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Hanzo doesn't say it.

McCree tries not to, either, but it's fucking difficult: after years of learning how to hold this shit inside, all it took was one dramatic confession and now it's trying to burst out of him at every opportunity again. It takes several moments of gut-wrenching silence for him to learn that it's going to be much better for both of them if he keeps his mouth shut.

He told Hanzo it was enough. It is. It should be enough.

They sleep together now, Hanzo invited him immediately and without hesitation, and the first evening after the memorable events in the range McCree packed up his stuff and carried it all to Hanzo's room, where there was already an empty drawer waiting for him and a free coat hook for his hat. When he woke up, it was to Hanzo's sleepy and satisfied smile and he didn't think about it, he just said it, mindlessly happy, and had to watch the smile fade and Hanzo's eyes turn away.

So he tries not to say it anymore, even though it's difficult, because beyond any fucking doubt he loves this man.

And it's not like the three magic words would change anything, because Hanzo's actions speak as loud as any words. He's gloriously demanding in bed and he learns how to push all of McCree's buttons with frightening speed. He doesn't flaunt their relationship, but doesn't try to hide it either; McCree jumps in surprise the first time Hanzo walks past him in the kitchen and pauses briefly to run fingers through his hair, and it's only the first of many casual touches that follow. They train together, fight together, and exchange friendly jabs as usual, but Hanzo is more inclined to give him little compliments now, and has surprisingly many nice things to say when he puts his mind to it. Hanzo makes it clear that he cares and enjoys their relationship, they grow more attached to each other every day, McCree is genuinely happy and every sign indicates that Hanzo is happy too, and yet his dumb brain constantly attempts to invalidate everything over terminology.

"You are so full of shit, McCree," he tells his reflection in the mirror, and the reflection glares balefully back. There is a dark bruise above his left collarbone — fortunately, the shirt just barely covers it — and he knows that if he shifts his shoulder blades, he'll feel the angry red scratches Hanzo left there last night. It's good. It's beyond good, this thing they have now, it's goddamn amazing, so why is he so hung up on three words?


The last videoconference before the trial leaves him unable to shake off the feeling of dread, despite the lawyers' confidence and relentless optimism about his chances. No matter how good the DCH are at their job, even if they do manage to invalidate all the wrongful charges as they promise, there's no way the judges are just going to let him walk free. He should tell Hanzo while he still has the time to do it, because it could be the last evening they spend together for years. Or ever.

He knows he's being dramatic, really. Hanzo would probably try to get him out of jail. The mental image of a furious ninja rampaging through max security with giant spirit dragons on each side is as hilarious as it is comforting, and McCree is nearly sure Hanzo would do it. Almost. Seventy-five percent at least. Although not telling him about the trial before he leaves might reduce that to fifty.

Or maybe once they lock him up in max sec and Hanzo stops being permanently doped up on endorphins, he'll realize McCree just isn't worth the risk.

"Fucking stop it," he hisses under his breath. He needs something to distract himself with. Drinking is not an option today, Hanzo is out of the base until the evening, and he's had way too much time to prepare not to have everything sorted out and waiting. His fancy new suit is already aboard the Orca along with the minimal luggage containing everything he hopes he'll need, and the feature is finished, edited, proofread and ready to be sent at a press of a button. He supposes he can always work on the next one; their last intervention in the Balkans left him with more material than he knows what to do with.

The weather is good enough that he can hide in the reserve again, and take the opportunity to say goodbye to the monkeys, just in case. Maybe their eternally judgmental stares will shake him out of the self-pity.


He's used to walking past Genji on his way to the monkey place, but he's not used to Genji following him. The cyborg enters the clearing maybe ten minutes later, waves hello, looks around with interest, sits in a comfortable distance and falls quiet. He's either meditating or psyching himself up to something, and his presence isn't disruptive, so McCree decides to leave him alone and concentrate on the writing.

Eventually, Genji sighs, removes his mask and turns fully towards him. "I'm sorry," he says. "I had a very… informative talk with my brother the other day, and I'm sorry for being less than supportive about Reyes back in the day. I did not realize how much of an impact it had on you."

