Chapter 1: Chapter One
The Blade and the Bow
“It’s time to pick a side.”
The air about the mountainside was excited with electricity. A dull grey hung about to tell of a coming storm, and Shimada Hanzo felt the first droplets strike him like quiet bullets in warning. The crinkled paper mass in his sore hands had been smeared from the times he had parted it, checked the message, put it away, checked again, and shoved into his pocket. He’d grown weary from the torment it brought him on his journey. And now, Hanzo found himself standing before a large gate that may or may not have once been beautiful with design and lighting, but that would have been long ago during a time where he would not have appreciated it anyway.
A part of him begged his sanity, foretold of possibilities that would surely claim this a mistake, but then a silent thudding of his wounded heart kept his feet firmly in their place. Even if he were to leave now, he would only trail himself back again at the persistence of the message in his hand. Hanzo breathed and unfolded the paper once more.
[the coordinates were mostly smudged]
Iberian Peninsula, south side
It was funny to him that despite all the ways the new world had found to communicate, his younger brother would still choose ink and pen. Seeing as they were both born and bred assassins, it did not come as a surprise when a coy woman of the evening had sought him out from one of the local bars in Hanamura just to deliver him this note. Risky, yes, but exactly like the crass younger Shimada had always been. For years he had grieved a loss unbeknownst to him was quite alive. He didn’t know if it was guilt, disbelief, hopefulness, or some combination of all three that had him follow the coordinates to this highly secured, highly concealed compound.
The rain was hissing behind him now, a rush of the change in pressure and wind striking his backside as though ushering him forward. It was many moments before Hanzo conceded to his anguish and decidedly scaled the gate in one quick motion.
There was no turning back. If the facility was still in working order, someone would have been made aware of his presence by now. It was brash of him to walk into an unfamiliar land and not try to keep himself concealed out of respect. This was bold and could be seen as a challenge by any number of unknown threats. Still, with bow and quiver draped across his backside, he stepped up a long incline that was leading him to an opening in the cliff side. He stopped.
A small noise caught his attention that burned his adrenaline into reaction. All of his senses focused in on the surroundings, taking in every detail within his reach to determine the location of the noise. Whomever was about him had the advantage and that caused his skin to prickle. Years of training encouraged him to take up his bow and ready an arrow, but the paper in his pocket reminded him that he had been invited as a guest, even if he still did not know what kind of hosts he would be meeting. The sincerity of his younger brother’s last words before he had abandoned him at the Shimada temple brought him to acceptance. Hanzo did not draw his bow nor arrow. He simply stood and raised his palms upward as he fell to his knees.
“I will offer no resistance.” He said this into the nothingness. “It is not necessary to skulk around when I am willing to comply.”
He was met with silence. Although he heard no sound, his senses knew someone was there. Not once did he let his hands fall. For a moment, all he could do was pace his breathing and let his eyelids flutter closed so that he could best hear the shuddering wind. Then, a voice broke into the stillness, “Put down your bow.” The voice was masculine and different than he had expected, possibly a native English speaker from the Americas. Since he had come so far already, Hanzo agreed to the order and shuffled the bow from his shoulders, taking the base and gently placing it before him. “A little farther there, stranger.” Hanzo delicately shoved the bow a few feet from himself and returned his hands upright.
Something dropped behind him. Thick boots began a slow dragging pace that clinked mysteriously as though the man were draped in buckles. Each stride forward had Hanzo control his breath for any form of combat he may soon find himself in. Whoever they were had stopped directly behind, and he was met with the familiar click of an armed gun. Revolver . Interesting choice. Definitely American.
“Call me crazy, but you don’t look like the usual tripe that comes a knockin’.” The man’s voice lingered in the air, a tell that this man had seen possibly as much blood as Hanzo himself. “ Seigaiha ,” he flinched instinctively when he felt the man pull on the cloth in his hair, “ ‘sea and waves’. Not exactly the typical badge display you’d see on a girl scout, but you don’t look like you’re here to sell cookies. Shame really.” As annoyed as he was, Hanzo reminded himself that his lost brother had invited him here and it would do little in his favour to murder the doorman.
A rustling was heard that sounded like the revolver was being holstered. “I’m guessing you’re Hanzo.” He smiled a little at that. “Genji told to expect you and we don’t see many that can scale the gate in the same way like the damn gecko he is.” A pause, “You’re a lot scruffier than I imagined, though.”
“My apologies to disappoint.” Hanzo replied wryly. A large gloved hand came to settle on his shoulder in a pat that would normally result in a broken arm for the perpetrator. As quickly as it was there, it was gone and before him walked an image that may as well had walked straight out of an old western film. The man was not one to talk about scruffy when he himself had a five o’ clock shadow on his five o’ clock shadow. When he tipped his wide-brimmed hat, Hanzo almost decided then that killing someone this stupid would be doing humanity a favour more so than not, but instead he opted to stand.
“Name’s Jesse McCree, and welcome to Watchpoint.”
Many trials had been set against Hanzo to groom him for his role within the Shimada empire. Like any good yakuza, even obtaining breakfast had its share of caution. Every time he thought back to his youth, his memories were littered with blades, bows, shuriken, and assault weaponry. Sometimes he stood on the giving end of the sword, other times it was he beneath the burlap sack awaiting the click of a barrel. Even so, Hanzo felt himself prepared for most quandaries, and very seldom did he find a situation surprising. This did not hold up against a talking gorilla, however.
For many moments, Hanzo was sure his face was contorted into absolute perplexity as he listened to the massive creature talk. Try as he might, it was just baffling to him that such a thing as this gorilla — scientist , he clarified — named Winston was as normal to this organisation as assault and battery charges.
The one that named himself Jesse McCree was leaned against the far wall of the shuttle port with something akin to annoyance on his face, but it could just as easily been aloofness. “Didn’t your parents teach you it’s rude to stare?” Winston gave a sincere smile and raised his large hand to stop him.
“Now, now — if he needs more time to take it all in, we should let him. It’s not every day someone meets a man of science.”
“You’re a talking gorilla.” The way he said this was dry, like this was all Hanzo found he could say since most of his thoughts were escaping him as how such a thing came to be.
“And a scientist.” Winston added gleefully.
“And… a scientist.” Hanzo repeated back. There were too many questions popping into his head for him to formulate words, so all he did was give curious blinks and try to refrain from letting his mouth hang agape. “Everyone here, they take orders from the talking gorilla scientist?”
Winston chuckled at that, clearly having had this same conversation multiple, if not infinite times, before. “That’s right.”
Finally, Hanzo felt he could tear himself away from Winston long enough to consider himself thoroughly desensitised enough for the moment. “I must admit, stories of such a thing had been whispered with legends of Overwatch, but I cannot say I was too quick to believe them as anything more than stories.”
Jesse McCree gave a scoffing snort behind him. He heard his boots thickly clinking as he stepped up, “This coming from guy whose family shoots out magical dragons and you think a talking gorilla is more wild?” Hanzo threw a glare at him, deciding for himself that he did not care for how this cowboy held himself. He was like any other American he had had the displeasure of meeting: stubborn, crass, and uncouth. Exactly the type of person his younger brother would associate with.
“The dragons are not magic.” He clarified hotly.
McCree rolled his eyes, “Oh, forgive me , your majesty. Damn, you’re just as prissy as Genji said you’d be.”
That made Hanzo feel hot across his face. “My brother and I have not spoken in 10 years, whatever claims he may make are rightly outdated.” He was sure he heard McCree throw under his breath “if you say so”, but disregarded it. “Where is my brother?” It almost came out like a demand.
Winston spoke to that, “He and Morrison — ah, that is Jack Morrison the original Overwatch commander — are scouting the local perimeter for any Talon drones. They should return shortly. In the meantime, it would be a good idea to introduce you to the rest of the team and show you around. It wouldn’t be proper to welcome a new member without the basics.”
That caught Hanzo. Not once had he said he would be joining anything. The message he received didn’t even mention that his summoning would include an initiation. He found himself stepping back a little and slightly bumped into McCree who shoved him off. “I have not said that I would join this operation.”
Another smile from Winston, “Well, of course! Can’t make a decision if you don’t know what you are getting into. Jesse, show Mr Shimada to the shooting range. Lena and Mei should still be in there. We can introduce him to the rest of the crew later.” McCree clucked his tongue at that and dragged himself from the comfort of his folded arms. It appeared that McCree had about as much like for him in turn, but was hiding it behind a grin. Hanzo wasn’t sure how he felt about that, but could respect it as he, too, had been in the host situation before when introducing newcomers to his business partners. Typically, he did not care for those people one way or another either.
McCree motioned him on with a curl of his hand. “Let’s go.” Such informality, but what could he do? If it would not be some time until his brother would return, he supposed seeing whom Genji had become acquainted with over the years he’d been dead was an acceptable distraction.
Jesse McCree wasn’t an idiot, he learned that rather quickly. While others would have stupidly shown their backs to him as they led him around a faction, McCree didn’t. He was insistent with a coy charm that he would direct Hanzo to the right place but preferred he walked out front. Hanzo refused to walk in front of him, not only was it rude, but the chance to have this man at his back again was not something he wanted to repeat, given that shooting an arrow within the confines of a hall was rather difficult to achieve on short notice. Hanzo disliked being inconvenienced and he didn’t wish to damage his bow in a melee. So, that is how they found themselves walking side by side, almost cramped in the narrow walk-space.
“Are you certain you wouldn’t rather —”
McCree shrugged, “Suit yourself, but there ain’t nothing to worry about here on the compound. Safest place in Gibraltar, matter o’ fact.” The way he said that was almost as though it were an inside joke of some sort. Hanzo paid it little mind and simply refused to respond.
When they rounded a corner, it opened into an expanse of doorways, each labelled in various languages for what he assumed was the colourful assortment of world-wide members. The words ‘Shooting Range’ felt redundant as a barrage of gunfire could be heard a few doors down. Jesse McCree, attempting to pose as a gentleman, tipped his hat and pushed his hand into the pad of the door to open its entry for their guest. The gunfire maximised its sound followed by girlish laughter.
“After you,” McCree drawled, and Hanzo didn’t see a reason to argue with the courtesy, so he allowed himself entry with soft footing and a distinct tense in his muscles to be prepared for the unknown. The layout was different than he expected, but no less a state-of-art practise range circa 30 years ago. There were telltale marks of use and improper care of the equipment, but overall in good condition.
As he stepped forward, he felt McCree’s presence behind him and his stomach sank when that hand once again pat his shoulder as he brushed aside. He didn’t bother to notice Hanzo’s discomfort as his attention was on the two ladies in military blacks.
“Howdy there, ladies.” The tallest one spun around on her heels excitedly, and it was then Hanzo caught the sight of a strange device about her chest. It took him less than a second to realise what it was for when the woman suddenly disappeared and instantly re-appeared at McCree’s arm like a blink of light. The shorter one, round and graceful, bowed her head tenderly and approached much more demurely.
“Oh, whatcha got there?” The taller once asked as she peered around the cowboy. The smaller lady looked curious as well. “Nice t’ meetcha,” she said with a quick hand extended out, “The name’s Lena Oxton, but everyone ‘round here just calls me Tracer.” When he didn’t take her hand, she giggled and put it to her face instead to cover her laugh.
“Are you the one Genji was warning us about? Hanzo, I think I recall. Said you were a touch cross, and a face like that certainly looks cross!” She continued to giggle in a delightful way that wasn’t as annoying as he thought it would be. It was actually quite pleasant.
While Hanzo did not make a face at that, he did feel rather taken, “What is wrong with my face?” The question came out serious and put the crowd into silence before the one named Tracer began to laugh again.
“Oh, you’re just as Genji said! Well,” she followed this as she took one of his hands into both of hers rather suddenly, and it took a lot of willpower for him to stop himself from finding it a threat, “it’s a delight to meet the brother of my favourite ninja! I’m sure we’ll get along swimmingly.” Hanzo was not sure of that. She then blipped away and began to gently push the smaller girl towards him. He could hear her whispering for the girl to say hello despite that she looked a tad uncomfortable with it. He couldn’t blame her as he felt off about it too, but at least this one with the thick glasses appeared more tolerable than the others.
He looked down at her with a blink and she did her best to avert her eyes before giving a small bow in traditional fashion. Ah, so this young lady was Chinese. Her form was very fitting of the culture and could not be mistaken if his social studies were as sharp as he thought. As with tradition, he bowed back similarly to accept her generosity.
“I am Dr Mei-Ling Zhou,” she said in a soft breath, “everyone here is very kind, as I am sure you will soon learn. It is an honour to meet the acclaimed Shimada Hanzo.” Not the word he would have chosen, but few positive words could be used in the same sentence as his name, so he accepted the compliment for what it was.
“I apologise that I am not as familiar,” he told her respectfully, but she simply smiled and looked away. That allowed an ingress into a gentle conversation which was far better than the awkwardness he felt standing there and saying nothing. While Dr Zhou spoke, he could still feel eyes on him. He knew they belonged to Jesse McCree but decidedly ignored it as he let the doctor explain a bit more detail of her accolades.
“It is an honour to have someone so profound know of me.” Hanzo did mean that. Her face seemed to light up and it had him genuinely smile, but it was short-lived.
“To be fair, a good amount of the wrong people know of you just as much as the innocent.” Hanzo turned to throw a sideways glance at the cowboy. McCree shrugged nonchalantly as though he did this all the time, and perhaps he did. “Murderers tend to know of other murderers, after all.” So it was like that. Hanzo stood his full height and braced himself against the coldness in McCree’s tone, a complete contrast to his outer indifference and charm. He was about to comment on how that spoke poorly of the cowboy himself when he was interrupted by the man’s chuckle.
“Let’s move on with the tour, shall we?” It was almost like the glint in that man’s eye could tell that Hanzo was about to speak, perhaps even knew what he was going to say. Lamely, he only offered a small agreement for the sake of the other parties with them, as they were not the attention of his pride.
Tracer and Dr Zhou bid their farewells rather warmly, a large change from the disappointment of the failed assassins he often left behind in his wake. Hanzo offered the smallest bow and excused himself to follow McCree from the range. Distantly, he heard his matron mention their next few stops to come, but the way the cowboy had spoken to him was holding in his gut. Hanzo was used to be spoken down to, even being treated like a man unworthy of his own name, but the fact that this western drawler was punctuating certain implications had him on edge. It was good to have done so too, as once they entered the quiet of the hall again, his senses began to ignite with alarm.
He dodged the hand easily, but the knee caught him in dismay. A strong grip managed to wriggle into his kyudo-gi and lift him roughly into the wall. His bow scrapped across his backside but was pinned to him in a way he could not reach in the tight space. Jesse McCree clearly had the advantage, however, the movements were less like a man with the intent to kill, and more like a man with a purpose. Although he knew he could struggle until he managed to break free, he found it unnecessary to waste his energy on someone that likely did not want to actually harm him. So, he sat back in the grip and looked darkly into the stale brown eyes that stole into him. Whatever this Jesse McCree wanted, Hanzo would hear out.
For a moment, no one said anything. This annoyed Hanzo even more than that he was pinned to a wall awkwardly. “If you have something to say, say it.” His voice was rough, dangerous.
“I want to make it clear right now, Shimada,” McCree began tersely, “everyone here listened and was bought by the appealing way Genji spoke about you; All, but one of ‘em.”
“My brother always did have a way of seeing things through a haze of child-like foolishness.”
McCree nodded, “So, it seems we do understand each other.” He let Hanzo slide down the wall back onto his feet. “I saw what you did to him, or rather, I saw what was left of him. What we put back together didn’t look like the aftermath of an obligated, emotionless execution — it was senseless overkill . Belligerent murder.”
The words stung into him deeply. He grasped tightly at the hand that still held him and felt a sharp coldness he hadn’t been expecting. He pulled back. The hand about him was completely artificial. A far cry of the flesh that likely used to be.
“So this is your only warning.” McCree punctuated this with a forceful shove, wringing out a breath from him. “The only reason why you’re not dead where you stand now is that it would break Genji’s heart. The smallest human part of him still loves you, and may I just remind you — there ain’t much left of that.” The hand released Hanzo and made space. He looked down to the floor, not having any strength within him as he remembered how Genji lifted his visor and reflected back the scars of a long forgotten battle. His heart may as well have died inside him.
“Out of courtesy, I’m gonna pretend that everything Genji sang about you is true. He sure believes it. But, you had best remember this moment. If a single tear falls from that man’s eyes again — again because of you — you’ll find out real quick why they call me Deadeye.”
Hanzo gravely nodded, barely threatened by Jesse McCree but still running high on the adrenaline. “Your message is clear.”
“Good. Then let’s finish this damn tour so I can pretend to be happy for Genji.”
The rest of the tour was spent with his mind in a deep gash of his past. Each breath felt like the sharp pain of his brother’s blade as he defended himself. His pupils were blown wide, nearly begging him to drop his sword. The blood still stained his mind’s eye. The roar of the dragons pulled him years into the past. The smell of iron, the warm rush of his own blood as it fell from his lips. Again, he could see it. Again, the light of those eyes slowly faded and —
Hanzo snapped back to the present. The Shimada temple was gone, and he was not a young man anymore. The blood had been replaced with white tile, and the fallen blades with a simple metal table. A kitchen.
“I said, ain’t no one ‘round here takes the time to wash the coffee kettle out, so you’ll probably want to get your own or stick to water.”
“Ah… yes.” That was all he could manage to say. His feet felt heavy, his breath exhausting as he tried to bring himself back to now. A broken, nearly middle-aged man walking through the kitchen of a hidden compound threatened by the Petras Act, awaiting the voice of a brother he had long since believed would never walk as one with him on this earth again.
Jesse McCree snapped his fingers in his face. “I ain’t gonna waste my time if you’re just gonna vacate that thick head of yours.” Hanzo understood and offered a low apology. Clearly distracted, McCree gave up half way through explaining how they handled sharing the refrigerator when a voice rang over the intercom.
“Agent Shimada and Commander Morrison have returned.” The female voice had a gentle ring to it, so it could do little to explain the sudden jolt he felt. McCree’s eyes met his instantly, a silent reminder of his threats from before. Hanzo scoffed to himself as though he needed any encouragement with violence to behave around his own brother. It may have been years since they last spoke, and albeit, their last conversation before the downfall hadn’t been exactly exciting, but a part of him hoped deep down they would find words again. At least, he hoped that he would find words that weren’t just his mouth hung open with shame.
Jesse McCree picked up his hat from the counter where he had sat it, placed it delicately about his fluff of dirty hair, and nodded in his direction. “It’s time. Don’t kill him again.” Hanzo didn’t bother with a response, finding McCree’s words tactless. His feet followed him silently through the halls, the cowboy obviously no longer worried about the Shimada at his back. Perhaps he thought his words were enough to keep his hands still, or maybe he knew the look of torment within his eyes. He wasn’t sure.
They appeared to be leading back the same way they had come. The narrow hall opened into the shuttle port he first entered. A rushing sound of wind broke through the rough drag of the hatch. It felt nice on his face even though Hanzo hadn’t known just how hot he felt in that moment. Like he was on fire. Something like anxiety and impatience strangled his nerves. As much as he tried to quiet them, it did little to prevent his throat from drying as the shapes of two men came into view.
A huskier man, clearly a well worn solider, guided himself through the hatch with a sense of duty and pride Hanzo could respect. The other was much more nimble, soft, with a gentle glow of green. Hanzo wasn’t sure what he had been expecting since he now knew that his younger brother was in a full suit of cybernetics, but still his heart stopped at the sight of a machine instead of the smiling face and bright green hair he once knew. The two were making light conversation when the glowing green visor caught sight of him just behind Jesse McCree.
His heart throbbed in his throat.
The visor looked into his soul much differently than how it had at the temple when he thought the intruder an assassin sent for his head. There was a pureness he could not explain. It was like the glow itself was holding the weight of his guilt and offering comfort from the burden.
Hanzo did not move, found he couldn’t. That did not stop Genji, whom kept his simple pace up the steps until he stood only a few feet away. The distance felt much grander, like a world away. He tried to get himself to say something, anything, but it was as though every word he knew in Japanese or English had fallen from his knowledge in that moment. He swallowed. Genji appeared to take pity on him. Slowly, he reached his silent and metallic fingers to the base of his head; a soft click and hiss of evening pressure. The visor was then moved softly away, like a tide being pulled out to sea. When those deep eyes fell upon his again, Hanzo unravelled.
“Anija,” such a simple archaic term, and yet full of everything he had ever known his brother to be, “brother. You came.” The words held a fantastic hope.
Everything stopped. Hanzo broke their eyes apart and dropped to his knees heavily like the weight of the world had crushed him into the bitter old man he was. The pain within his heart, the emptiness he had fought with at the temple, it bled from him now in hot stripes down his face. He was mortal, feet upon the earth as his pride was stripped from his bones. A sob choked from him, then another, until he was on both hands and knees in a shameful display.
The world around him melted away. His head bowed low. Everything he thought that would have prepared him for this again, it all abandoned him. The strength, the pride, all of it. A gasp tore from his lungs when he felt the mellow touch of a hand brush across his hair. It was not frightened by this creature before it, not angry nor ashamed, just there. It stroked him through the last of his sobs until the strength reclaimed his soul.
Hanzo shuffled into a kneel, not once pulling himself to look at his brother. He saw the cyborg legs and tight sinews that tried to simulate what had once been there. He could feel the warmth of the ventilations attempting to balance his necessary air flows. This was his doing. This was his fault. For many more moments, Genji let him bask in his humiliation, until he felt the cold fingers urge him to stand. Slowly, he rose from his knees, watching the unknown body drag up with his vision until their eyes, once again, met.
There was no hatred in his younger brother’s gaze. No warring satisfaction or cruelty. What looked back at him was the face of a man that had missed his brother.
Instantly, they fell into an embrace. Despite the metal body, Genji still managed to smell as he had before, always of sweat and sweetness. Hanzo felt he could not hold him close enough.
“Does it… does it hurt?” Hanzo asked him weakly.
He felt Genji shake his head. “No. Not anymore.”
“Can you feel this? Feel my touch?”
Genji nodded into him. “Yes. I can feel everything. Your warmth, your heartbeat and breath. All of it.” He felt the grip on his body tighten and Hanzo welcomed it, welcomed every sensation. He could feel the fingers grip him and the body seal around him. “I have missed you.”
“My brother,” Hanzo whispered into the stark metal, “Otouto. My Genji.”
Each part of him felt that if he pulled away that Genji would no longer be in his arms, that he would wake from one of his many regretful nightmares. Slowly, he pulled away, slowly, checking each part of their bodies that it still existed within the world. And yes, it was real, and yes, Hanzo could breath again. Genji stepped back enough to replace his visor to his face, and Hanzo felt himself mourn the loss and that reassuring colour of reality. Distantly, a rough noise made Hanzo remember that Jesse McCree and the commander were still with them. Respectfully, Hanzo removed himself back with a heavy step, mildly embarrassed, and gave a small nod to the one mentioned as Commander Morrison.
Genji was quick to recover from their reunion, swivelling on the spot to present him like a gift to a king in his palace. “Commander, this is my brother Hanzo. He journeyed from a far land to be here today. I think you will find him useful tour goals.”
“Shimada Hanzo,” it sounded like Jack Morrison was trying the name out, “yakuza heir, assassin, drug lord, and arms dealer. I remember your face from the news when your own family deemed you a national threat.”
That sobered Hanzo up from his nerves quickly and he found himself on the defence as though back in Hanamura against the family guards. He felt scrutinised, exposed. “I stand apart from the Shimada empire. Our views of the world and it’s necessities,” here he stole a glance at Genji, “expansively differ.”
Jack nodded to that, rubbing a scar across his lip and running a hand through his white hair. “Seeing as your family is still an on-going risk of Talon influence, having you and your brother around will give us the tactical advantage.”
“Now, hold on there.” It was the first sentence Jesse McCree had spoken since they had arrived into the shuttle port. “First of all, Shimada 1st Gen didn’t agree to joining, and secondly, we haven’t properly discussed the hazards of having another yakuza around. I think we should discuss the finer details before we just set it all in stone. Not that I’m not ecstatic about having another dragon prince dancing around.” Jesse McCree was most definitely not ecstatic about the idea.
Genji laughed at that, silvery and light. It held Hanzo’s heart at ease like a cool drink from a mountainside. “You are so funny, Jesse. My brother did not come all this way to decline. Of course he will join!” At that, his bright visor turned on Hanzo, and although the face plate never changed, he was sure he could see the eager delight behind it. “You will join, won’t you?”
Hanzo briefly sputtered, all at once caught by being the centre of attention and that his brother’s question was so genuine. Some part of him had wondered if Genji had truly meant him to come to the coordinates at all, or if he had been planning some sort of mercy killing on his behalf. Genji had had every opportunity to take his life in satisfying revenge, and yet, that wakizashi blade did not grant him peace. Of course Genji would have wanted him to come if only he would accept the invitation in its entirety.
It’s time to pick a side.
“I am more a wanderer now than I am an assassin,” Hanzo replied uneasily, “I may only hinder your efforts.”
The commander nodded, seeming to understand all he was implying, which was a relief because Hanzo was certain he had no idea what he was trying to say. Maybe let Genji down gently? “Genji tells grand stories about you. After reuniting here with Winston, it’s been all he talks about. If he thinks you’re worthy of the Overwatch comeback, then why not stick around a few days and feel it out? If it’s not for you, you can just leave the way you came.”
After this wind, Hanzo felt it would be difficult to walk away from his brother like this. He simply could not imagine it, but he also could not imagine himself playing alongside a bunch of renegades patrolling as heroes. The idea was as absurd as the talking gorilla, and he had to remind himself that that had happened and the talking gorilla was still existing somewhere in the compound.
His brother stood waiting for his answer silently, perfectly still and patient. Jesse McCree folded himself into his arms and rolled an unlit cigar around his lips, his grin a contrast to how he really felt about it all, but showing his support for Genji all the same against his better judgement.
He thought on this a bit more briefly. Hanzo had become his own version of a vagrant, drifting from town to town, taking the occasional assassin job just because he could. He had no home, no family, and would likely continue to roam the world until his sins finally caught up with him, which appeared to be approaching fast. What even was his morality anymore? He felt cast in so many shades of grey, it was like a blur of the world he once knew stood before him. Everything he had thought he knew, thought he wanted, thought was important — all of it had died that day. And here he could begin a change in that fortune. In a simple choice, he could rectify all his imprudence that had burned his humanity down to ash.
“I suppose I would not be adverse to a trial period.” Hanzo could practically feel Genji smiling through the face plate and the minor annoyance that had to be supportive on McCree’s face did give him a bit of spiteful amusement.
The cool and collected fingers of Genji entwined with his own as smoothly as water would flow through the cracks in a pot. It captured his attention pointedly, mainly because it was something his muscle memory recalled Genji had often done in their youth, and because the metal was startling foreign. “You will not regret this. The people here, they are not like the people we knew among the clans.”
Hanzo nodded at that, humming gently into the feeling of their hands wistfully together. He wanted to outstretch his thumb to play along the pad of his palm like he used to, but thought better of it. When he caught the glare of McCree whose eyes were transfixed on the touch, Hanzo gently pulled away in good faith to the cowboy. While he may not like it, this man was Genji’s friend, someone that knew his brother as he is now, and it would not do him any good to come between them if he truly intended to stay.
“We can begin anew.” Genji nearly sang into him, “I have so much total you about, anija!” Yes, and the song of sorrow within him lifted in those words, having missed the soft harshness of his brother’s english, and the playful ring of sincerity from the antiquated word. He was finally grounded, within his place, and could walk along his own feet again with the help of his dear brother. He could begin to heal his self-inflicted wounds.
His side was chosen. He aligned with wherever Genji would go, and he, the true lost brother, would follow.
Chapter 2: Chapter Two
The ventilation systems had been maintained well in spite of how some of the terminals about the compound appeared to have been abandoned long ago. It was clearly a work-in-progress to bring the facility back to its once grand inception. Genji’s soft green glow led Hanzo through the working halls and around others that sparked from outdated circuitry. A knowing eye could tell some of the damage hadn’t been just from years of neglect, but some from homeward assaults. Deep abrasions could be seen along a few scattered walls that told of past intruders. Broken shuriken misplaced here and there told him Genji had been apart of a few of the memories.
The sights and smells were so different from the open air and yearning scent of cherry blossoms Hanzo recalled from Hanamura. It was hard for him to imagine the spoilt brother he had seen gambling in casinos and copping feels on the men and women of the local clubs to have wandered these same halls. Even more so, the figure that walked like the gentle breeze before him was just as hard to believe to be the same person at all. Hanzo understood that he was no longer the same boy he used to be and that it was almost inane to think Genji would have somehow stayed the same, as well. But, Hanzo felt he still held many of the core traits he’d groomed since youth, but as for Genji, it was almost like looking upon a new man altogether. And perhaps that wasn’t far from the truth. Distantly, he wondered what memories his brother held that he would never live.
Hanzo looked away when the visor turned to him. He didn’t want to appear like he had been staring. It wasn’t just because the faceplate was anything different than an omnic may show, it was because a part of him desperately wanted to see the bourbon coloured eyes he knew so well. The green, while beautiful in its own way, could not compare to the sightliness of Genji’s gaze. Genji had always been the more attractive of the two of them, and it was not something Hanzo held against him, in fact, he praised this trait often as they grew. It was probably one of the reasons he had grown to be such a playboy rather than a modest and more resigned heir like himself. But that was essentially another life altogether at this point.
They came to stop at the end of a long hall partially lit by LED lights. On the wall beside the large sliding doors was a cross signifying the medical bay. The turn in Genji’s step was practically giddy when he said warmly, “This is where Dr Angela Ziegler performs her studies and work. She is a fantastic doctor, brother. I have her to thank for rescuing my life more times than I can count. She is dear to me.”
Hanzo gave a slow nod, almost akin to a respectful bow, “I am certain anyone whom could gain this trust from you is worthy of my own.”
“You will see.” Genji told him as he set off the automatic doors. Hanzo followed in after his brother, immediately being struck with the smell of rubbing alcohol and intense chill.
