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Penance

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     The reflection that stared back at him was full of doubt and question; the two very things he didn’t need right now. Where was the solitude that embraced him upon his father’s death, giving him the strength to push through his funeral? Where was the confidence that he maintained upon his ceremonial promotion to head of the family? It seemed all things in his life bowed before his younger brother.

     Hanzo Shimada stood in place, facing his bathroom mirror, while doing his best to come to terms with his task. Genji’s trial was the quickest, and most efficient decision that the council ever made. And they were certain not to leave him any slack in the binds of their intent. The instruction was clear; bring Genji to heel, or eliminate him. Their original plan was to send a hired hand, and end the matter discreetly. But Hanzo, being the eldest, and sworn protector of his younger brother, beseeched them for one last try, to convince Genji to purge himself of the errors that so frequently endangered their way of life.

     And now here he was, shaking in front of his jade sink, regretting that decision with each passing minute. A nervous hand reached for the sink nozzle, turning on the cold water, and letting it run for the sound. The rushing cascade eased him slightly, but not nearly enough. He ran his hands under the water, clapping them anxiously against his face, as he pulled down the excess flesh in his cheeks, and closed his eyes.

    ‘You’re weak,’ he chastised himself. ‘You cannot afford weakness. You are the head of this family now, and he must heed your will.’ The self-criticism brought him back to task. He looked at his reflection once more, now the pillar of duty that he needed to be; purged of emotion and doubt, leaving only purpose in his wake. With a quick jerk of the wrist, he turned the nozzle off, stopping the flow of water with an audible halt. The room was still, as he turned on the ball of his foot, marching toward the door. He scooped up his katana with his left hand, securing it at his side so that it could be drawn with his right. With renewed validity, he marched along the smooth wooden floors of their palace in Hanamura.

     In his youth he imagined that the palace walls were painted red as a sign of strength, and national pride. It was only now that he realized that they were never painted. Rather stained, with the transgressions of those that came before him, and maintained by those that would follow. The Shimada never liked to use the word Yakuza as a descriptor, but semantics were a thing that Hanzo never bothered to occupy himself with. Still, this was the way that they lived, and the comfort and security that came with the family name needed to be paid for. Often, at times, in blood.

     He just hoped it wouldn’t have to be his brother’s blood.

     The journey down the halls normally took a lengthy span of minutes in travel to Genji’s chambers in the south. The journey used to be a thing of annoyance, but today he was counting on it. He wanted every second that it took him to cover the distance between their resting areas. He needed them. But all too soon, his ears perked to the laughter of harlots, no doubt in preparation to be roused beneath the sheets of his brother’s bedding.

     Something changed in his brother’s spirit after their mother passed. Something changed in all of their spirits after his mother passed. But not even the promise of the soulmate, etched into the center of his inner wrist soothed the wound that she left on his brother’s heart. And so like the ronin, he wandered in search of her; often between the thighs of other women.

     He hated them, for they had robbed him of the time that he needed to use to convince himself to find another way. There he stood, outside of his brother’s room, and if he tallied any longer, he would be forced to endure a thing that no sibling ever wanted to endure. So with a heated exhale through his nostrils, he slid open the door to his brother’s chambers, and stared the two girls down with the weight of his position. They turned abruptly, one just about to mount his brother, while the other propped up his head, feeding him from a bowl of fresh cut watermelon.

     “Get out,” Hanzo growled, and the two girls wasted no time, gathering their things and running past him toward the exit. He didn’t bother to look at them as they fled, half clothed. He only had eyes for his wayward brother, who let the back of his head fall against his futon in defeat and annoyance, looking anywhere other than at Hanzo.

     “This better be good,” Genji warned, as he sat up, shirtless, smelling of an unnatural husk and expensive sake. He hunched over with his posture, letting his forearms rest on his thighs, as he ran his hands down his face with stress and exhaustion.

     “You dishonor yourself, and this family,” Hanzo lectured, immediately countered by the rolling of his brother’s brown eyes.

     “And you dishonor this bedroom,” Genji quipped, throwing back the sheets and kipping-up to his feet. He crossed the floor toward his closet, trying to find clothing. Despite his attempts to appear tall and composed, Hanzo noticed the swaggering delay in his motion. He himself never deigned to drink without warranted ceremony, as it slowed the body and the mind. But his brother stood in mockery of his own usual grace, having consumed more than he could safely handle. The drunken stupor was all too evident now.

     “I have told you to stop bringing those girls to the palace, time and time again,” Hanzo lectured as Genji threw his hands up into the air. “And to stop spending all of your money on frivolity!” Hanzo could feel his anger welling up inside. To make matters worse, Genji went to pour himself another cup of the sake that he kept on the table that ran the length of his chamber wall. Hanzo immediately snatched it out of his hand, slamming it back onto the table. “This is exactly, what I am talking about! You are reckless. You have always been reckless, and you endanger our family with your antics.”

      “I already told you, I was only a few minutes late to the payload. That is not enough time for the ambush that met us there,” Genji drawled, sliding open one of the walls that led out of his room, and fleeing Hanzo’s wrath. The elder brother followed, noting that the last time Genji told him this story, it was ‘only a few seconds late to the payload.’

      “And yet they did. Something that you should have scanned the area for an hour before! You jeopardized the payload, your safety, the safety of our cousins in the branch family, and our relationship with the Matsuda family!” Hanzo’s voice roared down the halls that Genji now paced in drunken clumsiness, to get away from his brother’s lecture.

      “I don’t see what the big deal is. We received our payment,” Genji said with an eye roll, but Hanzo grabbed his arm, and flung him around with a single spin.

      “You…were…caught!” The venom in Hanzo’s voice was unfamiliar. Genji’s nose wrinkled in snarling indignation. “The very focus of your training; the very thing you were raised not to do! Now we face public exposure, scrutiny from the media, from the police, from the government, and from Overwatch! Do you have any idea the damages that we will have to pave due to your incompetence? Do you have any idea the costs that will come from the family to maintain order? The burden that this places on all of us!” Under the might of Hanzo’s yelling, Genji was silenced. Hanzo looked angry enough to hiss and spit, as Genji’s fists clenched tight enough to prompt veins. The escalation between the two of them seemed to change the world around them. What was once a still night, now morphed with the blowing of the wind, and a rustling of the tree leaves.

      "I told you, I was sorry!” Genji began to find the might in his own voice now, as he made his way to the gardens, turning to face his brother at last.

      “Sorry isn’t good enough Genji. You have to be better! We are the heads of this family. The others look to us for example! And what do you think they see when they look to you? Because all I see is failure and disappointment!”

        “Stop it!” Genji barked loud enough to cause Hanzo to stagger for a moment. “Stop acting like you’re my father, and stop treating me like a child!”

        “Then do not act like one!” Hanzo’s roar matched the might of Genji’s, turning the fight back to his favor. “Were I your father I would have corrected this behavior from you long ago! Ours was a fool not to!”

         “Do not speak of father that way! You dishonor the man that he was in your wrath!”

         “He was an imbecile who spared his youngest the wrath that he so heaved upon his eldest!  Do you not see, foolish Sparrow? The council sent me here to kill you!”

        It was only then that Genji’s eyes fell to the sword that Hanzo now gripped too tightly in his right hand. He stopped in his tracks, now face to face with the root and cause of his brother’s unnaturally righteous fury. But what was once a staggering comprehension, quickly faded into malice and spite. He wrinkled his nose again in that same hiss, and coiled back like a viper, prepared to strike. “And so what? You came to do it? Just like that?

        Hanzo’s expression softened for a brief instant. He realized now that he’d crossed a line with Genji, that he would never make it back from. But he could not relent. He swallowed to reply, but Genji interrupted. “I don’t believe you. I do not believe the council sent you here to kill me. I believe you are using the power you now have as head of the family, to remove me from your life!”

         “How dare you!” Hanzo spat a curse in Japanese but Genji pressed forward, circling Hanzo now, as he rifled off his accusations.

         “You have always resented me, even when we were children. You hated me then because I was unafraid to live my life the way that I choose. You resented me for the joy that I allow myself freely, while you shoulder burdens that only you can lift, because you have invented them with your own mind! You are jealous of me, and that is not my fault. It never has been.”

         “Silence!” Hanzo hissed the word as a warning. Genji stopped in his tracks, keeping his eyes on his brother. The trust that they once shared could no longer be found in Genji’s eyes. He wasn’t sure if he liked what remained, but he did not have time to ponder. “You will throw yourself before the mercy of the council, during which, you will tell them that you have recognized the error of your ways. You will take the next mission that we bestow upon you with gratitude, and you will execute it without flaw. Your training will double until you learn to attend your duties with the entirety of your occupation. And you are cut off from the family’s inheritance, until you earn your claim!”

         “I will not,” Genji countered in defiance.

         “You will do as I command!” Hanzo drew his katana with a quck flourish, the glint of the metal catching the moonlight for an instant, before pointing it just past the back of Genji’s neck. Genji only flinched for a brief instant, but the sake slowed him down enough for Hanzo to see that his threat was taking effect. But just as soon as Hanzo thought his brother would yield, Genji crossed his arms and lifted his chin.

         “Do it,” Genji challenged.

         And there they stood, beneath the night sky. Hanzo’s arm began to falter from holding the katana in place, while Genji remained unmoved, and dangerously close to the sharpened edge of his blade. “Do it,” he repeated, moving closer, as he dropped his arms to the side. Hanzo stepped back to regain the distance, but Genji was walking forward. “Go ahead, brother. I know you want to. You have always wanted to. So do it. No one can stop you. I’m not going to stop you. You’re the head of the family now. You can do whatever you like,” Genji growled, with a sick and deadly undertone.

          “…Genji...!” Hanzo whispered the name out, as both a warning and a plea, keeping the sword drawn in position. The curve of the katana all but kissed the fabric of his brother’s top; the only thing protecting the skin of his collarbone from the sword.  But Genji had come so close now that Hanzo felt the need to shift his gaze between his brother’s eyes.

         The two of them stood there in tension, neither of them moving so much as to breathe. Both of their faces were furious and proud, neither willing to submit to the other. The two dragons of the Shimada clan seemed to have reached the breaking point of their tolerance for one another. But at last the moment came, where Hanzo’s arm faltered. He withdrew his sword slowly, locking eyes until it was sheathed again.

         Genji looked him up and down, and spat as he turned to walk away. But the fury welled in Hanzo once more. “Genji,” he called, but his brother continued on. “Genji!” He yelled at the top of his lungs, but Genji threw a hand up in the air in mockery, as he continued his way toward the pavilion. Hanzo’s nostrils flared, and his eyes dilated as his rage boiled to an undisputed peak. His arm tightened once more, drawing again the sword that he’d just lowered from his brother’s neck moments ago. The top of his arm surged, with a spiritual electricity, as the twin dragons that he’d earned in his labors answered the call of his summoning. They sprung to life from his tattoo, ripping themselves from the binding of his flesh, and following the beckons of his fury. Before he could even think of what he was doing, he was screaming!

         “THE DRAGON BECOMES ME!”

         Hanzo had become a blur of blue and white spiritual energy. He dashed across the grounds of the estate with a breath-taking speed, undetectable by the unassisted eye. Genji turned on his heel, eyes widened with horror and disbelief! His hand instinctively reached for the sword that he usually kept on his back, but he was caught unarmed and unawares! In an instant of desperation, he leapt adjacent to the trajectory of his brother’s onslaught, but he hadn’t leapt fast enough!

         With every swing of Hanzo’s katana, the dragons ripped the flesh from Genji’s bones. Though the cuts came in blinding sequence, he could feel each of them tearing through his bones and muscles, with the ease of a knife through butter. It was over in an instant, and Hanzo crouched behind his brother at the completion of his dash. In one lunge, he had dealt his brother what felt like hundreds of fatal cuts, amplified with the energies of the dragon’s fury. Genji’s body fell to the ground with a ghastly thud.

         Hanzo stood as he always did after an execution, and flicked his sword so as to remove the excess blood, before sheathing it once more. He had calmed now, that the fury from before had been actualized in assault. His ears perked however, to the gagging sound of his brother choking on the ground behind him, and then his eyes widened in realization. He turned, with his eyes fixed on Genji on the ground, drowning in a mouth-full of his own blood. It was only seconds, before the horror overtook him.

         “Genji!” Hanzo screamed, in realization of what he’d just done. He slid to his knees to cradle his fatally wounded brother. The blood that poured from Genji’s wounds stained the ground, and Hanzo’s hands and legs. Hanzo clasped Genji’s wrist, with the trademark A.Z. from his soulmate’s initials, panicking as his heart thumped in his ears. “Genji! Genji, open your eyes! Stay with me! Genji! Someone help us!”

          “Han….zo...!” Genji coughed, with sad eyes looking up to his brother in astonishment and agony.

         "I’m sorry! I’m sorry Genji, I’m sorry!” Hanzo was panicking. The guards and attendants came rushing from the halls, surrounding the two of them. Hanzo heard one of them calling for an ambulance, as the tears welled hot in his eyes. He clutched his brother with the might of his grip, as the sob crawled forth from his throat.

          “….Genji…!”

Chapter Text

Flashback

     Ten year old Hanzo was overjoyed when his lesson was abruptly ended by their tutor. Sure, it came at the cost of pain to his younger brother, but mathematics was his least favorite subject. No matter how he tried he simply could not make sense of the craft. He’d made it through most of his lessons by stretching his memory to its furthest reach, remembering totals of common numbers rather than actually adding them together. But he was never truly cognizant of what he was doing. And just when his mind had reached its breaking point; it happened!

      Genji spontaneously shrieked and burst into tears, clutching the inside of his wrist. Their tutor Asubai-sensei, jumped in panic, immediately dropping his equipment to rush to his otouto’s aid. Hanzo looked over in honest curiosity, trying to see what Genji had done to himself this time. But the startled look on his tutor’s face quickly replaced that curiosity with an ounce of actual worry.

      “Come with me Genji. Hanzo-follow!” Asubai-sensei gave his orders while guiding the children out of their joint study.

      “What is it? What's happened? I didn’t do anything…” Hanzo asked, but Asubai-sensei marched on despite his prattling. Genji’s sobbing was the only other sound, as he furiously clutched his own wrist. Hanzo’s heart began to race as he realized where they were headed. Normally the children were only brought to their mother if they were being disobedient; a rare occasion swiftly corrected. “I didn’t do anything! I promise! Genji, tell him! Stop crying!”

       “But-it-huuuuuurttttttsss!” The seven year old whined between the hitching of his breath, while being pushed forward. As they approached their parent’s chambers, Asubai-sensei made eye contact with their mother, who quickly set aside her paper work and rushed to the door. The two adults conversed out of ear-shot of Hanzo, but he saw from the widening of his mother’s eyes that whatever they were discussing was serious. She nodded quickly, and Asubai-sensei bowed as an announcement of his exit. The good news was that class was done for the day. The bad news was that he still had no idea what just happened, or how much trouble he would be blamed for.

        “Genji! Come here!” Hanzo listened to his mother as she held open her arms for his younger brother.

        “Mommyyyyyyyy!” Genji cried, running to his mother and leaping to her with all of his weight. She wrapped her arms around him, smothering him in her embrace.

        “I didn’t do anything!” Hanzo was terrified. He began to shake, nerves bubbling as the situation escalated.

         “No, Hanzo, he’s fine! Come here...” his mother cooed, holding out an arm for Hanzo. The ten year old moved to his mother’s side as she slowly released Genji. “Genji, show me your wrist,” his mother instructed. With a sniffle, Genji let go of the now reddened flesh on his inner wrist. In the crook of his wrist, thin, neatly written roman letters were tattooed into place. In contrast to his mathmatic skills, Hanzo was already familiar with two roman languages. He spelled the letters out loud.

        “A.Z.” he said, looking at the mark on Genji’s wrist.

        “That’s right! Well done,” his mother applauded, gently rubbing the letters on Genji’s wrist to soothe him.

        “But what does that stand for? And why does Genji get a tattoo? We’re not supposed to get our tattoos until we perform the labors!”

        “It’s not a tattoo Hanzo,” his mother laughed, while pulling back her own sleeve. “It’s a soulmate mark. Genji has a soulmate! See, look at mine!” The two boys shoved into one another, to focus in on the mark on their mother’s wrist. Sure enough, his father's name was stamped onto her wrist in thick meticulous kanji: Shimada, Sojiro.

         “What? You have one too? What does that mean?” Hanzo looked up to his mother, whose face was something between shock and happiness.

         “It means...that Genji has someone who he’s destined to be with. I have your father’s name, and your father has mine. We were meant to be together, and so we married.”

         “Genji’s married?” Hanzo shrieked.

        “Nooo!” Genji screamed as hot tears spilled from his eyes again. He quickly covered his wrist, and Hanzo rolled his lips inward to hide the teasing smirk that crept into place.

       “No-no! Genji isn’t married...but he has someone out there that he’s supposed to be with in the end. He has…a happily ever after, like the stories that your father used to read to you.”  Both of the boys stopped and looked between the wrists in unison. A.Z. and Shimada, Sojiro; one in roman letters, the other in Japanese Kanji. “Whoever she is…it looks like she isn’t Japanese. Or at least…it isn't her native language...” his mother said, inspecting Genji's wrist as she turned it about. Hanzo looked to his own wrist, desperate to belong in the conversation.

       He didn’t see anything. There were no outlines, no traces, no hints of anything to come. Even as the redness in his brother’s wrist began to fade, the letters were neat and blatant to the passing eye. Hanzo’s distressed frown went unnoticed as his brother and mother stared at his wrist in wonder.

       “So…what do I do? How….do I find her?” Genji asked his mother, looking up from his wrist to her at last. She smiled and laughed, pulling him closer.

       “Sweet Sparrow, your mark has come very early,” she cautioned, holding him tight again. “Most people don’t get their marks until their twenties! And even then, that only means that you have one. No one knows when we will meet our soulmates, or how! It just happens eventually.” She smiled as he resumed staring at his wrist in wonder. “Wait here. I’m going to tell your father,” she said, before turning to leave and closing the sliding door to her study behind her.

       “Hanzo, did you get one too?” Genji asked, but didn’t wait for his brother to respond. Instead, he turned Hanzo’s wrist over to inspect it. Hanzo made a face before yanking his wrist out of his brother’s hand.

       “Let go! Even if I did, it’s none of your business!” Hanzo chided, hiding his wrists behind his back. Genji made a face before smirking.

       “You didn’t get one! You didn’t get one! Na-na-na-na-naaaa-naa!” Genji sang his teases while waving his wrist in front of his brother’s face.

       “Shut-up! I don’t want one anyway!” Hanzo turned away from his brother, now folding his arms over his chest to keep his wrists from Genji’s eye-sight.

       “Yes you do! You are a liar! You’re jeeaaaalousss you’re jeeeaaalouussssss!”

       “I said shut-up!” Hanzo screamed before shoving his brother to the ground. Genji cried out with a yelp, just as the door to their mother’s study was pulled open by their father.

       “Hanzo!” His father’s mighty roar made his back straighten with fear. Even as Genji was about to start his all too audible cry, his eyes instantly dried, standing up next to his brother. “Stop hurting your brother.”

       “But he was-!” Hanzo began, but Sojiro cut him off.

       “I don’t care what he was doing. You do not shove him! Now apologize to Genji!” Hanzo made a face, but his father’s glare seemed to turn his heels toward his brother before he could even think to defy him.

       “I’m…sorry…” Hanzo said, before turning away again. And just as he had, his father’s expression softened once more. Sojiro crossed the floor and knelt before his younger son, taking his wrist into his palm and turning it over.

       “Hmm…A.Z. hunh?” Sojiro asked with a smile, and Genji only nodded. “Well…it looks like we’re going to have a celebration!” He picked Genji up with a tickle, throwing his laughing son over his shoulder as he giggled and squirmed. He carried Genji out of the door, laughing along with him as Hanzo looked on. But his eyes caught his mother’s outstretched hand and he took it, following after them.

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       The family was called together that night for a great dinner, in discussion of what they would do for Genji’s party. Hanzo listened as the adults pooled together ideas, and watched as Genji’s eyes lit up like fireworks to the sounds of green dragons and hanging golden lanterns. His older cousin brought up the idea of searching the internet to find the mysterious A.Z. as many people posted in forums to try to find like-timed soulmates. But his grandmother outright dismissed the idea. She believed the two should meet in their own time, and that now was the moment to celebrate Genji.

      Hanzo listened and twirled his chopsticks in his food, as they shared stories around the table of when they got each got their marks, and how they met one another. But his mind drifted to his own wrist, all but throbbing at how diligently he tried to will his own soulmate mark to appear. But his efforts were in vain. When his ears were filled with more stories than he could bare, he pushed back his chair and stood to ask “May I be excused?”

      The room stopped for a moment, all eyes upon the young heir, before his mother saved him. “Oh Hanzo, are you feeling well? Come here....” Hanzo walked over despite his response.

      “I feel fine. I’m just full and sleepy.” She pressed the back of her hand to his forehead and cupped his chubby cheeks, before turning to Sojiro who only nodded.

      “You are excused,” he said, and motioned for Hanzo to bow and remember his manners. Hanzo picked up on the cue, turning to bow as an apology for his sudden departure, and saying thank you for the meal. He walked the route to his bedroom, but waited until he was just out of sight and ear-shot before sneaking off into the palace gardens.

       He grabbed a pair of the geta, that were stashed beneath the wooden deck, and slid them on so that he could move across the garden floor. He made his way to the edge of the koi pond, before squatting down and dipping both of his wrists in the water, frightening the fish that swam nearby. He pulled them back out before rubbing them together quickly, as if he were trying to start a fire.

       “Come on….come on….” he groaned as his wrists began to chafe, but he saw that his efforts were in vain as he pulled them apart. The redness was there, but there had been no mark; Japanese or Roman. He peered over his shoulder before grabbing one of the rocks nearby, and scraping it along the stone pond's edge to sharpen its point. When he was satisfied, he peeked once more, before slowly bringing the sharpened rock back up to his newly provoked veins. Just as he pressed the tip to his wrist, he heard a voice from over his shoulder.

       “That’s not going to work little Dragon,” Hanzo jumped, dropping the rock into the koi pond and turning around in a panic. He saw his grandmother a few feet away, slowly making her way across the garden. She smiled even though she’d just caught him on the verge of doing something that no doubt would have ended horribly. Hanzo bowed before her, ridden with guilt.

       “Obaa-san…”

       “Trust me. I tried it too,” she chuckled with a breath that indicated the declining state of her health. Hanzo ignored it, still shifting guiltily in front of her. “I was so mad when my sister got her mark before me. I was the older sibling! Shouldn’t I have had my happy ending? Where was my soul mate?” She smiled, knowing that she had his full attention. “It’s not fair.”

        Hanzo let his head fall. He felt silly now, having teased his brother earlier for being “married,” and here he was on the verge of slicing himself open for the promise of a soulmate. But he lifted his head as she continued on. “And would you believe it? I didn’t get mine. Not until I was thirty, and all of my friends and my sister had already been married! I thought that I was going to die alone and unhappy. But my mother told me something little dragon. And now I’m going to tell you.”

        “What is it?” Hanzo asked his question as she closed the distance between them and motioned with her hand at the koi pond before them.

        “Do you see those koi, Hanzo?”

        “Yes,” he answered, looking up to her as if she had lost what remained of her mind. “They’re…right there.”

        “Exactly. They're right there. As big as this garden is…as big as this house is….those fish will only know the walls that surround them. They will swim with the same fish, eat from the same growth, live out their entire lives, and die; all within this same pool. Their life was chosen for them the moment that they came here.” Hanzo looked from her back to the fish that swam in the reflection of the moonlight. “They will never know the taste of other waters, or the flavors of seaweed from the grotto. They will never see just how large the world can be, or how beautiful anywhere else is, because they do not have a choice.”

        Hanzo frowned, linking his fingers together. “That…doesn’t sound very fun.”

        “It does not,” his grandmother chuckled. “Sure, it is comforting. Sure, they will live long, and grow strong. But if you ask me…I would rather choose. Wouldn’t you?” As she asked her question, Hanzo nodded vigorously. She held her hand out, and he took it, looking up to her as she turned his wrist over.

        “Hanzo-shi, your mark may not be here yet. Your mark may never come,” she cautioned, and he flinched nervously, but still kept his eyes on her. “But that does not mean that you are not loved little dragon. Or that you will grow old, and unhappy. All it means…is that you may live your life however you see fit. You are free to choose.” Hanzo’s mouth dropped slightly open before looking to his wrist, and smiling back up at her. She nodded her head before turning to leave.

         The blank space on the inner crook of his wrist held his gaze for a moment longer, before he sat down at the edge of the pond, pondering the koi that swam about as the evening sky glowed above him.

Chapter Text

     Hanzo pulled his eyes open with all of his strength. He ignored the sharp twinge of pain that chimed from his rib-cage as he pushed himself up from the crook of his futon. His body hadn’t quite healed yet from his last mission, and the thing that it craved most, was rest and relaxation. But on this day, it would simply have to suffer. Twelve years passed behind him, in a blur of flittering moments often overshadowed by despair and regret. Twelve years, since he had seen his then twenty-three year old fool of a brother; since he’d sent him to a premature grave over a family squabble. Twelve years since he bore the name Shimada with any resemblance of pride.

     The shell of the former head of house now stretched with a physical irritation, as he slowly rose to his feet, his motion hitching at all of the spots that were bruised and damaged. But in time, he stood in full form, and began to shake himself of the fatigue that lingered in his muscles. He implored the full body stretches that he’d learned in his youth’s training, as a shinobi. From the tips of his toes, to the top of his neck, he walked his body through a forced rejuvenation, before stepping off toward his bathroom.

     Of the apartments that he’d migrated between, this had been Hanzo’s least favorite. The shower was cramped, even for him. The toilet flushed too loudly, and often ran for longer than necessary upon recovery. And despite the heat of the outside weather, there was a leak in his refrigerator that seemed to turn the atmosphere into one of a butcher’s meat locker.

     But he had been careless before, and it came at the cost of his personal freedom. The night that he attacked Genji had been the start. In his regret, he rushed his brother to the nearest hospital. But the council learned of his treachery; his weakness. They sent assassins to finish the job that Hanzo began, forcing him to take up arms against them, and protect Genji in his time of recovery. In his fury, he slew all that approached, and returned to the clan, disavowing them and all that they stood for. He hadn’t had a safe night since.

     It seemed that every way that he turned, there was an assassin poised to claim the generous bounty upon his head, as a traitor to the clan. Now cut off from his funds, Hanzo kept himself afloat with mercenary work, both mentally and economically. He’d thought himself secure in his complex in Hanamura, but his first landlord required digital payments, which were swiftly tracked by the clan’s forces, and he was attacked. From there he moved again and again. Each time, a careless mistake; each time discovered by the clan.

     And so for now, he remained in a rundown apartment on the edge of Tokyo, washing his hair with the same water as the working class. He never took lengthy showers, or at least, not in his opinion. But he was certain not to remain long under the free flowing pollution that fell along his shoulders, lest the temperature change, and he find himself frozen in place. He turned off the water, stepping out of the shower and drying himself off with his nearby towel, before moving to brush his teeth. As he spat, he watched the blood fall from his lips, no doubt liberated from an injury left untreated. He sucked on his teeth to cleanse them further, before moving back to his room.

     Despite his re-awakened soreness, he managed to dress himself in casual clothing, shrugging on a clean shirt and sweater, before stepping into a fresh pair of pants. He went to the dresser, pulling it open and grabbing the money that he’d earned from yesterday’s accomplishment. Fortunately his clients had no issues paying him in cash; in fact they preferred it. A withdrawal stopped there, and there were no ties or paper trails to follow after that. Everything else however, now operated in credit. And there was nowhere that credit was accepted, where the Shimada could not follow.

     Next, he moved to the kitchen, grabbing a pre-washed apple from the bowl that he kept on his counter. He wasted no time, making his way for the door and out of his apartment complex, having saved all of his errands for the day. First, he would have to make his way to the local market, to both re-stock his groceries, and convert his cash into a digital payment at the customer service counter. He also needed to pick up a few things to lay at the site of his brother’s burial. In particular, he needed the shoukou traditionally and originally burned at the funeral that he was unable to attend. And one last signature item; the feather of a sparrow.