McCree dismisses the keyboard and groans theatrically. "Aw, hell. Don't apologize about that."

"Why not? You deserve the—"

"If you apologize, I can't in good conscience sabotage you when you finally grow a pair and make a move on Angela."

Genji laughs, but it's brief and somewhat forced. "I'm serious, McCree. I know I was a mess back then, and I also know it isn't an excuse. I should have exhibited more empathy."

"Empathy? In a special unit full of badly reformed criminals?"

"It's more likely than you think," grins Genji and the mood immediately lightens. "I really am sorry, though. Thinking back to that period, I was an absolutely terrible person. I don't understand why you decided to befriend me."

McCree side-eyes him with a smirk. "Only because you were hot."

This time, Genji's laughter rings with honest delight. "Oh, I'm ashamed to remember how long it took me to realize that you weren't staring at me because I was a freak, but because you were checking out my ass."

"Course I was. Have you seen your ass? It's amazing and deserves nothin' but appreciation."

"Amazing and indestructible, and yet, you would rather stare at Hanzo's ass these days. This is a betrayal most foul."

"Doesn't mean I think any less of yours," McCree assures him solemnly. "Are you gonna get to the shovel talk anytime soon, or do you need to beat around the bush some more?"

Genji sighs and leans against the stone. "I don't think I have any right to give you one, considering that according to Hanzo, my past actions nearly sabotaged your relationship. Out of the two of you, I think Hanzo is more in need of a shovel talk, anyway."

"I could call Fareeha, get her to take a couple days off and come put the fear of God into him," he says, and oh, this is an absolutely fantastic idea. If he survives tomorrow, he might do it, just to witness this glorious image. "She's just as intimidatin' as Ana used to be, and has the muscle to back it up."

Genji perks up. "Do it, and convince her to finally quit Helix while you're at it. And instead of the shovel talk, I'll give you a piece of unsolicited advice. Hanzo is going to be terrible at this. I'm not suggesting that you give him free passes when he is, but… just assume that whenever he does something hurtful, it's not intentional. Tell him and explain. Loudly, in short sentences and with helpful diagrams, if you need to."

"I think you need to give your brother more credit," he mutters. "So far he's been the straightforward one and I've been the one full of shit."

Genji stands up and puts the mask back on, and only now McCree realizes that his armor's normally green lights are red. "It's up to you what you do with the advice, naturally, but I will find you and beat you into a pulp if you disregard it."

"Awesome shovel talk." He gives Genji two thumbs up. "If it makes you feel better, we've already established that your brother can't get rid of me easily."

Unless you get yourself locked up tomorrow and leave Hanzo alone.

Well, fuck. He did not need that thought on top of everything else.

He watches Genji walk away and attempts to comfort himself with the thought that maybe Genji will come for him, instead, and get him out of prison for the sole purpose of kicking his ass.


By the time Hanzo comes back from the meeting with his supplier, McCree is climbing the walls. Hanzo takes one look at him and orders him to take a shower, drags him from there straight to bed, and coaxes him into bottoming for the first time. Honestly, it doesn't take a lot of convincing because he has thought about it already, even tentatively experimented to psych himself up enough to make the offer, and now more than ever he can use the distraction of pushing the limits of his comfort zone.

It goes better than he could have imagined. Despite all the declarations of being a less than gentle top, Hanzo decides to tease him for half an hour before he even does anything, and it works, because by the end he's too horny and impatient to care about discomfort anymore. Turns out that having something up his ass is a very different experience when it's Hanzo, intense, fierce, beautiful and stubbornly tender until the very end. McCree falls to fucking pieces in his hands, and in the heat of the moment he almost ruins everything by blurting out another unwanted confession.

Floating down to earth in the sweet afterglow, he silently vows to get himself together, starting now. He told Hanzo that what he was prepared to offer was enough and he will keep his goddamn word. He will not fuck everything up because he can't keep his mouth shut. There will be no more one-sided confessions, accidental guilt tripping and heavy silences.