“Angela?” The way Genji asked for her name held a singsong to it, like a bird may trill to another in courtship. His heart mysteriously throbbed, but Hanzo omitted it from his current thoughts. He heard a noise behind a case of medical books and a minor word in a language he did not understand but took to be a swear. Hanzo peered curiously as a beautiful blonde woman came around the shelf in a standard white medical coat. He shirt was half tucked and her hair was lopsided in a ponytail. She looked like someone that likely had fallen asleep on a desk from overwork.
When she spotted Genji, her appearance immediately shifted into a pleasant softness as though she could not imagine a better person to have roused her, but when she caught sight of Hanzo slightly behind him, that softness melted away instantly as some form of combat training instinctually hardened her.
“Genji, your shadow looks different today.” Her blue eyes narrowed into him with a scrutiny that Hanzo was certain was looking for every medical weak point he couldn’t hide willingly. Both of them saw the pistol just off the corner of the nearby desk. Hanzo tensed, ready to grab his bow to deflect if necessary.
His line of sight was broken when Genji stepped between them with a chuckle. “Do not worry yourself, doctor, this man I bring you is not a threat. He is my brother Hanzo. You remember that I told you he would come?” The doctor stilled for a moment before she let her muscles loosen, obviously trusting Genji at his word.
“You will have to excuse me,” she then said, “I was simply caught off guard. Forgive my rudeness, of course I should have realised right away. Welcome, Hanzo,” he didn’t exactly feel very welcome from that, “I’m Dr Ziegler, known as Mercy among the combat field. Genji did tell us to expect you, I just didn’t think it would be so soon. From the way he described you, I figured you would be too proud to respond so quickly.” Normally, Hanzo would take offence to such a bold statement, but found he didn’t care much since she was not exactly wrong. He simply wondered which stories about him were already known. Given her disgruntled countenance, probably all of them.
Angela continued with a small sneer, “I would say it is a pleasure to meet you, but I do not condone lying. It’s against my code as a doctor. I hope you will understand.” And Hanzo did understand, so he gave the smallest nod of his head without a single word.
Genji seemed to disregard the tension either intentionally or because he did not care, “I wanted my brother to meet the beautiful woman that gave my life new purpose and function. As of today, Hanzo is considering to join our forces.”
Angela didn’t look like she was on board with the idea, and Hanzo couldn’t blame her since he was on the fence too. She folded into herself and let her eyes drag over Hanzo in a criticising manner, a challenge. “Is that so?”
“After speaking with Commander —”
“Morrison.” Genji supplied —
“— Morrison, I am giving a trial period to determine if my skill set will be of value to your Overwatch.” Angela appeared to think on that, switching her gaze between him and Genji as if she were choosing whose head to bite off first. After a moment, she then sighed and shook her head gently.
“I am the primary medic of Overwatch and whomever our team decides to enlist, against their better judgement, will always be welcome to my services when in need.” Her voice was flat, forced, stressing the words ‘in need’ as if only she could define its context.
“Thank you,” Genji said breathlessly even though his air flow appeared to be managed well within the armour. She waved him off and began to walk to her desk for an excuse to be busy. “Ah, Angela, I was hoping you could explain to my brother about how my armour functions. The others are more familiar, but I am not skilled in the area of medical science. It would be better heard from you.”
Angela had stopped halfway into a sitting position to her chair when he asked that. Her face took on a barrage of emotions before she conceded to one of them, obviously one being a great respect for Genji, and resumed her standing position. She then motioned for the two of them to follow her towards the back of the medical bay. Genji was quick to glide off like a swallow, and Hanzo cautiously arrived behind.
The medical facilities of Japan had always been the epitome of organisation and operation. The only ones that seemed to match it in this regard were far and few in between, one of those facilities within Numbani as apart of the Vishkar Corporation. He only knew this as the Shimada family had donated funds for its construction. But, the small medical bay he looked upon now was a far cry from those facilities in many respects. Not that the medical bay couldn’t hold its own for its very purpose, but definitely would find it difficult to match the speeds of other, more suitable services. Hanzo recognised a few of the bulkier equipment from some of his past studies in medical science. When they passed by one of the units for cerebral containment, he subconsciously commented.
“This device has been removed from service for at least 20 years now. They are only found in text books. Does the device still function to properly maintain the flow of ependymal cells for the proper absorption during spinal surgeries? I had thought they were poor at preventing the leaking of cerebral fluid due to the traumatic process.” Only when he caught Genji’s visor perfectly still and Angela’s soft ‘o’ shape of her lips did he realise he had spoken at all. Hanzo was quick to sheepishly turn himself away. “My apologies. I did not mean to interrupt.”
The good doctor found herself in a bit of a sputter, “Ah, no, not at all.” She blinked at him with a perplexity he could not interpret. “You would be correct, however, these units were discontinued for their lack of safety protocol, but I have since modified the device to better detect for leaking as well as disruption of any magnesium levels which was also an initial design flaw.”
Hanzo nodded at that. “It was quite a waste to scrap the whole project for a simple manufacturing sensor error. I am glad to know you were wise to correct it rather than replace it with the current units. They may prevent leaking at a better rate but, the sensor for detecting the proper rebalance of buoyancy —”
“— is off by 4 grams.” They finished together. The look on Angela’s features had formed an implausible grin that she attempted to hide behind her well-manicured hand.
“Genji, you did not tell me your brother was so well versed in medical education.” Genji had not moved an inch, still as undisturbed water, simply hovering his green gaze in the direction of Hanzo. Somehow, he could feel the eyes behind them stealing over his skin.
“My apologies,” he finally said to her, his own voice a slight upbeat than how it had sounded before, “I… did not know either.”
Hanzo couldn’t help but to give a small chuckle that bloomed a genuine smile across him. “Father ensured to pay for nothing but the best education, and one of us had to pay attention while the other drew pictures of nude men and women between their notes.” Genji may have seemed caught at that but it was hard to tell from the faceplate. Angela’s light and airy laugh filled the air between them, having Genji move for the first time into her direction.
“Well, colour me surprised!” She giggled sweetly, “Then, I do think you’ll find the scientific achievements I, and with the help of others, managed to give your brother so that he could return to live as normally as possible.”
The sparkle in her eyes had him feel less unwelcome. “I am quite interested to understand my brother’s new way of life.” She looked absolutely pleased with herself, as though it had been infinite years since her last good conversation. Angela had no trouble after that with pulling Hanzo to her side excitedly as she pulled up diagrams and data points onto the hologram table in the back. She flipped between multiple designs and functions, as well as future upgrades. Hanzo listened intently, enjoying the way she held nothing back in her terminology. Her fingers danced over the stills and enlarged parts she found to be the most interesting.
Hanzo pointed gently to a diagram for the circulatory system. “It seems here you are planning to upgrade the oxygen content and increase my brother’s ability to breathe without assistance. But, these figures here… they notate a possible seizure reaction.”
Angela made a noise that sounded her agreement. “Yes, I have been working with remote professors to figure out how to prevent this.” Here, she brought out a 3-dimensional diagram of Genji’s visor and spinal cord, “The faceplate at this time provides Genji with a forced airflow to keep his lungs contracting. My worry is that the sudden reliance on his own nervous system to make the process autonomic may cause seizures within the brain. It may stop his breathing all together. This is why I have not proceeded with the testing just yet. It is a risky challenge.” Her eyes looked away at that, like she had gone a far distance away into a world he could not follow. Hanzo knew that look. Regret. Fear.
“It was difficult the first time to have him breathe again. His lungs were entirely collapsed, and Dr O’Deorain and I were certain he would die on the table.” She shuddered, then turned to take Genji’s head into her palms. Genji rested a cold hand on one of hers. “It was the first time I thought to myself that I could not save a life. How could I when he had been torn apart by a monster ?”
“A dragon .” Hanzo corrected darkly. Angela remembered herself quickly, sobering and tearing herself away from his brother. She tried not to look at Hanzo, supposedly realising what she had said and what that meant to the very murderer with them. She was lost on what to say, he could read it in her face. He knew that look and had seen it on many of the loved ones he had taken lives from in the past. Humility and grief. Hanzo wanted to offer her comfort, but was unsure how. So, he settled to say, “It is not who we have been, but whom we choose to be, and who I choose to be could not have asked for better people to repair the wounds of my greatest mistake and gravest burden.” He looked into her with sincerity. “Thank you for saving my brother, when I was too clouded with pride to understand the value of the loss.”
She gave a quick nod but kept her eyes at anything other than him. She settled back into the data of the holograms, busying herself to break the tension. Genji had not spoken, and perhaps he felt he couldn’t. Hanzo was having trouble as well. As her eyes flicked from panel to panel, diagram to diagram, Hanzo decided to reach out and pull back up the schematics of the new respiratory upgrade. Angela watched him carefully, each of his fingers being traced with her eyes.
“Speak with your professors about making an addition here,” his enlarged the part of the diagram that showed the throat and oesophagus, “you can use the same airflow system within the faceplate, but adapt it lower within the throat with a sensor to detect when the air flow is restricted or swelling. It could force the lungs to expand and could potentially help my brother’s autonomic signals with having him to breathe normally. Like an epinephrine auto-injector for severe anaphylaxis, but in this case, a broken air flow.” She thought on that briefly, turning something within herself.
“It would be a great challenge to adapt the system to function within the throat, but not impossible. If it were to work, Genji may have to go without his rebuilt vocal chords for a while as we tested it.”
“I am certain Genji’s lack of vocalisation will not be an absolute deterrent for this endeavour.” That sentence muttered under his breath brought back the gentle laughter. Even Genji had joined with small laughs of his own. The good doctor was shaking her head, trying to stop the giggles but was unable for a little while longer. It padded his mind with a gentleness that not all was lost. It gave him relief, if only for a moment.
“Hanzo,” she then said abruptly, “you are not what I expected you to be. That is not a bad thing.” She sighed something out of herself, like a weight or burden on her shoulders, “I cannot believe I am saying this, but, I sincerely hope that you decide to join us here at Overwatch.” That had Hanzo pause, like a bee sting within his heart. “In the meantime, you are welcome into my office any time if you would like to discuss schematics again. And, I look forward to that.”
Hanzo gave a deeper bow than before, understanding Dr Ziegler was giving her suggestion for them to leave her medical bay now, as she clearly had a lot to think about and likely more research to do that would have her falling asleep in a chair again. He could respect the dedication. Genji led the way, silently moving to the sliding doors with Hanzo a step behind. As they passed through the motion sensors, he heard Genji’s delightful voice whisper into his ear, “I think you made a good first impression, anija.” His face felt flushed from the praise, unsure he is truly deserved it or not.
Although Jesse McCree had taken the time to show Hanzo around, he hadn’t paid much attention since his thoughts had been preparing him for meeting with Genji again. It had been rude, he knew, but now that his younger brother was his tour guide, he was sure to give it proper care. He wanted to know all the places his brother preferred the most and how the compound was laid out.
After a few short stops to show the botany garden and the communal restrooms, they arrived to the common area which extended into the kitchen. Genji was glossing over its features when they both heard voices drift just far away enough not to understand. Hanzo could just barely make out a large backside and hand that was the unmistakeable outline of the scientist Winston behind the arch of the doorway. Then — a face appeared much too close to his own.
Hanzo shot back on impulse, ready to bludgeon the daring perpetrator, but came to a soft standstill when he was able to determine that the bold creature was the one called Tracer. Genji’s small chuckle could be heard behind her, but Hanzo did not think a near death-by-bowstring to be comedic.
“Glad to see you’re still around. I was afraid maybe you’d gone off and decided to abandon us!” Winston came into view just then as he carried himself through the connecting doorway on his knuckles. He looked happy to see Hanzo there as well, and the feeling of being missed was a bit of a foreign concept given that the only ones that typically missed him were bullets.
Genji’s voice was charismatic, “I was just showing him around the watchpoint. We are coming from Angela’s medbay.”
“Oh?” Winston asked, giving himself a swing forward, “How did that go?” The gorilla looked Hanzo over like he was surprised that he was still in one piece. The look Dr Ziegler had initially given him had been rather deadly, so the concern was assumed warranted.
“I think she likes him.”
Hanzo felt his face heat immediately, “It was a pleasant conversation.” He began to hide his embarrassment, “Dr Ziegler is an intelligent, compassionate woman.”
“And so are you, brother.” Genji praised, “I doughnut think I have seen Angela such excited in a long time. I am certain you both will become fast friends.” The idea of Hanzo having a friend was as peculiar to him as the talking scientist gorilla, but at least he was getting used to that and less surprised by now. He imagined it was a lot like how he and Genji had felt when first shown the power of the dragons they served.
Tracer then blipped her way to Hanzo’s side, taking his shoulder under one hand and his neck in the crook of her other. Somehow he managed not to appear uncomfortable with the touch, but it was difficult on him. “I bet you must be starving from all this excitement in one day. Why don’t you boys join us in the kitchen? It’s Winston’s and my turn to cook and we could sure use a hand or three, since the big guy here has trouble with the oven mitts.”
Cooking did sound agreeable, and it had been such a long time since Hanzo had worked in a proper kitchen. Genji must have read his mind as he was quick to agree for the both of them. That had Tracer give a sound of delight as she ushered them all into the kitchen, leading Hanzo with a gentle caress on his backside. He was not sure he would get used to all the casual handling, but a part of him wanted to try for Genji’s sake.
Only an hour or so prior had Hanzo remembered that the kitchen had been relatively clean when McCree walked him through. The mess that met him now seemed to defy all forms of logic and time. How Winston and Tracer had managed to fill two garbage bags and the sink was the work of trickery. How they had managed to get banana slices on the ceiling was just as concerning as the egg yolks on the refrigerator. What was worse was that Genji didn’t appear as bothered as he was, as if this were normal, and that faceplate being emotionless he felt was hardly an excuse.
“We probably should have chosen a recipe before going all gung-ho in here,” Tracer sighed. “But I’m sure we can scrape something together from all this!”
“ No .” His voice ruptured like thunder through the kitchen, grabbing everyone’s attention instantly. There were many things Hanzo Shimada could tolerate, but this was not one of them. Inexcusable. There was no way he would allow anyone to cook edible food in this mess, let alone eat anything from it. He was already rolling up his long sleeves and tying them back into his obi as he commanded, “Tracer, please inform me of the location of the gloves and fetch the cleaning supplies; Winston, please take those garbage bags to the bins; and Genji,” Genji perked up to his name, “scrape the banana from the… ceiling.”
What was surprising was that not a single one of them disobeyed. He hadn’t meant to take sudden control of the room despite his natural tendency for it, but it brought him comfort to be doing something productive rather than being guided around like a new toy to show off. It was a relief to focus on a menial task as well. He fell seamlessly into the rhythm of washing the dishes before placing them in the dishwasher. Genji was wiping down the counters with a wet cloth as Tracer blinked around to pick up rubbish. Winston was pushing around a rag with his feet to pick up any stray egg from the floor. Before long, the kitchen was even more clean than how he had found it earlier. And, remembering what Jesse McCree had told him about the coffee kettle, he went ahead and washed it by hand before placing it back to the burner.
“Wow,” Tracer sighed gleefully, “I don’t think the mess has ever been so clean!”
“We have been letting it go recently.” Winston admitted. The two jollied at this, having Hanzo wonder how many other messes this kitchen had endured over the years.
He took a hand towel to dry his himself before placing it through the handle of the oven. A part of Hanzo felt accomplished, even if the small domestic activity hadn’t been much trouble. “I apologise for being so demanding,” Hanzo admitted to them softly, “but now that we have the space, we will have an easier time preparing a meal.” If he had been offered food from the kitchen how it had been, he’d probably have politely starved.
“Yes. What were you and Winston thinking to prepare?” Genji asked curiously, but the look on their faces was enough for Hanzo to conclude neither of them had the slightest idea. It was likely how the kitchen had come to be a disaster in the first place. While he did not want to overstep his welcome, Hanzo debated looking through the cupboards and refrigerator to get ideas. He wasn’t keen on the idea of being rude.
“How many are to arrive for the dinner?”
Winston lifted a hand to count, then replied, “Reinhardt is still on his away mission so, with the addition of you, Hanzo, eight.” He nodded to that and looked to his younger brother for guidance. Genji shrugged a little but made no other movement. Looking to Winston and Tracer had similar results, so he stepped towards the refrigerator and peered inside. Before long, an idea came to mind.
That was how Hanzo found himself washing rice in the newly cleaned sink. It had been a little concerning when he had heard Tracer gasp somewhere behind him that she didn’t know rice had to be washed, but it was also, in its own way, amusing. The sweet smell of onions and sausage filled the air as Winston tended the stove. Genji was behind them cutting a few potatoes into bite-sized pieces and placing them into a bowl. Tracer had nominated herself to bread the sausages. She brought a stool to stand on so that she could reach the glass bowls far up in the cupboard. Hanzo thought little of it since she was already such a tall woman. But his senses became alarmed all at once when he barely caught the crack of the stool behind him.
The rice was abandoned in the pot instantly as he turned himself on his practised heel to catch the backside of Tracer. She fell into his grip gracefully, not at all registering that she could have easily blinked herself away. It had been luck that he caught the glass bowl in his other hand. The small stool lay with a broken leg against the white tile. As he held her close, Hanzo became immediately aware of the stares around the room. Winston looked positively astonished, while his brother tilted his head to one side in interest. He wasn’t sure if he felt embarrassed or anxious, but settled on both as he placed the young Tracer upright and immediately shoved the bowl into her hands.
She took it, dumbfounded, “Ah,” she started a in a stumble, “thanks, Hanzo. Let’s not tell the girlfriend about this one, yeah?” That got a laugh from the others. Hanzo simply returned to his task, trying his best to ignore the feeling of eyes on him, specifically Genji’s. It baffled him why doing something so instinctually trained into his head was causing his pulse to quicken. Perhaps it was due to the vulnerability of the act. If he had let the girl fall, he was sure she would have recovered in her own manner without much thought, but having him — a stranger — suddenly reach out to cradle her fall, it was begging his reasoning. It may be taken as him showing off or sizing up his own brother for a challenge. He found himself thankful when he could hear the continued chopping of the potatoes behind him, resting his heart for a moment. The last thing he wanted was for Genji to think he was trying to prove himself for something.
The rest of the cooking went much smoother, and for this Hanzo was grateful. Through a combined effort, they had made a simple curry, enough for eight people and some left overs. The smell was delightful and the eager looks on Tracer and Winston gave him a little sense of pride that he could still handle himself in a kitchen.
He turned to find Genji and ask what he thought, but his brother was not beside him. Instead, while he and Winston were setting the table, Genji was still within the kitchen. It had him curious, so he left Tracer to fill in for him as he went through the doorway. There, he found Genji rinsing some of the utensils and cookware they had used. Hanzo joined him, melding beside him easily and taking up a pot.
“How is it,” Genji’s voice almost sounded a little rattled, “that I never knew you could cook, brother?” The feeling behind the statement had Hanzo briefly pause.
He shrugged, “There was never a need to say when our meals were prepared for us at the estate. I did not learn properly until about a year or so after…” he trailed off, not wanting to finish his sentence. Genji understood but said it anyway.
Hanzo nodded tersely, handing his brother the clean pot which he then placed in the dishwasher. He took up the wooden spoons next. “Does it surprise you?”
The answer didn’t come right away, nearly having Hanzo think he may have said something wrong. “I find many things are surprising me lately. But,” here, he took the spoons and sat them aside so he could look into Hanzo directly with the green haze of the visor, “it is not unwelcome. I am a different man now, and sore you. It is like getting to know each other all over again.” Hanzo could agree to that, so he nodded.
“The world is changing once again.” He told his younger brother. Genji’s faceplate froze perfectly, then cast downward as if in thought. Something inside his heart begged him to reach out for Genji, prodding his mind to ready for the chill of metal. When he did begin to move, it was unconsciously, and suddenly Genji’s cheek was in his hand, lifting his gaze back. The faceplate was warmer than he thought it would be. It was nice.
“Let’s have dinner.” Hanzo told him with a kind smile. “I assume that you can still eat?” He felt the metal nod in his palm.
“I must use a ventilator when doing so. I hope that will not disturb you.” Deep down, he hoped his brother knew it wouldn’t, so he didn’t give a response, only slid his hand away to guide him to the table. For a moment, he thought he may have seen Genji follow his hand before falling back, but he had little time to focus on it as they joined the table and took seats beside each other.
“Winston, it’s all ready, so go ahead and send the message.” Winston gave a nod to Tracer and pulled up a datapad from his side. He tapped on it a few times and suddenly Hanzo could hear small chirping noises around the room. Apparently everyone had a device on them for communicating directly and instantly. It was not long after that when the others of the Overwatch began to filter in and take a seat.
Dr Mei-Ling Zhou was the first to arrive, looking rather sleepy before waking to the sight. “Oh wow!” She exclaimed, taking a seat next to Hanzo without question. “This looks fantastic! I haven’t had curry in forever!”
Next was Jack Morrison and Dr Angela Ziegler. Both appeared impressed with he display. Angela had with her a small device that she swapped to Genji silently. It’s shape and tubing appeared to be the ventilator his brother had spoken about. And lastly, the one named Jesse McCree strut in with half a cigar hanging from his lip. Despite walking in casually, he came to a sudden stop when he saw the rice and curry in the centre of the table, piping hot and golden.
“Well now, ain’t this different.” He said appreciatively, pulling out a chair next to Tracer. “Looks mighty fine. What’s the occasion?”
“No occasion,” Tracer chirped as she began to fill plates and serve them out, “just Hanzo over here decided a proper meal was better than a makeshift one.” Jesse McCree’s eyebrows raised. He looked at Hanzo with an incredulous glare.
“ You made this? With our kitchen?”
Hanzo nodded, taking a plate and setting it in front of his brother gently. “I also washed the coffee kettle out. I can make you coffee too, if you would like, Mr McCree.” Hanzo knew the way he had said the cowboy’s name was in defiance more than anything, and McCree seemed to catch that but chose to ignore it for his plate of curry. Once everyone had their plates, Tracer delightfully cheered that dinner was served, and all began to eat.
However, Hanzo politely waited. Angela had taken up the other side of Genji and was pressing the safety locks on his visor. It hissed like the burden of the removal was too much, and was delicately lifted away. The doctor set it off to the side. Hanzo felt his heart leap when his brother gave a sideways glance with his striking bourbon and cinnamon coloured eyes. The lower part of the plate was still in place, and he watched Genji lift his chin so that Angela could better access and press the latches there. It, too, hissed softly.
Hanzo had yet to see what Genji looked like below the eyes and found himself almost nervous by what may be there. Or not there. It stirred in his stomach, ebbing away any hunger he may have had for the time being. The doctor was practised in her movements as she lifted the plate away to end his silent suffering. For the first time in 10 years, Hanzo could see his brother’s lips. They were still the soft pink he remembered, like pale blossoms, but the scarring was deep and clefts showed where skin had to be mended back together. His nose looked about the same, except for a scar leading from his eye, over the bridge and down to his lips, finishing at his chin. Even from where he sat, he knew the teeth and jaw within that face had to have been rebuilt from something other than bone. His face washed in shame. He could not even begin to imagine the amount of pain Genji had had to endure from the moment he landed on the Overwatch operating table until now. That kept his eyes on his brother, searching the new exposed flesh. He knew he was staring, finding he couldn’t stop, and when Genji noticed, their eyes met and held. Hanzo felt locked in a tide, as if the weight of the world was being relayed from the soft pupils staring back. Then — Genji gasped, eyes rolling back, and he fell forward into Angela’s grip.
Sudden panic crowded his senses, he nearly forced himself up from the table with a break of thunder, but before he could ride on the rush of adrenaline, Angela had pushed in a nozzle that fit perfectly into a notch on Genji’s throat. She then pressed a button on the device where it filled the room with a consistent whirring. Instantly, Genji gulped a breath of air and regained himself, mildly blinking away something behind his eyes. No one at the table appeared as affected by this as Hanzo was. That was easy to dismiss since they were undoubtedly used to the process, but Hanzo could not help the guilt that shook him or the helpless feeling from having watched it. He wasn’t sure how his face must have looked in that moment, but it had to show the hurt he felt inside as Genji tried his best to give a relieving smile.
“I am just fine, anija.” He said this too quietly. It was apparent that the faceplates helped to project the sound, as this version of his voice was barely audible. Guilt again took him. He looked away, practically unable to hold himself together. But, a hand reached out under the table to touch his and entwined their fingers, bringing some manner of his resolve back. The cold metal fingers felt different, but the same pressure he knew from Genji was still there in the grip. He held the hand back, feeling grounded once more, and returned.
Dr Ziegler was winding up a tube that connected to the device on the table, and when she finished, she slid the device across the table to Hanzo openly. All he could do was stare at it blankly.
“The air flow may be disrupted and it will need to stay above 30p in order to keep him stable while he eats. That dial,” she pointed to the large one in the middle, “is what you will need to turn to the right when it drops and back left when it is stable. You’ll have to be diligent.”
Hanzo felt unsure, feeling it kind of irresponsible for someone to trust him enough to control his brother’s fate again, but instead what came out was, “I am not properly trained in this equipment.”
She gave a small snort and tossed a hand like he had said something silly. “That is why I am showing you. This ventilator is one of the many I keep and maintain for his activities that require him to use his mouth. Eating, brushing his teeth, drinking, bathing, etc. I have several so this one will be yours.”
“Why not just give a permanent one to him?”
She shook her head softly. “Genji has a personal one, but as you witnessed, sometimes his lungs collapse before he has time to lock it in. He will need someone that can turn it on and off for him. Usually, that person is me, and sometimes it’s Jesse when I’m busy. Now, you can help too.” Angela then gave a knowing look to Genji whom was hungrily eyeing his plate like nothing else in the world mattered more. “You can eat now.”
Not needing to be told twice, his brother gave the sweetest smile, toothy and bright. “I am excited to try my brother’s cooking. It will be a first!” He then took up his fork nimbly and started on the plate of curry with a natural form of carelessness he recognised from their youth. The good doctor pointed to the device before him again.
“The spikes often happen when he swallows. It’s best to let him eat his meals first before you do.” Before he could respond, Genji sighed out a noise of contentment, similar to a tender moan.
“It is a shame you will have to wait; this is absolutely delicious!” Everyone about the table seemed to agree. They began to discuss it and ask him randomly where he had learned the recipe and if he cooked often. A good part of him wanted to answer their queries, but he gave short enough answers to satisfy the curiosity while he kept an eye on his brother’s ventilator. Just as Dr Ziegler warned, on a few swallows was when the pressure would spike and he would adjust the device accordingly. Anyone else may have found the task disturbing or even a hindrance, but Hanzo felt a better candidate could not be chosen. He had done this to Genji. This was his fault. If anyone, he should be the one to sacrifice his time and the rest of his life to make amends. His burden. And it wasn’t really a bother either. Hanzo found he quite enjoyed watching his brother take spoonfuls of food into his mouth and watch him swallow it down. The bob of his throat beneath the armour was, on its own, a form of obscure gratification. What’s more, he hadn’t even known he was staring until Genji pointed it out with a purr.
“Hanzo still thinks I am handsome. Look how my brother gazes upon me.”
Hanzo blinked himself back and quickly assessed the ventilator like that was what he had been intending to do all along. “Why wouldn’t I? You have always been the more handsome one.” A cheerful and weak laugh rang through his body like the most perfect melody, caressing places inside him he didn’t know existed. It was beginning to be hard to concentrate.
“Even as my beautiful face has been changed with scar and time, your approval is just as it was. I doughnut think you would ever admit to me if I were hideous.” And Genji was right. Even with the clefts and scars, Hanzo could not see any ugliness. To him, Genji looked just the same as he always had to him: vibrant, confident, and perfect in form. A distant place in his mind pondered on this. When he engrossed himself in the thought, he was brought back again by the same melodic voice, feeling it tug him along pleasingly. “I do miss your long sweeping hair, but the salt and pepper and beard are no less handsome to me. You look like the man father always wanted you to be.” A smile. The sheer genuine feeling of it almost had him miss the spike on the ventilator. Genji laughed, nudging him with his elbow.
It was a few more minutes before Genji declared himself full and satisfied, which had surprised Hanzo given he hadn’t eaten very much. It was at that time Dr Ziegler began to show him how to disconnect the ventilator and reattach the plates. Instead of doing it for him, she had Genji face him directly and gave the steps to follow in a precise order. He nearly panicked again after he removed the nozzle and Genji collapsed into a heap on his chest, but Angela helped to keep him sober while he was informed how to set the first plate that would restore his breath. Genji looked so defenceless as Hanzo cradled him from his shoulder into a position to better attach the plate. He could have easily been mistaken for sleeping. As it set into the locks, the sound of pressure immediately restored and Genji’s eyes fluttered open delicately as though he were seeing the world for the very first time.
Those eyes unmistakably traced him, “ Anija ,” he breathed with his restored voice, and that archaic word nearly had Hanzo topple in his chair. It amazed him how even like this, his brother could still look upon him with such tenderness.
“Otouto,” He found himself replying without even thinking, gently stroking the part of his cheek still visible, and Genji leaned into it before allowing himself to rise up from the hold. The lacking weight in his arms left behind an emptiness Hanzo did not care for, but he listened to distract himself from it as Angela instructed how to reattach the visor. Although he didn’t want to hide his brother’s eyes again, he did as ordered anyway until a hiss and click removed all human elements of his brother from sight. This new form of his brother was whole again.
“It is your turn to eat now.” Genji told him playfully, clearly not having any lasting effects from his lost breath. He took up Hanzo’s fork gracefully and held it out for him, urging the reward of his own hunger to be sated. Hanzo couldn’t help but to grin. Genji had always been many things, and he could do little to deny him, always had trouble with that. So he took the offered utensil and gave his first bite, completely forgetting all others at the table as his eyes could not see anything but his brother. Maybe they noticed, but he didn’t want to see anything else in that moment, so he allowed himself the luxury to drown in it and savoured the tender hum of conversation around them.
Chapter 3: Chapter Three
It had been long since Hanzo had found himself among a gathering that didn’t have him wishing to commit public suicide just to avoid the questions about his personal life. How yes, he knew he was still single at 28, and yes, still single at 30, and no, that didn’t mean he didn’t want a husband or a wife someday, and what did it matter if he had a natural born heir or not? Men adopted their trusted employees all the time to secure these “heirs”, it was just by chance that he and Genji could say they were related by blood to the respected Sojiro Shimada. He found most of those functions to be a waste of his time seeing as he seldom agreed with the clan elders. But this — this was worlds different.