     He hadn’t encountered many problems in his day to day life in the open. He learned in his youth, that he was actually safer in Japan than he was outside of the country. While Genji grew with the softer more feminine features of his mother, Hanzo’s face was an all but defiantly masculine recreation of his father’s. The distinctly Asian features where easily recognized in public, and on security cameras. Especially in comparison to those of other ethnicities. If he wasn’t careful, he was certain to be intercepted.

     But here in Japan, he blended in. He compared it to the stripes of zebra, and how impossible it would be to find one particular coat in a sea of its own kind. Out here, he could walk in the open, and as long as he wasn’t screaming at that the top of his lungs that he was Hanzo Shimada, ex heir to the Shimada Empire and sworn enemy of the Yakuza, he could travel from place to place with little fear. It was a prison still, but he preferred the security of a zoo animal, over being an endangered species on the run.

     His apartment was also conveniently stationed near the train station. It took some time for him to get used to the noise at first, with his previous places of residence being so far removed from the common residents. But in time, he learned to go back to sleep as the train whipped by, and soon he stopped waking up altogether. He bought his ticket at the kiosk before making his way to the loading dock, and eventually boarding the train, preferring to stand and hold on to one of the hand grips.

     His eyes drifted to the advertisements around him. Mostly movies and video games. He noticed and advertisement for the movie Hero of My Storm, starring the latest K-pop queen, Hana Song. He pondered the movie for a moment, wondering if Genji would have wanted to see it. He’d favored action movies with beautiful women in his youth. The thought occupied his mind, until his stop was announced, and he was free to exit the train.

     The trek to the market had been forgiveably short, and business like. He ate the same things over and over again; fruits, vegetables, and fish. He knew precisely what quantities, and what spices he needed, as his diet never varied. His grocery store route had been narrowed down to three long right turns, before checkout. He was done shopping in a matter of fifteen minutes.

     But what he couldn’t escape, was the tantalizing line to the customer service counter. He stood in silence, shifting in place to transfer his weight off of his sore muscles, as the line inched forward. In times like these, he always wished that he remembered to bring music to listen to. But the truth of the matter, was that Hanzo never knew what he wanted to listen to. Nothing sounded right anymore. Nothing ever caught his ear.

     One by one, the people ahead of him finished their tasks, quickly moving out of the way so that the next person could come forward, until finally it was Hanzo’s turn. He quickly pressed a pre-calculated wad of cash to the counter, instructing the young clerk at the desk that he needed this payment to be converted digitally, and sent to his landlord. He provided the routing and account number that it needed to be sent to, and paid the extra fee for expedition, before he was handed a receipt. He shoved it in his pocket, and made his way for the door.

     He needed to return home to stash his groceries, so they wouldn’t spoil in the time it would take him to not only find a Sparrow, but strike it down from the sky and pluck one of its feathers. He quickly made his way back to the train, still standing while carrying the weight of his groceries, as he made the journey back home. Upon his arrival, he wasted no time, washing his hands, and vegetables at the sink, before chopping them into thin meticulous slices.

     He poured the shredded greenery into the clean mason jars that he kept in his cabinet, before snatching a piece of tape from his roller, and sticking it across the front. Then with the magnetic marker on the refrigerator, he wrote tomorrow’s date on it, so he knew when to eat his food. He proceeded to do this with the remainder of the vegetables, before separating the uncooked meat into baggies, and doing the same thing. Then at last, when everything was put away, he went back into the refrigerator, and took out the jar that he set aside a week ago for today, along with a container of pre-cooked meat that he reheated in his microwave.

     He stood there at the counter as he ate, quickly shoveling the food down his throat, and washing what few dishes it took him to complete this preparation, before putting them away, and retreating back to his room. For now at least, he needed to take his time. The train ride to Hanamura would be quick, but Hanzo was journeying into the Dragon’s nest, and so he needed to be prepared to face the consequences.

     He inspected his quiver, counting the arrows that he had, while doing his best to predict how many he would need. He’d managed to break in to the Shimada palace every year since his brother’s death. And often times, he did so with relatively little fuss. Only in the last few years, did he ever truly see much opposition. His plan had always been to avoid confrontation, instead relying on the intimate knowledge from his youth of the palace layout. He’d learned from his brother, all of the ins and outs of its foundation, and had to use this knowledge in the past to stop Genji from sneaking out and embarrassing the family further. Now he used them to suppress his own shame.

     The hard part was the anticipation. He used electric arrows for the Omnic guards that the Shimada implored at the burial ground. He never felt the need to spare them, the way that he did humans. An omnic could be rebuilt and destroyed time and time again, and never know the difference. But for humans, he needed blunted arrows. They were heavier at the tip and dull upon impact. But with the draw weight of his bow, the concussive force would do enough damage to keep the opposition down for the time that he needed. He always tried his best not to kill them. But even so, he was certain to pack a few lethal arrows, just in case.

     He went to his room, to grab his ceremonial gi, and hakama, and a few other things that he would use to change and disguise himself. A worrier through and through, Hanzo triple checked everything that he packed, knowing that he wouldn’t be able to turn around in case he forgot something, and remembering that he still needed time to find the feather. When he finally managed to assure himself that everything was where it needed to be, he set out again for the train, this time buying connecting tickets for his trek to Hanamura.

     He listened as the carts rushed along the metallic runway of the train, remembering the layout of the palace, and the guard formation from his youth. It hadn’t changed much, in the last few times that he’d been there. But the guards were sure to increase in number, seeing as he was discovered last year. He pictured the different ways that he could enter the palace, deciding this time to approach from the west, and make his way north. Even at age thirty-seven, he could still scale the wall to his brother’s chambers with little opposition.

     He thought of other pathways, and the eventual obstacles he would have to overcome, but every plan seemed to come back to the first, as the safest option. Bored of his own strategy, he closed his eyes and decided to simply relax in meditation. His body would not be at peak performance today, so his mind needed to pick up the slack. He sat in personal silence for the duration of the train ride, until his stop at Fukushima was announced. From there, the journey to Hanamura would have to continue on foot, and in the shadows.

     He moved along them deftly, the same twists and turns learned through years of practice. Nothing around him had changed, as Fukushima prided itself on its natural environment, and preservation of traditional Japan. The fast life of Tokyo seemed to evaporate upon the crossing, as he took in the fresh air, enriched with the green that surrounded him. His trek carried him through the trees that covered the mountain side, shielding him from the light and the vision of those who would seek him out.

     He scanned the area with trained eyes, sharpened by the diligence that came with wielding a bow against those with technical assistance. He favored the katana more than any other weapon, but after what he’d done, he vowed to never touch another again. Instead, he trained until his bow had become an extension of his will, and with that training assumed his role as an archer. There were several species of bird about, but he had yet to come across a Sparrow. But as his journey brought him to an open road, he saw a small bird diving over head into the thicket of trees across the pavement. He began to run, to keep a fixed eye on the bird.

     His feet rustled along the fallen leaves scattered among the ground, with the rhythmic thump of his pace, until he saw the bird slow its flight. Taking his chance, he reached behind his back, snatching an arrow out of his quiver, quickly nocking it to his bow string, and drawing it. But as he set himself up for the kill, he paused, suddenly stricken with grief. He lingered, still keeping his shot trained on the target, but at last he relented, lowering his shot and re-storing his bow.

     In the years before, he had always remembered to purchase the feathers online, so that he wouldn’t have to do this. The thought of killing a Sparrow was too on the nose, giving rise to the ghosts of his past. Instead, he swallowed, before running to the side of the tree, and scaling it to the nest. As he figured, the sparrow had brought feathers to its mate. He snatched one, much to the bird’s dismay, before climbing back down.

     He examined the feather for a moment. At its base, where the stem began, it was a light shade of unblemished beige. Yet as the feather stretched in its growth, it began to bruise and darken, up until the very tip of it, at its blackest. Hanzo wondered if that was what happened to Genji. Hanzo wondered, if that was what happened to himself.

     He stashed the feather into the bag containing the other burial rights, and said a solemn thank you to the Sparrow, before continuing his journey, to the palace where both of their lives began and ended.

Chapter Text

      The line at the airport wouldn’t have bothered him in any other situation, but the humidity managed to ravage everyone before they made it through the security check, so the room smelled of sweat and body odor. The stench of which, appealed only to the summer insects, intent on making a meal of their warm and suffering human prey. While Hanzo was uneasy about the flight itself, he certainly would not miss the summer in Japan.

       He couldn’t quite put his finger on what it was that made him so uneasy about airplanes. Heights never bothered him; not even as a child. He and Genji were climbing trees together from the moment they discovered that they could. Trees turned into hills, and then hills turned into mountains. He could stand on one leg atop the peak of Mt. Fuji, and the only goosebumps he would experience would be from the cold.

       But here he stood, stomach churning as the line inched forward. He regretted not spending the extra money for a first class ticket, instead deciding to fly coach, as befitting of someone of his lifestyle, so as not to arouse suspicion. The risk of being recognized was far too great, and if something were to happen on a plane, he had no means of escaping. Once more the line inched forward, and he turned to look away, thinking of something to distract himself. His scrambled thoughts brought him to the letter left at his apartment, upon his return from his brother’s burial ground.

       The handwriting on the letter hand been unmistakable. Genji’s stroke order never aligned with what their sensei’s tried to instill upon him, so his Kanji were always a little off from the norm. He pictured the assassin's face, that seemed to glow beneath the removed mask. But how could this be? He’d unleashed both dragons on his unarmed brother, and despite his efforts to see him to the hospital, Genji was officially announced dead halfway through the night. Though, in truth, he recalled that he never saw the body, or even the burial urn until the year after, upon the anniversary of his brother’s murder. So despite the improbability, he couldn’t rule out the possibility that his attacker from the week before, had been none other than his brother. There was no exception to the rule. Only a Shimada can control the dragons.

       The thoughts that drifted in his mind carried him to the front of the line with an oblivious ease. He’d only snapped out of his trance, when he was asked by the guard to empty his pockets and walk through the metal detector that arched over the runway. His carrion was searched, but Hanzo always traveled light, carrying nothing but a book to pass the time, two water bottles, and cleansing materials to freshen up; something he thoroughly intended to do upon boarding the air-conditioned plane. His bow and quiver were stashed away with his luggage, cleverly hidden in a double lined brief-case that he’d brought with him, from his time as a Shimada assassin.

       Hanzo made his way through the checkpoint with little more than a curt nod, before finding a shaded bench away from the crowd, and sitting to wait for his plane’s arrival. He hadn’t left much time before departure, but he figured that best. Otherwise, he would have too long to change his mind and leave. Better still, this left him little time to be intercepted by a would-be enemy, out to collect the reward on his head, and cash-in with the Shimada clan.

     The monitors above flickered with the changing of time, signaling that his plane approached the loading bay, as the guiding voices from the intercom instructed him to make his way toward the loading gate. He followed their instructions, gathering together at the proper dock, along with the other riders to be seated with him. It was a blended mixture of tourists returning home, and Japanese natives going to Spain, no doubt to escape the summer wrath. From what he could spot, no one looked familiar enough, or uneasy enough, to make an attempt on his life. Even still, he didn’t loosen the tension in his shoulders until after he’d climbed the retractable stairs to the stream-lined air vehicle, and found a window seat toward the back.

        He waited, looking out the window, and clutching his own arms as his toes curled in his shoes. His fear of flying had often been a source of embarrassment, but he was determined to endure it in silence. As the minutes clicked by, he noticed that his flight was not full, as multiple seats were left open, including his own. When the flight attendant came by to ask him to turn off his digital device and fasten his safety belt, he did so without a second thought, instead reaching into his pocket for the copy of the folded up letter, just as the pilot announced that they were preparing for take-off.

        He’d read the contents over and over again, by now able to recall the text from memory. But even still, it remained a fixture of his study since he found it. It seemed that his brother had grown in their time apart, as his letter explained that while at first he was consumed with rage and thoughts of betrayal, he had been watching Hanzo from afar for some time, and that he now only felt sorrow. That night somehow managed to damage them both, although only one of the brothers was struck down.

       Hanzo’s eyes glazed over the page, quadruple checking that he had performed all that Genji asked upon his departure, to signify his intent to join him and his military strike team. He was not permitted to disclose the whereabouts of their location in any way, so everything needed to be done covertly. The flight would take him from Tokyo Japan, to Barcelona Spain, over the duration of thirteen and a half hours, and that upon his landing he would be escorted to a car.

       Just as he was sure that he had done all that was asked, the plane lurched forward, and Hanzo felt himself regretting every decision he’d ever made that led him to this point! He quickly shoved the letter back into his pocket, and clutched on to the arm rests, closing his eyes and thinking peaceful thoughts to distract himself from the rumbling machinery. In time, the plane approached a level altitude, and he received notice that he was free to unbuckle his seatbelt. He was the first to do so, immediately grabbing his carry-on and making his way toward the bathroom.

       He splashed the cold water onto his face first, to cleanse the sweat that pooled from a combination of the humidity from earlier, and his own fear. Next,  he took a damp cloth to his problem areas, making himself as sanitary as possible. When he was as clean as he could be, he departed, making his way back to his seat and grabbing the book from his carry-on. He took one last look at Genji’s letter, before he began reading with a newfound hope. Perhaps in Overwatch, he could regain his honor, and work toward redemption from his past sins.

 ***********************

        To his misfortune, he already made his way through the book, before the plane announced that they needed to brace themselves for landing. He cursed himself for not bringing another to keep his mind occupied. Everyone else aboard had fallen asleep a few hours ago; a luxury he would never be able to afford. He bit his cheeks and closed his eyes tight as the intercom announced that they would experience slight turbulence upon their landing. Hanzo decided to have words with the flight attendant afterward, for the misuse of the word ‘slight.’

      The plane shook in a manner that made Hanzo think that it could snap in half at any moment. His leg shook in place as he opened his eyes to quickly scan for the nearest emergency exit, and parachute in case he needed to dive, and then if he even needed one. It wasn’t death that Hanzo feared, but surviving; pitiful and injured beyond repair, left only a shell of his former self to rot with the thoughts of his past slowly nibbling upon him. At least with mercenary work, he was able to rid the world of men like himself, and his family. But having to endure life without distraction was a cross too heavy to bear.

       His eyes blinked open again in betrayal, but as he looked about he saw a little girl, shaking slightly in her seat while looking back at him. She had short dark hair, cut into a small bob that stopped at her neck, with a dress for the Japanese summer; light and airy for comfort. She stared with big open brown eyes, before smiling and waving at him without a trace of fear. “It’s gonna be okay, mister,” she announced, before being shushed by her apologetic mother. Hanzo only nodded to them both in response, before closing his eyes again.

     But just as the girl said, the plane ceased its turbulence in descent, smoothly sliding into the landing port in Barcelona. Hanzo only released his grip on the arm rests when the plane had come to a complete halt, and the stewardess announced that it was safe to depart from the plane. He’d held on to them so tight, that there were indents in the faux-leather from where his fingers were. He peeled himself from his seat and swung his bag over his shoulders as he stood and waited in line for his chance to depart. His eyes found the young girl’s again, who smiled and waved goodbye as she was pulled along by her mother. Hanzo’s arm twitched with the thought of waving back. He kept it down.

      He climbed down the stairs as swiftly as he could, without betraying any sign of his athleticism. The air was warm still, but a dry warmth, as opposed to the savage humidity in Japan. He crossed the pavement into the airport, and went to collect his luggage from the conveyor belt. Everything that he brought with him managed to survive the trip as well, as he threw an oversized gym-bag over one shoulder, while his left hand pulled along his rolling rectangular case. He made his way over to the exit to go and find his ride.

        Once he was out of his door, he reached back into his jacket pocket to turn on his phone. He hadn’t expected any messages, so he wasn’t surprised when it appeared completely clear. Instead, he turned his head up, looking amongst the white boards carried by drivers of various stature. His eyes finally locked on to the kanji for the alias that he used, “Hattori Hanzou,” being held up by a white woman with shoulder length blonde hair. She searched about, no doubt lost in the sea of Asians that poured from the airport doors. But as he approached her, her entire stance shifted, and he could tell that she realized who he was.

      He noted the shift though, and her stance in general. Whoever she was, she was stronger than her white cardigan and skirt let on. She seemed slight to the untrained eye, but there was muscle definition and training in her movement, combined with a sort of rigidity in her frame unique to those who had seen combat, in Hanzo’s experience. But as her body showed signs of a warrior, her expression was one of just the opposite.

      She had big dark blue eyes, soft in their gaze as her head tilted to the side with her smile. She looked tired, but at the same time earnest as her lips parted. “Pardon me.  You must be...Hattori?” Hanzo nodded to her knowingly raised eyebrow, letting on that she knew that it was only an alias. “It’s so nice to finally meet you! Oh, goodness, you’re carrying quite a lot of weight. Here, let me help you,” she said, reaching out for his briefcase. Hanzo stepped back, in response.

       “I will manage. Where is he?”

       “Genji? He was called away. I came in his place. I’m Angela Ziegler,” she announced, holding her hand out for a handshake. Hanzo glanced at it before moving past her, toward the now open trunk. He set in his luggage bag first, before hoisting the briefcase into the car, closing the trunk, and walking around to the driver’s side back seat. The blonde woman opened the door on the passenger side, and climbed in the back with him, to his annoyance. “Or….maybe he mentioned me as…Mercy….?”

        “He said nothing of you, or anyone else,” was Hanzo’s curt response.

        “Oh,” Mercy replied, apparently taken aback. Hanzo saw from the corner of his eyes that she’d fastened the buttons to her wrist sleeves, before the driver turned back to face them.

        “Dr. Ziegler?”

        “Yes? Oh, my apologies. Go ahead,” she instructed, and the car pulled away from the airport. Hanzo thought the drive would remain in silence after that, but he had been mistaken. “How was your flight?”

         “Agreeable,” he lied.

         “Truly? Genji thought you might be in a bit of a mood. He said you’ve never liked airplanes. I admit I expected you to be a bit more shaken, from the things that he said,” she giggled. Hanzo stopped for the moment, wondering what all Genji had expressed about him to these people.

         “I’m fine.” The lies barked defensively from his mouth, as he folded his arms across his chest. He thought he saw the woman making a face in the reflection of the window, but he convinced himself that he was mistaken. His eyes began to droop, and his head hung low for the moment, until he heard her voice again a few minutes later.

       “The jet lag can be a little unforgiving. It’s perfectly fine, if you would like to go to sleep. We have a bit of a journey ahead of us anyway,” Mercy stated. Hanzo knew that he hated this woman, both for pointing out his weakness, and for now denying him the ability to sleep. He would stay awake now, just to prove a point. And it didn’t help that the very sound of her voice was so soothing.

       “Hn,” he grunted, as he stared pointedly out the widow, looking at the buildings and stretches of land that surrounded them. He’d been to Spain before, on more than one occasion, and even to the same airport. But in truth, he didn’t recognize the route that they were going. He chocked it up to his fatigue, and gave up trying to pinpoint his location, knowing that he could kill them both and turn the car around, should the need present itself.

       “Tekharta Mondatta?” Hanzo turned away from the window to look at her at last, with an eyebrow raised in confusion and irritation. She nodded toward the cover of the book that hung from his open carry-on, her question in reference to its author; the famous monk Omnic. “I’ve read The Iris several times, actually! His work can truly be eye opening!”

     “I brought it with me on a whim, to pass the time,” Hanzo stated, before turning back to the window.

     “Tell me, what did you think of his section on the soul? I thought it was so fascinating, how the laws that govern who is treated with what respect are tied in with archaic human ideals of the purity of one’s soul! I mean, it all makes sense, right? Why we all look upon the Omnics with such disdain? But then he raises that excellent point in chapter three, about the animals that we share the earth with, and asks us to think if they are any less deserving of life and comfort. Sorry, I’m rambling,” She cut herself off, and Hanzo agreed.

       “I just-” she continued, and Hanzo made a face. “I’m so taken with his philosophies. Honestly, this world needed Mondatta. It still does.”              

        “The book was listed as recommended reading at the store that I bought it from, so I purchased it without thought. While it served its purpose in occupying my mind during the flight, I found its contents patronizing and shallow, much like this conversation. Only a fool humors opinions on the soul, from a machine-made machine,” Hanzo replied with a weary drooping of his eyes. The pause that came after was uncomfortable, but then he heard a shuffling that came from a bag, and turned to look out of the corner of his eye.

        “...I was wrong earlier. My mistake,” Mercy said, with an indignant huff, as she pulled apart a pair of white cordless ear-buds, clipping each to a separate ear. “You are exactly, as Genji described you.” She crossed her legs, and adjusted the volume on her headphones loud enough that Hanzo could make out parts of the song she was listening to.

     Hanzo glanced over for a moment, feeling the words of an apology forming in the upper crook of his mouth. But Mercy had turned away toward the window, no longer interested in his company. He decided against provoking her further, relishing in the fact that he could now ride in silence, despite the manner in which he obtained this serenity. The irritation that nagged at the corner of his mind from the lack of sleep however, did not dull with her silence. It instead pulled at his skull, like a ponytail tied too tightly; reminding him of his exhaustion, but at the same time preventing him from sleeping.

    “Driver, how long until we reach the destination?” The driver looked to Hanzo in the rear-view mirror briefly, at the sound of the question.

    “About an hour and forty-five minutes, sir.” Hanzo wrinkled his nose in dissatisfaction. The fatigue that bore down upon him seemed to gain weight with the newly obtained knowledge. Still, he knew that he would be at his destination soon, and eventually around his brother’s promise of safe company.

    What he didn’t know, was that the car ride was only half of the journey. After the duration of the ride, the car stopped in the middle of the open road surrounded by dry green grass. Hanzo instinctively tensed in muscle, thinking of how best to grab his bow and get himself out of whatever his so-called brother just dragged him into. He jumped, as Mercy pushed open her door, and closed it behind her with an abrupt sharpness. Hanzo looked out of the window toward her, only to see that her hair and collar were blowing with a wind too strong to be safe. But as the driver opened his own door, he heard the cause of the gust.

    “Would you like me to help with your luggage, sir?” The driver asked, but Hanzo was deafened by the sound of his comfort dying, at the sight of the large hover shuttle that slowly landed next to them. It was white, with grey detail for contrast, and hints of blue and gold. Shaped like an orca without the dorsal fin, the ship swayed back and forth in place, until it found equilibrium in its descent toward the ground. The front gate to the shuttle lowered onto the grass off of the road, and Mercy walked forward, stepping onto it and out of sight, without a word. “Sir?”

      “Hm?” Hanzo turned to see the driver holding his luggage. He quickly took his rectangular case, before throwing his luggage over his shoulder. The driver gave him a nod, before walking around him to close his door, and then getting back into the car. Hanzo watched for a moment as the car drove away, before swallowing, and looking back to the air shuttle. He walked across the grass along the sides of the road, before his feet clicked against the reinforced window of the shuttle gate, and he ascended the loading ramp.

      Mercy was already buckled into her own seat, with belts across her waist, and chest. Hanzo was sure she could see the distress that he was in, at the thought of another flight. But if she could, it did nothing to soothe her mood. She remained transfixed on her nails for the moment, still ignoring him with all of her will. Hanzo quickly found a seat, and buckled in, before his eyes flicked back to Mercy, who was now behind a hologram screen. With a few strokes of her fingers, the shuttle shook from side to side, until it reached equilibrium in the air, steadily flying above the ground.

    Hanzo resumed his death grip on the arm rests of his chair, as he had on the plane earlier. Only this time, the metal threatened to break beneath his grip. Unlike the small, circular window in the ship, Hanzo could clearly see the ground from further and further away behind the large glass pane that served as his ramp mere moments ago. He closed his eyes and clenched his teeth, trying his hardest to keep himself from trembling.

     His ears perked however, when he heard Mercy’s seatbelt unclick as she stood up, making her way to what he deciphered to be a coffee machine, with his now opened eyes. She fixed herself a cup and re-summoned her hologram, before walking over to another part of the shuttle on the upper deck. From what he could see, she seemed to be taking stock of the supplies on the ship, but he didn’t dare unclip his seatbelt while the shuttle was in motion.

        This portion of the voyage, was noticeably less time consuming. The shuttle had flown too high for his own personal comfort, but out of the window, he could see that they were steadily climbing up a tall plateau, in the approach of an obtuse cliff-side. The water that crashed against the base of the plateau caught his eye for but a moment, before the glint of the sunlight reflected off of the cold steel that seemed to spike out of the side of the mountain.

        Hanzo’s eyes marveled briefly at the sight. He knew of Overwatch from his time with the Shimada clan, but he was instructed to fear them, for they were under the control of oppressive world governments that didn’t always honor 'Japanese customs.' But the sight of the facility in front of him was breath-taking enough to make him forget that he was currently airborne. His eyes focused in on the flag, rippling tall above an atrium with the emblem for the organization stamped proudly onto its fabric.

       But as the ship began to descend again, Hanzo’s nerves resurfaced in the worst way. The shuttle began to sway and tilt from side to side, doing its best to find a smooth landing balance. Hanzo’s teeth were clenched hard enough to crack one another, and his heart raced in his chest.  But death declined his reservation on this day, as the shuttle smoothly perched itself onto the landing dock, and the jet boosters silenced their dull hum.

     The hatch opened once more, and the sound of Mercy’s thick heels came clicking down what few stairs there were to the upper level. She walked down and out, past Hanzo, and onto the black pavement. Hanzo quickly unbuckled his seatbelt, following after her out of desperation to get away from yet another air vehicle. Even as she marched ahead of him, he could track her by the sound of her heels, and trail behind her until he caught up.

       She wasted no time, punching in a few codes to what looked like a large gate, before performing a retina scan. Then a voice came over an intercom, stating “Identity confirmed. Agent S-37: Mercy. Welcome back.” Despite the inviting tone of the voice, Mercy marched in as if she had an agenda, taking a sharp left down a brightly lit hallway.

        Hanzo followed after her, still not saying anything. The only sounds were the rolling of his luggage, the clicking of their footsteps, and the hum of the lights that threatened to give him a headache if he didn’t find something else to look at. Several twists and turns later, they approached what appeared to be a hatch. “Open,” Mercy instructed, and the door rose up into the ceiling, to Hanzo’s astonishment. “Someone will speak with you when the hour is decent,” she stated, before turning and walking past him. Hanzo thought to trail after her again, but then he looked into the room and saw that she’d led him to a vacant bedroom.

      When he stepped in, the door slid closed behind him. He turned around in a mild panic, before sighing the word “bathroom.” But the walls seemed to hear him, as a light flicked on in the distance, revealing a pristine toilet and sink. Hanzo dropped his things at the door, making his way to the bathroom and releaving himself, before cleansing off in preparation of sleep. He came back to the door, grabbing his things and dragging them as close to him as possible, before stripping down. His body fell flat on the futon that laid on the ground, and in what felt like mere seconds, he fell asleep.

Chapter Text

     The urge to keep his eyes closed beckoned to him in the same way that a siren sings to a hopeless sailor. Hanzo couldn’t remember the last time that he’d had a night’s sleep so fulfilling. There was something about the way that the futon filled in the gaps of his figure, to complete his frame. The bed was solid and firm as he preferred, so that he wouldn’t feel like he was perpetually falling. Such exact precision to his needs could have only been known and requested by someone who knew him intimately. It could only have been his brother.

     Eventually he managed to conquer his temptations, and peeled his top eye-lid from the bottom. He pressed himself upward, taking in the smell of the orchids that sprouted from the indoor plot that lined the walls. The room had a decorative blend of modern style, while also managing to pay homage to feudal Japan, complete with hanging lanterns and sliding screens that would part with a gesture of his hand to welcome the sun. But what he appreciated most, was the dulled shine of the wooden floor; a specification he’d acquired in his teenage years. He thought that gloss on wood appeared cheap and unclean.

     He had bookshelves, but there were no books. Genji had never been a reader without provocation, so Hanzo assumed he wouldn’t have known what to purchase. In a moment of lamentation, he remarked to himself that the books would have been more than he deserved. But he pulled himself out of his loathing when out of the corner of his eye, he saw a station for him to begin preparing his morning pot of tea. To his disgust, the only additive provided was artificial sweetener, rather than natural fruit juice to boost the flavor. In spite of the oversight, he moved to prepare his brew, deciding to drink it straight.