In the morning, he wakes up instantly at the first sound of the alarm and turns it off before it can beep for the second time. He's lucky that the rapid movement didn't wake Hanzo up, or he wouldn't be able to lie his way out of this. He extricates himself from an octopus-like embrace in the slowest and most careful way possible, afraid to even breathe, but Hanzo must have been more tired than usual, because he doesn't even stir, only makes a disgruntled little noise and tightens his grip on the edge of McCree's pillow.

In that moment, there's nothing in the whole world he wants more than to slip back into bed and have Hanzo wrap himself possessively around him again.

He leaves the note on the empty pillow. It doesn't say much: an apology for sneaking out without notice, a promise to get in contact later in the day. No confessions, no hearts, no romantic bullshit whatsoever. He should leave now, while Hanzo is still definitely asleep, but there is a significant chance that he won't see him again soon, there's even a non-zero chance that he won't see him again at all, and he falters halfway to the door. It's unnecessary and dangerous and above everything else hopelessly stupid, but if he's already getting himself trialed, then he can afford a little more stupidity; he tiptoes back to the bed, leans in to brush his lips against tangled black hair spread across the pillow, and whispers the three forbidden words.

Chapter Text

Hanzo knows Jesse is waiting for it.

He learns to hide it after the first few unpleasantly awkward times, but Hanzo is not blind, and by then he knows how to recognize the signs. There is a new, very specific addition to Jesse's wide assortment of smiles and it's the first of them that Hanzo hates with a passion born of guilt. It's crooked and soft and self-deprecating, like it is Jesse's fault that Hanzo does not know how to love.

He knows he is being foolishly greedy when he immediately requests that Jesse moves to his room, but they fit together better than he could have expected. Jesse's presence is not overwhelming, his surprisingly few possessions don't encroach on Hanzo's space — the man has barely any clothes, he makes a mental note to take him shopping at some point, and spends the next half an hour daydreaming about it — and waking up together is even better than he had imagined, warm and intimate and satisfying beyond measure, right until Jesse beams at him and murmurs a sleepy "I love you" and Hanzo's throat closes from ugly, cold guilt.

Jesse does not say it again after that.

It doesn't happen very often, but sometimes Hanzo does something silly like spooning Jesse aggressively or forcibly arranging his arms around himself, something that never fails to amuse Jesse to no end, and Jesse laughs and falls quiet, the silence ringing with the words he does not say. In these moments, Hanzo knows that if he turns to look, Jesse will be wearing that smile — so he does not look. He tightens the embrace in a silent apology instead, and Jesse kisses him or strokes his arm in an equally silent reassurance: it's fine. It's enough.

Hanzo hopes it is. He selfishly does not want to give this up, because he is happy, and so he compensates in every way he can. He tells Jesse other things. He tells him how good it is to wake up together. He talks about everything he appreciates about him, from the beauty of his smile to his terrifying prowess with guns, and relishes the way Jesse's eyes light up at every compliment. He does not withhold physical affection, to Jesse's evident surprise, as if he really thought that Hanzo could keep his hands off him now that he is allowed to touch freely.

He shows it through sex, and they have a lot of it. Jesse fucks him fast and rough or hard and intense, and on one occasion slow and careful and so gentle that he nearly falls apart in the aftermath. They don't switch, although Hanzo thinks about it. Jesse is obviously more comfortable as a top, and Hanzo greatly enjoys both his skill and enthusiasm at repeatedly melting his brain, but he is increasingly curious about how different it would be from his experiences in the past.

The chance to find out comes sooner than expected. Hanzo's meeting with a potential new arrow supplier goes more than well: the omnic is skilled and cultured, her workshop is immaculate, and the slight price increase is more than worth not having to ship arrows from Japan anymore. After they sign the deal, the omnic invites him for tea and they have a long talk about Hanzo's bow and its capabilities, and she even suggests a new type of arrow that he could use, clearly being an enthusiast herself, and it all adds up to an excellent mood when he finally comes back to the Watchpoint, long after the sun has set.