After dinner, they had all gathered into the common area to bask in the growing evening. It looked well worn with plush couches, a few chairs, and a small coffee table. Along the far wall was a decent sized television wedged between shelves of random entertainment. On first glance, a person could tell it was well-lived, smelling of pleasant cleaners. Genji was quick to crawl into a comfortable space by the foot of one of the couches, Angela kneeling sweetly beside him as though she did this often. Tracer had found her way to taking Hanzo’s arms and was pulling him along towards one of the chairs and she refused to let go until he sat near her. Jesse McCree flopped himself on the couch cushions nearest Genji’s other side, Mei sliding in with the commander stealing one of the bigger reclining chairs. Winston was the only one that looked moderately uncomfortable as he tried to find a good position.
Light conversation was trickling about, Hanzo having not said much of anything. It was still new in his mind that he had scaled walls and climbed over towns to get to this point. All the nights alone in the motels and taverns seemed so far away now, even though it was only yesterday when he stepped off the train with bystanders eyeing his uniform and bow strapped to his back like he was a spectacle. He could recall the feeling of uncertainty, something he was feeling a lot lately, from the idea he would travel so far just because of a simple note from his very alive brother. After the aggression at the Shimada temple, on the anniversary of Genji’s death, he had not known what to expect once he arrived to Watchpoint. But the calm laughter of genuine conversation, the warmth of a welcoming environment, all of those had been quite far from his mind as possibilities.
Hanzo wasn’t sure what he had missed being talk about around him, but the look on Tracer’s face was clearly excited as she nudged him in the shoulder, “Bet you’ve seen your share of chases, yeah? Talon sure likes to make it difficult. I don’t even know where they recruit all these people that just blindly serve them.”
“A lot of people feel they need to purge the anger with warfare.” Genji replied, “It is easier to following words of a madman that shares your animosity than it is to follow someone rational that would be against violent answers.”
Hanzo agreed, “Many of the common denominator would rather everything be settled in a single open battle rather than wait on the bureaucracy to vote who the next face of disappointment will be.”
Tracer sighed loudly and slumped back in her seat, “That sounds exactly like Talon, all right.” She was quick to recover with a bolt upward. “But, it’s not all lost. Let’s tell Hanzo about the Argentina mission!”
That did pique his interest. He had been curious what this Overwatch did since the Petras Act had been put in place. Winston seemed to like the idea and began to tell how he, Tracer, and Jesse McCree had all been lifted to Argentina on a distress call from a local businessman named Joaquín Santiago. As the story went on, Hanzo learned that this Mr Santiago was not just any businessman, but an old friend from the days of Overwatch’s past and was a large funder for many of their missions and projects. When Talon had learned of some of his tax write-offs, he became a target to have him either align with them or be killed. Either way, it would have been a large devastation to the Overwatch operation as a whole had they succeeded.
“So, we were able to incapacitate most of the footmen, and airlifted Santiago to a secure location just west of the tower.” Winston told him, as if Hanzo were the only audience. “McCree needed his prosthetic arm fixed right away too. Once on board, we made a quick call to Mercy and we were able to sustain most of its function until we made it back.”
Jesse McCree was resting under his hat, lazily holding up his cybernetic arm to display his fingers as he open and closed the palm. “My pinky still goes numb occasionally. Pretty sure Tracer put something back together all faulty.”
“Oh, get off it.” Tracer jeered playfully. McCree responded by moving his fingers into a common vulgar position before placing it back down. A few chuckles rang out. Winston shook his head and continued on.
“But the next assignment will be less dramatic since it’s more diplomatic than a rescue mission.”
“Finally got the word for us?” Jesse asked as he sat up, pulling back his hat with interest.
Winston nodded and pulled out his datapad, instantly finding the information he was looking for and flicking it to display on the television. The hologram displayed a young man with dreadlocks and hard-light skates. He looked quite young and like one of the many pop stars Hanzo saw in entertainment television. “We’re going to Brazil to meet with Lúcio Correia dos Santos. Yes, the musical sensation and world wide star Lucio.” Ah, that Lucio. The one he had heard about from many Vishkar employees when conversations turned to rebellion.
“Oh my!” Mei breathed, “I’m such a fan of his music! How did you settle a meeting with him?”
“Wasn’t easy,” Jack Morrison supplied, “but the boy’s smart. He’s been working on medical technology that would really benefit our support system. After a few calls, he agreed to meet with us to see if he’d like to be recruited to our cause.”
“Our cause would help his cause, after all.” Tracer added.
“A mutual benefit.” Hanzo said to himself, and Tracer caught it, giving a simple nod. That seemed to ignite her and all at once she began eagerly, “Hey, here’s a thought: why don’t we let Hanzo join us on the assignment? It’s not critical and it would be a good trial run for him to see our operations.” Hanzo blinked at her, not sure what to say to that but eventually found the words. It just happened to be at the same time as Jesse McCree.
“I don’t think that would be a good idea.” It was said nearly perfectly together. The two looked at each other quickly, and Hanzo was sure the cowboy looked moderately offended. McCree went on, however. “Need I remind you all that this guy literally did a number on our man Genji here, and he’s not even been here a full day? And you want him to just tag along on a covert assignment like a show pony?”
“I have to agree with Jesse.” Jack Morrison said as he leaned in the chair. “While I think Hanzo would be a good asset if he decides to join, it’s too early to tell if he’ll be beneficial to our field work. We don’t have records of his skill set or general physical capabilities.”
Hanzo nodded. As he had been leader of the Shimada clan, he knew all too well about giving trust too easily to the wrong people. It was an invitation for disaster even if the person had the best intentions at heart. Even if he wanted to go, it was a bit risky for Overwatch to chance. He could potentially be a liability more than an asset. He felt it wise to agree with Morrison and McCree on this. As he went to say so, Genji interrupted politely. “Personally, I think Hanzo would do great on this assignment.” That had him stop mid-breath and look to his brother.
“Hanzo was always learning from our father about diplomacy and tact. He was a natural, of course. My brother would be good to present our case to Mr Lucio, even if he is only to come as an envoy.” Even in their adolescence, there were very few times Genji would acknowledge or compliment his talents. It could have been for any number of reasons, but it had mostly been due to that Hanzo preferred to stick to his studies and pleasing their father, while Genji found the pleasure of skin and drugs within dance clubs and bars that definitely should not have allowed him entry. So the praise gave him pause and a mild form of gaiety. Of course, Genji wasn’t wrong when he said this, but he didn’t know if he wanted to admit to it aloud. Gauging the room, the team clearly valued Genji’s input on the matter and were considering it. Jack Morrison was looking him over as if the fact of the claim would be written on his face. “Having a professionally trained diplomat could be useful. Do you think it’s something you could provide?”
The eyes on him would have made a normal person feel they were under great pressure, but since Hanzo was confident in most of his natural abilities, it just came off as a mild annoyance. He didn’t want to exactly tell them no, but it was difficult to give them a yes, as well. While he could provide the diplomacy and paint Overwatch in a light suitable to encourage Mr Lucio, as his time running the Shimada clan had him understand why rebellion happened at all, he just wasn’t sure if it was in his best interest to do so. He had little to do with his family anymore, but it was that exact family that had given him his attributes and education. But… they also were the provocateurs that ultimately led to Genji’s death.
“I would be honoured to represent Overwatch to Mr Lucio.”
“Well, that’s settles it then!” Tracer exclaimed with a delightful clap of her hands. Morrison and McCree still looked uneasy about it and, truth be told, so did he. Winston didn’t appear to notice the pressure and simply gave a large grin that was quite reassuring considering it was coming from a gorilla.
“We can gather tomorrow for a skill test in the gun range.” He said, looking at Hanzo, “Athena can set up some drills and targets so proper measurements can be made. If he does well, Angela can check his vitals to see if he can be cleared for duty. Would that be acceptable?” Jack Morrison nodded and began to stand, giving a long stretch as though the weight of the conversation was causing an ache.
“I can see about adding him to the assignment — as a civilian, mind you. Knowing he is capable of assault and defence will be a plus just in case circumstances go south.” Hanzo could think of a number of ways a diplomatic mission could turn into a battlefield, he’d been apart of a few himself where he was often the target of great interest. A part of him still thought it was rather careless to ask him to be apart of the assignment at all, but if Genji felt it was worth doing, he clearly had a reason. So Hanzo let it be, watching as members began to file out for the night to sleep. This brought up a question about where Hanzo would stay.
“Just because he’s your brother doesn’t me we shouldn’t keep an eye on him.” Jesse McCree offered, but it wasn’t said unkindly.
“Are you offering to share you room with him?” Winston asked. McCree was quick to back track and scoff.
“I ain’t havin’ a known assassin sleep in my room.”
“But Jesse,” Genji called as he rose from the floor, taking Angela’s hand gracefully to lift her up with him, “I am a trained assassin.”
McCree rolled his eyes, “Yeah? Well that’s different. I know you wouldn’t put a sword in my back. Whether or not your brother would is up for debate.”
“You could just ask him.” Genji replied innocently, and that brought a glittering giggle from Angela. Hanzo also stole a smile. Jesse McCree noticed and huffed a little, probably feeling ganged on for his concerns. And truthfully, McCree seemed to be the only one treating him as he should be: like a criminal. It was actually flattering in a way.
When Angela finished on a simple sigh, she offered that Hanzo could room in one of the spare bunks they kept unused equipment in, which was reasonable, but Genji did not approve. “I want Hanzo to stay with me.” Jesse McCree wore his immediate disapproval loudly with a sardonic laugh. “What? It would be the most familiar. I doughnut want my brother to sleep alone when he has come so far to be here at my request.” Even Hanzo had to admit that McCree’s objection was warranted, but if Genji held no concerns and certainly Hanzo did not feel he would come to harm his brother like that again, he was fine with accepting the arrangement. Chances were that if they put him alone, he would have found his way to his brother’s room anyway just to spite them.
The colour on McCree’s face seemed to melt under Genji’s completely serious proposal. Whatever history they had together must have been expansive, for as quick as Jesse McCree was to object, he conceded. “If’n that’s what you want, I can’t bring m’self to argue. You sure are a trusting bastard.”
Genji didn’t seem to think so. “You worry too much. If all my brother intended to do was to kill me again, he would not waste so much time. He would just do it. In front of everyone. Then leave.”
McCree gave Hanzo a incredulous look, and Hanzo replied with a modest shrug, “Well, he is not wrong. Ninja wait for the perfect opportunity to strike. Assassins just get the job done.” The cowboy did laugh at that, but likely more from defeat than anything. With the arrangements now set, but before Jesse McCree left, he was sure to throw a knowing look at Hanzo, and when Genji turned his back, McCree mimicked his hand into the shape of a gun and pretended to fire at his head. Another warning. Hanzo simply acknowledged it with a quick nod which satisfied the cowboy. For now. He then followed Genji and the others out.
When they were small, Hanzo and Genji had shared a room until they were of age to complain enough to have their own. They had fine, plush beds, shelves of all the fanciest toys and gadgets, and posters showing their interests. Hanzo was always more reserved as his side of the room which presented mostly traditional Japanese elements. Genji preferred a more modern look and had no problem with leaving much of his belongings out. This is why it came as a surprise when Hanzo looked about the bunk. This room had a more traditional appeal than robust.
The bunk was not very large. The far wall had a scroll of with a proverb written in 1’s and 0’s, which he only knew because Genji took a moment to explain, a futon tucked into a wooden frame sat in the corner beside it. Some decorative swords were lined on the other wall with a small kotatsu table that had an electric tea kettle upon it. What surprised him the most, however, was when he approached the bedside and found a picture frame next to the lamp. Hanzo picked it up curiously, finding himself rather taken when he saw himself staring back. The photo was old, long before he and Genji had grown so far apart. His hair was long and Genji’s hair was the bright green he had always preferred. Hanzo thought it looked stupid even if it was fitting. They were smiling. It had been a picture their father had taken with his mobile phone during the spring. He let his finger trail over their features, lost in memories of times long since past.
He was brought back from his memories when a futon struck the floor beside him. Genji was laying it out beside his bed, tossing with it a spare pillow and an oversized comforter decorated in peonies. “I hope this will be acceptable. It is not often I entertain guests here.” It was more than acceptable. Hanzo set the picture back tenderly.
“Thank you.” He told Genji with a polite traditional bow. Genji accepted it kindly. The silence that came after was tense as Hanzo wasn’t sure what else to say. Genji noticed and caught his eyes where they both let out a laugh. It helped.
“Doughnut be so nervous, anija. It is just me. I promise I will not hurt you.”
Genji could not possibly mean that. “How can you say this? It is I that should be making promises to you.”
Genji shook his head softly, “I doughnut need your promises. You are here, and that is all the promise I need.” He bowed his head, Hanzo following the soft green haze. “Excuse me. I must ready for sleep.” He then watched as he brother activated an automatic door and stepped inside to what looked like a small bathroom. The door shut quickly and he was gone from sight. So many memories and questions entered Hanzo’s mind. It was as though the entire room were speaking to him and forcing him to relive certain moments of their lives. How long had Genji kept the photo? It’s significance was clearly displayed as it sat near his bedside so close where one could look upon it as they fell asleep. Despite everything, despite his pride and ruthless murder, Genji still looked upon him each night. Hanzo wasn’t sure how to feel, but his stomach churned a mixture of guilt and reprieve. And all Hanzo could do was mourn and honour him each year on that day — the day he lost everything dear to him, the day —
A knock came to the door. Hanzo froze, looking between the bedroom door and the bathroom. When the knock was heard again, it was clear to be coming from the bedroom entrance. He debated alerting Genji, but when it became louder, he decided to answer it instead. Hanzo approached the door, triggered the lock and let it slide open. On the other side was Jesse McCree. He was in a plain tartan shirt, half unbuttoned, and casual boxers. His feet were bare.
“I sincerely hope you are not about to say that you are here for a sleepover.” McCree pushed by him with a touch to his shoulder that still ignited fire within him from the complete disregard to his personal space.
“Relax, dragon-breath, I’m here because Angela sent me against my will. And it ain’t to sleep over.” Hanzo watched him make his way to the bathroom door where he knocked gently. It opened immediately with a giddy sound from Genji. He was pulled inside rather fast. Hanzo shut the door back and ignored the small lick of emotion that tugged in the back of his mind. But then, the bathroom door opened again and Jesse McCree stuck his head out. “You comin’?” Hanzo reacted with a face that surely was questioning why he would be asked that in this context. Ever.
McCree appeared impatient. “Just get in here.” He motioned for Hanzo to join them with a quick curl of his hand. Although he was curious, another part of him couldn’t imagine that all three of them could possibly fit in the smallness of the bathroom. In spite of that, he went anyway and managed to squeeze himself in.
The smell of soap-scum and shampoo hit him first. The bathroom was incredibly small with a single standing shower, a small toilet in the corner, and a sink that would probably only hold 3 cups of water if it tried. The mirror above it was partially shattered with a photograph of Angela tucked in the corner. She looked to be dressed as a witch. Halloween. He really did not want to know why that picture was there and in the bathroom for that matter. A whirring noise was already in the air, Genji having put in his ventilator by himself after removing the face plates. The entire head piece was gone now and the dark black scruff of Genji’s hair was all about in every direction. McCree was pressing locks on the back of his brother, causing hisses, and began to remove a larger body plate.
“Every week Genji needs to have the armour wiped down or the skin cells and general debris will clog the vents.” The plate was lifted off easily, revealing a flesh arm tattered with awful dark scarring. “He doesn’t actually need it right now, but Angela wanted me to show you how it’s done. Come ‘ere.” As he said that, his brother was taking up a toothbrush and began to brush his teeth with a paste that smelled of green tea. Hanzo approached cautiously, moving around his brother so he could get the best view to what the cowboy was showing him. He didn’t look happy with the idea about having to do this for Hanzo, but his demeanour was far more pleasant than it had been earlier in the day. He pointed him to some other locks and explained how to best access them. Then, together they peeled away the plates until Genji was as naked as he could be. And the sight horrified him.
All that remained of his brother was his left arm and part of his chest. He could only imagine which organs and tissue may still exist under the metal. Everything else had been completely replaced with metal and wire. Genji kept with his task of brushing his teeth, obviously not noticing that his brother was intensely gawking at him from behind. McCree placed the plates calmly aside, and Hanzo felt himself shattering. Death was no stranger to him. Blood and body parts were as normal to him as breathing given his background, but this legitimately sickened him. It took all his strength not to crumble right there from the persistent guilt. Jesse McCree grounded him by placing a hand on his arm to grab his attention. “Hey. Come on back, now. Breathe.” All Hanzo could do was nod. Words couldn’t form in his throat and his chest tightened. It was pathetic that McCree was taking pity on him like this.
“Look here,” he began, trying to distract him back to task, and Hanzo looked. The cowboy was pointing to the area where flesh met metal. “The skin sheds pretty normally and can build up around the seams. All you need to do is grab a cloth and use this sanitiser to wipe him down.” The bottle of sanitiser was held up and sprayed into a regular rag cloth. McCree then demonstrated by using gentle motions of back and forth on the seam. “The lower parts can be cleaned with canned air,” he continued, “but that only needs to be done every other week or so. Genji’s pretty good at doing that himself, to be honest.”
Genji spat into the sink, “You do it very hard. I doughnut like it very much.”
McCree grinned, “It ain’t me, sweetheart, you’re just delicate.” Genji rolled his eyes. “Anyway, I can show you how to remove those plates another day. For now, this should be good. Pretty basic. Then when you’re done, you just put ‘em back — if he lets you, that is. Sometimes he’s stubborn and wants to run around in his version of naked for a while before suiting back up.”
“Let me live.” Genji proclaimed.
“You’re not gonna live if you dart around without your circulating vents. Remember what Angela said about gangrene? You want that?” When his brother did not reply, McCree triumphantly grinned, “That’s what I thought.” He then turned back to Hanzo, throwing a thumb in Genji’s direction. “His body is waterproof, for the most part, so he can shower and survive most water based events, but you’ll want to make sure he’s dried properly after. Mineral deposits are a pain to clean out.” The cloth was then put into his hand. Hanzo looked down at it like it was a foreign concept. Or would catch fire.
“Try it out.” McCree encouraged, but Hanzo absolutely did not feel he could do this. The ventilator was a simple click, but to actually run his hands over the parts of his brother that he had severed brought him to freeze. When he didn’t immediately move, Jesse McCree decided to reach for his hand. His large, tanned hand came to rest on top of his and aided the process. They were practically rubbing shoulders in the small space given they were all fairly decently sized men, and Hanzo felt his face heat when Jesse McCree tucked his shoulder behind him to better give room for his hand to work the task with Hanzo’s palm. McCree was gentle, showing how much pressure to apply and the motions. He seemed completely unaware how this was more invasion of his personal space. But when Genji hummed softly, enjoying the touch, Hanzo decided he could stand it a little longer if it meant his brother could feel at ease.
“Yeah, just like that. You got it.” McCree had removed himself and gave the responsibility fully to Hanzo. He could feel the cowboy’s eyes on him as he demonstrated his ability to be gentle on his brother. Perhaps he was gauging Hanzo’s commitment seeing as he and Dr Ziegler appeared to be Genji’s primary care-takers. It didn’t seem like a bother to him, but he could understand how the doctor and Jesse McCree may not always want to handle the trouble. It was fitting that the responsible party handle the fallout, after all. At least, that’s how Hanzo felt. Maybe he was wrong and they didn’t mind. The way McCree watched him and Genji wasn’t hypercritical, just concerned. He could tell this man truly cared for his brother.
Once the demonstration was over, McCree made quick work to exit the bathroom, Hanzo following after and Genji trailing behind with his ventilator in his hand. Genji didn’t want the plates back on just yet and McCree looked too tired to argue, so he showed himself out. As he left, he tossed behind his shoulder to Hanzo, “Call me if you need help with anything for him. I’m a few doors over and would rather you come a-knocking than do something wrong.”
Hanzo replied to him with sincere gratitude, and then McCree was gone with a wave of his hand acknowledging the sentiment. After the door closed, he turned to see Genji was flopping onto his futon lazily, ventilator in palm as he breathed deeply in and out. That was the Genji he knew.
An eye peered open at him with curiosity, “You’re not going to sleeping that, are you?” Genji pointed to his proper kyudo-gi and hakama.
“I did not think it would matter.”
“Ah, anija,” he cooed softly, “so proper. And what will you wear tomorrow?” Hanzo could only stare at him blankly. “You doughnut have anything else.” It was a statement and quite true. Many motels along the way had been generous with their laundry mats and showers, so he didn’t much need to bring more than himself along, which made travel much easier. Checking in his bow and arrows along the transport gates had been tricky, though. Luckily, he had been able to persuade any nosy officer or agent that found it suspicious — with complete disembowelling.
Genji sighed. “I doughnut have many clothes. I cannot offer you anything to change into. I am sure Angela will have spare Overwatch blacks and uniforms if you ask her.”
“I will be fine,” he said resolutely, bending at his knees to kneel on the spare futon.
“You will be smelly.” Hanzo eyed him with discontent. “You can at least shower here. My hygiene consists mostly of canned air so I doughnut use the soaps very often. Please,” he motioned to his bathroom, “I insist that you refresh yourself.” The offer was earnest. Hanzo looked over his brother: the wild dark hair, the various clefts and scars, and found he could not refute the hospitality. It had been a few days since his last shower, so he gave in with a heavy sigh, having Genji bloom a large grin from victory. When they were small boys, Genji always had the ability to get his way from him and their father. It was like a mystic charm he had that one had to fight desperately against not to fall for. But, he fell for it this time and excused himself to the shower.
The water had felt nice and warm, and smoothing away the dirt and debris from his travels was exactly what he needed to feel more at ease. It hadn’t been until he was stepping from the shower, drying his hair in the nearby towel, that it became clear just how wound up he had felt all day. Many thoughts had crossed him as he approached the location, mostly ones of regret, but after seeing what kind of people Genji surrounded himself with, he could see why his brother may have found peace among them. While not exactly the kind of people he would have associated with in Hanamura, there was a certain charm to their legitimate camaraderie.
Hanzo threw the towel around his shoulders and came from the bathroom completely nude without much worry. The cool air struck him with a relaxing breeze on his warm skin. He tossed his hair around in the towel a little more, then began for the futon to rest. As he approached, he still heard the intense sounds of the ventilator. Genji was curled up on his side, nuzzling into his cybernetic arm while the flesh one tucked between his legs. The soft sound of sleep had him wait and watch with interest. He knew his brother was a fierce warrior and had always been rather good with a sword. There wasn’t anyone whom could best him when it came to agility either, and watching this deadly man sleep without a care in the world did something to his heart that he could not describe. Genji had brought him to his knees, humbled him in an instant, and had Hanzo feel the bliss of his thoughts that soon he would be dead and he could join his brother on the other side. The blade at his throat had felt perfect, his desire to keep fighting tarnished, despite that this unknown assassin at the time had controlled the dragon of the north wind. Perhaps if his mind had been clearer, he would have known instantly the man behind the mask, but years of torment and grief had him simply accept the defeat.
Before he could stop himself, Hanzo was reaching out. His fingers barely grazed the skin of Genji’s cheek. His brother barely stirred, falling into his touch. He was sure if he truly had intended to murder him again, Genji, with his gentle heart, would not expect it. Not now. Not ever. And it pained him that this truth could be felt deep inside his bones. He did not deserve this forgiveness. He deserved to be skeptically watched as Jesse McCree had done, or cautiously threatened with violence as Dr Ziegler had. After everything, why did Genji forgive him?
“Anija …” it was soft, too low to be heard that Hanzo was almost sure he had imagined it. Did he know he was there, or was Genji dreaming of him? It didn’t matter as he watched his brother sleep with the face of serenity. After a few more moments of watching Genji’s chest rise and fall, Hanzo leaned down and gave the softest kiss to his head, too small to be noticed or woken by, and then he laid into the futon, pulling the comforter over his naked body with little regard. He felt like the great dragon of the south wind himself, protecting his fallen. Hanzo would sleep better that night than he had in 10 years.
Sojiro Shimada did not look happy. He very seldom did when he needed to decide how best to handle his youngest son. Hanzo stood before him, hair tied off to the side neatly while he wore a simple and casual suit.
“I need you to go to the Hanafuku club and retrieve your brother before the media has another field day.” Hanzo sighed at that, clearing having done this before and unhappy about it.
“Father, why not just send the guards this time?”
Sojiro lamented, pinching the bridge of his nose in annoyance. “I do not need any more people within this estate to know that your brother is a club-hopping slut. Go to the club, bring him home.” There was no arguing. Hanzo gave a deep bow and excused himself. Genji was always this way, always running off from his studies and crashing into red-light districts with pills on his tongue. It would have been embarrassing if not for the fact that the Shimada family was good at keeping the media at bay. Still, Hanzo hated having to crawl through the dirty filth that would grind in the local clubs just to find his brother sucking someone off in the back room. Again.
Finding the club was easy enough, but locating Genji had been the harder part. No matter where he went, the music was too loud and the people too grabby. He nearly gave up until the bartender informed him that he had seen the young Shimada get keys to one of the back rooms with a few locals. Great. Hanzo thanked him and headed to the back, his nose filling with the smell of alcohol and sweat. The smell of lubricant and sex had also been overwhelming. Hanzo dreaded what he was about to find behind the door he now stood, and after taking a breath to centre himself, he turned the knob.
The room was a complete mess of clothing and beer bottles. He was sure someone had been doing cocaine in the corner and the bed in the centre of it all held three figures. A man that looked like one of the bouncers, a lady that appeared to be one of the strippers, and Genji sandwiched between them. How foul. When they noticed him, the bouncer and stripper made quick work to gather themselves and run as far away as possible from the dangerous glare of Hanzo Shimada. Hanzo didn’t even bother to speak or acknowledge them, only let them hastily fall around until they left the room. All the commotion stirred Genji, whom sat up in the bed covered in smeared lipstick, his bright green hair tousled, and with handcuffs still strapped to one of his wrists. He rubbed his eyes blearily, bloodshot and quite visibly high on something.
When he noticed Hanzo, he smiled lopsided. “Anija!” His voice was practically a slur, “Did you come to has fun with me?”
“ ‘Have’, and no. I came to take you home.” Genji rolled his eyes at that but began to force himself upright to collect his clothing anyway. Hanzo approached and helped him dress until he was somewhat suitable to walk out the club doors with mild modesty. Genji giggled the entire time, making dressing him as fussy as dressing a child instead of an 18 year old proud son of the great Sojiro Shimada.
Genji fell into his grip, tripping over himself that forced Hanzo to place his arm about his shoulders to carry him. He wreaked of beer and sex. They only managed a few steps until Genji stumbled and fell onto his chest. Instead of moving, his brother simply stayed there, nuzzling his nose into his shoulder. “Mm, Hanzo, you smell so nice. I might cum .” Hanzo blatantly ignored that and thrust him up to better grasp around his middle. Genji wobbled on his feet, sliding a lazy free hand to Hanzo’s groin, teasing his fingers there with implications, “Instead of taking me home,” his voice dropped low, hungry, “you should put your thick cock inside me and fuck me into the bed.”
That had Hanzo immediately feel hot in his face. Genji was clearly too intoxicated to know what he was saying to his own brother . He didn’t bother to even give him a dignified response, just forced the hand away like a good brother should and began walking them out. But that did not deter Genji, having only seemed to encourage him more as he went on to say loudly, “Ah, maybe that is not as appealing to the proud Hanzo. Could it be that my brother wants me to fuck him into the bed?” A hand captured the curve of his bottom and squeezed. Hanzo immediately responded with a jolt, his face bright pink.
“Genji, you are high as all fuck; please stop this humiliating disgrace and debauchery until we at least make it home.”
The images began to melt away, the vision of himself leading Genji down the street to the nearest taxicab, all of it fading into blackness and distance until Hanzo found himself waking in the calm of the spare futon. He blinked the sleep from his eyes, briefly registering that he was in his brother’s bunk at the Watchpoint, and not somehow magically back in time. He sat up, feeling the comforter slide down his bare chest. That memory had been so long ago, and he couldn’t remember the last time he had a dream that wasn’t of that day, so it came as a mild surprise. How many times had he been sent to retrieve his brother, high as a kite, from random clubs? How was it that this boy had grown into the same man sharing the room with him now? Puzzling.
Hanzo stretched and looked over to the futon beside him. Genji was not there. As he looked around, there wasn’t a telltale sign that Genji had ever been in the room at all. Everything was perfectly placed and undisturbed. So, he stood, stretched himself out and headed to the bathroom for a quick rinse of his face. When he entered, he spotted a dark mass on the toilet lid. A small note was written on it in handwriting he recognised. Genji.
Don’t wear those smelly clothes.
You will not find them because I stole them to be washed.
Wear this, please.
There is shaving supplies in the cupboard by the bath.
A part of him was annoyed that his clothing had been taken without his consent, but he sighed out the thought and began to dress himself in the regulation blacks. A small Overwatch emblem was on the breast pocket. It fit decently and the boots were just about his size so they were comfortable. Genji had left his seigaiha tie, so he quickly pulled his hair back up and out of his face. His stubble was manageable but he found the offered supplies and cleaned himself up proper. When he finished, he looked decently alive, more so than he had probably in years. The colour in his face even appeared warmer, fuller. So, he brushed his teeth with Genji’s toothbrush, and quickly spat when he heard a simple knock at the door.
He rustled around, putting everything away as he had found it. The knocking was gentle, delicate, definitely not the Jesse McCree again. He answered the door casually, not sure whom to expect, and actually gave a small smile when he looked down to see the modest Dr Mei-Ling Zhou. She was dressed in basic pyjamas and was holding a coffee cup in each hand. She looked a little taken that Hanzo answered her, but not disappointed. “Oh, you are not Genji!” Her tiny giggle was beautiful, full of happiness he had long since forgotten even existed.
“I am not.” He told her sweetly. “Did you bring my brother coffee?”
She looked between the cups like she had forgotten they were there, then nodded. “Yes. Sometimes when I wake early, I will make him his favourite. He cannot still be asleep?”
