The man is alive, although by all rights he shouldn’t be.
He lays on the concrete floor in a dark, sticky pool of blood. His arms and one leg are still covered in matte black body armor. His left leg, however, is bare - the material cut away neatly at the hip as if by shears. His calf is mottled and hairy, leading down to a heavy, military style boot. His thigh?
His thigh is gone.
Jack crouches down, and the man’s eyes - white all the way around, bloodshot and terrified - roll up to look at him. He’s trying to say something, but his teeth are chattering too much. Originally deep brown skin has gone waxy and ash-pale, the blood that should be filling it on the floor. Even with that, even with the whites of his eyes and his blood edged teeth, by far the brightest thing in the room is the gleam of his femur.
The muscles are gone, the ends of each quadricep snipped carefully away from the tendons. As the man moves, there’s a rattle from his knee - the patella is anchored down at just one side now, and it clatters against the bare knobs of bone as the man twitches and shakes his way through his last breaths.
Eyes moving over the circle around the man, Jack calculates blood loss, plus whatever had poured out during the initial extraction. He has a minute left, if that. Jack asks him his name, but when the man tries to answer he just bites through half his tongue. Bites through bloodlessly - pale flesh flops around in his mouth as the nameless man tries to form words.
Jack puts his hand down, lets the doomed bastard clutch at his wrist for the last few seconds of his life. He doesn’t know who the man is - not Talon or Null Sector-affiliated by the armor, but that’s all he knows other than military of some flavor - but no one deserves to go out like this. Your body and breath stripped away from you then left to rot in the middle of an abandoned warehouse.
This is the fourth body he’s found like this, though the first one he’s caught alive. Big men, strong men, fighters in the prime of their lives. Taken down with seemingly little effort, and then their best muscles cut away like a pig on the slaughtering floor.
Something in Jack says he knows what this is.
Something in Jack says he absolutely does not want to know.
It started with injections.
Large bore needles - do you think it would be a little jab in the arm? Of course not. They went into the big vein on your inner thigh, right next to your cock. The back of your hand, the meat of your ass, the center of your spine. On one excruciating day, something that burned like liquid ice went into Jack’s interior jugular vein and his jaw locked tight for three days.
They didn’t all get the same treatment. Some people they cut apart, some people they made breathe in mysterious gasses or powders, some had no sign of anything done to them but for a haunted look in their eyes.
Jack limped his way through from stage to stage, because he didn’t know what else to do. Fall down, get back up. Again, again.
He’s sitting in the barracks on his bunk, leaning against the wall and exhausted from yet another injection then a fifteen mile run with sensors attached to every part of his body.
“You look tired.”
Jack looks up just enough to see a sharp smile. It’s exhausting to even move his eyes. “They teach you that kind of observation special here?”
A short laugh, then a hand comes down to finger the square cut of Jack’s jaw, the fullness of his lower lip. “What if I said you could just lay there and we could still have a real good time?”
Jack moves faster than he thought he had the energy for, and the thumb on his lip draws back at the bite. “Jack.”
The sharp smile is sharper now, white and broad. “Call me Gabriel.”
He gets to the next victim while the blood is still leaking out from her body.
It’s an abandoned Overwatch facility, he only happened across her because he was looking for some biotic packs that he thought were tucked away into an emergency cache that only he and the medical director had known about.
What’s left of her clothing is artfully decorated rags - that and the scrap metal construction of her boots and the goggles still on her head mark her for a junker. She’s far from home, here in South Africa: junkers don’t usually go far out of Australia. If they’d found out about an old Overwatch base, though? That would draw all kinds of people.
She’s stretched out on the floor in what used to be the medical facility. Rubber tubing wraps tightly around wrists and ankles to pull her strained limbs between two tables. She’s on her stomach, clothing cut away to reveal her back, or at least what’s left of it. Like before, like the others, the muscles are gone so tidily and methodically it’s like surgical removal. Surgery that one would never recover from.
The bare white bone of her ribs shines up like piano keys, the skin of her back neatly parted along her spine and then peeled back and down to lay spread at her sides like gory, useless wings.
Jack can see the expansion of her lungs in between the ribs, in, out. In, out. There’s lazy movement underneath the lower ribs that’s uncomfortable to look at - kidneys throbbing and intestines squirming, still trying desperately to get her failing body nutrition. Her breath makes ripples in the slowly coagulating blood that has spread all the way up to her head and pooled like an enormous halo. It all would be strangely beautiful, if you didn’t know what you were looking at.
He kneels beside her, reaching out a hand to comfort but finding nowhere to put it that wouldn’t end in pain. The woman turns her head a bit to look up at him, and the crimson stained wings of her scapulae shift like they’re trying to escape her body.
“What’s your name?” he asks quietly, voice still echoing in the empty building.
“Nuh. Nneka. Nneka Taylor.” It’s said between rattles.
“You got any family, Nneka? Anyone I could tell?” He doesn’t lie to her, they know she’s not leaving this floor.
They’re both silent for a minute, but for the woman’s increasingly labored breaths. “Anything I can do for you?”
“Nah, mate. Just. Stay a minute, would you?”
Jack nods, and sits next to a woman he knows nothing about apart from her name and the fact that someone wanted parts of her and thought it was okay to leave her to suffer afterwards.
Her breath slows, softens. Jack’s about to get up and check for a pulse when her head jerks. “Smoke,” she says, the word shaped mostly on air. “Smoke, he was -”
Nneka Taylor, a woman far from home, doesn’t finish the sentence and dies with her eyes staring up into Jack’s. After waiting a half minute to see if she was gone, Jack reaches out and gently closes her eyelids. A liberal application of ethanol found in a cabinet and a lighter later, and Jack stands over the miniature funeral pyre in the middle of the medbay floor.
Before he lights it, Jack bends down when he sees something familiar. His brain puts the tatters of her jacket back together, makes a horrible whole of it. Before dropping the lighter he brushes his fingers over the faded Overwatch patch attached to the flak jacket shoulder.
Despite the heat on his face, Jack feels cold.
The problem with SEP is that it built them up to a superhuman level, and superhumans don’t function like regular people.
Jack fucks his way through the ranks before settling on Gabriel. They click, physically and mentally, in a way that he hasn’t with anyone. Ever. He doesn’t know if it’s SEP bullshit or just them , but whether on the battlefield or in bed he and Gabriel just...work.
Well. For a little while at least.
The night comes when Gabriel fucks into him for hours, until Jack is hot and sore and no amount of lube can help the chafing. They’re both hard, they both want each other, but…
After you’ve spent all day lifting weights that no human should be able to budge, or running sprints that blow every world record out of the water, or shooting targets from hundreds of yards away with eerie precision...regular sex just can’t measure up to that adrenaline rush. That feeling of being better, being more, being what a human only dreams of being.
“Get out,” Jack finally says, using his hips to shove Gabriel to the side.
“I was almost there -”
“No you weren’t, and I was going to start bleeding in a second.” Jack’s horny and annoyed and was injected with something this morning that raised his aggression up like he was in the middle of a firefight except he was in an empty room. “Learn to fuck better.”
“Me?” Gabriel sounds incredulous. To say he doesn’t do well with criticism is putting it mildly. Jack gets away with more than anyone else, but having his sexual prowess insulted is apparently a bridge too far. “Maybe if you did something other than just lay there, we’d be able to get off.”
“Just lay there?” That feistiness from the morning is still running through Jack’s veins, and before he knows it he has Gabriel in a headlock. They tussle, skin sliding on sweat-slick skin. Jack’s knee slips on the sheet that’s pulled up at the corner, which is the only reason Gabriel gets the drop on him.
Gabriel has his hand around Jack’s throat. Not both hands, not a killing grip, but one that says he means business. His thumb presses down on Jack’s windpipe, his other fingers digging hard enough into the back of Jack’s neck that he can feel them skid on his vertebrae. It hurts.
It hurts, and Jack finally feels like he’s come off of the plateau he’s been on for the past hour. His own hands are on Gabriel’s hips, thumbs digging in deep to press the nerve back behind the crest of bone. Jack knows that Gabriel has to be feeling intense, shooting pain right now, but he’s looking down at Jack like - like -
Like how Jack’s looking up at him.
Like it’s all he ever wanted.
Jack can breathe, but his vision is going fuzzy at the edges. He pulls Gabriel into him, cock rutting against the scratchy line of hair on his stomach. Gabriel thrusts down, pushing himself further into Jack’s tight grip, further into the pain because it means he gets to rub himself along the sharp cut of Jack’s hip.
They go on like that for a while, clutching and pushing at each other. Jack’s voice is this rough, shuddery thing, and when he finally comes with a cry and a buck of his hips, the noise is painful as it rips out of his throat past Gabriel’s fingers. In the red-edged golden haze afterwards, Jack digs his fingers into the meat of Gabriel’s waist, feeling the muscle fibers compress and capillaries break under his strong, relentless fingers. Gabriel’s let go of Jack to get a hand around himself, and it’s just a few strokes before he’s coming all over Jack with a breathless grunt.
