Short story set in the Overwatch universe, based off the “Reflections” comic. How did Sombra find herself in a bar with a dead-drunk Cole Cassidy on Christmas Eve? And here comes Aleksandra Zaryanova to make a bad night worse… (881 words)
Or you can tell my lips to tell my fingertips
They won’t be reaching out for you no more
“Not again! How many quarters can you hide in those chaps, anyway, vaquero?” Sombra put her chipped glass down on the damp, sticky bar. She nodded at the barkeep to fill it up; just cranberry juice while she babysat this sad, scruffy shell of a man. Once he was out of her hair… she could practically taste the reposado chilling in the bathtub back at the motel. She’d arrived in New Mexico a few days ago to put down some of LumeriCo’s grimier resurgences. Reyes contacted her that morning, asking to meet him here, but when she’d arrived, she found … this. They’d been parked in this dive for over three hours.
Cassidy was slumped against the jukebox, and batted at her weakly as she approached him, whiskey slopping out of the glass and spotting the metal of his arm. He was singing softly to his hat, and he smelled awful, like rotgut and sadness and rust. She leaned against the front of the jukebox, palm flat. Old model, still took cash but all digital inside. Within seconds, Billy Ray Cyrus faded into blessed obscurity. In the silence, Cassidy put his arm over his face and sobbed. Perfect.
“Come on, güey,” she said, hoisting his free arm over her shoulder and muscling him into a booth. “Even in a place like this, you’re bringing the vibe down.” She downloaded the most recent newsfeeds from home and reviewed them for mentions of herself while waiting for his sobs to taper off. With a snap of her fingers, she dismissed the feed and smiled at him, shark-like. “Better?”
“Why would he leave me?” he asked, with a raspy quality to his voice even the Reaper could be proud of. She stared at him, drink in midair, and closed her mouth before a fly could zip in. Or a snarky retort pop out. That was more likely, anyway. “¿Por qué?”he tried again.
“I understood you the first time, you idiot.” Sombra pressed her palms into her eyes, trying to ease a growing headache. Where the fuck was Reyes? “Joel, I’m sorry about Shimada. I am. But asking me for relationship advice is tossing water into the ocean.”
“Can’t you guess?”
The drunker he got, the more his drawl slipped, revealing the educated Harvard man he was. Sombra downloaded the day’s agony aunt columns for help and listed off the obvious reasons. “You’re drunk. You reek of desperation. You hang out with bad company – su servidora excluded, of course. Your greatest ambition in life is to visit the Alamo.”
“Whoa! I did that last year. Guess you haven’t been reading my online journal.”
“You call a blog an ‘online journal’,” she added, but pulled up his blog anyway. “Your next greatest ambition is… to meet Dolly Parton? She died over ten years ago. They do have a lovely omnic replica of her at Dollyworld, though. So I heard. From a friend.”
Cassidy crooked his fingers into air quotes, the effect muted by his sticky robotics jamming up, and lapsed into a sullen silence, which suited Sombra just fine. She checked the clock, first by the bar, and then her own internal one when the former reported that barely ten minutes had passed. Reyes was in for such a biotic field hack when he finally showed up. Cassidy drifted into a doze, so she slipped out of the booth and onto a cracked and peeling vinyl barstool to rescue her abandoned cranberry juice.
“You should have cut him off hours ago,” she said to the bartender. “No respect for the law.”
“What respect do you have for the law?” he said, giving up the pretense of wiping down the bar and leaned forward on his elbows. He had a wide mouth and dark eyebrows, lots of laugh lines around the eyes that were overshadowed by deeper lines of grief around his mouth and nose. Handsome enough in a rough country way – if that was your thing. Sombra’s tastes were much more refined, elegant… French. “My sister came home last night. I don’t know what you did but thank you.”
“De nada,”she said. “Anything that hurts LumériCo helps me and my… friends.”
“Mmm. You have interesting friends.” He slid a new glass of cranberry juice her way.
“Him? He’s not a friend. More like a burden.” She toasted him in thanks before taking a tart sip and passed a business card over the countertop. “Anyway, if Guillermo tries to pull anything like that again with the women here, get in touch with me. This is my town, and if he knows what’s good for him, he’ll stay away.”
“You’ve never been here before this week. I’d bet my life savings on it. You tend to stand out,” he said, turning the card over in his hands. “This is blank.” Sombra hated to preen but didn’t stop her cybernetics from blooming a bit brighter from the compliment, though her voice was low and earnest when she replied. “Not to the right people. Scan it with your phone and I’ll get the message. Anything the web touches is mine, and even places like this get the internet.”