“No,” he told her with a small shake of his head, “he is gone. It is just me here.” Dr Zhou thought on that and chewed on her bottom lip in thought.
“Well, it would be a shame to let this hot coffee go to waste. Shimada-san, would you like the coffee instead?” Such respect. This beautiful woman was everything someone in his culture would beg to have as a bride. Intelligent, successful, and endearing. Hanzo took the cup from her delicate hand smoothly.
As he took a small sip, he said to her, “Please, Dr Zhou, call me Hanzo.”
Her face brightened with a delighted giggle. “Only if you call me Mei!”
When he smiled again, Mei looked away with the smallest touch of pink across her face. To hide it, she took sips from her own cup, curling a finger around her ear to move some of her hair to the side.
“I was also going to see if Genji wanted to join me and Winston for breakfast. Would you like to join us too, ah, Hanzo?” His name fell from her like a test, unsure and shy. He hadn’t eaten yet and found no reason to decline, so he accepted the offer and followed Mei down the corridors to the common area. They made light conversation, speaking more of her background in climatology.
“Currently, many politicians are confusing the public to think the rise of technology and omnics are to blame for the increased carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and methane within the ecosystems, but at the time, I felt this needed to be tested since it didn’t quite add up. Overwatch established many watchpoints around the globe so we could get valuable data to back up the claim or dismiss it.”
Hanzo nodded, “It is better to form a hypothesis and follow the scientific method than to point a finger without evidence. Bureaucrats do not often care to base their livelihood on facts, however. That would be too damning.” Mei laughed at that, then spoke more on her previous studies, being sure to explain parts that Hanzo appeared not to quite understand.
“My educational background in climatology is quite limited. I find it fascinating that you and your team were able to create artificial sensors to reduce the ozone over Asia. Did you use carbon filters?”
Mei nodded, seeming to find it interesting that he would say that. “Ah, yes, at first. Carbon filters are not easy to maintain for long periods of time so we began to develop other options.”
“That would make sense,” he replied, taking another drink from his cup and looking down the hall, “ozone does change the chemical composition of carbon after a while. I would imagine that analysis of the structure and composition of the filters, perhaps with a,” he fumbled for what type of device would be best. Mei seemed to understand and provided the word.
Hanzo chuckled, “I was going to say an X-ray photoemission spectrometry device, but that would work too. Either way, I’m sure those analyses proved the reduced surface area and allotted your team the advantage to advocate for alternative and extensive research.” They reached the common area by that time and Mei led them into the kitchen where the smell of eggs and bacon was quite tempting.
“You claim to be limited,” Mei began, “but your knowledge is quite impressive. Perhaps you should have been on our watchpoint team!” Hanzo took the compliment even if he did not feel he deserved it given that his knowledge was quite more limited than Mei’s background would call for. Winston overheard as they walked in, taking a moment from the stove to give greetings.
“Good morning, Mei, Hanzo. What are we discussing so early?” Mei took a seat at the small metal table and ushered Hanzo to join her. He took the stool beside her. She then explained their conversation on ecosystems. As she finished, Winston gave a sincere laugh and served out portions onto three plates for them. He brought them to the table gingerly as he needed one arm to move himself about while the other held the plates. “It does not surprise me. Angela was telling me about his knowledge in medical education as well. It seems Hanzo is well versed in many fields of study.”
“Jack of all trades, master of none,” Hanzo supplied when a plate full of scrambled eggs, large strips of bacon and a slice of toast greeted him, “I have no such expertise as the lovely Dr Zhou and Dr Ziegler. I could not begin to compete with anyone whom mastered these studies. My knowledge is far too simple.” They began to eat and Hanzo was pleased to see the kitchen was still clean and Winston had not made any large messes. He checked the ceiling just to be sure. Clean. It made the food taste all the better.
The breakfast was delicious. Normally, Hanzo would eat rice and maybe find local produce to toss in, but this western breakfast was a nice change of pace. His stomach appreciated the real food and portions, thanking him with a satisfied fullness. It was the first time in a few weeks he didn’t experience pain from excess acid. Trying to keep his body in good shape while wandering the planet had been difficult to achieve, so the proper meals were helping. Once everyone had finished, as Hanzo had always been taught to never leave the table until everyone had finished, he took up the plates and offered to wash the dishes in thanks for Winston cooking. Barely anyone fought with him on it, and he made quick work of them.
“You’re going to be tested in the gun range today, aren’t you?” Mei asked this of him from behind at the table.
Hanzo placed the pan into the dishwasher. “That was the agreement.”
“Are you nervous? I do not like having so many watch me and judge. Athena does not even have a face and she can be scary.”
He closed the dishwasher and dried his hands. “Who is Athena?” That caught Winston who immediately blossomed a proud grin in excitement.
“She is my computer artificial intelligence. She is the product of many years of progress in the field. Her role here at Watchpoint is critical as she manages the function of the facility, helps gather data, and runs diagnostics and testing. She’s also a wonderful companion.” She sounded like one of the A.I. systems he and Genji had grown up with at the estate. But that program had been more like a disembodied butler than a companion. This Athena sounded much more modern and complete. He wondered how she would operate for his skill test. That also had him wonder how many tasks she actually managed automatically about the compound. He would understand soon enough since the morning was fading and Winston alerted him that everyone would be heading to the gun range soon. While he trusted his skill, it had been many decades since he had performed for an audience. Swordsmanship and archery had been his mastery, never failing form or function. In his age now, he wasn’t sure if he could compare to his spry youthful numbers. It wasn’t as though he had much to prove anyway, since he would just be joining the next mission as a diplomat, but the idea that he would be displaying again did make him a tad nervous for unknown reasons.
Hanzo joined Mei and Winston at the table for a little more coffee and light conversation. The distraction helped ease his mind for the coming test.
Chapter 4: Chapter Four
The gun range had looked decently impressive before when he had first met Tracer and Mei. Now that Hanzo would be the main focus of its use, he began to notice the more intricate details that made this area particularly unique and beyond what most practise ranges would have standard. When he entered with Winston and Mei, he took note that Genji, McCree and Tracer were discussing something lively by a terminal unit. His brother was the first to notice him, giving him a tilt of his head from the bright green visor. Jesse McCree and Tracer followed his eyes. Tracer lit up instantly, blinking over as fast as she could to take his hand warmly in hers in under a second. Her eyes dashed up and down his body appreciatively, peering around to his bow strapped along his backside.
“You’re looking right smart in those blacks!” She sang, “A shame we can’t see all of the tattoo anymore, but it’s a tad more comfortable, yeah?” Hanzo agreed that the blacks were acceptable with a small noise. She then followed up with a mild tug on his arms, urging him towards the terminal McCree and Genji still stood by. He let her pull him as her excitement was a little contagious, smoothing away some of his nervousness. He was thankful for that. As they approached, Tracer nodded towards the terminal like it was obvious why they were there. Hanzo could only stare at it. It looked like a standard terminal with a holo-screen and flat top.
“Well, go on then! Put your bow down.”
It was almost like a game everyone was playing where they made up the rules all the time and intentionally kept him out of it. “Down where exactly?” That caused McCree and Genji to chuckle. Hanzo didn’t know what was worth jollying at. It was an honest question. McCree then clapped a hand on him, and Hanzo felt he was getting used to this by now even if he still wanted to break the cowboy’s good arm each time, “She means for you to put your bow in the terminal. Athena’s gotta scan it.” There were few things Hanzo considered personal to him, his storm bow definitely was one of them, so he eyed the top of the terminal warily, only conceding to the action when Genji assured him it was safe with a silent nod. The bow was larger than the terminal so he prepared to catch it should it fall to the floor, but was immediately surprised when a hard light extended from the top and lifted his bow into the air. The bow was bathed in blue light and fine grids, slowly rotating until he heard a female voice acknowledge that the scan was complete. The bow was sat back down gracefully where he took it back, not going to chance a fall.
Nothing about his bow seemed any different. It was likely that Athena needed something to base his stats on since his weapon was something quite custom to him and not really an item you’d find laying within shops. Over the years he had personalised its effectiveness with his own needs and compensations. This bow was special to him. But, what he didn’t know was how Athena would obtain the stats she needed. A simple scan couldn’t possibly do much, and while his arrows were limited, he could use them on the far end targets, despite that they weren’t proper for archery. He peered down the range to gather the best way to show his precise strikes and through a nearby corridor that could show the capability of his scatter arrow. He may need to ask for a target to be set inside there for that ability.
“ Thank you for your patience, Shimada Hanzo, ” came the computer voice above them. “ Please standby. ” Hanzo was curious when he began to notice that the gun range was folding into itself and producing different equipment than had been displayed before. Training bots filed away, and the targets he intended to use were turned over into walls or removed completely until there was nothing but a large open space with few obstacles. “ Target base stats loading. ”
Tracer beamed at him, loading up two guns from her forearms in quick succession. “This’ll be fun!” She then flipped back, blinked, and landed some distance away in the space, not once dropping her firearms. Athena made another acknowledging voice, and he watched as Tracer began to have pale blue swirls of light around her chest until it coalesced into a translucent flat target. It held three rings with the centre directly at her heart. There was no way he was going to shoot an actual arrow at Tracer, that couldn’t be what this Athena was preparing? He thought everyone liked her enough not to sacrifice her. Tracer gave a wink, “Don’t hold back now. I hear tell I can be a smidge hard to hit.” She punctuated that with another blink into a different position. She was serious about this, and he needed confirmation.
Hanzo looked to Winston and Mei standing behind him. “You do not actually want me to shoot her, do you?” Their expressions were more amused than concerned, answering him that they did, how else could they obtain the results? While true, he blinked away the uncertainty, mentally preparing memorial words on her behalf should he accidentally land a fatal shot as he intended to shoot around her. But, as he went to grab an arrow, he noticed that his bow was already loaded. Within it was an arrow that looked much like his own but made of light. Although it held no weight and he could not actually touch it, it appeared to behave and move like any of his actual arrows he would normally use. Even with a small click, the arrow tip parted like his scatter one would. Fascinating. And relieving.
“ Stats loaded. Please aim for the target. ” Athena announced, “ Each arrow will be monitored on accuracy and effectiveness. Centre target shots are an instant kill. Good luck, Shimada Hanzo. ” Now he understood why she needed to scan his weapon. This A.I. had to program his projectiles. A clever system. A part of him did question the accuracy a computer could duplicate his actual shots, but it was better than the alternative which was to actually try and kill Tracer. And he kind of liked her even if she was as invasive to his personal space as Jesse McCree.
Hanzo drew back the bowstring, clicking the light arrow in place. “Would it have been an inconvenience to tell me that I would not be using actual arrows?”
Tracer grinned and readied herself, “Oh but where’s the fun in that? Having you sweat a little is good for the blood flow.”
“And here I was writing a beautiful eulogy on your regrettable death.” He gave a smirk, dangerous. “It will go to waste now.”
“Ohh someone’s confident! I quite like that. Let’s put your arrows where your mouth is, yeah?” She blinked in anticipation into a new position much farther back. “Catch me if you can!” She called playfully. Hanzo stepped forward, gauging the distance and direction. Tracer’s abilities were quite unique. He hadn’t seen anyone with a displacement in both time and matter before as a function, so he understood that he needed to calculate the limits of her device if he was to land a shot. After a moment of thought, he gave a tentative release, watching the light arrow bend and flow to the exact place Tracer had been standing. She had blinked just a second before and now stood atop a moving adjacent platform, the arrow in the ground below. “Too slow!” She called with a giggle. The arrow flickered and disappeared instantly. He needed more data. So again he pulled the bowstring taut and adjusted his aim. When the arrow left him, it bent towards her like a guided target, only for Tracer to blink again and use her guns to completely disperse the light with her own light created bullets. The arrow shattered and fell to the ground before flickering away. Ah, now he understood.
Hanzo paced himself forward, firing once more. Tracer blinked. His movements were now trying to match hers, apparently with her notice as she tried to compensate by moving much more erratically, blinking every which way and running forwards and back. She was honest to tell him that she was a bit hard to hit. Again he shot, Tracer blinked, the arrow landing into a nearby wall with a simulated crack. Hanzo then scaled the nearest side, pushing himself off of it to catch as much air as he could to release his next arrow at the angle he needed, and as Tracer anticipated this for her next move, Hanzo switched his arrow to his scatter and let it pierce the air. It howled towards her. Tracer predictably bolted for a nearby corner to under a large platform, which made the arrows ricochet tightly. She clearly hadn’t anticipated the scattering effect. They bounced and overwhelmed her so all she could do was put up her arms before a buzzer was heard above them. Tracer opened her arms and looked down to see an arrow in the centre of her chest.
“Aw, that’s rubbish.” She groaned with a huffed point at Hanzo.
He laughed gently, “Simple geometry.” More intuition than geometry as the woman had been blinking away into predictable patterns. Tracer grumbled a little under her breath before sitting back up with new energy.
“Lets go again! This time I’ll dodge it for sure!” He admired her enthusiasm, it made him feel at ease and playful which had been long forgotten in his memory. So he nodded and they reset their positions. This time Athena coalesced a target around his centre, enabling Tracer to land a fatal strike to him if she could.
While he dodged around her and calculated his shots, he could see the audience was enjoying the display. A sense of pride welled inside his chest that these intelligent people could be impressed by his skill. He could not remember the last time someone watched him and understood what they were witnessing. Genji was leaned against the wall behind Mei, but the visor gave him little feedback to know what his brother was thinking or feeling. He wasn’t sure why he wanted to know what his brother felt. Tracer claimed his attention back as she came in swiftly with her rapid firing bullets. He only just managed to project himself backwards, leading the tip of his arrow to follow the line of her face. The arrow released, and like smoke, she was gone, having jumped back in a high flip before landing safely to the floor, her hand dragging along the surface to stop her momentum. Hanzo rapidly shot one arrow and then the next, causing her to skip back farther and farther. Each arrow hit the ground in a crack, forcing her to flee. The advantage here was that Tracer was mostly linear inclined. She could jump and flip, but her air time was limited. Hanzo, however, could climb most obstacles with little effort and had trained to have his senses work with gravity even if he were falling, so as she blinked back to create space, Hanzo launched himself up a nearby platform. He climbed up and over a tall railing until he was as high as the gun range would allow. From there, he enjoyed the incredulous look as Tracer now had to think of the best way to urge him down like a cat from a tree. If she wanted to get to him, she’d be limited to the stairwell. It was her call to make.
“Bollocks,” he heard her sigh as she conceded to the choice she needed to make. It was a good call as an archer had more of the advantage at this height. As she ascended the stairwell, he knew she would save her energy to make quick exits. He needed her to think she could. Always a gentleman, Hanzo waited until he heard her steps below. Pointing his bow at her would be too easy and she would expect it, so instead he shot one of his sonic arrows that would allow him to hear and feel the vibrations of her approach, something he found interesting that Athena could recreate almost exactly. It was something only he and Genji had been trained specifically to use. She was close now and she would be fast, and Hanzo understood he needed to be faster. Somehow. When she came from the entry way, Hanzo stood before her without raising his storm bow. The look she wore was one of confusion, her guns up, as he took to stand on the railing. Without hesitation, he leapt off the side and began to fall.
Tracer blinked over to the edge with panic replacing the confusion. She had moved too fast, much too fast to witness that he had grabbed the wall and had thrown himself back up and over the edge. He now stood behind her in silent form, arrow drawn back. Instead of shooting her, he placed the tip to her head and chuckled when her entire body stilled like alarm bells were blaring within her. “I am certain this counts as a kill?” Predictably, she blinked in an instant but Hanzo now knew the maximum distance she could go, so as she faded from his eyes like a phantom, he spun on his heel, his arrow eye level as it touched her forehead before she even finished reappearing. Tracer’s guns were at his own target and once they realised this, they began to grin which bled into small laughter.
Tracer was the first to drop her guns, having them smooth back into the holsters on her arms, and Hanzo followed after, dropping his bow. “You’re a deadly one, Hanzo!”
He nodded. “You have some skill yourself. It was an honour to match with you.” Tracer met that with a salute, admitting her own and equal defeat, and they dropped down to the waiting audience below. Winston was using his datapad with Mei looking over his shoulder.
“Your accuracy is quite high,” Winston told him, showing Tracer and Mei the figures, “and efficiency matches. Well done!” Hanzo felt his face heat and thanked him. Most assassins his family sent were crude and far cries from this match. Here, he actually had to think about his enemy and determine the best way to adapt. It had him feel satisfied that he could still understand a battlefield. For the most part, the gorilla scientist seemed pleased with the results, Tracer and Mei were excited too, but off to the side he caught Genji and the Jesse McCree talking amongst themselves. That had him curious and took him from the pleasant feeling of small victory. McCree looked a bit on edge with whatever his brother was telling him, his brows knitted and his hands gently emphasising something he couldn’t hear. He was about to ask when Genji was already approaching him. Hanzo peered into the green haze of the glowing visor, unsure what he was feeling from it. Had he done something wrong?
“Your skills are impeccable, brother. Tracer is fast and you study her movements well.”Perhaps not, but then why did McCree still wear discontent? Hanzo accepted the compliment anyway with a small bow. It felt like there was more Genji was going to say, so he waited, watching the cowboy from the corner of his eye. “However, I doughnut feel that your match wither is a true test of your abilities. They can see your precision, but they cannot see how you survive.” The visor looked into him deeply, taking his gaze from McCree like he was drowning and Genji was his air. “I challenge you to have me as your next opponent.”
Hanzo knew he wasn’t the only one that found that proclamation astonishing, he could feel it in the tension that began to form. McCree’s uncertain expression now made sense as they were probably discussing his brother’s intentions, and Jesse McCree was likely right in whatever he had tried to convince Genji not to do. The sudden offer even had Winston’s mouth agape that Mei pushed up for him. Tracer rubbed her neck and kicked her feet to distract herself despite that she looked as though she wanted to interject but couldn’t. The gorilla padded himself over, cleverly sensing the strain. “Now, Genji, we have all the data we need. Another match isn’t necessary.” His voice was smooth and gentle, definitely trying to urge his brother into some kind of unspoken reasoning, but Genji only laughed at that, not unkindly, more like a passionate and fiery way as he had heard many times as children.
“I want you all to witness the Hanzo I grew up with. You will not see a better match than he and I — if my brother accepts.” At that, Hanzo could practically feel the smile beneath the face plates igniting a blaze within him that felt uncontrollable. A mixture of excitement and anxiety. Jesse McCree and he appeared to be on the same page that this was not a good idea, that after so long of mourning and loss that the very last thing they should do is fight again. Even if the projectiles were holograms. Hanzo decided that he wanted to let him down easy, know that while he appreciated gesture that he was not comfortable doing so. Tracer had been different. She was rather unknown to him and would impact little of his current mental state. However, what came out of his mouth was: “Challenge accepted.” The look on Jesse McCree perfectly summed up his feelings about this. It was something crossed between concern and rage. Mostly silent rage. McCree stepped up and voiced this as calmly as he could manage, getting between him and Genji like a guard would his keep, but for Hanzo. That surprised him.
“Genji, did your vents stop workin’ in there? Don’t you think it’s inappropriate to be askin’ something like this so soon?” He turned on Hanzo with a bold and deadly snarl, the protectiveness still there but hurt, “And shouldn’t you know better than to accept? Does Japan breed masochists, or just plum dang morons?”
Genji put out a hand, calm and carefree. McCree spun into it almost as though it were a threat, but he calmed when he saw his brother. “Jesse, I understand your concern. My brother would not accept if he were bothered.” The visor beamed on him like a spotlight. “Right, Hanzo?” Hanzo looked between Genji’s perfectly featureless face and the cowboy’s look of absolute animosity. He swallowed, definitely unsure of himself or why he accepted the risk.
Jesse McCree threw his hands into a tight fold into himself. “Fuck both of you, I ain’t sticking around for this. You’re both old enough to realise this is a dang right bad time you’re askin’ for, and this horse don’t want nothing to do with this rodeo.” He gave a huff and began for the door at once as though it were the only sane choice within the entire range. Everyone watched him go, the featureless face plates not carrying much to him if this bothered or upset his brother. McCree then called behind himself, not even bothering to turn around as he said to them, “See you both in Angela’s office when you’re done testing the limits of your PTSD.” McCree initiated the automatic doors and walked out with both hands raised into the air in the shape of a common vulgar gesture.
The doors shut snugly. “You have an interesting choice in friends.” Hanzo barely heard his own voice. Genji disregarded it either because he truly did not understand or because he did not feel it was worth the trouble to worry.
“Jesse is like that. It means he likes you.” There was nothing about what happened that made him feel Jesse McCree liked anything about him. However, the cowboy’s worries were just. How was he going to actually face his brother again? And why did he agree? “Let’s get ready, anija .” Genji said this to him with a sincerity that caught his heart in his throat and he learned in that instant was the reason why. A guilty part of him did not want to dishearten Genji anymore than he already had, even if it meant torturing himself with shadows of the past. He was an absolute fool but a fool that loved his brother.
“Are you sure about this?” Mei asked. Hanzo blinked slowly and looked away before nodding to her. She, Tracer and Winston appeared just as concerned but knew too little to interfere. After exchanging glances to each other, they hung back while Winston began the program for Athena to measure. Two targets came to form upon their chests. Genji stepped out into the open space like a lion within his own domain, with Hanzo a few steps behind like a tiger that invaded the pride. When he took form, Hanzo met with his own in a gracefulness fitting a Shimada. Athena announced to begin.
Genji was gone in a flash, having dashed somewhere above him at speeds inhumanly possible. Hanzo threw out his storm bow to catch the sudden light blade of a simulated wakizashi. It crackled and distorted its pixels from the brunt of Genji’s force. The green of the visor was so close that it felt blinding, holding his eyes level. Hanzo used his strength to throw Genji backward whom recovered swiftly, flipping through the air and dashing back just as nimbly as he had gone. Hanzo tried to draw an arrow, but the blade was at him again like lightning, slashing at his storm bow with holographic sparks of metal meeting metal. Hanzo fell back into his heels, being pushed from the intensity.
“What is the matter, Hanzo?” Genji asked with another thrust forward. “You doughnut draw an arrow? Have you forgotten?” His chuckle was playful, as though he knew the worries behind Hanzo’s eyes as each strike had him falter. He had nothing to retort, only managed to roll himself away far enough that he could create space. The arrow was drawn back, his aim following the figure that danced before him on light feet. Three shuriken made of light teased by him. Genji intentionally missed. But he could not release the arrow. That small hesitation would have gone unnoticed by anyone whom didn’t have a trained warrior’s eye, but it was enough for Genji to grab the advantage. The wakizashi was in his face once more, each time being held off by his bow. The simulated noises echoed off the smooth walls.
In a ditch effort, Hanzo let the wakizashi slide down the face of the bow, giving him enough space to catch Genji’s arm and roll himself across his brother’s backside in one motion, take his head between metal and string, and throw him over his shoulder to the floor. The heaviness of Genji’s rebuilt body took more strength than he thought it would, and the hard thunk as it met the floor was nearly concerning, but Genji stood, rolling his shoulders and stretching his neck out. The throw hadn’t done anything more than to displace him. “Good one. But, you must do more than evade me if you wish to win the challenge.” He was evading. Genji shot forward and Hanzo met it by spinning out of his path, sliding across the floor lowly to dodge shuriken that would have struck his head. More were thrown to each move he made, having Hanzo leap up and flip backward, each shuriken landing in the exact spot he had just been before flickering out on the floor. The corner nearest him was rounded, Hanzo taking a moment to breathe with the safety of a wall between them. Jesse McCree had been all too right that this was a bad idea. He knew this, but he did not know it would drag on him so hard. His heart pounded in his ears as if the dragons they served were hissing chiding remarks at him. The arrow clicked back and Hanzo set it to scatter. He could feel Genji approaching, either through instinct or just because his senses felt on alert, and hastily he made his first shot. He rolled back in time to witness as Genji deflected the light arrows into every other direction. Then, in an instant, Genji was back on the offence, brisk in his agility to lead his wakizashi at throat height. Hanzo immediately fell back far enough on his knees that the blade would skirt over him, barely missing his nose, and used that evasion to throw a leg out. It stopped the nimble Genji enough that he tripped forward. Hanzo caught him by the arm, twisting it back behind him and plastering his brother to his front. This had Genji give a silvery and airy chuckle. “Oh, Hanzo, you cannot strike the target this way.” His movements practically burned him as he tangled from his grip. “But I can strike yours .” His free hand took his blade of light and attempted to shove it behind him into the target that circled on Hanzo’s chest. Hanzo fell back, releasing Genji in the process.
He wanted to stop. He wasn’t sure how to relay it since words felt impossible. His mouth would open, but nothing came from his lips. What was torment and anxiety to Hanzo looked as stoic ego on his face. Again, Genji was on him, their fight growing into a fast melée. They formed around the other, swapping evasions and hands. His body was growing ragged with each catch of his brother’s attacks. A hard strike threw Hanzo to the ground and his brother crawled upon him in a straddle. The storm bow was kicked away from reach, having Genji make a triumphant sound as the wakizashi returned. This was… it was…
Shadows played over his mind’s eye. Darkness fell over him, engulfing all light into nothingness. He saw the green hair — soiled in blood, his blood — the same body straddling him with a face indescribable — betrayal . The eyes that looked down at him were injured with tears. Hanzo could feel his long hair tangling from the matted sweat and drying blood, his skin tight from the rush of anger and adrenaline. As Genji threw down the wakizashi, Hanzo felt himself kick with an unknown strength that threw his brother backward — but Genji did not fall to the floor as he had done ten years ago, and that was enough to shatter the memory open wide and brought him back to the present. The light returned. Genji was in full armour, not covered in redness upon his pale skin, and that armoured body twirled in the air, landing gently on the pads of his rebuilt feet. He could feel his breath being torn from his lungs now. Stop . But Genji could not hear it, and again he dashed forward with inhuman speed — all Hanzo could do was put his arms up over his face, he did not want to fight back anymore, couldn’t, and a hard strike broke through his remaining strength, sending him sliding back like a roll of thunder until his body struck the far wall. He hit the wall so hard, the wind was knocked from him, having him gasp as though he’d never once learned to breathe. His senses buzzed. Hanzo could feel his head lolling and muffled words from people that were gathering to his side. He tried to listen but the ringing in his ears practically deafened him.
“Hanzo!” He managed to look up and found Mei at his side, Winston was making a call on his datapad likely to Dr Ziegler, Tracer was with him possibly reporting what she had seen, and Genji was before him with his visor removed. The cinnamon eyes were drowned with worry. “Hanzo, are you okay?”
“I am… I,” He started. Words were still a struggle.
“Winston, she needs to get here now!” Her voice hurt him with how she cried. Hanzo stopped Mei by taking her hand and squeezing it gently. She looked at him and swallowed thickly. Her worry was able to remind him that he was here and now and gave him back his words.
“I am fine. Please, it is not necessary. I was only — caught off guard.” That got Genji to drop to his knees and take up his other side like a hawk swooping to water.
“Brother,” his voice was laced with guilt, “I am so sorry. I thought you would dodge it easily. I did not realise that you were becoming distracted. This is my fault.” Hanzo could not let his brother think that, this was not his fault. It had never been his fault and it never would be. He tried to sit up and found whatever Genji had struck him with had made his chest sore. Perhaps it was just the shock. Genji caught his shoulder and helped him from the daze.
“You have become a fine warrior.” Hanzo told Genji with truth. His brother’s eyes searched him and Hanzo managed a weak smile, genuine. “Father would be immensely proud of you. So many years I displaced you in the dojo, it is humbling that you should conquer me twice.”
“Twice?” The soft voice came from Mei, but nothing needed to be filled in for her as she respected the silence that formed. Instead, she offered to help Hanzo up and he humoured her so she would not feel misplaced between him and Genji. Winston came over on his knuckles, the datapad in his hand. Tracer followed, biting her lower lip and clearly unsure what to do.
“Do I need to ask for Angela to meet us here?” Hanzo shook his head, eyes downcast. “Are you certain? You hit the wall quite hard.”
“It is nothing, really.” It was not nothing.
Mei released him since he could stand on his own. “It would be a good idea to have her look you over. You will need a physical anyway if Jack is to approve you for the mission. Please, why not go to see her?” Winston agreed with her, ebbing his concern away in logic. After a moment of thought, Hanzo decided that it would not hurt seeing as he had caused a scene that was having each of them feel shameful even though it had been his mistake to allow himself to be caught this way. He agreed to go see Dr Ziegler. Genji offered to escort him. Hanzo declined. Genji insisted. Hanzo gave in. He could feel their eyes on him despite that he walked completely normal to the doorway, albeit a little sore. It was strange to be distraught over so honestly by these people that barely knew him. Hanzo did not know how to react to it except with pride that he could manage himself, trying to will them for this burden. He was thankful when he and Genji made it out the doors from their glaring faces, and as they turned the corner of the doorframe, a figure smoking a cigar was leaned against the nearby wall. Jesse McCree.
It did not surprise him. “I thought you had left?” Hanzo asked anyway.
McCree rolled the cigar and took it between his fingers. “Change of heart.” He gave a knowing look to his brother that took on a softness. “I got him from here, Genji. Go on.” Genji stood still, seeming to debate the order like he was more machine than man within his mind. It took a moment, but Genji acquiesced to something within in and explained Hanzo needed to see Dr Ziegler. His voice was low, possibly hurt or shamed, and McCree answered with a silent nod and shooed him away with his hand. Genji obeyed only after he shifted between his feet, then went back through the door to the gun range as if burned by something. Hanzo simply stood there, not sure what to do.
Silence. “You choked, didn’t ya?” McCree asked gingerly, but the silence made it sound much louder. Hanzo didn’t respond. The cowboy waltz up to him with a drag of his boots, clinking noises erupting from the spurs. He gave a puff on his cigar a bit more before putting it out on his cybernetic hand. “You really did mourn him for ten years.” It was a statement of fact. He replied by looking down at their feet to avoid eye contact. The truth hung on his neck. “Come on. Let’s go.” And Hanzo slowly allowed himself to follow a step behind, thankful that Jesse McCree understood his unspoken need.