     As the water molded to the heat, he looked around a bit more, taking in the intricacies of the area before a voice came from a speaker in the corner of his room. “Hanzo Shimada. Good Morning.” Hanzo span around to face what now revealed itself as a screen from the wall, showing a label that read ‘ATHENA.’

     “What is the meaning of this?” Hanzo barked his question, while looking for his suitcase. He found it next to the futon where he left it, and quickly dashed toward it to arm himself.

     “I am Athena; Artificial Intelligence. My programming is interlaced through the entirety of the Gibraltor, where we are presently located. I serve as an autonomous security system, as well as an engine to connect you with the worldwide net.” Hanzo paused for a moment, taking in the words with uncertainty. He had seen similar systems before, but he regarded them with utter disdain. The Omnics had proven themselves dangerous enough when tied to a physical body. It would be foolish to allow artificial intelligence to roam freely and formlessly throughout his living quarters.“Do you prefer Hanzo, or Mr. Shimada. Or Shimada-san? I can switch my communication to Japanese, if you prefer.”

     “Were you recording me? Are you recording me right now?” Hanzo could feel the tension in his heart. He asked the question despite already knowing the answer.

     “Yes. I serve as the security system for the Gibraltar. I record everything that happens on the property. Would you like to see your footage of last night?”

     “I never consented to being recorded!” Hanzo’s nostrils flared with a panic and fury. He looked about, suddenly feeling like a trapped animal.

     “I serve as the security system for the Gibraltar. I record everything that happens on the property. It is my duty and it cannot be overridden. However, the playback of the recordings can only be obtained with your personal consent, and are never uploaded to external servers. Would you like to see the playback footage of last night?”

     “No,” Hanzo barked, before his ears perked up to the sounds of his tea whistling. He quickly snatched it off of the burner before turning back to the screen.

     “Your presence has been requested by Agent T-41: Winston, in central operations. Do you require directions to central operations?”

     “Who is Winston?” As Hanzo asked the question, the screen flickered over to a picture of a gorilla in a space-suit.

     “Winston: A gorilla genetically engineered with modifiers toward cerebral enhancement. As a result, his intelligence rivals the greatest minds in human history. Winston was a member of the Horizon Lunar colony, and was taken under the care of Dr. Harold Winston, from whom he was named. But the experiment proved dangerous, and Winston was forced to flee from the colony, only to resume life on planet earth. He found a home with the scientists of the former Overwatch initiative.”

     Hanzo stared at the photograph for several minutes in disbelief, before a thought crossed his mind. “Show me my own profile.”

     “Shimada, Hanzo.” There was a photo of himself taken from his arrival last night. His eyelids had bags of fatigue and irritation, and the grays on the sides of his head seamed to creep even higher. It was all that he could do not to cringe, but he did notice that there was no biography.

     “Show me Genji Shimada.”

     “Agent O-34: Genji. Upon near fatal injury, Genji was restored back to health by the timely innovation of Dr. Angela Ziegler. He is the world’s only known cyborg, and served with Overwatch under the sub-division Blackwatch before it disbanded.”

     “Edit my profile,” Hanzo instructed, now growing used to the automated system. It responded accordingly.

     “Of course. What would you like it to say?”

     “Remove the name Shimada.”

     “Confirmed, Hanzo. Would you like to add anything else?”

     “No,” Hanzo said, finally loosening his grip on his bow. He turned his head to the side for a moment, but then looked back to the screen when it began to speak again.

      “Your presence has been requested by agent T-41: Winston, in central operations. Do you require directions to central operations?”

      Hanzo exhaled through his nose for a moment, looking about in contemplation before shrugging. He had a feeling the voice would keep asking, so he said “yes.” At his response, the door to the room climbed up into the ceiling and out of sight. Out in the hallway, he saw a blue luminescent arrow light up on the floor.

     “Please follow the arrows. They will guide you to central operations.” Hanzo turned back to the computer screen with uncertainty, but it turned itself off. Clutching his bow and a quiver of arrows, he stepped out of the doorway and onto the arrow on the hallway floor. It blinked out of his way as his foot approached the floor, only to reappear further down the hallway. As he stepped out, the door closed behind him, leaving him no choice but to follow the guidance of the light-up arrow toward Winston.

     Now that fatigue no longer loomed over him like an ancient curse, Hanzo remarked that the lights of the hallway weren’t as offensive as they seemed the night before. But the repetition of its design did nothing to help his sense of direction. Each wall appeared identical, making him feel like a mouse trapped in a maze, desperately trying to find the cheese at the exit. But the arrow led him down one last identical twist, before guiding him into a large open room.

     The hologram monitors that hung from the ceilings all circled around the platform floor, which was elevated from the base. There were several individual stations with smaller screens, but the largest station was in the center of the elevated platform, where an actual gorilla in a space suit was flipping through multiple tabs with its fingers. Hanzo swallowed and gripped his bow before stepping forward, letting the metal of his boot hit the floor flatly to announce his presence.

     “Hm?” The gorilla span around before pushing up its glasses and refocusing its eyes. “Ah, good morning! I hope I haven’t disturbed you. I instructed Athena to send for you once you’d already awoken. You must be Genji's brother, Hanzo! How was your flight? Oh goodness...where are my manners. Pardon me, may I offer you anything?”

     Hanzo blinked in utter disbelief, still doing his best to reconcile with the fact that this gorilla just spoke to him. His lips parted for the moment as his jaw fell open. “Um….”

     “Oh, my sincerest apologies! Allow me to introduce myself! I am Winston, former scientist of the original Overwatch initiative. Pleased to make your acquaintance,” Winston said, holding out a hand large enough to palm Hanzo’s entire skull. Hanzo swallowed nervously, eyeing the hand but never shaking it. “Is…something wrong? Hanzo?”

     Hanzo’s eyes flickered between the palm and Winston’s kind expression, which contrasted with his overwhelming size. He swallowed to respond before Athena’s voice called Winston’s attention away. “Winston, you have an incoming message from Agent A-19: Genji.”

     “Patch him through,” Winston commanded, before turning back to a hologram that lowered down toward his face.

     “Winston.” Hanzo’s ears perked as he recognized the voice. It seemed a cruel jest at first, but the more he thought about it, the more he had come to reconcile with his brother still being alive. He moved just in sight of the monitor as Genji continued. “The mission was a succ-Hanzo,” Genji stopped, startled at his brothers appearance. The room was still for a moment before Winston pressed forward.

     “Genji? You were saying?”

     “Should I message back at another time?” As Genji asked the question, Hanzo picked up on the notion that his presence had not yet been approved for these discussions. Yet just as he moved to excuse himself, Winston replied.

     “Please continue.”

     “Very well. The mission was a success. We shut down the factory before the Omnics were able to reassemble themselves. The area is safe again for the moment.”

     “Any sign of enemy activity?”

     “Negative. We have nothing placing Talon or any other faction at the factory. Any footage from the specified hour within a 10 mile radius has already been modified. Tracer is out now, trying to comb through to see if she can find anything, but as of now we don’t have any leads.” Winston sighed through his nostrils as his shoulders lowered at the news. 

     “Do you need medical attention?” As Winston asked the question, Hanzo peeked over to see if Genji was wounded. His heart seized for the moment.

     “Negative. No injuries to report,” Genji replied, and Hanzo felt the tension in his chest give slack.

     “Alright. I’m sending the shuttle for extraction. ETA within half an hour.”

     “Roger that,” Genji replied.

     “Would you like a moment?” Winston asked Hanzo, moving the hologram in his direction. Hanzo swallowed.

     “Genji?”

     “You accepted my invitation. I thought for sure you wouldn’t come. This is…surprising.” Hanzo switched to Japanese before carrying on with the conversation.

     <<He’s a gorilla, Genji. This gorilla is speaking to me.>>

     <<He is indeed a gorilla. And he is fluent in several languages, including Japanese>> Genji replied, to Hanzo’s petrified horror. Winston smiled and waived a cheeky waive from behind the hologram. “Good luck brother. I will be there soon.” The hologram blinked out of sight in absolute betrayal, leaving only Hanzo, his embarrassment, and Winston the talking gorilla who just so happens to be fluent in Japanese.

      “I….um….”

      “It’s fine,” Winston said, holding his hands up and tilting his head in a knowing gesture. “I completely understand. This must all be a little overwhelming for you. How about we start over? Welcome to Overwatch. Or at least….what I hope will become Overwatch…again….” Winston said, looking about to the empty work-space.

     “Your computer said that this is the Watchpoint: Gibraltar?” Hanzo couldn’t believe the question that he’d just asked. In truth, he still couldn’t believe anything about this conversation.

     “Yes. This is one of the former Overwatch outposts. I retreated here after the previous Overwatch initiative was disbanded under order of the Petras act in 2042. I lived here with Athena for several years undisturbed, until a few months ago. Athena, the footage,” Winston instructed, as another hologram surfaced in front of Hanzo.

     What he saw was a video recording of Winston, true to his primal form, grabbing what looked to be an armed black-ops soldier by the ankle and chucking him across the room and out of sight! Then he grabbed another, slamming him by the head to the ground before roaring at the enemy soldiers that retreated in panic. With a clap of his arms, Winston slammed two soldiers together, knocking them out before leaping away to deal with one who’d taken the high ground to fire at him.

     The camera panned back to Winston, but something appeared behind him. A black, gaseous wisp of dark smoke materialized from thin air, before assuming the physical form of a hooded figure with a white mask, resembling a stretched skull. The footage paused and Winston spoke. “I was attacked by what we now know to be agents of Talon, a terrorist group that opposed the original Overwatch initiative. This particular instance was led by an agent we've recently identified as Reaper.”

     The footage began to play again, showing Reaper making quick work of Winston with a shotgun in each hand, before shooting out the cables to a hanging pod that fell down upon the gorilla, knocking him unconscious. The Reaper then vanished once more, and moved up the stairs and out of sight before the hologram blinked around to the next section. Hanzo had only heard tales of the Reaper before, in complaints from disgruntled clients from his mercenary work. Until now, he thought of Reaper as slang or perhaps an urban legend. But his eyes watched on as Winston stood up and shook off his unconsciousness, moving to engage with Reaper once more. “What was he after?” Hanzo asked, still watching the fight between the two, as it tipped to Winston’s upper-hand.

     “We’re not entirely sure what he wanted specifically, but he was looking to extract the saved data files from Athena’s hard-drive. Athena was luckily able to buy me some time to get back onto my feet, but as of now we don’t know,” Winston replied. Just as he spoke, the Reaper on the recording vanished into thin air, leaving behind the two shotguns on the floor.

     “Have you-“

     “-Scanned the shotguns for prints? Yes. From every angle. We don’t have anything that matches, and there are barely any prints on the gun to begin with,” Winston replied, correctly guessing Hanzo’s question. They’ve made movements since, and I’ve been doing my best to track them. I’m sure you've heard about the assassination of Tekharta Mondatta? And the attempt on Katya Volskaya’s life?”

     Hanzo’s eyes widened. He hadn’t heard about either event, though he recognized the names. He’d obtained his trick arrows from Volskaya industries, preferring their tendency not to ask so many questions about why he needed them. But he knew nothing of Mondatta, only now understanding the rapid selling of his book from the bookstore. “I did not.”

     “Ah, forgive me. As it were, Talon is responsible for both instances. Katya Volskaya managed to survive, even though she was taken hostage. Mondatta however...” Winston began turning around to his central computer and bringing up several more holograms, showing  Mondatta's obituary alongside various attack sites and news reports. Hanzo looked about, doing his best to take in all of the information. “From what I’ve been able to gather, it seems that Talon is actually trying to instigate more conflict with the Omnics. In essence, they're rekindling the Omnic Crisis,” Winston said, before turning back to Hanzo.

     “I’ve gathered a few trusted agents that worked with the former Overwatch initiative, in hopes of getting to the bottom of this and stopping this organization before they can bring about another decade-long war. Among them, your brother Genji answered the call, and volunteered his services. But as I’m sure you’ve already guessed...we’re horribly understaffed.”Hanzo reached out to push away one of the holograms that floated off in response, so that he could maintain his gaze with Winston. “The original Overwatch initiative was composed of the best of the best; soldiers without peer, the brightest scientific minds, doctors able to save people from the very brink of death,” Winston said, and Hanzo winced. “The kind of work that we did - that we’re trying to continue doing - requires that level of excellency in order to minimize the damage to the global population, and swiftly handle threats like these. Genji spoke very highly of you in this regard, and proposed that I extend an offer for you to join us in this endeavor.”

     “And you would put so much faith in my brother’s words? Just as he foolishly places faith in me...”

     “Genji is more than a soldier to me. He has been a comrade in arms, and a stalwart member of both Overwatch initiatives. I trust him with my life, and he is well aware of what kind of person this job requires. He believes that to be you. But the choice is yours, of course.”

     “And if I decline?” Hanzo asked, folding his arms across his chest.

     “You will be sedated and rushed to one of our allied partners in Tokyo, where we will have you admitted as a patient with a heart condition under an alias. We will abandon this base and move to one of our more remote locations, and your life will continue as it was. Any and all interaction with Overwatch will cease,” Winston replied, pushing up his glasses again. Hanzo looked away, uncertainty welling within him before Winston continued. “If you’d like to take some time, I understand. But for now, I must ask you not to leave the premises; for your own safety and ours.”

     “May I retire to gather my thoughts?” Hanzo struggled to reconcile with the fact that he’d just asked a gorilla for permission to leave.

     “Of course. Also, I should mention we have a fully stocked kitchen, a gym for physical fitness, and a shooting ground should you wish to test your accuracy. We also have-“

     “I retire to the shooting ground,” Hanzo interrupted, seeing Winston all too excited to list off the many facilities of the station.

     “I figured that might peak your interests. Athena-guide Hanzo to the training grounds,” Winston instructed, and again the bright arrow flickered on the floor, pointing Hanzo out toward the exit. “If you need anything, Athena can patch you through to me. I’ll be in here.”

     Hanzo nodded before stepping off and following the bright blue arrow out of the door. He looked back once more, watching as Winston turned before typing quickly at his computer, bringing up several more floating screens. Hanzo shook his head one last time in disbelief, purposely pricking his finger on the tip of one of his arrows.

     Blood. This was real.

Chapter Text

     He listened for the whisper that whipped by his ear each time that he released the arrow from his bow-string.  He fired a swift clean shot that pierced the still air, heading directly toward his target. The heads of the training ground floating bots weren’t particularly difficult for him to strike, as the target area was much larger than that of a human skull. Even still, Hanzo did his best to keep his shots within the relative range of the front scope, that for all intents and purposes served as the training bot’s eye.

    With a spin, he snatched another arrow from his quiver and pulled his arm back for the next shot. He wouldn’t allow himself more than two seconds to line up a target; anything that took longer than that meant that he had already failed. He learned that the bots reassembled themselves after a cool-down period of seven seconds, and then they would float again, as though they hadn’t been dismantled by the arrow moments ago. He had to admit; the opportunity to practice in this way was terribly convenient.

    After releasing another shot, he scaled the wall behind him. Rushing himself to simulate the sensation of being chased, he flipped over the guard railing, using his right arm to carry his weight, while the left guided his form and held his bow. When his feet were on the ground again, he grabbed another arrow from his quiver before taking another shot. The bot fell after a clean hit, but before he could fire another arrow, a hologram screen appeared before him in interruption. He tumbled backwards to recover some distance, but relaxed upon realization that it was only Athena trying to establish communication. “You have a message from Agent T-41: Winston. Shall I connect you?”

   Hanzo swallowed before replying to Athena. “Put him through.” The screen gave a small flicker, before Winston’s face came into recognition. Hanzo quickly quieted his breathing in order to communicate.

   “Hanzo! I’m sorry for the intrusion, but I must say that your accuracy is rather remarkable,” Winston confessed, before adjusting his glasses. The astonishment in his voice was far too humanizing. “If you’ll indulge me for but a moment, I would actually like to test the extent of your ability. Would you mind?”

   Hanzo walked forward past the screen as he knelt down to pick up one of his arrows from earlier. He hadn’t realized that he was being watched, and mentally chastised himself for forgetting that every move that he made was recorded. The hologram followed behind him, keeping Winston in view. “What did you have in mind?” After Hanzo asked the question, he secured the arrow in his quiver before jumping back over the railing, and walking about to collect the others.

   “Actually it’s something of a time trial! We have a program that Athena manages in this training room. The bots will stagger themselves as they come in and out of various rooms. Your task is to eliminate as many of them as possible, before being hit yourself.” Hanzo picked up another arrow before turning to face the screen.

    “And the restrictions?”

    “You are allowed to use the terrain and your gear however you see fit, just as you were. I’m sure you’ve already noticed that the bots reconstruct themselves, so do as you must. The exercise will end immediately if you are hit. Oh...and I should mention; the blasts are concussive. They will not burn upon impact, but they will bruise.”

     “I accept your challenge,” Hanzo declared, standing in full view of the hologram screen. Winston smiled in response.

     “Excellent! I’ll have Athena boot up the protocol. It should begin in approximately one minute.” Before Hanzo could reply, the screen blinked and shut itself down and out of sight. Hanzo glanced about before reaching into his quiver to make sure that he’d recovered all of his arrows. It only took a moment’s touch for him to calculate that he had. With a deep inhale from his nostrils, he closed his eyes and pulled the first arrow from his quiver. His ears would tell him when and where to begin.

     After the sound of Athena's countdown, the hatch to his left slid open. Just as he was warned, one of the training bots came floating forward, but now it fired staggered blasts of light at him from the cannons in its arms. Hanzo tumbled backward and crouched before lining up his shot, and hitting the bot in the center of its head. In the distance he heard a noise akin to a bell’s ring, perhaps to keep score. But he didn’t have long to ponder before the next attack came from his right flank!

     He fired another arrow into the next bot, before running from his present point and ascending the stairs to claim the high-ground. His eyes darted back and forth, clearing the entry points mentally, before taking his vantage point and picking-off the next three bots that emerged from the hatches on the low ground. Each of them fell with a single shot, and the bell rang with every new tally. He climbed the guard railing and hunched forward on the balls of his feet, before leaping for one of the rotating platforms that circled the perimeter of the training area.

     After sticking the landing, he stepped into shooting form again. From this newly secured perch, the bots fell one-by-one, and Hanzo began to lose track of the bell tally that announced his score. Instead, his attention remained on his quiver-count. He would need to climb back down to the low-ground to fetch his arrows if he intended to keep fighting this way. But the training bots weren't waiting for him. They filed out of the hatches one after the other, like insects from a hidden nest. He only took a moment to weigh his options, before jumping down from his floating perch, and sprinting across the ground floor.

     His eyes darted about, keeping track of the line of fire that sprayed toward him. He ran in a zigzag pattern to confuse the bot’s tracking, before flipping over the line of fire. Falling to a knee, he snatched an arrow out of the ground and took another shot; a clean hit through the bot’s head. His former shots fell in similar areas, so he repeated his motions; dashing to the next area, and alternating between firing back and storing the retrieved arrows.

     Even as the pressure of the test escalated, Hanzo found a working rhythm between storing and shooting his arrows. He counted as he worked, always managing to keep his quiver half-full. Each shot was clean, despite being taken in the moments between seconds. The difficulty increased as pairs of bots now emerged from the hatches, but the pressure did nothing to throw his pattern. It was in this moment-in the flurry of enemy fire-that Hanzo would thrive.

      The test stretched a span of minutes before Hanzo noticed that the droids had increased their rate of fire. He managed to time the shots that they would take, so that he could decide when to move and when to stop. But Athena adjusted against him, alternating between an increase and decrease in their velocity. One shot in particular came inches from grazing Hanzo’s stomach. His fatigue had come to claim him.

     He took cover for a moment and crouched to catch his breath, as he counted the arrows in his quiver. He thought he maintained his rhythm, but he was presently at less than half stock. He moved to peek and scan the area, searching for his next arrow, and its next target. But the metallic off-white core of a drone’s body flashed into view! The bots had begun to ascend the stairs, making the high-ground no longer safe. Hanzo defaulted to his hand to hand training, striking the bot with enough force to puncture its external shell and push through to its internal core. He didn’t have time to rest as the next came around the corner swiftly after it. With his elbow, he knocked the droid’s arm upward, before hooking his bow around its neck and turning it around.

    Hanzo pushed out of the corner that he’d work himself into, now using the droid as a shield to plow through the line of fire from the other droids! But once its core became too damaged, he kicked the bot forward before scaling the wall up towards the roof of his tower. He moved about, in efforts to dodge the blasts that arced up to hit him from the awkward angle, as he dropped a few more droids to clear a landing space. When the area was secured, he dove from a height that he hadn’t jumped from in far too long.

    His muscle memory kicked in and he remembered to tumble forward as he landed, but his knee popped loose in a way that frightened him. He rolled behind a wall to take cover once more. That leap would have been doable at twenty-five years old; thirty-eight was a different matter altogether. He peeked back around to take a few more shots, before dashing around the side of the wall.

    His gait was off-balance and clumsy now, and the fatigue began to pull at his muscles. Hanzo could hear his heart and lungs in his ear, as the ache in his chest seemed to worsen with the release of each arrow. The purpose of his target practice had been to make sure that the fight never lasted this long. He scolded himself internally for his weakness as he willed himself onward, operating on pure adrenaline.

    But the bots upgraded into full blown enemy soldiers, now firing with leading shots in prediction of where he would move next. He span about like a teetering leaf falling from a tree branch, doing his best to dodge the blasts. His nose wrinkled in furious determination as his tattoo began to burn the flesh of his arm. The dragons were itching for release, and he knew that with their help he could clear the field in a single shot. He swallowed before snatching an arrow from his quiver, giving in to their demands, when-

    “Argh!”

    A droid came from his blind spot at eight o’clock catching his side! Winston had been correct; that shot certainly would bruise. But as the shot connected with his rib-cage, each of the droids powered down, before filing out of the training ground one by one. Hanzo took a knee, shutting his eyes and breathing as his shoulders and neck fell forward. As he calmed himself, Athena's voice came over the intercom.

    “Final score: Seventy-Two eliminations.”

    Hanzo stood after regaining his breath, but he was no longer immune to the complaining of his left knee. His eyes flashed to the floor when a light up arrow seemed to be guiding him out of the training facility. He didn’t argue, instead opting to follow the arrow and leaving the training grounds.

 

 *******************************************

     “Incredible...”

     Athena was kind enough to guide Hanzo to the showers, before his presence was requested again by Winston. He needed to obtain Hanzo’s permission to playback the footage of his accuracy test. But once Hanzo agreed, he lost the gorilla’s attention to his former self. While Winston only had praise for Hanzo’s maneuvers, the archer critiqued himself in the privacy of his mind. He noted the angles that he’d taken in order to dodge enemy fire, and paid special attention to the decline in their efficiency. In the beginning his positioning was sound, but as the test continued, he exchanged precision and grace for fatigued adrenaline. Endurance would become his next endeavor.

     “And to think you’ve done this with a bow...You have a finite number of shots, but you still managed to last for so long. I admit when I saw the bow and arrow, I was a little apprehensive but…” Winston started, as his eyes widened at the replay of Hanzo’s cleanest shot. He adjusted his glasses before continuing. “…You’ve certainly mastered your craft!”

     The compliment fell upon deaf ears. Hanzo was keeping a mental tally of the mistakes that he made, but he lost count in his twenties. Winston's prattling had drowned out into series of deep voiced noises, as the words turned to mush upon arrival at his ears. But at the sound of the hatch door opening, his hearing immediately snapped back into focus.

    “What’s this I hear about the training record being broken?” Hanzo glanced over his shoulder for the moment, to put a face to the unfamiliar voice. He recognized the accent, pairing it to the American south, and he thought it to be a bit of an exaggeration. But if his outfit were any indication of this man’s devotion toward old western culture, it could be said that perhaps his accent was held back.

     “Ah, McCree,” Winston announced, as he turned away from the screen. “Yes, I recall that you kept an unofficial ranking ledger, based on our scores in this simulation. According to Athena, Hanzo has placed with seventy-two eliminations. I thought you might want to update your records.”

     Hanzo turned to look fully, as the man walked up next to him. He wore a brown cowboy hat, with a plaid shirt and rolled up sleeves; one of which betrayed the bionic arm that seemed to climb up past his elbow. The image came complete with khakis covered by chaps, and an over-sized belt buckle that spelled ‘BAMF.’ Hanzo raised an eyebrow at McCree, before turning away again; no longer interested in this conversation, or the replay.

     “Seventy-two hunh? Well…ain’t that just perfect,” McCree said, though the words were a little slurred, due to being blocked from the cigar in his mouth. But Hanzo didn’t miss the hint of irritation in his tone. "You’re right...he did break a record. Mine.” McCree turned to glance at Hanzo for a moment, and Hanzo sized him up in kind. “Guessin' you’re Genji’s brother then?”

     Hanzo didn’t respond but to turn an look away. But McCree didn’t seem to mind as he turned his own attention back to the footage of Hanzo’s test. “Well Winston, that puts Shimada here at fifth place. He just snuck by me’n Tracer.”

     “Hm!” Winston turned back to the screens as well, but Hanzo needed clarification.

     “Fifth?” Hanzo tried to hide the disappointment in his voice, but he was too distracted. From the corner of his eye, he would swear that McCree was smirking.

     “That's right. Congratulations are in order. S’not everyday somebody comes and shakes up the time trials. Ah well...s'pose my reign was fun while it lasted,” McCree drawled with a shrug.

     “I want to take the test again,” Hanzo declared, completely exposing his self-frustration.

     “That would be ill advised. The time trials-while exhilarating-do put one through a great deal of stress.” As Winston spoke, the footage cut to Hanzo’s death-defying leap, which jeopardized his knee in the landing. “That looked like a nasty fall, and there’s a slight hesitation in your recovery as you stand here. Are you alright? We have medical staff,” Winston advised, turning to look at Hanzo as he pointed at the recording.

      “I’m fine. I want to retake the test.” Hanzo stared back at Winston, his expression unyielding and proud.

       “Easy there Shimada. Fifth ain’t bad at all. S’actually an accomplishment. The four ahead of you were either in a vehicle, or they’re part vehicle if you catch mah drift...” McCree advised. Hanzo ignored him, and pressed forward.

        “Who has the top score?” Hanzo could feel his pulse in his chest, fearing that he already knew the answer.

        “That’d be mama-bear at one hundred n' twenty-seven,” McCree answered. Hanzo did feel a momentary relief in the knowledge that he hadn’t been bested by Genji. But the difference between fifth and first was continental in his opinion. A distance that he was determined to close. 

        “Yes, Captain Amari’s score is the highest that we’ve seen to date. But we must acknowledge that she was a participant in the super soldier project. Her physicality has been artificially enhanced to the peak of a human female, and her right eye was surgically removed and replaced with an imitation that functioned as a bionic telescope,” Winston explained, finally moving away from the monitor and coming toward Hanzo.

         “I was there when she did it. See-you’re all over the place in this video. But believe it or not, mama-bear never moved once. She found herself a perch and picked them all off as they were coming out the doors,” McCree explained, as he gestured to the recording. “After her, it was Reyes with one-twenty-one, and then Jack Morrison with one-seventeen. But the Commander just got beat out by D.Va maybe 'bout a month back.”

          Hanzo sighed, opting against embarrassing himself further than he already had. He looked away for the moment, before being brought back into the conversation when he saw McCree's outstretched hand. “The name’s Jesse McCree.” Hanzo looked at his hand, and then back up to McCree's face, before turning back to Winston and ignoring the cowboy entirely.

          “If it is all the same to you, I will retire to the medical bay.”

          “Splendid! I’ll alert them of your approach. Athena-please guide Hanzo to medical. Will you require an escort?” As Winston asked his question, the arrow on the floor brightened once more.

          “No. I am fine.”

          “Ha,” McCree laughed before shrugging, and putting his hand back into his pocket. “This one’s got a little nerve on him, hunh? S’alright. Genji was the same way. We’ve got’em all in here. Someone’s bound to get up under that skin. Just give it a little time.”