He finds Jesse sitting on the bed with his head in his hands, reeking of cigar smoke and radiating anxiety. Jesse does not want or cannot say what caused his distress, just mutters half-hearted reassurances that completely fail their intended purpose, and Hanzo decides to take matters into his own hands. If his shower cubicle offered even the slightest chance of fitting two people, he would have pulled Jesse in there himself, but all he can do is half-cajole, half-manhandle him into showering and get rid of his own clothes in the meantime, and after Jesse emerges, somewhat refreshed and with a familiar glint in his eye at the sight of Hanzo's nudity, he does not require convincing at all to fall after Hanzo into bed.

The suggestion of switching sides goes down easier than he thought it would. He expected having to persuade Jesse, maybe jokingly bargaining for it, he even had a plan of a very convincing bribe, but all it takes is a moment of hesitation and Jesse simply flips them over with a laugh. Hanzo pretends to not notice the nervousness of that laugh.

He has always been rough with his partners, chasing the elusive pleasure, but after he pushes Jesse into the sheets, he's surprised to discover that he wants it to happen slowly.

"You don't have to go so slow," Jesse murmurs after Hanzo's first probing touches.

Hanzo leans in to kiss him, unhurried and indulgent. "Maybe I want to. Have you forgotten your arguments against the time in the range?"

"No, but I like it rough." Jesse finally smiles, as dazzling as ever, runs his hand along Hanzo's arm and gives it an encouraging nudge. "You know I do."

"You like giving roughly. It doesn't have to mean you will enjoy taking it roughly. Let me do this, Jesse," he says and kisses the spot between his neck and shoulder that he knows to have a destructive effect on Jesse's resolve. "You can always ask me to go faster later."

"You'll put me to sleep at this rate," Jesse grumbles, but he's very obviously tense, and Hanzo does not buy the lie.

He is diligent, careful and glacially slow, but despite his best efforts, Jesse simply refuses to relax and gets progressively more impatient instead, constantly attempting to pull him closer and demanding that he do something already. It's annoying, endearing and arousing, and Hanzo wants to be a considerate lover for once in his life, for Jesse's sake, but there is only so much he can stand with him naked and so eager underneath.

"Do you want to turn around?" he asks eventually, already breathless even though he has barely moved for minutes. 

Jesse swallows and shakes his head. "Nah. I think I wanna see you."

Hanzo tries to be as gentle as he can manage, but Jesse grabs his shoulders and wraps his legs around his waist and growls at him to move, goddammit, so he bites his lip, musters all of his self-control and coaxes Jesse body to allow him in, watching his mouth gradually fall open and his eyes close. It feels so deliriously good compared with the throwaway fucks of his past that he nearly wants to cry, but this is not just for him — this is supposed to be good for both of them — and he is not sure whether Jesse's expression signals pleasure or pain, or both. He reaches for Jesse's hands, fisted white-knuckled in the sheets, pulls them up and tangles their fingers together.

"Tell me if I need to stop," he pleads, even though he thinks it might kill him to do so.

Jesse shakes his head, eyes still closed. "No, no — don't. Don't stop. It's good. Keep going."

So he does, slowly and carefully, watching his eyelids flutter and his chest rise and fall, until Jesse finally relaxes, melting into the sheets, and a shadow of a blissful smile appears on his lips. The relief is as overwhelming as the pleasure, now that there is no doubt that Jesse is actually enjoying himself, and Hanzo lets out the breath he has been holding and surges forward as far as their combined flexibility allows to kiss him. He knows he has hit the spot when Jesse's eyes fly open, wide and shocked, and he gasps against Hanzo's mouth, tensing all over again.

"That's how it feels," says Hanzo stupidly. It comes out rough and unintentionally smug, and he wants to take it back for all of a second, because Jesse reacts with another gasp that transitions into a shaky, breathy laugh, and Hanzo immediately shifts all of his focus towards getting that sound out of him again. He disentangles one hand, adjusts Jesse's legs around his waist, plants his knees more firmly on the bed and tries again, and unbelievably, it works, because Jesse shivers, jerkily frees his other hand and wraps both arms around his shoulders.