The walk to the medbay was muted for some time. Hanzo could feel the tension, or perhaps just his own, from the air around them. He knew Jesse McCree had been there the entire time, likely watching their fight through the glass. “Isn’t this where you tell me how right you were? Don’t Americans like to boast?” The words came out defensively.
McCree didn’t reply right away, giving him a moment to settle his nerves. “I get no pleasure from kicking a man that’s already down. You knew it was stupid.” He was right. “So why did you agree?”
Hanzo release a breath he hadn’t known he was holding. His mind debated the merits of speaking openly to McCree, eventually he gave in. “I think, it was because I did not want to disappoint him.”
“Yeah, I can get that. Fuckin’ stupid, though. I told Genji it was going to be harder on you than him.” That caught Hanzo and he peered up to McCree whom ignored him and kept facing forward. He may not have noticed he was staring it didn’t care. “Genji’s had years to cope and ready himself for the day he’d meet you again. He had time to figure out how to forgive you and let it be. But you,” he shook his finger into a loose point even though he wasn’t pointing at him, “you had a single day. Can’t expect someone that thought their brother was dead to suddenly be okay with pickin’ up where you left off. I tried explaining that to him, but he’s done made ‘imself believe you will tell him when you’re at your limit.” He sighed, “And let’s be honest here, you hit your limit the moment you walked into Watchpoint.”
This held heavy in his thoughts, and Hanzo looked away again to study the patterns and shapes of the walls around the corridors, anything to keep him from seeing what face the cowboy may be making. McCree then came to stop, Hanzo only realising when he was a step or two ahead. He turned to look at the cowboy and McCree was hiding a little behind the brim of his hat. “That man is remembering you from the eyes of a little brother. He’s not seeing the faults because you won’t let him.” He paused, gauging what he would say next. “Hanzo, I’m probably the only one here that wants you to pack up and saddle out on the next train back to the hell you crawled out of, but I’m also the only one that’s gonna be ballsy enough to tell you to open up to your brother. You’ve much time to catch up on. Don’t let him keep thinking you’re fine when you’re not.” He started walking again and Hanzo followed after in a sputter.
“How did you know?”
McCree gave a laugh like he had asked the most ridiculous question. Perhaps he had. “I’ve been the stand-in big brother ever since he came back from the dead. I learned real quick what a little brother expects of you in that role.” Hanzo nodded. The pressure to please Genji from lost time was outweighing his ability to cope. It was like he was a string unraveling and letting it happen as his strength deteriorated. They reached the familiar medbay doors, the little cross greeting them. McCree stopped and Hanzo took that to mean this was their goodbye, the conversation over, and began forward. But Jesse McCree called out to him. Hanzo paused just before the door sensors.
McCree chuckled airy like and he waited. “Y’ know. You’re not all that bad of man, Hanzo. Atonement comes in many forms but a man’s gotta wanna change. I can see you wanna change.” For some reason, that broke an icy shell around his heart he hadn’t known was there. It confused him, melting him. “Given time, I may even someday call you a friend.” No response came as Hanzo didn’t know what to say. Whatever he held inside was as new to him as a bird learning to fly for the first time. If McCree was waiting for a response, he didn’t appear to mind that one never came, so he started off down the hall to give Hanzo room to breathe and make peace. “You can still go fuck yourself, though.” And that simple sentence clawed a laugh from Hanzo, genuine and delightful, removing some of the thick air. He could hear McCree chuckle distantly down the hall like he knew what he was doing and why. He probably did. Yes, this Jesse McCree wasn’t bad either, he could agree with that. Like all the people at the watchpoint, he was unique and kind in his own way. That had him smile against his will. He reflected on it briefly, wondering when he had began to feel alive again after all these years, then he tossed it aside for another day and initiated the medbay doors. This Overwatch could not cease to surprise him.
Chapter 5: Chapter Five
“Besides some bruising, you appear to be healthy.” Dr Ziegler pulled away the small scanning device, pressing a button on its side to switch the silent humming off. Hanzo was thankful, he didn’t much care for invasive procedures. Even as a child he disliked being on the patient side and often preferred to suffer than admit he needed medical assistance. Now that he was much older, he understood the need for medical honesty, but stubbornness, pride, or likely both still had him wear a face of stoicism when asked if anything hurt, and typically it did. A lot. He looked to Dr Ziegler. Besides her tousled hair, likely from having fallen asleep at her desk again, she appeared alert as ever as she picked up a datapad and began switching on another larger scanner by the medical bed. It whirred to life with tiny dots of light scanning over parts of him in a gridded fashion. Hanzo sat still with his shirt off by request so she could best assess him. Like all medical facilities, it was ungodly cold. His skin practically prickled with each pass of her body as she went from her computer to the scanner and back. “From how concerned Winston was, I was certain you’d be wheeled in on a gurney. Care to tell me what happened?”
A part of him didn’t feel it was any of her concern as he and his brother’s affairs were a private matter, but after thinking on how Genji owed his very life to this woman had him reconsider. She was only trying to help, after all. But, how could he explain it? Hanzo was silent for many moments, running the event through his mind before he settled to say, “It was a training accident.” That was easier than admitting he may be having mental trouble acclimating to Genji’s forgiveness. When he didn’t say anymore, he looked up to see Angela Ziegler was less than impressed with his answer. Admittedly, the answer was quite plain and heavily edited. She stared at him with a raised eyebrow, like a parent whom knew when a child was lying. Luckily, his resolve was stronger than hers, so he was able to ignore it until she finally gave up. When her cold hands began to feel over his backside, an audible noise was almost pulled out like a form of punishment. The touch was icy as she examined the forming bruise.
“You don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to.” She told him. Her fingers began to press and feel along his ribs. He didn’t wince from the mild pain but he was sure she could detect it anyway. “I’m just surprised, is all. Genji would never knowingly harm another person during a training match like this. He’s much too gentle for that.”
Gentle? Genji? In a training match? Hanzo couldn’t help the laugh that rumbled up from his chest. “I think we may know two very different men.” Her hands pulled away quickly, she turned off the scanner and then handed him is black shirt without as much as a smile.
“We do .” Dr Ziegler then said. Somehow, that managed to hurt Hanzo more than the wall he had hit. Thankfully, she changed the subject, clearly noting how uncomfortable he was discussing the incident. “How did the night routine go? Jesse tells me you did well.” Ah, yes, the routine. The night before felt like years to him now, but he managed to bring forward the memories. How his brother’s skin melded with metal and scars pitted his features. It was haunting to him, an awful reminder of how he made their final goodbye. What he thought would be final.
He struggled for a moment. “I did not know so much of my brother,” he faltered, trying to form the words, “that so much was not,” he tried to use his hand like the gesture would convey what he was trying to say, but thought better of it and let it fall to his side, “he has suffered greatly.”
She must have been used to patients unable to describe traumas to her, so to offer some distraction, she took up the datapad and began going through it as she added notes. “It’s not who we’ve been, right?” She said brightly, like it would somehow help his clotting throat, “And Jesse tells me you were quite compassionate when learning how to clean his body. After seeing how you handled the ventilator, I’m not surprised.” ‘Compassionate’ wasn’t the word he would use to describe the frozen internal panic and emotional whiplash he’d experienced from witnessing what he had devolved Genji into. It’s also not what he would use to describe how Jesse McCree literally had to hold his hand through the process.
“It does take getting used to.” Hanzo admitted. He was fully dressed now, hopping from the medical bed and standing straight despite the mild pain in his backside. Dr Ziegler cast him a glance up from the datapad before she sat it to the side.
“I understand it’s a lot to take in at once. You don’t have to push yourself, however. Genji has had many years to cope and accept who he is, and it would be cruel to ask you to do the same in such little time. Go at your own pace as you learn what he needs to live normally.” Genji’s life would never be normal again. Although her sentiment was genuine, he wasn’t sure how to explain that everything felt to be moving fast around him, buzzing his head with all the new rules and differences. But, he felt he owed this to Genji. What did it matter if he struggled? How could that compare to the years his brother endured on his account? Her voice brought him back. “I’ve sent your medical notes to Jack Morrison, he’ll see that you’re fit for duty and can accompany the team for the mission to Brazil.” She took up the datapad again, “And it looks like Winston updated your profile with your training statistics. These numbers are quite good.” Her fingers slid around on its surface. “Impressive, actually.”
“Thank you.” He managed, not really sure how he felt about having a profile within the Overwatch database just yet. The doctor noticed his continuing discomfort. Her blue eyes turned soft.
“Don’t worry, if you decide Overwatch isn’t for you, all of this data will be erased, but in the hope that you do, it’s helpful to track.” She stopped on that, giving something like a solemn half smile before looking into him. “It would benefit us greatly if you joined, you know? Your knowledge and experience — and Genji is… he really wants you here. I thought it an awful idea when he first posed it, but,” she sighed, like everything inside her at that moment was difficult to explain, “I haven’t seen him this happy in some time. Or ever .” Hanzo didn’t answer her, felt he couldn’t, so he hoped his silence spoke for him enough. After a moment of enduring him, Dr Ziegler gave a knowing nod. “Yes, it’s too early to tell, I understand.” She paused, switching demeanours effortlessly. “Well, you’re free to go. I’m certain everyone is awaiting your return to know you are fine.” They probably were, so Hanzo agreed with that, gave a small bow with thanks for her time, and began his leave.
The compound wasn’t exactly expansively large, but it wasn’t small either, so it took a bit of his time to find a room with a familiar face. What he stumbled upon was the energetic and time paradox herself, Tracer. She appeared to be tinkering with her sidearms as they were hooked up by a cord to a touch laptop nearby. When she caught sight of Hanzo walking by the small work room, her eyes lit up and she was quick to blink over to him. Like a fluttering bird, she was flying all around him, looking at his body as though some strange thing may pop out of it. “It’s good to see you’re okay there, Mr Yakuza!”
Hanzo lifted a single brow at the name. “Please… do not call me that.” He was answered with a bright giggle.
“Everyone was right worried, they were, but it looks like the good doc patched you up just dandy.” After she was satisfied with her inspection, she peered up into him, far more serious than he had seen her behave before now, “You are okay, aren’t you?” Her energy wavered then, in spite of her strength, it was clear that her greatest weakness was the love she had for those she grew close to. And it did seem she was quite fond of him.
To placate her, Hanzo smiled a little and nodded. “Yes. Dr Ziegler found no injury worth fussing.” Her bubbly appearance returned instantly. He found it rather charming in a way, as there weren’t many ladies he’d known like her growing up. She was just the right amount of energy and annoyance to be positively endearing. He watched as she walked back to the laptop to continue or possibly explain to him what she was doing. “I did not mean to interrupt.” He told her. “I was actually looking for my brother. I thought he may be meditating, but I got a bit lost trying to find the dormitories.”
She looked to sympathise, quickly clacking in the touch sensitive keyboard. “Yeah, it’s a bit easy to get lost ‘round these halls. Give me a jiff and I’ll show you where they are.” Tracer let her fingers dance on the surface of the laptop for a little longer, and Hanzo leaned in the doorframe patiently until she was finished, which she signified with a little noise of victory. She unplugged the sidearms and let them move smoothly back into the holsters on her forearms, a delightful click letting them know they were seated just right. Tracer looked at him with a wink, “Was just fixing the holster controls.” She supplied, then she gave a nod to the hall. “Alright, let’s go. The bunks aren’t too far from here but you are a smidge turned about.” Tracer led him calmly and slowly through the way he had come, perhaps because she thought he was injured in some unknown way that would prevent him from keeping up, or maybe she was just being polite. She was sure to explain how to recognise where he was and where to go next time. Hanzo was thankful, and she had been quite thorough with her navigation despite it being simple. When they reached the corridor with the line of bunk rooms, she let him go.
“And that’s how you circle around. You should be familiar now.” Hanzo thanked her with a tiny bow. “Now, no need for all that. A simple ‘thanks’ will do! It’s the least I can do when you’ve been such a pleasant guest.” That did make him feel a little better given he’d felt like an intruder since the moment he arrived. Tracer blinked up suddenly then, putting her face nearly right into his as she grabbed his attention, sure not to let it wander. Then, softly she told him, “You’re a sweet man, Hanzo. You really fit in here, y’ know? Mei thinks you’re quite the gentleman and Winston won’t stop talking about your adaptable knowledge. I’d really like to see you join the team myself given your specialised combat abilities. Glad you’re okay, love.” Then, just as quickly as she was in his face, she was gone, blinking down the hall — once — twice — stopping to give a small salute in goodbye, and then disappeared. Hanzo couldn’t really explain the warmth that pooled into his chest from hearing her have said that. He was used to bland compliments or procedural acknowledgments, even forced politeness, but the way these people of Overwatch were treating him felt more genuine than any reward or praise for his previous efforts with his family. It was foreign, but not unwelcome. Some small part of him wondered if there had been a time Genji had felt this way or questioned the validity of such kindness, and truth be told, he likely had. Hanzo approached the door to his brother’s bunk and felt his hand across the entry pad. It opened smoothly. For a moment he hesitated, somehow feeling invasive, but tossed it aside to enter. Upon the floor was a neatly folded man, like a delicate paper crane set to rest in the summer sun. The sweet smell of rosewood filled his senses from the incense burner. It was subtle, yet intoxicating. His brother looked at peace, like a statue made in honour of some deity. Hanzo was terribly quiet as he approached, taking up his brother’s side in a perfect mirrored kneel. Genji did not move a single inch of his body, being utterly still as undisturbed water. He breathed in deeply the scent, trying to get himself to relax.
“Angela did not find an injury?” Genji’s voice sounded a little loud then, and ragged, but he could have been imagining that last part.
“I have been cleared in health for duty.” The words held the meaning of his thoughts, that nothing had been Genji’s fault and he could relax. The green visor did not stir.
“I am glad. Jesse told me he did not stay with you. I was concerned.”
Hanzo nodded, and they both fell into a silence that began to grow thick, perhaps awkward. There were so many things he thought may be on his brother’s mind, as well as many things he felt he wanted to say, but neither of them managed a sound. So, he kneeled there, breathing the rosewood and stealing glances at the line of metal and synthetics about Genji’s body. It was fascinating to him how fine the details were that he could see his brother’s chest rising and falling with each breath, and every curve bent and folded like real skin and muscle. One would think a full figured man was simply wearing a skin-tight suit layered with a few pieces of metal for cosmetics, rather than a fourth of a man beneath the layers with heavily modified prosthetics. Genji’s voice took him from that thought, the question he asked piercing him sharply like a dragon blade.
“Why… why did you freeze, Hanzo?” The sudden question had him startle, swallow, and look away to the far wall. “It is not like you to allow your enemies a moment of hesitation. You are not so old a man now that you would forget.” Hanzo felt his heartbeat pick up, unsure what to say to that. He never was one for many words even when speaking with their father or when he would lead meetings for the Shimada. Genji had always been the one that could put him at ease and allow the bear trap around his neck to fall away. That same gentleness began to find him now, albeit much slower than in the past. He felt he owed something of an explanation to his brother. Out of everyone, Genji was the one he most did not want to have worry over him.
“Genji,” he began, and that had his brother minutely twitch, like saying his name was somehow reaching out and touching his body intimately, “I…” it was a bit of an undertaking as he figured out where to begin. Jesse McCree’s words came to mind. He knew there was much he needed to explain and work out, but all of his sense failed him in that moment, having him instead say: “You are just a much better warrior than you used to be. I am out of practise.” The frustration bit at him. He felt such a fool that he could not bring himself to say the truth, how his mind’s eye still played the memories of their past, how looking upon Genji now was practically ruining his willpower in every aspect. His eyes remained far away from Genji, focused on the burning incense.
Suddenly, soft and beautiful laughter met him and had Hanzo look over. It was like he could feel the smile behind the face plate. His mouth felt dry. “If it is practise you need, anija, I will help to get you back into form.” The tension lifted. Hanzo allowed himself a moment to recover and provided a weak grin to him like that was the exact and only reason that could ever be needed for his behaviour. He wanted him to believe that, anything than the truth. Genji smoothly brought himself into a stand, stretching his body out in a way that he could see every curve of muscle. “We can train together, like we used to at the dojo. I cannot imagine a better opponent, although, I will have to go easy on you soy doughnut have you fly so far again.” Hanzo smothered a small chuckle and agreed it would be nice, even though a distant part of his mind foretold more reminders of the past would burden him, choke him, have him relive them against his will and judgement. A promise from the depths of his guilt. A metal hand then entered into his field of view. Hanzo let his eyes trace over the delicate and intricate parts before he peered up into the mesmerising haze of green. He felt captured by that look as though being manipulated intentionally and would find himself soon turned to stone. Genji said nothing and he didn’t need to. Hanzo looked at the offered hand only a moment longer before he decided that there would be no harm from taking it, and something about how the fingers curled around his own felt like the strike of a dragon’s lightening, echoing in his mind like deep thunder reaching an unknown part of his humanity. He began to rise from his knees, the hand guiding him up in one motion like he was on a fixed track. Hanzo’s eyes never left their entwined hands as if it were foreign or perhaps his lifeline. Something about this had his heart throb, his chest ache, and his head feel light. Their hands had been together before, it was nothing new, and yet his body was treating it as though it were the very first time. He didn’t know he was holding his breath until Genji called his name. He fought to remove his hand but couldn’t. Genji’s fingers applied such a delightfully firm pressure that he felt suddenly addicted to.
“Hanzo? Did you hear me?” Hanzo looked away from their hands almost as though stunned from the sudden sound of his brother’s voice. “I said, your clothes are washed and folded. You will find them there.” His head nodded towards the futon on the floor by Genji’s. Surely, his kyudo-gi and hakama, as well as his other accessories were laid out neatly. His heart could feel a partial grin under the face plate, tinged with concern, “Are you certain Angela cleared you?”
Finally, Hanzo was able to remove his hand and felt confused by the loss of warmth there. He was so rigid, it was likely Genji noticed. “I am just… distracted.” It was the truth, but it made little sense. If Genji were to ask, he wasn’t confident that he would be able to explain exactly what was distracting him. However, he hadn’t anticipated his word choice to be taken wrong. And it had. Very wrong. Genji’s visor turned to the floor as if in great shame. There was no time to whistle his words back into the cage before his brother asked in a pained tone, “Does something about me bother you? Does my body — have I disgusted you?” In that moment, Hanzo realised dumbly how he must have looked to Genji just then: staring at his brother almost openly, lingering his eyes on their hands, stoicism crossing his face that could easily be mistaken for judgment. Everything he was doing could be taken as discomfort, shame, or even disgust. The question was, how long had Genji been interpreting him this way?
Hanzo nearly tripped over his words trying to form them. “NO!” He caught himself, correcting his sudden burst to a softer ‘no’, but nothing more could form in his throat. His mind couldn’t think of what to say next or how to convey what he was feeling in that moment. Yes, knowing so little of Genji remained put pressure on his heart, and yes, knowing Genji would never live normally without proper maintenance did guilt him beyond imaginable lengths, but no — no — he was not disgusted, not with his brother. The only person he could be disgusted with was himself, and for some reason, his traitorous hand wanted to hold that of his brother’s once more which was not only an odd thought but a confusing one. Be it for comfort or just to show he didn’t mind, but within his deepest thoughts whispered that it was selfishness. And that only perplexed him further.
A heavy silence fell over them. Hanzo couldn’t interpret the featureless face plate and nothing more could be pulled out. He was quite thankful when an announcement over the intercom from Athena fell upon them like a saving raft come to a forgotten island. He may as well been lost at sea with how far away he suddenly felt.
“Agent Lindholm has announced to have arrived in the shuttle bay. Welcome back, Agent Lindholm.” The announcement had Genji tilt his head in curiously.
Maybe Genji was happy by the distraction too. “Oh, his back early. Reinhardt has not even come back yet.”
“Who is agent Lindholm?” He was asking this out loud before he could stop himself, but it didn’t seem to matter as Genji was already answering.
“He is one of the original members of Overwatch.” He paused, seeming to think on his next words carefully. “His different, but you will soon see. Let us go and greet him, I am certain he would like to meet you, brother. When I told him about your storm bow, he showed much interest to look it over some time.” Absolutely no one was going to touch his bow as long as he was still breathing and very much alive, but Hanzo made a noise like that was an acceptable idea. Content with that, Genji motioned for them to head out, and Hanzo followed him a step behind, hopefully with the awkwardness to dissipate while they were out.
Hanzo wasn’t sure what kind of person to expect this agent Lindholm to be. The name was foreign, but that did not exactly conclude the nationality of the person. In this day and age, it hardly did. When they arrived to the shuttle dock, Winston and Tracer were already there and speaking with the agent. At first, the way Winston stood was obscuring the agent from sight, but as he and Genji were noticed, the scientist moved aside and Hanzo found why it had been hard to notice the new arrival. He was a small, dwarf-like stocky man with a beard that could have its own set of muscles underneath as far as he could tell. But it wasn’t necessarily his size that made Hanzo peer at him curiously, it was the large metal arm that looked like a hook and a pincer crab claw combined. To be honest, it was rather terrifying given that it looked nothing like modern prosthesis for their time. Medieval in a sense. Modern medicine worked diligently to prevent this kind of macabre disaster, but the man didn’t appear to mind it at all, in fact he looked as at ease with it as Hanzo may feel swatting his own arm. Compared to Genji’s sophisticated and detailed cybernetics, the arm was crude. Some people found charm in the barbaric, he supposed.
“Genji! Good to see you!” The man stepped forward brightly, a thick accent and brogue that temporarily displaced Hanzo’s idea of what language this man spoke. German? Norwegian? Danish? It was hard to place. His brother dropped down to the agent’s height and grasped his human arm into a firm greeting.
“I am also glad to see you back here, Torbjörn! We have missed your guidance.”
The one named Torbjörn gave a hearty laugh, “Now there’s a fine how-do-you-do! Just what I like to hear. I take it the crew is still needing the upgrades I saw in the initial email?”
“Oh, we couldn’t start them without you.” Tracer beamed with a chuckle. Winston nodded and added that the devices needing the discussed maintenance were already placed in the workshop for his perusal. After he said that was when the small burly man caught sight of Hanzo and quirked a brow like he was seeing something quite odd. Hanzo didn’t know how to react so he stood there like a rooted tree. He hadn’t much experience with people with dwarfism and wasn’t used to what would be considered rude. It was just better to stay still. However, the small man didn’t appear bothered at all.
“And who is this dashing looking gentleman?” His smile was large, warm. His eyes looked Hanzo up and down like a form of appreciation. “A suitor for Mei? Or are you pitching for both teams now, Lena?” He nudged her with his prosthetic and Tracer smothered a snort. Hanzo felt himself flush at the idea of being there to be anyone’s suitor. What type of people did this Overwatch typically entertain that the idea of a suitor would be considered? Genji looked amused by this, more through his body language since his face was static, and he gave a laugh before leading him over for introductions.
There was an air of pride in his brother’s voice when he gently placed a hand on Hanzo’s shoulder, eliciting a sincere warmth that rushed over Hanzo’s body. “This is my brother Hanzo. If you remember, his the one I told you had the custom bow.” Torbjörn Lindholm thought on that briefly before recollection spread over him.
“Ah, yes, that you did,” and his eyes flicked up to Hanzo in quite a commanding way that made him question whether it was proper for him to look down or if he needed to kneel out of courtesy. Thinking it improper to stand, he opted to drop down to his level as Genji had, and took to his knees in one motion. “So you’re the yakuza prince Hanzo?” Again, he looked Hanzo over like he hadn’t quite gotten a good look before, and he gave the man a small nod to acknowledge his claim. “Genji tells me you’re a fierce creature, you are. Says you can command spirits just as he.”
“Dragons.” Hanzo corrected.
Torbjörn consented, “Ah, yes, dragons. Forgive my ignorance, I’m not as well versed in Japanese customs and culture.” It was polite to say, something someone of even his own culture may say to him even if the opposite were true. “Are you enjoying your stay at Watchpoint so far? This motley crew can be a little rough around the edges, but they’re a fine team when it calls!” It didn’t appear this burly man either knew his background or, maybe, he didn’t care as the way he spoke to Hanzo was quite kind. It was much in the way a lot of the Overwatch team were treating him. It was hard to tell between ignorance and courtesy.
“The hospitality has been immeasurable. I am thankful.” Tracer blinked around Hanzo until she was crossed-legged beside him and on his arm with a chuckle and smile. She did a little tug.
“He says that, but Hanzo here’s been just as friendly! Only been here two days and he’s managed to give a lot of promise. We’re hoping he’ll join us soon if we keep up the good behaviour.” A wink.
Torbjörn looked at Hanzo pointedly, “So they haven’t managed to convince you to recruit yet, yeah?” He laughed, “Cant say I blame you! I’d imagine our establishment can’t hold a candle to what the Shimada empire must have accessible.” Ah, so he did know a bit of his history. “We’re just about running on fumes here with my daughter and I the go-to mechanics. Since I’m fixing some of the supplies here, you’re welcome to come by with your bow Genji tells me about, and I’ll give it a glance over for weak points.”
Hanzo shook his head in a polite decline. “I appreciate the offer, but I do all my own maintenance and custom work. I could not possibly ask another.”
The smile didn’t falter for a moment. “I getcha, no, I understand completely! I have a few personals I wouldn’t let the best mechanic in the world touch! That being said, you’re still welcome to come by the workshop and help out as I’ll be needing a few hands as I apply the new software and materials.” He emphasised the word ‘hands’ by shaking his prosthetic playfully although he could tell it was just a poor attempt at humour. Tracer and Winston laughed a little, but he couldn’t tell if they were just being nice or if they legitimately thought it funny. Maybe it was just apart of this man’s typical charm.
When Tracer stood, so did he. It appeared formalities were no longer needed. He looked to Torbjörn kindly when he said, “I would not mind at all assisting you, despite my bow not an available project. It has been some time, but my knowledge of armoury software may still be relevant. I use a class of the COBALT engine for my arrow tracking and release speed.”
That caught the man’s attention quickly, having him shake his head sombrely. The look he gave was almost like a mix of astonishment and curiosity. “COBALT? You’d be right that software is dated! I’m surprised anyone can still operate on such clunky engineering! Why, you should at least be upgraded to SAPPHIRE by now.”
Tracer looked to Winston. “Do you have any idea what they’re talking about?” Winston gave a nod and began to explain the details to her quietly. Hanzo barely caught him mentioning the same as Torbjörn about its age. It made him feel a little self-conscious, but not by much as he didn’t feel the need to change something if it still worked well. Still, after practising in the gun range with the generated arrows Athena processed for him, it had given him a few ideas for what he would like to try with his next storm bow upgrade. Perhaps trying a new system wasn’t such a bad idea.
“I have not had the chance to try the SAPPHIRE engine. I would not mind checking it’s details with you to see if it may benefit my purposes.” Torbjörn was quick to saunter over and give him a hearty clap on the thigh with his hand. His personal space was always going to be invaded, he assumed, if he were to stick around here but he let it slide without a reaction.
“Good. Good. If’n you aren’t busy, I’m headed to the workshop now since I’ve little time before I return back to my family.”
Winston spoke up, “But, you just got here. Maybe you should rest first. Reinhardt hasn’t even returned yet but he should soon.” The small man waved the scientist off with a playful huff.
“Knowing him, I’ll be waiting an eternity as he lallygags about, so it’s just better to get started. I can catch him up later on his shield.” He then looked to Hanzo. “Let’s go, yakuza prince.” The title was half uncomfortable but also half empowering, so Hanzo wasn’t sure how to react to it, so he didn’t. He simply turned to Genji whom had tucked himself away from the conversation and practically faded into the background. That was something very unlike the rowdy, attention whore Genji he knew growing up. Although he couldn’t see anything beyond the face plate, Genji looked weary in his form, like he was waiting for an opportunity to escape. The minute twitches of his joints were barely noticeable.
“Genji,” he began gently, “will you be coming to the workshop as well?” The mention of his name did cause some sort of small reaction within his body. It was agonisingly hard to tell, but Hanzo was sure something was bothering or had bothered his brother. His response was practically no surprise at all.
“I doughnut think so. There are other matters I must attend to elsewhere.” Hanzo could see the subtle switch of weight between his feet. Likely no others would have noticed this small detail. “My apologies, Hanzo. I am certain you will find good company in Torbjörn and whomever joins.” The words were sincere, but they felt off. Hanzo wanted to say more, but his little brother was dashing away as if in a hurry. It perplexed him. Had he said something wrong? Did something just happen he did not realise? But, he had little time to think on it more as Torbjörn Lindholm and Winston beckoned him along, clearly not noting the unusual behaviour from Genji. Even as he walked a step behind them, his gaze lingered on the path his brother had taken, like the green haze had left behind something he could trace and follow.
Hanzo was thankful for the distraction of the workshop. It was a large room packed tight with various parts, tools, and a station strictly for software application and testing. Anyone who wasn’t accustomed to engineering would certainly have thought the room a garbage dump, but after years of shopping for the parts he used to make his storm bow, he found the expansive and various items to be gratifying. Shelves were labelled and stuffed with anything an engineer may need and that gave him many ideas to think on. At the moment, he was holding tools and keeping an eye on the voltmeter attached to the suit Torbjörn had called Dr Ziegler’s Valkyrie. It was an interesting structure with many components that needed to be monitored closely during the maintenance. The Valkyrie was suited on a non-conductive mannequin, and at first glance, one would think it was more a costume for a sci-fi angel than a suit that provides the user flight mechanics and enhanced strength.
Torbjörn gave a loud sigh as he wiped his forehead and handed the soldering iron to Hanzo for him to place back on the charger on the wall. “No matter what I do, I just can’t seem to get the knee and leg braces to handle the brunt of the Valkyrie’s liftoff.” He scratched at his nose and gave a glance to Hanzo as though he was the perfect conduit for his frustrations. “It’s been a struggle to enable Angela more flight capabilities when each lift puts too much force on the joints. These shocks are irreparable. The constant wear will keep limiting her to loose gliding.”
“But, she is wanting the Valkyrie to be more stable for longer flight duration?” The smaller engineer nodded, seemingly glad that he understood the underlying issue. Winston then came from behind with more mesh, giving it to Torbjörn. He asked for the soldering iron back and Hanzo gave it to him. He began removing excess solder and any mistakes as Winston began to explain.