He collapses down, half on Jack and half on the damp sheets underneath them. Jack pets an absent hand down Gabriel’s sweat-sticky back as he breathes carefully through his damaged throat. Each inhale is sweet air and sour salt, the taste of Gabriel’s sweat on his lips and tongue. Jack watches through half-slitted eyes as bruises surface and swell on Gabriel’s waist. Gabriel’s skin may be darker than Jack’s own, but he can still see the burgundies and purples, circles of indigo surrounding the half moons of red where Jack’s fingernails cut in.
When reveille goes off the next morning, Jack is breathing easily and Gabriel’s skin is smooth and unmarked.
If your bodies heal away all evidence, did it ever really happen?
Gabriel raises his head and gives Jack a slow, satisfied kiss that says it did, and it’ll happen again.
It takes a few weeks before the next body.
As the heavy scent of iron and meat fills Jack’s nose and he knows what will await him, a thought wends its way through his brain. Even though Jack circles the globe on a weekly basis, even though he follows danger and violence like a bloodhound, it can’t be coincidence that he keeps finding these people on the edge of death. Perhaps there’s dozens scattered all over the world that he’s missing, but something in Jack says no, it’s just them.
Waiting for him.
This one is a man - a boy, really. Early twenties if he’s a day, young and blonde and perfect bone structure that looks like he should be on the cover of a magazine. Jack’s sure he had beautiful teeth once to go along with the beautiful face, but now they’re like a shattered picket fence, red pulp peeking out every once in a while. No one would put him on any magazine now.
He’s naked as the day he was born, laid out on his stomach on a white sheet that practically glows in the dimness of the bunker with his head turned towards Jack. Tilting his own head, Jack can’t quite understand what he’s seeing, until he can and then he doesn’t want to.
Have you ever made a peach pie?
You drop the peaches in boiling water, then pull them out and shock them in ice. Then you grip the peach between your hands and pull with your thumbs, and the skin just tears right down the middle, down the seam and slides right off. They had peaches on their farm when Jack was a boy, he can’t even count the number of peaches he skinned over the years.
Jack wishes he didn’t have that frame of reference, because it’s all he can think of when he looks down at the once-beautiful boy. Someone carved a line down from his waist, down into the most intimate split of him, then pulled the skin off as easily as boiled fruit. His gently-tanned, lightly freckled hide is rucked up into folds around his waist and hips and thighs, like a sheet pushed to the bottom of an unmade bed. Jack is sure that the boy’s ass was as shapely as the rest of him, but it’s gone now. The hard-earned muscle pared away until all that’s left is tendon and the wings of his pelvis, the delicate holes of his tailbone.
The lack of blood made Jack assume the boy was dead, but when Jack gets close to what he thinks is just meat, bright blue eyes open.
Jack blinks, kneels beside the bed. The boy is trying to turn himself over. It seems like a bad idea, but he’s determined so Jack helps him rather than let him roll off the edge and onto the floor. Balances him on the ruin of his backside, the loose skin flopping around.
Once the boy is on his back, Jack wishes he hadn’t helped.
The boy’s shoulders are strong, muscled perfection, as are his thighs. Swollen pectorals, nearly breast-like, that speak to someone who wants to look good for others and never skips the bench press. In between though? A wide swath of skin is carved away, each of what was no doubt hard-earned abdominals and obliques carefully removed to show the pale white-blue fascia underneath. Everything is gone to the thigh but for the boy’s perfect, thick cock, hanging heavy and hairless and pale amongst the glistening red surrounding it.
Jack’s attention is so focused on the horror before him that he barely hears the boy speaking, until he does in terrible clarity.
“‘S for you, he said.”
“What?” The boy is slurring around his broken teeth and swollen mouth, Jack can’t have heard what he did.
“Monster. Smoke. Said it was for you.”
Jack doesn’t know how to process these words. Perhaps the boy is mistaken, wrong. He said smoke, same as Taylor, the woman from before. That just means that it was the same killer, which Jack knew already. He starts to pace around the room, around the boy who is somehow still alive.
There’s a pile of clothing. Jack stops, goes through it. If he can get the boy’s name, maybe -
Jack is holding an ID, of a type he hasn’t seen in years. It can’t be right, this boy must be too young. He looks at the date, looks at the face with the square jawline and full head of blonde hair. It doesn’t escape Jack who he looks like, at least a lifetime back. He walks over to the boy, whose eyes have been following him.
“You were in Overwatch, kid?”
“Joined. Eighteen. Dissolved right after...after I made it through training.”
That’s two bodies with Overwatch connections now, and for all Jack knows every one has been the same. He just didn’t know what to look for. “What did the monster tell you?”
The boy’s breathing is labored, now - Jack’s shocked he’s held on at all given how much of himself he’s missing. “Said. Said hi, Jackie.” The boy exhales on the last word, and doesn’t inhale again.
Jack barely notices, his own lungs paralyzed and unable to inflate
It’s long minutes before he gets control of himself, before he has the energy to reach out and close the lids over the cornflower blue eyes that are still staring at him. There’s nothing in here to put the boy to rest - Jack had a tip there was Overwatch tech in here, and now he’s wondering who generated the tip - so he just takes the boy’s clothes and drapes them over him.
There’s no dignity to be found here, but Jack does his best.
There are no atheists in foxholes, they say.
Jack never believed that, assumed that the Catholic upbringing he’d stopped accepting when he first jacked off to the neighbor boy was gone for good. Right now though, Saint Patrick’s Breastplate is tumbling from his lips as he puts pressure on Gabriel’s chest, blood spurting through his fingers despite everything he’s trying. The prayer turns into muttered obscenities as Gabriel’s eyes roll back, face ashen as he slumps bonelessly to the forest floor.
Field testing, they said. SEP bodies wrapped in Overwatch armor and thrown to the wolves of rogue omnics. Jack and Gabriel were the risk Overwatch took - yes, they could have made it in on their own merits of being brilliant tacticians and excellent fighters, but it was the unknown seduction of what SEP could do when pushed to its limits that made them get recruited. Other soldiers got put into battle, Jack and Gabriel were meant to run a two man war.
“Move,” a voice snaps out. There’s a woman next to them, rifle across her back and first aid equipment strapped to her body. She shoves Jack aside, slapping something yellow and glowing that he isn’t familiar with over the wound. Jack lets her because she’s wearing Overwatch blue and right now he’s as terrified for Gabriel as he has been of anything in his life.
A piece of bloody metal hits the ground, something the woman has pulled out of Gabriel. Quick competent hands make up a field dressing and although he’s still worryingly pale, Gabriel looks a hell of a lot better than he had a minute ago. Jack is clenching a trembling hand, telling himself that touching Gabriel’s face would do nothing but embarrass him in front of a stranger, when the woman pulls a pistol out of a thigh holster and shoots Gabriel in the neck.
Adrenaline surges through Jack - she did all of that just to kill him in the end who does she think she is Jack is going to rip her limb from goddamn limb - when he sees that Gabriel has a small yellow dart sticking out of him. By this point Jack is already halfway across Gabriel’s body, mouth stretched in an inhuman snarl. The woman has scrambled back, tranq pistol levered at Jack, eyes stretched wide above the dark smudge of a tattoo on her cheek.
“It’s just biotics, I’m out of the usual patches. Back off or I shoot you too,” she says, voice steady despite shaking hands and Jack looming over her like an avenging angel. Jack falls to the forest floor on his hands and knees, breathing deeply as he tries to shake off the endorphins. His right wrist is pressed up against Gabriel’s side - he can feel him breathing. Gabriel is breathing, Gabriel is alive.
Jack levers himself to his knees, then up on to his feet, the woman’s gun staying trained on him the whole time. He stumbles off further into the woods, until he’s just enough out of sight that he can lean against a tree and let his muscles shake his body the way they want to. He’s not coming down from it, his body is manufactured to fight and there’s nothing for him to take it out on. Jack grips the trunk of the tree in front of him, digs his fingers into the bark. Shoves his left hand in deep, deep, then pulls four fingers out and wrenches his wrist.
His pinkie finger snaps like a stepped-on branch, and the pain immediately calms Jack, centering him. He carefully extracts his hand from where it’s lodged, looking over the sideways-pointing finger until he can pull it forward and realign the splintered bone. Walking back to the clearing, he takes slow breaths.
The tableau is just as he left it - woman, gun, Gabriel. Jack gracefully drops into a crosslegged position next to Gabriel, holding fingers to the pulse in his neck. Steady, though fast. Good.
“You don’t happen to have any tape on you, do you?” Jack asks pleasantly, conversationally.
The woman blinks narrowed eyes, before reaching a hand to her belt and pulling a roll of medical tape off. She tosses it to Jack, never taking her gaze off of him. He catches it one handed, ripping off a piece with his teeth and taping his pinkie to his ring finger. It’s already swelling, starting the process towards healing.