"Keep going," he repeats, soft and pleading now. "Don't stop."

Hanzo would not stop now if the room caught fire around them. He breathlessly informs Jesse of that fact — Jesse appreciates it greatly, if his reaction is any indication — and does everything in his power to make Jesse come before he does, whining in despair because there is no chance he can last long enough, not with the way the pleasure shoots through him with every move and the way Jesse clings to him, gasping harshly on every breath.

"I—" Jesse starts saying something, breaks off, shudders and his arms tighten around Hanzo's neck.

Hanzo knows what he was going to say and nearly growls in frustration because he desperately wants to hear it. The wave of emotions surges in his chest, furious and twisting — and suddenly it's on the tip of his tongue, he feels his mouth forming the first word, but he is also two breaths away from coming and his instinct screams that this is a bad idea, it's the worst idea to say it when he is so completely compromised. He hides his face in Jesse's neck instead and blindly reaches between them to push him over before it is too late, and Jesse's limbs tighten convulsively around him and he comes with a wordless groan, just in time for Hanzo to silently follow.

When he regains control of his body, he carefully disentangles himself from a completely pliant Jesse and arranges them both in a mostly comfortable position. Neither of them speaks, and the silence drags on. A minute ago he was ready to say it, he very nearly did, and now it feels fake and wrong again. How long will it take until Jesse gives up on him? Has he reached the breaking point already? He has not said anything for minutes now, and his breath returned to normal long ago—

"That," Jesse says finally, making a long, thoughtful pause before continuing, "was fucking great."

Hanzo nearly bursts out laughing at his own paranoia; he manages to stop himself, barely, but it is too late to contain the snort.

"What?" Jesse's tone is warm and amused, and his arm sneaks under Hanzo's shoulders to pull him closer. "Excuse me for not bein' on top of my vocabulary when someone just scrambled my brain."

"It was," he confirms. It was just as great as he suspected it might be.

"I'm kinda glad I waited, though," says Jesse contemplatively. "I don't think it would've been this good with someone I— with someone else."

He wants to ask Jesse to stop withholding these little confessions, because he is an utter egoist and he wants to hear them, but the protest dies in his throat. He does not deserve these words and he does not deserve Jesse's love, not when he is unable to return either. He pushes closer to Jesse instead, tightens the arm slung across his chest and sighs. "I can say the same."

Jesse makes an inquisitive sound. "Wasn't your first time, though."

"Might as well have been. I told you already: everything is so much better with you that it feels like the first time."

"Aw, shucks." Jesse turns a bit more to the side and smiles. "It's still the best thing anyone said to me in my entire life." He pauses for a moment, shifts and hums. "I gotta say, you've officially converted me to the Way of the Bottom, darlin'. From now on, you have an open invitation to my ass."

"You are such an incorrigible romantic," Hanzo says wryly, reveling in Jesse's laughter.


Sorry for sneaking out — didn't want to wake you up. I have a business that needs taking care of (nothing dangerous, I promise). I'll let you know as soon as I'm done.

— JM

Hanzo glares at the note, creased and smudged from all the handling, and sticks it back in his pocket. It's almost six P.M. Jesse has disappeared for an entire day, and while the note is benign in its simplicity, Hanzo cannot shake the feeling that something is wrong. The obvious lie is probably the first reason, because Jesse never hesitates to wake him up, usually with affections of some sort, and laughs at his reluctance to get out of bed. There is no way he would have snuck out like this if he did not have a reason to want Hanzo to remain asleep.

At lunchtime, struck with a paranoid thought, Hanzo even checked that Jesse's clothes were still in the drawer in his room, but they were, so at least he has not left permanently. Not yet.

He has probably never reached for the comm as eagerly as he does now, when he hears the notification of a new message.

17:42 [McCree]  You might want to turn on the news. :)

The jolt of adrenaline dissipates in a flood of relief when he realizes there is a smiling face at the end of that sentence. If Jesse got captured or harmed, it would certainly be newsworthy, but he would not be smiling about it.

17:43 > what have you done this time?