“Flight is what we initially designed the wings to do, more so than just allow temporary gliding. The system uses a form of ionisation and hard light to create the propellant. On paper, it works as intended,” here, he pointed Hanzo to look along the ionisation units within the slots of the wings. He could see the partial damage from the thrust typically generated there, “there isn’t any trouble actually having the suit stay airborne, the trouble is just the weight. The Valkyrie system itself is heavy enough as it is, but with an entire human being strapped inside, it’s caused some imbalance and requires more force on the legs to actually push her into a glide.”
“Making the wings larger was not an option?” He asked. Torbjörn was quick to answer him with a shake of his head.
“We tried to make designs with larger wings and more ionisers, but the weight would only increase exponentially. We’d have had to make the wings as large 6.7 meters and remove most, if not all, the extra weight for a lighter metal to even get her off the ground. Far too large, and too easy for an enemy agent to target. We just can’t risk it.” It made sense. The smaller the flight wings, the harder it would be to strike Dr Ziegler from the sky mid-flight. If the wings were too light weight, they would likely be too brittle for the mess of combat.
“So, we’ve been mostly just treating the symptoms of the flight she does have.” Winston’s paw played along a datapad and brought up schematics for Hanzo to view. He panned through the details of the knee and leg braces with notations on the frequent damages. “If these braces were to collapse in combat, Angela would find herself grounded and limited, but designing better braces has been a bit of a trial for us.” Hanzo found himself pondering on that as he looked over the details. As he read the notes, he asked politely if he could take the datapad. Winston was quick to relinquish it, not minding at all for another’s opinion and looked a bit amused that he would ask. Hanzo laid the device against his forearm as he flicked through. Images and 3D details of the ionisers and wings displayed for him, popping forward as he turned on the holographic display to better see the structures. While his knowledge was limited in aerodynamics, he did understand general physics quite well and that gave him some idea on what he was looking for within the data. Flight may be limited in duration, but not impossible, it was just a matter of balance within the trade of energy to nullify the weight. The lift coefficient needed to be better timed with the velocity to do this. Hanzo dragged his fingers over the schematics of the braces, giving a little twirl as he examined the recent damage as scanned by Athena.
“Dr Winston,” Hanzo called, and the scientist turned to him, catching the additional interest of Torbjörn, “I see here that the ionisers are using the neutral gas to propel the initial glide, but the brace is forced downward and forces the user to counterbalance which is causing the majority of the joint strain.” Here, he moved a few numbers around and punched in another formula for the electrostatics. A sample generated hypothesis formed on the datapad and displayed a programmed sample of a user looping a glide from target to target. “If the ionisers are instead set to create the force just after the start of the glide, we can use the Coulomb inverse-square law to our advantage.” Winston watched the sample closely, studying it as he followed along. Hanzo continued, moving the datapad slightly so that the interested Torbjörn could also see. “With this modification, the user will instead hold the force until the intended target is reached and complete the glide into —”
“— a super jump thrust! ” Torbjörn exclaimed with newfound energy, taking the datapad from Hanzo so fast, he barely saw the man snatch it.
“Yes,” Hanzo finished, giving a bit of a half smile as Winston beamed at him with something akin to respect. Almost like he knew something Hanzo didn’t although he was hard pressed to know what it could be. The small engineer panned through the data, pouring over the new information as the program ran the statistics.
“My boy, you’re a genius! ” The odd prosthetic struck his backside kindly, having Hanzo move a bit forward but understanding the camaraderie behind the gesture. “It may not give long flight trajectory, but the upward jump will give Angela just enough manoeuvrability to get distance, height, and quickly avoid close combat.” Hanzo reached over the man and touched the joint within the hypothesis diagram. The figure continued to glide from the targets and jump straight into the air upon reaching the target.
“What’s more,” Hanzo said, “it will generally remove most of the strain on the braces since it will rely on the distribution of the force before reaching the intended target.”
Torbjörn began running the material list generated from the program, delight on his face like a smug cat, “Well, what are we standing around for? Let’s get to work and test it! I’m sure Angela is going to be thrilled!” He dashed to the shelves, grabbing tools and supplies, all the while muttering things to himself about the process. The excitement was contagious. As Hanzo went to join him, Winston placed a large hand on his shoulder and gave a small shake that nearly toppled him. When he looked at the scientist, the grin there was knowing.
“Jack of all trades, huh?” It took a moment, but Hanzo felt himself flush at that as he remembered their breakfast conversation from the morning. It was a compliment in its own right and yet he couldn’t bring himself to feel his knowledge was all that significant. Eventually, they would have come across the same idea, it really wasn’t anything that he had suggested it, but the gorilla’s confidence tried to melt him into acceptance. To avoid it, Hanzo simply gave a neutral look and continued to the shelves to help Torbjörn find all the needed components. It wasn’t long until the workshop was whirring with life and movement, the sound of collaborative tools filling the room.
It was not necessarily hard work as much as it was tedious. Winston and Athena reworked the operating system that managed the ionisers while Torbjörn and he applied the new shocks and tweaked the hard light slots. Hanzo hadn’t realised how much time had gone by until the soft voice of Mei at the door had them all turn. In her hands were three mugs and a coffee pot. She held them up sweetly, telling them all she thought they could use a little perk up from all the work. And she was right. Winston took it gratefully as she stepped forward to help make the coffee for them. She was polite and wonderful conversation, Hanzo couldn’t help but to admire her as her eyes sparkled and her giggle brought colour to her cheeks. She was quite beautiful when she laughed. It reminded him of the times when he was a boy and would pull the delicate giggles from Genji when he told him outlandish bed time stories. Her round and youthful face was similar to how his little brother had looked then. So full of wonder and hope and love. But the darker parts of his mind were quick to stomp the good memories away and replace them with guilt, remorse, and a reminder that he had taken that all away. That somehow, despite that he knew Genji was alive, that he was dead. It had him pause with the conversation becoming a dull background noise. He had taken those moments and burned them. The memory of Genji’s body seamed in metal flashed across his eyes and he felt himself choking.
A gentle hand touched his shoulder, and Hanzo panicked, stuttering back and dropping his mug. It crashed on the floor, porcelain going in all directions and coffee smearing. He looked at the mess on the floor, looked up to see the three looking upon him with worry, and he dropped down to begin picking up the pieces. “I — my apologies.” Mei dropped beside him and started to help. Winston said he would get a towel.
“Are you okay?” She asked. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.” She wasn’t exactly wrong. He fumbled the pieces, distracting himself from the weight of his thoughts.
“I did not mean to become distracted. Please, forgive my clumsiness.” Winston returned with a towel, gradually making his way over on one arm. Hanzo went to take it, but the scientist simply began to help clean up the spill.
“Everything all right?” He asked, genuine concern on him once more.
“Yes.” Hanzo was quick to reply. “I am just tired from the long work. Perhaps I need a short rest before I continue to assist.” They all appeared to accept that, even if they didn’t want to. Mei advised he should return to his brother’s bunk for a quick nap. Winston suggested a walk through the Watchpoint’s botanical garden. Torbjörn said he just needed a beer. All were likely what he needed, but Hanzo told them just a quick walk for fresh air would be sufficient. And so, once the spill was managed and the mug pieces were all found and swept, he excused himself with a small promise to return shortly. They watched him leave and he became thankful when the door swished around him and sealed them apart. His body fell unto the door, his breath becoming ragged from the sudden burst of anxiety. Yes, some fresh air would undoubtedly help clear his mind.
Chapter 6: Chapter Six
A trained assassin could not let their morality or humanity prevent them from securing the kill. Most that trained for this profession found themselves victim to mental instability or allowed themselves to grow into neurotic sociopaths. Hanzo and Genji had endured fierce training to insure neither would become of them, that some form of humanity would help them to decide when killing was necessary or without benefit. Their father did not want them to simply be cold-blooded killing machines. But, Hanzo felt that generosity was the root cause for his suffering. Had he been trained not to feel or allow mercy, the demons in his mind would not be so cruel now. For ten years he had been beating them back and time was slowly eroding his strength to endure them. Hanzo sought comfort. He wanted that comfort from Genji, his only brother that would understand the pain of their upbringing, but he could not find him.
His feet had began to move long before Hanzo knew where he was going. What started as a walk turned into a search. Only a few halls down and already he felt lost again. He stood in the empty corridor, feeling almost pitiful and trapped. He was thankful when he happened across a hall that jogged his memory and he could circle back to the kitchen and dormitories. Hanzo searched those areas for Genji, poking his head into every doorway for any telltale sign of his brother, but he simply did not know the layout well enough to know where to look and now, he was not sure he could even find his way back to the workshop.
A banging noise was heard behind him. Hanzo turned to see a box of random hardware was halfway fallen through a partially opened doorway. The automatic door appeared to be broken off the track. A grunt and swear trailed behind it so Hanzo approached to help the voice. Jack Morrison was grumbling as he began to pick up the box and only noticed him when Hanzo assisted on the other side by lifting half the weight. “Ah, Shimada. What are you doing in the storage?”
Hanzo reached for a few of the items that had fallen to the floor and placed them back into the box Jack now held firmly. “My apologies. I was looking for my brother and became lost again.”
Jack chuckled kindly, his nose scrunching a little to displace his large facial scar, then shoved himself out from the broken doorway with minor trouble, the door whining as it tried to close. The commander gave it a swift kick which made it jolt back into place. “I’m glad we ran into each other. Angela sent me your medical report and Winston gave me the statistics for your drills. I’m content with the results. You’ll do fine on the Brazil mission.”
“Thank you, sir.” Jack made a sound and nodded with an implication that he was going down the hall. Hanzo joined him silently in step from the unspoken order to accompany him. Jack Morrison seemed a rather easy person to take orders from. He was clearly a wise man with a soft heart and carried himself with confidence that bled into those about him. Hanzo could see why this man had once been the face of Overwatch, if he was remembering the propaganda correctly, and why the team followed him with such ease.
“So,” the commander began with a smirk on his lips, “Winston sent me a message that you were helping with Lindholm’s modifications. He’s been praising your intelligence and handiness. Do all yakuza study as hard as you, or is it just a Japanese thing?” It was obvious that the commander already knew his answer. His face looked like one of great interest, perhaps even a small amount of smugness that he could potentially be recruiting such a person to his team. Hanzo looked away.
“My brother and I were given an extensive education,” he confessed calmly, “I would not say that all people of my homeland are so lucky.” Jack nodded to that.
“I can see why Genji was so adamant about your recruitment.” He paused. “You know,” here he stopped at a chute on a wall pressed into the farthest corner of the corridor. He opened the small circular door, then began to dump the items from the box into it. It appeared to be some kind of recycling chute. “in all honesty, I thought his excitement was entirely demented at first. In Blackwatch — ah, that was a subset of Overwatch,” he explained, “all he prattled on about was how much he wanted to hunt you down, tie you to his bed and rape you with his sword.” Hanzo felt himself make a face at the colourful description as it was too clear to envision, and exactly the type of crude anger he’d expect from someone brought back from the dead. “When Blackwatch was finally cleared to infiltrate the Shimada estate in Hanamura, he wasn’t exactly subtle in his disappointment that you weren’t there. Granted, your family hadn’t announced you were a national threat yet and no one knew you had fled, but,” he shook the last remaining bits from the box then slammed the door on the chute to close it, “it took both McCree and Reyes to hold him back from a murderous rampage in an attempt to locate you. We actually ended up sedating him and dragging him back to the States to prevent him as a liability.” Jack Morrison shook his head from the memory, like it was all too fresh within his mind still. Hanzo felt himself swallow, thinking how Genji had behaved then was entirely appropriate in his opinion, and it was exactly what he would have done himself given the unique situation. That anger was what he deserved and expected, not the forgiveness he was being shown now.
“I talked with Angela extensively when he began to pose the idea of your joining the new Overwatch. It wasn’t an easy pill to swallow. What were we to think when he’d gone from a malicious, murderous, bitch-tornado to suddenly a disciple of peace? I had to make sure he hadn’t been somehow brainwashed or was faking his new outlook just to lure you in under false pretences. This recall didn’t need to begin with an egregious murder — but, Jesse sat me down one day and explained that he was entirely serious. Genji wouldn’t lie to Jesse, never had with how close to the hip they were, so that’s when I began to accept that he was making the idea in a sane mind. The man had come to terms with himself.”
Jack began leading them back to the room he had come from initially. Hanzo watched the man kick the same door to have it open and observed as he grabbed more broken parts. Hanzo offered to hold the box and Jack didn’t refute the assistance as he filled it. “Laingholm is looking for these sprockets they made about 30 years ago and they’re buried somewhere in here.” It was an answer to a question Hanzo did not ask, but he took it kindly and gave a modest noise in response as if he appreciated the explanation. Truthfully, he didn’t much care the reason as his mind was becoming too full with questions about his brother’s past. There were so many holes he wanted to fill. In some tormented kind of way, he needed to know what type of life his brother had been living without him. That had his mind turn to the cowboy.
“Has my brother and Jesse McCree always been close?”
Jack smothered a laugh that surprised him, “Well, not always.” His smirk held weight of many stories, it seemed. “At first they were both stubborn punks that tried to size-up the other in practically every regard. Couldn’t go down to the training grounds without the two constantly squabbling over which was better: the gun or the sword; or watching them tousle it out in another knock-out, drag-out fight. You see, Jesse has his own backstory that made him just as much a brat as your brother. The two were at odds and absolute pains in the ass until one day, they just weren’t. Commander Reyes, the leader of Blackwatch at that time, was reporting in and told me the two had come to some kind of understanding. He didn’t know what it was, but whatever happened in a single night had them working like brothers the very next morning.”
Hanzo could think of a few ways they may have come to terms with the other. “Perhaps they had bonded over a similar pain.” The way Jesse McCree regarded his brother was as protective as an actual sibling, it could have been any number of things that brought them to work together in kind.
Jack laughed, however, dropping a heavier piece into the box that had Hanzo grunt a little, “That or they finally fucked.” The box fell from Hanzo’s grasp but he managed to catch it before it hit the floor. He felt himself stumble, attempting to regain himself after that comment. Jack continued to laugh gently. “Sorry, that was crude.”
“I,” he swallowed, not sure why the comment had affected him at all, “no, that is not a problem. I just did not expect it.”
Jack nodded. “Well, none of us know what happened, but even if they did, it grew into a brotherhood more so than a relationship. Can’t say I’ve ever gotten the vibe they were more than that, especially since how he behaves around Jesse is nothing like how he behaves around Angela — and practically everyone knows he has a thing for her.” Hanzo felt his heart suddenly ache like it was wrapped in sharp ice and he looked into Jack strangely like he did not know what to find there.
“Genji is romantically involved with Dr Ziegler?” The words felt like acid on his tongue and burned his lungs. The feeling hurt.
Jack shook his head. “He clearly likes her, and hell, she may even like him back, but either those two are still flirting and haven’t realised they like the other, or they’re both really good at keeping their relationship hidden. Dinner yesterday probably makes a little more sense now given how intimately she handles him. A lot of us would say it’s just apart of her job as the team medic, but she doesn’t handle any of us how she handles him.” And it did make sense. It made him understand why Genji had behaved how he did when he introduced the good doctor to him, and why it looked so private when she touched him to remove his face plate or insert the ventilator. It wasn’t beyond belief that Genji would have fallen in love with the very woman that saved his life given how dependant he was on her. Even if she was nothing of his type, all that time together could have blossomed an attraction. Somehow, he felt worse than he had when he left the workshop. His breath pushed and pulled from his chest. The mental image of his brother and the doctor just felt wrong to him. Was he feeling overly protective? Was he just being a big brother?
Jack brought him back. “To be honest, it’s not a bad match. They’d be lucky since people like us don’t typically find love, or rather, we don’t keep it for long.” Something in his tone turned dark, like he was remembering something forgotten and far gone. Hanzo could only sympathise. For the past few years he had since abandoned intimate companionship. There wasn’t a woman or man that could bring him to feel complete. Every kiss and orgasm just felt like a chore. Eventually, he stopped seeking the pleasure of company altogether. There had been many fine people — even omnics— he had encountered in his travels that would have made his dick hard instantly had his mind not been fogged with depression, but he’d grown weary of the time and energy it now took to perform or even to get himself off by hand. He couldn’t remember the last time he kissed someone’s lips or felt fingers card in his hair with a beg for him to fuck them deeper, harder, or even his last orgasm. A part of him wondered if Genji was still capable of intimacy or could reach orgasm anymore. It felt a cruel fate if something so key to his former lifestyle had also been stripped from him. Just another reason to blame himself.
Thankfully, the rest of their conversation turned much lighter after that seeing as they both appeared to have grown uncomfortable by the mention of love, that or Commander Morrison thought it odd to discuss his brother’s possible sex life any further. Hanzo helped remove and recycle most of the hardware parts until Jack had thoroughly given up on finding the sprockets and groaned that he was too old to bother anymore. He decided to just help Hanzo find his brother and thought he might know of a place he could be. Jack led them around the compound until they reached halls that didn’t look like they would be operational anytime soon judging by the shoddy wiring. It was here they came upon a stairwell. It was about 3 flights before Jack stopped them at a ladder that extended to a hatch on the ceiling. Hanzo looked at it strangely. “Many of us like to get away up here sometimes and have made this a personal retreat of sorts. It leads to the roof of the water silo. If you didn’t find your brother anywhere else, he may be here.” Jack motioned for Hanzo to climb on up but he stayed where he was.
“Thank you, commander. I appreciate your help.”
“Don’t mention it.” Jack Morrison stretched his back and started to head back down the stairwell. “It’s my turn to cook tonight so I’ll see you at supper. If you need help finding your way back, just call for Athena’s attention on any of the nearby terminals.” He pointed in the rough direction to a terminal built into the wall. Hanzo had seen a few of them around but they were far and few in between. At that, the commander left and Hanzo waited until he was gone before he gave his attention to the ladder. Something about it grounded him, unsure if he wanted to find Genji on the other side. He felt like he needed to reassure himself that his brother was alive and he wasn’t going mad, as strange as it was that he had been talking about him and had spoken to him earlier. With a resolute sigh, he ascended the ladder and pushed the hatch open. It was heavier than he thought but he managed to pry it aside. The climb out was easy enough with the sun greeting him warmly from the late-afternoon sky. He looked around the top and to the roof adjacent but did not see anyone there. No one. With a bit of disappointment and mild defeat, Hanzo let go of the breath he didn’t know he was holding and simply walked to the edge of the silo before coming down to a gentle kneel. The hot wind blew on him, warming him from the cold compound air units. What was he doing?
It was as though everything had began to weigh down on him. The note, the time he spent travelling, his arrival and reunion — all of it — it felt like a sandcastle awaiting its timely demise from a coming tide. This life of Genji’s, it was alien. He was undeserving of the kindness and forgiveness. Genji had everything here he could possibly have hoped for in a second life and Hanzo could barely keep himself together in a training drill or hold himself together for a light conversation. And now he was seeking out his brother like a beacon despite knowing that Genji was better off without him and had been for years. Hanzo felt unneeded in spite of his brother’s proclamations to the otherwise. He felt there was nothing he could accomplish here that would make up for the years lost. Did he need some kind of approval from his brother for that? Is that why he was there? Did he want Genji to push him away?
His thoughts came to a stop when his acute senses felt a presence. It was recognisable, a comforting weight of coming battle, the same feeling he had back in Hanamura.
“Here I was searching for you, but you have found me instead.” Hanzo didn’t move from his place, his muscles feeling stiff the moment a silent figure dropped beside him like a drop of rainwater. The green glow and hiss of the vents were somewhat comforting. This figure was alive and real.
“I have followed you for years, brother. It has only gotten easier for me to find you.” Part of him wanted to be insulted by that, but Hanzo found he couldn’t. Genji seemed to sense that as he was quick to add, “When you want to be found, I mean.”
Silence filled the apparent void between them, like they were miles apart despite that they were mere inches from the other. “You were looking for me?” Hanzo didn’t answer right away. It took just a pause until he gave a small nod in reply, feeling himself struggle to say much more than that. He wanted to say everything all at once on his mind, but found no strength to do so. After a moment to compose himself and noticing the slight awkwardness taking hold of them again, Hanzo fumbled for his path to open and relieve the tension.
“You did not want to join us in the workshop.”
Genji shrugged loosely, Hanzo noticed it. “I had… other matters to attend.”
Even ten years later and Hanzo could still recognise his little brother’s evasiveness. Like witnessing him avoiding the subject of yet another all night drinking and orgy binge. “You did not.”
His brother tried to remain still but Hanzo could see the minor movements that spoke of his uncomfortable feelings. He relented. “You are right. I did not.”
“You could have just said you did not want to go.”
“It is not that.”
“Then why?” It wasn’t like Genji refusing to join him was a big deal. In reality, it wasn’t even a general concern, but given the context and strain it was clear there was something bothering Genji just as much as there was guilt eating at Hanzo. Both of them were evading and having trouble smoothing over the reunion. Something had to give. Genji couldn’t expect him to just treat everything like this was normal. Their entire situation was anything but normal.
“I just…” Hanzo patiently waited on his brother, allowing himself to catch his breath and calm the nervousness that was claiming his heart. “You have always been the one that was destined to lead. First born, heir tour family, and so diligent with everything put your way. It is no wonder why my selfishness was looked down upon so shamefully. I did not take the time to learn or appreciate the advantage I was given. They sent you to — to remove me — because I was no better than a communal toilet. Grinding in clubs, avoiding my responsibilities in the bottom of bottles, it was fortunate that father was merciful to bribe and threaten so many tabloids from printing the stories.”
“Genji — ”
“But look at you, anija. Everyone here likes you already and it has been so little time. Your knowledge and skill, you hold more value to Overwatch than I ever could. You can offer so much more. But me?” He sadly laughed. “I am just a weapon. It is all I was ever good for. Overwatch rescued me because of what I knew of our family empire. I was given the choice to live and be their blade or they would let me die.” He sighed, like the weight of his words were being finally lifted. Hanzo felt uneasy by the proclamation that this Overwatch would give such an ultimatum, but at the same time, it wasn’t as though they were a charity. All the funding and resources required to rebuild his brother had to be put to good use and reason. As sad at it was, as unfair as it felt, it was just the reality. “I am trying so hard to be okay. I wanted you to believe that we could be okay here. Start over. All I have done is remind myself why the elders sent you to kill me to begin with. Even now,” Genji pulled up his hands to flex the cybernetic fingers and watch them, “I am a chore for my friends. A burden. I depend on them to survive in this body. They asked for me, Hanzo, but they need you.”
Hanzo was never the physical and intimate type. Even when approached by the promise of sinful lust, his touches and contact needed purpose to be casual. There wasn’t a person within the Shimada family that didn’t know this, and the surprise within Genji could be seen, despite the faceplate, when Hanzo took up his quivering hand, so focused on the lack of humanity within it, and pressed the metal to his lips. Gentle, sweet. The hand was held there pressed to his mouth until his brother looked at him in question, as if his older brother were going mad. Perhaps he was. The feeling drunkened him. Hanzo wanted Genji to know the substance of his next words with this simple gesture.
“There is not a person in this world that could have endured as you, my brother.” He said this to his fingers with a finality that could not be argued nor challenged. “If it had been me, I would have accepted my fate for it is easier to die than it is to live. I would not have found in this chance a form of peace nor forgiveness. Anger and pride fracture my durability. My knowledge and skill fall short to your reverie and versatility. I could never love as you, allow myself to freely dance as you, to feel more than bitterness. Each kiss you laid on another’s lips, each bed you warmed and pleasured — all of it took you so far from me as I obeyed the clan’s orders and grew distant, cold. Like a phoenix you were reborn here, but myself,” he squeezed Genji’s hand softly, never letting it leave his hold, “I know only grief and suspicion. No one could hold my trust as you. No one deserved it.” The eyes that flicked up to the green visor, Hanzo knew, looked raw and pained. They begged Genji for something he could not translate from his thoughts to his mouth. “I do believe there is not a person among this Overwatch that would name you a chore, nor a burden. They asked for you because it is you. They only allow me here because of the trust they have come to form with you. Whatever circumstances you began as for them, you have proven now that you are more than a blade, you are… their family.” That had his brother paralyse, like the words had somehow been his undoing and it pained Hanzo when Genji took his hand away to curl into himself.
“Hanzo,” Genji’s voice sounded shaken, far away, “what did you do after my death?” The question hit Hanzo like a truck speeding down a highway. Any words he could have formed suddenly felt like gibberish and he found he needed to compose himself to answer such a question. He knew eventually his brother would ask and no amount of time could prepare him for the best way to answer. Did he tell half-truths for the sake of how his brother may feel? Or did he come completely clean? No editing. Just words. But it was difficult to begin, and the more time Hanzo took to answer, the further away it felt Genji was pushing himself away.
Hanzo composed himself, feeling his shoulders slump from the tension, then, “There is no greater shame than realising a victory is, in truth, a defeat.” Hanzo wanted to say more, tried to say more, but with each breath it felt more impossible than the last. The faceplate provided little feedback, and what did get through likely warped through his sense of self worth as it came off as disappointment. Hanzo closed his eyes, opening his mouth to continue, but the words turned to ash on his tongue. Genji seemed to take pity on him. A hand reached out and gently caressed his cheek. The foreignness of the cold metal was beginning to ebb and he found himself leaning into it softly.
“You are not ready.” His brother said this quietly, stating it as a fact. And it was true, wasn’t it? When the hand left him, it nearly had Hanzo sway from the loss of contact and he became aware of himself again, turning to look at the hazy green of the visor set downcast. It pained him to his brother this way. “I have been ready for many years, but,” Genji vents hissed softly, almost like a sigh, “to ask this of you so soon — it is unfair, isn’t it?” Hanzo didn’t answer. “I have been cruel to you.” There were many things he could say Genji had been to him up until this moment, but cruel had not once been a thought.
“It is not cruel to want the satisfaction of intention.”
Genji was quick to silence him, “Ah, no, you misunderstand. I doughnut ask because I want you to suffer some form of misguided consequence. I ask this for closure.” Any consequence that would force his atonement was what Hanzo felt he deserved, and perhaps that was what Genji could see in him. It wasn't as though he went out of his way to be a beacon of optimism, after all. Genji continued. “You are still wounded. It is selfish for me to ask a wounded man to relive himself. His duty.” At that, Hanzo felt any response he could give then would do little to sway the certainty of his brother’s statement. His duty. The thought nearly choked him with grief. As much as he wanted to assure his brother that it was okay to ask and even his right to do so, Hanzo was wise enough to know his own limitations. No matter how old a man he would grow to be, he could not change that his tongue seldom could find words to explain himself. He knew this. Genji knew this. So he allowed himself to release his tension and let his vision blur to the watercolour background of the sky’s vibrant colours turning pale and dark as evening drew nearer. Both brothers sat in a growing uncomfortable silence that forced a wedge between them. Silence seemed to be the only language Hanzo knew. It was frustrating.
Darker yet darker still the sky grew. Automatic lights began to flicker on about the compound like fireflies around them, illuminating their surroundings in a gentle fluorescent glow. Genji was the first to stand. Hanzo remained at his foot, his eyes dragging to his knees where his hands laid folded.
“I am sorry that I must take my leave now. Angela requested me. I will see you for the dinner?” Hanzo answered him with a nod. He didn’t look up, though. A part of him stagnated on the sentence, focusing on his brother’s change in attention. When Genji began to stride for the hatch, it wasn’t until he heard it twist and unlock that Hanzo forced himself to turn and call to the other. Genji paused instantly and stilled like a painting. The visor snapped on him like a target.
It had been on his mind ever since he left Commander Morrison, eating at him in ways that words failed to describe. His next question was hesitant but firm. “Are you in love with Dr Ziegler?” If lightening were capable of striking in that exact moment, it certainly would have matched the breathless desperation of that query. The air about them grew thick and dense. Whatever schism that had formed between them could only grow. Genji looked around at everything but Hanzo, as though the answer had dropped and rolled away somewhere. Hanzo waited. It was many more agonising moments before his brother found his answer.
“I... I don't know.” Then, he was gone like a wisp of smoke, leaving behind his answer in the void now present. The words stung Hanzo by not only their reluctance, but uncertainty. How did Genji not know if he was in love with the doctor? To him, it seemed a rather simple question, but a moment more foretold his selfishness to demand something so sudden, so brash, from Genji just to spare his brotherly jealously. It was jealously. He recognised it, but instead of focusing on the feeling and spiralling himself into a depression, Hanzo determined that he had spent too much time within himself and was ready to return to the distraction of the Overwatch company. There were better places he could go to brood and self-loathe that wouldn't encourage a mental suicide. With the help of Athena – such a curious A.I. – it did not take long for him to find his way back to the workshop, even if he did have to turn around once or twice. The confusion did help minutely to put Genji from his mind.
The walk back felt like his body was dragging the weight of stones chained to his arms and legs. A part of him debated his thought of returning to the others, but a cultural obligation forced his courtesy. As he approached the workshop, he heard light murmurs and gentle laughter. Despite the hour, Torbjörn Lindholm still seemed to be hard at work. When he entered, the engineer was accompanied by the soft-hearted Dr Zhou. She was typing away at a command console while Lindholm worked the circuits to Dr Ziegler's Valkyrie suit. Mei was the first to notice him, her smile sudden and bright. It helped to soothe him.
“Oh, welcome back, Hanzo! You were gone so long, we assumed you had gone to rest.” That had the small engineer look up and greet him kindly as well with a wave of his prosthetic, clearly not at all worried for his absence.
“I apologise that my absence was far longer than I anticipated. Has Dr Winston already taken his leave?”
Mei nodded. “He is testing the new ionisers with Athena in the gun range. Torbjörn was telling me about your hypothesis for a super jump thrust with Angela's flight suit. These figures are incredible and I've no doubt they will make her very happy with the results.” This allowed Hanzo a comfortable segue to steer his attention away from his brother. He nodded to her, taking up a small stool by the command console, and allowed himself to explain the finer details of this modification. On the console he pulled up his earlier visuals for display and Mei did not once look disinterested. Her eyes looked as bright and enamoured as Winston had when he first posed the mod. Dr Mei-Ling Zhou brought him a form of peace that he was sure related to her genuine sincerity as well as her interest. It was not long after that, that a small notification chirp was heard and Mei alerted them that Commander Morrison had the night's supper ready.