“I’m Jack.” He tosses the tape back, she catches it easily.
“You’re a lunatic.”
He shrugs, not arguing as he reaches down to brush some dirt off of Gabriel’s face.
“I’m Ana.” Jack looks up at her, meets her eyes. She sighs and holsters the tranq pistol. “Come on, let’s figure out how you can carry him without hurting him more. You two aren’t going to make it out of here alive without me.”
Oh, life goes on. That’s how it works. Jack goes to Monaco, takes down with extreme prejudice a weird little cult that somehow started out worshipping the memory of Jack Morrison and ended with trying to brainwash people and take their money in the name of tithing. There’s the neverending war with Los Muertos in Dorado, a pocket of Null Sector omnics in Greenland, the constant stream of Talon flunkies that pop up like weeds.
But nothing on the killer.
The killer who takes pieces of people and then leaves them to die. The killer who Jack doesn’t - can’t know the identity of, because that man died in front of him years ago. Jack watched him get crushed under a multi-ton chunk of concrete, and it was only the immediacy of his death and blood spray on his face that let him mourn, let him know that the man he’d once loved (loved? is that the right word?) was really gone.
There’s no way he could have survived. None at all.
Jack is still telling himself that in the back of his head when a black figure materializes in front of him, on a completely normal sunny morning in Berlin. No, it’s not him it’s - the words are echoing through his mind even as a shotgun slams into the side of his head and Jack’s world goes dark.
Twenty minutes ago Jack was pinned flat against the windows of his quarters with Gabriel’s Blackwatch uniform belt leaving purple stripes down his back. He’d grunted his orgasm out against the glass fogged from his hot breath, semen streaking down the pane and smearing all over his legs. He’s glad his strike commander status got him a view that looked out onto the Zürich countryside, high enough up that no one could see in. If people saw what he and Gabriel got up to in their spare time, well. They’d have even more problems than they do now.
Now they’re sprawled out in bed, Jack lazily kissing his way across the smooth skin of Gabriel’s back. Except for the bite marks that are already healing, he’s completely unmarked here. Yes, he has the facial scars and a few on his shoulders and chest thanks to an explosion backed with chemical fallout that prevented his healing factor from kicking in quite right, but other than that Gabriel is unscarred. Jack is far more cut up - he heals just as quickly as Gabriel, but for some reason his skin scars if it’s deep enough. White, purple, red, a roadmap of his battles. Jack never says it, but something in him likes it. Makes him feel closer to human, closer to normal.
Jack nips his way over Gabriel’s round ass, pausing at one point to pick a black hair out of his teeth and glare at Gabriel’s unresponsive back. Hairy fucker. He pauses for a moment to think about when the last time they showered was, before pulling Gabriel’s cheeks apart and working his way down. They don’t do this that often, aren’t gentle with each other in bed. But tonight Jack’s tired after a long day and just wants something...different.
He alternates long laps and little kitten licks, petting at the tight muscle with his tongue. Gabriel is squirming a bit under him and Jack thinks it’s from discomfort until he notices Gabriel’s cock trapped half under his right thigh. He’s heavy and hard, like they’re not in their forties and he didn’t come down Jack’s throat less than half an hour ago. Jack closes his eyes and goes back in, this time with a hand working lazily along Gabriel’s length. He rubs slickness over the head, and Gabriel makes a noise deep in his chest that Jack can feel vibrate along his tongue.
Jack pulls back, replacing tongue with a fingertip that presses just inside the spit-slicked entrance. He takes a moment to appreciate how his stubble has reddened Gabriel’s skin before turning his attention to the man himself.
“More? Gabe, the last time you bottomed was a decade ago. You nearly broke my jaw and told me if I tried it again you’d find a way to court martial me.”
Gabriel’s head twists around, and brown eyes are glaring back at him from above surprisingly ruddy cheeks. “More.”
Jack rolls his eyes, but pulls his hand back to spread Gabriel open further. He spits, saliva dripping down towards his balls. Jack scoops it up, uses it to work a finger in. Gabriel’s back is tense, but as Jack tugs at his rim and loosens him up bit by bit, he almost melts into the bed. He’s looking a little too relaxed, so Jack pushes a finger in, presses down until - Gabriel’s leg spasms up and he grunts. There we go.
Two fingers now, slowly fucking in and out. It’s almost hypnotic, watching the skin stretch and cling to Jack’s fingers. He’s focused so hard that he nearly misses -
Jack’s eyebrows try to meet his hairline, but he’s not about to complain. He pulls his fingers out, reaches up towards where there’s a bottle waiting on the nightstand, but Gabriel shifts a thigh up to stop him.
“It’s going to -”
“Jackie. You know what we need.”
Jack does. Unless there’s pain, unless there’s something overloading their nerves to the point where pleasure can become actual pleasure and not just background noise, neither of them can come. That doesn’t mean he particularly relishes the idea of fucking Gabriel dry. He spits again, in his hand this time. Wets his dick the best he can. It takes a few minutes, getting Gabriel open enough to fit himself in. Takes even longer to work his cock into the resisting muscle, nothing but tacky, drying saliva to smooth the way.
It hurts, inside. Gabriel’s body clenches around him, tight to the point of bruising. Jack pulls out slowly, painfully, then back in. It’s less thrusting than grinding in and tugging out. Despite everything, Jack’s still hard. Despite everything, Gabriel is too. They finally get a rhythm going, and Jack pulls out too fast once, causing them both to hiss. He goes right back in, though, forcing Gabriel’s body to make space for him. There’s sharp pain and then it suddenly gets slicker. Jack doesn’t know which one of them is bleeding, but the sting makes the pleasure sweeter.
Jack’s fingers have forgotten how to be fingers, scrabbling at Gabriel’s hips until they’re digging, cutting in, anchoring him so he can shove himself inside. Gabriel’s making small noises that Jack doubts he knows he’s making, and Jack gets a hand free to reach underneath. A few snaps of his hips and a thumbnail raking along the edge of foreskin and Gabriel is coming with a groan, spilling hot all over Jack’s hand. Jack pulls out just enough to smear Gabriel’s come over his cock, white mixing with red as he pushes back in. Gabriel’s still twitching and clamping down with aftershocks, and it’s enough to make Jack bite into his shoulder and fill in the cracks of Gabriel’s body with his release.
He pulls out with grunted noises from both of them, flopping on his back onto the pillows. Gabriel slurs into where his face is buried in the rucked up sheets.
“Remind me not to do that again.”
A heavy sigh. “No.” He turns his head, meeting Jack’s eyes. There’s a softness there, a fondness that no one who saw what they just did or knew Blackwatch Commander Reyes at all would expect. It’s just for Jack, just for them. Gabriel moves up to kiss Jack, then visibly hesitates as he remembers where Jack’s mouth just was. Jack yanks him over and kisses him hard anyways, tonguing away Gabriel’s protests and laughing into his mouth.
Blood and sweat and semen dry on cooling bodies as two of the most powerful men in the world wrap themselves around each other and forget the world for a while.
Jack awakens to darkness.
His visor is gone, no night vision for him right now. His arms are bound behind him - not just wrists, but straps wrapped around his upper arms, forcing his elbows to nearly meet at the small of his back. Legs are the same way - ankles yes, but thighs as well. Whoever tied Jack up knows what he’s capable of and isn’t taking any chances.
Slowing his breaths, Jack listens carefully. He’s not alone, he can hear something that’s...familiar, but wrong. Someone is breathing, but it’s not quite right, somehow. Off rhythm, too deep. His shoulders are aching already and he’s not gagged, so Jack says conversationally, “Mind telling me what this is all about?”
There’s a long silence, long enough that Jack figures he won’t get an answer, but then -
“Don’t you know by now?”
It’s raspy, a layer of tar coating every word, but it’s still as familiar to Jack as his own voice.
“No.” He’s not answering the question, he’s saying no to just - everything right now.
There’s the soft tick of a switch, and dim light fills the space. Jack isn’t paying attention to where he is or what he’s laying on right now, all his attention is saved for the white faced figure in front of him.
Reaper. Jack knows about him, distantly. Showed up a while ago ( after - oh god ), works for Talon along with Moira ( Christ, how didn’t he see this ) and likes to kill Overwatch people.
Likes to kill -
Fuck. Of course. Jack had never seen Reaper move, only seen still images. That’s why he never put it together, perhaps. ( Other than how you tasted his spinal fluid after he was crushed to nothingness in front of you ) If he’d ever watched Reaper walk, seen his body language, he would have figured it out in an instant, regardless of everything else.
Click click click as the pieces fall together. Jack wants to ask everything, he wants to know nothing. Reaper paces around the table, smoother than anyone should be able to walk. He stops, finally. Pauses by Jack’s feet. He’s wearing gloves, heavy and black with wicked silver claws. One of those traces up Jack’s leg, slowly, slowly. Jack looks at the stretched out arm, the skin under the black leather straps that’s nearly as pale as the bone mask. Wrong, wrong.
