She slid swiftly to her knees beside him and, out of a habit borne from years of working together, began to assess his condition. He tried to pull away from her.
“Don’t worry about it,” he snarled, leaning up against the wall. His hand was pressed firmly to his side and dark red blood oozed between his fingers. “Get back and…” She halted his words with a finger pressed briefly against his lips.
“Worrying is the entire point to my existence, Gabriel. Now sit still and let me…”
“That’s Commander Reyes to you, Captain,” he retorted, then bit back his harsh words. His dark eyes closed briefly, whether in regret or pain, Ana Amari was not sure. Either way, she appreciated what came out of his mouth next.
“I’m sorry. Sorry.”
“We can talk about your attitude later,” she scolded, but there was no small amount of affection in the statement. She had come to like and respect Reyes over the years and, like Jack Morrison, she had noted the man’s obvious recent descent into shadowy, brooding introversion with increasing trepidation. It had something to with whatever was going on with Reyes and that scientist woman… whatever it was they were researching in that laboratory, she was sure of it.
She reached for her medic pack, taking out the field-fix adhesive that would hold Reyes’ wound together until such time as they could get him stitched and as a courtesy, took out the syringe filled with painkillers. She held it up and gave him a questioning glance. He had opened his eyes again and was watching her every move while every other sense was apparently tuned into the sounds of destruction around them. When she offered him the painkillers, he shook his head.
“Need my senses about me,” was all he said and she put the syringe away without further question. She thought about asking him then and there what the issue was, but reasoned that the middle of a pitched battle was hardly the place to gently probe at whatever it was that was eating at him.
“Incoming!” The voice came from the other side of the wall where Reyes and Amari were presently taking refuge. With a scream of rockets, the incoming Omnic missiles impacted just feet away from where they were. Dust flew and huge chunks of broken concrete pirouetted their way from the blast’s epicentre. A piece the size of his head narrowly avoided hitting Reyes and he turned to glare at the offending projectile.
“I appreciate what you’re doing here, Captain,” he said, shortly, “but can you hurry it up? In case you’d not noticed, there’s an entire Omnic unit out there waiting for us to decline their invitation to succumb to the might of their wobbly wind-up overlords.”
His choice of language brought a smile ghosting to her lips.
“Just sit still,” she replied and pulled up the fabric of his uniform to assess the injury in his side. His body had long been scarred by the many injuries he’d received over the years of active duty and this new wound would add to that grisly tally, a deep gouge in his flesh that had been caused by a graze from a stray Omnic bullet during the last push they’d made to encroach into Overwatch’s ground.
Somewhere, she could hear Reinhardt’s unmistakable bellow as he demanded those who were still standing at the front line got behind him.
“He’ll be next,” she muttered. “Man keeps insisting on pressing ahead when falling back is the correct choice. He’s not as young as he was, but he keeps rushing in like a fool.”
“Fool maybe, but at least he’s prepared to do what’s right. Nothing wrong in that.” Reyes looked down at the bloody, ragged wound in his side and grimaced a little. He muttered something under his breath. Amari could not quite make out what it was, but was sure that it included the word ‘failure’.
She applied the adhesive carefully, squeezing the clear fluid from the tube and then holding the edges of the wound together for a few seconds. The look of pain that contorted his face troubled her and she reached back for the painkiller again. He caught her hand and shook his head vigorously.
“No,” he said. “I need to deal with it. How long before I can get back up and fight?”
“Another few minutes.” She applied a dressing over the wound. “Until the glue dries.”
He made a noise of exasperation.
“And I’d moderate your own rushing in for an hour or two,” she added, putting her kit away. Around them, further explosions orchestrated their own grim soundtrack to this calm conversation. Reyes watched her, unblinkingly for a few moments, then he reached out and caught her hand again. She looked up, sharply, in case he was having some sort of medical emergency, but instead he just studied her.
“Do you believe we’re doing the right thing, Ana?”
“What, you and me? Me patching you up? Of course I…”
It was a question that caught her unawares and she could not answer him. To her mind, Gabriel Reyes and Jack Morrison were Overwatch. Both of them had different leadership styles, that was true, but they were leaders and she respected them greatly.
“We are protecting the world from the…”
“…from the threat of the Omnics, yeah, yeah, I get it. But are we going about it in the right way? Have we become so full of our own self-importance that we’re missing a bigger picture?”
He released her arm and pulled himself up a little straighter. “Forget it.”
“I said, forget it. It’s not important. We have tin robots to deal with. You locked and loaded?” A cloud passed over the weak afternoon sun, throwing the whole street into shadow. In the brief moment of natural darkness, Amari couldn’t help but notice that Reyes seemed to blend into the shadows like an insubstantial mist. The sun forced its way back out and the illusion passed, but she felt deeply discomfited by the moment.
What’s happening to you, Gabriel?
A thousand questions formed in her mind, but none came to her lips. In years to come, she would always wonder what might have become of Gabriel Reyes if she had pushed him to open up more on that gloomy afternoon, but in that moment, she simply nodded and slung her rifle back over her shoulder.
“Ready.” She put out a hand to help him to his feet and scrutinised him as he steadied himself. He took his guns back into his hands and gave her a brief, fleeting smile. They made their way back to re-join the unit. Wilhelm, whose barrier burned with the same intensity as the man’s apparently endless enthusiasm, glanced over his shoulder.
“Good to see you back up on your feet, Commander Reyes. We are ready to push the attack if you are?”
“Let’s do it. It’ll take more than that to keep me down, right Captain?”
“Yes, Commander,” she said, softly and touched a hand to Reyes’ arm gently. “Old soldiers are hard to kill.”
He put his hand over hers in a gesture of gratitude and affection. Instead of reassuring her, something about that touch troubled her deeply. Gabriel Reyes was heading for a disaster and it was not in her power to stop it. For now, she had to put it out of her mind. There was a battle to be fought, after all.