless her expertise as a healer was needed, and Ana usually stepped in to fill that role instead.
"Um, certainly, Commander," she calls back, cursing her unsteady reply.
McCree elbows her in the side, grinning from beneath the shadow of his hat.
"Canoodlin'," he repeats.
Angela smacks him on the shoulder with the clipboard and goes storming after Reyes.
Reyes watches her a lot.
It's a sensation she's well accustomed to—eyes on her back, tracking her steps, watching her movements—and one she's grown mostly used to. There are a million and one reasons to keep someone like her in one's sights.
She's seen herself after long operations or stretches of sleepless nights. She'd be slow to turn her back on someone like that too.
But with Reyes it feels less like she's being watched and more like she's being…studied.
Evaluated? The thought makes her chest tight.
She catches Reyes' arm as he turns to leave, and he stops immediately, looking back at her with raised eyebrows. They've just finished attending a meeting about the escalating situation in London, and Angela knows he's on his way back to his quarters to get some sleep for once in his life, but she can't stop herself.
"Are you okay?" she asks seriously, trying to search his dark eyes.
He lifts a single eyebrow at her question. "Yes?"
His hand ghosts to his ribs—a gunshot wound she'd patched up weeks ago.
"I mean with this," she hastens to explain, waving her free hand vaguely at herself. "With me. Being here."
Reyes' expression flat lines—his face goes completely blank with confusion for a moment—before he's frowning down at her.
"Yes?" he says again, shifting his weight in a way that indicates he's planning on standing in this empty meeting room with her longer than he anticipated. "Ange, did something happen—?"
"No!" she rushes out, fingers tightening instinctually where she holds his arm. The action draws both their gazes and Angela drops his arm entirely, stepping back.
"No," she repeats, collecting herself. "I just…sometimes it feels like you're watching me." A pause. "Like…like you're looking for something."
She watches as he tilts his head, crossing his arms as he considers her.
"Looking for what?" he asks, which isn't really what she'd been hoping for, if she's being honest.
Angela shrugs, a little uneasily.
"I don't know," she admits. "Sometimes I feel like you're…evaluating me. Making sure I'm not going to…you know…"
He lifts an eyebrow, staring down at her in a way that implies he does not, in fact, know.
She gestures a bit uselessly with her hands.
"I'm worried you're waiting for me to mess up," she confesses in a rush. "So you can, I don't know, have a reason to send me back to Overwatch."
Reyes, to his benefit, keeps his cool. It honestly just makes Angela more nervous.
"Why do you think I brought McCree?" he asks.
Angela shrugs, frowning at the change of topic. "I believe your exact reasoning was so that he and Jack wouldn't kill each other?"
Reyes dips his head in agreement. "That's true, but it's also because when I left, Jack told me to take people I wanted watching my back. I don't have time to waste waiting for someone to mess up, or not meet my expectations." He huffs a laugh crossing his arms. "Half the time, I don't even meet my own expectations. It's just part of the job."
Angela nods slowly, digesting his words. Reyes looks away then, studying a window across the room.
"Watching you is a leftover habit," he explains, voice much softer. "Don't think anything of it."
Angela quickly turns away so he won't see whatever the fuck-all is going on with her face after a comment like that.
"Right," she says, a bit too hurriedly. "Well, thank you for clearing that up, Commander." She moves to stride off, but Reyes calls her back.
She turns back to face him. Reyes cocks an eyebrow.
"The only way you're going back to Overwatch is if that's what you decide you want to do." He levels a look at her. "And even then, I can't promise I'll let you go easily."
"It has been statistically proven a hundred times that torture does not—"
"I know, Doc!" McCree cuts her off with an annoyed look. "Believe it er not, the Deadlock Gang was pretty fuckin' familiar with the concept."
Tension hangs like humidity in the closed-door meeting as Angela and McCree scowl at each other from across the table.
"Angela." The doctor snaps to attention at the sound of her name in Reyes' voice, though the Commander is staring down at a tablet in his hands as he paces the room. "No one here is in agreement with the concept. McCree's moral compass works just fine." He glances up at her then, and gifts her with a quick twist of his lips despite his obvious exhaustion. "Usually, anyway."
"Hardy har har," McCree laughs back sarcastically, rolling his eyes. "I ain't the shadiest motherfucker here, Reyes. Not by a long shot."
"You're not," Reyes agrees, tapping commands into the tablet. "You're also not the one suggesting we torture information out of the Omnic Overwatch picked up in their last raid."
Angela's stomach twists at the thought, but she holds her tongue this time.
"Can ya even torture an Omnic?" This from McCree, who has his thumbs hooked in his belt loops as he tracks Reyes' pacing. "I mean…there's not much to 'em by way of emotion, right?"
Angela's eyes flash to the gunslinger's, her expression just this side of scalding even though she hears the genuine question in his voice. He isn't being cruel—it's this very same brutal honesty and coldhearted viewpoint that kept him alive when he ran with Deadlock—but it makes her snarl all the same.
"He is a highly advanced technological being, Jesse," she tells him coolly, trying to swallow her anger. "Not a toaster."
Reyes pauses at this—she can hear his rhythmic pacing stop—and her face grows hot when he feels his gaze, but she stares resolutely at McCree, who treats her to a flat look, void of any of his typical humor.
"I know yer pissed, Doc," he says, and she can see him lift an eyebrow from beneath his hat. "But keep yer words outta my mouth. I say enough dumb shit on my own."
Angela swallows hard, looking away, chiding herself.
"I'm sorry," she murmurs, staring down at the files spread across the table. "I just…this is all very…"
She grits her teeth. Part of her—an overwhelming part, actually—wants to look for Reyes, to seek out his expression. But she knows what she'll find if she does.
I told you Blackwatch would be like this.
I tried to warn you about this kind of thing.
I begged you to stay behind and you didn't listen.
No. The denial cracks across her mind like a whip. You are apart of Blackwatch. You have every right to be here. Every right to be heard.
Reyes wouldn't have let you come if he didn't think you could do this.
"What if we get the answers another way?" she asks shortly, still staring at the papers fanned out around her. "This can't be the only solution."
She glances sideways, watching McCree scratch at his jaw, considering it.
"I mean," he says, shrugging. "We'd need more intel, and to get more intel, we'd need a green light from the big Oh-Doubleya."
OW means Overwatch, and Overwatch means Morrison. Angela grits her teeth.
"It's not the only solution." The doctor isn't so disrespectful as to not look at her Commander when he's speaking, and reluctantly raises her eyes to see Reyes staring right back at her. "It's just the solution that Morrison asked for."
"Fuck Morrison, then," she bites back, a fierce immediacy to her words that makes Reyes lift his eyebrows. McCree makes a noise that sounds vaguely like he's choking.
"What?" she demands, straightening up, crossing her arms. "Blackwatch does the dirty work, right? We were created to break laws and bend the truth anyway, weren't we?"
She notes her own use of we, a pronoun she used to only attach to Overwatch. Reyes' notices too, she knows—half because he notices everything, and half because his lips twitch with a smirk when it slips out.
McCree leans into her line of vision, expression doubtful.
"Ange…I really don' think Overwatch intended themselves to be the ones we lied to," he drawls.
She doesn't turn, still meeting Reyes' gaze head on.
"Even better," she says. Her heart's hammering in her chest. What the fuck is she even suggesting? Go behind Overwatch's back? "Then they won't expect it."
Pull a fast one on Jack Morrison?—fine, maybe. His attention is always on a million other things. They could make it work.
Pull a fast one on Ana Amari?—not on your life. Not on anyone's life.
She and McCree both look to Reyes. The Commander's eyes are on the table—tablet forgotten—his knuckles rapping lightly against the wood as he thinks.
"There are rumors of Omnics fighting back against the uprising," he murmurs.
Angela lifts her eyebrows. "What kind of rumors?" she asks.
"One of Overwatch's agents found the body of an Omnic in an alleyway with a handful of dead civilians," he recites lowly. "The civs' wound were all to the chest. The Omnic was shot in the back."
"Friendly fire?" McCree offers, but even he doesn't sound convinced.
"The Omnic was ransacked for parts afterwards," Reyes continues. "The damage was methodical and precise. Probably done by other Omnics."
"A traitor then," Angela suggests. "An Omnic who died protecting humans."
"If one Omnic can reject its programming, and turn against Null Sector," Reyes agrees with a nod. "There's definitely more."
"We just gotta find 'em," McCree points out.
Reyes glances sideways at the gunslinger then, eyebrows raised.
"You gotta find 'em," he corrects. "That's your next assignment. You up for it?"
Angela stops listening as they start discussing the parameters of the mission, chewing her lip in thought as she stares down at the Overwatch reports that crowd the table, wondering why none of them had mentioned this. She wonders how Reyes knew.
Because Reyes knows everything, a voice in her head chirps unhelpfully.
She starts back to the present when the door swings shut with McCree's exit, and Angela looks up to see Reyes watching her.
"You alright?" he asks, and she nods.
"Sorry for…" she gestures vaguely to the room. "I guess I'm still adjusting."
Reyes considers her for a moment, tilting his head.
"You know, you're not good enough to be here," he tells her, and Angela's breath gets caught in her chest, mouth falling open with indignation—she will tear this base apart if he even suggests she pack her bags how dare he—before he gifts her with a wry grin. "You're good enough to help make us better. That's why we listen to you. Well, that and you typically have the best plans."
Her anger dies just as quickly as it'd blazed up. Oh.
"I didn't know Blackwatch was supposed to be better," she offers.
Reyes cocks an eyebrow. "Then why'd they send their best?" he counters.
Angela just watches as he flashes her a quick smile, then turns to follow McCree.
