The sun is hanging low and heavy in the sky, all deep gold and warm. It’s that hour when everything has that same glow, and when Jack looks out over the Strait of Gibraltar, he sees the sun casting the water in varying shades of the deepest, richest blue, while the sky is going through a gradient of rich amber to powder blue to deep violet right at the edge of the horizon. The breeze that comes off of the water is sea salt-scented, and without the mask and the visor in the way, Jack can breathe in deep. He even closes his eyes, feeling that last bit of warmth on his skin before nightfall.

They don’t get many chances like this. With all the fighting and the absolute mess that the world seems to have become, Jack feels like he hasn’t had a chance to do anything like this in ages. This meaning rest. This meaning taking one second for himself and just letting himself be. For that second, he can ignore all the aches and pains in his body, and can pretend that everything’s fine. Situation normal. All’s well.

But his life doesn’t like that status quo, apparently. He feels Reaper before he sees him, like the barometric drop before a storm. When Jack opens his eyes, he knows Gabe is there by that ink-in-water blackness that spreads over the spot beside where Jack sits on the outcropping. Jack grimaces and starts to get up, to sprint to where his pulse rifle is propped up against a concrete pylon. Not how he wanted to spend his evening, but he didn’t exactly what to spend his “retirement” in Overwatch, either. 


Jack hates how he pauses. All these years and all that talk of betrayal and hating each other and whatnot, and Gabe’s voice can still get him to stop in his tracks at just a word. If he was in any less of a state, Jack would cringe.

Reaper finally manifests, but it’s not quite right. The mask is gone, the hood down, and the shotguns are nowhere in sight. What’s left is Gabriel, scarred and damaged and looking like someone dragged him right out of hell backwards, wreathed in that black mist as it pours out from what looks like cracks in his skin. His eyes are ember-red, embedded in black sclera, but there’s something in his expression that offsets all the eldritch, and for a moment, Jack thinks he might be the only human alive that could read that on Gabe right now. Anyone smarter might have run away.

For a long while, it’s like a faceoff. Gabe’s staring at Jack, and Jack’s staring at Gabe, all while gulls wheel overhead and the ocean hisses against the stones of the strait. Both of them are tense, but no one moves. Then, finally, Gabe lowers his eyes, breathing out heavy through his nose. “Jack,” he says. “Didn’t mean to stop your reverie.”

That’s… conversational. There’s not even the edge of a threat in his tone, and Jack would be lying if he said he wasn’t baffled. 

“Gabriel,” Jack manages. His voice is tighter than he wishes, and he can’t help but clench his fists at his sides. There’s just been too much between them, both for good and for bad and for absolute worst. 

“I’m not going to shoot you, if that’s what you’re worried about.” Gabe even glances around, all casual and not like he’s nightmares made manifest. Set the timeline back about a decade and this would have been normal. 

“So why are you here, then?” Jack asks.

“Call it a draw,” Gabe replies. Then, Jack can see a corner of his mouth quirk up. “Sorry. Ceasefire. I forgot we’re on base.”

Jack’s jaw clenches and he glares. “You’re not supposed to be here.”

“Neither are you, technically. You’re awfully hard to kill.”

Before Jack can reply, Gabe’s walking towards him. His steps don’t make a sound, and Jack finds he’s not surprised by that. 

“Kudos to you, though,” Gabe continues. He stops about a foot and a half short of Jack, tilting his head like he’s appraising him. “You’re not running.”

“Why would I run from you?”

He doesn’t mean the level of depth that question might actually have, but he can see the slight shift in Gabe’s expression at it. Confusion, and then… amusement? It’s a little hard to read, but there’s something a little softer there. Funny, considering the fact that his mouth seems to gape into a Glasgow-esque grin on one side with exposed teeth a little more like fangs. It seems almost impossible to find any softness there at all.

“Good question,” Gabe replies. But he doesn’t answer. He just keeps looking at Jack, up and down, and Jack doesn’t know what to make of it. “I almost forgot about coming up here,” he finally says, crossing his arms over his chest and glancing to his right, out at the water and the stones of the strait. “At sunset. Remember that?”

Of course he does. It’s half the reason why Jack goes up there in the first place. Aside from it being an excellent perch and the view being amazing, there’s any number of memories practically embedded into the rock. Hours spent watching the sun kiss the water, from summer to fall to winter and back to spring. Sometimes with Gabe’s hands on him or entwined with his own, sometimes just shoulder to shoulder, sometimes a foot apart, but always together. And those memories– Jack’s fought to burn them out of his head. Because he can’t go up here without thinking of the way the sunset made Gabe’s eyes look just that much warmer, or brought out the bronze in his skin so he looked like a sculpture, or how it played with the warm highlights in his hair in a way that Jack thought he might have been the only one to notice. And it’s stupid, but Jack associates this perch with being in love.

Apparently, Gabriel does as well.

He leans forward just enough to kiss Jack, so gently that the word ‘ghost’ goes through Jack’s head, unbidden. He can feel that cool vapor of the black mist enrobing Gabe at any given time, the scarring on his lips, the strange heat on his skin where there shouldn’t be any on a dead man.

And Jack wonders what Gabe thinks of him.

When Gabe leans back, and Jack can see him haloed by the setting sun, his heart gives one extra beat for every one it makes. Something clenches somewhere near the base of his throat, painful but good, and he feels his own voice rebel against him.

“Stay?” he asks.

Because damn sentiment and damn Gabriel Reyes. Damn this perch caught between a sea and an ocean and the rotation of the earth and the colors in the sky and on the water that it causes. And damn being in love, even when Jack shouldn’t be. Neither of them should be. Neither of them should even be alive.

“Okay,” Gabe says.

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