“Why?” Jack can imagine a thousand reasons, a thousand names of people that died in Gabriel’s care, died as his responsibility. Can think of a hundred more that start with SEP and end with Jack turning his face away from a kiss just before their world exploded. He needs to hear it though, needs to hear why he’s been doing this. Why he’s been leading Jack to here, to now.
“They had to pay.” Jack’s opening his mouth when he repeats - “They had to pay. I have to survive.”
“What does one have to do with the other? Why are you - why aren’t you just killing them? Why the torture?” That’s what Jack doesn’t get. Because regardless of what happened, what turned him into this, Gabriel has always had rock solid assurance within himself. Jack thought he was wrong more times than he could count, but the center of Gabriel was ruthless practicality. Torture was messy, torture didn’t get you accurate results. With torture you could make anyone say anything, just to make it stop. Gabriel wouldn’t rely on something so imprecise.
Claws glide their way up Jack’s thigh, soft noises as they skate over the leather of his thigh holster. There’s a pause at his waist, where Jack’s jacket has been pulled up by the position of his arms. The cold metal rests on the thin skin there, where it’s just a centimeter away from bone. Jack doesn’t breathe, waiting to see what happens. A pinprick of pain, growing brighter as the claw digs deeper. It slides through Jack’s skin like a scalpel - just an inch over the line where the muscle cuts in.
Reaper pulls his hand back, examines the bright red coating his claw tip. The hand raises to his mask, finger slipping inside one of the holes. It comes back out clean. There’s an ugly, satisfied sound that comes from beneath the expressionless bone, wet and meaty somehow, like a predator licking their chops.
Jack is hoping that his face isn’t showing anything. Blank, blank, he thinks fiercely, like it’s your visor. Reaper flicks the shining silver clawed finger out of his fist like he’s unsheathed a knife. It comes down towards Jack’s body, and his eyes close as he’s fully prepared to be gutted or worse. Instead there’s a tearing sound, and Jack can feel one of the straps that was holding his upper arms has been cut. His eyes snap up to look at Reaper but -
There’s no one there. No sound of footsteps, no smoke, just empty space where a ( person? ) had been just a moment before.
It was just one strap - it’s going to take Jack a while to get out. Now that he can move his hands up though, he can start to pick himself free.
The knots under his fingers are familiar, ones he’s untied himself from a hundred times before. When Jack finally gets his hands loose, the cut on his hip has clotted. He starts in on freeing his legs, ignoring how he’s half-hard for the first time in years.
Jack wishes he could have yelled at Gabriel in private. Perhaps without clothes on. Said what he really wanted to say about Venice, where he could be brutal because Gabriel could hit him after if he wanted to. Instead Ana was there, Gerard too. And Jack couldn’t see through the one-way mirror but he’d bet every dollar in his pension McCree was looking in as well.
He expects Gabriel to hunt him down that night. Come after him and take it out on Jack’s body because pain is how they talk and the pleasure after how they work through their problems. There’s nothing, though. No knock on his door, no ping on his tablet.
That’s not how Gabriel operates. He’s doing something, planning something. Jack knows him too well for this. He turns on a locator, one that Gabriel probably knows he installed years ago. It shows that he’s in the Blackwatch training rooms. Jack puts on an old sweatshirt and pulls up the hood, jogs through the corridors as an anonymous figure.
He’s not thinking, accidentally ends up on the upper floor. Jack mentally shrugs, goes into the observation room that looks down onto the training floor just to see what he’s doing. To his surprise (and yet, on consideration, not) he sees McCree there with Gabriel. They’re talking, perhaps arguing, with fast moving hands and at one point a poked finger to Gabriel’s chest.
Gabriel knocks McCree’s hand away, steps forward in that way he has where he can loom over someone else even when they’re the same height. Clamps a hand to the back of McCree’s neck, gives him a shake that knocks his hat off. Both their heads are bent slightly, Jack can’t tell if they’re talking or not. He flips the switch on the mike for the room, just in time to hear Gabriel say “-o you going to make it up to me?”
There’s a long pause, then a jerk of McCree’s head. Jack can see Gabriel’s thumb stroke gently along McCree’s throat before his hand moves to his shoulder, presses down. McCree sinks to his knees. Jack turns away as he sees the edge of a smile on Gabriel’s face.
Gabriel and Jack hurt each other and hurt themselves.
It’s just what they do.
The first bodies Jack had found were cold.
Then they were cool, then they were warm, then they were alive, then they were talking. Closer and closer. It shouldn’t be a surprise then when Jack gets a bad feeling about a former safehouse in Catalonia and finds Reaper inside standing over an unconscious man, but somehow it is.
The cot that Jack knows used to be against the wall has been dragged out to the middle of the room, all the better so Reaper can silently circle around the man lying there. The man…that Jack recognizes. Not by name, no, but he remembers that he worked in the tech department of Overwatch. One of the many faceless, nameless workers that Jack didn’t have the time nor energy to get to know because he was too busy hefting the fate of the world on his shoulders.
His upper arm is opened up, on top and on the bottom, gaping open from shoulder to elbow like it was unzipped. The skin is loosened but it doesn’t look like anything is missing.
“Let him go,” Jack finds himself saying, before he can think about the best approach to the situation.
“If he - did something to you, then just kill him. The way you’re torturing them -”
“He was one of them.”
Jack pauses, foot outstretched in a step forward. He shifts his weight back, lets his boot settle quietly back down on the ground. “One of who?”
Reaper is crouched down, a black mass without definition. The bone mask seems to stare at the man’s face, even though there are no eyes visible. His head tilts back and forth, an unnerving, inhuman motion. Jack is overcome by the sudden worry that he’s misread absolutely everything, that he doesn’t actually know who’s underneath.
“Keyloggers. Bugs. My office, your office. Stealing information to bring us down.”
Jack blinks behind his visor at the non sequitur. The tech guy was - huh. It had always been a private conspiracy theory of Gabriel’s, that people in Overwatch were the ones betraying them. Jack had always dismissed it out of hand - Overwatch personnel had the most stringent background checks he’d ever seen, mostly because Jack was the one instituting them. He’d always thought that it was Blackwatch’s demons coming home to roost that destroyed them in the end. Gabriel’s own strike team was two criminals and a mad scientist, murderers every one. No matter how loyal they were to Gabriel, some habits never change.
“Okay,” he says cautiously, almost indulgently, like agreeing with a small child. “That’s this man. What about the others? That one boy couldn’t have been more than eighteen when -”
“All of them.” Reaper has a claw out now, is using it to gently tug apart the opening in the skin of the man’s arm. Jack watches in horrified fascination as the sharp silver dips inside, strokes along the fibers of the muscle as gently as a woman touching a wedding dress.
“Okay,” Jack says again, placatingly. “Then just cut his throat. You don’t need to do all of this.” It would be so much easier for Jack to process this if he was just killing. That would be par for the course for Gabriel. But this, the cutting open and the taking parts, the senseless torture, that’s what Jack just can’t understand.
Reaper uses two claws to delicately pull apart the skin near the elbow, reaches in with another claw to make a slight movement. Goes up near the shoulder, does the same thing once, twice. A moment later his hand pulls back holding a fat, Y-shaped piece of meat. Biceps muscles, healthy and plump. There’s surprisingly little blood, it looks like they were cut at the tendons. Clean cuts, perfect. Thoughtful. Reaper’s head tilts back and forth once more.
Jack wants to say something, needs to say something, but then -
Reaper snips the muscles apart, then threads one of them through a hole in the jawbone of his mask. There’s wet sounds, meaty sounds. Chewing sounds. Jack just stares from behind his visor, inanely remembering Gabe having dinner at his family’s farm during vacation and getting teased by Jack’s father for wanting his steak medium rare instead of blue.
“I have to survive,” Reaper says, and Jack hears him swallow before speaking. “Might as well be them.”
Jack is still, brain blank. He has dealt with a thousand strange things in his life, but this is something that he isn’t quite sure what to do with. He watches as Reaper leans down, snips a few more times with those shining claws of his. Straightens up with the triceps muscles in his hand. He starts to peel the fibers away and eat them a few at a time, like a child with licorice. Jack swallows hard as his mouth starts watering with impending vomit.
He doesn’t know how long he would have stood there and watched the strange and horrific scene, because there’s a sudden inhale of breath. Dark brown eyes open up wide enough to show the whites all around, and the man who had up until now been blessedly unconscious turns his head to stare at his arm, mouth gaping open in preparation to scream.
Reaper moves forward five feet in a bare second, black mist threading at his edges. His hand, the one that has blood in the grooves of the claws, seals itself over the man’s face. The bone mask leans in close, inches away from the man’s wide eyes.