Angela glances over her shoulder at the woman who'd spoken, lifting an eyebrow. It's still a little bizarre to her—she's used to being the elusive Overwatch doctor who never left her infirmary and took her meals alone at three in the morning. The genius that Morrison had brought in to cheat death. She had—Angela tenses, she does—consider the Overwatch strike team to be her family, and would drop anything to help any one of them at a moment's notice.
But Blackwatch is…different.
Reyes put his faith in her—in her, not just her brains or her medical expertise—and in turn, so had the rest of the organization. It's a large task—she's never prided herself on her people skills, and running a group like Blackwatch demands a certain amount of social wrangling—but when she catches sight of herself in one of the many reflective services dotted around the base—scuffed combat boots, darkwash jeans, pitch-black medical coat, Blackwatch crest stitched over her heart—she's reminded of who she is and why she's here.
Angela squares her shoulders. A lot of people are depending on her for a lot of different things.
Well…maybe not a lot of people—unless an agent has come into her infirmary, she probably hasn't spoken to them, and she's rarely around in the mess hall or other communal areas—but Reyes is depending on her, and Jesse too, even if the little shit doesn't always say so.
"Yes?" she prompts, a bit belatedly.
The woman hands her a tablet. The pair of injured agents Angela had been speaking to dutifully avert their eyes as the Blackwatch doctor takes it in her hands.
"Commander Reyes is unavailable at the moment. On assignment with Overwatch in Russia. It seemed appropriate to defer to you."
Well there's a concept that will keep Angela up for days.
Still, she lets her gaze sweep across the screen, frowning as she tries to get a handle on what she's looking at. In this moment, she suddenly appreciates all the times Reyes has been given something—a document, a communication device, a laptop, a photo—without any context or preamble, and he instantly knows what it is, why he's looking at it, and what needs to be done.
She's not as practiced as Blackwatch's Commander, but in a few moments, her expression clears. Security logs. She's looking at security logs for the base.
She flicks her gaze back to the woman, trying very hard to make it not seem like she's asking for a clue.
The woman coughs awkwardly into her fist. "You, uh, may want to check the ID logged at fifteen hundred hours," she suggests.
Angela's brow furrows. Fifteen hundred hours is three o'clock, which—by her unnervingly accurate internal clock—had just passed.
She drops her gaze back to the screen, searching…
"Jesse McCree," she growls, roughly passing the tablet back to the woman as she strides past her towards the infirmary, black coat snapping behind her
She sees him before he sees her—a phenomenon not common with the deadeye gunslinger—and frowns when she sees him apparently bent over something on her operating table.
"Well, this is a surprise," she bites out when she crosses the threshold of her infirmary, combat boots cracking under her angry footfalls. "Considering Reyes sent you to King's Row four days ago on a six week mission."
Her sharp tone belies her worry. What the fuck could have happened to make him pull out of a mission so early? And without calling? Jesse McCree leaves missions one of two ways: returning home with success, or being dragged bodily out of the field by Reyes after a failure.
"Jesse?" she tries to temper her tone, sidestepping him to get a better look, whole body tensed as her instincts rail at her that something's wrong something's wrong something's so very fucking wrong—
He turns, and years of her chosen profession keep her expression neutral as she takes in the blood he's covered in.
"What happened." The words are clipped and practiced as she draws closer, scanning his injuries, cataloguing the worst ones she finds, narrowed eyes flitting between the openly bleeding wounds and the deep bruises. "Jesse, what—?"
And then she sees him. Or, at least, what's left of him.
"Let m' explain," McCree coughs out.
Angela can't look away.
There—on the hard metal of her operating table—is the mangled, bloodied body of a young man with dark hair and familiar tattoos on what's left of his right arm.
"Jesse, what the actual fuck—"
"I barely got him back here," McCree rushes out. "Just hear me out, Doc."
Angela steps closer, whole body tensed.
So McCree explains how he'd been minding his own business, getting the mission set up, then he'd heard shouting and had gone to investigate, found the dueling Shimada brothers, watched as Genji had apparently offered himself up at the end, and McCree had been compelled to chase off the older brother. When he'd turned back around, the younger brother had leapt towards him, sword drawn—
"You shot him?" Angela demands when he gets to that part of the story.
"It was a nonlethal shot to the leg!" McCree argues, a defensive lilt to his voice like he's being accused of cheating on an exam and not hunting down a lethal heir to an empire of criminals—
"Jesse." Angela's voice is taut as a wire. "It doesn't matter if the shot is nonlethal when your target is already dead."
"He ain't dead," McCree snaps. His eyes dart to the boy who lies on the bed, doing a very convincing impression of a dead person. "Not that dead, anyway."
"Jesse." She rubs her temples with both hands. "There are not degrees of deadness."
"You can save him!" McCree insists, stepping forward, every aspect of his body language begging for her help. "C'mon, Ange. Please."
Angela drops her gaze back to the boy. He draws a ragged breath that sounds like he's drowning and her mind is suddenly racing with all the different things that are doubtlessly wrong with him and he needs and IV and a drip and she's got to stabilize him and she's got to get her hands on some of that of Omnic biotech—
"I saw him go down," McCree tells her lowly. "I saw the whole fight. It ain't fair what happened to him."
"It isn't fair what he's done to most people," Angela counters softly. But even as she says the words she doesn't believe them. Fairness is not an accurate scale. It never has been. Nothing is fair.
McCree's staring at her—she can feel his buckshot gaze boring a hole in the side of her skull as she gazes down at the battered and broken Shimada heir.
This is a judgment call. And for once it's all hers.
That means if it goes horribly wrong, all the blame will be on you.
Her jaw tightens.
No more orders to hide behind, Ange. Pull the trigger or don't.
She thinks back to her first meeting with Jesse. How Reyes had railed and railed against everyone in Overwatch to spare the gunslinger and give him another chance. She'd watched silently as Reyes had vouched for him—putting his own honor and prestige at stake just so Morrison would give the okay for her to stitch the scrappy outlaw back together.
Her eyes trace the remains of Genji Shimada.
"Go get yourself cleaned up," she tells him brusquely, turning on her heel to start collecting supplies from the corner of the room. "And tell everyone the infirmary's closed."
Angela finds him sitting on the steps out back, overlooking the training fields.
The morning air bites as she steps out into it, holding a blanket around her shoulders. Yesterday's clothes are stiff with blood and sweat, but it's nothing she isn't used to as she steps carefully across to the staircase with two cups of coffee in her hands.
"Hey," she greets the gunslinger softly, knocking his shoulder with the bottom of a coffee cup.
McCree jolts so badly he almost knocks the cup out of her hands, and Angela hisses as she pulls back, trying to keep the burning hot liquid off her hands.
"Easy," she murmurs, searching his eyes when she lowers the drink back towards him. "It's only me."
"Sorry," he mutters back, accepting the cup.
Still eyeing him, she flops rather ungracefully beside him on the stairs. McCree truly looks awful—still clothed in the filthy mission clothes he'd returned in yesterday, dark shadows bruising the skin beneath his eyes, hair hanging limp and matted with blood. She wonders where his hat went.
She huffs in sympathy, hands twitching with the sudden desire to card her fingers through his hair and push it up out of his eyes. The action reminds her too much of Ana.
"You need a haircut, cowboy," she says instead, settling in closely beside him, their shoulders resting up against each other. "You look terrible."
He just grunts in acknowledgment, taking a long sip from the coffee cup, eyes both a thousand miles away and nowhere at all.
"I'm serious," she continues. "I just pulled an all-nighter with my arms elbow deep in somebody's chest cavity. I know what I'm talking about."
A short, breathy laugh—more scoff than anything—is her only answer. Angela sighs.
"Hey." She nudges him gently, trying to draw his gaze. He glances at her blearily. "You did the right thing, Jesse, okay? A lot of people would've left him for dead."
His eyes fall back on the coffee cup in his hands.
"I think a couple month ago I woulda left him fer dead," he mutters back.
Angela allows this with a nod, idly tapping her fingers out in a silent rhythm on her own mug.
"Probably," she agrees, because she's not in the business of lying to those she cares about. "If it's any consolation, a couple of months ago I would've been ordered to leave him for dead, and I honestly probably would have listened."
McCree nods as he considers this, still staring out at the fields. Some Blackwatch agents are out, running drills and exercises. Angela finds herself combing the field for a familiar face, before she remembers—right. The mission to Volskaya.
Silence falls between them for a moment—soft and companionable. She wonders—off-handedly—what their relationship would be like if she hadn't come to Blackwatch. It's not that she can't picture her life without McCree—she had thousands and thousands of hours logged at Overwatch before Reyes came barging in with the outlaw tucked under his arm—but she doesn't really want to.
"He's going to make it, you know," she tells him quietly. She sees him holding himself tightly against the brisk morning air and shifts the blanket to throw half of it over his broad shoulders. He gives her a peeved look, which she counters with an arched eyebrow, and with a roll of his eyes he tugs it around himself.
"I ain't a child," he mutters, but she can see him loosen up at the extra warmth.
"Because only children get cold," she deadpans back, taking another sip of coffee. "Naturally."
McCree sighs. "Thanks," he mumbles after a bit, idly picking at the edge of the coffee cup. "For…y'know…"
"It's my duty and my privilege," Angela answers airily. She smirks when she feels his exasperated look. "I'm teasing. Of course you're welcome, Jesse. It's what needed to be done."
He just heaves a sigh, and Angela watches as he tips sideways—slumping over until his head is resting on her shoulder. Angela glances down at him with a curious look as he shuts his eyes.
"I didn' sleep much."
She can see his smile flash white against brown skin. Oh no.