          “Tch,” Hanzo mocked, before turning to take his leave, and following the arrow on the ground out of the control room, and far away from Jesse McCree.

Chapter Text

FLASHBACK:

  After what felt like weeks of errorless diligence, Hanzo finally managed to convince his mother to allow him a visit to the inner city theme park. He’d earned it after all, having aced his latest proficiency exam, and proving himself to be reading and communicating at levels far beyond his age. He was meticulous, never stepping a toe out of line, and remaining seen, but unheard in all family matters. He waited until she was cornered, with a free schedule and no legitimate reason to say “not now.” Saying no would make her the villain of the story, no matter the rendition or translation.

  But his mask of being the perfect child began to crack, when his father enforced the clause that Genji could come along as well, despite the blatant difference in their academic achievement. Genji was subpar in all subjects -even amongst normal standards- and yet he was allowed to come along. The irritation stung in a way that Hanzo couldn’t quite form into words. Rather, he let the grimace on his face communicate it for him.

  Twelve-year-old Hanzo sat cross-armed in the back seat of the rental car that their mother called for them. He chastised himself mentally, for foolishly hoping that their mother would accompany them into the city to enjoy the new theme park. As always, she had family business to attend. But she made up for her absence by supplying them with two following cars, and guards disguised as civilians to keep them safe in her stead. Hanzo had already surpassed the need for protection, even at twelve. Martial arts and kendo were his favorite moments of the day, and he excelled in its study. Unsurprisingly, combat training had been one of the few subjects that Genji excelled at as well. The bodyguards were a formality that they allowed their parents, so that they could pretend that they were still raising children, rather than soldiers.

  But his generosity came with great risk, for he knew the moment that his brother threw a tantrum, the guards would force them to leave, the day would end, and they would be driven right back to Hanamura. He took a moment to glance over at his brother, who was only barely restrained by the seat belt across his chest. Genji fidgeted and kicked his feet, as he stared wide-eyed out the window, doing his best to scout out the park before their arrival. He would periodically shift between looking at the promotional packet for the park, and looking out the window to see if they were there yet, knowing better than to annoy Hanzo or the driver. A younger Genji would have pressed, but it seemed that his brother finally began to learn the tricks of the trade, as they aged. And yet, Hanzo didn’t know what to make of this moment. This was the first time the pair were allowed out of the house without the supervision of a parent. He had become what he’d always feared; Genji’s keeper. 

  “Don’t make a fool of yourself today, Genji,” Hanzo warned, with a side-eyed glance at his brother.

  “I won’t,” Genji quipped back defensively.

   “Mother and Father are testing us. They want to see if we’re capable enough to go out without them. If you mess this up,-“

  “I won’t,” Genji interrupted, with something halfway between a growl and a whine. Genji glanced back to Hanzo out of the corner of his eye, and Hanzo maintained his own glare for but a moment longer, before turning to look out his own window.

  “When we arrive, where do you want to go first?” Genji turned his head at Hanzo’s questioned, seemingly shocked that his brother would even consider his opinion. “We have to make them think that we’re getting along nicely.”

  “The go-karts,” Genji replied quickly, now fidgeting even more at the thought.

  “Are you sure they’ll let you drive? You’re short. I doubt your feet will even reach the pedals,” Hanzo teased, looking to his brother’s small feet, before looking back out the window.

  “Yes they will! I’m taller than you were when you were nine! Dad said so! They have to!”

  “And will you cry if they don’t let you on?”

  “I don’t cry anymore. I’m not a baby,” Genji countered, with an eye roll for emphasis.

  “Hn,” Hanzo snorted, before leaving the conversation entirely. He knew better than to poke his brother for much longer, and prove himself right. They rode in silence, save for the sound of the car rushing along the pavement, and the inevitably resumed cadence of Genji’s kicking feet. The buildings and passing cars whipped by on the other sides of the glass panes, blurring in similarity with the passing of time.

  But from the look on Genji’s eyes, as they threatened to fall clean out of his skull if they grew any wider, Hanzo made the connection that he’d spotted the park, and that their arrival was in the immediate future. He too leaned forward to peer out of the window, and when his own eyes fixed themselves upon the various colorful twists and turns of the roller coasters, he couldn’t help the smile that crept along the lower half of his face. Though for what it was worth, he did keep his composure for longer than his brother, who grinned from ear to ear like the child he denied himself of being mere moments ago.

  As the car pulled in to the parking lot, Genji unbuckled his seatbelt preemptively, and brought his foot up across his thigh to untie and then tighten his shoe laces. Hanzo waited until the car was parked, before removing his own seatbelt, and opening his door before one of his bodyguards could come to do it for him. He asked his mother to instruct them not to hover, but he feared that they wouldn’t heed her instruction. Genji was already around the front end of the car and darting toward the park entrance, before Hanzo could catch up with him. They blended in with the incoming visitors, taking their place in line, and moving forward as people passed through the payment station. The line moved forward, until Hanzo was greeted by the Omnic at the ticket booth.

  “Welcome to Shiroyama park! How may I assist you?” The sentient robot moved as the lights on its face dimmed and brightened with its speech. It opened its hands in a welcoming gesture toward Hanzo. “Two tickets please,” Hanzo responded, reaching into his back pocket for his wallet. “Certainly. I simply need to see your identification.” Just as it asked, Hanzo reached into his wallet, pulling out the identification card that his mother instructed him to carry. Genji also held forth his own, and the omnic quickly scanned the cards to validate their ages. “That will be eleven-thousand two-hundred yen,” The omnic stated, having assessed that Hanzo was now a Junior, while Genji still qualified as a child. Hanzo handed over the card that his parents entrusted him for the day. The Omnic took the card and ran it through its own built in payment processor, before handing the card back. “Credit approved. Welcome to Shiroyama park. Enjoy your stay!”

   Before the Omnic could even finish its closing remarks, Genji whipped by Hanzo through the now opened doors and began making his way toward the back of the park. Hanzo rushed after his brother, before looking back to see that their bodyguards were stalled at the gate. He snickered to himself, before turning frontward again to see that Genji was already in line for the go-karts. 

  “See? I told you I was tall enough!” Genji stood as proud as a morning rooster, demonstrating his height in comparison to the sizing chart at the beginning of the line.

  “Barely,” Hanzo teased, and Genji rolled his eyes in irritation.

  “After this we’re going to the dragon’s coil, and when it gets too hot, we’re going in for the arcade. Understand?”

  “Okay, okay!” Genji shushed his older brother with a wave of his hand as the line moved forward. The last pair of people were let in just before Genji for the current go-kart race.

  “I’m gonna beat you!” Genji teased as he climbed up onto the waiting line railings, standing up to see the hover-cars whip along the streets.

  “You’ve never driven before,” Hanzo critiqued, leaning against the opposite railing.

  “So? I’m still gonna win! Woooooo!” Genji cheered and waved at the first place racer, a teenage boy milking the crowd as he just passed what everyone assumed to be his girlfriend. As the cars raced by, the wind that whipped behind them tickled the tresses of Genji’s hair. “And if I do, you have to do my homework for a week!” 

  “No,” Hanzo replied, rolling his eyes. “I’m not going to help you cheat. You need to learn and study on your own.”

  “What’s the matter? Afraid you’ll lose?” Genji jumped down from the railing as he asked his question, getting up into his brother’s face.

  “I’m not afraid of anything,” Hanzo snarled back proudly.

  “Then race me!”

  “Hmph. Fine. Just don’t cry when you lose.” Hanzo walked ahead of Genji, so he didn’t see the face that Genji mocked him with behind his back. As the previous racer’s round came to a close, the Omnics helped them out of their cars and guided them to the exit, before opening the gates for the next round of racers to come through. Hanzo made his way to a white and silver hover-car, with the number four neatly painted along its frame. It only took him a moment to strap himself in, quickly making himself familiar with the different pedals and handles at his disposal. The omnic’s voice came over the intercom, listing off the safety rules and regulations, and then announcing that they were free to drive at flash and sound of the fourth light from the top. Hanzo stole a quick glance at his brother, whose energy dwarfed everyone else’s at the park. He felt a little embarrassment wash over himself, before rolling his eyes, and refocusing frontward. The omnic announcer came over the intercoms once more. “Racers on your mark!”

“Three!”

“Two!”

“One!”

“GO!”

*************************

  “You cheated!” Hanzo purposely ignored his brother as he walked past him toward the exit.

  “No I didn’t.”

  “You cheated! You knew that car was faster than all of the others! I don’t know how, but you knew! This isn’t fair! I want a rematch!” Genji whipped around to cut Hanzo off, even as his elder brother quickly maneuvered around him.

  “You’re acting like a baby. Stop embarrassing yourself,” Hanzo scolded, as he headed to a nearby vending machine. He swiped his own card and chose a cold canned tea, before continuing. “It’s called wind resistance. Something you would have known about, had you studied your physics lessons. I drove behind you for the duration of the match, so that you would bear the brunt of the wind resistance as I coasted in your slipstream. Then toward the end, I accelerated from behind you and dashed to the front, taking advantage of the lack of wind resistance.”

  “That sounds a lot like cheating to me!” Genji continued to hurl his accusations at Hanzo, who ignored him as he continued to fuss with the vending machine.

  “Everything sounds like cheating to you, if it ends in you losing. Now stop whining.” As Hanzo finished his transaction, the vending machine presented another canned beverage, which Hanzo took before throwing it to Genji. “Drink this. It’s too hot, we have to stay hydrated.”

  “But I hate grapefruit!” Genji looked at the can in utter disgust, before looking back at Hanzo, who simply shrugged and drank from his own can of chilled tea.

  “You could have chosen if you weren’t so busy whining,” he taunted, before taking another sip of his beverage. He went toward a few stray benches, taking a seat as he forced the rest of his drink down his throat. The sun beat against the back of his neck in a way that threatened the condition of his skin. He cursed himself for not remembering to lather the area in sunscreen, before hiking his collar up from the back to cover the sensitive skin.

  “...Does this meant that I have to do your homework now?” Genji pouted, looking up to his older brother, while trying to force himself to swallow the grapefruit beverage that Hanzo ordered for him.

  “I won’t ever let you do my homework, don’t worry. Some of us actually want to graduate. No, your duty is to not annoy me for an entire week.”

  “Fine. Starting tomorrow,” Genji, quickly added, before tipping his head back and chugging down the rest of his beverage. He gargled as he swallowed the fluids, the last drop had fallen from the back of the can. Then, in blatant defiance of the etiquette with which he was raised, Genji belched with enough force to disturb the birds that scoured the ground in search of crumbles. Hanzo glared at him in utter disgust, before rolling his eyes and nursing his own can. “Come on, hurry up! We have to go to the Dragon’s coil!”

  “Calm down. I am almost finished,” Hanzo barked, as he leaned back against the table. He continued to sip his drink, until Genji climbed over him haphazardly to reach the recycling to Hanzo’s right. Hanzo made a fuss as he moved away from Genji, recreating the three foot distance between them to exist in his own personal bubble. But as he turned away his eyes widened and honed in on an unassigned target.

  Heading toward a nearby stand for cotton candy, was a girl. She wore her hair in a low ponytail at the back of her head on the right side. It was clipped into place with a pink and blue hair ornament, with orbs reminiscent of fake pearls. She wore a floral printed sundress that turned when she moved, with shorts that poked out just underneath, and yellow sneakers. Hanzo hadn’t realized how long he’d been staring until he dropped his can.

  “You like her!” Genji teased, as Hanzo snapped out of his trance. The can slipped out of his grasp and fell to the floor with a metallic clap. Hanzo quickly reached down to grab it, as he tried to will-away the warmth that appeared on his face.

  “You’re loud! I do not. I was looking off at the other rides. The Dragon coil’s line has already grown too large, we have to skip it,” Hanzo announced, but when he didn’t hear a reply from his brother, he turned to look at him. What he saw was Genji’s face, contorted into a manner which conveyed that his younger brother wasn’t convinced.

  “If you weren’t looking at her then why is your face all red and sweaty?” Hanzo wrinkled his nose.

  “Because it’s hot,” Hanzo quipped back, clutching his can a little too tightly, as the aluminum began to crease in his grip.

  “It’s not that hot. You look like you’re about to throw up. Do you want me to go get one of mom’s guards?” Genji asked the question, but his facial expression made it very clear that it wasn’t coming from a place of genuine concern. Rather more akin to a trapping taunt. Hanzo’s eyes half lidded as he breathed sharply through his nose.

  “No, I’m fine. Let’s just go!” The two looked each other in the eye for a moment long, before Genji turned.

  “EXCUSE ME!” Genji shouted as he ducked under Hanzo’s arm and ran toward the girl at the stand.

  “Genji!” Hanzo pushed off of the ground in a cold sprint, using the friction to propel him forward. Feeling his brother’s presence behind him, Genji turned just in time to see Hanzo bounding toward him with the entirety momentum. Genji shrieked, before side stepping and running around the recycling bins to put an obstacle between them. Genji faked as if he would run left, but when he saw that Hanzo fell for the stunt, he shifted his feet and nimbly turned to run in the opposite direction. Hanzo sluggishly corrected himself, chasing after Genji, who now put enough distance between them to flee.

  The brothers proceeded to run, as Genji teasing called “Hey you! You in the dress!” To Hanzo’s horror, the girl actually turned around, looking for the source of who had been calling for her Hanzo made a desperate lunge for Genji, who zig-zagged just in time, before turning to dive under one of the metallic picnic benches. Hanzo ran around to the other side to cut him off, but Genji rolled out of the other end, and quickly looked about to find the girl again. Hanzo slammed his hands down onto the table before kipping up with his feet and leaping over it entirely. His heels slammed into the bench, and he used it to launch himself onto the table and after his brother. Genji shrieked, before quickly rushing to his immediate right, but Hanzo used the increase in speed from his vault to his advantage.

  He charged desperately after his brother, closing the distance between then with each stride. Genji was more agile; more nimble. But Hanzo’s legs were longer and stronger; in a cold sprint he could catch his brother. But what he hadn’t anticipated was Genji’s next move. The younger brother awkwardly stuck his right leg out, using the friction of his shoe as an anchor, and threw himself into a wide and haphazard turn. Hanzo hadn’t anticipated the move, and flailed, doing his best to stop himself. He heard a shriek, and he kicked his own shins in place, hopping and skidding a few times, before coming to a complete halt, only inches from full force colliding with the girl in the skirt. She turned, upon realizing that she hadn’t been knocked onto the ground, and opened her eyes.

  Hanzo and the girl were so close that their noses would touch if either of them shifted even slightly. Hanzo stood on one foot, balancing his weight on his leg, as the other was up in the air behind him, hanging as a counter weight to keep him from moving forward. His arms were over her shoulders, suspended in mid-air, as he nervously held his breath, both nervous at being so close and trying his hardest not to fall over onto her. He eased himself back into position, lowering his foot to the ground and correcting his stance, before retracting his arms and exhaling. “I am so sorry,” Hanzo quickly apologized, immediately moving away from the girl.

  “N-no, you’re fine. I shouldn’t have been in your way!” The girl quickly apologized, before stepping back herself, But she shrieked when she felt something brush against the back of her tendon. When she turned around, she saw that it was the whispy ends of her cotton candy, that she’d dropped on the ground.“Oh no!”

  “Please, allow me to buy you another one! I didn’t mean to frighten you!” Hanzo quickly fell to his knees, scooping the dirty cotton candy up off of the floor, and moving to dispose of it in the nearby waste bin.

  “No thank you, that’s fine! I didn’t need it anyway!” The girl smiled apologetically, as if she had done something wrong. Hanzo ignored her, as he returned to her.

  “I must insist. I would shame myself not to. Please, what flavor was this?” The girl made a face as if she would protest, but she relented.

  “…Blue raspberry,” she replied, with that same apologetic look on her face. Hanzo nodded, and after an overly-formal bow, he turned to the Omnic that worked at the cotton candy stand, and ordered her another. The Omnic took Hanzo’s card and scanned it for payment, before handing it back and turning to spin another spool of cotton candy. “You didn’t have to, really! It was no trouble at all.”

  “I have embarrassed myself. I shouldn’t have been chasing my brother that way. I could have hurt you,” Hanzo chastised as he looked away, anxiously waiting for the cotton candy so that he could repay the girl and then disappear from her life forever. But to his surprise, she chuckled.

  “It looked like you almost caught him, actually. That’s him over there, right? Hiding behind that can?” Hanzo’s eyes followed to where the girl was pointing. Genji did manage to conceal himself very neatly, but his shoe had come undone, and the lace poked out just far enough that they could see him.

  “Genji! Come apologize to her right now, or I’m calling mom and we’re going home!” Hanzo yelled with a rage that Genji knew better than to fight. He moved from behind the trashbin, and walked over with his head hung guiltily. He bowed just as formally as his brother.

  “Please forgive me. I shouldn’t have behaved so rudely. I hope you weren’t hurt.”

  “I-I’m fine! Really! We didn’t even bump into each other! I just dropped my cotton candy because I was scared,” the girl explained, holding her hands up in a surrendering manner.

  “We shouldn’t have scared you,” Hanzo chastised, before reaching up to take the cotton candy spool from the Omnic, and handing it over to her. “Please forgive us for our transgressions. We are sorry to have disturbed you. I hope that this cotton candy is as delicious as the one before.” As Hanzo went to move away from the girl, to his anger, Genji pressed.

  “Hey, can I have one too?”

  “Absolutely not. We’re leaving.”

  As Hanzo turned to leave however, his ears perked to the girl at the cotton candy stand. “What kind would you like?” She was talking to Genji, whose eyes lit up. Hanzo marched over, intent on stopping this before anything could happen.

  “Lime ple-“

  “Genji!” Hanzo barked and Genji flinched, before shrugging.

  “And what about you?” As the girl asked, she flashed a smile that staggered Hanzo for a moment. He bashfully backed away.

  “Please, we couldn’t trouble you. We’re perfectly fine, and we should be going,” Hanzo explained, feeling horrible about what was happening.

  “He likes blue raspberry too! Like you!” Genji interrupted, and Hanzo made a face that threatened the full extent of his wrath. But the girl turned to the omnic immediately, and ordered two more spools. Despite Hanzo’s protests, she handed them both spools full of fluffy cotton candy.

  “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” Genji cheered as he took his bite.

  “I cannot accept this. Please, ask for your money back,” Hanzo said, now mimicking her own surrendering pose. But she shook her head.

  “It’s free for me! My dad works on the Omnics when they have problems. In exchange, I can eat here for free! Please, take it!” Hanzo sighed before taking the cotton candy. Genji was already face first in his own spool anyway, so protesting at this point was utterly futile. He slowly took a bite of the delicious fluff, waiting as it disappeared in his mouth. “But you must do something for me. Will you?”

  “Anything for you!” Genji cheered despite his mouth overflowing with cotton candy.

  “May I come with you? It’s boring here by myself all day. Is that alright?” Genji smiled with all of his teeth, before turning to Hanzo for approval. Hanzo looked between the two of them; Genji’s wide expectant eyes, and the girls more reserved, kind, innocent gaze. He felt the blush creep back onto his cheeks before mumbling.

  “S-sure….”

  “Yaaaaay! We made a new friend! Yes!”

  Genji cheered, spinning around before eating his cotton candy again. “I’m Genji, and this is my brother Hanzo! It’s nice to meet you! We don’t have any friends, because we’re home schooled.” Hanzo clapped an embarrassed hand over his own face.

  “Forgive him. He has no sense of boundary,” Hanzo mumbled, as he raked his skin down with his pull, and rolled his eyes.

  “My name is Yuka! It’s nice to meet you! My dad and I move all the time, so I don’t have any friends either.” She shrugged, and smiled, before pinching off a bit from her new spool and flicking it into her own mouth.

  “Hey! This is so cool! Do you have a phone? If you give me your phone number, we can be friends forever!” Genji didn’t even wait for Yuka to reply, before reaching into his pocket, and shoving his phone in her face. To say that Hanzo was mortified would have been an understatement. But Yuka took the phone, and looked back to Genji.

  “Really? Are you sure?”

  “Yeah! And then we can ride rides together, too! We’ll have fun all the time!” Hanzo looked between Genji and Yuka. He would never admit it, but there was a part of him that was honestly jealous. Genji made friends so easily.

  “Okay!” She nodded enthusiastically, before putting her number into Genji’s phone. She handed it back. “There! Will you call me, so that I have yours?”

  “Yes! I’ll do that now!” Genji pressed the button to call her, and her phone rang. She lifted her skirt to reach into the pocket of the shorts that she wore beneath them. She accepted Genji’s contact information, and immediately added him into her phonebook with a smile.

  “Oh yay! Thank you, Genji!”

  “Come on! Let’s go!” Genji threw what remained of his cotton candy spool into the waste bin nearby, before charging off. “If we hurry we can make it to the Dragon Coil while the line is low! Come with us Yuka!”

  “Genji slow down!” Hanzo yelled, but Yuka just giggled.

  “We’d better get going, hunh?” She skipped a little, before breaking into a sprint after Genji. Hanzo sighed, before running after them both. But as he jogged, he felt the adrenaline kick in. Despite his own protests, he felt his lips curving up into a grin, as he closed the distance between himself Genji and Yuka. The trio ran across the pavement in tandem, set on the adventure before them.

Chapter Text

  The medical bay was empty when he arrived. In fact, it hadn’t been much of a bay at all. From the way that Winston described the room, Hanzo expected a fully stocked arsenal of health supplies and medicinal refinery. Instead there was a chill to the room, and the lights were far too dim to allow precision. Hanzo made it a point to inspect the room’s cleanliness, before hiking himself up onto the front of the examination table.                  

  He only waited for a moment, before the automatic hatch from the opposite wall opened behind him. As the door retreated upward into its crevice, he immediately recognized the figure that stepped in through the other room as Dr. Angela Ziegler from the night before. She was face first in her own notes, stopping just before him and reviewing them once more, before dismissing them with a wave of her hand. The hologram disappeared from sight, and Hanzo looked to her, though she seemed to make it a point to look away. “I saw the impact from the training video. Athena forwarded the footage to me once you decided to come to the medical bay for attention,” Mercy said, moving from opposite angles to gage the injury to Hanzo’s left knee as she spoke. Hanzo cleared his throat, before responding.

   “A careless mistake. Never to be repeated,” he stated, feeling the awkward tension in the room. But he took pause in observance of the way that she carried herself. Despite their gruff first meeting, Mercy’s resolve was giving way to her own sense of professionalism.

  “Before I can begin anything, I have to obtain your permission to proceed, and you will have to roll up your pant leg so that I can take a better look at your knee.” She didn’t wait for his response, as she summoned yet another hologram, and spun it around to face Hanzo. “Would you like this in Japanese?”

  “English is fine,” He said dismissively, as his eyes scanned down the legal and medical jargon of the text before him. The clauses were knitted tighter than any scarf he’d ever worn, but he made it a point to read every comma and period, before pressing his thumb to the bottom right corner for a finger-print signature. Once the system registered his digital acknowledgement, the hologram disappeared, and Mercy stepped forward. He did as instructed, pulling up his left pant leg until it reached the middle of his thigh. Though they were carved into place before his training room incident, Mercy stopped to take a note of the scars that creeped along the ridges of his calf and shin, before her eyes scanned up to his bruised and red knee. The discoloration began at the slope, just before the arch of his joint. It crept along however, with signs of injury coursing up the front and sides of his knee, and thinning just at the very bottom of his thigh.

  “I need you to be honest with me; has this happened before?”

  “No,” he lied. He’d hurt that same knee before, after an off-the-books job he took in Croatia. But the injury healed itself with ice and a night’s rest.

  “Do I have your permission to take an X-Ray, so that I might pinpoint the injury?” Hanzo simply nodded, and Mercy turned to one of the cabinets to her right. She opened the doors, before grabbing what Hanzo could only describe as a tablet. “I need you to lie back please, in order for the image to be still. Do you require assistance?”

  “No.” Hanzo pressed down onto the examination table with his palms, before pushing up and lifting himself backwards, until enough of his leg was supported to lay flat. He laid back himself and closed his eyes, keeping his arms at his sides.

  “Alright, I’m scanning now. Remain still for me, please.” Hanzo did as instructed, while Mercy used her tablet’s camera to scan the surface of his knee. Once the image buffered, she held in her hands a live-feed x-ray of Hanzo’s knee. She used her thumb and finger to highlight and maximize on the screen, before stepping around to his table-side. “If you’ll look here,” she began, waiting for him to open his eyes before continuing. “Your patella is loosened from the groove of your ligaments. When it’s in place, you can walk, run, and sit normally. But with it ajar like this, you will experience pain if you continue to move without treatment.” Hanzo swallowed, but Mercy continued. “If it were completely removed, we would have to begin surgery. But fortunately for you, it’s only slightly ajar, which means it’s treatable in multiple ways. I could still perform surgery, and correct it manually, and then with minor physical therapy, you’ll be back to peak performance within six weeks. If you’d rather not opt for the surgery, I could simply place you into a physical therapy regimen. You’ll have to wear a brace and perform all of the necessary exercises as instructed, but your knee should heal itself after approximately three month’s time.” Hanzo inhaled sharply through his nose, frustrated with himself and the injury.

  “And is there no faster option than the surgery?” As Hanzo asked the question, he noted the hesitation in Mercy, before she continued.

  “You may or may not have been made aware of this, but my specialization is actually nano-biology. I’ve developed an information system that allows me to accelerate the rate of healing within your knee, but this comes at the cost of being injected with a serum of my own development, to stabilize the effects of the radioactive energy that I’ll have to use in order to hasten your healing. I always advise against this however, as hastening healing is unnatural, and this process hasn’t been examined thoroughly enough to be used in modern hospitals. I only recommend it in situations of dire emergency. You may be uncomfortable for now, but this injury will not kill you.”

  “And if I use this method, how swiftly will I heal?” Again, Mercy paused before responding.

  “You’ll be at optimum health by tomorrow morning.” Hanzo’s eyes widened, as he looked to her before looking away in contemplation. “Again, this is completely treatable by physical thera-“ she continued, but Hanzo tuned her out. His eyes instead honed in on the kanji on her newly exposed wrist. It took him a moment, but when the wave of realization hit, his eyes widened again.

  “You….are Genji’s soulmate?” Mercy was mid-sentence when Hanzo interrupted. She choked on her own words before making it a point to pull up her sleeve and cover the name once more. Hanzo felt a twinge in his stomach that he couldn’t quite explain. It was a mixture of several feelings at once, but the most prominent was the guilt that welled within him, over how he’d treated her earlier.

  “I’d like the conversation to remain on your knee. Please allow me to do my job,” she responded, the stern inflection of her tone implying that that wasn’t a request at all.

  “You used this nano-technology to save my brother? After….” Hanzo paused, looking away for a moment. She sighed, before picking up the conversation.

  “Yes. Genji maintains that he is as fit as he was before my operation, but he was an inch from death before I was called in to operate on him. Even now, he must be sustained by machinery until I can identify the best way to restore him to who he was before. But he is not an example. Your situations are entirely different.”

  “Yet my brother bears the risks of any negative side effects that might come with your experimentation?” Hanzo made a note of the way that her eyebrows narrowed. He had a knack for getting under her skin, even when he didn’t mean to.

  “Genji made record to donate his body to science in the event of a premature death. Any agreement that transpired between he and I, happened while he was a fully conscious and legally independent adult, not that this has anything to with your knee.”

  “It means more to me than you could ever know.” Hanzo blinked for a moment, looking down at his knee, before looking back up to her. ”The nano-treatment. How much will it cost me?” Mercy pursed her lips for a split second, before pulling up another holographic form.

  “It’s free of charge. But you will have to authorize me to use it, and release me from any legal action that you might pursue in the event of a negative reaction to the treatment.” She pushed the hologram forward slightly, and Hanzo sat up. This time, he quickly glanced over the text, before authorizing it again with a thumb-print in the bottom right corner. “Right then. You may sit up or remain where you are on the table; whichever is more comfortable for you. I will return in a moment.” Hanzo heard her leave through one of her hatches, before he sat up. He threw his knee back over the edge of the examination table as he inched forward to the edge and waited in silence. The guilt continued to course through him, as he tried his best not to dwell too thoroughly on the attempt that he made on his brother’s life. Mercy didn’t leave him to stew for long as she came back through, prepped and ready for operation.