“I don’t think you want to do that,” Reaper says. It’s low, sooty, something almost close to a croon. “I’ll have my fill and if you can walk away afterwards you’re welcome to.” His head moves to the side suddenly, and Jack can hear his neck crack. “If you can walk away.”
There’s just a bit of red stretching along the white of bone now, something long and snakelike. Reaper moves his hand away from the man’s mouth, and there’s no sound when he does. He seems paralyzed with fear. Reaper reaches down and brings his claw out once more and -
“Stop.” Jack doesn’t realize he’s going to say it before it erupts from his mouth. “Just - kill him, he doesn’t have to be alive for this.”
“Oh, but he does, Jackie. If it’s not living meat, I don’t get the benefits. You wouldn’t want me to waste away now, would you?”
Jack wants to say yes, but he’s still adjusting to the fact that somewhere inside that mass of roiling black and frozen anger is something remaining of the man he once felt something for. He doesn’t - he can’t - he won’t say if it was love or not, it was both less and more than that. Four letters doesn’t cover what he and Gabriel did, what they were.
It’s that which makes him say - “Me.”
Reaper stills. Turns his head away from the scraps of flesh below him to look Jack in the face. “You.”
It’s stupid, Jack knows exactly how stupid it is as the words bubble in his throat like vomit but he still can’t stop them coming out. “Me. I’ll heal. Ready supply of meat for you. In return you stop torturing people that don’t deserve it. Kill them or not, but stop destroying them.”
Jack hates himself, in that moment. For being weak, for not wanting to see another set of eyes staring into his own as they die, for giving in to Gabriel one final time. He still doesn’t take it back.
Reaper stares at him for a long time. Jack strains to see any shine, any glimpse of movement in the eyeholes but there’s nothing. The claw that had been resting on the last trembling muscle of the man’s arm pulls back just an inch, then darts out to the side. There’s a fountain of red, the man’s terrified beating heart making blood jet into the air. When Jack tears his attention away from the gory flood a few seconds later, it’s to find himself alone in the room with the nearly-dead body. Reaper is gone, silently and right in front of Jack’s eyes.
“Don’t worry, I’ll find you,” comes a whisper from right behind Jack. He whirls around, but there’s nothing there but growing evening shadows.
Jack listens to the last few wheezes of the man’s lungs, and curses himself and everything he has ever stood for.
Jack absently pokes at a front tooth with his tongue. It’s loose in its socket, no doubt from when Gabriel slammed his face into the wall just before shoving his cock into him. The bright shattershock of Jack’s cheekbone fracturing had been enough to get him hard and halfway to orgasm. It’ll all be gone in the morning, anyways.
Gabriel is methodically pushing his fingers back into their sockets from where Jack had pulled them out, gripping his hand when he came. Noticing Jack watching him, he half-heartedly flaps his hand in Jack’s face, the loose joints flopping around disturbingly.
“Stop that, it’s disgusting.”
They’re busying themselves with minutiae so they don’t address the elephant in the room. Finally Jack sighs, looks over at Gabriel. “Tell me they’re wrong.”
“Don’t be obtuse, you know exactly what I mean.”
Gabriel shifts his shoulders, muscles moving under the skin. As much as Jack knows Gabriel’s body inside and out, he’s not sure if he’s settling himself or preparing for a fight. Gabriel’s faced away from him so all Jack can see is the tension in his spine.
“It’s not us,” he says abruptly. “I try and stay out of your business, you know that, but…” he trails off, shaking his head. “You know I train my people well. We get in and get out clean, Venice excluded. All this shit the UN is getting, it’s from someone leaking information. I’ve got the best teams I’ve had in decades, so whoever is feeding them all that bullshit about violating goddamn sovereignty -”
“It doesn’t matter who’s at fault, Gabriel. The fact is that I just got notice the UN has formed a special committee, they’re going to be tearing into you.”
Gabriel gets up, turns to look Jack in the eyes for the first time since he walked in the room and stripped off his clothes. “Whatever. Are you going to take my side and defend us, or bend over for them and the IJC so you can pretend your hands are cleaner than mine?”
Jack doesn’t know how to answer, and Gabriel knows that. He turns his back once more, pulling up his pants and shrugging into his hoodie. Jack waits for the door to close before he raises a hand to his face, rubs at the tension headache he can feel forming behind his eyes. He knows already that this is going to get worse before it gets better.
He lays back in bed, careful of his still-healing cheekbone. Gabriel has his own quarters, they sleep apart the majority of the time. When they fuck they always sleep together afterwards, however, a strange kind of aftercare. Jack stares out the window until the sun starts to rise, the bed empty behind him.
There’s quiet for a while. At first Jack is more paranoid than usual, making false trails and staying off of communication devices of any kind. It’s all useless - Jack made the offer and it was accepted, it’s not like he’s being hunted down. It’s a done deal. Eventually he just gets tired of it, holes up in a place outside of Anchorage after turning in a couple of bounties to stock up on cash.
Jack eats, sleeps, catches salmon in the river out back. He doesn’t bother putting his visor on, he’s the only one around for miles. He thinks to himself that if he wasn’t who he was, if he wasn’t who he used to be, this could be his life.
That’s when Reaper finds him, of course.
Jack is deboning the fish, fire crackling and popping in the hearth. Perhaps it’s that background noise that allows Reaper to catch him unawares, perhaps Reaper really is that quiet. Perhaps Jack’s just getting old. All Jack knows is that there’s a curl of black at the corner of his vision that’s on the wrong side of him to come from the fire, and in a moment he’s got his back to the counter with his fillet knife flipped down into a reverse grip.
Reaper just stands there.
Jack breathes slowly and deeply to bring his heart rate down. “I was making dinner. Do you want anything?” he says, more politely than he ever really bothered to speak to Gabriel.
Jack rolls his eyes. “Well, then occupy yourself for a while.” If Reaper really is doing...this, then Jack needs all the sustenance he can get. Reaper drifts away, over near the fire. Jack takes the fish to the kitchen table. He hates getting the scales all over everything but he’ll be damned if he has his back to Reaper.
He cooks and eats the fish but has no memory of it afterwards, every bit of his attention focused on the dark form moving around the cabin. There’s a surprising number of things Jack keeps here - it’s his closest bolthole to eastern Russia and China, so he keeps it stocked up. Reaper looks at the books haphazardly shoved along the walls, the clothes drying on the rack, the Winchester 70 that Jack keeps for bears and moose and Talon agents.
The surreal scene comes to its inevitable end as Jack puts his plate in the sink and faces Reaper. “What do you need?” he asks through a dry throat.
Jack raises an eyebrow in question.
Jack blinks. All right. For now at least he wants to stay as mobile as possible, be able to run and fight if this goes wrong. Legs are out, torso too. He’s right handed so - “Left arm.”
Reaper points to the couch, and says, “Shirt.” His voice is whispery, like moth wings beating against a window. It’s missing the comforting bass, the gravel of Gabriel. Jack wonders if it’s because he needs to feed ( eat, eat, people eat not feed but then is Reaper a person? ) or because it’s close in the cabin and he can be quiet.
Pulling off his shirt, Jack sits on the couch. After a moment of consideration, he lays down. Reaper glides over, settles himself down on the coffee table. Jack has a sudden sense memory of being violently ill from something SEP-involved, of Gabriel sitting just like this and taking care of him. A clawed, gloved hand appears and Jack is shaken from the memory.
Then, strangely, Reaper pulls the glove off. Jack is expecting - well, he doesn’t actually know what he’s expecting, but it’s not hands that look like they’ve been dipped in ink, blackened with curls of darkness drifting off of the wickedly sharp tips. Given his gloves had claws Jack was expecting fingers, but the barbs on the ends of Reaper’s (nails? talons?) look even keener than the metal versions.
Jack’s eyes move up, where the blackness fades to that strange pale ash color on his arms. It would all be foreign except - where the light shines off the tendons in the back of his hands, where the muscles move under the skin, it’s all horribly familiar. Jack has had his mouth over every inch of Gabriel, it will forever be burned into his body’s memory. Some strange colors aren’t enough to take that away.
There’s a bright sting of pain at Jack’s shoulder, and he watches in fascination as Reaper draws a red line down his skin. It hurts, of course it hurts, but pain is something Jack has had a give and take relationship with for decades now. Just because it’s something he can shrug off with a few deep breaths however doesn’t mean that Jack doesn’t look away when Reaper starts to slide his claw inside to loosen the muscle from the anchoring connective tissue. There’s pain, and then there’s this.
Jack curls his other arm behind his head. Tucks his face into his bicep so he smells his own sweat and laundry detergent instead of his blood. There’s a pause in the shivery waves of hurt coming from his arm. A pause, and then a horrible tugging.
He’s become intimately familiar over the years of the different types of agony a body can go through. There’s the usual - cuts, stabs, burns, breaks. The melting of acid on flesh, the ice of chemicals in veins, what it’s like to have skin scraped off layer by layer. Feeling a new type of pain at this point is a novel experience. Like the first time Jack had his intestines pulled out: he had no idea that you’d be able to feel it like that. This is the same way, a new and interesting pain, something Jack didn’t know his old and weary body could experience.