"Did'ya spike my coffee like you did Reyes'?" he asks.
Angela sighs sharply, rolling her eyes up to the sky.
"That was one time and it's only because he was actively refusing to sleep and I did not spike his coffee that would have killed him I just—"
But McCree is laughing—endlessly amused with himself, as always—and she lets it go with an annoyed tsk, lifting her coffee cup to her lips.
"D'ya ever regret leaving Overwatch?" he asks lazily. There's sleep in his voice. She wonders if he's going to remember this conversation.
"No," she says simply, shrugging the shoulder not occupied by the gunslinger. "I love Blackwatch."
Silence returns. Angela listens to the steady rise and fall the gunslinger's breathing.
"Do you want to call Reyes?" she eventually asks, glancing at him. The list of things she would do on behalf of Blackwatch's Commander is dizzyingly long—thinking about it is looking down a flight of stairs that just descends into darkness. She has no way of knowing how far she'll go until she's there.
But still, she's not so arrogant or selfish as to think her relationship with Reyes—another thing she doesn't like to mentally linger on—trumps all his other rapports. He and Jesse are impossibly close—she won't be offended if he wants his mentor's input on what to do with one misplaced Shimada heir. She won't even be surprised.
Jesse sits up instead, giving her an unusual glance. Without his hat, she has a clear view of his face, and watches his strange expression.
"'M mean," he says, still looking her over curiously, like he's missing a joke Angela doesn't remember telling. "I kinda thought I'd just ask you." He offers an unsteady shrug at her continued perplexity. "Yer sorta…I mean, Reyes kinda left you with the keys to Blackwatch, an' we all know he'll go along with anything you decide anyway."
Angela doesn't know what to say, so she just stares.
The gunslinger misreads her silence, and pulls one hand off his coffee cup—the bloodstains on his gloves leave a crimson handprint that draws her gaze—to hold up in front of himself, hastily trying to save face he hasn't lost—
"Not 'cause like—I mean, fuck we all know—it ain't—" McCree fumbles horribly for words, and Angela just watches, completely at a loss for what he's trying to express to her.
"He agrees with ya because he knows yer a damn genius. Not because of—" Angela wishes she were in a place where she could better appreciate the flush that splashes across McCree's cheeks. "—other things."
"Other things," she repeats, lifting an eyebrow. "Like…?"
McCree's brown face is positively scarlet. "Yer not serious."
Angela opens her mouth to reply, when a shadow falls over them. Her lips quirk up instead.
She turns around, facing away from McCree and missing his grumbled, "speak of the fuckin' devil," to look up at Reyes.
"You're back early," she notes, offering him a half-smile.
He nods, surveying the practice fields before dropping his gaze to hers. A small smile tugs at his lips.
"Got a weird call about some gunslinger who came back weeks early from assignment, a half-dead assassin, and a doctor who probably hasn't slept in a good fifty hours trying to wrangle them both." He shrugs, playing for casual. "Thought I'd check it out."
"To be fair, the half-dead assassin didn't require much wrangling," Angela remarks, taking a sip of her coffee. "And I've only been up for thirty hours."
Reyes just scoffs, rolling his eyes.
"Get to bed. Both of you," he grumbles, before turning away. "Or I'll drug you."
McCree cackles and Angela lets her head fall back with a groan.
"It was one time!"
"Cadet Oxton," Angela greets the girl kindly. "It's a pleasure to meet you."
The girl's eyes are wide as she looks around—the screens in the infirmary reflect brightly off her irises—and Angela smiles lightly. She's so overwhelmed, she's missed the doctor's greeting.
"Cadet Oxton?" Angela folds her arms against her chest, arching an amused eyebrow as she leans forward to level herself with the seated woman. "Lena?"
She starts, a small gasp escaping her as her gazes focuses in on Angela.
"Oh! Dr. Ziegler!" Her spine snaps to attention—eyes still flipped wide—and Angela places a thin hand on her arm before she can lift it up in a salute.
"Settle down, Cadet." A smirk pulls at Angela's lips as she straightens back up. "It's only me. No need to be so formal."
"Um, of course, ma'am," she hastens to say, arm still hovering awkwardly, like her brain is still ordering a salute. "I—sorry, I just, I didn't—you're kind of a legend, ma'am, so I'm a little—"
She snaps her mouth shut then—color pooling in her cheeks and dusting the tips of her ears—and Angela just shifts her weight with a small laugh.
"Well, I don't know what you've heard, but I assure you I'm nothing extraordinary."
She glances up to see the cadet fixing her with a poorly disguised look of doubt.
"But…you're Dr. Ziegler," she tries, and Angela is willing to give her full marks for at least not actively trying to sound pushy. "You invented the Valkyrie suit! You were brought onto Overwatch when you were, like, nineteen!"
Angela smiles softly as she collects a clipboard carrying the cadet's data. She's only in for a check-up, but Morrison had sent her to Angela due to Lena's unique relationship with time and space—and specifically her placement in it. The girl is, in Angela's professional opinion, completely fine thanks to the chronal accelerator she wears across her chest, and the doctors at Overwatch are more than qualified.
As they should be. She'd handpicked all of them before leaving.
But Lena Oxton is bright and cheerful and enchanted by every aspect of Blackwatch, so Angela's glad she was sent her way.
"I was twenty-three," the doctor offers.
Lena heaves a very theatrical sigh, and Angela's lips quirk in amusement at her dramatics.
"Still," the cadet maintains. "You were a huge inspiration!" She shifts slightly in her seat, and Angela watches her curiously.
"You…well, stories about you…it's part of the reason I joined up," she mumbles, looking down at her hands, face flushed with embarrassment.
Angela pauses, looking up to stare at the young girl, touched.
"Oh," she says. "I'm…I'm honored, Cadet, really."
Lena shrugs like it's no big deal.
"My town…I'm from King's Row," she rushes out, still not meeting Angela's gaze. "When Null Sector rose up…and people were just dying in the streets…I couldn't just…I had to do something."
Angela works her jaw. She knows that feeling—perhaps a bit too well.
"Don't worry," she tells the other woman, giving her her best optimistic smile. "Between Overwatch and Blackwatch, we'll have the situation under control in the very near future.
Lena cocks her head at this. "Blackwatch?"
Angela nods. "Well, yes. Overwatch rarely makes a movement in situations like this without first reviewing Blackwatch intelligence."
Lena seems to consider her words, brow puckering in thought.
"Why did you leave, Doctor?"
Angela goes still for a moment, hands freezing over her work.
"I beg your pardon?"
She glances behind her—needing to see the woman's face, needing to have something to read, needing some kind of control—to watch as the cadet goes absolutely scarlet, mouth snapping shut.
"I'm so sorry, ma'am, I didn't mean—"
"It's alright," Angela cuts her off, voice soothing and calm. "Everyone thinks it, I'm sure."
In truth, no one has ever outright asked her such a question. Why. Why had she left Overwatch?
"I wanted to follow Commander Reyes," she says slowly, leaning back against the counter opposite Lena and folding her arms across her chest, frowning at the floor in thought.
Lena tilts her head, still flushed from her last social gaff, but apparently more curious than embarrassed.
"Did you work with him a lot at Overwatch?" she asks.
Angela shakes her head. "Not really," she murmurs. "I mostly answered to Morrison. But we still knew each other very well. He was…he has this way of inspiring greatness without really any effort, it seems."
She flicks her gaze up to see Lena watching her with rapt attention.
"I came to Blackwatch because I wanted a chance to achieve that greatness," she finishes, shrugging. It's not the whole truth, but not even Angela is sure she knows what the whole truth is.
Lena nods, looking like she's pondering the doctor's words with the utmost seriousness.
"I…I want to believe people can achieve greatness at Overwatch too," she confesses.
Angela feels her lips curve in a slightly sharp smile.
"You can," she says simply. "Someday you'll be honored at Overwatch, I'm sure."
And she means it. Cadet Oxton's marks are already leagues higher than most recruits'.
But Lena still looks unconvinced.
"And you won't be?" she asks.
"There's a different kind of glory with Blackwatch," Angela explains. "It's…it's the kind of thing you don't get a medal for. You just look inside yourself, and know you've changed for the better."
A beat. Angela shifts her weight.
"Can you keep a secret, Cadet?" she asks, lifting an eyebrow.
Lena blinks, caught off-guard.
"Can I what?" she asks.
"Keep a secret," Angela repeats, studying the girl closely. "From Overwatch. Well, Jack Morrison, specifically."
Lena's eyes go wide. "You want me to lie to the Commander?" she asks in obvious disbelief.
Angela chews her lip for a moment. She's going about this the wrong way.
"How fast can you actually move?" Angela questions instead, already reaching for the clipboard she uses specifically for Genji.
Lena tilts her head, considering it. "Well, with the three charges I'm allotted, I can blink about thirty feet—"
Angela lifts a hand to cut her off, and Lena falls silent with a confused look.
"How fast can you move, Cadet. Period."
It takes a second, but then there's a grin splitting the young woman's face.
"I can't be caught." Her tone is absolute, but her eyes gleam with the thrill of a challenge.
Angela smiles back. Genji's in sore need of some competition, and she has faith that this cadet is as fast as she claims.
"How do you feel about a spar before heading back to Overwatch?"
"Deputy Director?" Angela's voice is riddled with uncertainty.
McCree snorts at her tone, pulling his hat down to cover his eyes as he leans back in his chair, arms folded behind his head.
"Easy on the confidence there, Ange," he drawls, voice as heavy with sarcasm as it is his Southern accent. "No need to get such a high opinion of yerself."
Her eyes snap to the cowboy—he's chuckling from beneath the brim of his hat, damn him—before looking back to Reyes, who just quirks a brow at her.