Even before he entered into the dining area, the delicious smell of the dinner to come wafted down the hall. It was enough to remind Hanzo that he had not eaten in some time and was quite famished. Winston and Torbjörn were already seated as Tracer helped Jack Morrison set out plates. Small cuts of steak, mash, and baked asparagus was displayed neatly in the middle with utensils ready to serve. Mei took up a seat near the wall and Hanzo politely joined in beside her. Jesse McCree sauntered in next with his joints popping grotesquely as he rolled his head side to side. He dropped himself across from Hanzo like all of gravity forced him down into the chair, he then began to casually serve himself. His portion size would definitely go against any ration restrictions but no one seemed to mind.
“Now where in the world did you find real beef?” McCree asked with a chuckle, not at all stopping himself from taking an extra piece of the steak. Commander Morrison told him that he had managed to shop when he and Genji had gone by the local town during their perimeter check. McCree laughed and shook his head, tossing a thumb at Morrison as he looked at Mei, “Can you believe this guy is using valuable Overwatch time to do his grocery shoppin'?”
Mei smothered a smile. “I do not see room for complaining since you are taking extra rations, Jesse.”
He shrugged with a grin. “Guilty.” He replied, immediately cutting a piece of the steak and popping it into his mouth. But, despite the haste for the good meal, Hanzo politely waited. Everyone was sitting in their seats and serving themselves, everyone but him. When he did not reach out to place any on his plate, Tracer turned to him with concern. “Something wrong there, love? Why aren't ya eating?” Hanzo felt it was obvious as he flicked his eyes to the other empty chairs about them.
“I am waiting for my brother and Dr Ziegler.” Tracer nodded like she understood even if it appeared not to be something any of them would typically do for each other. Perhaps it did not often matter if a few of them missed the gathering for the meal every now and again. Tracer let him be and the others ate and enjoyed the small conversation that began to form, but still Hanzo refused to serve himself even when his hunger began to howl from his stomach. Where was Genji? And why did the absence of the doctor also make his chest tighten?
Jesse McCree took him from his thoughts with a literal snap of his fingers. The rudeness of the gesture made him frown but otherwise give the cowboy his attention. “I'm sure it's not any of my place to be questionin' culture and all,” he said with a point of his fork, “but you should prob'ly eat before your stomach eats itself. I can hear it from here. Genji and Angela may not get in for some time if'n you're intending to wait on 'em.”
“Are they often late to meals?” There were many answers he did not want for this question and he hoped there was a rational explanation. He was sure there was, many of the Overwatch had duties and responsibilities that could easily make one lose track of time. It seemed almost childish to feel any jealousy over it.
“Well, no, but y' gotta understand there, Hanzo, Angela is Genji's friend for sure, but she's also his primary doctor. Them being off together isn't nothing to worry yourself over. I'm sure she's just running her usual diagnostics or he got stuck on a magnetic again.” Hanzo thought on that briefly, and when he took notice that the others were blissfully unaware with their own conversation, he decided to take this moment to learn more about his brother's past. Especially with that of the doctor. He wasn't sure if Jesse McCree would release much to him given how little he trusted him, and rightly so, but surely a little background wouldn't be much to ask.
His approach was cautious. “Commander Morrison mentioned to me earlier about your Blackwatch project.” That had McCree pause with his fork half-way to his mouth. He set it down against his plate almost as though Hanzo had initiated a challenge. He looked away from the cowboy to show he was not attempting to be bold, but an earnest statement into a topic. “It sounded like an early project in Overwatch's inception. Is this the time when my brother and Dr Ziegler began to bond?”
The question was quick to disarm McCree since it appeared his direction was not where he thought it would turn. Whatever he thought Hanzo may be attempting to do was quickly discarded, so he returned to eating casually and sat back a little in his chair. “Yeah, you could say that. Blackwatch was technically already being formed and making function when Genji and I came to meet. He was just a body on a table at that time, but Angela was there practically every waking moment to ensure his life could be rebuilt safely. It's only natural that they grew a relationship beyond the patient-doctor confidentiality. I mean, who wouldn't? She saved his life.” Hanzo nodded at that. “Genji and Angela are definitely a unique pair. Even when the entire organization was being torn apart, Genji remained loyal and in debt to her.” That left out a lot of context, so he asked with a tilt of his head to encourage a further explanation. His curiosity seemed to be understood and the cowboy continued on.
“After the fall of Overwatch due to the Petras Act, most of us went our separate ways, Genji included. He went soul-searching just like the rest of us but we mostly lost contact with one another. Genji, though, he always wrote back to Angela when he could. I'm not meaning those emails and electronic texts, either, but actual paper letters – through the mail.” Of course he did. A part of him found it endearing and just like Genji to do something personal like that. He had, after all, sent the directions to Watchpoint via a hand written note. “Anyway,” McCree waved off with another bite off his fork, “I won't bore you with the details. If you're curious about the doc's and your brother's relationship, I'd suggest to take a walk to the Medical Bay. Angela keeps those letters framed in her back office. They're not exactly kept a secret.” Dr Ziegler had kept the letters? And framed them? An odd choice of décor for sure, but he was not one to judge. The letters certainly must be important to her if she would take the time.
Hanzo thanked Jesse McCree who waved him off as though the information was as casual as the weather. “But, really,” McCree told him, and he began serving out portions on to Hanzo's plate without his consent, “do eat somethin', would ya?” With a sigh and another last look at the empty chairs, Hanzo knew that it would likely be futile to wait, so he accepted. Distantly, his bitterness had him wonder if Genji had skipped out on purpose, but his hope, as small as it was, wanted to believe otherwise.
Genji nor the doctor would arrive that night for the dinner. No one else appeared as bothered by it as Hanzo and it was more likely he was over-thinking it than they would. He wasn't sure whether to feel disappointed, concerned, or both given how they had parted. He ended up settling on a neutral expression and mild annoyance. After the meal, Hanzo offered to take care of the dishes and was delighted when Mei offered to assist. He washed and she rinsed. A few plates in, and when the light conversation allowed a gap between topics, Mei took note of his demeanour.
“You are thinking about your brother.” She said this softly, like speaking too loudly may have him flee. Hanzo debated the pros and cons of just that, but decided there was no merit in upsetting the kind woman just because he preferred to ignore his problems. His nod and a murmur from his throat was his only response.
He washed the pot and she took it to rinse. “You know, Hanzo,” she stopped on a breath as if she were debating her next choice in words carefully, “when people spend so much time apart, wanting the approval of somebody, or someone, is not something to be ashamed about.” Hanzo did not meet her eyes and kept himself focused on the utensils now in his hands. “I know it is not my place, I understand that I know too little to be of value to you, but,” she hesitated, “you and Genji are completely different people than who you used to be. We cannot change our past or what it has become of us,” she took the utensils to rinse, “but we can change our future and how we change with it. You do not need to keep the shadow of whom you once were sewn to your feet. You do not need to keep asking Genji for punishment of your mistakes when he has forgiven all of them.” Somewhere along the line, Hanzo had stopped washing and she rinsing. He stared at the sink, the little soap bubbles popping and colouring in the LED lighting of the kitchen. Was it truly so obvious that he was tormented?
“You are correct that it is not your place to speak.” His voice grated this, wounded. He did not want to be cruel to this generous spirit, this person that simply wanted to help, so he fought with himself to maintain his courtesy. “There are some things that should never be forgiven. In time, my brother may come to realise the same. I dared to call my sin a victory while I stood atop the throne of a kingdom built on sand. I cannot expect you to understand.” Hanzo turned away from her, throwing the dish towel somewhere on to the counter and removing the apron he had donned for the chore. Mei did not call after him or stop him as he made his way to leave her. The dishes sat half-finished, but any resolve Hanzo had was quickly dissipating and gave him little room to allow himself to care. But, when he reached the archway that would soon separate them, he stilled.
“My apologies, Dr Zhou. I mean you no ill-mannered disrespect. Your thoughts are appreciated, even if unasked. I am just exhausted from this long day of events. Please, excuse me.” And he was gone. So quiet and quick were his feet that no one would have even known he had been there to begin with. Hanzo took some solace in seeing that she did not follow. Quite respectful of his personal space, honestly. His heavy heart would only continue to sharpen and push away, so it was for the best that he should be left alone. Although he could not say for certain what he needed in that moment, Hanzo's subconscious made the choice for him, and soon his feet had taken him all the way to the Medical Bay. He wanted to see these letters.
Chapter 7: Chapter Seven
Hanzo stood before the large sliding doors of the Medical bay. For a moment, he debated returning to Genji's bunk and forgetting the whole idea. He felt ridiculous having gotten worked up only to end up at Dr Ziegler's office with intent on stealing glimpses of a past he may not be welcome to. Little was understood of this Jesse McCree and it could be that there weren't any letters at all. But what would someone have to gain from that besides his eternal mistrust? Even if the doctor did have letters and did allow him to view them, would he even want to know what they may say?
The moment he could change his mind and return to the bunk came and went. Suddenly, the doors slid open to reveal Dr Ziegler walking out and almost right into him. Her hair was tousled per usual, it seemed a running theme with her exhaustion, and she looked a bit tired around the eyes. When she caught sight of him mere inches away from her, she gave a startled little jump. “Hanzo?”
He tried to recover from the odd situation. It must have looked rather odd. She studied him over, curious. “Ah, yes, Dr Ziegler, my apologies. I did not mean to startle you.” Her surprise did not last long. She was quick to transform this disruption into a smile, then smother a giggle, as if he didn't already feel ridiculous in the first place.
“It is of no consequence. Did Winston send you to fetch us?” She took a moment to look at a watch about her wrist, “Oh my, it is late! Supper would be over by now.” The doctor shook her head in disbelief as though time slipped her quite often. That could be the truth. “I'm sorry, I did not mean to have us miss the dinner, and Jack was cooking tonight too. He knows how I love his baked asparagus.” The asparagus had been quite good. “Well, no use being upset about it.” She added with a sigh, “Actually, it's perfect that you're here. I could use your help before I settle my project for the night. Join me, won't you?” What could he say? It wasn't like he had better plans for the night that didn't involve the likelihood of choosing between breaking and entering, or slipping slowly into a depression nap until his intrusive thoughts woke him again. So, he followed her inside a step behind. “Did you need something?” She asked sweetly, leading him through the Medbay.
Hanzo felt a half-truth would suffice for this matter. Demanding to pry into her and his brother's personal affairs didn't come off as a wise initial plan. “I was looking for my brother. Have you seen him, Doctor?” Another smile and a gentle breath. It somewhat hurt him, like a joke was being played at his expense.
“Why, yes. He's been with me most of the day, in and out, you know. I apologise if he worried you at all. Genji is known to go off on his own without a thought. I suppose I'm more accustomed to it than a brother may be.” At that, she stopped at a tall door to a small medical lab towards the back. When she palmed the entry for the door, her credentials verified and it slid aside smoothly. Dr Ziegler nodded her head to the entryway. “He's in here.”
Although cautious, Hanzo stepped past the doctor. The room was small, roughly the size of an independent research room. Not too different from one a person may see at a local college. All about were machines he had no idea the use for, lots of shelves jammed with books and monitors, and wire, lots and lots of wire. None of it compared to the centre piece, however, as it made Hanzo briefly take a step back. Aghast. In the centre was a medical bed draped in wiry tubing, and upon it was Genji. His plates were removed down to the bare minimum, exposing much of his brother's delicate prosthetics alongside the seams of metal and flesh. Hanzo nearly panicked when he saw that a large part of his brother's throat had been removed with part of his jaw, showing delicate innards that had been medically reconstructed over time. Many of the wires and tubes seemed to be for various monitoring of his functions. Thankfully, it appeared Genji was asleep and not aware of anything happening around him.
He must have been paralysed a lot longer than he assumed, because Dr Ziegler had time to step in front of him, break his view, and Hanzo could not recall seeing her walk in front of him. “He is sedated.” She then told him gently, obviously taking note of his discomfort and internal panic. His heart was practically pounding from the anxiety of witnessing his brother's 'bare' form again. “His neurotransmitters are temporarily offline, so he feels nothing.”
“Is this... routine maintenance?” His eyes danced around the various machines attached to the wire that bathed his brother. If so, then it would explain why Genji had left in a hurry and missed the dinner. Not like this could have been within Genji's control, and it wasn't like he didn't know he was over-thinking much of his brother's intentions and general feelings. It was why he was standing there to begin with, but without having to say so did make him feel a little better about the absence. It was a curious feeling. Hanzo wasn't sure what to make of it. Whatever it was, it was strong, because as the doctor walked up to Genji on the bed and endearingly moved aside some of his hair from his face, he felt it well up inside him again. Jealousy? Or was this something different?
The doctor took his attention. “If you recall, yesterday you posed quite an idea to resolve Genji's autonomic breathing problem. I've been making additions to his throat valve today in preparation for some testing. The problem is, the remote professor I typically work with has gone offline for the night, so it would be quite helpful to me if I could borrow your eyes and knowledge to help me find the best place to add the eventual prototype.”
Hanzo let his eyes fall to the floor, not at all sure he could muster the strength to speak after witnessing more of what he had done to Genji's body, let alone how tenderly she handled his brother despite it. She didn't appear bothered nor unsettled and it made his jaw clench. “I am certain Dr Winston or even Dr Zhou would be far better suited for this task than me.”
She stopped briefly to give him a soft look. “Oh, Hanzo, you give yourself so little recognition. You posed the idea, so I think you will be a fine assistant. I had just assumed it was much earlier in the day and I was off to grab someone. It's just by luck that you came to me instead.” Hanzo watched as she stepped across the room to pick up a datapad tablet and a few sensors. She promptly handed the datapad over, holding it out for him to take. He found himself uneasily staring at it at first before he gave in and accepted the device.
Over the next few minutes, the doctor explained to him her idea of the airflow valve that she would be basing on the one within the faceplate. There were many challenges to face for the testing, mainly because there was only one of Genji's cybernetic models available and he was currently wearing them. Outside of a few diagrams, they had to test on his brother live in order to see how the new feature may function.
“A lot like how a doctor may administer a new medication to a patient to assess for years in order to note the side effects of use.” Hanzo said.
Dr Ziegler nodded, spinning the diagram of Genji's throat from the datapad holographic projection. “That's right. Genji's form is a very special and custom build. There's no other like it. Over time, we've just been upgrading what he has and seeing what works and what doesn't.” A sudden thought had her eyes her eyes playfully as she flicked up an old diagram of a build that would have modelled Genji's body to look more like a Japanese sentai hero from one of the earlier television programs they used to watch as children. It was entirely green, of course, and looked just about as ridiculous as all the costumed heroes of that televised era. Hanzo snorted, legit snorted a small laugh, the first in a long time. It was just so much like Genji to admire his heroes and want to look like one regardless of the absurdity. How could he not allow himself a laugh? Dr Ziegler took notice.
“Oh my,” The phrase had Hanzo look over to see her staring right him, a face of knowing warmth. The blink he gave her was from feeling a bit lost on the reasoning for such a glance. “And here Genji told me you were incapable of laughter. I'm a little surprised.” Hanzo felt his face heat and he turned away from her, putting his attention back on the diagram models as though he had just thought of something. A finger traced the sentai model away and replaced it with the proper and current diagram. He pretended to focus greatly on that, anything to keep him from seeing the almost smug look on the doctor's face. “Don't worry, everyone did eventually convince him that this design wasn't, ah, medically necessary.”
“And yet, there is still a design logged for it.”
She conceded to that plainly, “I tend to keep the things Genji makes that have me smile.” Good things like possible correspondence? That was as good an entry point as any. As Dr Ziegler returned to assessing the current valves with him, Hanzo cleared his throat awkwardly in the silence.
“Ah, I was not entirely honest for my being here, Dr Ziegler,” he began this a little roughly, gauging her reaction. She stopped what she was doing on the datapad and walked over to Genji on the medical bed. She didn't appear like he hadn't heard him nor wasn't listening, so he continued. “I am learning much of this world my brother has made his home. How the people in his life have come to mean to him. This Overwatch, it is full of,” he searched for the word, “variety.” She gave a small nod as she picked up a long and thin device that almost looked like a stylus and began to run a sensor in the opening of Genji's throat. The act was casual for her, and since she was a doctor it was obvious why she could separate herself from the nature of her activity, but it still remained difficult for Hanzo to watch. She monitored a screen on a wall nearby, assessing the data. “I am to understand that Genji is quite – close – with you. I wanted to know more of your history together, if I could.” At that, she removed the device and motioned with a wave of her hand for Hanzo to join her. He contemplated this. She pointed to a nearby rolling chair and asked that he sit. Briefly, he hesitated, then sat. The stylus device was put into his hand at once and she led him to hold it along inner sensors far down in the oesophagus. His eyes closed on instinct, not sure he wanted to look this closely at the openings of his brother's form. Her fingers gently held his, guiding him for the correct way to use the device. Much like how the Jesse McCree had held him together before, she kept his anxiety at bay with the warmth of her hand on his.
He made a small noise to clear the tension when she had not answered his query yet. It was worrying that he may have overstepped himself, or caused her discomfort. He didn't think it a hard question, but then, all of his questions seemed to be hard for others in this place. It felt like there was so much more that wasn't being said even though there were so many words dropping about.
She guided him to move the stylus instrument slowly in a small circle. A light humming was heard. “Genji is very important to me.” She eventually confessed, softly, almost dream-like. “I like to think I am important to him too.” He wasn't sure what to take from that. After a moment, she allowed him to remove the stylus, which he was immediately thankful for. She flicked through the various data on the tablet device and processed the new holographic display that formed from it.
“There was a subset of Overwatch called Blackwatch and this is primarily where your brother's skills and assets were the most useful. It was during that time that your brother came to be what he is now. Half-man and half-machine. As you know from the history books, Overwatch was eventually disbanded and well, we all went our separate ways. I greatly worried for him, you know.” She told him this sincerely, a face almost pained worn on her delicate features. “Many of us thought he would leave for Japan and seek you out for vengeance. It was a surprise when I got my first letter from him.” So there were letters.
“Genji does fancy his penmanship as much as he does his blade.”
“Yes, and they were all beautifully written, assuring me that he would be okay and had found those that could help maintenance him. Not a day went by that I didn't fear his ventilator had failed or his spinal discs had slipped from their slots, or worse – that he had died. Each letter gave me strength in the belief that he was okay.”
Hanzo looked over to his sleeping brother; mangled and deformed from his abuse. It was a physical manifestation of all the hurt and sorrow one man could ever feel. And yet, Genji chose to live on. How much pain could one man endure and still choose life? Although grotesque, Hanzo could not stop himself from leaning forward and stroking Genji's cheek fondly with the back of his fingers. A slight twitch made him instantly back away, but Genji did not stir again. Somewhere in that, the doctor was beside him again and leading another instrument to the throat.
“Did you keep the letters he wrote to you?” Hanzo asked. She nodded with a shy grin.
“The originals are framed in my office. There isn't many, but they are lengthy. I would imagine they were almost like journal entries for him.” It was true then. These letters clearly held great value and were quite personal. Before he could ask more about them, she beat him to it. “I scanned copies for record keeping purposes.” Her silence told that she was thinking on something. “The Genji we know, I would imagine, is quite different from the Genji you have known. Reforming his relationship with you has been his goal for some time. Although precious to me and written to me, I would not be adverse to sharing the scanned files with you – if you would like to read them, that is.”
Even though it had been his intention all along, the sudden offer nearly had him politely decline. When he looked away, she tried to regain him. “There are some things you may not want to know, and some things you may feel you need to know. I do not offer these lightly. Although anyone who steps in my office can see the letters for themselves, not everything they hold is on display.”
Hanzo felt his jaw tighten and he had to fight with himself to relax his growing tension, his worry. The offer felt as invasive as his selfishness to obtain them. It wouldn't have been a surprise to him now if she told him she knew all along it had been what he wanted from her. “Would it not be wise to ask my brother's permission first?” Dr Ziegler bit her lip at that and took a moment to roll something around within herself.
“It is of my opinion that he would want you to read them, but would find it hard to actually say so.” He nodded, understanding. “The choice, however, is yours to make, Hanzo.” A smaller tablet device was suddenly in his field of view. It could have easily been a reading tablet or a mobile device of sorts, but the doctor herself had not looked away from the larger tablet with the holographic diagram in her other hand. It could be her personal datapad or device, he wasn't too sure. And after a few minutes to deliberate and swap his glances between his dissected brother and the tablet, Hanzo decided to accept his curiosity, despite all warnings within him. He took the device.
As much as Hanzo had wanted to sleep, he had spent most of the night restless. Genji never returned to his bunk and the device he had borrowed from the doctor sat idly on the night stand untouched by the framed photo of the brothers they used to be. Throughout the night he had reached out for the device, second-guessed himself, left it alone, and repeated the pattern until he grew weary of his own conscience. When morning came, he felt like all the mornings before him when he had awoken on the run from the various assassins and general authorities. It was as though he needed to keep one eye open for the possible threats that would sneak up on him in. It only served to make him cross.
He showered, shaved, and made his way to the kitchen for tea and a possible breakfast. With nothing scheduled for him today, the stress of his need to prove himself was beginning to finally dwindle. Relaxed was far from what he could ever be, but at least it was the beginnings of something tolerable.
Winston was in the kitchen when he entered. The scientist looked positively eager to see him and offered to make breakfast together. Hanzo conceded. The conversation was light and pleasant and he found himself enjoying the company. “The hard-light used in Athena's practise range is much different from the hard-light this Mr Lucio uses. His adaptation of the design and science is far more predictable than what we can replicate internally.” Winston said this over a cup of coffee. It was still odd to him that a talking gorilla could be enjoying a cup of coffee with him in a kitchen – something he never would have thought he'd be doing in his late thirties, let alone ever.
“Yes,” Hanzo replied kindly, shaking his amused thought away, “but it is not solid consistency that I am needing. In fact, the less dense fracture-rate of the hard-light is exactly what gave me the idea.”
Winston raised a brow, gesturing at him generally with a point of his cup, “Won't the extra data overload the stormbow's engine if you make this additional to your scatter arrow?” A valid and fair question.
Hanzo shook his head and took a polite bite of his toast. “The scatter arrow I currently use depends too much on the engine for calculating it's trajectory as well as its dispersement. It also limits when and how the arrow can be used, making it unreliable in open spaces. I do not intend to have it run alongside. This new arrow is what I intend to replace it.”
“How many charges do you think the stormbow engine will be able to handle?”
He thought on that and ran a few mathematics in his head before holding up hand to count on his fingers one by one, “With help from Mr Lindholm, I think I could make six hard-light arrow charges. That may put too much strain on the engine even if the COBALT is upgraded to SAPPHIRE, so I may err on the side of caution and only allow five.” Hanzo continued to explain his idea of the new hard-light arrow design and how they would be able to fire in rapid succession. They would also allow full trajectory since they would not have the actual weight of one of his real arrows. He had gotten the idea from his test in the gun range when the A.I. system Athena had made perfect replicas of his arrows into harmless light. Using the right tools, he could increase the density enough to produce the harder light needed for the charge and the energy would stay long enough to strike a target, but dissipate fast enough to allow his stormbow engine to recharge. Winston appeared absolutely taken by the idea the moment he began to discuss the possible upgrade.
It made his face feel hot from the obvious admiration and respect Dr Winston paraded openly on the subject. There had been many whom had been forced to show him respect over the years, be it from the threat of homicide or general fear of his family name which was coincidently also a threat of homicide, but this type of respect being given to him was different in that it was genuine. It wasn't being given just because of who he was or what he could do otherwise. This respect was the result of Winston feeling he truly deserved it. The mere thought was unbelievable, but undeniably true as it struck him like a brick. The scientist noticed him turn away and nearly hide himself in his hand from the realisation.
“Hanzo? Are you okay?” Genuine worry. Genuine concern. Over him.
“Yes, I,” he started, then made a small motion with his hand, “I am only thankful for your kindness.” That had the gorilla swell with a large grin. Winston moved over on his knuckle and cautiously he placed a very large paw on him as if to determine his comfort level. When Hanzo didn't push him away, he replied gently.
“Overwatch was made to protect the innocent, those that would have a hard time standing up to the crises that threatened to consume them. When a job was completed, we held no fanfare for victory, we simply took on the next task to ensure that, yes, this time, we could make another difference; that, yes, we could push the greed and corruption back just a little farther than the last. We did this for all people, Hanzo. Including the omnics and creatures we share this planet with. What I feel now is not meant to be taken as simple kindness when it is something more. I feel pride.”
Hanzo looked up into the gorilla scientist, looking at the eyes behind his glasses so full of light that he could only convince himself he was imagining it. Winston was the first to look away, shaking his head from some idea that pulled out an airy chuckle. Gorilla fingers then held before him; a single digit for Hanzo to analyse for context. “One by one, the heroes of yesterday are returning to their calling, to Overwatch. Some of these heroes have been with us for years, but some others,” here he curled his palm and rested the back of his knuckles against Hanzo's chest to thrum a gentle tap before pulling away, “they don't even know this is where they always belonged. And as Lena would say, 'the world could always use more heroes'.” Winston gave a noticeable wink. He took up their plates and began to swing himself over to the kitchen sink on one pair of knuckles at a time. Hanzo stilled with the thought washing over him. A hero? Him? Had the scientist gone absolutely mad? He felt he could only sit there rooted, unsure, and wondering how such a faction as this Overwatch could have ever come to be with morals that depended so highly on trust that he could suggest a wanted man and assassin of his own brother a hero. His family's empire was built on the idea that trust had to be earned – not given out like a prize from a capsule machine. It wasn't that his family's system didn't work, no, in fact, the opposite was quite true. It had just been based on something entirely different than the trust of unconditional altruism of another's heart. He never learned to appreciate such a thing. Or expect it. He was born and bred to be the wolf in sheep's wool. Not the lamb that stood up to the hungry wolf for his kindred. It begged the question of nearly everything he had been taught as boy. How could such a thing guarantee success?
But it didn't. Hanzo had to remind himself of this. Their history proved that once the very people that had put Overwatch in place felt content, the admiration and respect the group once held was taken away. Broken apart. Disbanded. It made sense in a way, but just as his life had no promise to lead him to success, neither did the heroism of the members of Overwatch. A risk. And this was something his brother dedicated himself to before searching for himself and finding his way back to the Overwatch.
The sound of Winston rinsing the dishes could be heard. Hanzo stood with a sense of uncertainty, but more confidence than he had felt in a while. Winston did not turn around to the sound of his voice. It practically thundered in the quiet of the room. “Why do you trust me?” When Winston said nothing and did not stop his task, he grew a bit impatient, even defensive. “Why do you allow someone who murdered one of your members to walk freely amongst you? Are you not afraid? Are you so blinded by the dated and misplaced admiration of my brother that you feel it is worth the risk?”
Finally, Dr Winston stopped. He had Hanzo fumble in the silence a little longer as he removed removed his glasses, breathed on the lenses, and then cleaned them on the cloth of his clothes. Once they were sat neatly atop his nose, “Not everyone gets the luxury of a second chance. You'd be wise to use yours well.” The words were spoken in a way Hanzo had not yet seen the scientist to behave before. They held the weight of grief, of great loss. Like a memory was playing itself behind his eyes that took him far away. Hanzo didn't know how to react. “Whatever you may have convinced yourself to believe, just remember: you made the choice to answer his call. That has to mean that you're not all as bad as you think, wouldn't you say?” Hanzo felt his skin prickle and looked the scientist over, searching him, confused by him, frustrated but also brought to be humbled. When his head churned the words around, the tension of his shoulders dropped and all he could think to do was to respond with a gentle bow, as if it could speak for him in the ways his tongue could not. After that, he excused himself quietly, feeling there wasn't more that could be said between them.
In the distance, the quiet thump of his arrows struck the targets like rolling thunder down a hillside, and just as quickly. At his request, the A.I. Athena had opened the gun range back wall to allow the early morning breeze to flush over his body and sharp face. He pulled back his bowstring taut and released another arrow to the backdrop of a distant mountain he didn't know the name of. Hanzo was alone.
The silk tie of his hair whipped about him as the wind howled from the pressure change of the temperatures. Morning would soon become day. Beside him was his quiver as well as the tablet device Dr Ziegler had loaned to him. Many thoughts bombarded his senses between each shot. Distantly, his depression begged him to pack up and never return while a new part of him, a small tightness in his chest, urged him to stay. Thunk. Another arrow into the middle of the target. Thunk. Another question upon his lips of his greyed reality. His fingers tightened over the tension of his next arrow. In the corner of his eye he looked to the device. Slowly, the tension of the bowstring lessened and the arrow was taken to be placed back in the quiver. Hanzo exchanged it for the tablet and swiped open the lock screen. Already in plain view for him, the files of the scans sat ready. Timidly, he tapped the first file and readied himself.
I write this letter to you in faith that by the time you receive it, I will be a better man than the one that left you. You must understand, my place within this world has grown hazy and with it, my understanding of what and who I am.
I am in great pain. This is of no fault of you nor your peers. Every beat of my mechanical heart only serves as a reminder that I no longer have one. I am not a man and neither am I a machine. I am something lost in between with no real space to dictate what I can be, could be, and never be. The horrified faces of the mothers that warn their children to avert their eyes from me, and the people that declare my “kind” unwelcome in their taverns and hotels – how do I begin to explain that I am one of them when I am clearly not? And how do I relate to the omnics that find themselves as distant from me as their human counterparts? I am not a wire nor a vein. I am not a breath nor a circuit board. I am just a betwixt of a dead man's shadow and his ghost. Sometimes, I do find myself wondering: am I a living man that is half-dead? Or am I a dead man that is half-alive?
The answer is not within Overwatch, or at least, it is not so easy to translate from that vantage point. The truth remains that where I find myself has many pathways and I must accept that most of them lead me to dead ends.
I am sorry that I did not say goodbye when I had the chance, but please do not consider this letter a replacement for one. If, and when, I decide to never return, you will hear me say goodbye, for finality comes in such a few forms. The least I can do for the woman that tried to pull my soul back from the depths of Hell is to honour her with a proper depart. Until that time, I leave you this letter as a promise that I will write again.