Jack shifts his leg over. He’s hard.
He can feel it as Reaper pulls the muscle completely away, he moves his shoulder slightly and can tell his arm is lighter, somehow. Jack wants to say that the first real erection he’s had in years fades as he listens to Reaper chew at Jack’s own flesh, but it doesn’t.
Something in Jack knows that this is Gabriel, and Gabriel and pain and sex are tied up in Jack’s head and body in a knot that neither time nor resurrection can undo. It still doesn’t make it okay, still doesn’t wipe away the guilt and hatred for his own mind and body.
Jack breathes in deeply, waits for the pain to come back. It doesn’t. He turns his head to look at Reaper, but before he can get more than halfway there’s a gloved hand shoving his head into the small space between his arm and the back of the couch. He’s about to struggle when -
There’s something in his voice, something familiar. Something desperate. A sound that years ago would have meant that Gabriel was at the edge of his control. Jack freezes as he feels something on his arm. It’s a tongue, he thinks. Almost. It’s long, far too long and far too flexible. Far too cold. He can feel it wiping his blood away, sliding delicately over the edges of his wound, dipping inside every once in a while.
Jack feels claws press against his lips and closes his eyes.
It’s long, long minutes before the hand lets up, before the tongue moves away. Jack still doesn’t move. His arm is throbbing, his hand is numb. He’s not sure if he wants to move to check the damage or not, to see what Gabriel did to him.
“Should be clean. It’s...antiseptic. Coagulates,” Reaper says, and his voice is clearly more stable than before. “Needed less than I thought. You’re still strong.” It sounds like admiration and admonition at the same time. “I’ll find you.”
There’s a long minute of silence, and when Jack finally turns his head, it’s to find that he’s alone. He glances down at his arm to see the damage. It’s clean, Reaper really did lick every last drop up. Jack tugs at the edge of the cut, tries to see inside past the bits of blood that have started to leak through. It looks like the bicep muscle is missing. Or - half of it at least. Jack doesn’t know what it means, that Reaper needs so little from him.
Jack sits up, takes a deep breath against the vertigo. He moves his arm carefully - he’s never fully regenerated muscles before, not on this scale. He’s regrown toes a few times, half a finger once, but not this. He supposes that he’ll just tape it up, it looks like it’ll heal fast and clean enough he won’t need stitches.
In the bathroom, Jack looks at his face. He’s pale, scars standing out against his skin and his eyes an eerie blue contrast that’s mirrored in the bags under his eyes. He keeps staring at his own reflection as he reaches into his pants with his torn up arm, as he clumsily jacks himself off using the blood that’s dripped down as lube and his elbow braced against his hip to compensate for the missing muscle.
He comes with a grunt, splattering the sink with streaks of red and white. Coming down from his first orgasm in he doesn’t know how long, Jack shakily sinks to his knees.
He’s in the basement labs, somewhere he never goes. Picking up a prototype of - something, honestly he can’t even remember what, from Torb that Ana needs. Jack pauses before turning a corner, shifting the heavy thing with too many straps up on his hip. He’s about to walk forward when he hears low voices. Familiar voices.
Jack takes a step and sees Gabriel at the door of one of the labs, zipping up his hoodie. As far as Jack can tell, he’s not wearing a shirt underneath. Moira reaches out, lays a spidery hand on Gabriel’s shoulder. Jack knows how Gabriel feels about her, still doesn’t understand why he recruited her in the first place and especially now that all her dirty secrets came out and -
Gabriel doesn’t shake the hand off.
Her nails dig into his shoulder for a moment before loosening, almost caressing him as her hand drops down to her side. Gabriel doesn’t react, other than giving a short, sharp nod and turning to walk quickly down the hallway. Moira watches him go for a long moment, before turning her head the other direction and looking straight at Jack.
She gives him a slow smile and a little wave before stepping back into her lab and firmly shutting the door.
Jack is going to enjoy telling Gabriel that she’s disavowed tomorrow.
“Stop tensing up.”
A pause, cool breath on his inner thigh. “I’m sorry, did you want me to go back to torturing who you think of as innocents? I can, you know. I don’t particularly care either way. This is a favor.”
Reaper says that, but Jack doesn’t believe it. He wouldn’t spend the energy to hunt Jack down otherwise. This is the third time, and it’s been longer between each visit. Jack thinks that the SEP chemicals are doing something. It’s probably just more potent, making Reaper stronger but -
Something in him wonders if it’s reactivating the parts of Reaper that were once Gabriel. That maybe it’s something that’s Jack and not just SEP that’s affecting him.
Jack knows exactly how pathetic he’s being. He still can’t help it.
He consciously tries to relax his leg, not tense it up. A hot line is drawn down his outer thigh, something more than touch but less than pain. Jack is getting used to it, to what Reaper does to him now. A familiar spark of nerves. He settles himself back into the armchair of the safehouse in Corsica that they’re in, lets himself sink into the feeling. It’s like dealing with a rip current - swim along it, not against it. Let the individual pinpricks of tissue being cut away blend into a wave of sensation, no longer pain but just nerves firing.
Jack cracks an eyelid, glances down. Reaper has previously made sure to control Jack’s head, turned him away, but he hasn’t bothered to yet tonight. Right now he has a claw buried in the outer part of Jack’s right thigh, but his attention is focused somewhere higher. Jack didn’t want to sacrifice a pair of pants to Reaper’s mealtime, so he’s wearing just an old pair of boxers. They hide little under the best of circumstances, and even less at the moment.
“Shut up. You know why.”
“Still?” It’s both sarcasm and melancholy.
“Still.” Jack hates himself as he says it, hates even more that the words ‘it’s not like there’s been anyone else’ are at the back of his tongue. He swallows them down, closes his eyes, turns his head away.
There’s the guitar string pluck of Reaper cutting away the muscle at the anchoring tendon, and then something new. Pressure. Good pressure. Jack doesn’t open his eyes, he knows that Reaper has the heel of his free hand pressed to the bulge in Jack’s shorts because he knows the feel of Gabriel having done that hundreds of times before.
A push that turns into almost a caress, that Jack has to hold himself back from canting his hips into. “Make me.”
Jack has is half naked with a thigh muscle hanging out of his leg, he’s not making Reaper do a goddamn thing and they both know it. Reaper keeps cutting the muscle loose with one hand as he pushes against Jack with the other, and Jack’s teeth sink into his lower lip at the conflicting sensations.
If he closed his eyes it would be like he was sent back in time, Gabriel at his feet.
Jack’s close, so close, and Reaper apparently remembers what he’s like when he gets like that, because he digs his claws into Jack’s lower stomach and shoves his hand up hard where Jack’s balls have tightened up. Jack tenses his legs, biting back a pained noise as muscles that have been cut away try to contract.
Sticky come dampens his boxers as there’s the soft rainfall patter of blood on the floor, and the arms of the chair splinter as Jack’s strong hands crack the wood. There’s a tug that Jack barely feels as the flesh is finally cut out of him, and the sounds of Reaper eating are the faintest background noise to the thunder in his ears.
Reaper licks his leg clean, drinking down every bit of blood that has been shed for him. Jack almost expects it when his shorts are tugged down a bit, and that tentacle-like tongue squirms its way around his cock and cleans him off. Jack just breathes slow and steady, willing his heartbeat to slow down.
When he opens his eyes he fully expects Reaper to have vanished like usual, but he’s still there. There’s a drip of blood out of his thigh as Jack’s blood pressure spikes for a moment. “You need something else?”
Reaper just stays there for a moment, crouched between Jack’s thighs like a gargoyle. Ready to pounce, or perhaps collapse in on himself like a black hole. Neither of them move or say anything, the only sounds in the room the faint breaths from both of them and the occasional drop of blood hitting the floor. With a single movement Reaper gracefully rises to his feet and sweeps out of the door, silent as always.
Jack picks splinters out of his hand and wonders when this became his life.
They’re arguing, again.
That’s all they seem to do nowadays. Overwatch is falling apart, the center cannot hold. The center of Jack and Gabriel, off balance now that Ana is -
Ana is -
They don’t like to admit how important, how steadying she is to them. Just like how Gabriel doesn’t like to talk about how much he needs McCree, or Jack doesn’t discuss how he still keeps those pictures of Vincent. Ana is gone and McCree after her, and Blackwatch has crumbled through Gabriel’s frantically grasping hands. They’re spending too much time together, too much work time because Gabriel can’t run a team when there’s only one person.
They fight about budgets, they fight about casualties, they fight about what they’re going to do tomorrow or next week or next year. When it gets bad, they fight about themselves.
The problem with when you argue with someone that you’ve been beside and inside for decades is that you know exactly what sensitive spots to press. Sometimes Jack just can’t help himself, when Gabriel is just being so Gabriel.
