Solarbird (solarbird) wrote,

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Old Soldiers, Chapter 18: if anything, you should be proud

[All dialogue is in translation from the Spanish.]

[AO3 link]

«Hey, so,» Gabriel said, sitting at the small table in the detention cell, «I don't know your name, not for sure, but - mine's Gabe. Gabriel Rayes.»

The Los Muertos fighter said nothing, just glaring at him from across the little room, not at the table, leaning, against the far wall.

«I know, I know, you don't want to talk to us. So now you're probably expecting some sort of good cop/bad cop deal, here? Or maybe for me just to try to beat it out of you, I dunno. But that's not what we do.» He pulled out a pack of cigarettes, and pulled one out. «Mind if I smoke?»

Her eyes flicked to the package. Morley. The most popular brand in Mexico. She didn't smoke, but Arturo did, and he smoked that.

«I'm not gonna, if you don't say it's okay,» Reyes said. «Lot of people don't like the smell, but I find it relaxing.»

She kept her silence.

«Just as well,» he said, putting the cigarette back in its package. «Angela's been after me and Jesse to quit for years, but I figure - our line of work, lung cancer'll be the last thing that gets me.»

The corner of Laticia's mouth twitched, just a little. Gabe pretended not to notice, and poured himself a glass of water from the small pitcher at the table, and poured a second glass from the same pitcher. Glass wasn't really right, of course, the cups were paper, and the pitcher was plastic, but close enough. He took a sip from one, and put the other on the far side of the table.

«You shouldn't feel bad about losing, yesterday,» he said. «You did well - better, even, than you did in New Mexico, a few months ago. It's just that this time, we knew to take you seriously, and bring in bigger guns. If anything, you should be proud.»

He picked the cigarette pack off the table, put it into his shirt pocket, and pulled out a small candy, which he popped into the side of his mouth. «Supposed to help y'quit. Don't think I believe in it, though.»

He played with the wrapper, making crinkly sounds with the plastic. «Morrison - he's a lot of things, good and bad, but one of 'em's being a good field commander. He picks good people, and he's really whipped you into solid shape. We went into the army together, back in the day. Used to be friends, though that's,» he chuckled, «...long over. Yesterday felt a little like old times.»

Again, a little twitch in the fighter's eyes. He hasn't taught them anything about interrogation, though, he thought. Good.

«You know,» he continued, taking another sip of water, «we're not looking for anything about Los Muertos. As far as we're concerned, that's a Mexican problem, with Mexican jurisdiction. We want to bring in Jack, hand him over to the international criminal court - not for anything he's done with you, but for what he did, before, in Overwatch. He got a lot of my friends killed.»

He leaned back a little in his chair, and finished his glass of water. «You hungry? I'd think by now you'd have to be. I know you didn't eat breakfast, but given what the Swiss call breakfast, I can't say I blame you.»

That got a smirk. Just a little one, but a smirk.

«It's not too late for breakfast, you know. C'mon, sit down. You need to eat, and you don't have to talk.»

He opened the bag he'd brought into the room, and pulled out two covered plates, sealed in large airtight plastic bags. As soon as he broke the seal, the spicy scent of huevos con tortilla filled the small room, and he pulled the plates from their bags, and set them both across the table.

«I made these myself, just before I came in, when they told me you didn't eat. I'll eat with you, so you don't think we've done anything to it. You want the left or the right?» He saw her react to the scent - he wasn't a half-bad cook, and he knew it. «Or, we can combine them, or I'll try anything you want first - whatever makes you feel a little safer. We know Morrison's kind of... out there, these days. Who knows what he's been telling you, am I right?»

Laticia stepped forward, slowly, towards the table, and sat down, giving him her best glare, saying nothing.

«Thanks. So. Pick a plate? Or...»

She picked a plate, then saw there was no fork, or spoon, and looked back up as Gabriel handed her a plastic utensil. «Sorry, no metal. But it'll get the job done...» and as he said that, she pushed the plate back, and took the other one in its place.

«Fine by me,» he said, smiling.

She looked at him, and waited.

«Oh, me first?»

She nodded, and he smiled. There we go, he thought. And now we're talking. «No problem.» He took out his own plastic fork, took a big piece of egg, chewed, and swallowed. «If I say this was my grandmother's recipe, would it be too much of a cliche? I think so, but it's true, so I'm stuck with saying it. She'd never forgive me if I didn't tell people where it came from.»

Laticia smirked, took a taste from her own plate, and then took a second, much larger bite, immediately. Americano can cook, she thought. Damn, this isn't half bad.