  “Alright. First I’m going to have to inject you with this serum. You might experience a slight discomfort for a moment, but it will settle in approximately ten minutes,” she explained, before gently grabbing onto the back of his calf. She found the optimum vein with a quick scan with her fingers, before wiping the area with a pad of alcohol. She pinched the skin of his calf, before reaching around with a prepped syringe. “Alright, hold still.” Hanzo didn’t flinch, but he did look away, as he felt the syringe pinch and push inside of him. True to her word, he did feel the discomfort that she described. There was a chill in his leg that seemed to penetrate down to the bone, and he felt his foot and ankle seize for a moment, before regaining feeling in them once more. As he looked down, he saw that she was cleaning the area with a white cotton-ball.

  “Okay, once that settles, I’ll begin the reduction, and move your patella back into place.” Hanzo nodded with a curt grunt, as she removed her gloves and began to jot down notes onto another holographic screen. She looked to her wrist as she typed for a moment, before minimizing the screen out of existence by bringing her two index fingers together, from the corners of the screen, until they touched. Then she moved toward her sink, and washed her hands again.

  “The lighting in here is strangely dim,” Hanzo pointed out, used to the glaring white light of the hospitals in Japan.

  “Oh! My apologies,” Mercy stated, before waving her hand. As she did, the light’s turned up to the oppressive brightness that he was more accustomed to. “Athena requires ample usage of the generator, so I try to conserve whenever possible. That, and I’m more accustomed to operating in the open now, rather than an office. But that was careless of me; I sincerely apologize.” There was no hint of dishonesty in her voice. Hanzo thought to continue the conversation, or maybe apologize himself, but the words didn’t materialize in his mind. Instead, he watched as Mercy slid her hands into a separate clean pair of gloves, and sat down once more on the stool in front of him. She set aside what looked like an oddly shaped white flashlight, before cupping both sides of his knee with gentle hands.

  “Alright, this is where it’s slipped out of place, but I’m going to verify,” she said, grabbing her tablet once more. She looked at the screen, showing that her left thumb was right at the outer ridge of his patella, not yet pushing it, but touching it. “Alright, perfect. Now I will begin the reduction. Try to hold still for me.” Hanzo nodded again, and watched as she grabbed the white flashlight. A white gold beam shined visibly from it, as particles gently flowed from it like snowflakes from winter skies. They trickled down toward his skin, while she pushed against the point of his knee, but he couldn’t feel her touch. In fact, he wouldn’t know that she was there if he hadn’t been staring at her as she worked!

  “I don’t feel anything,” he pointed out, as he watched her.

  “My first design of this technology-while faster in application-yielded results of pain and discomfort in the subjects that authorized my experimentation. I had to reduce the amplification of the previous formula, so that it wouldn’t happen. But I’m guiding your patella into place, so that your body does less work. If my thumb weren’t here, you would feel it.”

  “And you developed this yourself?” Mercy didn’t look up as he asked the question, instead maintaining focus on his knee.

  “Yes. Overwatch provided me with a safe and fully-funded environment with which to take my research and development to the next level. In return, I aided soldiers in swift and speedy physical recovery, before enlisting and joining as a combat medic. But at the time I wasn’t wise enough to take action in concealing my research, before it fell into the wrong hands.”

  “What do you mean?” She continued working on his knee, but proceeded to answer his question.

  “The process works by sending rapid signals back and forth between your brain and the point of injury. In truth, all I’m doing is accelerating and guiding what your body would have naturally done on its own. But this of course led to the realization that those signals could be confused and redirected, and that my technology could be weaponized. When Overwatch disbanded, I fought to conceal my work and prevent others from following down my path. But like the twenty-something fool that I was, I logged my personal data within our internal systems, and you can be certain that the data was backed up somewhere. It’s only a matter of time before it’s replicated.” Hanzo swallowed, now understanding Mercy’s hesitation from earlier. But before he could continue the conversation, she turned off the beam and set it aside, instead reaching into another drawer and tearing apart sealed packaging, to reveal a brace. “When you stand on your knee it will feel tightened, as if it were reinforced. That feeling is natural, and it will fade with the passing hours. During that time, I ask that you wear this in order to best facilitate natural healing. It is bio-degradable, so be sure to recycle that in the morning.”

  Just as she finished speaking, there was a pounding at the hatch door. “Do you mind?” Mercy asked, and Hanzo shook his head no. Mercy opened the hatch with a summoned hologram. Hanzo looked to the door to see who it was, chest tightening when he realized that it was none other than Genji. The cyborg stepped forward, before pausing, as he looked to his brother.

  “Hanzo.”

  “...Genji.”

  The silence lingered for a moment, before Genji continued. “I’d hoped to do this with a little more...ceremony but…this is Angela. She is my-“ Genji started, but Mercy stood up, interrupting him.

  “You’re free to go, Hanzo,” Mercy said, before snatching the gloves off of her hands, and tossing them freely into a nearby recycling bin. She walked right by Genji as if he weren’t there, and proceeded to leave the hatch. The cyborg looked to her and then back to Hanzo, before the hatch closed behind her. Hanzo opened his mouth slightly, before closing it again.

  “….And that was her angry walk. I should….go. I will catch up with you later.” Genji’s movement hitched in a delayed way, before he proceeded out of the medical bay after her. Hanzo heard him calling her name, before their voices were lost to the various corridors.                    

****************************************

  “What’d you do?”                  

  Hanzo already felt the presence approaching him, but he’d hoped that McCree would just keep moving. The smell of cigar smoke and an abundance of cheap cologne was a dead giveaway, so he didn’t look up to acknowledge the passing figure. But to his dismay, the cowboy wouldn’t pass without words. Hanzo only shook his head, before resuming his task.      

  Hanzo himself was scanning down one of the holographic screens, generated by Athena, with a shopping queue of all of the written works of Tekharta Mondatta, the leader of the Omnic Independence movement. He was debating on audio books for Mercy to listen to while she carried on with her day to day tasks, but then he wondered if she were the type to enjoy a book to be held in hand, and read in silence. There was so little he knew about her, and yet she stood his brother’s one true soulmate. For him, this was a strange phenomenon.

  “Judging by those clicking heels I heard earlier, I reckon someone’s touched the Doc’s last nerve. And by that guilty look on your face, I’m willing to bet I’ve found the culprit.” Hanzo paused, and looked aside, all but confirming McCree’s theory. “S’alright. Happens once a week, if not every other day. Doc works with a lot of knuckleheads, if you can believe it.” Hanzo swallowed down a snort. “You’ve got the right idea. Just make sure you put some thought into it. Cash don’t impress her much, Shimada.”

  “My name is Hanzo,” he corrected, before bringing his fingers together to minimize the hologram tablet. He turned about at last, to see McCree leaning in the hatch frame of his open shuttle-door. He had the decency to put out his cigar for the time being, though he kept it in his mouth. Hanzo  shot him a disdainful scowl anyway.

  “He speaks,” McCree announced in a sarcastic way. He even lifted his eyebrows for the dramatic effect of staged shock.

  “I fail to see why this is any of your concern,” Hanzo countered, folding his arms over his chest.

  “I’m guessin’ Winston pitched you an offer here, on the team?”

  “I have not yet decided if I will accept his offer,” Hanzo stated, leaving no room for any misunderstanding.

  “But ‘chu still here. Listen Shimada-“ McCree began, before he was interrupted.

  “Hanzo,” he corrected once more.

  “Hanzo…maybe he didn’t clue you in up there in the control room, but the stuff we do here…it ain’t for fun. These are real missions that we go on. We bleed real blood when we get hit, and we take the lives of others with families.”

  “You insult me,” Hanzo all but snarled.

  “Come again?” McCree’s question was honest, but his southern drawl made it come off as playful, if not challenging.

  “You insinuate that I do not measure to the standards of Overwatch. I am every bit as capable as the members that I have seen. Despite my poor showing in the trials -which I have every intention to retake-you yourself confirmed that my skills were all but extraordinary. I resent the accusation that I cannot handle the same degree of combat in the real world,” Hanzo argued, immediately on the defensive.

  “Oh no, no one’s mockin’ yer skills, make no mistake. But you see the thing is…” McCree began, before pressing himself up and off of the door frame, standing to face Hanzo in full. “I don’t make it a habit of going into battle, with partners that I don’t know.” Hanzo swallowed, realizing the error in his temper. “Out there? I gotta trust you. And to trust you, I gotta know you, like I know my own self; that is, if we hope to survive. So…it may not be today, it may not be next week, but eventually you gon’ have to climb off that high horse of yours and have a glass with me.” It didn’t escape Hanzo’s observation that that statement wasn’t exactly a request. The anger faded from Hanzo’s face, but it wasn’t any less stern. Before the silence could become awkward, McCree continued. “And when you do? I’m just down the hall.” McCree stepped away, holding eye contact with Hanzo until the last moment, before lazily gliding out the doorway.

  Hanzo held back the eye roll that his instincts craved to act upon. Instead he hid it with a technique he developed in his youth, for the times when he’d outwitted his father; he closed his eyes, then rolled them, then glanced away to the right. He thought to resume his search when another figure approached his door. This one was quieter, but not quiet enough to evade his detection. He knew the stepping pattern anywhere, despite his own disbelief. But he had looked his brother in the eyes, and he was no longer able to deny what he had seen. Genji stood in the open doorway now, the same cyborg that he was when he left him last. The visor that shielded his eyes, shined with that same neon green light, just above the armor plating that covered his body. The tubes and coils protruded from the sides of his neck stretching down into the machinery over his chest; no doubt keeping the blood moving from his heart. He knew that he was fortunate to even be able to speak with his brother again. But the guilt welled within him all the same. “You came,” Genji said, finally sick of the silence between them.

  “You asked me to,” Hanzo replied, though the tone had traces of argument.

  “And since when does my brother do the things that I ask him to do?”

  “Normally I am the one that asks that question.” Genji snickered to himself at Hanzo’s reply, and Hanzo’s eyes widened to the sound. He’d last heard his brother’s laughter from the ghosts that haunted him on the nights when the sake wasn’t enough. But this was real. More still when Genji pressed the buttons on the sides of his visor, retracting the neon green light to show the browns of his eyes. The same eyes, the same shape, even the same eyebrows. But this was all that Hanzo could see of his face. His jaw remained guarded by the metal plating of his robotic suit, as did his forehead. Hanzo flinched, at the memory of what the dragons did to his brother’s face. But Genji also removed the scarf that he used to tie down his hair. And as It fell from his head, the same black spikey tuft that Hanzo recognized sprung forth from its constraints. There was no denying it any longer. His brother was alive.

  “To see you again…after thirteen years…” Hanzo began, but he couldn’t finish his statement. There was a lingering pause for a moment, but Genji broke the silence.

  “I didn’t know what I would do either. So much happened that night. I did not know how to feel…or if I even could feel.” The lingering silence came once more, before Hanzo replied.

  “She saved you.”

  “Angela is…incredible,” Genji confessed, in an earnest way. Hanzo could hear his heart with his words. “I didn’t expect to meet her that way, I must admit. But I suppose I have you to thank for that.” The dark humor didn’t escape Hanzo, but he still didn’t respond. Instead, he clenched his teeth and tightened his jaw, but Genji pressed on. “She was called to Japan at the time, to treat another patient in dire condition. She was in the hospital, right when I was brought in. Then she did what she always does…and saved my life.” Hanzo rolled his lips inward, and breathed deeply through his nose. Genji continued. “I am happy that you accepted my invitation to join Overwatch.”

  “I have accepted nothing,” Hanzo countered again, shooting a glance at his cyborg brother.

  “Then…why are you here?” The innocence was still in Genji’s voice, despite the feedback from the speaker in his mouthpiece. Hanzo turned to face his brother fully, letting his arms drop from his chest. His brown eyes widened as he pursed his lips, looking about for the answer to the simple question. Genji continued for him. “You mourned me. I watched you grieve for my death. There was a time when I was angry at you for what you had done.” Hanzo swallowed before looking directly into his brother’s eyes. “And then that anger turned to pity. Pity for the man who had killed his brother, and did not even relish in the prize of having him out of the way.”

  “I do not ask for your pity,” Hanzo replied, the usual growl back in place in his throat.

  “Don’t you? When you kneel before my altar every year, and bow your head before the weapon that you used to strike me down, don’t you ask for my forgiveness? Don’t you ask, that I look kindly upon you from the afterlife, in witness of how you suffer?” Genji folded his arms again over his chest, feeling the argument within himself begin to rise.

  “I honored you as a warrior, and a head of the family like those before us. I honored the fallen brother, who would have taken over the mantle of Shimada with me side by side, had we not been pit against one another. But I ask no one for pity. I stand with full knowledge of who I am, and the things that I have done.”

  “And yet, you still came here,” Genji countered once more. “Tell me, brother. Is it difficult to stand, with all of that weight on your shoulders?” The wrinkle that formed atop the bridge of Hanzo’s nose meant that the conversation needed to end. But Genji pressed on. “As I stated in the letter that I wrote you, this is an opportunity for you to make a difference in your life, and the lives of everyone around you. Before the corruption, Overwatch was a force for good in this world. Winston hopes to make it so again. If you do not intend to stay, then do not keep him waiting.” Genji turned to walk out of the room, but Hanzo stopped him with a question.

  “Genji...How is it, that you describe me?” Genji turned to face him. “Your soulmate told me on the way here, that I am exactly as you have described me. How do you describe me to her?” Genji thought for a moment before responding.

  “I describe you as everything that a Shimada is supposed to be, and everything that I was not.” The lids of Hanzo’s eyes drooped downward in an earnest way. But they opened back wide again, as Genji continued. “If you intend to stay, you would do well not to anger her so frequently. Angela is the only practicing medic that we have on staff. Your life is in her hands at all times. Remember that.” Hanzo looked aside, before turning away from his brother and moving deeper into the corner of his shuttle.

  “And do you not care for my thoughts on her?”  

  “No,” Genji said plainly. “She had only met you for a moment, and yet I would have known who she was speaking of without any further proof. Another thing you should know brother; I have renounced the name Shimada. I move as my own man, and should we marry, I intend to take her last name. Neither she nor I require your approval.” Hanzo closed his lips tightly into a thin line, but Genji continued. “Decide brother, and do not delay.” As Genji walked away, the shuttle door promptly shut behind him. Hanzo pulled up another holographic screen before adding both the digital copies of Mondatta’s collection, and the hard copies into his own virtual shopping cart, and saving the total for later. With a flick of his wrist, the online shopping cart vanished from sight, and he turned away to prepare himself for the night.    

Chapter Text

  Hanzo woke with the sunlight as he was accustomed, and readily stepped up from his futon. He took a moment to enjoy the silence of the morning while neatly folding his sheets back into place, and gathering the supplies that he needed into one of the small complimentary bags that he had in his drawer. Despite the elegance with which his room was decorated, he discovered yesterday that it did not come with a shower. He would have to use the communal.

  Fortunately he had already forced himself through the experience once before, in a moment of indulgence after a particularly troubling mission in Singapore. The onsen required that he be completely clean, before he could experience the purifying waters. Still, he knew that it would be best to have the shower to himself if he could help it, to avoid another pointless conversation. He could tolerate their frivolity in the midday, but the morning silence was his and his alone.

  Having gathered everything he needed, he zipped his bag shut before sliding his feet into a pair of slippers for the hallways. Athena opened the hatch door upon his approach without him needing to ask. The door closed behind him as he made his way down the hallways guideless, remembering the direction from the previous day. There was a stillness that indicated that he was alone, despite the light in the halls. He followed the twists and turns in his mind, until he approached the men’s communal bathroom.

  He took a moment to relieve himself, before flushing the toilet and washing his hands. Then, he made his way to the lockers, reading the names across the screens of those that were taken, until he found one that was unclaimed and out of the way. He looked about for some way to open the locker, but there was no handle. He paused for a moment and sighed through his nose. “Athena.”

  “Yes, Hanzo?” He took small discomfort in hearing the feminine voice in the area, but quickly reconciled with himself.

  “How do I access this locker? I need to store my belongings.”

  “Press your hand against the digital screen in front of you. The locker will scan your finger prints and palm pattern, and then it will open automatically. Once opened, you may place your belongings inside, and as you walk away the door will seal itself shut. Once shut, it cannot be reopened unless you press your palm to it once more.” Hanzo’s eyes widened for a moment, but then he did as instructed.

  Just as she said, the door opened on its own and he proceeded to disrobe and store his belongings in the locker. He left only his shower shoes, a towel, the soap, and the shampoo that he needed, and quickly covered himself as he turned to walk away. He heard the door close behind him as he made his way to the showers, pausing outside of them to hang his towel on the rack just to the side of the dry entrance floor.

  He chose a shower not far from the entrance and set his soaps on the shelves beneath the shower head. After assessing the angle of the shower head, he stepped aside and turned the water on using the nozzle before him; the only thing that he’d seen so far that wasn’t high-tech. The water took a moment to reach the temperature that he preferred, but once it warmed it was steady. Hanzo appreciated the change from his apartment, letting his wrist hit the water to test it first before stepping under.

  He let the water cascade down his chest as he approached, before dipping his head beneath the free-fall and giving himself over into the moment. With his eyes closed, he turned about to make sure that every part of his body was soaking wet, moving his head from side to side so that the water touched every inch of his neck. He lingered just for a moment, and then he opened his eyes while reaching for his soap, taking a generous portion and lathering his hands and arms.

  From here it was automatic; arms, shoulders, chest, face, and then working his way downward. The soap glided effortlessly over him until he stepped back into the water, washing it away. The grime from sleep floated away into the drain and out of his sight and mind. He followed up with shampoo, taking the time to massage it into his scalp, and then dipping his head back under for another cleanse.

  He stayed there for the moment underneath the weight of the water. But the threat of his skin pruning in revolt made him stop, and he craned his neck back before turning off the shower water. But now that his ears were freed from the sound of his own shower, he realized that he wasn’t alone. Another shower had been turned on.

  He gathered his soap and shampoo quickly and turned to leave. The discipline of his upbringing shielded him from the desire to turn and see who had joined him in the room, and he marched out of the shower entirely, grabbing his towel and covering himself. The flat soles of his slippers dragged now, with the added weight of the absorbed water, and he did his best to quiet his steps as he moved back to his locker. It only took him a moment to dry before he pressed his palm to the screen once more, snatching the new day’s clothes and dressing quickly to cover his shame.

  Now that he was clothed, he calmed himself before gathering the rest of his belongings from the locker. He left it empty, hearing the door close behind him as he made his way to the sinks and mirrors. He stepped in front of the mirror, pulling out his tooth brush and wetting the bristles with the water before squeezing on a thin line of toothpaste to brush his teeth.

  With his left hand he held his loose hair back, while he brushed with the right. He was sure to scrub through all of the crevices of his mouth, before spitting and rinsing. He proceeded to awkwardly bend to set his toothbrush back into its case, and then decided that his hair needed to leave his face immediately. He felt his wrist to search for a hair-tie, but his wrist was bare. He clapped the wrist of his other hand, feeling that it was bare as well. He looked about for a moment, sighing through his nose in frustration.

  “Here.”

  Hanzo turned to see McCree was standing to his side. At a glance, he was sure that McCree was showing far too much skin, but he atleast had the modesty to keep his towel in place, regardless of the fact that he was dripping water everywhere. “You left this in the shower.” Hanzo looked to McCree’s outstretched hand which held his hair-tie, pinched between the side of his index finger and the flat of his thumb. Hanzo took the hair-tie, but his eyes lingered for a moment.

  Most people take care to cover their wrists in modesty; this was expected in Japan. It was an inevitability that people would see each other’s soulmate marks at some point, but customarily the display of them in the open is frowned upon. Everyone that he’d met before hid their wrists in some way, be it with long sleeves or a wrist band of some sort. But Jesse McCree left his wrist bare, aside from the arm hairs that could have acted as a natural form of camouflage. And to Hanzo’s surprise...his wrist was blank.

  “…Thank you,” Hanzo said, taking the hair-tye and nimbly tying his pony-tail at the back of his scalp. He gathered the items that he had at the sink and turned to leave, before hearing McCree’s distant ‘no problem’ fade out into the background as he left the bathroom. Once he was clear of the area, he slowed in pace as he made his way back to his personal chamber. The door opened again upon his arrival, and he set his things aside again for the moment to prepare a pot of tea.

  He thought to himself as he sifted through his things, putting them back into their proper places. But now that everything was sorted and the tea still wasn’t ready, he had no choice but to give in to his own curiousity. “Athena,” Hanzo called, and the screens in his chambers lit up with her moniker.

  “Yes, Hanzo?”

  “Show me McCree’s profile.” Upon command, a holographic screen came up before him with the profile, like those that he’d seen before of Winston and his brother.

  “Agent O-43, Jesse McCree. A former member of the notorious Deadlock Gang, Jesse McCree and his partners were brought to justice during an Overwatch sting operation. Commander Reyes, seeing his potential, offered him the opportunity to work off his jail sentencing as a member of the private Blackwatch sub-division. He remained a team member until Overwatch disbanded.” Hanzo’s eyes scanned through McCree’s input data and statistics, remarking silently to himself that he and Genji were in the same sub-division, before finding his date of birth.

  McCree was only a year younger, at age thirty-seven. Thirty-seven years without a soulmate mark was rare, at least in Hanzo’s experience. He’d thought himself alone before now. On a whim, he swallowed before asking Athena for another profile. “Show me Angela Ziegler.”

  “Agent S-39, Mercy. Dr. Angela Ziegler. A prodigy in the fields of science and medicine, Dr. Ziegler quickly rose to the head of surgery at the Hirslanden Swiss hospital, before being recruited for the Overwatch initiative. Her advances in nanobiology have allowed for the hastened healing of life threatening injuries and illnesses. Ever the advocate for peace, Dr. Ziegler fights for a world in which fighting is no longer necessary.”

  Hanzo couldn’t help but remark at how horribly that camera captured her likeness. Mercy, though an annoyance upon their first meeting, was remarkably beautiful in motion. But photogenic was not a word that he would use to describe his brother’s soulmate. The picture paid her no respect. She shared McCree’s age of thirty-seven; two years older than his brother.

  The whistle on his tea began to blow, signifying that it was time to remove the pot. He jumped to his feet, cutting across the floor and pouring himself an unsweetened cup, smelling the blend before taking a tentative sip. The herbal remedy helped him to focus, as it always had. He began to weigh the positives and the negatives in his mind, remaining in deliberation while sipping his brew.

  But when he felt a twinge in his stomach, he knew that he had come to the answer that he was searching for. He paused, taking a deep breath and setting his cup aside, as he moved to the hatch doors. They parted automatically at his exit, and he again decided to test his memory, moving along without Athena’s guidelines. He made it outside of the main control room, before approaching. The doors opened automatically and he stepped through.

  He berated himself for his foolishness, upon realizing that the room was empty. The morning was still new, and Winston was probably taking advantage of the opportunity to sleep. Instead, he looked about for the moment, observing the collections of data in the room.

  There were mathematic equations written on and off of the glass board of the room. Some even painted the otherwise dull walls. Some books lay open and astray, but all of them had been annotated and stuffed with decorative and organized sticky notes, no doubt for quick reference. In general the room was neat and clean, but it had just enough of a haphazard lay about to make it seem personal to the Gorilla. And were it not for the giant tire-swing in the center of the room, Hanzo remarked to himself that he could come to admire the room in time.

  It took him a moment to follow the equations on the wall, but he eventually came to the realization that Winston was working out a system in the ideal of perpetual energy. The equations were not finished, but from what he could gage, they were correct. He backed away, making his way to the central computer that usually held Winston’s attention.

  To his left, he saw a board akin to those used in investigations. He looked at the names of those on the board, and paused at the familiar sights of Hana Song, and Lúcio, two celebrities heavily advertised on the Japanese subway systems. According to Winston’s notes, Hana operated under the code name D.Va, and was recruited into the South Korean military as the principal pilot for the MEKA armored drones. Meanwhile, Lúcio has been leading the rebellion against the Vishkar gentrification of poor areas in Brazil.

  He heard Winston’s voice in his mind, reminding him that Overwatch was originally composed of the best that the world had to offer, in the fields of science, medicine, and engineering. Brilliant minds, and capable warriors alike united together, in search of utopia. Trying to make the world into what it could be, rather than accepting it for the way that it is.

  He turned when he heard the hatchet doors open, and quickly distanced himself from the board, moving so that he was in sight. Winston lumbered his way into the room, wiping the sleep from his eyes with an enormous yawn, before fumbling for his glasses. After adjusting them into place, he blinked and shook his face when his vision cleared to the sight of the archer in his study.

  “Oh, Hanzo! Good Morning! Apologies, I didn’t see you there without my glasses.” Winston smiled and moved closer.

  “I would like to become a member of Overwatch. If you will have me, I will contribute toward the movement, and aid however I can.” Winston paused for a moment at Hanzo’s words, before his smile spread across the width of his face.

  “That’s…this is excellent news!” The ape began to move forward, gathering several of his resources, and powering up his main computer system. “This is wonderful! After your showing yesterday in the training room, all that I could think of were the uses that your arrows would be to the team! Your aim is remarkable, and in combination with stealth you could make a real difference in covert operations.” Hanzo watched in awe as the gorilla hopped around and gathered his resources. He began to form a pile, which Hanzo came to realize as his own soon-to-be entrance paperwork.

  “Hanzo, er….before I get ahead of myself, I should caution you. We’re…in recovery. Overwatch isn’t nearly what it was in the past. I’ve been able to recruit a few of the former members, but…I just want you to know that what you’re joining will be a small band of individuals; united for the original purpose, but without the original political interference.”

  “I understand,” Hanzo said, facing the gorilla he would soon have to recognize as a leader.

  “Futhermore…the things that we do…the trials that we face….what I mean to say is….I cannot guarantee your safety. There will be times when we are called to fight.”

  “I am aware. I am ready,” Hanzo pushed on, while looking Winston in the eye. The Gorilla only smiled back, trying and failing to remain professional. Winston organized the papers and booklets that he gathered, and gave them to Hanzo before turning once more.

  “If you could, I need you to fill that out to the best of your ability. Please feel free to ask Athena for any assistance required. She has the process streamlined, so while that stack might be intimidating, it’s actually much smaller than you think.

  “Thank you,” Hanzo said, with a customary bow. His eyes widened when he saw that the Gorilla bowed deeper, in gratitude.

  “No, thank you. Please, let me know if you need anything. I’m always here.” Hanzo stood upright and turned away, shuffling out of the laboratory with haste. There were times when Winston seemed so human. And then there were times were Hanzo, former head of the Shimada Yakuza and peerless archer, remembered that he was talking to a gorilla.

  He clutched the paperwork to his side and paused to regain his bearings, before making his way back to his chambers. But as he walked, he heard a familiar laughter coming from what he deduced to be the common room. He decided to peer in, just to put a face to the sound. Sitting on the couch was Mercy, drinking a cup of coffee with his brother, resting gently at his side. They smiled to each other, taking comfort in whispered conversation. And in the reflection of the TV, Hanzo could see his brother’s smile. A smile that he thought he would never see again.

  He stole this moment from them selfishly, for a minute longer. It was a treasure to watch his brother exist so happily, and freely; even more so than he did in his youth. The feelings that welled within him forced him to linger in confusion. Some negative, some positive, but all were disorganized and a flutter. But there was one thing that would have been clear, if anyone was there to bear witness.

  ...Hanzo was smiling. 

Chapter Text

  Though he had been tested for the vast majority of his life, the stack of papers that Winston asked of him proved to be his toughest opponent yet. Not only due to the sheer volume of sheets, but for the questions that he needed to answer. So much information needed to be gleaned from him, in order to become a member of Overwatch. Information that he would never have shared as the former head of the Shimada.

  He battled against the will forged into his muscles, defying years of training to answer these questions. He wrote just far enough into the truth to satisfy the answer, while keeping the criminal intricacies of his former life hidden. It was a labor that proved more daunting with each question that followed. But the worst part of it was that he was not granted the opportunity to suffer in silence.