"You can say no," he says, tone betraying nothing because he's about as good at hiding his emotions as Angela is bad at reading them. He's like Amari that way—quiet in his expressions, a soft-spoken body language. Angela and Morrison wore their hearts on their sleeves like badges of honor, and granted, everyone—Amari, Reyes, Morrison McCree, Reinhardt, Torbjörn, Angela herself—could all be counted on to lose their heads every once in a while, but those two always played their cards close to their chests.
At first, when Angela had come with him to Blackwatch, she thought maybe she'd somehow gotten better at reading him, but she thinks it has more to do with him dropping his guard around the Blackwatch base.
Now, however, they stare at each other, an offer on the table.
"I just…" she fumbles briefly, trying to disentangle her own thoughts. "I'm not exactly trained in that way, Reyes—"
"Are you really going to bring up formal training with Jesse sitting right here in comparison?" Reyes deadpans, arching an eyebrow at her.
The legs of McCree's chair clap sharply as he slams back down, pushing his hat out of his eyes to glare at Reyes.
"Well excuse the hell outta me, Commander," McCree interjects hotly. "Didn't realize we had such high expectations 'round here. Ya wanna see my fuckin' résumé?"
"Seen it. Not impressed," Reyes replies, smirking at the gunslinger.
McCree flips him off, but Reyes is already looking back at Angela.
"I trust you," he states plainly, offering a shrug. "That's really the only requirement there is. Anything more—like, say, purely for example, being one of the leading medical authorities in the world—is just extra."
"Extra bullshit," McCree mutters, still nursing his pride.
Angela tilts her head. "Will I have authority over Jesse?" she asks, fighting to keep her tone neutral when the gunslinger's gaze snaps to hers. "Just asking. No reason."
Reyes lifts his eyebrows. "Don't you already have authority over him?"
McCree pushes roughly away from the table, and Angela and Reyes exchange smirks.
"Alright, I get it. Y'all suck, and I ain't goin' outta my way to help ya next time," he remarks, scowling as he pulls from the room.
"Do not bother Genji," Angela calls after him with a frown. "I'm serious, Jesse, he needs rest."
The gunslinger throws up a hand to show he hears her before ducking around the corner, out of sight.
Angela watches him go with a sigh, while Reyes just keeps his smirk.
"He makes it too easy," the Commander murmurs, and Angela just nods in agreement.
They both stare down at the table between them, silent.
"Do you really want me to be Deputy Director?" she asks quietly, hazarding a glance up at him.
He lifts an eyebrow, meeting her gaze. "I'm not really in the business of asking for things I don't want, Doc," he tells her evenly.
She bites her lip, lowering her eyes.
"I get that you're unsure," he tells her quietly. "I get your hesitation. It's a lot, and I've been asking you for a lot for a long time. But you can say no."
"It's just, when I think of Deputy Director, I think of Ana," Angela explains. "And I don't think anyone could fault me for being wary at the idea of filling a role like hers."
Reyes dips his head in agreement. "But to be fair," he adds, and she looks up at the sound of a smile in his voice, his dark eyes warm with humor. "Part of the reason Ana's job is so hard is because Jack fucks up all the time."
Angela laughs under her breath, shaking her head. "Yes, but you come with McCree," she points out.
Reyes looks away, cursing the gunslinger under his breath, but there's no heat to it. He pushes away to stand up, and Angela is suddenly seized with decision.
She wants this. She has no idea what this is—just like she didn't know what Blackwatch was, or what leaving Overwatch would mean. She'd trusted the steadfast certainty of Gabriel Reyes and simply walked on.
She'd follow Reyes to the ends of the earth at this point. She'd always hated jokes about her being some kind of guardian angel but she'll defend Blackwatch with any bit of deific powers she has.
"We can talk it over late—"
"I'll do it," she blurts out.
Reyes blinks, surprised, frozen halfway upright. "Wait, really?" He frowns, lowering himself back into the seat. "Ange, you can think it over if—"
"I'm not really in the business of doing things I don't want to do, boss," she tells him flippantly, and reaches for the documents to sign.
Reinhardt's loud voice booms through the halls, and the doctor has a brief moment to brace herself before she's being swept up off the ground—
"Hallo, Reinhardt," she greets him, smiling fondly as the great man hugs her tightly, laughing all the while.
"Put 'er down, ya big hunk of armor," Torbjörn grumbles, and Angela smiles as she's set down with impossible gentleness to see the engineer approaching, hat drawn low over his eyes.
"Hello to you as well, Torbjörn," she says kindly.
Her old friend just grunts in acknowledgement, and before Angela can tease him further, a streak of blue darts into the holding bay.
"Oh! Dr. Ziegler!" Lena seems to almost screech to a halt as she throws her arm up in a hasty salute, eyes wide behind her visor. "It's good to see you again, ma'am!"
"At ease, Cadet," Angela tells her, still laughing. Her face hurts from all the smiling. "I'm not your commanding officer."
I'm not even an Overwatch officer, she wants to add.
It's impossible to miss. Lena, Reinhardt, and Torbjörn are all decked out in Overwatch's traditional blue, white, and yellow, while Angela sits in a Valkyrie suit of black, white, and red.
She and Lena sit shoulder to shoulder, their contrasting sigils brushing against each other. The cadet is unusually quiet—and Angela studies her gloomy expression with concern.
"Lena," she offers quietly, reaching out to lay a hand over the cadet's tense fist. The girl snaps to attention, swinging her wide eyes over to the doctor. "It's going to be okay."
Lena's throat bobs with a hard swallow, but she nods anyway.
Reinhardt moves into the holding bay then, taking a seat across from them in the enormous holding bay, Torbjörn following after.
"So," Torbjörn drawls, leaning back in his seat to gaze at her, arching an eyebrow over his good eye. "Just where 'n the hell have you been?"
Angela levels a flat look at him.
"Sweden," she deadpans. "I was staying with your wife and children, Torbjörn. Didn't they tell you? I've been having such a lovely time."
Reinhardt laughs uproariously—the noise practically shaking the holding bay they're seated in. Lena cracks a smile as well, uncertain of the inside joke but delighted at the doctor's sarcasm.
"You must tell us everything!" Reinhardt exclaims. "Our Angela is a Blackwatch agent! And Deputy Director too! Ana was so proud she cried."
"You were the one who cried," Torbjörn points out dryly.
Angela just laughs again. "It's wonderful, Rein," she tells him. At his insistence, she spends most of the flight to London sharing stories from her time at Blackwatch—had it been a year already?—pausing when Reinhardt interjects, or Lena asks a question, always keeping an eye on Torbjörn, who takes in her tales with a neutral expression.
"I've never been prouder of my work," Angela finishes with a small shrug. "Reyes and I work very well together."
"I don' doubt that last part," Torbjörn returns, giving her a look too steely to be played for laughs.
Angela hears the change in tone before the others, and her eyes narrow.
"I beg your pardon?" She's unrehearsed for masking her temper and it shows. Rein's laughter quiets immediately, and she can feel his frown even as she gazes back at Torbjörn.
"I'm just glad to hear you're settling in so nicely at Blackwatch," the engineer goes on, a quiet unkindness to his voice that Angela doesn't like.
"I have settled there," Angela agrees, words lightly chilled. "I've found great success and happiness there, Torbjörn."
He scoffs at this, and Angela's fingers reflexively tighten on her staff.
"Oh, trust me dear, that I don' doubt at all."
"Torbjörn …" Reinhardt glances sideways at his friend, while Lena is looking between the two Overwatch legends with a very stark look of concern.
"Not sayin' anything that isn't true," the engineer points out.
"You're also not saying anything that needs to be said," Angela counters.
A jolt runs through the holding bay at the carrier's landing, and light floods the area when the doors slide open.
She and Torbjörn are still staring at each other.
Reinhardt hustles Lena out quickly, turning around to give the two of them a hard look before disappearing out into the London sun.
Angela breaks the stare down first—it's something she learned to do with McCree ages ago—and goes to follow.
She feels a hand on her arm, and glances down even though she's recognized Torbjörn's touch for years.
"I don' mean to be hard on ya," he mutters, stubbornly avoiding her gaze. She smiles softly at his familiar gruffness. "I just…it's hard, with ya being gone all this time. Old men like me and Rein—we worry, ya know?" He glances up at her then, single eye bright and serious. "We miss ya."
Angela smiles. "I miss you all as well," she tells him. And she means it. She misses Reinhardt's bold, booming voice. She misses Torbjörn's occasional curse rattling out from beneath a vehicle he's working on. She misses Ana's warm voice offering smooth instructions. She misses the slow, small smiles that would occasionally cross Morrison's face, clearing out the worry lines.
"I'm still me, Torbjörn," she tells him softly, wondering if the statement is for his benefit or hers. She offers him a small smile. "Really. I am."
He smiles back at her then, patting her arm.
"I know, I know," he assures her. "Just…keep it that way, yeah?"
She nods back. "Of course."
A pause. He looks her up and down.
"Ya know…the black suits you," he eventually remarks, almost to himself, before turning to head over to where Reinhardt and Lena are reviewing their orders. Angela takes a step to follow him, when there's suddenly a voice in her ear—
"You read me, Mercy?"
Angela frowns, touching her earpiece.
"Reyes?" she asks, recognizing his voice but unsure why she's hearing it. "Are we not using the main channel?"
"Just wanted to check in with you. Be careful out there. If things go sideways, McCree and Genji are around." He rattles the information off, quick and confident.
Angela's lips quirk. "I'm not going to need saving by a couple of rookies, Commander. Some faith, please."