He waits for a response, a minute, two, then the itch becomes too much: he pulls on his shoes and leaves for the common room. Winston is already there, in front of the holoscreen tuned into Atlas News, and he turns and smiles widely at Hanzo's sight. "You got the message, too?"

"I got a message to watch the news," Hanzo says somewhat sourly. "I do not actually know why, yet."

"Oh." Winston's expressive face goes through surprise, confusion and embarrassment so quickly it nearly gives Hanzo whiplash. "I assumed— since you two are— you know, never mind. Just watch. I expect it should come up soon."

On the screen, news anchors are discussing something of no consequence. Hanzo settles into an armchair and frowns, while Winston hums happily to himself. A minute passes, two— 

Three things happen at the same time: Winston exclaims "There it is!", a very breathless Mei runs into the room and squeals, and Hanzo freezes and stares at the ticker at the bottom of the screen. 

FAMOUS OUTLAW MCCREE ACQUITTED OF CHARGES

"I can't believe we actually pulled it off," says Winston happily while Hanzo stares numbly at the screen. "I mean, there was certainly a lot of luck involved, but Athena's ability to cross-reference all the paperwork alone — oh, here it comes. Let's listen."

"In an unexpected turn of events, the famous outlaw Jesse McCree was found not guilty of second degree murder, as well as other charges including grand theft and aggravated assault. The internationally wanted McCree turned himself in to the British authorities on September fifteenth and pleaded not guilty during the arraignment. The trial concluded today in The Hague, Netherlands, where our reporter Martine Parker is present at the international court of justice—"

The camera cuts over to a reporter outside a court building, with a sizable crowd of various reporters gathered behind her, around the closed door, and Hanzo tunes her out when it becomes apparent she is stalling for time. "How?" he asks helplessly, but before anyone can answer, Mei squeals again, the court's door opens and another crowd pours out, and in the middle of it is Jesse, surrounded by court guards, in an immaculate black suit and a burgundy tie, wearing his trademark roguish smile and nodding at the cameras. The reporter drones on about circumstantial evidence, witnesses, corruption and malfeasance — Jesse looks at the Atlas News camera, still smiling, handsome and charismatic — and then he's safely in the car, the broadcast switches back to the studio, and Hanzo gets assaulted with a sudden hug.

"I didn't know!" Mei's face is currently somewhere in the vicinity of his shoulder, so he is not sure whether she is actually crying or just sounding like it, but he pats her back just in case, and she straightens again and does a sort of an excited dance on the spot. "I can't believe it! How did he do it? He was here all the time!"

Winston coughs. "Well. Dates might have been manipulated a little, but technically, McCree did turn himself in and was in the custody of British forces before the trial. It was just a very specific custody, courtesy of our British friends—"

"How did he get acquitted of the charges?" demands Hanzo, still reeling. "Didn't he rob a train? And wasn't he a vigilante?"

"Well, he should be here in about three hours, I'm sure he will be eager to tell the story himself. But as far as I know, it was a combination of being owed favors in the right places, circumstantial evidence, witness statements and the fact that some of the nastier charges were actually fabricated. We suspect Talon, or whoever was behind the explosion in Geneva and the delegalization of Overwatch."

Hanzo blinks, shakes his head and rubs his face. "I can't believe he did not tell me." He knows Winston and Mei are exchanging glances without even looking.

Winston coughs. "Well. We weren't sure this would actually work, the part where we hired a hacker to alter court records in particular, and there was a good chance he would still end up sentenced for something. I guess he, uh, wanted to spare you the stress…?"

He opens his mouth to argue, realizes that Winston is an innocent party in this scenario, and sighs instead. "Thank you. For helping him."

"Well, fixing McCree's legal status was one of the prerequisites for starting talks with the UN—" 

"And he's a friend," Mei interrupts pointedly.

Winston sputters under her judgmental gaze, and Hanzo picks up the remote and starts scrolling through news channels.