  He didn’t know what it was that threw the members of Overwatch into such a frenzy, but from the miscellaneous chatter that he loathed to pick apart, he’d assessed that a few former agents had come aboard the Gibraltar. He hadn’t deigned to make their acquaintance, deciding instead to meet them when strictly necessary. But two of his soon-to-be teammates decided that the hallway outside of his hatch was the best place on the shuttle to work out their differences, much to his malcontent.

  First there was a sharp walking pace, followed by an all-but-screeching halt. The walls were too thick to allow for precision quoting, but he was certain of a few things. One of the two was named Fareeha, and considering the pitch of her voice, she was much younger than whoever it was she was talking to. The other was only addressed as ‘Captain,’ in what sounded like spite.  

  The Captain sounded as if they were pleading with Fareeha for something, while Fareeha simply asked for ‘permission to leave.’ He knew little of what was discussed, but it was enough to make him no longer take interest in the paperwork required of him. Instead, he set the papers aside for now, making himself another cup of tea so that he might resume after a break. But the nagging sensation tugged at his mind, and he found himself opening another of Athena’s many data reserves.

  “Athena, show me Fareeha.”

  “Agent 0-52, Pharah. The head of Security for the Helix corporation.” The profile yielded no further information, save for a picture of a person in their armor. He’d assumed Fareeha female, from the voice that he heard in the hallway. But the picture before him was of a strong soldier in cybernetic armor and a headgear that concealed their face. He also took a glance at their height. Whoever they were, they were certainly taller than him.

  He thought about searching for ‘Captain’ for a brief moment, before calling himself an idiot in his own privacy, and throwing the hologram window off into obscurity. Instead, he watched the pot of his tea for the time, snatching it away before it could come to a whistle, and pouring himself a hot cup. He took a moment to smell the flavors of his brew first, letting the aroma bring clarity to his mind before settling back onto the task before him.

 ***************************

   “Already?” The astonishment woven into Winston’s voice brought Hanzo some small measure of accomplishment. He refused to let it slip through his expression however, simply giving a curt nod.

  “Provided that this is all that you need to know of me, the answers that you seek are there.” In response to Hanzo’s statement, Winston blinked in rapid succession, before his eyes widened far enough to convey the genuine nature of his shock. He glanced over the first couple of pages, as he shuffled in his simian way to the computer, leaving Hanzo in place for the time. He watched as Winston’s large hands, guided the paper through the mouth of a slit in his computer. The documents were scanned and spit out, one by one. “May I ask what will become of this?”

  “We will have to conduct a background check, simply to verify that the information that you have provided is genuine. Once I have this approved, I will have you tested on the field.” At the end of his statement, Winston pushed up the glasses that slid down the bridge of his nose. Hanzo could feel himself taking too much comfort with the subtle tick.

  “And that is all?”

  “In the past, there would have been several assessments, followed by a board meeting, a few interviews, and necessary character recommendations. But we are short handed, and technically Overwatch isn’t in operation any longer. What we do here is…charity work. A service to the people.” Despite Winston’s eloquent evasion of the truth, the hidden meaning of his words did not escape Hanzo’s detection. This resurgence of his wasn’t exactly legal.

  “And this field test? Am I allowed to know the parameters? What is expected of me, in order to qualify as a member of Overwatch?”

  “Forgive me, Hanzo, but this will be answered shortly. It only takes Athena moments to cross reference your answers with verifiable data. In the meantime, may I ask that you report to medical?” Winston turned away but still peered over his shoulder as he asked the question, eyes flickering between Hanzo, and Athena’s progress.

  “I am to be treated again? My knee feels fine.”

  “Oh, I am sure. But this is a requirement from the squad leader of your field mission.” Hanzo swallowed in secrecy. The thought of working on a team already touched the delicate structure of his nerves. Being subordinate to Mercy would only make the experience more arduous. Still, he did as he was born and bred to do. He nodded his head, and suffered in silence.

  “Very well.”

  “Thank you!”

**********************

  Once again in the medical bay, he couldn’t help but to toy with his knee. He kicked it back and forth on the table, still amazed that he felt no trace of his injury. It was tighter than a drum, and moved with a renewed vigor. The wrath of age had crept along the rest of his body, but his knee felt almost new.

  He remarked that she certainly took her sweet time, but when Mercy arrived at the hatch, she seemed to be doing the exact opposite of what he expected. First, she immediately turned the lights to full brightness. Then she disappeared into the backroom. He listened as she shuffled about, pulling drawers and opening and slamming cabinets. She was in a hurry.

  In a few minutes she came out front, eyes darting around the room, looking at anything other than Hanzo. He shot her a perplexed glance, which she caught, but looked away, giving the room one last survey, before closing her bag and turning again for the door. But it opened on its own, and through it stepped an older woman.

  She reminded Hanzo of his grandmother. Her beauty remained, but withered with age. The long locks of her hair had powdered white and grey through the passing years, with dried strands woven tight into a braid that sloped along her shoulder and dangled over her chest. She wore a black sweater, and grey slacks, but her posture gave way to the tone in her muscular structure. And the eye patch over her right eye only magnified the expression that peered through the left.

  Hanzo watched as Mercy and the elderly woman remained frozen for the moment. But then Mercy swallowed, and continued forward. He heard the elderly woman say “Angela….” but Mercy walked right by her, towering over her in both height and indignation, and left the room with what he now recognized to be her ‘signature angry walk.’

  The elderly woman held still for only a moment longer, before moving over toward Hanzo. “Forgive me. I’m sorry that you had to see that.” She spoke as she moved over to the sink, rolling up her sleeves and washing her hands, before drying them with a paper towel. “But trust me, my reappearance in these hallways has been announced with all of decoration that it deserves.”

  Hanzo studied the woman as she moved about the room, summoning a holographic screen and quickly typing onto it. He turned, hearing a space on the wall slide open. It hadn’t appeared to be a cupboard, but then he deduced that that was precisely the point. She was hiding something in this room, and Mercy had probably come to find it. “Don’t bother telling Angela. That hiding place will be changed the minute you leave this room. She’ll forgive me in time.”

  “I had no intention. I am only here at Winston’s instruction,” he said, watching her move over to the now open space in the wall. She pulled open a long rectangular brief case, easily three quarters her body length, before setting it on the floor. Despite her age, she squatted to the ground with a nimble ease, popping the latches of her case, before opening it. He looked inside, seeing a large sniper rifle. He tensed automatically.

  “Winston’s instruction,” she mocked in a sort of disbelief. As she stood, he noticed that she held a glass cylinder, filled with the same glowing light that he’d observed from Mercy’s white flashlight that fixed his knee. His brows inched closer in confusion, as he looked between her and the cylinder. “I never thought I would see the day that Winston would lead Overwatch. But perhaps this much power shouldn’t be left in the hands of man.”

  She set the cylinder aside, before reaching into the drawer for a clean syringe. She opened its packaging before asking “do you have a preferred vein?”

  “Why are you asking?” Hanzo had tired of the mystery. She owed him answers.

  “I thought that Winston would have filled you in, I’m sorry. I am Captain Ana Amari. Well…ex-captain, now,” she explained, setting the syringe aside, and standing to look him in the eye. “I served as the second in command of the first Overwatch Initiative, as a sniper and field commander.” Hanzo’s eyes widened as the memories came back to him. He remembered seeing her poster as a youth in Tokyo. She had been called Egypt’s protector for a time.

  “You…were announced dead, just before the fall of Overwatch. There was a ceremony held in your memory that was televised across the planet. I was at the airport when I saw it.” But as Hanzo spoke, he knew that she was telling the truth. Her white hair was once jet black, and the wrinkles in her skin had given her a disguise, but the Wedjat tattoo on her functioning eye was the exact same. He was speaking to a living legend.

  “Mr. Shimada, I need you to understand that while my actions have caused grief, they were necessary at the time. I faked my death and continued the fight in secret.” Her lips tightened as she spoke. There was more to that story, but she didn’t seem ready or willing to tell it. “Though, I didn’t cover my tracks well enough. Both Overwatch and Talon caught on to my trail, and both sent units to detain me. Fortunately, Overwatch found me first.”

  “That still doesn’t explain why you need my blood,” Hanzo continued, though she clearly meant him no harm. She kept her hands folded neatly in front of her as she spoke. She didn’t have the same sort of relaxing aura that Mercy had. There was more steel to her, than silk. She needed to find other ways to make her patients feel at ease.

  “I am going to be your field commander on your next mission. Before you is a prototype of Dr. Ziegler’s nanobiotic healing formula. I use it on the field to heal my allies, and to attack my enemies. But your blood must be introduced to the formula in a controlled environment, so that the nanites know to heal you, rather than to attack you.”

  Hanzo looked at her warily, but she continued. “It may sound strange Mr. Shimada, but I assure you that Dr. Ziegler’s formula is full proof. Perhaps you require a demonstration?” He shook his head no, having already seen Mercy’s work in action.

  “How do you use it in the field?” As he asked the question, she knelt down into her briefcase once more, before pulling out a small syringe-like dart, barely the size of a bullet. It held the same glow as the formula.

  “My rifle does not fire bullets, but rather these; small doses of the formula. As long as I hit my mark, the dart will puncture the skin and quickly inject the serum. Within seconds your wounds are healed. But if your blood has not been introduced to the serum, the nanites will weaken and possibly kill the target instead.

  Hanzo realized that this had been exactly what Mercy had spoke to him about, during their last session together. Her fear of having her research weaponized had come true, and by her Captain no-less. He suddenly understood her anger. “Why are you hiding this from Dr. Ziegler?”

  She paused for the moment, pursing her lips the way that only a woman can, before looking back up to him to respond. “She is aware that I have her prototype. And when this gun was created, she openly and adamantly opposed it, it’s true. But someone made the weapon anyway, and managed to sneak it beyond these walls. I found it on the black market during my time of hiding, and initially I had every intention of honoring her wishes and destroying it, and any other of its copies.”

  She removed her gloves, tossing them into the trash, before continuing. “But as I came to understand the gun, and its mechanics, I realized that I could use it for what it was originally intended; an immediate application of medical aid.” Her face became far more serious as she spoke. “I will not lie to you, Mr. Shimada. I have blood on my hands. I have sent hundreds of mother’s sons to their graves in the service of my country, and of Overwatch. But the accumulating deaths began to weigh on my soul, once I had a daughter of my own.”

  Hanzo made the connection. She was the one in the hallway earlier. The one only referred to as ‘Captain,’ by Fareeha. “This weapon gives me a means to keep those that I love alive, while joining them in the fight. And now I can do so, without killing and crippling my enemies; men and women, who like ourselves are simply following orders. Angela may hate me for it now, but in time she will see that her genius has done more good than harm.”

  Yet even as the words sunk in, Hanzo felt uneasy about what was transpiring. He had only been a member of Overwatch for little more than a day, and already there was conflict within the organization. Still, he needed to prove himself capable on the field, and this was the task before him. With a slow exhale, he rolled up his right sleeve and clenching his fist while flexing, to expose the veins on his forearms before holding his arm out.

  “Thank you, Mr. Shimada,” Ana croaked, as she prepared him for the injection. She didn’t have the same gentle tenderness of Mercy’s touch, he remarked, as he certainly felt the needle piercing his skin. But the process was clean and controlled.

  “Please, call me Hanzo.”

  “Hanzo,” She corrected, removing the blood sample, and turning the dial on her own vial of Mercy’s nanite-formula. The light inside turned blue, as the floating particles drastically slowed. He watched, as Ana carefully injected his blood sample into the formula. The sanguine liquid flowed through the blue base, like the ink of a rorschack test, as the nanites clumped together, bonding with it. As he watched, the color of his blood in the vial, turned from red, to a dark purple, and then finally blue to match the light. “There,” Ana said, giving the vial a turn, before resetting the dial. The golden hue shined bright once more, as the nanites floated back to life.

  “How long will it be, before the mission begins?” Hanzo watched as Ana took one of the darts, and filled it with a sample of the new formula, before loading it into her sidearm. She placed the safety back onto the pistol, before setting it aside.

 “Approximately three days. The Commander and I are newly reacquainted with Overwatch you see. We need time before we’re deployed into the field again. I need you to hold still for me. This will hurt,” Ana instructed, before reaching for a scalpel. Hanzo watched her, as she grabbed his arm gently, positioning the blade to make an incision. “Are you ready?”

  He nodded. She lightly pressed against his skin, but the scalpel was sharpened to perfection. It tore through the top layer of his flesh like a seam ripper, and despite his best efforts he flinched. He remarked that she hadn’t cut deep, but the blood still dripped freely from his arm. Then she reached over for her side arm, removing the safety, and loading it, before firing.

  He heard the snap of the gun go off, and then he saw that the dart landed neatly into the back of his hand. There was a small pinch, and then it was over. Ana walked over to him, removing the dart, and wiping the incision clean. To his astonishment, his skin had already mended itself back into place, as if she’d never cut him. He couldn’t even see the scar.

  “Excellent,” Ana said, finally removing her gloves and washing her hands. Hanzo watched as she put away her supplies, setting it into her briefcase, before making notes onto a holographic screen. “Thank you Hanzo. If you have no further questions, you’re free to go.”

  Hanzo scooched himself off of the operating table, rolling his feet silently as they touched the floor, before rising, and towering over the elderly woman. He ran a finger over the spot on his hand where he’d just been shot, looking for the tear in his flesh, but there was none. It had healed too. “You said that you came here with a Commander?” She turned to look to him, as she sealed the latch on her steel briefcase, and lifted it off of the table. “Commander Morrison? Is he alive then, too?”

  She snickered, before walking by him, toward the hatch leading out to the hallway. “You’ll find that old soldiers are hard to kill.” Hanzo watched her walk out of the room, and then looked at his hand once more. 

************************


   “There was a distress call in Rio de Janiero,” Winston annouced, as he summoned a holographic screen, and made several copies of the report that he was reading. He pushed them all out so that everyone in the briefing room had a hologram of their own. Hanzo kept his eyes on his copy, quickly reading through the notes on the slab. On the profile before him, there was a digitized map of Brazil, and a specific blinking pointer in Rio de Janiero. He used his fingers to scroll down the information packet as Winston addressed himself, Ana, and McCree in the briefing room. The three days had gone by, and it was time for Hanzo’s field mission. 

  “It was a message from Lúcio Correia Dos Santos. You may or may not have heard of him recently in the news, due to his resistance movement in Brazil. He’s been in several conflicts with the growing Vishkar mega-corporation,” Winston rattled off as he turned to pull up an even larger diagram on the main screen.

  “The news paints Lúcio like some kind of anarchist,” McCree added, and Hanzo shot him an irritated glance for interrupting. To his dismay, the cowboy continued. “They say he’s been takin’ out the Vishkar with some sort of geurilla tactics; no pun intended Winston.” Hanzo failed to prevent his eyes from rolling.

  “Officially, Lúcio’s activities against the Vishkar are in a state of political mayhem. Through his music and presence on social media, he’s an adamant opponent of their development in impoverished areas. Many of the locals hold up his sigil when they protest in the streets. Authorities believe Lúcio to be the mastermind behind the attacks against the Vishkar, but as it stands they have no proof,” Winston explained, pushing his glasses back up onto his nose.

  “That is...other than this message that you received from him?” As Ana asked her question, she took a sip of her tea, and scrolled down the holographic screen. “Why are we interceding with this, rather than handing it over to the proper authorities?”

   “This has yet to be corroborated, but in his message, Lucio states that the Vishkar have used…unsavory tactics to make their service seem immediately necessary. He obtained intel from an undisclosed source that the Vishkar used an explosive in India, detonating it in an area that they’d appealed to before, in pursuits of expedited purchase and refurbishment. After the explosive went off, the appeal of the Vishkar’s security and protection wore down those who resisted their expansion in the area. He believes that they mean to do it again.”

  “So they’re expanding in the Rio? Why is it that nobody likes these guys?” Hanzo listened to McCree’s question, and turned to Winston for the answer. But it was Ana who spoke.

  “In the notes, you mention that while the Vishkar vocally claim that they mean to improve upon the living conditions of those in the area, many are left displaced from the homes that they once owned…” She read, eyes scanning over the holographic screen.

  “This much, while hard to uncover, is fact. They’ve been targetting low income areas and slums, with the promise of improving their way of life. But once they obtain control of the area, prices are increased, and the standard of living is elevated to the point where the area becomes a utopia. And a costly one to maintain.”                                                                                                                          

  “And I’m guessin’ the people that can’t pay the rent are fresh outta luck?” McCree leaned forward as he asked his question, and Hanzo looked to Winston for the answer. The gorilla made a very telling face, before responding.

  “Officially, the Vishkar are doing everything in their power-“ Winston prattled off mockingly, but McCree caught on, and interuptted.

  “Riiight. Gotcha.” The sarcasm hadn’t been lost on anyone in the room.

  “The explosion in India-do you have the record? How many casualties?” As Ana posed her question, Winston summoned a keyboard from the holographic light. His ape-ish fingers clicked across the translucent keys, and then another screen appeared, showing a dated news report of an explosion in the Dharavi slum in India.

  “According to this news report, twenty seven dead, with over fifty injured.” As Winston answered, Hanzo looked to Ana whose lip thinned at the response. She took another sip of her tea before setting her cup down, and dismissing her file.

  “What are the mission parameters?” Ana asked, giving Winston her undivded attention.

  “We cannot risk any exposure to the public. If word gets out that Overwatch is reforming, we will be set upon by the united nations. While I believe this is worth looking into, it must be done without stirring public unrest. Your mission is to infiltrate the Vishkar, and see if you locate any proof of a bomb. If you do, then we will proceed from there.”

  “And if there is no bomb?” McCree asked, as he took another puff of his cigar. Hanzo still hadn’t gotten past the stench.

  “Then evacuate. We cannot interfere with the Vishkar’s development, no matter how we may feel about it. They’re within their legal rights, so long as any aggression is financial rather than explosive. As you both already know, Captain Amari will take point in this mission. Hanzo, this is especially important for you, as she will be evaluating your performance, and most importantly your ability to collaborate with the team. Are you certain that you feel up to the challenge?”

  As Winston asked, Ana and McCree turned to glance at Hanzo. He only nodded in response, before dismissing his information hologram, and inching forward to the edge of his seat. He quietly cleared his throat before asking “when do we leave?”

  “The shuttle will leave at midnight. It’s a ten hour flight, after which you’ll be able to rest at a hotel, booked under an alias provided in your information pamphlet. When night falls, you begin the infiltration. Any further questions?” The three looked between one another, before looking back to Winston.

  “No,” Ana stated.

  “Then it’s settled. Good luck, and be safe.”

Chapter Text

     Were it any other man, the thought of infiltrating the Vishkar corporation would have been the source of their fear. The guards were likely to be armed, and at least somewhat capable of defending themselves. That, and if they were captured, they would face retribution from the law. He could be charged with vigilante activity on a national level, and once exposed, the Shimada would certainly come to finish him in his cell. But that wasn’t what bothered Hanzo.

     The Overwatch shuttle simply didn’t make sense. He had done the math time and time again in his head. Even with the propellors and jets, the shape and weight of the vehicle was much too large to be able to fly through the sky. Yet like the bumblebee, it flew in spite of the laws of nature. But he refused to allow either Ana or McCree to see him tremble, steeling his nerves with the vice grip that he employed on the arm rests of his seat.

     He looked to his field commander, Ana, whose eyes were trained on the glass window to the hatch door.  He’d managed to tune out Athena’s voice, counting down the time until lift-off as he shamelessly stared at the elderly woman. He could see from the distance that her eyes were trained on whom he’d since learned was her daughter, Pharah; the mysterious ‘Fareeha’ from the other day. Their eyes were locked for a brief moment, and then Pharah turned away with a sort of sharpness that he likened both to the military, and a furious woman.

     Ana only looked down with a slow blink. The rest of her was still, like an untouched bed-sheet. McCree on the other hand moved about in the corner of Hanzo’s eye. He needed to continually puff his cigar to keep the light going, which meant that he was shifting and switching the cigar between his hands. It was enough to distract Hanzo just until the turbulence of lift off began to shake the shuttle. If he continued to squeeze the arm-rest that way, the metal would surely crack.

     But again, the laws of physics defied the might of his fear, and the shuttle sifted into the sky. When Athena gave the ‘all-clear,’ Ana and McCree immediately unclipped their seatbelts, and set about on their own agenda’s. Ana moved over to the mini-kitchen, putting on a pot of tea. To Hanzo’s nose, it smelled like a hibiscus blend, but she was using something else to offset the tartness of the tea. He couldn’t precisely tell the ingredient, what with the cigar stench crowding the vicinity. But despite the irritation on Hanzo’s face, McCree smoked in indifference of the company he kept.

     “It’s an honor to work with you again, Ma’am,” McCree drawled. From the reflection in the window, Hanzo saw Ana wave him off.

     “You always were a charmer,” she snorted in reply. Hanzo was still buckled safely into his seat, but he could hear her mixing her own cup of tea, from the sounds of the spoon against the porcelain. “You know, you’re the only one who hasn’t asked me anything.”

     “Minding m’own business happens to be both easy, and free.” There was a smoothness to that reply that Hanzo wished he didn’t admire.

     “Wise words, of course. But I owed everyone an explanation, and I’m ready whenever you are.”

     “Ma’am if you don’t mind me saying, I already know enough about you to know you had your reasons. But if you’ll allow me to be frank, I’m sure you already know the question that I have,” McCree said, with an earnest sort of look that caught Hanzo’s attention. Ana paused for a moment, but then she replied.  

     “Jack said that when he came to, Gabriel wasn’t there. What that means for now, I’m not sure. But I promise that when I find out, I will let you know.”

     “Court adjourned,” Jesse replied, with a curt head nod, and Ana snickered.

     “Thank you, Jesse,” she replied, before stepping around the seating area, where Hanzo remained. When she came into Hanzo’s line of vision, she held in her hands an elegant tea cup, with a matching saucer. “Would you join me for a cup?”

     Hanzo reached out, taking the cup and saucer from her, remembering the discipline with which he was raised. “Thank you,” Hanzo remarked, before raising the glass to his lips. He’d mastered the poker face necessary to stomach tea that hadn’t been brewed to his own satisfaction, for the sake of social grace. In truth, not even his servants could blend a proper mix, and when he’d grown old enough to command them without restraint, he made it a point to mix his own cups. But after he swallowed, he licked his lips with a slight surprise.

     “This is exquisite,” Hanzo honestly remarked, and Ana smiled with a satisfied pride. He remarked to himself that the sweetener was slightly over-powering, but only a touch. In truth, it had been a delicious mix; one that he could drink warm or cold. To him, the blend was a rarity.

     “Karkadé. I drink it whenever I fly. It helps to calm my nerves,” she said, but he caught her meaning. Despite his efforts, she was aware of his fear. He defiantly unbuckled his seat belt, before taking another still sip. The flavor was just as rich the second time. “I’d offer you a glass McCree, but last I checked, you take your tea with Whiskey?”

     “Heh, s’been a while since I even bothered with the tea. Doc says I have to cut back on my intake.”

     “At your age, she’s probably right,” Ana quipped, moving back into her own seat. Hanzo watched as her age betrayed her appearance only momentarily. She had to ease into the chair, the way that someone her age was supposed to. He knew that he was accompanying a living legend, but could she really still fight on the field? He’d pieced together enough from the briefing to know why this team was assembled; three sharp shooters meant for a quiet and stealthy mission. But he’d learned the hard way that a sniper still needed to be able to fight up close, if they needed to. She could once. Could she still?

     She took a sip of her own tea, before pulling up her digital file on the mission briefing. As her fingers swiped left and right through the pages, she paused for a moment at a picture of Lucio. “I haven’t heard any of his music. Is he any good?”

     “Plays more club-stuff than anything. He’ll put a spin on an older song every now and then, but it’s not the same. D.va swears by it though,” McCree responded, and Ana raised her eyebrows.

     “The video-game girl, turned mech-pilot, right?”

     “That’d be her. Winston managed to talk her into joining Overwatch, so she’s one of us now. Sounds crazy, I know, but wait ‘til you see her in the sky.”

     “Crazy and I are old friends now. These days, nothing surprises me for long.” And after that, the flight carried on in relative silence. Ana conducted her research, using the holograms to scout out the area via the provided satellite images. She kept another tab open, looking into and researching the previous claims and incidents that seemed to haunt the favela like an omen.

     It was only after Hanzo had walked over to the sink, and properly cleaned his tea cup that he realized that he’d stood up on a flying vehicle. And even as he realized it, the notion only bothered him in his mind. But as he dwelled upon it, he remembered his fear, and calmly made his way back to his seat. The silence was comforting to him, but there was a part of him that hoped that Ana and McCree would converse a little longer, if only to glean more information from them.

     He would be disappointed. It would only be a matter of time before McCree kicked up his feet, and tipped his hat over his eyes. In a few minutes, McCree’s hands folded over his own mid-section, and Hanzo heard a soft snoring. Ana remained awake, but entranced with her studies for the time. And so Hanzo took the time to meditate, so that he would be both rested and prepared for the mission. 

 ************************

     “Listen, if there’s anyone out there at all on this server, please, we could really use some help! I have it on good authority that the Vishkar are planning on detonating an explosive in three days in Rio de Janiero, so they can speed up their renovation project. There are innocent people out here, just trying to live their lives like anyone else! Please, if you can hear me, send help!”

     Hanzo watched the video clip on the hologram screen over Ana’s shoulder. He stood behind his squad captain, and beside Jesse McCree, on a rooftop several blocks away from the Vishkar construction site, listening as a child’s voice called out to Lúcio before the young dj turned off the recording. Ana held out two ear pieces, distributing one to Hanzo and the other to McCree, before clipping in her own and switching on the power.

     “This is a test. Can everyone hear me?” Hanzo followed Ana’s lead, and responded to her question via the ear piece. Despite the night breeze that flittered through the wiring of the microphone, he could hear their voices with little to no static interference, and his response came back in matching clarity.

     “I can hear you,” Hanzo replied, with a nod.

     “Ten-four,” McCree concurred, shifting in place and taking another puff of his cigar.

     “Stand by. I’m patching us through to Winston,” Ana announced, before pulling out another com-device. She held out what looked to be a plain rectangular battery pack between the three of them, but left her thumb on what Hanzo recognized as a button to synchronize. Once all three of their com-devices blinked in agreement, Ana ejected the inner workings of the device, revealing it to be a radio. The technology was dated, but it was state of the art. This way, their communications would be far more difficult to trace.

     “Horus to Mission Control; do you copy?” Hanzo only had a moment to reflect on Ana’s use of the Egyptian deity as her call sign, before he heard Winston’s now familiar voice in his ear.

     “Copy that captain. You’re coming through loud and clear: over,” Winston replied. As the two conversed, Hanzo turned about, making sure that their location was yet unknown out of habit. The lack of street lights in the village was effective, both for star gazing and for concealing their location. His eyes adjusted on the way, and from what he could see, they remained hidden.

     “Do we have a trace on the original communications signal?”

     “We have secured a safe pathway, but we cannot use it yet. Not until we have confirmation that the Vishkar do have explosives on site: over,” Winston instructed, and Ana pressed her fingers to her ear to respond.

     “Affirmative. Have the mission parameters changed at all?” The three stood together silently, waiting for Winston’s reply.

     “Negative. The objective remains the same: over.”

     “Copy that. Beginning mission. I will check in once I have more information: over and out.”

     “Roger that. And all of you…please, be careful out there.” Ana removed her fingers from the communication device before snickering to herself.

     “He is adorable, isn’t he?” She asked, setting down the large steel briefcase that Hanzo recognized from the medical bay. She quickly unclipped the top latches, before gently opening the case and removing her sniper rifle from the indented spacing of the luggage. Hanzo watched, as she began to load several micro-syringes into her cartridges, keeping them between her fingers for separation, as she pulled back the latch door.

     “I dunno, I kinda like it. S’better than the tough love you and the commander used to dish out,” McCree quipped back, while mimicking her. To Hanzo’s horror, the cowboy removed what appeared to be a six-shot revolver from his side holster. It looked to be older than even Ana, and despite what he’d deduced to be McCree’s attempt at upkeep, Hanzo could see that the revolver had seen its fair share of use. But the most terrifying part, was how Hanzo waited patiently for McCree to reveal another fire-arm….