"I know you know I can hear ya, Doc," McCree's voice crackles in, annoyed. "An' I haven't been a rookie in years."
"Your shooting suggests otherwise," is Genji's smooth reply, and Angela lifts a fist to smother her laughter from those not in on Blackwatch's private line.
"Hey, Genji, ain't that the cadet that laid you flat on yer ass that one time?"
"How someone wearing a cowboy hat can muster a superior tone of voice is honestly miraculous to me."
"Focus, you two," Reyes cuts across their bickering. "Just be glad Ana decided to stay back at HQ for this one. If she ever saw you, not even I could bail you out."
The boys fall silent, and Angela glances over her shoulder to see the group getting ready to move.
"Anything else, Commander?" she asks. "I think we're going to get started."
There's a brief moment of silence. Angela tries not to dwell on it.
"I'm watching your back," he reminds her. She can hear the smile in his voice too. "Do Blackwatch proud out there, yeah?"
She preens a bit, knowing he's got a camera on her somewhere.
She hears his answering chuckle, before there's a pause, and then—
"Reyes here. Latest Blackwatch intelligence indicates heavy Null Sector numbers inside the power station…"
Blackwatch's base is fairly empty.
It feels strange, Angela reflects. The constant noise and movement of all of Blackwatch's agents—and her place in the swing of things, not barricaded back in her infirmary—is what took the longest to get used to, but now she finds herself oddly missing it.
The King's Row situation has been resolved, and with nothing looming on the horizon, Reyes had kicked just about everyone out, insisting they take time for themselves before he has to call them all back again for god knows how long.
Even McCree and Genji had left—though only after promising to share their location with Angela and Reyes at least once a week and not do anything excessively stupid—and Angela soaks up the silence as she and Reyes sit in her infirmary, each wrapped up in their own work.
"You always yell at me when I sit on your table," Reyes comments, glancing across the room. Angela hooks her ankles together where her legs dangle off the side of the large metal operating table that dominates the center of her infirmary, perched neatly on its edge, focused on a tablet in her hands.
"When you clean the table everyday, then you can sit on it," she returns, drawing a smirk out of Reyes, who had seen nothing in her expression that indicated she'd even been listening. She uses her knuckle to scroll down on the screen, text reflecting off the lenses of her glasses.
Something about her tone seems to tip Reyes off, and he lowers his papers, studying her for a moment. When she doesn't acknowledge his gaze, he frowns.
"What are you looking at?" he asks.
He sees Angela tense—her entire being seizes up for a half second, like a string being yanked taut—before she continues scrolling like nothing had happened.
Reyes watches her, dully remembering when he would have missed such a quirk.
"I still get KIA reports from Overwatch."
The confession is quick and harsh. Reyes can only stare, holding himself stiffly in the office chair.
"I have to read them, Gabe," she murmurs. He sees her eyes narrow behind her glasses as she scrolls on. "You know that."
He holds in a sigh—because he does know that. Just like he knows no amount of reasoning, bargaining, or plain begging will get her to stop.
This phantom guilt that she wraps herself in worries him constantly. He knows anyone else—himself included—would have folded under the weight of it years ago, but she continues on, shouldering more and more blame until he's sure she'll ruin herself.
It's a testament, he decides, to her nature—both resilient and haunted—that she can manages this much remorse, and that she decides to take it on in the first place.
And while he doesn't boast a heart as sturdy as hers, he can do his part to try and lessen her load.
The wheels of the office chair squeak as Reyes pushes himself off of her desk to go rolling across the infirmary floor. Angela glances up as he braces his arms against her knees to stop himself, before pulling closer, folding his arms over her lap and laying his head down on the back of them, her knees digging into his chest, his mess of dark hair curling against her white undershirt.
She's completely still against him, save for the gentle swell of her breathing.
"Go on then," he mutters, closing his eyes and settling in. "Read 'em."
She understands. Of course she does.
There's a beat of silence, but Reyes knows her hesitation has nothing to do with him.
"Ramirez, Lita," she eventually recites, and he lets go of a breath she didn't even know he'd been holding.
It's been a while, but Angela hasn't forgotten her way around Overwatch.
She'd managed to haul McCree in by herself, fiercely ignoring the eyes she felt on her as she pulled the half-dead gunslinger to her old infirmary.
One blazing look from Blackwatch's second-in-command and the medical staff in the room had vanished.
She knows it's only a matter of time before someone—Reinhardt, Torbjörn, Ana, Morrison—comes looking for her. She works as quickly as she can, ignoring her own injuries as she tries to stabilize McCree with equipment that feels odd and foreign under her hands.
She hears the door when it opens but doesn't turn, focus pulled entirely to the boy bleeding out under her steady hands.
"Not everyday we get a visit from Blackwatch's Deputy Director," Morrison remarks upon entering. Angela's features twitch with dislike. It couldn't have been Reinhardt, could it?
"I'm busy, Jack," she tells him stiffly, reaching out with bloody fingers to adjust the dial on a nearby piece of equipment.
"I've got time."
Angela glares down at the unconscious face of McCree, stewing.
She knows a threat when she hears one.
She turns around then, and Morrison gets his first look at her patient. He frowns, titling his head as recognition flickers across his face.
"Deadlock Gang?" he verifies.
Angela glares. "Blackwatch," she bites back.
Morrison lifts an eyebrow at her tone.
"You're at the Overwatch base, Angela," he reminds her lowly, as if she'd somehow forgotten. "Mind yourself."
"I didn't have time to get him to Blackwatch," she explains tightly. "I don't want to be here anymore than you want me here. Just let me do some minor work and then we'll be out of your way."
"No need," Morrison says, taking a step closer. "I've been wanting to chat with our friendly arms dealer for a while."
The tension on the room shifts abruptly, and Angela's eyes narrow.
"Leave him be, Jack," she says, the barest hint of malice gracing her words. She takes a step forward, boots thumping distinctively in the silent room as she moves to place herself between the two men. Her black Valkyrie suit stands out boldly in the pristine white of the infirmary, and the red light it casts bathes her in an eerie crimson glow.
It's a power play McCree can't quite appreciate in his current state, but Morrison's eyes narrow at the action.
There's no sound save for the shallow breathing of McCree and the various beeps and whirrs of the equipment. She arches an eyebrow at Morrison's increasingly dissatisfied gaze.
"I was under the impression that you didn't much care for the outlaw, Doctor," he tells her. There's a careful cadence to his voice—taut with anger simmering just below the surface.
"He has a name, Jack," Angela counters lowly. She folds her arms across her chest, watching as Morrison's too-bright eyes flash to the Blackwatch sigil branded into her suit's shoulder.
More silence—Angela sizes the Strike Commander up, wondering when she lost the ability to read his mood.
"You've changed, Angela," he eventually murmurs, lifting his gaze from her shoulder to her eyes. There's a darkness there that hadn't previously been. Angela feels her chin lift—a prideful reflex she didn't even know she possessed.
His words spark a rage in her that is tired and old, but still bares its teeth when prodded too hard.
"I have," she agrees lowly, tone tightrope taut. "Sort of how life works."
Morrison just sighs then, dropping his head and raking a hand through his hair. She notices it's a more white gold than its previous blonde. She'd thought it to be a trick of the infirmary lights, but she thinks age just might be catching up with the Commander.
"Alright," he mutters, and Angela goes tense. She doesn't like the definitive snap of authority in his voice.
"Alright what?" she asks, assessing him sharply as she shifts her weight to the side, trying to hide McCree entirely behind her frame. The action kicks her wings out, blocking him from view.
"You can treat him here," Morrison tells her. "Then I get to talk to him."
Angela scowls—temper going supernova at his flippant decision. She should just accept his grace and get on with her life but something—Blackwatch? Reyes' influence? Her own damned fucking stubbornness?—makes her dig her heels in.
"I don't remember asking for your permission," she tells him lowly. "And you aren't talking to him."
"You can't have it both ways, Angela," Morrison tells her, voice suddenly sharp. "You're either an agent of Overwatch and you listen to me or you're an agent of Blackwatch and you have no business here—"
"I can't have it both ways?" Angela demands. "You're the one who sweeps into our base like you're somehow in charge in that god-awful coat when you know not a single agent there gives a damn what you say unless Reyes agrees—"
"Blackwatch was made to serve Overwatch!" Morrison shouts. "I am in charge!"
The thing, Angela's learned, about working around death as long as she has, is you gain access to a certain expression that not everyone can wear. It's the way your features arrange themselves after you've started into the face of death over and over and over again.
She fixes Morrison with such a look—a look of absolute fucking death—and speaks.
"I am not an agent of Overwatch." Angela's voice is dark and hollow, like the creaking of the gallows chain. "I'm the Deputy Director of Blackwatch. And I don't take orders from you."
Morrison gazes back at her, but at that moment, McCree returns with a gasping breath, and Angela turns her back on the Strike Commander without a second thought.
Angela frowns, immediately pulled from her work at the unfamiliar voice, looking over her shoulder to see a man in an Overwatch uniform standing in the doorway of her infirmary, gun drawn and pointed at the floor.
McCree rises from where he'd been sitting at her desk, doodling profanities onto her whiteboard, but he's all business in two seconds flat. Angela watches his expression harden as he crosses the floor to stand beside her, one hand ghosting towards his sidearm.
"Who's askin'?" the gunslinger asks, a rough cut to his voice.
Angela appreciates the gesture—particularly because she herself is unarmed at the moment—but she plants a thin hand on McCree's chest anyway, cautioning him with a look.
"Who are you?" she asks, quick-freezing her words with as much chill as she can manage. From the look of surprise that crosses the agent's face, she can manage a lot.
"He's with me."