Jesse walks off the Orca laughing loudly about something and clad in his usual clothes, and Hanzo spares a second to mourn the suit and the tie before he steps forward — but whatever he was going to do is foiled by Tracer, who laughs even louder and runs down the ramp first, waving a tablet in front of their faces.

"Guys, you're not gonna believe this," she wheezes, pink in the face and looking slightly manic. "This absolute nutter published an interview with himself!"

"I did nothin' of the sort!" yells Jesse behind her, still laughing, and Hanzo only realizes that Genji has joined them on the landing pad when he hears "he what?" behind his back.

"Turns out Jesse got tired of the life of crime and got himself an honest job—"

"There's nothin' honest about it!"

"— and writes for magazines for a living! And Newsweek just published a feature about Jesse McCree! That he wrote himself!"

Hanzo pulls the tablet out of her frantically waving hand and glances at the page. "Joel Morricone?"

Tracer nearly bounces in excitement. "Yeah! Joel Morricone, J.M., get it? The madman made up an entire huge interview with himself and they posted it two hours after he got exonerated!"

"I didn't make anythin' up. It's all God's honest truth," drawls Jesse, now directly in front of Hanzo and looking at him with an expression somewhere between apologetic and wry, and Hanzo just hands the tablet over to Genji, makes a step forward and embraces him, witnesses be damned.

"I read some of it," continues Tracer, "and it starts by saying you were interviewed while in custody, oh my God. I can't believe you got away with first the charges, and now this."

"Technically I didn't get away, not completely," says Jesse, gently folding his arms around him, and Hanzo stiffens in alarm for a second before Jesse finishes the sentence. "They got me for vandalism and property damage. I gotta do community service," he chuckles. "The rest, yeah, it's amazing how bein' polite to an old lady on a train can pay off."

"Let's go inside, everyone," Winston says after a moment. Hanzo immediately resolves to find the world's best peanut butter and have it shipped to his door.

"Yeah, I'll be there in a moment," Jesse calls above Hanzo's ear, and they wait for a while for the footsteps to fade.

"I'm sorry," starts Jesse at the same time as Hanzo says, "You didn't tell me."

"Yeah, I'm sorry. I had to keep it quiet for so long, I kinda missed the point where I should've told you, and then I thought I might as well not worry you."

"I was worried all day," he growls. "I would have gone with you if I knew."

Jesse laughs quietly. "And then what? Murdered everyone and eloped together if I ended up with a life sentence?"

"Yes," says Hanzo, emphatically and immediately.

"To murder or to elopement?"

"Both. I love you."

The words come so naturally, it's hard to understand why he had such a problem uttering them before. He inhales, exhales, finds that the world is not collapsing around them and he is still in possession of all his faculties, but Jesse freezes and stops laughing, and after a moment Hanzo pulls back to look at his face — or tries to, because Jesse's arms have turned to stone and don't give by even a centimeter.

"What?" Jesse manages finally, and oh, that's why he does not want to show his face.

"I said I love you," he repeats, feeling only a bit self-conscious. "I'm sorry it took me so long." He embraces Jesse tighter, reassuring. "I'm sorry for all the times I did not say it back. I'm sorry you thought you had to stop saying it. Please never stop."

It takes Jesse a good minute to compose himself. "I," he starts and his voice immediately breaks again.

Hanzo rubs his back and waits for the shaking to pass. "You don't have to say it now. I still owe you quite a few."

"You yakuza and your debts," manages Jesse, voice still wavery but finally somewhat calm, and his arms relax enough that Hanzo can finally reach up and kiss him.

"Hey, Morricone! You're on the news!" Genji's rather gleeful voice rings out from the direction of the door.

Jesse groans. "This was the worst choice of a pen name ever. Why did nobody stop me?"

"Such is the price of keeping secrets, Joel," Hanzo says sagely and steers him towards the building.


Jesse says it often, and Hanzo treats his debts very seriously. For two days, he keeps score on the back of Jesse's note, just because it makes Jesse sputter, protest and laugh; on the third day, he loses the tally after getting tackled onto the bed in the middle of making another mark.

By the time he finds it under the bed, neither of them has any idea who is in the lead anymore.