….and he didn’t.

     “Oh, Jesse! I didn’t realize you still needed your mommy to hold your hand and tuck you in at night,” Ana mocked, and then pulled the loading latch close, before clicking the safety back on to her sniper rifle. While the humor wasn’t lost to Hanzo, he reflected to himself that if McCree truly were looking for a maternal figure, he wouldn’t find one in Captain Amari.

     “Joke’s on you. Someone’s not getting a mother’s day card this year,” McCree teased, and Ana faked a wounded heart in response, before turning to face the two of them frontally.

     “Alright the time for jokes is over. You heard Winston a moment ago; the mission parameters haven’t changed. That means that we will proceed forward in phases. The first phase, is reconnaissance. We have to determine first if the Vishkar truly does have an explosive hidden in the nearby vicinity, and if so, where it is. Should we find that there is one, we will proceed with the next phase of the mission. If there isn’t, then we evacuate. Understood?” As Ana asked, Hanzo nodded, and McCree replied.

     “Yes Ma’am.”

     “I’m going to move for cover. I’ll be in that building over there,” Ana said as she pointed at one of the few buildings tall enough to offer a decent vantage point. It was alarmingly far, even for a sniper rifle. Hanzo knew that Ana’s ability to shoot from uncanny distances had years of evidence logged in testimony. But he also knew that that was when she had both of her eyes. “Under no circumstances are you to come to that building, unless I give the order. Is that clear?”

     “Crystal,” McCree replied. Hanzo simply nodded again.

     “From the map that Winston gave us, the safest entry point is from the east. I want you both to make it there and take separate cover. Wait for my signal, and then proceed forward. Is that clear?”

     “Understood,” McCree replied, and yet again, Hanzo only nodded.

     “You have your orders,” Ana replied, before turning to close and lift her now empty briefcase. “Move out,” Ana ordered, before turning to walk away. She only gave herself a few more walking steps, before pausing to brace herself, and starting into a cold sprint. Hanzo watched as she ran to the edge of the building they stood on, before leaping over to the next roof top. He suddenly felt a twinge of embarrassment, for limping the other day on his knee, before having it fixed.

     It was McCree who snapped him out of his trance. “Don’t beat yourself up about it. S’like I said earlier; she ain’t altogether human. Got some genetic work done to make herself the perfect soldier. Reyes and Morrison did too.” Hanzo couldn’t tell if he felt more comforted or offended that McCree had just read his mind. He didn’t bother to ponder the situation for a second longer. “You ready for this?”

     Hanzo didn’t reply, and instead walked right by McCree, before mimicking Ana. He heard the cowboy mutter something under his breath as he broke into his own brisk run, leaping over to the next building. His childhood tutelage in stealth insured that his leap from roof-top to roof-top was silent, as he kept his eyes alert, darting from side to side in search of anyone who might see him. With no sight of enemy interference, he continued to leap and bound over to the destination.

     He listened behind him for the sound of McCree keeping pace, but when he heard no echoing footsteps, he paused, and took a knee. Surveying the surroundings, he saw no sign of the cowboy, and heard nothing that couldn’t be explained away as typical slum night life. After what felt like another fifteen seconds of searching, he continued on, making more leaps down the favela slope, toward the inner city circle, where the Vishkar construction site was.

     He wouldn’t find McCree again until he was within line of sight of the location. The cowboy simply stepped out of the taxi-cab that he apparently rented, and lit another cigar before blowing out the smoke and walking leisurely toward their destination. To his credit, he hadn’t tipped off any of the security guards that Hanzo could see, but the fact that McCree showed even less urgency than Genji was troubling. He could feel the stress and anxiety welling within him, even as he forced himself to breathe through the annoyance.

     Ana’s voice came over their ear pieces again. “Alright. Maneuver into position. When I give the all clear, I want you both to advance. Hanzo you’ll take the higher levels. McCree, you’ll have to journey down to the basement,” Ana instructed. In the feedback from the ear-piece, Hanzo could hear the faint clicks of her rifle.

    “Copy that,” McCree replied, and Hanzo pressed his own ear piece to reply.

    “Understood,” he said, before tumbling along behind a car, and breaking into a brisk run. He used the nearby vehicles as camouflage, while looking to spot other cameras nearby, doing his best to stay out of their lens span. His tactics carried him along, until he was flat against the outer gate of the Vishkar complex. He looked across to see McCree taking the other side of the gate, his pistol at the ready as he leaned against the wall.

     The two looked to each other briefly, before looking away, waiting for Ana’s signal. But Hanzo’s shoulders hiked when he heard a thud on the other side of the wall, and he sent a puzzled look to his squad partner. McCree however didn’t flinch, still patiently waiting until the last moment to put out his cigar. At last, Ana’s voice came over their ear-pieces again.

     “Advance.”

     McCree smashed his cigar against the wall, before shoving it into his pocket. He span around the wall, coming through the open clearing with his pistol raised, as he turned tactically. Hanzo followed suit, climbing up and over the wall with a small running start. Once he cleared the height, he leapt down and immediately took in his surroundings.

     There were cameras, but the lenses had been shot out with pellets. They hung disabled and useless, clearly no longer in operation. But what held his attention further, were the bodies that appeared near lifeless on the open ground. But upon further inspection, he noticed that they were all sleeping, with tiny darts protruding from their necks. He recognized the material from Ana’s briefcase, and then he realized that it had been she who disabled the outside forces. More terrifying still was her accuracy; she’d managed to land the darts right in the guard’s neck veins, even from that distance.

     “Here,” McCree yelled, and Hanzo looked up in time to see that the cowboy had tossed him what he assumed to be a Vishkar security pass. He caught it, deducing that his squad partner had looted it from one of the now sleeping security guards. With a curt spin McCree moved onward, and Hanzo followed him in. It only took them moments-once inside of the headquarters-to find their respective directions.

     Splitting away, Hanzo proceeded down the hallway past the unmanned front desk. Familiar with the technology, he held his security card up to the black sensor that was mounted on the wall. When the light on the device shined green, he proceeded, carefully pushing open the spotless glass door to make his way to the next floor. Ana’s voice came over his ear-piece again, as he crept up the fire exit stairs.

     “I’ll do my best to call out shots from here. For now, you’ve moved from my field of sight Hanzo. McCree, I have my eye on your area; you’re clear.” Hanzo didn’t bother replying to this one, instead diverting his attention to making his way up the stairs as silently as possible. Once he’d reached the next floor, he used the security pass again, and listened for the unlocking click of the steel door before pulling it open and sliding through.

     The hallway was empty, but to his left there were large open glass windows that stretched from the ceiling to the floor. He disliked that he was exposed to the outside, but again the cover of night made him difficult to see. Still, he pressed his back to the solid wall, hugging it tightly as he advanced down the hallway, eyes warily looking for security cameras. From what he could see, the coast was clear, but his ears heard footsteps coming down the next turn.

     “Hanzo, your immediate left,” came Ana’s voice, but he had already snapped into action. In two bounds he was upon the guard, quickly throwing his bow around the man’s neck. He pulled back against the bow, constricting the security guard’s wind pipe, causing him to choke. The young guard struggled for a few seconds longer, before the fight left his eyes, and his body fell limp against Hanzo’s. When he was sure the guard was unconscious, he laid him on the ground and carried on.

     “There’s a camera around the next corner Hanzo. McCree, you have a security guard coming down the elevator behind you,” Ana called out. Hanzo pressed his back flat against the wall, looking in the reflection of the glass. True to Ana’s words, there was a white security camera perched securely down the next hallway. He figured out the trajectory of his shot, in order to take down the camera without appearing in its scope. Quickly triple-checking his geometry, he pulled an arrow from his quiver and fired the shot, successfully destroying the camera.

     Once the coast was clear, he made his way down the hallway, over to the next corridor. This time he couldn’t hear anything, but Ana made a call that the next passage had two more security guards, talking to each other as they continued on. He waited until he could feel their steps vibrating against the floor. Once he’d mapped out their position in relation to his own, he pounced.

     He disabled the first with a swift kick. The force of the strike knocked the man back against the wall, as his weapon flailed from his arms, and his head bounced forward from the rapid impact. But the second security guard had managed to draw a weapon; a pistol which fired concentrated light. Hanzo barely managed to dodge the blast, before sweeping the guards leg with another kick, and catching him in a strangle-hold grapple.

     He turned to make sure that the first guard was unconscious for good measure, before proceeding. From there, there were only a few more security cameras to disable. He made sure to give the area one last solid sweep before checking in.  

     “All clear,” Hanzo reported, pressing the ear piece lodge in his inner lobes.

     “Confirmed. I see no other guards. Hanzo, do you have any way of gathering intel in your area?” Hearing Ana’s question, Hanzo turned about. The area was flooded with computers and desks, but there was nothing that genuinely seemed to contain any relevant information. As he looked about, he saw business models for improvement, and handling escalated customer situations. There was an employee recognition board as well, but nothing that signified any sign of an explosive.

     “Checking,” Hanzo remarked, before improvising. He took a seat at one of the nearest cubicles, turning on the now sleeping computer. There was a momentary pause, before he was faced with the welcome screen, and then blocked by a password prompt. His specialty had been stealth related combat; not computer hacking. “I cannot breach this. There is a password required.

     “Open one of the windows to your left,” Ana instructed. Hanzo paused for a brief moment, before obeying the order. He snatched a tissue from another nearby desk, using it to fumble with the window latch without leaving fingerprints. Once the latch was disabled, he opened the window. “Take a step to your right,” Ana said, and he obeyed. In a flash, a capsule landed at his feet. He assumed that Ana had fired it in.

     “Be very careful. That capsule contains the algorithm for Athena’s matrix. You must be certain to bring it back with you. Is that clear?” Hanzo broke the capsule, seeing that she’d fired in the rough equivalent of a USB drive.

     “Understood,” Hanzo replied moving back over to his computer. He found the open slot for the drive towards the back of the computer, and slipped the device into place, before peeking back over to the screen. Athena began to work without prompt, disabling the Vishkar security, before granting Hanzo access to the main computer. “I’m in,” Hanzo reported, before snatching two more tissues and laying them over the keyboard and mouse.

     Fortunately for him, he was familiar enough with the Vishkar’s operating system to navigate its files. While searching, he kept a wary eye out for enemy action, but he remained alone and undisturbed. But as he surfed and filtered, he began to realize that whatever information was stored in this computer was meant for the common eye. No matter how thoroughly he searched, there was no information on any bomb.

     “Hanzo, status?” Ana asked the question over the intercom, and he sighed through his nose. He resented having nothing to report.

    “Negative. There’s nothing here,” Hanzo replied, but then he heard McCree pitch in.

     “I need back-up down here!” McCree reported, and Hanzo snatched the drive from the back of the drive. He quickly unplugged the computer, and then plugged it back in, before snatching the tissues and shoving them into his pockets. His eyes scanned the room for the fire exit, and when he found it he dashed over, pushing open the door and vaulting over the stair railings.

     When he reached the ground floor he looked about. Ana’s voice came over the intercom. “Hanzo, down the hall, and to your right.” He ran over, covering his corners, before pushing in the door. He expected McCree to be facing enemy action. Instead, the cowboy was hunched over a large desk, scanning through a computer of his own.

     "Status report?” Ana asked. Hanzo looked to McCree to reply.

     “Looks like the kid was right; the intel was correct,” McCree replied, and Hanzo’s eyes widened. He moved over to the other side of the desk, so that he could see what McCree was seeing. McCree pulled four windows, each of them showing different areas of the favela, under Vishkar surveillance. “Four of ‘em. And they’re timed to detonate tonight.”

     Hanzo swallowed at the sight. There was a clock on each of the video recordings; all four of them perfectly synchronized. He felt a sinking feeling in his gut, his brain already figuring out the obvious; There were only three of them, and four bombs to disable. Not to mention, he didn’t know the first thing about disabling an explosive.

     “How much time do we have until detonation?” Ana asked over the intercoms. Hanzo let McCree answer.

     “Forty-two minutes, and counting.”

     “Then we don’t have time to check in with Winston. I’m assuming sole command from this point forward. Our next course of action is to evacuate the Favela. McCree do you have coordinates?” Hearing Ana’s question, McCree began typing away the computer. Hanzo barely had time to acknowledge his shock that the American was capable of such feats, before a holographic screen appeared in front of him.

     “Forwarded,” McCree replied, and the men waited for Ana’s instructions.

    “Alright. I will secure the northern most point. McCree, I want you to take the one in the western quadrant, and then report back to the construction site for surveillance.”

    “Ten-four,” McCree acknowledged, already jogging away from the office area.

     “Hanzo, take the eastern quadrant, and then report back to me. If we have time, we’ll send you to the southern quadrant,” Ana instructed, and Hanzo nodded to himself.

     “Understood.”

     “Move out,” Ana called, and with that, Hanzo sprinted out of the office after McCree. He vaulted his way up the stairs with long lunges, before pushing the door open, looking to his wrist watch for the time. The nerves that whirled within him propelled him faster as they always had. He learned long ago to turn convert his anxiety into raw energy.

     Clearing the office, he sprinted from the Vishkar construction headquarters, before vaulting up and over the outer gate once more. The holographic screen pinpointed for him the explosive’s exact vicinity as he sprinted, nimbly climbing up to take the high ground before leaping from his vantage point and landing on a slum rooftop. No longer concerned with stealth, Hanzo sprinted across the roofs, and leapt with all of his weight, desperately propelling himself forward through the night air.

     With every leap and bound, he drew closer to te bomb, but the watch on his wrist was unforgiving. Ten minutes had already passed since his time at the Vishkar headquarters. He felt his nerves swell again, even as he closed the distance to the explosive, recognizing the area from the video recording. He only paused briefly, looking about for the nearest residence, before pounding loudly on the door.

     “Evacuate the area! There is a bomb threat! This is not a drill; contact the authorities,” He called out. He repeated himself from building to building, causing enough noise to disturb several residents before resulting to flare arrows into the open sky. The citizens began to rally to him, as the streets soon became flooded with civilians, desperately grabbing their loved ones and prized possessions. They flooded through the open pathways in the night in utter confusion and panic, but Hanzo stayed to make sure that they fled opposite the direction of the bomb.

     Seeing that the Rio de Janiero police force were arriving on the scene, he took a moment to flee himself, finding safe cover before reporting in.

     “Hanzo checking in. The eastern quadrant has been successfully evacuated. Shall I proceed to the next quadrant?” As he asked, he checked his watch, in relation to the map. He could make it, but he needed to leave immediately.

     “Affirmative. The authorities are aware of the situation. Just do what you can, but get out of there before detonation,” Ana instructed, but from the corner of his eye, Hanzo saw movement. A reflection in a street puddle showed a man staring directly down at him from an adjacent rooftop. Hanzo slowly drew an arrow from his quiver, before spinning around and loosing it at his target.

     “Stop!” The arrow hit its mark, landing neatly into the fold of the target’s left pant-leg, pinning his ankle to the floor. As the figure turned to run, the cloth of his pants snagged, causing a staggering hitch to his movement, as Hanzo scaled the wall after him. The man made a split second decision, panicking as he yanked his pant-leg, freeing himself from Hanzo’s arrow. But as he turned to run, he caught a brief glimpse of Hanzo leaping up after him.

     Hanzo gave chase, gaining on the man whom he now realized worked for the Vishkar, judging from the logo on his belt satchel. He’d almost closed the distance before the man made a desperate leap off of the rooftop, and onto another one nearby. Hanzo leapt after him, but when he landed on the panel it shattered beneath their combined weight, causing both of them to plummet through the roof, landing on the floor!

     The building was abandoned, save for the cockroaches that skittered away at the sound of intruders. But there was no cushion to soften the blow that Hanzo’s legs took upon impact. The Vishkar grunt faired better, landing instead on his hands, and the balls of his feet. But as he went to dash for the door, Hanzo shot an arrow over the grunt’s shoulder, the force of the shot going through the door, and carrying it closed.

     Trapped, the Vishkar grunt turned to face Hanzo, like a cornered cat. He drew a pistol from his side, firing a blast of concentrated light in the form of a laser. The shot barely missed Hanzo, who dashed forward to close the distance. He would use his melee skills instead, now that the distance between them was no longer in his favor.

     With an upward strike, he managed to knock away the man’s hand, who in response fired his light blaster at the wall. Hanzo closed his open fingers around the man’s wrist, twisting it against the grunt’s form, making him yell in agony. Having no choice, the grunt dropped his light blaster, and Hanzo kicked it to the side, well out of their reach. But while he was distracted, the Vishkar grunt gave Hanzo a swift kick to the abdomen.

     Hanzo backed away, recovering after having the wind knocked out of his diaphragm. He’d managed to find his footing just in time, as the Vishkar grunt made a mad dash toward him, telegraphing a right hook. Hanzo ducked, letting the grunt’s punch go clean over his head, before reaching up and catching his arm. His next movement was swift, but precise, placing his upside-down palm flat on the grunt’s belly. Then, with the strength of his legs he lifted himself and the grunt upward, using the grunt’s momentum against him as he flipped him. The grunt landed flat on his back, and heaved from the impact.

     Hanzo moved around the grunt as he struggled to recover from the impact of the flip. He stood over him, placing the ball of his foot on the Vishkar grunt’s sternum to hold him in place as he quickly knocked an arrow, drawing it back to let the man know that their game was over. The Vishkar grunt panicked, looking from the metallic point of Hanzo’s arrow up to the browns of his eyes.

    “Deactivate the last bomb,” Hanzo commanded, pulling back on the bow to augment his threat. The grunt threw his hands up over his face and began to panic. Hanzo could recognize that he was speaking Hindi, but he hadn’t yet learned to wield the language. But he recognized the look in his eyes as a universal sign. This man was just going to his job. He had no idea what Hanzo was talking about!

     Realizing at once that the man had seen too much, Hanzo swallowed before delivering a swift blow to the Vishkar grunt’s head, knocking him unconscious. He stepped off of him, staggering for a moment as he let his shoulders relax, but then he tensed again hearing his ear-piece fire up.

     “Hanzo, are you in position? Status report now!” Had Ana been talking to him the entire time? He hadn’t noticed during the fight. He stole a glance at the time on his wrist. Only seventeen minutes on the clock! He pressed his fingers to the ear-piece before speaking.

     “No, I’m on my way,” he replied, before running for the door.

     “You won’t make it in time. Stand down,” Ana commanded, and Hanzo staggered for a moment. He looked at the time again, feeling his heart race.

     “I can make it,” He reasserted over the coms, running forward before climbing over another rooftop.

     “Stand down. That’s an order,” Ana repeated, but Hanzo ignored her. This had been his fault. He would have been there on time had he not chased down a dead end. He needed to save these people. He couldn’t just let them die!

     He vaulted from roof-top to roof-top, running as fast as he possibly could. His legs raced against the clock, as he pushed himself to the limit of his physical capability, the world around him blurring as his eyes focused onto what was directly in front of him. Out of roof-tops to leap to, he leapt from his last platform before dashing on the favela pavement, recognizing the area from the video feed that McCree had uncovered earlier.

     As he rushed ahead, he looked about for some way to alert the town at large. But there were no bells that he could shoot, no alarms that he could trigger. He couldn’t even find a fire hydrant to disrupt, not that it would have the desired effect. But he needed something to gather everyone’s attention. He could hear his own heartbeat in his ears!

     “Shimada take cover!” Hanzo looked to his right just in time to see McCree barreling toward him. The cowboy had both arms outstretched, grabbing Hanzo and spinning so that he slammed him up against a wall. Hanzo felt his vision blur as he slipped out of consciousness for the moment, feeling his back and head hit the wall from the slam. But then a deafening explosion flooded the area and Hanzo’s disorientation claimed him.

     He fell to the floor, vision blurred as his lungs collapsed inside of him. From what little clarity he had left, he could see McCree hunched forward, and crawling across the ground. He’d snatched off his serape and tossed it aside as he writhed in pain, and everything around them was on fire! 

     .....He failed...!

 

 

Chapter Text

     A cold splash of water to the face made Hanzo sit upright. He yelled, unaccustomed to the harsh awakening, and immediately reached for his bow. He found it at his side and calmed down when he realized that he wasn’t in harm’s way. Or at least...not yet.

     “How many fingers am I holding up?” Ana asked the question while clearly displaying three fingers. He looked from her hand to the surroundings. They were still on the outskirts of the Favela. He could see fire trucks in the distance putting out the flames of the explosion, and his heart plummeted inside of his chest. “Hanzo!” Ana barked, and he snapped out of his trance.  

     “Three.”

     “Are you experiencing any pain? Is your head throbbing? Can you stand?” He pondered her question for a moment. His arms and legs ached from fatigue, and he could feel the bruise on his back from where he’d been shoved up against the wall, but other than that he was  fine. His legs complained as he moved to stand, clenching his fists and curling his toes for good measure. Every inch of him was in operation.

     “No,” he replied.

     Ana looked him over once more, trying to find the lie in his response. When she was satisfied, she said “watch him,” before pointing and turning away. He followed the direction of her point, seeing that she had gestured to the unconscious McCree, who sat propped up against a wall. The remains of his serape were draped over him like a blanket, but Hanzo could still see the burn marks on the fabric.

     Though his complexion had blackened with minor discoloration, the burning had not reached McCree’s skin. Or if it had, it must have been healed with a dose of Mercy’s formula from Ana’s rifle. Either way, McCree hadn’t suffered any damage to his flesh-arm. At a glance, Hanzo could see that he was breathing, and that comforted him. He remembered how McCree had just saved his life seconds ago.

     Minutes ago, he corrected, looking at the time. He crouched down before sitting on his knees, pulling back the sleeve of McCree’s shirt. Again he remarked how the man had no soulmate mark as he felt for his pulse. The pace was normal. He simply wasn’t conscious.

     “Hey, thank you all again,” Hanzo turned at the familiar yet unfamiliar voice. He’d heard it before on the hologram projector, but there was a weight to it in person. He recognized Lúcio as he skated over to Ana and himself, dreadlocks swaying back and forth even as he stopped. The neon lights of his outfit shined bright in the dark night, and the green of it reminded him of his brother. Ana put away her hologram tablet in order to address him directly. “You saved all these people!”

     “It was your actions that called us here, Lúcio. And your intel was correct; the Vishkar were directly involved in a bomb threat,” Ana explained. “And if it weren’t for your immediate response to my distress signal, we wouldn’t have been able to clear the last quadrant.”

     “I’m just glad to know there’s still good people out there. These days our cries for help go straight to voicemail, especially if it’s about the Vishkar. And you can bet they’re gonna make it look like they had nothin’ to do with this,” Lúcio replied. 

     “Not if we can help it,” Ana said, as she tossed a USB drive over to Lúcio. “Taken from the hard-drive of one of the Vishkar computers. Make a copy, then hand one over to the authorities-anonymously. And to one that you trust if you can. The other needs to go directly to the press. We have it on good authority that the Vishkar’s political connections are vastly outreaching. They may bury this, but if we can get the conversation started-“

     “...Then we can make a difference,” Lúcio finished for her, and she nodded. “Aw, that’s wassup! This helps so much, I can’t thank you enough!

     “You helped me save my boy. Call us even,” Ana replied, and Hanzo understood that she was talking about McCree. He deduced that the two of them must have pulled them from the area, both of them smaller and shorter than the pair of men. He took a sharp breath through his nose, experiencing simultaneous guilt and embarrassment. “Lúcio...the press may villainize you as an anarchist, but I’ve seen who you are first hand. Would you be interested in joining us?” Hanzo’s eye’s widened as he looked between the two of them.

     “Who’s us?” As Lucio asked the question, Ana threw him a chip with what they all recognized as the former Overwatch emblem.

     “A group of people like yourself, fighting for what we believe in.” Lúcio clutched the chip in his hand, holding it to his chest before responding.

     “Whaaaaaat? No way! Overwatch? Yo, are you serious right now? Like...dead ass? This is...! I’m….” Lúcio began, but Hanzo saw the light fade from his eyes, as he looked past Ana, at the crowds of people, desperate for guidance in their next move. “...I’m flattered ma’am...really! But…I can’t leave. These people…I’m all they got…” he explained with a disheartened shrug.“Thanks again for answering the distress signal but…if you were here to recruit me, I gotta turn you down.”

     “Hah,” Ana laughed with a smirk. “I’m not used to the offer being refused, I must admit. But I admire you, Lúcio. This Favela is in great hands, if you’re at the wheel.” Lúcio smiled in response to Ana’s words. “The authorities are handling crowd control so you’re all clear. But you must do exactly as I instructed.”

     “I will,” Lúcio said, holding out the Overwatch chip for Ana to take back.

     “Keep it. If you need help, you have it,” Ana said. “Be careful.”

     “Thank you,” Lúcio said, nodding to her and then to Hanzo, before skating off on his roller blades. Ana watched him roll off, surveying the area once more before turning back and pulling out the radio communicator from earlier. Hanzo no longer had his communicator in his ear, but he had surmised that she was talking to Winston, and calling for the shuttle. He waited until after the communication device was put away, before approaching.

     “Shall I carry him?” He asked, and Ana shook her head.

     “He hasn’t woken up yet. Any longer and we’re going to have to consider a different approach,” she said, moving back over to assess McCree’s physical state. The tension was awkward, and Hanzo could feel in his stomach that he had done something wrong.

     “...I am sorry,” he confessed, the silence cutting into him. It was strange, how he felt like a child again. It was as if he had done something to displease his mother, and now she was giving him the silent treatment. No doubt waiting for him to punish himself so that she wouldn’t have to.

     “You should be,” Ana said pointedly, and his lips thinned across his face. “You disobeyed a direct order from your field commander, the result of which endangered both yourself and your fellow operative. I am not sure how hierarchy worked in your organization Hanzo, but my orders are in fact orders. Not suggestions.”

     Hanzo felt the shame wash over him. He had failed his first mission by making a rookie’s mistake. He searched his brain, trying to retrace his steps and reevaluate his thought pattern. But no matter how he repositioned himself in his mind’s eye, he knew that his own actions had caused McCree harm.

     “Nngh…” McCree groaned, as he leaned his head up. “Feels like I got hit by a truck,” he mumbled, looking at his ruined serape and singed shirt sleeves.

     “I’ve seen worse,” Ana quipped, before shining a light into his eyes. Hanzo stepped back, giving her room to work on him and make sure that he was in form. It seemed-from where he stood-that Mercy’s formula had done the trick. These routine checks were probably just a safety precaution. Apart from his ruined clothing, McCree looked and acted like his normal self.

     In time the cowboy rose from the ground, gathering his belongings and double checking his pistol. When he had Ana’s seal of approval, he walked behind her as they made their way together back to the shuttle.

 

********************** 

 

     Hanzo laid still, with his back flat against the futon in his bedroom. He kept one knee up, while the other leg laid lazily outstretched as he stared up at the ceilings. After three attempts at meditation he had given up, choosing instead to face the tortures of his mind. He critiqued himself without tire, letting the thoughts of ‘what he could have done better’ circle in his mind until the cycle competed itself and began again.

     The ride home had been quiet, with only minor discourse between Ana and McCree. The trio arrived back to Spain around midnight. Ana called ahead to Winston, giving him a brief rundown of the mission’s events. She was to provide her full report in the morning after a night’s rest. She led the trio to the entrance of the Gibraltar, before parting ways and retiring to her own chambers.

     But McCree had been injured in the line of duty, and at both Ana and Mercy’s insistence, he was to be brought to the medical bay upon his return. The cowboy made slight protest aboard the shuttle, insisting that he was fine apart from needing a new shirt.  But Ana only humored him for three minutes and then the request became an order.

     Mercy had been waiting for them when they arrived, dressed in her usual white lab-coat. She had a cup of coffee for herself in one hand, while she reviewed McCree’s medical file with her free hand, scrolling up and down the dossier. When McCree stepped up, she turned away immediately and he trailed in after her as if this were routine for the two of them. Their shoes clopped against the metal floors of the shuttle, as they marched wordlessly to the medical bay.  Hanzo paused at the door, watching them walk away before deciding to return to his own chambers.