Angela goes still as the voice drifts in from the hallway, and watches as the Overwatch agent hastily holsters his weapon, looking back at whoever is approaching. The speaker must make some gesture, because he ducks out a moment later, tips of his ears bright red.
"You'll have to forgive him," Ana Amari says from the doorway. "Overwatch agents can get very…overzealous when dealing with Blackwatch." She offers a thin smile. "Family feud and all that."
"Ana." Angela almost chokes on the name—coughs it out through stiff lips and gritted teeth.
The sharpshooter lifts a silver eyebrow as she eases into the infirmary. Angela can feel McCree's heart hammering under her fingers where she still holds a hand to his chest.
"My, my," the woman murmurs, smirking slightly as she takes in the scene before her. "What a sight."
"What's wrong?" Angela asks immediately, stepping away towards McCree to draw nearer to Ana. "What happened?"
Ana raises her eyebrows. "You tell me," she replies. "Jack's awfully upset with you. What's that about?"
Angela grits her teeth, recalling her last encounter with the Strike Commander.
"That's between us," she forces out, though she knows it isn't.
Ana flashes her a bright smile—all teeth.
"No it isn't," she corrects the younger woman. She glances over at McCree. "Jesse, put your gun away, darling, you might hurt yourself."
Angela watches as the gunslinger hesitates, before slowly sliding Peacekeeper back in its holster.
Ana looks back to Angela. "Jack was being pushy with you the other day. He's an asshole—it happens. I don't blame you at all, but pulling rank on a Strike Commander?" The Captain lifts an eyebrow. "Bold choice."
Angela glares back at her evenly. Ana continues.
"It's in your nature to be contrary, Angela—to snarl back when taunted. To never relent and never give in." Ana eyes her carefully. "But it is not in your nature to be stupid."
"I'll fight you," Angela warns, low and steady.
McCree's gaze snaps to hers, eyes wide with shock, but she presses on.
"I mean, not you you, but Overwatch. The UN." She swallows, before saying the name they're both thinking. "Jack."
Ana just gazes at her evenly, expression a carefully fixed mask.
"And why would we fight, Angela?" the Captain asks. "Or have you decided you no longer want to be a team player?"
"Hard to be a team when things aren't equal," Angela retorts.
The humor dies on the sharpshooter's face.
"You were breaking protocol," Ana reminds her.
"The way I hear it, that's what we were intended to do," Angela returns. "You can't pick and choose where Blackwatch breaks the rules."
Ana chuckles softly to herself at that, but the sound holds no humor.
"Can't I?" the sharpshooter muses. "Interesting. I wasn't aware."
Angela's mouth falls open to snap back, when there's another presence in the doorway.
The whole room glances up to see Reyes at the door, expression cold.
Overwatch's Captain just smiles back at him, unruffled by his sudden appearance.
"Commander," she greets him casually, snapping what can only be called a sarcastic salute. "So good to see you."
"Didn't know you were scheduled to stop by,"
Ana just offers a blasé shrug, but the gleam in her eye makes Angela's hands itch for a weapon.
"Well, Blackwatch always seems to have so much fun doing things off the books. I thought I'd give it a try." She smiles sweetly, all graceful control and elegant calm.
"If there's a problem with Blackwatch, you come to me," Reyes reminds her.
Ana gives him a look of innocent confusion.
"I didn't want to bother the Commander with something so small. I thought I'd just ask your Deputy Director. Surely she's qualified to—"
"You've made your point, Ana," Angela cuts her off, earning a quick look of blazing ferocity from the sharpshooter before her expression smooths out again.
"I certainly hope so," she replies. She pushes hair out of her eyes, offering Angela one last glance.
"You could come home, you know," she tells the doctor seriously. "It would clear up an awful lot of trouble."
"Ana." Reyes' voice brooks no argument, and Ana smiles to herself.
"Don't be so put out, Gabriel," she tells him, patting the Commander on the cheek as she passes. "The offer stands for you too."
She sweeps from the room then, and silence roars in her wake. Angela's looking to Reyes, who just stares after the sharpshooter.
"How did she get scarier?" McCree asks woodenly, still staring at the place she'd stood.
"It's a talent, I think," Reyes mutters back. "Like how cartilage never stops growing? She'll just get progressively more intimidating as life goes on."
"She'd never hurt any of us," Angela mutters, crossing her arms.
"Doesn't mean she won't make me shit myself," McCree retorts. He looks sideways at Angela. "Whatever you did to piss 'er off like that? Word of advice—don' fuckin' do it again."
Angela finds Reyes' eyes, and her jaw tightens.
"We'll see," she tells him.
Being an outsider is not exactly uncharted territory for Angela Ziegler.
Her teachers boasted endlessly about how gifted she was—how special, how elite. Systematically set aside for displaying premature levels of intellect at a young age, a rift arose between herself and her peers that never quite smoothed over. Those on the other side of the academic wall resented her bitterly, so Angela's logical solution was to keep going up—to work harder and study longer and think faster than anyone. She took her raw genius and forcibly marshaled it into a finely tuned machine that she kept going at all hours.
No rest. No pause. Just facts and data and answers and progress. She set her sights on perfection and never accepted a degree less than that, in anything that she did.
The wall became a pedestal, then a tower, then another building entirely—one only she occupied.
The lonely life of a genius, or whatever bullshit others gossiped about behind their hands. Angela never took the time to listen—never wasted a thought on them.
So when she strides into Overwatch's headquarters, baring Blackwatch's symbol on her chest—a skull and a sword sewn over her heart—she has no reaction to the dozens of eyes that she feels track her movements.
Maybe that's why she'd fit in to the shadow organization so well. She'd already existed on the fringes of society—why not just set up shop there?
She feels Morrison's gaze on her when she enters the room, but doesn't even spare him a look, feigning interest the week-old notes still attached to her clipboard.
"You know," he drawls, as she pretends to tick something off of a list that's not there. "Blackwatch is supposed to be a secret sort of thing."
Angela arches an eyebrow at her clipboard, making more pointless, empty notes.
"I'm aware, Commander," she tells him mildly. "My hand still aches from all the security releases I had to sign."
She hears him sigh. Her pen scratches against the paper.
"Do you really need to parade around—?"
"I'm not parading anywhere," she cuts him off, a touch of coolness to her voice. "I'm attending a meeting. At your request."
She flicks her gaze up to meet his unamused frown.
"You could have worn your old Overwatch uniform," he informs her coldly.
Ana's standing in the corner—an observation Angela only makes now that she's bothered to look. It unnerves her that the sharpshooter's presence had gone unnoticed. She used to be able know the other woman's position inherently, like a reflex.
She looks back to Morrison, trying not to think of what else she has forgotten.
"I could have," she agrees, voice detached and chilled. "I could have also worn my Valkyrie suit, or my military dress, or desert fatigues—I could have borrowed McCree's belt buckle and worn that." She gives him a small smile that's all teeth before dropping her gaze back to her notes.
She realizes—off-handedly—all she's been doing is underlining Gabe's name with increasing force as Morrison's tone sinks deeper and deeper under her skin.
Morrison shifts his weight, crossing his arms.
"Still warming up to things at Blackwatch?" he asks with an arched eyebrow, like he's just pegged her mood to perfection.
Angela lets out a smirk—abnormally sharp and maybe a little too tight. "Warming up isn't really what I'm known for."
Morrison stares her down. Ana is still standing with her back turned, but Angela can clearly see the way her head's titled—the sharpshooter is hearing every word.
A silence settles over the room—uneasy and cold. Angela can't remember feeling this misplaced at Overwatch.
"We should wait for Reyes—"
"Gabe said to start without him—"
Angela and Morrison lock gazes. Ana's shoulder blades stick out like knives across her back.
"What do you mean, start without him?" Morrison repeats with a hard look. "He's my go-between with Blackwatch. He has all the information I need."
Angela's answering glare is a cold snap—sudden, startling, and bitter in its frigidness.
"He was kind enough to pass that information to me," she tells him tightly, fingers going white where she holds her clipboard. It's all coming clear now, so fucking clear—
Morrison scoffs. "He passed it to you?"
"Yes." Angela's tone teeters on a knife's edge. "He did."
"So what, you're Blackwatch's secretary now?" The Strike Commander's words drip with disparage.
"Jack." Ana's voice is quiet and sharp. She glances over her shoulder to give him a look of warning.
"You never thought I'd go with him." Angela's realization is faint, words so soft she wonders if her pounding heart will drown them out. "You never saw me as the wild card. That's your problem—one of your problems, actually—you think you understand people and you don't."
"Angela." Ana turns around now, voice dark with displeasure as Morrison glares openly at her.
"What are you talking—?"
Angela cuts him off ruthlessly, temper spiking, words flaring out like a flash fire. "You read my file like you were reading my autobiography. Like knowing where I was born and where I went to school and what doctors gave me their stamp of approval—"
"Angela." Ana's voice is a command for silence. Angela defies it without thought.
"—would tell you everything you needed to know about me. But it didn't, did it? It didn't tell you that I hate having the UN looking over my shoulder every time I do something they find interesting, that I hate being spoken for by Overwatch-approved representatives—"
"Angela, you are so out of line—" Morrison begins.
"It didn't tell you my parents died in the war." Angela can't stop the words spilling out of herself now. "Didn't tell you that that made me more loyal and protective than any person has any right to be." Morrison's eyes go wide at her words, while Ana's narrow to slits, her jaw set stiffly as she surveys the doctor.
"And then you let Reyes go. And you didn't think anything of it, because you thought you knew me and you didn't—"
"That is enough Angela," Ana again, stepping forward like she's going to force Angela out or hold Morrison back.