«There aren't a lot of things I can make, not right,» he said, between his own bites, «but this is one. I make it whenever I feel homesick. It's LA, not Mexico, but she was from Mexico, and she brought it with her. For me, it's grandma's kitchen.»

She snorted, amiably, just a little, between her own bites, and drank a little water. «I don't remember either of my grandmothers,» she surprised him by saying.

He didn't let on. «I'm sorry about that. I really am.»

A shrug, and she kept eating. «It's what it is,» she said. «You're pretty good at this.»

«Cooking? Thanks.»

«Interrogation.» She shook her head, disappointed in herself. «As soon as I nodded, I knew I'd fucked up.»

«I should be good - it was my job, or one of 'em, when I was working for Morrison. And hey, I'm glad you're talking. Makes it less weird in here.»

You worked for Morrison? she thought. «But you're not getting anything about Los Muertos out of me,» she insistently.

«Not even going to try. On my honour.»

«So,» she said, considering that between bites, «why aren't you just dumping me over to the Mexican police?»

«Good question. We've got a few reasons. First, I've already said. We're not Interpol. Second, we're hoping you tell us a little more about where Morrison might go hide. Third... we've got some video we think you'll want to see, first.»

«Video? Of what?»

«Part of it, maybe you can tell us. You're in it. So's Jack.»

She took another big bite of spicy egg. «Your ambush?»

«Nope. One of yours.»

«Huh.» She looked at her paper cup. «You got any coffee? This wants coffee, not water.»

«Kind of, but not the real stuff. The strongest thing we've got is espresso.»

She shrugged. «It'll do.»


[the next day]

«So,» Delgado said, «you guys shoot this video?»

Laticia sipped her mango soda and leaned back a little bit in the padded conference room chair. It was a lot more comfortable than the detention cell's bolted-down metal.

Gabe shook his head, no, as he pulled up the file. «We don't have that kind of surveillance. We acquired it from the shooter.»

«Shooter?» she said, inquisitively. «Shooter... or sniper, maybe?»

Rayes looked over at Delgado, with half a grin. «You surprise me again. Yes. Do you know who?»

«Don't you?» replied the fighter, with a smirk.

«Yes,» he said, «I do.»

«Prove it.» She took another pull from the can.

She still thinks I'm digging for Los Muertos, he thought. Fair enough. «How 'bout we trade? I'll give you the last name, you give me the first?»

«Deal,» Laticia nodded.


«Ana.» She grinned. «We have a winner! Ding ding ding ding ding ding ding! You know her?»

«She was with us, back when Morrison was in charge. His XO, more or less, on the Overwatch side. How do you know her? Or is that Los Muertos territory?»

«Nah,» she said, waving her hands dismissively. «Morrison talked about her after she tried to kill us, or, mostly, him. He says shooting at him is her way of flirting.»

Rayes grimaced. «I don't think she's flirting.»

«I didn't feel flirted with, I felt scared. She's good. How'd you get video out of her?»

Gabe thought about it a couple of seconds before replying. «She gave it to us herself, a couple of months before she decided we were all Talon stooges, or actual Talon ourselves. I can't say why, but...»

«Wait,» the fighter jumped in, «she's bought into Spooky's crazytalk? I thought that's why she was trying to shoot him.»

Gabe stopped futzing with video files, and sat down beside the Los Muertos fighter. « that what he thinks? That we're secretly Talon?»

«Yeah,» she nodded. «He keeps this notebook. Very secret. But he'll talk about it, if he's tired enough. You guys are Talon, the UN is Talon, the governments are Talon, everybody's Talon, he's the only one who knows, blah de blah de blah. Don't get him started.»

«You ever get a look at this notebook?»

«He fell asleep with it open once, I looked over his shoulder. Lots of tiny words and lines connecting boxes. He thinks its some kind of master dossier, and maybe it makes sense to him, but to me, it's garbage. Is Talon even real?»

«Absolutely,» the tactical lead nodded. «It's not a large organisation, though.»

«Bigger than you?»

«Yes, but not really - we have similar scopes of operation. It's... kind of complicated.»

She sucked in her upper lip on the right side, and ducked her head just a little, thinking. «...Is 'complicated' another way of saying he's not completely wrong?»

Christ, she's sharp, he thought. «No, he's wrong. Before 2070, Talon was all but a nonentity, a lot smaller than we thought even then. It didn't get any real traction until 2071, after Overwatch fell, and its reach is still very limited. It's...» He took, and released, a big breath. Do I gamble this, here? His gut told him yes. «We... communicate, in certain limited ways. They see themselves as kind of a peacekeeping operation, like we do. They just use assassinations to do it.»