“So you’re going to grab your ankles for Petras now? Didn’t know you’d give it up to someone like him,” Gabriel is grumbling like usual, but something in it needles Jack the wrong way.
“Do you think you’ve been the only one?” Jack says pointedly, cruelly, and they both know he’s no longer talking business.
Gabriel’s mouth hangs open a little, like he’s unable to process the concept that Jack would ever touch anyone that wasn’t him. “You wouldn’t,” he says finally, and halfway through the second word it somehow goes from surety to nearly a question.
Jack sneers and turns away. He knows Gabriel’s buttons, the possessiveness that is a thick rind over the pathological need for stability that Jack provides. You can’t be a renegade unless there’s something to rebel against, no? Gabriel defines himself by being not Jack as much as he does by being himself.
In truth Jack’s just fucking with him - there’s no way that anyone could ever fill the space inside him that Gabriel has carved out for himself with fingernails and teeth and sheer determination over the decades. He tried sleeping with other people, early on. They were all too soft, not willing to push hard enough so that Jack could get himself, physically or mentally, to where he needed to be. Despite everything, despite himself, he and Gabriel have been it for each other for a long damn time now.
They snipe at each other a bit more as they eat dinner, get undressed. Gabriel’s - off, somehow. Like what Jack said actually bothered him. It’s almost funny until it’s not, until Gabriel is buried deep within Jack’s body but his eyes are past his shoulder, in another world.
Jack bites into Gabriel’s lip, hard enough to draw blood, hard enough for the edges of his teeth to meet through the flesh. “Look at me,” he growls into Gabriel’s mouth. “Look - fucking look at me, you bastard. Look at me when I’m fucking you.”
Gabriel’s hands have been around the sides of Jack’s chest, bracing him to thrust downwards. Now those hands tighten until Jack’s ribs creak, until there’s a splintery pain that says something will have to heal tonight. It’s okay though, because Gabriel’s eyes are back on Jack’s, back in their world, back in the moment. He shoves his way into Jack like he’s going to come out the other side, and Jack gives back as good as he can.
They pant into each others’ mouths, sharing the same air back and forth until they’re low on oxygen but full of each other. Jack is dizzy when he comes, vertigo swirling the edges of his brain as he empties himself hot and sticky against Gabriel’s chest. He’s still wound tight after, the usual post-orgasm pliancy gone in favor of shoving his hips up into Gabriel. He needs to see him fall apart, needs to see Gabriel know that Jack is goddamn it for him, that he will never have anything better.
Gabriel’s eyes have closed, clenching shut as his lips part in a silent snarl. Jack pulls his face down into his shoulder, holds him there to lock his teeth in Jack’s trapezius as low noises are pulled from a cracked throat and into Jack’s skin. He can feel Gabriel throb inside him, feels an ugly smugness at it all.
They’re too fucking old and tired to fall asleep without cleaning up but they do so anyways, Jack stabbing at his tablet to make sure his 0400 alarm is set before slumping back into bed. He ignores the slow drip from between his cheeks and the tackiness on his chest, allows Gabriel to wrap an arm around him.
Every time they’re together now Jack wonders if it’s the last time.
Wonders if he’ll know it when they actually get there.
He hadn’t expected Reaper to show, to be honest.
Jack is healed, mostly. There are still dark lines on his back, lightning strike fractals where the creeping black from the shotgun blast tried to overtake him before Jack’s body beat it back. Ana had stitched him up, grumbling in three languages at how they’d never be free of the damage Gabriel caused. Jack had wanted to laugh, telling her that she had no idea.
Regardless of how this farce ends up he’ll never be able to tell her about any of it. As much as she was their third, their stability - she wasn’t SEP. She didn’t suffer and bond through suffering, have the twisted relationship with their own bodies that was inflicted on Jack and Gabriel.
She’d understand even less now.
Jack is in Germany, an old safehouse that belonged to the family of an agent now long dead. He’s taken out the last of the group in Cairo, wanted to get away from the heat that was beating down into his bones. The chill of northern Europe is perfect. Snow falls outside, silent and numbing.
When Jack turns from the stove and sees a dark shape in front of the door, he blinks. There’s something incongruous about seeing Reaper here. Gabriel was always a creature of the heat, bitching and moaning about being anywhere it dipped below 70. Somehow Jack had conflated that with Reaper, assuming that his new self would cling to warmth as well.
Foolish. Like Reaper has ever shown anything akin to warmth.
“Come to finish the job?” Jack asks, acid in his tone.
“You don’t get eggs if you kill the chicken.”
Jack’s eyes narrow. A stupid cornpone saying, the likes of which Gabriel would tease him with all the time. It irks him to hear it coming from Reaper’s damaged throat. He’s him, but he’s not him. He doesn’t get to say things like that. Or to think of Jack as a...an animal, a supply of meat. Even if that’s what he is.
Reaper circles around him, and Jack’s reminded of the first time he saw him walking around the man on the cot, how he looked like he was deciding how to cut up a Thanksgiving turkey. Jack’s not trapped though, not tied down. He turns his body, turns his head. Faces Reaper at all times.
He comes to a stop, black coat fluttering for a moment. The mask is still blank bone, but Jack’s learning to read the subtleties of movement - Gabriel through a smoked glass lens. A gloved hand raises up to Jack’s neck. He tenses, the gleam of sharp silver in his peripheral vision as he keeps his eyes on the eyeholes of the mask. The cold metal traces down Jack’s neck, sensual despite the danger. Perhaps even because of it. The claw digs a bit deeper in at the shoulder, draws a pink line along Jack’s trapezius and deltoid.
“Right here,” Reaper says from inches away, and Jack gives a slow nod. It was somewhere around the second or third time that Jack just started letting Reaper take what he wanted - he healed fast, and as long as he didn’t have to go anywhere that night he could handle whatever was inflicted on him. Here though, it’s so close to Jack’s face. Intimate. He wonders from a moment how Reaper is going to do this -
Reaper has made one of those disturbingly fast movements again, and this time he’s taken Jack with him. He’s sitting on the couch, Jack awkwardly spread on his lap. Reaper lifts him up, resettles him more comfortably.
It’s...unnerving. Gabriel was strong, could hold Jack up and fuck him against the wall if he wanted to. This is different, this is not human in a way that despite all their strangeness, Jack and Gabriel never were.
In his own head, Jack barely notices that Reaper has slit his shirt, is calmly peeling it away from his body. Reaper isn’t wearing his ammo belt, thankfully, but sitting on body armor still isn’t the most comfortable thing. Jack is shifting back and forth, trying to sit so there isn’t a piece of kevlar digging into him. He freezes as he feels a claw carefully trace over a scar on his right side, two more claws doing the same on his left.
Jack hasn’t been shirtless around Reaper before. There were reasons for that.
He’s statue still as Reaper touches him, close enough that Jack can hear his soft raspy breathing. He spends more time on the new scars, ones that Gabriel didn’t know. Jack doesn’t realize he’s removed the gloves until he feels a cool hand press to his ribs, spanning a scar from a hothead Los Muerto with a chain whip.
“I don’t know what this is from.” If Jack didn’t know better, he’d say Reaper sounded almost wistful. Reaper doesn’t feel things that like that now, Jack doesn’t think. Doesn’t deserve to.
“You don’t get to know.”
The hands on him tighten, claws digging in. Jack had expected the slow, warm flow down his sides, wanted it, even. Reaper was being ...strange, Jack needs him to be what he expects. Needs him to not be what Jack desires him to be, deep down.
A hand pulls free, reaches out to push Reaper’s mask up with fingers that leave bloody smudges on the bone. Jack immediately shuts his eyes. He’d refused to listen to Ana when she tried to tell him what Reaper looked like underneath, and he won’t look now. He can’t see what has become of him, it’s just one step too far. He’s turning his head to the side when -
Jesus fucking Christ. Teeth, sharp and tearing, clamped down right into that sensitive space between neck and shoulder. Jack cries out, can’t help the sound that’s yanked from him without permission. His hands dig into Reaper’s upper arms, right where the leather gives way to skin. He’s never touched Reaper’s skin before - it’s cool, silky. Almost insubstantial, like it might slip away from under Jack’s fingers if he loosens them the slightest bit.
Reaper digs in, teeth worrying at him and tongue lashing about to make sure not a drop of blood escapes. It’s too much, so much that Jack starts to blank out, to go outside of his head. It’s then that he realizes that he’s making small movements, shifting his hips forward and back, forward and back. He would stop, but all his energy is on not screaming as he feels a tooth touch a nerve that makes his arm jerk.
There’s a coolness that Jack absently registers, stiffens and comes back to himself a bit as he realizes there’s air moving against his backside, that there are fingers creeping in and in.