"—so maybe that's why you made Blackwatch." Angela doesn't know if her words are shaking or if she is. "So you could keep all your mistakes in one place, and make sure they can never—"
"—come back to haunt you. Maybe that's why you hate us." She stares him down, chest heaving. "Because every time you see this—" she slaps a hand over the Blackwatch logo like she's pledging allegiance to a new country—one she'd kill and die for, one she'll defend unto death "—you're reminded of all the times you were wrong."
She turns on her heel then, all but throwing herself out of the room, her black coat flaring out behind her like some storm she's leaving in her wake. She feels like a livewire—ultraviolet. Too bright too hot too much—
Reyes is there, striding towards her from the tarmac—because of course he is.
Their relationship is vertigo—pushing and pulling at the same time. An endless give and take that boils down to a balancing act between pillar and pendulum.
Anger roars in her ears, so loudly she almost doesn't hear him when he finally reaches her side.
"—the fuck did you do Ana's been lighting my phone up since I got off the plane—"
"Good news." Reyes breaks off with a rush of air as Angela slams the clipboard into his chest for him to take, striding past him—eyes overbright, heart beating wildly beneath her Blackwatch sigil. "The gates of hell just opened, and you're my plus one."
Angela knows it's Reyes without looking—his voice is a perfectly clear indicator, but so is the fact that he's the only person alive with permission to enter her infirmary unexpected and uninvited—so she keeps working.
"Gabe," she returns calmly, eyes skimming the document before her, ticking boxes, making notes, crossing out certain lines, underlining others.
There's a creak as he eases forward, leaning one broad shoulder heavily on the doorway.
"Come on, Ange," he says, voice teetering between exasperation and entreating.
"Don't know what you're talking about," she says, an arch lilt to her voice that smacks of dismissal. Reyes rolls his eyes.
"Angela." Reyes doesn't often get curt with her, but once in a while—when she's being particularly stubborn—his voice will take on a certain tightness. "I had to go look at the bullshit statute. McCree had to go look at the bullshit statute. Now you have to go look at the bullshit statue."
"What about Genji?" she asks mildly, already knowing perfectly well what about Genji.
"Sure, let's bring along the lost Shimada heir that Jack thinks is dead to Jack's fucking statue party," Reyes retorts, bracing one arm against the doorframe as he shifts his weight. "Why the hell not."
She lowers her clipboard to toss him an incredulous look.
"Is that honestly what they're calling it?" she asks. "A statue party?"
Reyes heaves a sigh. "I don't know, Angela. They didn't send out invitations, okay?"
She snorts, lowering her gaze once more. "I'm disappointed," she quips. "They should have all come with little miniatures of it, so we could all have a little golden Jack Morrison wherever we go."
Reyes just sighs again. "I will drag you there, Angela, so help me."
That gets her attention. She lifts her eyes, arching a single brow, gazing at him from around a perpetually errant blonde curl.
"I would like to see you try."
They wisely both decide to let that go.
"Thirty minutes, Ange. Tops. We show up, we try not to blind ourselves looking at the damn thing, we leave." He spreads his hands. "That's all."
Angela gazes at him. She knows she's going to agree eventually—they both know it—but that doesn't mean she's not going to say her piece.
"Firstly," Angela begins, tossing down her documents and scowling across the room at him. "Why does he get a statute?"
Reyes rolls his eyes up to the ceiling. "Ange."
"I'm serious! So what, he's Overwatch's golden boy. Super. Ana Amari's served there for just about as long, and without her, he'd be dead. I vote she gets a statue."
"We don't get votes," Reyes reminds her, finally pushing away from the doorway to stride across her infirmary.
"Then I don't see why I should care," she returns smartly, watching as he picks up her coat from where she'd slung it over her chair. "What are you doing?"
"Listening very patiently," he answers, flashing a smile when she shoots him a glare. He holds up the coat for her to slip into. "Come on. I told McCree I'd pick up food for him on the way back."
"You left him there by himself?" she demands, finally relenting and shrugging on the offered coat. "At the statue party?"
She peers up at him as she pulls her hair tie free to redo it, and after a beat he blinks, seemingly remembering that she'd asked him a question.
"Just for a minute," he defends himself. At her pointed glare, he rolls his eyes. "Well someone had to come get our dear Deputy Director, since it became clear a half hour in that said Deputy Director was declining to show up."
Angela just sighs as she ties off her new ponytail, tossing curly blonde hair over her shoulder. It's getting long again. Maybe she'll ask Ana to cut it when she sees her.
They step out of the infirmary, finding a matching pace as they make their way through the familiar halls.
"So, if the Blackwatch base mirrors the Overwatch base…" she begins, glancing up at him with a small smile as she fusses with the collar of her coat. "Theoretically…"
"Jesse already beat you to that joke," Reyes tells her, smirking at the frustrated look she pulls. "He and Genji were very well prepared for it. They drew me a diagram."
"Of what a Gabriel Reyes statue would look like?" she verifies, humor returning at the thought.
Reyes rolls his eyes as he holds the door out of the base open for her.
"Yeah," he mutters as she steps past him. "And you might think, 'I wonder what heroic pose Jesse picked for his mentor to have in this imaginary statue, since, you know, he's the only goddamn reason Jesse's not dead in a ditch somewhere.'"
A smirk tugs at Angela's lips, but she smothers it.
"Naturally," she replies. "So what did he pick?"
Reyes just reaches into a pocket on his uniform, pulling out a folded up piece of paper he passes to Angela.
It'd been drawn by Genji, she notices immediately, recognizing the style she's seen in doodles on the edges of med charts she leaves in his room. But she also notes McCree's messy scrawl providing various commentary.
It's a statue of Reyes, hastily colored with what looks to be a yellow crayon. The statue is mounted on a pedestal, proudly flipping off viewers with its three-foot fingers.
"Charming," she remarks brightly. "I think Genji captured your likeness well."
He just gives her an annoyed look that she answers with a cheerful grin.
Reyes is shirtless in Angela's infirmary, and she's not really sure how they got here.
A jolt ricochets through his body as Angela presses her cold fingers to his shoulder, where she traces circles into the flesh with the pad of her thumb. His skin feels hot beneath the light pressure of her touch as she glides her fingertips across his collarbone, pausing when she reaches the notch at his jugular. His Adam's apple visibly bobs at her sudden attention.
"See something interesting?" His voice rumbles beneath her hands.
The question draws color to her cheeks, but she tries to play it off with a look of keen scientific interest.
"Just…checking for irregularities," she answers airily.
He wants to say more—is that how they're playing this? A medical examination, really?—when she lays her hand flat against his sternum and Reyes finds himself mysteriously short of breath.
The doctor's hands are strong and well-used—knotted with calluses that raise goosebumps all along Reyes' body as she moves, fingers teasing lightly at his flesh as she does.
Angela lingers over Reyes' heart, eyebrow lifting at the frantic beating she feels below her touch. She tries to match the sharp staccato with her fingertips—drumming them softly against Reyes' chest—and he huffs out a breathless laugh.
"Any irregularities?" he asks, half-joking. She hasn't made eye contact with him yet. It's unnerving.
She doesn't reply, seemingly absorbed in the feeling of his heartbeat, face impassive.
Doubt slams into Blackwatch's Commander, and he resists the urge to pull away from her immediately. He misread the situation. He misread it so badly Jesus fuck Reyes what were you thinking—
"Ange, look, we don't have—"
Her other hand—which he realizes had been curled tightly in a fist by her side—suddenly shoots up to seize his own hand. He jumps slightly, frowning at the sudden action, until she guides his fingers to the underside of her opposite wrist.
Her heartbeat hammers at her pulse point—just as wild as his—and Reyes lifts an eyebrow.
"Oh," he manages. "Okay."
"Yeah." Angela is still staring determinedly at the space where she holds her hand over his heart, flushing darkly. "Pretty much."
Her hand drops down lower abruptly, apparently surprising both of them, because Reyes chokes on a strangled noise of alarm and Angela just turns redder.
But she's made it this far and Jesus, Angela it's not like you've never fucking handled bare skin before get over yourself—
She positions both of her hands along Reyes' exposed sides, fingers splayed out, slotting them between the spaces of his ribs, feeling his diaphragm expand and contract with his steady, even breaths.
"Little overdressed, don't you think?"
Reyes' voice is careful—like his words will shatter whatever curiousness has fallen between them.
Angela drops her hands and steps back—she sees one of Reyes' hands twitch up, reaching for her like a reflex—and she thinks her heart might actually crack her ribs it's pounding so hard.
She shucks off her medical coat with an astonishing lack of grace and just hurls it in the direction of her chair. Reyes' lips quirk, and he glances over his shoulder to see where it lands.
"Hey. I paid good money to get you that coat," he objects, grinning as he watches the coat catch on the back of her chair for just a second before flopping unceremoniously to the ground.
"Jesse goes through jeans like they're tissues," she retorts, fingers curling in the hem of her shirt, tugging aimlessly in any direction but up. She's flushing so darkly she wonders if he can feel the heat radiating from her—she wonders if her fingers had been cold when she'd—
The communicator in Angela's coat goes off suddenly, and she nearly jumps out of her skin at the noise.
She crosses the room over to it, pulling it out of her coat pocket and reading the message.
"Genji," she mutters. "He's not doing well. That new medication must not have agreed with him." She frowns, thinking it over, before pulling her coat back on and tying her hair back up. "I've gotta look into it."
Reyes just nods, moving to reach for his shirt where it'd been discarded on the operating table—
Angela snatches his shirt before he can reach for it, holding it briefly out of his grasp.
"We are revisiting this when I'm done," she tells him seriously, then throws his wadded-up shirt at his face.