     And now here he laid, staring at the ceiling and searching for redemption, for what he thought might be the last time. He had failed on his first mission, disobeyed a direct order, and his actions put another teammate in danger. He only briefly tried to defend himself in his mind, posing the counter-argument of why McCree had even come that way at all? But it was a position that he couldn’t defend; he knew the truth. If McCree hadn’t pulled him out of the way of that explosion, it would be him in the medical bay.

     Now that his back had tired of this position, he shifted, sitting up-right and cross-legged on his futon and staring out the window at the night sky. He couldn’t make out anything in particular, because of the station lights blinding out the stars. But he wasn’t trying to. He was simply searching for a resting place to lay his eyes, before he retreated back into his own consciousness to torment himself further. He settled on an uninteresting drain pipe far across the outdoor walkway, giving him a stationary target to focus on while he contemplated his own self-loathing.

     But he only made it halfway through his own disparaging lecture, when he heard a knock outside of his door. It startled him, shaking him from his lamentation, in exchange for panic. His time on the run from the Shimada-clan had taught him to always keep an ear open for enemy action. If this were an assassin, he would never have heard them coming. Another subject to berate himself over, after he answered the door.

     Hanzo stretched his leg outward into a wide open split, before gently placing the ball of his foot on the ground, and then pressing down with force. He stood without sound, like that cats the he studied in his youth to perfect his stealth. His eyes quickly scanned the room for a weapon out of habit, finding his bow well within arm’s reach. But a synthetic voice crept under the crack of his door.

     “Are you still awake?” It was Genji. Hanzo sighed, only taking a slight comfort at not hearing his brother earlier. He moved across the room and opened the hatch, watching as the mechanical door slid out of sight. Genji stood before him, though his usual tuft of hair had been shoved into a slouchy beanie-hat. He wore a long sleeved grey-shirt that hid most of his cybernetic body, and plain green pajama bottoms that spilled over his slippers. Were it not for his cybernetic jawline, Hanzo remarked to himself that he would have appeared fully human. “May I come in?”

     Hanzo turned away without word, going back to sit on his own futon but leaving the door open so that Genji understood that he could enter. He listened as his brother took his slippers off at the door, before stepping in and closing the hatchet door behind him. Genji turned on the light but kept it dim so as not to hurt either of their eyes, as Hanzo reclaimed his position against the wall. They stayed together in silence for a moment until Hanzo became uncomfortable, and looked up to his brother.

     “What are you doing here?”

     “Checking on you,” Genji replied, crossing his arms over his chest as he leaned against the wall opposite his brother’s futon. “I figured that you would be in here driving yourself insane. Was I wrong?”

     “Tch,” Hanzo scoffed, looking away as he grabbed one of his own pillows. It bothered him that Genji had already heard of his failure. Word of the mission report must have quickly circulated the scarecely populated base. He fussed with the stitching of the pillow, finding a loose seam and wrapping it around his finger so that he could yank it away. He hadn’t answered the question, but Genji chuckled to himself.

     “Same old Hanzo,” Genji teased. Hanzo shot his brother an irritated glare, before tossing the pillow aside.

     “You should be asleep. It is late,” Hanzo said already tired of the cyborg’s taunting.

     “I stay up when Angela has patients at late hours.” Hanzo felt his stomach plummet. He’d forgotten to chastise himself for making Mercy stay up late to correct his error. And now Genji was awake too, waiting for his soulmate to join him. “Sometimes she works too hard and ends up falling asleep at her desk. I make sure that she makes it to bed for a full night’s rest.”

     Hanzo looked down at his crossed legs, dragging his loose hair over one shoulder with his finger so that it didn’t tug when he then leaned back against the wall. He weighed his options in his mind, debating on what he wanted to say next. There were actually several conversations that he wanted to have, but at the same time he didn’t feel like speaking at all. At least...not yet. “Just apologize, brother.”

     Hanzo looked up to Genji, his brows furrowed with a wrinkle in the crook of his nose. Genji stared back at him, unfazed by the expression. “You will feel better if you own up to your mistake, rather than sit here and mope.”

     “I do not mope.” Hanzo lied in denial. He was in fact waiting for Genji to leave so that he could continue moping. After thirty-eight years of living this way, he had no intention to change.

     “You have always made this exact same face when you mope. Even when we were children.” Hanzo rolled his eyes. “No matter what happens tomorrow, I have seen McCree come back from much worse. If something has happened to him, it is probably far less severe than what you are saying to yourself in your own mind.”

     “You may leave now. I am tired,” Hanzo said, as he looked pointedly at his wall, and away from Genij. He was ready to return to solitude, having no futher interest in his brother’s words. Genji paused for a moment, looking to his brother before leaning up and off the wall and stepping toward the door.

     “Just try it my way for once, Hanzo. Say what you feel, rather than keeping it inside. If you do not like it, you can return to your ways. But you will never know how much simpler things can be, if you do not try.” Hanzo’s expression softened as he listened to his brother’s words. He looked down at the cross of his legs again. “Good night, brother.”

     Hanzo waited for Genji to leave, and listened for the closing of his chamber doors. The sound of Genji’s footsteps began to fade as he made his way further down the Gibraltar hallways and out of ear-shot. Alone again, Hanzo let his head hit the wall with a thud, before turning the lights all the way back down, and blending into the late night hues off set by the streetlights outside.

     Sleep would not come to him this night. He already knew that he was fated to an irregular evening. Somewhere between his own guilt and the time lapse between Brazil and Spain, his body had decided to wage war against the evening. He would have to stay up for as long as he could, and then manually adjust his sleep schedule the next day.

     He only chastised himself for another hour before his own critiques began to sound like a broken record, eventually deciding to read. At first he busied himself by reading through the Overwatch profiles again, sifting through whatever Athena would grant him access to without a higher level of clearance. He had hoped that the information would be boring enough to coerce his mind into taking an early rest.

     He was mistaken. It had quite the opposite effect. He knew about Overwatch and a few of its members from his days in the Shimada clan. He anticipated the day that the two organizations would oppose each other, so it was best to know his enemy before the time came. But there were so many other things that he simply didn’t know.

    He focused his research for the evening on the original members of Overwatch, when the first initiative was led by Commander Gabriel Reyes, the American super-soldier. He remembered the name from the conversation the night before, between Ana and McCree. From his profile picture, he was a stern looking man with dark skin and pronounced features. Hanzo could see from the photo that he was beginning to strain under the weight of leadership. It was an expression that he’d recognized from his own mirror.

     He read about the commander, looking for any information that he could find, but each trail inevitably led to a dead end. Commander Reyes’ operations were usually classified, and he needed a higher clearance level in order to look into the forums in which Reyes had commented. Instead, he redirected his investigation toward the other founding members.

     Now having met her, Hanzo could picture the events and operations that featured Captain Amari in his mind with relative ease. She had worked her way up from the Egyptian military, to lieutenant behind Commander Reyes, and then to second-in-command to Strike Commander Morrison. Though her profile wasn’t as tightly locked as Commander Reyes’, there were still numerous files for which he needed a higher clearance to obtain.

     He kept moving, now studying the profile of Strike Commander Jack Morrison, another American. It seems that whatever operation Commander Reyes’ went under to become a super-soldier, Commander Morrison had endured the same thing. Noticing a pattern between the three profiles, Hanzo began triangulating any correlations, to uncover what he could from his own clearance level. He hadn’t uncovered much more, but the three of them came into frequent contacts with each other. He deduced that at one point, the three of them had formed a trinity of sorts.

    But when he’d hit every block that he could, he instead switched his focus to Torbjörn Lindholm, chief engineer of the first Overwatch initiative. The Swedish Engineer’s documents were plentiful, and open to his clearance level. It seemed that many of the weapons and features that he had seen around the Gibraltar had been of Lindholm’s personal making. He found in particular a forum discussion about what he now recognized as the prototype design of Ana’s current biotic sniper rifle. It had been Lindholm who had drafted the original version. And true to her story, Mercy had opposed him every step of the way.

     Lastly, his investigation led him to Lieutenant Reinhardt Wilhelm. He recognized the man from many of the posters that he’d seen in Japan. The German towered above the others, in and out of his armor. It seemed in many ways that he was the face of the group, whenever addressing the public in an unofficial capacity. Commander Morrison handled the more diplomatic and decisive reports on Overwatch as a whole, but it had been Wilhelm who garnered much of the publicity. And to the pleasure of everyone around him, he milked it for all that it was worth.

     These studies kept Hanzo occupied until he’d noticed a change in the lighting. He glanced at the clock and saw that the hours had drifted by. It hadn’t happened yet, but soon the sun would climb over the horizon and take its place in the sky. Thinking that this may be his last time to see it from here, Hanzo gathered his hair into a low bun and slipped into a pair of sweatpants fit for the outside, and clutching a pair of sandals.

    He stepped into the sandals outside of his bedroom, before closing the hatch behind him and making his way down the hallways toward the front entrance. He had Athena disable the security system so that he could open the gate, and step outside to feel the chilled morning air. He didn’t wait long, as he turned around and assessed a good angle. Finding the right strike point, he leapt.

     His feet pressed firmly against the wall as he jumped from one wall to the other, making his way to the rooftop. He lifted himself up and over the roof’s ledge, and then repositioned in order to sit on his knees. He’d had the pleasure of taking this moment to himself for a few minutes, but then his ears perked to the sound of a hatchet door being opened.

     Hanzo turned around to see who it was, unaccustomed to being joined at this hour. He was an early riser out of habit, enjoying the solitude of the morning which was never so promised at any other time of the day. It was rare for him to meet another who would be up at this hour. For a moment he feared that it had been Winston, coming to discharge him from the premesis immediately. But Jesse McCree had come through the rooftop hatch with a thick blanket and a bottle of whiskey.

     The cowboy took a few steps forward before he realized that he wasn’t alone. The two of them locked eyes for the moment, before McCree blinked, and continued over toward Hanzo. Hanzo cursed under his breath as McCree claimed the seat next to him at the roof’s ledge. The cowboy threw his feet over the edge, sitting comfortably before unfolding his blanket and wrapping it over his own shoulders, and untwisting his bottle cap. “Come here often?”

     The expression hadn’t escaped Hanzo’s recognition. He’d heard it enough in American sitcoms. It was strange for him to see McCree without his ridiculous hat. But it seemed that he had already showered. His hair was freshly washed and fell over the sides of his face lightly, rather than being weighed down by the grease and sweat from earlier. Hanzo heard Genji’s words repeat in his mind from earlier. He thought about what he would say, and how he would say it. He had apologized before, certainly, but it was often out of formal obligation or spite. But this time he had been in genuine error, which was something that he was honestly unaccustomed to. He didn’t tolerate error in others, so he made certain to never tolerate it in himself.

     But before he could say anything, McCree had held out his bottle of whiskey, with an arched inquisitive eyebrow. “Want a swig?” Hanzo instinctively scowled, looking first from the bottle, then to McCree, and lastly away. The cowboy shrugged and took another sip himself. “More for me then.”

     They sat together a little longer in silence, as Hanzo awkwardly contemplated doing the unthinkable. He thought to himself that he didn’t need to see the sunrise that badly. He could just jump down from the roof from here, steal a private shower and retire to his chambers again. But he had waited too long. To leave without word now...would honestly just be awkward. He breathed in through his nose, before closing his eyes and counting down from ten. When the words gathered themselves at last, he brought himself together to ask “How are you feeling?”

     McCree turned to look at him, and Hanzo motioned to where he was burned. “Oh...that. S’like it never happened. The doc’s medicine is pretty top notch. I don’t even feel it.”

     “You were on fire.”

     “Well shucks...Thanks,” McCree laughed, taking another sip. “You didn’t do too bad yourself ya know.”

     “No...I meant you were actually on fire. The flames burned a hole in your shirt before we both passed out.”

     “Oh…yeah that shirt’s tarnished now. Gotta remember to buy another one next time I’m off duty,” McCree said to himself, with a thoughtful expression. He set the bottle aside for a moment, before wrapping himself deeper into his blanket. It was chilly. Hanzo criticized himself for not thinking to bring his own blanket. But the sunrise was already beginning to brighten the sky. He could tough the cold for a few more minutes.

     “I like the sunrise, you know?” Hanzo turned to face Jesse as he spoke. “It’s weird. I don’t know when it happened...maybe late twenties…but I became a morning person. There’s something about seeing the sun in the morning, when it first pops up like this. Can’t quite put my finger on it.”

     Hanzo looked out into the distance for a moment. “It is the dawning of a new day. The comfort of a new chance.”

     “I s’pose you’re right,” McCree said, untwisting the cap of his bottle again. Hanzo clenched his fists, before releasing them calmly onto his own lap.

     “McCree...I owe you an apology.” Hanzo could feel McCree looking over to him, but he didn’t dare look back. “I made a poor decision during our mission, which put both of us in jeopardy. You appear unharmed, but that does not erase the error on my part.” To Hanzo’s irritation he heard McCree snicker!

     “...I reckon that was pretty tough for you to say. S’no big deal Shimada,” McCree said, before correcting himself. “Hanzo, I mean. Trust me, we’ve all had worse.”

     “Be that as it may, I wish to make amends,” Hanzo said, clutching on to the fronts of his pants where they bundled at his knees. “Please, tell me what I can do to make things right.” He felt humiliated, but at the exact same time...oddly relieved.

     “...I can think of something...” McCree said after a long pause, and Hanzo turned to face him. He had a cheeky smirk as he held out his bottle again. “Take a swig, and all is forgiven.”

     Hanzo looked at the bottle in utter disgust once more, before calming the wrinkle that knotted on the bridge of his nose. He exhaled and closed his eyes.

     “...One drink, and you will forgive me...?”

     “...Just one...” McCree persisted. Hanzo took a deep breath, before taking the bottle from McCree. He untwisted the cap before looking down at the brown liquor. He steeled his nerves before closing his eyes and tipping the bottle upward and pressing it to his lips. He took a measurable drink, before swallowing it down and handing the bottle back over.

     The liquor burned as it slid down his throat, and the after taste was foul and wretched. But he kept his face still in spite of it all, feeling McCree’s expectant eyes waiting for a reaction. “...It is not the worst thing that I have tasted...” Hanzo remarked and McCree chuckled lightly.

     “What’s it gonna take for me to get you try another? Maybe this one’s a bit too casual. I’ve got a bourbon that’s been aging pretty well.”

     “That chance will not come, I’m afraid. Ana will report my failure to Winston within the hour. My time here at Overwatch has come to an end.” Hanzo actually felt a twinge of remorse as he said those words. He hadn’t realized that this had come to mean something to him, or that he didn’t have a plan for what he was going to do next. His transition back to Japan would be rocky, but he could resume his old life.

     “You worry too much,” McCree said after a pause. Hanzo looked over to him, and then back at the sun as it peaked above the horizon lines. “The mission was a success overall, and there were no casualties. ‘Sides, as far as I’m concerned, I’d sooner go back out there with you than your brother.” McCree took another sip of his whiskey, but now he had Hanzo’s full attention.

     “Is that so?

     The cowboy glanced over to Hanzo with an arched eyebrow, as he took another drink. “...Oh yeah,” McCree chuckled. “Me and Genji went on missions together all the time back in the day. Now HE was crazy! I mean don’t get me wrong; I do some dumb shit myself from time to time, but if the mission wasn’t dangerous enough as it was, Genji would find a way to make it dangerous. Come to find out, it was just so he’d have an excuse to go see the doc, but man...he’d sure drag me through it with him.” 

     “That sounds like my brother,” Hanzo said, with an exasperated headshake.

     “A mess and a half, that one. Oh man, and he’d taunt the people we were fighting all the time. I mean we’re supposed to be on a black-ops mission, y’know? So I’ve got my silencer on, and I’m droppin’ ‘em best as I can. But then I look over and see him flipping all through the air, and he’s over there saying something in Japanese-“

     “Mada-mada,” Hanzo mimicked Genji’s voice in Japanese the way that only a sibling can. The impression was uncanny.

     “That’s it! That’s the one,” McCree laughed, and Hanzo smirked along with him. “Oh man, and if the doc ever came out with us, I swear on my life he’d find a way to get hurt. It happened every time, without fail. You’re thinking the whole mission is done, and we’ve made it through with no problems. But then sure enough he’d be on the intercoms. ‘I need healing,” McCree teased.

     “I require healing,” Hanzo added, and the two of them chuckled together once again. “He did the same when we were growing up, to flirt with the nurses. It could be as simple as a paper-cut, but my brother would swear it were more akin to a stab wound and seek medical attention.”

     “Don’t I know it,” McCree laughed. Hanzo smiled for just a moment longer, before his face drooped back to its normal resting frown. After a light hearted chuckle, the two of them sat in silence, and watched as the sun climbed high enough to turn the skies blue. But Hanzo noticed that the guilt from before had vanished. His brother had been right.

     As the minutes continued, Hanzo felt the fight leave his eyes, as his body finally submitted to the fatigue. Gathering his strength, he rocked back onto the balls of his feet before standing up. “I take my leave. Thank you, McCree. Both for your words, and for the drink,” Hanzo said, before walking up to the ledge.  

    “So is that a yes to another drink sometime?” McCree asked with an arched brow. Hanzo turned away.

    “...We’ll see...” And with that, Hanzo leapt from the roof and jumped from a second ledge, before landing nimbly on the ground. He had Athena let him back into the building, and then retired to his chambers for a shower, and then a morning’s rest.

Chapter Text

  It wasn’t like him to hide this way. For the majority of his life, he’d had the entirety of the Shimada estate to call his own. Save for his parents’ offices and the shrine of the fallen, he could go anywhere he wanted, and at any time that he liked. There were guards of course to keep the area safe, but they were trained to be as ghosts, lurking in the unseen shadows to watch over the family from a noninvasive distance.

  In comparison, the Gibraltor was a fortress of stark contrast. No one was looking for him there; presumably because they didn’t know where to look. But he felt more trapped here than he ever did at home, as a known and acknowledged Yakuza heir. The members of the Overwatch resurgence all operated at different times of the day, for the entire twenty-four hours. There was never a time when he could walk to the kitchen without risk of bumping into someone. And then he would have to endure the rigors of an actual conversation.

  What worried him more, was the notion that if he ran into Ana or Winston, they might suddenly remember that his insubordination almost jeopardized not only one of their oldest and most experienced members, but an entire Favela of innocent people. Not even sleep could wash away the guilt that threatened to crawl up his throat and out of his lips at any given moment. He understood in his mind that hiding out in his room this way was futile; they would find him eventually. It was just that he took both comfort and discomfort in the fact that he hadn’t been summoned yet.

  But even as he tried to fight it, the ache in his stomach had become too irritating to push off any longer. He needed to eat something, and that meant that he needed to get off of his futon, open his hatchet door, and brave the hallway to the kitchen. The risk of external interference was high by his calculation. The hour was only midday, and he was certain to find someone else there, even if it wasn’t Ana or Winston. But his stomach wouldn’t wait much longer before becoming embarrassingly impolite.

  He stood up, grabbing a hair-tie and twisting his loose hair into a top-knot at the back of his head. He exchanged his casual wear for a long sleeved burgundy shirt that he pulled up to the elbow, and a pair of grey slacks with matching shoes. With a deliberate exhale, he opened the shuttle door to his room and stepped out into the hallway, hearing the door shut behind him.

  He’d made the conscious decision to forgo asking Athena for directions any longer. In what little spare time he had, he’d since managed to plot a map in his mind of the Gibraltar station, in regards to all of the places he had been. And more importantly, he’d plotted several immediate pathways to an exit should he need one. It only took him a few twists and turns to make his way to the kitchen. And just as he’d expected, it had been crowded.

  Despite his silence, and his desire to return to something of a normal attire, Genji almost always stuck out like a sore thumb. It was the juxtaposition of the harsh metal of his jawline, in contrast to the flesh of his skin; an unmistakable abnormality that Hanzo had to make a conscious effort not to stare at, lest he strain what little remained of their sibling relationship. Genji sat on the couch, cross legged across the room. And from the energy signature that was radiating from his sitting form, Hanzo could tell that his brother wasn’t happy.

  Angela sat next to him, holding a coffee mug and sitting so that her legs folded to the side like a mermaid. She had her back turned to Genji as she smiled, engaging in conversation with another woman, whose appearance and voice were both strikingly familiar. The moment after he noticed McCree standing at the refrigerator and tainting the milk with his touch, he made the connection. He’d just seen Fareeha ‘Pharah’ Amari, for the first time outside of her mech-suit. Ana’s daughter, while an entire head taller than her mother, bore a striking resemblance to her.

  “Well, if it isn’t Hanzo in the light of day,” McCree announced to Hanzo’s annoyance. Hanzo was thankful that the others didn’t seem to hear him.“S’weird, seeing you mingling with the common rabble. Kinda like seeing an old teacher in public,” McCree teased, and Hanzo scowled, moving right by him. He’d remembered that the food in the kitchen was public domain, if it wasn’t specifically labelled as otherwise. He managed to quickly secure bread for himself, before looking into the refrigerator resources. There were ample ingredients before him, but he had no interest in anything that would take more than five minutes to prepare. That’s what Omnics were for.

  “Aw c’mon now. Don’t tell me even after our morning conversation you still haven’t warmed up to me?”

  “I apologized, and you forgave me. Is there more that we need to discuss?” Hanzo intended it to be a rhetorical question, as if talking down to one of his subordinates. But McCree answered him anyway.

  “Absolutely. That is…if you’re in the mood for a little office hear-say.” Hanzo paused for a moment, between setting the sliced vegetables and deli meat on the slices of bread for a sandwich, to look to McCree. The Cowboy only nodded over to where the three others sat on the couch, with a mischievous smirk. Hanzo picked up on the notion, and glanced over to them as well.

  “What is wrong?” Hanzo asked, much quieter this time, as he feigned spreading mustard on the bread with a knife. McCree leaned in closer to keep their conversation private.

  “You see them flames flickerin’ at the top of Genji’s head?” Hanzo knew it was an exaggeration, but it wasn’t far from the truth. Genji was displaying blatant signs of irritation. “He’s jealous.”

  “Jealous?”

  “Mmmhm. Jury’s out on whether or not the Doc knows, but just about anyone with a pair of eyes can see that Amari jr. over there’s got a thing for her.” Hanzo’s eyes widened, as he looked from McCree, back over to the girls sitting on the couch. There was a degree of intimacy in the way that they interacted, but this was something that he simply attributed to women. He hadn’t suspected any ulterior motive in their conversation. But as he watched on, he could see how their interaction blurred the line between gabbing friends, and flirtatious exchange.

  “But…isn’t that futile?” Hanzo asked, and McCree looked back to him, waiting for him to elaborate. Hanzo double checked before he continued, making a point to look over at their hands. Despite their spiritual betrothal, neither Angela nor his brother wore engagement rings; a matter that he hadn’t even thought of before. Once a soulmate had been declared, there was no need to trouble one’s self with the rituals of courtship.  The universe had decided they were fated to one another. Why hadn’t they made it official?

  “Listen, the doc and I go back, but we never talked about…that sorta thing. She could be into ladies too for all I know; it’s possible. They still pretendin’ that sorta thing donesn’t happen in Japan?” McCree didn’t bother to wait for Hanzo’s response before looking back over to the couch. Hanzo decided to change the subject. He wouldn’t be the one to tell McCree, if he didn’t already know that Genji and Angela were soulmates. It was a private and sensitive topic, even for a sibling relationship as troubling as their own.

  “No, I just….I thought that Genji and Dr. Ziegler were already monogamous is all,” Hanzo whispered back, before closing his sandwich. He grabbed an apple from the counter fruit basket, before washing it off in the sink. But between rotations, he couldn’t help but let his gaze flicker up to the love triangle on the couch before him. People watching had become his only pastime in the years he spent in solitude. He found it even more entertaining in this instance however, having at least some of the story first hand.

  “Apparently so did he,” McCree said mockingly, moving to Hanzo’s other side and turning his back.  The cowboy made motions to wipe off the counter top and clean up the area. But from where he stood, Hanzo could see that everything had already been cleaned spotless. Recently, even. “Kinda funny ain’t it? Watchin’ him squirm like that? Man, I live for this stuff.”

  “How long have you been in here?” Hanzo asked knowingly. McCree shot him back a look that meant that Hanzo was absolutely on the right track. The cowboy stood in place, caught red-handed like the villain at the end of a mystery novel, whose identity had finally been solved by the main protagonist.

  “Cut me some slack Han,” McCree said, with a tone a little too sly for comfort. He tossed the paper-towel that he feigned using into the recycling bin, before moving back over to Hanzo’s other side, and resuming his drink. “This is only my third glass.” Hanzo maintained a pointed stare at McCree, but he gave in when he was certain the cowboy had no intention of looking back to him. He was too busy enjoying the show, as Mercy blatantly ignored Genji’s seething irritation in favor of an overly stimulating conversation with Pharah. Hanzo could hardly blame him. It was entertaining.

  But what they weren’t counting on, was for the show to become interactive. Mercy had seen Hanzo out of the corner of her eye, and whipped her head about to face him fully. In an instant, McCree ducked inconspicuously behind the cover of the refrigerator, sipping his third glass of milk on the way out. Hanzo could have sworn he heard the cowboy mumble something to the effect of “I’m out,” as he walked away from the scene of their people-watching crime, leaving Hanzo to take the brunt of it. He couldn’t quite pinpoint why, but the archer felt betrayed.

  “Oh, Hanzo,” Mercy called, and Hanzo snapped his attention back over to her. She’d stood up from the couch and walked around Genji, making her way over to him. Hanzo noticed Pharah stand up as well, coming around the opposite way. “I’ve been meaning to speak with you. I was able to recover your gifts from the post. I just wanted to thank you! You didn’t have to do that, really,” Mercy said.

  Hanzo only nodded in response, hoping that she would end the conversation there. She didn’t. “Maybe you and I simply got off on the wrong foot. I’d like for us to try again. Oh, and speaking of introductions,” Mercy said, before stepping aside to allow Pharah into the conversation. “This is Fareeha Amari. She’s Captain Amari’s daughter.”

  “Hi there,” Pharah said, holding her hand out for a handshake. Hanzo followed her lead, and took note as she firmly clasped his hand. That was when he noticed the sizeable curve in her arm muscles, as they extended. She too was clearly military, judging by her stance and the way that she carried herself. That and the fact that she appeared capable of throwing him over her shoulder, and carrying him behind cover if she had to. He finished the shake with a nod.

  “Hanzo is Genji’s older brother,” Mercy explained, and Pharah’s eyes widened. It was brief enough that Hanzo couldn’t tell if she knew the entirety of what that meant. If she did, she was certainly subtle. Instead, she only smiled and shifted her gaze between Hanzo and Mercy. “He got here shortly before you, actually. Pharah’s decided to join the team,” Mercy announced.

  Despite Genji’s attempt at subtlety, Hanzo could hear him swear in Japanese from across the room. He had to force down the smirk that threatened his face, as he delighted in his brother’s misery. Hanzo would make it a point to keep Pharah around if she made Genji this uncomfortable. “Perhaps we will be allies in the future,” Hanzo said.

  “I look forward to it,” Pharah replied, before turning to Mercy and holding out her elbow. Mercy took it cheerfully, walking arm and arm with Pharah as they left the kitchen. Hanzo only watched for a moment before he realized that he still wasn’t alone. He turned to see his Cyborg brother, standing a little too close for comfort. Hanzo made a face, before recoiling.

  “Can I help you?”

  “You’re…smiling…” Genji said. The tone of his voice was laced with honest astonishment. The Cyborg-ninja truly couldn’t believe what he was seeing, even as it happened before him. Hanzo quickly fixed his face back into his regular frown.

  “Better?”

  “Ah, there’s my brother,” Genji taunted, before backing away once more and making his way around the kitchen island. Hanzo watched as the cyborg walked in the blatantly opposite direction of Mercy and Pharah, no longer interested in being the third wheel in their quasi-relationship. Hanzo moved over to the cupboard to grab a clean glass, before filling it up with cold purified water. He could feel the water slide down the inner workings of his chest, a sign of a thirst finally quenched. Satisfied, he turned back to what was supposed to be a plate full of sandwich. All that remained was bread crumbs. It only took him a moment to solve this mystery.

  “GENJI!”