«Huh,» she said, suspicion in her voice, but it didn't stop her from taking another big drink of her soda. «Sounds like bullshit.»

He shook his head. «It's not, at least, not completely. I don't like it, but I used to run covert ops, back in the original Overwatch, and we did some... pretty nasty things in the name of peace ourselves.» He tapped the tabletop with his fingers. «Do you remember the big news last year, that foiled bombing in London at an Omnic Rights rally?»

«Yeah,» she replied. «Biggest 'nobody got hurt' news ever. Things seemed to calm down a lot after that.»

The former Blackwatch commander nodded. «There were two women involved. One, Lena Oxton, of Overwatch, was identified in the press. The other wasn't ever identified at all, but they were both involved, and on the same side.»

Her eyes went wide. «The other woman in that picture that went everywhere... she was a Talon agent?»

He nodded. «One of their best. We know who. And now you know one of our biggest secrets - not that you could prove it.»

Holy god, thought the Los Muertos fighter. «So are you after Morrison, or are they?»

«We both are.» He poured himself some water.

«Why, particularly?» she asked, gaze intent. Wait, wait, wait, I know this guy. Somewhere. Where?

He took a sip. «We want to hand him to the ICC for trial, for crimes under his leadership at Overwatch. They...» he tilted his head back and forth, «They just want to cut to the chase and kill him.»

She stared at Gabe, intently. This guy, this guy... I know you. I didn't realise it before, how do I... She jumped, in her chair. «I know you. I remember you.»

«The public part of my testimony wasn't that long ago,» he said, nodding. «I don't look that much older, do I?» he said, with half a grin.

«You're, you're that guy. You're that Rayes? You're the dude who blew the whistle on Overwatch?»

«I am,» he said, taking a drink of his water. «One of many.»

«...and now you're helping bring it back?»

«Back, but different. No covert ops, no Blackwatch. None of it. Not this time.» He crushed his cup. «We're not making that mistake again. Not if I can help it.»

The guy who brought it all down. Wow. She blinked. «Morrison's kind of obsessed with you, you know. You're all over his weird little book.»

«Can't say I'm surprised.»

She nodded, slowly, taking it all in. «And this video?»

«You're in it, like I said. We thought... you'd want to watch it. It's you, Morrison, and a bunch of other people we don't know. We think it's your team against the Maras, but we aren't even sure about that, or why. But Amari's trying to kill Morrison, and we think you'll want to know how that went.»

«Show me,» she said, sharply.

«This video's a little grisly. I won't insult you by suggesting you can't take it, but, now you know.» Reyes hit play.

The video showed an MS-13 cargo carrier, escorted, though a familiar street. «Oh yeah,» Delgado said, «I remember this. We were on stakeout for like three days waiting for the Maras to ship these stupid stolen processors so we could steal 'em back. Ha! There I am, there's Jack... oh god, it's Ara, I miss her, she never came ba... WHAT THE FUCK?!»

She stood and spun around on Gabriel. «WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU JUST SHOW ME? PLAY THAT AGAIN. SLOW.»

He nodded, silently, and ran the footage a second time, at half speed. Laticia watched the display, tracing Araceli's progress with her finger, until Morrison was shot, and his nanite clouds enveloped her, and took half her head to repair his own. She sat, hard, shaking with rage.

«He... he lied to me. He said, he said, he didn't know where she went, that maybe she'd circled north, he didn't know what happened...»

Rayes blinked. «I... didn't know she was someone personal to you. I'm sorry. I would've warned you.»

«She was my cousin,» she said, angrily. «We were kids together. Oh god, Ara, you... that bastard.» She punched the holographic screen, which accomplished nothing, not even making her feel better.

Gabriel stood, slowly. «I really didn't know. Do you want to be alone? I'll leave, wait outside.»

The Los Muertos fighter snarled at the video, paused on the spotlessly re-formed head of Jack Morrison. You motherfucker. You lying son of a bitch. You goddamn traitor. You...

She punched the table. At least that felt like something. It hurt, but not the tabletop, and fortunately, not even her knuckles, except two, now bleeding. Carefully, slowly, she opened both her hands, and placed them palms-down on the cool, tan laminate.

«No,» she said, firmly, eyes narrowed. «He killed family. Probably the last family I had.» She looked back to Gabriel. «You want me to help you take this fucker down?»

«Yes,» he said, simply and plainly. «We do. We'll offer...»

«Don't care. He killed family, and lied to my face about it; I'm on fucking board. Where do we start?»

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Tags: also on ao3, araceli delgado, gabriel reyes, laticia delgado, old soldiers, overwatch, overwatch au, talon!tracer, venom
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