The agent Angela is speaking to isn't listening to her, and it's starting to really piss her off.
She keeps staring resolutely at him, continuing her lecture about why we check back in at the conclusion of missions because if we don't then everyone think we're fucking dead and then Reyes has to send out a team and—
"Agent." There's a cold bite of authority to Angela's voice, and the boy immediately jolts to attention, eyes snapping back to hers. She lifts an eyebrow. "I really hope whatever's caught your eye is worth it," she tells him, voice hard and even. "Because if I turn around, and I don't see anything worthwhile—"
"Sorry." Angela goes stock-still at the sound of Jack Morrison's voice. "Sorry, Angela, it's me."
She turns around and sure enough—Overwatch's Strike Commander stands in the middle of a Blackwatch corridor.
"Where's your big blue coat, Jack?" she asks, lifting an eyebrow. "Almost didn't recognize you without it."
The agent behind her coughs to try and cover a laugh, and Morrison sighs.
"Can we talk?" he asks.
Angela hesitates for a brief moment—theoretically she could say no, couldn't she?—before dismissing the agent with a sharp jerk of her head.
Morrison falls into step beside her as she leads him deeper into the Blackwatch base, shouldering open a door that's not marked differently that any of the others, and
"Nice office," Morrison offers.
Small talk. Angela sighs.
"I spend most of my time in the infirmary," she explains, crossing her arms and declining to sit. "It doesn't get much use."
He nods to himself, sitting down on the edge of her desk, glancing around at what few personal items the room does have—a picture of her and Torbjörn from the Halloween party years ago, the prototype of her Caduceus staff mounted on the wall, a oversized Swiss flag that hangs across the front of her desk, and a candid snapshot of Genji and McCree arguing about something in the Blackwatch practice facilities while Reyes stands between them, looking directly at the camera with the face of a man who ran out of patience about a decade ago.
She'd been the one to capture the image, and it's honestly one of her proudest accomplishments.
"You wanted to talk, Jack," she reminds him. "So let's talk."
Morrison gives her a quick look before dropping his gaze to his hands.
"I knew about your parents," he begins, and Angela feels herself tense—her body springs taut like a mousetrap—as she recalls their conversation a week ago.
She doesn't say anything.
Morrison inclines his head, like he's taking her silence as permission to speak further. "It wasn't on your file, but I asked around. I was…curious, I guess. I didn't understand how you'd come to become…well, you."
He must read the sharp question on her face, because he hastens to continue. "Not in a bad way just…well…" he shrugs. "People don't just wake up one day and decide to do the kinds of things you do."
"Cheat death," she supplies blandly, and he inclines his head in agreement.
"I poked into your upbringing, your background, talked to old teachers and classmates…" Morrison shrugs. "I guess in a way, I did think I knew you."
Angela says nothing. Her tongue's stuck in her jaw.
"Gabe's a brother to me," Morrison says. His words are casual—the loyalty he lines them with is not. "I didn't want him to go to Blackwatch, I wanted him to stay. So I could watch his back and he could watch mine."
There's an unfinished part to that sentence that goes, the way it's supposed to be. Angela hears it anyway.
"Isn't that why you have Ana?" she forces out, because apparently, even in the most serious of situations, she just cannot keep her goddamn mouth shut.
But Morrison just chuckles. "I have Ana for a lot of reasons," he says. "Mostly to keep me from ruining everything."
Angela nods. Ana has official jobs and expectations but at the end of the day, she's there to keep them all alive and bail them all out.
"I knew you were going to go with him to Blackwatch," he admits, and Angela feels her chest go tight. He laughs to himself, shaking his head, still ducking her gaze. "I knew it, but I was so mad—so mad that I was going to lose two of my best agents—my best friends—in one day."
Angela allows a brief bout of silence before pushing on.
"How did you know I was going to go with him?" she asks quietly.
"Reyes is a natural," Morrison answers. "He gets people—like really gets them, on a seriously personal level, even if he's barely met them."
"He's empathetic," Angela offers by way of explanation. It's a character trait that had drawn her to him in the first place. She could read bodies, he could read people. It intrigued her.
Morrison nods. "You two…you balance each other out. It doesn't make sense for you to not work together.
Another pause. Angela can't tell if she prefers this slow confession or if she'd rather him rush to get it all out at once.
"You said Blackwatch is where I keep all my mistakes," he begins, and Angela feels her stomach bottom out.
"God, Jack, we don't need to rehash that, do we? We both said—"
He holds up a hand to stop her, eyes still downcast.
"I…I'd be lying if I said I never resented Blackwatch," he explains. "Lying like a damn dog. I wanted to be able to look after you—I wanted to use Overwatch to protect you and Reyes—hell, even McCree and Genji."
Angela watches as he stares at his hands, deciding now is probably not the best moment to bring up the prodigal Shimada heir.
"But I was wrong, which—as Ana will tell you—happens a lot," he continues. "You and Reyes don't need Overwatch to protect yourselves. You don't need me to protect you. If anything, I needed you to assure me that I was still—that people still—"
"You wanted to be needed," Angela says softly. "To be a leader. But we didn't need you."
Morrison sighs, resting his arms on his knees as he stares up at the prototype Caduceus staff—the same one she'd presented to him all those years ago.
"Blackwatch is…necessary," he explains slowly, brow furrowed as he studies his hands. "I'm not so naïve to think otherwise. Without the intel we get from Blackwatch's work, all of Overwatch would've folded years ago."
Angela nods in agreement.
"But Blackwatch doesn't need Overwatch," he continues carefully. "And I think that's what really got me. Not saying it's right, not saying it's justifiable or worth defending. Just trying to give you the explanation you deserve, and offer an apology, if you'll take it."
An apology from Jack Morrison. Angela shrugs.
"Sure," she agrees. A beat passes "Can I get it in writing? I'd like to frame it on my desk."
Morrison huffs a laugh, finally glancing up at her.
"I think," he says quietly, smirking at Angela's very smug expression. "I think you're very well-suited here, Deputy Director Ziegler."
Angela feels a smile tug at her lips.
"Thank you, Strike Commander Morrison. I think I agree."
They're in Reyes' office this time.
He's sitting behind his desk, staring down at a map of the Gibraltar base that she knows he's had memorized for years.
"We have to do something," she tells him quietly, watching him from where she leans against the edge of his desk.
He just sighs, arms folded across his chest. "It's not an easy situation, Ange."
She rolls her eyes. "Right, because everything up until this point has been a cakewalk. King's Row? Simple. The Shimada's rebellion? No problem. Oh, and that mission to Dorado? The one that McCree almost died on? So easy—"
"Angela," Reyes cuts her off, flicking his gaze up to hers, annoyed. "Just call me an idiot next time, okay? Saves a whole lotta time."
His voice takes the fight out of her immediately, and she sighs as she pushes away from his desk to pace the room.
"Overwatch is falling farther out of favor everyday," Angela points out. "Gabe, when it falls, everything we've done—"
"I'm not ashamed of anything we've done." Reyes voice whips out low and fast, and Angela flushes despite herself.
That sentiment could be applied to so many things but you immediately go there, don't you Angela?
"I'm not either," she tells him firmly. "But that doesn't mean I want it on display for the whole world. This isn't just about us. What about Jesse and Genji? I won't let the UN so much as look at them, Gabe. They will tear them to shreds and I won't let them—"
"The UN isn't touching those boys," Reyes rumbles back, expression darkening at the thought. "End of discussion."
Angela swallows the rest of her threats, trusting the solidness of Reyes' resolve.
Silence falls between them—uneasy and uncertain.
"What if we took them down first." It tastes more like a statement than a question, but she's already said it, and she can't take it back.
Reyes' gaze heavy across her shoulders.
"Say again?" he requests, voice soft and low. She won't face him.
His chair creaks as he rises from it. He steps closer and her skin prickles at his sudden proximity.
"If we take down Overwatch, we control what the UN finds afterwards," she murmurs, almost to herself. "We could wipe Jesse and Genji from their records. Give them a chance to escape."
His hands come up to rest on her shoulders. His touch is grounding as always, but Angela's head is still spinning.
Why is she even suggesting this?
Because she's Blackwatch, and Blackwatch sees things through until the bitter end.
"Could we do that?" he murmurs back, chest a hard flat wall of muscle against her back. "Not just logistically, Ange. We both loved Overwatch—there are still people there worth protecting—"
"So we protect them too," she maintains quietly. "We burn whatever they have on Fareeha. Leave behind only Rein's battle prestige. Blackout the names of Torbjörn's kids." She pauses, and his fingers flex where he holds her. There's someone missing from that list and they both know it.
A certain golden statue comes to mind. Angela works her jaw.
"Jack is Overwatch," he tells her, as if she isn't already acutely aware. "We can't take one and leave the other. If Overwatch falls, Jack will follow—"
"We'll clean Jack's slate too," Angela insists. "We'll find a way."
Family first. Always.
She turns to face him then, tilting her head back to look him in the eyes, matching Blackwatch sigils stark white against the pitch of their uniforms.
"What about us?" Reyes asks her softly, lifting an eyebrow. He sounds like he couldn't care less. "Who's gonna clear our names?"
She shrugs. "Who cares?" she counters, leaning forward to rest her cheek on his chest, tucking herself under his chin. "If the boys are safe, and we've saved what we can of Overwatch…" she trails off. "Who really cares what happens to us?"
Reyes snorts. "Spoken like a true martyr," he deadpans, arms coming up to wrap loosely around her waist.
She shrugs in his hold. "Spoken like a member of Blackwatch," she corrects.
She feels him press his lips to the crown of her head, and smiles to herself.
"Yeah," he murmurs. "Yeah, you're right."
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