Visions of the empty space where that one boy’s ass had once been run through his mind, until Jack is ready to tear himself free, regardless of what it will do to him. He’s tensed to move when he realizes - he’s not being pulled apart, he’s being pushed forward. Forward into Reaper, who is swallowing down bits of Jack, quiet noises in the back of his throat that Jack can only hear because they’re mere inches apart.
Pain, throbbing as Reaper takes his mouth away from Jack’s shoulder. His lips - cool, wet, strangely almost normal - brush Jack’s ear. “Do it. Jackie, do it, it would be so goddamn good, do it -”
Jack is nodding before he knows what he’s doing, because it’s pain and sex and Gabriel and Reaper all wrapped into one and after years of beige nothingness he finally feels like - he finally feels again. Jack drags a hand along his shoulder, wets it with his blood and Reaper’s stringy saliva. Reaches around, slides a finger into a body that doesn’t know how to do this any more.
It takes longer than he remembers it used to, Reaper spitting blood into his hand every once in a while like an offering, a benediction. Eventually Jack is three fingers deep and nodding, head rubbing against the leather of Reaper’s hood. He reaches underneath Jack, the sound of snaps and zippers loud on the air. A smooth slide down, slouched so Jack can move up, so he can feel -
It’s - not the right temperature, but Jack can feel that it’s the same, mostly. Foreskin that slides, that one vein on the left, how it curves up towards his belly and cants to the right. Jack’s hand moves down to the base to feed it into him, and freezes as his fingers brush Reaper’s bare groin and go into a - a hole of some kind. It’s wet in there, disturbingly warmer than the surface of his skin, warmer than Jack’s own body. A bubble is forming in Jack’s throat as he feels squirming against his fingers, he doesn’t know if it’s vomit or a moan or a scream but something is going to come out.
Reaper knocks Jack’s hand away, shoves himself abruptly up, and everything in Jack’s head rushes out of him in a gasp. He’s full, complete in a way he hasn’t been in years. They don’t move, other than the slow undulation of Reaper’s throat as he swallows down his mouthful of Jack.
Jack flexes his thighs up - blood is a bad lube but it’s not like they haven’t used worse - and then sits back down. Reaper’s teeth dig in hard for a moment, teeth scraping against bone. Jack goes back and forth between the two forces - his own body pushing up, Reaper shoving him down. There’s a rhythm between them that would take more than death to throw off, and Jack is pure reaction, pure id.
He’s getting close - at some point Reaper ripped the front of his pants too, and his cock is rubbing up against the armor panels on Reaper’s stomach, the delicate skin abraded and raw. It only makes it better, honestly. There’s a thrust up and a bite down, and Jack can’t help but groan and clench his hands tighter.
His hands, which tear through that oddly textured skin of Reaper’s arms. He feels what’s like some unholy combination of beef jerky, twine, and something distressingly gelatinous, before his fingers wrap around bone. Jack wants desperately to let go, but Reaper is now holding him so tightly that he doesn’t think he can. He grunts as claws punch into his side and slide deeper, until they grate against ribs with a shivery scrape that Jack is now strangely used to.
It’s too much, too much for a body to handle and Jack spills hot and white across Reaper’s black armor. He’s clenching down, it hurts him so he can’t imagine what it feels like for Reaper. If Reaper feels anything, that is.
Apparently he does, because it’s a minute of Jack grinding down later that there’s a rush of heat inside of him - too hot, hotter than anything a body should produce. It burns, and Jack twists around trying to get free. Instead Reaper bites down harder than before, tears an enormous mouthful out of Jack’s shoulder as easily as a child biting into an ice cream cone. There must be some major artery that got nicked, because there’s a gush of blood that pulses stronger with every heartbeat.
Oh thank god, Jack thinks fuzzily. This is how it ends. Would he have preferred to go out with clothing on? Sure. But it wasn’t bad to go out just post-orgasm, in the arms of someone he once cared about. Even if that person wasn’t exactly that person anymore. He hears his mother’s voice in the back of his head, telling him to say a Hail Mary, to ask for absolution. He shakes the ghost off - it’s a quarter century too late for that, too late for him.
Jack leans forward, nestles his head underneath the edge of Reaper’s mask where there’s a bit of cool skin above the shoulder armor, and drifts off into blackness.
Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.
“You won’t even pretend to support me.”
“What the hell is there to support? Your group is gone, the only reason you haven’t been transferred out of here completely is because they don’t know what you know.” They’re walking out of Jack’s office, marching, rather. Jack has things to do, so much that he doesn’t even know where to begin. There’s no Ana to take up the slack, no one to help him prioritize.
And Gabriel - “At least let me help you.”
God, he wants that. “I can’t, Gabe. You know I can’t. You’re -”
“I’m fucking what, tainted now?” The bitterness is painful to hear. “All these years working together, all these years together , Jack.”
They’re in the hangar, the balcony above the various Orcas and the maintenance people scurrying around like ants. No one’s up here with them, but it’s still so very public. When Gabriel steps close, beard brushing Jack’s stubbled cheek, Jack pulls back and turns his head.
He pretends not to see the hurt, quickly hidden, in Gabriel’s eyes.
There’s a beeping, getting louder, faster. Jack frowns. “Do you hear that?”
The beeping stops, there’s a moment where the world draws a breath, and then everything explodes.
Jack wakes, and immediately shuts his eyes again.
He doesn’t know where he’ll end up, but he’s pretty sure that even Hell would have something more interesting than ancient splintered wooden roof beams. His shoulder is throbbing, his ribs hurt, and he is trying to ignore the entire concept of his ass.
Eyes slit open against - okay, that’s morning light. He’s been out at least twelve hours. Looking around, he’s alone. What a shock. What actually is surprising, however, is how his shoulder is neatly bandaged up and there’s a blanket draped over him.
Jack gets up, limps to the bathroom. He looks in the mirror, and is disgusted. His cheeks are pink and healthy, the bags under his eyes have faded, even his hair looks closer to gold than white in the warm morning light.
He hates Reaper in that moment, and hates his own body even more.
A long shower, and the discovery that he’s shitting blood. It’s not just what they used as lube, there’s something - burned? As if he’s blistered inside, like from an acid. That’s the last fucking time Reaper barebacks him, that’s for sure.
(wasn’t it worth it, the traitorous voice in the back of his head says. the orgasm and the sleep, the fact you don’t look like the living dead even though you might well have died for a bit there )
Jack tells the voice to shut up.
It takes him longer to heal - days instead of hours. Part of it is likely the brutal way Reaper took his pound of flesh, but Jack thinks it might also be because he hurt Reaper in return. He smiles at the memory, finally feeling a bit equal in their energy exchange.
There are duelling emotions within him. Despair at being so close to a death he deserved and having it be taken away, comfort in knowing that he was taken care of. He hates both, tamps them down in bouts of brutal violence that get him on the most wanted lists of five countries in just a few weeks.
Jack had spent considerable effort over the years researching what it would take to destroy himself. He’d honestly figured that it would be the last vestiges of childhood religion that would stay his hand in the end. Instead, it’s seeing what happened to Gabriel. If destroying his body completely wasn’t enough to overcome SEP, then fucking nothing will.
If Gabriel became Reaper, what might Jack become?
Perhaps nothing, perhaps something worse. Seeing the damage that Reaper has done to the world has made him abandon his dreams of a bridge to peace lined with razor blades and nooses.
God damn you, Gabriel Reyes. Won’t even let a man die in peace.
Jack is left alone. Goes about his life - killing who needs to be killed, doing what he has to do. Overwatch has reformed, after a fashion. They can’t find him, Jack’s too canny for that. But they find McCree, McCree finds Ana, and Ana finds him. He glares at her, hands still streaked with gore as he drops a body that’s a replacement for his frustration. Overwatch doesn’t want him and what he has become, and Jack sure as hell doesn’t want Overwatch.
He doesn’t know what he wants, but it’s not them.
Jack trudges home from the farmer’s market, holding heavy bags full of apples and cabbage and eggs. He’s established the closest thing to a permanent safe house here in semi-rural England. He speaks the language so no one looks at him strangely, it’s small and isolated enough that he can go around without a visor, and all the local church ladies think he’s a reclusive war hero of some kind so they leave him alone and bake him a pie every once in a while.
He fantasizes about leaving behind the one man war, of just doing...this for the rest of his life.
Of fading away into blandness personified, of losing every bit of adrenaline and excitement and personality that made him Jack Morrison and not just another Indiana hick, of living a quiet life in this small town and dying in his sleep.
A nightmare, basically.
Jack pulls in to the drive in front of the house, the ancient truck he hotwired three counties over and is pretending is his own rattling to a stop. He gets out, grabs the bags out of the truck bed, and when he turns around there’s a black figure on the porch.
Reaper stands there, a black hole in space, incongruous amongst the soft green of the trees and quiet buzz of insects and hazy afternoon sun. He holds a clawed hand out, like the Grim Reaper personified and waiting to take Jack to the afterlife.
Jack Morrison smiles, his face beatific in anticipation, and goes to greet Death and give communion.