I have found myself in a situation most peculiar. How does one know if they are truly alive? What definition does one use to determine life? As I balance life and death upon my blade, I question the appeal of such a distinction. Am I taking life or am I removing pain of it? It may seem obvious to a doctor of medicine which moralities have found the symbiotic relationship between chaotic good and evil. I find no such answer among the trite. But, perhaps an answer is not what I need. Perhaps, I need a question in response to my own.
There are many trains that still ride the light rails between the countries and their distant territories. As I am neither man nor omnic, I have found it rather difficult to secure travel without labelling myself as cargo. This has caused difficulties in mobility and stock for my bodily maintenance.
Have you heard of the Shimbali? In Nepal, they are a revered clandestine order of omnics that are similar to the monks of the far east, representing the union of man and machine. Many of the locals and tourists alike are fond of this group. I found it somewhat unsettling how many people seek the guidance of their words as though it will remove all of their suffering, and even more so from a machine built to mimicry processed pre-destiny. I had no interest in introducing myself, but, as a well-kept omnic structure, the monastery has many supplies a body like mine finds as useful alternatives. I know you would never condone thievery, but I am going to assume that the last of your desires is to identify me on a foreign coroner's slat. Perhaps, it is easier on my conscience to admit my wrong-doings to you. My life before would not have had me to trouble myself with such trivial matters, but that is so far from me now, I sometimes forget that is how I began before I became this.
You will be happy to know that I was able to secure the parts I need to remain functional a bit longer before departing. I am certain you are curious as to what situation I alluded to above that would lead to this conclusion. The truth is, upon my entry of the monastery, I was caught by practising members of the Shimbali. Due to the nature of my needed repairs, I had been unable to secure my escape. The Shimbali are a peaceful group but they are not ones to be trifled with. I learned this upon meeting the leader of the Shimbali himself: Tekhartha Mondatta. His face is on the covers of many tabloids these days; he was easy to recognise.
The members were able to subdue me easily given the advanced state of my disrepair. Master Mondatta had me escorted to a secure room where they were able to trap me inside with some kind of eletro-wavelength that cancelled out something within my body. An orb of darkness followed me like a haunting spirit, draining any and all my energy. I must be honest and say that I was certain this room was where I would die. As I traced the details of this room and rested upon my knees for the master to return for me, it is hard to admit that my mind was ready to meet the Death. Instead, what I met was Master Mondatta with his confidant and pupil, Tekhartha Zenyatta.
As a show of their intentions, they assessed my disrepair and offered to provide maintenance in exchange for my services in chores to repent for the attempted thievery. If I agreed, they would not alert authorities. It would be a lie to say I did not think about running the moment the maintenance has finished. I write to you now from the very room they are keeping me as I await the repairs and food. It is rather peculiar, would you agree? Shunned by both man and omnic, I have found myself amongst the few that wish to bring the two together as one. I have not decided yet if I will truly stay and assist as promised, or slay them all down one by one with the taste of my blade once I have become fully functional. My soul burns with much I cannot explain. Can a machine be considered dead if it was never truly alive to begin with? Can a machine program another machine for grief? I suppose tomorrow will dawn a new day with new surprises for us all.
I hope my letter receives to you well. I understand that the time between my writings are far and few. I beg your forgiveness as I am sure you can understand how trying it must be to make it so. There is much to tell, but I am not certain I can truly formulate the words to explain this timeful gap. I will try to start with where I left off last with you, but you must forgive my memory.
After being administered the repairs, I had decided to abandon the monastery. It did not take much to escape from the Master Mondatta and his pupil, let alone the Shimbali followers that walked the grounds. In my hasty attempt to leave, I had not considered how my body may need more time to adapt to the internal system coming online again. Needless to say, since you are familiar with how this body functions, I fell from the pagoda roof and struck myself harshly against sharp stone statues. The force cracked my faceplate and the depressurised airflow caused me the beginnings of suffocation. Certainly, given the nature of my arrival, these omnics would release me to the authorities? But they did not. To be granted any mercy now would certainly spell disaster for the foolish. Despite this, Master Mondatta's pupil found me in the garden, gasping, and weakened. Instead of words, he approached me silently, and upon my head he placed an orb so bright, that I was sure it was a child of the sun. I do not understand the entirety of how these omnics of the Shimbali work, I cannot pretend to. I can say that this orb felt like your caduceus and instantly I was breathing again, although my body ached from the fall and my mobility was limited.
A variety of thoughts went through my head at that moment in time. I was angry from my lack of ability to regain myself like I would have done when I was alive. My cybernetic heart beat to a clock I did not feel I could recognise and all of it had me replay the memories I had since been avoiding: the ones of my past; my brother. As this pupil stood over me and looked upon with the static pity of his model, hatred for my brother Hanzo bled through me once again. I would not have been laying there if not for him. I would not be in so much pain to resort to such lows. You have often told me to release the past, but how can you expect this of me when I lay upon the ground unable to breathe without the help of a sorry omnic?
It was this hatred that finally had the pupil speak to me. He said that he could see the darkness wrapped about my heart and now understood why I would make a word only to turn on it.
'You are in great pain,' he told me. I will admit to you that I was deeply offended by this omnic that he could so easily say such a thing. To hold a healing light above me and watch my struggling breath and say that I was in pain is, of course, an understatement unbefitting of acknowledgement. And yet, this machine of the Shimbali did not falter. I do not know if it is possible for a machine to show confidence or fear, but this pupil's neutrality somehow convinced me.
The pupil called upon others whom had escorted me to the room I had escaped. They laid me gently on the bed and he tended me for the night. With every passing healing chant of light, I said to him that I would kill him. His reply was simply, 'Your life is yours to command'.
Something changed within me that night. I could not tell you what it was but I can try to paint it from my memory. Every word I threatened that night to him and his people, he only repeated, 'your life is yours to command' with such acceptance and resolution. When I could move again, my strength returned, it only took me an instant to draw my blade and place it to his metal throat. 'You resurrect the shadow of a demon,' I told him, 'to you I will show no mercy'.
'Your life is yours to command,' he replied. How it enraged me. But, my anger would not follow me through and secure the kill. In spite of my skill greatly enhanced by machine and Overwatch training, this pupil displaced me again and again. My blade never had a chance to touch upon him. This simple omnic had used my aggression against me to imbalance my mind, and upon the floor I struck harder than before until my strength grew weary and I accepted defeat.
I told him to kill me. One may have even called it begging. This pupil gazed from above my fallen form, tilting himself curiously to witness my shame. Of course, he did not kill me. Instead, he invited me to stay at the monastery and perform the chores I had promised. Words cannot fully describe how I felt, and I said unto him that once I regained, I would destroy this place and all whom resided. Again, 'your life is yours to command', left him and he kneeled beside me, placing his bright orb just above my head.
It is curious to me how made machines can experience the human element. They are programmed for their servitude to both man and omnic alike. How is it that something so inhuman can in turn be more human? As promised, I humbled myself to this pupil's victory and performed the asked chores in repentance for my thievery and assault. He did not tell Master Mondatta of my threat, somehow I knew this. With each stride of the broom, and swipe of the cloth, I watched him interact with the Master and his people. Such simple lives they live with strength to take out a small city, and yet they use it to bring word of this 'Iris' and human-omnic peace.
Each night I would say to him that I would leave come morning, and he would wish me well on my travels, but each morning come I found myself remaining. 'You have not gone?' he would ask me, and I would reply 'I am to leave soon', like a fool. Soon has not yet come. I do not know when 'soon' will be. I am at a loss to explain why I am still here. Perhaps it is the humility that has grounded me, or maybe I am exhausted from my travels.
As I write this, I am watching Master Mondatta and his pupil meditate to the rhythmic chimes of their magnetic rosary. This is the first I have been invited. My mind is in conflict, my wounds open and sore. Desperation brought me here and unconditional generosity has asked my stay. I will probably kill them all in the morning, at least, that is what I am telling myself. I wonder how many nights I will say this and how many mornings will challenge my word. The world is always changing. Perhaps, I can change too.
Chapter 8: Chapter Eight
It was often a difficult task to tell between which condition bothered Hanzo Shimada more; the trying jet-lag or the constant babble of his staff. Neither one helped the other and matters only became worse when something had him fall behind schedule. No matter how many times he had found himself on a plane going this way and that, even the miniscule tap of a wine glass or the distant laughter of some frivolous party would undoubtedly bring him discomfort. Sometimes, he would distinctly wonder how his late father had prevented self-induced neurosis, or perhaps he hadn't and madness was just another item on the check list to be a Clan Master. Hanzo wouldn't put it past anyone to be fact.
The moment Hanzo had become the Clan Master of the Shimada estate, it was like a switch had been flipped inside him that dulled his senses and heightened his annoyance. He shed no tears for the loss of his father, only to be followed by his brother shortly after. There wasn't the time. At least, not for him. Many of his remaining family prided him on his ability to take control of himself after such a personal travesty. It didn't help that the tabloids had been quick to circle his image around the country as the new face of the prestigious Shimada family during the same time he should have been grieving. Regardless of where he went, what he did, whom he conversed, Hanzo's personal space became more and more invaded, leaving little time for him to acknowledge his personal feelings. This was easily misinterpreted to be cold-hearted, and there were few whom felt he was incapable of family bereavement. Everyone wanted to know the story of how three Shimada men became one almost over night. Most suspected murder, which had not been far from the truth given their status, but the news tabloids simply marked it as an 'unfavourable circumstance', per the persuasion of the Shimadas. Fear of retaliation was often a useful method to abuse when one needed the public eye to remain dulled. However, despite it all, Hanzo still had a family business to run and wasted little time on the nuances of societal interest. At the end of the day, he was a businessman – just with the added functions to perform as a lethal assassin when needed. Like a well-bred show dog that could still attack on short notice.
“The hotel manager did not have the suite you previously requested,” Hanzo threw an irritated glance to his personal assistant as she flicked her way through her tablet device, “so he upgraded you to a personal pent. I assumed it would not be a problem so I agreed for you.” He did not bother with a response as it wasn't necessary. As long as he was not complaining, it was assumed she had performed correctly. “Mr Hong-Tao Chen has agreed to meet with you tonight over dinner. He is bringing his wife but does not expect you to bring a guest, however, you are welcome to.” They walked together from the airport lobby, the thick clap of his leather shoes drowning into the background of airport noise. They were hardly interrupted as each of his servants and staff did their job to hail him a car and seat both he and his assistant immediately. The personal driver already knew the destination. Hanzo barely acknowledged his assistant as she flicked away at her device, casting his eyes aside for the blurring pavement behind the window as the car escorted them to the hotel.
Upon arrival, it was almost like a scene from a cinema as his servants perfectly orchestrated to take his belongings to his room for the week and allowed him space to weigh his importance to the common people that stood alongside the paths gawking, envying his luxury. Assorted classes of people like chocolates in a box craved him and to be him. All of which were just nonsensical fantasies. China felt no different from Japan in that regard. People of lesser birthright were often in awe by how far his shadow cast. He found himself ignoring them on instinct now, as well as the flashing cameras that followed.
The plane trip was taking its toll on him now, so he decidedly desired his surroundings to be replaced with the comfort of the cool hotel lobby air conditioning and décor, excusing himself from the forming crowd of curious nobodies. Obviously, there would be no need for him to check in. His assistant had already done that. There also wasn't a need to expect anything less than perfection from the employees and bellhops that danced around him to ensure his quality and comfort. Beside him, he dully heard the report from his assistant as she blathered on. About twenty minutes prior was when he had began to tune her out, so he was certain by now that he absolutely had no idea what his agenda was for the day, and frankly, did not care. This wasn't a chocolate factory to dally around and explore for creature comforts. He was there to shake hands and secure cooperation. Hanzo didn't need a check list to prepare him for that.
“– and the chef wanted to know of any known allergies for the meal preparation. I sent the usual documentation and sustenance preferences.” They walked in step together towards the hotel elevator like clockwork. Hanzo gave a snort through his nostrils. Like a dragon hissing from his hoard. They stepped into the elevator the moment it opened.
“The mini bar I requested has been moved to the new pent?” If the assistant had been taken by that, she showed it little on her face. She acknowledged it politely with assurance the task had been done, despite that he clearly saw her make quick work on her tablet to order a servant to move a mini bar to the room immediately. Hanzo was not upset about that, and found he couldn't be, since he hadn't actually requested one in the first place. It wasn't like anyone would dare to call him out on it. As the doors opened smoothly onto the highest floor, the intercom gave a small chime and a courtesy statement in Chinese. As he exited, his assistant began to follow, but Hanzo was quick to stop her with the open palm of his hand. “You are dismissed now, Ms Yui. I believe I have the capability to find my own room.” She dared not to challenge it, and wouldn't even if she felt the need to. The assistant sputtered her apologies, bowed, and let the elevator doors close around her. The moment the doors securely latched, silence hit Hanzo like an oasis. He breathed, gulping down the air as though he'd been drowning, adjusting his tie to loosen its choke hold. A deep and comforting sigh escaped him. Moments alone were far and few, especially for his workload. He would take all he could get at this point, and after another minute of doing absolutely nothing, Hanzo padded himself gently to his room. His eyes bounced off the plated placards as he read the numbers and signs until he found the correct lavish door. Everything seemed like it would be much quieter and easier, at least for the next hour, until he placed his key card to the door.
A small noise and red light alerted him that it would not allow him access, almost mockingly. Of course. Hanzo's brow furrowed. Sometimes a well-oiled machine had its hang-ups. It was only natural to suspect that the second he got peace, something would prevent him from maintaining it. There were few things Hanzo desired in that moment. Contacting management to threaten some unsuspecting person with horrific castration, or to travel downward to thunder his way into someone's face about how unacceptable this was were not exactly his priority compared to his need to simply unwind. Although he understood his place, his name, his fortune and birthright, he felt too exhausted from his travel to keep up the face of someone that would burn a building to the ground out of boredom. If Genji were here –
Hanzo stopped that thought before his mind could finish it, the elevator nearest him chiming sweetly as a blessed distraction. It was one of the few servant routes within the hotel, likely a maid or bellhop arriving at the request of one of the other wealthy guests. It was a good enough opportunity as any to notify the management of his key card troubles with relative little energy. Hanzo watched the doors part open with little interest until he noticed it was actually a servant with the mini bar he had requested on a whim. Almost at the same time, Hanzo and the servant looked fairly stunned by the other. The servant's astonishment was likely from knowing instantly whom it had just run into, while Hanzo's was more from the oddity of the servant itself. It was an omnic and not a model he was familiar with. Could it possibly be a new prototype? He'd spent such time looking at the peculiar thing over that he had not noticed the omnic was doing the same until it spoke to break the tension.
“My apologies, ah,” It's robotic voice began in a stumble, as if testing it's own volume and pleasantries, “Shimada-sama. I was informed to bring this tour room in much haste. I am shamed that you have come before I could fulfil the request without notice.” The false voice was male. It sounded like English had not been his first programmed language, and given the sharp details and features, this omnic was foreign of some kind and had not been programmed originally for the task he completed now. Since Hanzo had not responded yet, the omnic bowed deeply, respectful and kind to await him. Possibly for an admonishment. Ah, now Hanzo could see it. This was a custom model, possibly imported from Japan and sent to him to provide more familiar comforts. Although unexpected, it was a kind gesture from his host.
“Do not trouble yourself,” Hanzo said in his smooth baritone, reassuring the machine that he was not at all bothered. “you are timely and it is appreciated. Perhaps,” he told the omnic, “it is just as well. I will need you to inform your masters that my key card is non-functional.”
The omnic returned to his full height in a graceful motion that captured Hanzo's interest for finely tuned engineering. He tilting his head in curiosity at the request since the cold plated face left little to show emotion. “I will inform the management right away. May I?” Here, the omnic extended his hand. That small gesture allowed Hanzo to appreciate the intricate details of this custom model. This model had been made with great consideration and care. The key card was placed into the robotic hand. When the omnic turned swiftly to approach the elevator, he came to a sudden still. “Ah, Shimada-sama?” Hanzo gave a grunt to let the servant know he had his attention. Curiosity bled into him when the programmed voice almost sounded as though it was attempting to smother a laugh. “I doughnut think it is the key card that is non-functional. Not that it is my place, but sir, you may have been... holding it upside down?” The sheer audacity of this servant to alert him of this was not only uncustomary, but could have been taken as extremely rude. It piqued him. As a Clan Master, very few could allow themselves to say aloud of his own ignorance. Typically, he would have reprimanded a staff member or even his own maids for such display, but Hanzo found he could not. Perhaps it was his fatigue or that the brazen omnic had caused him the smallest breath of a laugh.
He shook his head softly through it, “It has been a long day.” Hanzo told him, snatching the key card and flipping it properly. It was then practically shoved at the door, which instantly unlocked. The door slid aside followed by a female voice speaking in Chinese to welcome him. It was relieving. Instantly, the omnic excused himself and wheeled in the mini bar. Hanzo watched him, greatly interested in how this robotic man functioned to be so bold. Granted, it was different from the usual servants that would let him step on them if requested, but something about it made him feel more at ease than offended. Almost as though he felt something licking at the back of mind trying to remind him. Like a melody he could not remember the words to. Softly, he followed after.
The pent was, of course, beautiful. The entire farthest wall was nothing but a large window looking out into all of Beijing. The city was lush with colour and life. It matched the red and silken décor of the room. The bed as its centre piece was round and draped with only the finest linens, overstuffed pillows and comforters. The carpet that rested beneath their feet was obviously imported with it's intricate details and patterns. A hot tub sat walled off by glass off to the left, and an entire fore front wall was dedicated to the holographic television before the bed. It was spacious, indulgent, and definitely more than anyone would actually need to be comfortable, which made it fitting for his family name.
Hanzo watched as the servant wheeled the mini bar towards the small lounging area with deep red chairs and couches. Despite the uniform of a servant, this omnic stood out far too much to be as simple as that. What use would a omnic built to wheel trolleys of sweets and wine have for such robust plating? Honestly, it did not quite matter so much what this omnic's true purpose was for, but he found he did want to thank the master for sending him all the same. Not just for the gentle and unexpected laugh it gave him, but also the familiar warmth that allowed him to feel a bit more relaxed.
“Omnic, who is it that you serve?” The servant was quick to stiffen, like something had shot up his back and electrocuted him. While odd, Hanzo waited patiently. Perhaps this custom model was not built for orders beyond physical servitude.
The answer he eventually got was, “My... my master is gone for travel.”
“I see. Where was his destination?” The omnic noticeably looked away even though it had no eyes upon the slit of the glowing visor.
“He is away in Nepal.” Now he knew why this omnic would have been left behind. The cold and winter weather may have been damaging for the more detailed and costly features he possessed. Hanzo nodded at that and began to let his single-breasted jacket fall from his shoulders in one motion, holding it out for the omnic to take. The servant rushed to comply, taking it and placing it on a hanger from the closet built to fold in to the wall. Hanzo then began to undress, starting with his cuff links and tie so that he could ready himself for the coming dinner party.
“Does your master leave you often?” He sat the diamond cufflinks on the vanity.
“Did he leave you any direct orders?” He pulled his silk tie over his head, wrapping it around his hand to fold.
“To serve the honoured guest of the hotel until his return.” Hanzo made a noise at that to say he understood. It was flattering. As far as he knew, he was the only honoured guest checked in for the week. He took a moment to slide his gloves from his hands and set them next to his cufflinks on the vanity, then he turned on the omnic to approach him. He thought he may have seen the omnic flinch with each step, but it could have been just as much his imagination wanting to see his own egotistical intimidation on others. Omnics did not typically behave that way, so he blamed it on his weariness. The button was depressed along the wall for the fold in closet. Right next to the servant's head whom remained still as ice. After a quick flick of his eyes up and down the omnic's body, he searched among the closet's contents for a dinner shirt. All of his belongings had been placed at the room long before his plane had touched down in Beijing, so he was pleased to see his favourites were not missing despite the sudden upgrade. A testament to his staff for their quick and dedicated work ethic.
“What is it that your master originally programmed you for?” The servant did not move from his spot, standing as still as painted glass beside him, almost like he hadn't heard the question at all. He was close enough now that he could see simulated round muscle pulling taut below the fabric of the uniform, tight sinews of particular detail ready for any quick reflex, and dull green lighting pulsing at coolant vents. The minor scratches and lack of polish begged many questions. What was this omnic? “Your features are quite uncommon for an omnic servant.” The servant did not grace him with a confirmation nor did he deny it. “These details are sharp, sleek.” He said this as his gaze dragged over the robotic form from the corner of his eye, “Almost as though they were meant – ” suddenly Hanzo whirled his arm at the servant with as much force as he'd allow, only to have his wrist caught quickly, tightly in the metal fingers. Hanzo admired his wrist so precisely within the omnic's grip, “ – for agility.” He knew it. This machine was not just some common oddity. He had been made with a sole purpose. Slowly, the servant released him, returning to his perfect and striking form, looking away from Hanzo as though he had never attempted to strike him to begin with. A moment went by with eerie silence filling the void between them. It was becoming clear to him now what type of man would keep this kind of custom model. There were very few reasons someone of great wealth would expend their finances to have a personal omnic built, especially one with as advanced features as this one. Hanzo found himself rather intrigued by the possible ideas for why a master would leave his trusted omnic behind. A purpose.
“Business or pleasure?” He finally asked, ignoring the growing tension and pulling a white shirt from the closet. Giving the servant time to process, he stepped away, unbuttoning his vest but not once looking away from him. When the servant didn't answer and appeared confused by his question, he clarified his inquiry. “Were you made for business or pleasure? Were you made to guard and protect a master? Or, to guard and protect an otherwise perverse companion?” Regardless of how the omnic may have wished to stay silent due to scripted protocol, it was programmed, first and foremost, to serve. Hanzo knew he did not need to ask his question again. The processors simply needed time to have the computing systems come to the obvious conclusion to obey.
Hanzo's smile, he knew, was devious. It was just as he expected, a gracious gift from his host whom must have asked the master to leave his omnic toy for Hanzo to play with. Others of his family may have even called it a great display of adulation and indulgence. It felt like years since Hanzo last recalled bedding anyone, even though it had only been, in reality, a few weeks which was still too long. Normally, he looked down on the customs of his business partners and their fruitless attempts to get on his good side, but this treat was quite different from the painted whores and high-quality narcotics often left as offerings on his bed. It was classy, exceptional, and a show of opportunity between differing cultures. He did recall his father time and again saying to him that making your guests comfortable was a good way to instil a certain type of prowess, and after the weeks of long work and arduous talk, it was welcome to be offered something unique to tantalise his more intrinsic fantasies. It was a good way to relieve his growing stress, not to mention it was far more easier to work with a machine than an actual person which required some form of emotional empathy. In the life of a Clan Master, there was little time for him to care about the pleasure of his partners when they were there for the purpose of his own. Perhaps the contract through the Chen family would not be so hard to secure as he previously imagined.
The servant did not move until Hanzo prompted him to step forward and help dress him. He did as instructed without question or delay. Watching the delicate fingers bend and contract to loop the buttons of his shirt was, in its own way, mesmerising. “Upon your master's return, you may tell him that I admire his lifestyle, and, that I appreciate his generosity.” There was no question that it must have been a difficult task to convince the owner to relinquish this interesting plaything. One could only begin to wonder how that conversation had gone and Hanzo broke the thought rather quickly when the servant finished his task. The bow was traditionally deep. “What do they call you? Do you have a name?” As the visor traced up his body, it nearly begged him to consider human consciousness at work within the wires of his mind.
Finally, “Yes. My apologies, Shimada-sama, it is not common for my master to allow me to speak openly over personal matters. I am certain you understand that there are many protocols I must override for your inquiries. I am called Bashou, and I am at your service.”
The dinner party could not finish fast enough. Once it had, Hanzo felt he had done an adequate job of securing the Chen family's advantages for export of product. It hadn't been a long supper and Mr Chen had been quite flattering and genuine even as he bragged about the beauty of his wife and asked playful questions about Hanzo's interests. Any moment he could, he let it rest in the man's mind that he was a man of business and had no interest in securing heirs just yet. While true, he did find himself thinking back to Bashou whom he had left waiting in his pent like a refuge. In spite of his work ethic, Hanzo knew he was not immune to his own appetite and found that he greatly wished to excuse himself to partake. After the final departing words were given, Hanzo informed his assistant that he was not to be disturbed for the rest of the evening lest someone wished a quick yet painful demise. She acknowledged the request and was certain to spread it to his guards and staff as was her duty.
Upon entry to his room, he expected to find Bashou waiting by the door to take his jacket, but instead he was greeted by the sight of the omnic kneeling by the expansive window. His figure was silhouetted by the glow of the city lights as he looked out into the night sky. The large moon sat hanging above them, bathing the city in a gentle additional shimmer. Somehow, Hanzo knew the omnic was troubled. Part of him wondered if the being missed his master. Another part told him that omnics only felt what they were programmed to feel. He wasn't sure why that thought bothered him somewhat. Gently, he approached, assuming there wasn't a need to announce himself within his own room. A few steps in, Hanzo came down softly on his own knees beside the servant to enjoy the view. It felt familiar. Comforting, like the weight of the world had lifted from his shoulders for an instant.
Bashou seemed to stumble over a thought, “I have never truly noticed the celestial bodies of our world.” The servant said. His visor never turned from the window, captured by the light of the moon. “No matter what happens here on the earth beneath our feet, the moon and stars will still be. I know better, but it feels like they do not change at all.” Hanzo recalled a time when he had overheard an omnic butler telling a mouse all the reasons why it must leave the kitchen, but never had he heard a synthesised voice make thoughts so profoundly. Whoever Bashou's master was, he had managed to capture the essence of a soul. That fact alone had him consider the idea to approach Bashou's master and ask him to name his price. This omnic was like no other.
“We are not like stars, Bashou.” That brought the omnic to hesitate quite human-like and turn his blank face in his direction. An innocent curiosity. “Existence is more akin to the flame of a candle. It burns only as long as its wick, but it can be snuffed out at any moment. Making the future never a guarantee.” Bashou turned away, “However,” Hanzo reached out and brought him back with a gentle nudge on his chin, “the candle can always be re-lit. That is what separates the living from the dead. Man and machine. No matter how many times we are blown out, he can always be brought back to burn as brightly as before.”
The servant paused seeming to give what he had said thought. “'He', sir?” Bashou asked quietly. Instantly, Hanzo felt his face heat, not realising what he had implied by the word choice. 'We' had been what he had meant, but the underlying thought persisted enough to leak from the confines of his mind and out of his throat. He mentally stamped down what he could, but then thought better of it. Bashou was a servant, a guard, a pleasure bot. It did not matter, ultimately, what he thought of the proud Hanzo Shimada. But, before he could say anything to explain or disregard, the omnic spoke first. “I think I understand. You are expressing sorrow for the loss of your father. I am not – I am not programmed to understand the intricacies of human emotion, only analyse it. You wish to say that the spirit of your father still lives on in you.” A soft laughter teased its way between them. Bashou tilted his head to express confusion or maybe interest as he looked upon him.
It appeared too easy to forget that Bashou was a machine. Pre-programmed. Pre-thought. “I cannot expect you to see the underlying detail.” Hanzo said through an airy laugh. He sobered quickly, feeling a little ridiculous for speaking freely to what was no more than a fleshlight strapped to a vocal synthesizer. “Omnics see the black and white, but it is not always so simple from the eyes of a human.”
“I doughnut understand.”
“My father was good to me. That much is true, but,” Hanzo shook his head softly like the thoughts within him would somehow fall and speak for him, “it is not my father on my mind. And, it is interesting because the more I think on it, the more I realise why. I feel at peace with you Bashou, because you remind me of someone I miss so dearly.” The movements and grace, the words and formality, it buzzed within him because it took Hanzo back to a time before all the stress and honour-bound duties of his life. It took him to his youth where his memory played with his best friend and most trusted companion. Where they laughed and smiled. Where they would make hushed promises and sneak into the other's bed. The heartache struck him hard, pooling into his gut as a reminder of the pain he had neglected to soothe. Memories attempted to play along behind his eyes, but Hanzo refused them. Not here. Not now. Truth be told, he didn't know how to let himself heal, but there were other ways to allow his sorrow to bleed without breaking him into a thousand shards of glass. In an attempt to distract himself from the growing throb of his heart, Hanzo allowed his hand to find its way to the curve of the omnic's head where he began to pull him forward. Bashou did not attempt to pull away or lean into him. It did not matter. Sweetly, his lips pressed against the cold, smooth metal of the face plate. It tasted of nothing and did so little for his need to lap at wet skin and soft tongue. And just as quickly as he initiated it, he pulled away. Of course, nothing about Bashou had changed, but Hanzo felt his own ignored grief bubbling to the surface. Drowning it out in meaningless passion seemed appropriate now that he had advanced on the servant. Depression sex was still sex after all.
As Hanzo stood, Bashou followed in kind. In precise movements, he began to undress with his eyes following the omnic with a softness he did not know he was capable of any more. “This consequence is my duty and burden to carry. Bashou,” there was hesitation in defiance of his confidence, having him lean somewhat forward into the omnic's space, “for just a moment, help me to forget; my name, my prison.” The tie loosened and was pulled over his head. It was tossed to the floor. “In a matter of seconds, I destroyed two souls and lost the most important treasure of my life. Death has given him peace, but it is the living that must shoulder the unspoken regret.” His hands were quick to lace around Bashou's head and pull him into another wanton kiss. The omnic replied with a tensing in his grip. “Help me to grieve for my brother. His spirit deserves to savour my anguish.” Another movement of his lips across the cold metal of the face plate led Hanzo to rest his forehead against him, letting his hands wander over smooth planes that rubbed tiny circles to arouse himself. Lifeless and cold, but Hanzo could feel the omnic moving into his touch as though human. The foreign, metal hands searched up his backside, chilling him with erotic promise. The gasp that left him felt like it was clawed from his core. He began to place tiny kisses upon the metal wistfully, silently urging the servant to perform his programmed duty as a pleasure bot. The more their bodies began to friction, Hanzo felt he could lose himself just a little more. It did not matter how. He would fuck a hole or allow himself to be fucked. Both options held great promise. So, when he began to pull at the servant's clothing, wanting to devour the faux flesh beneath, it came as a surprise that –
– I stepped back. In that moment, it became real to me. As I stood there, looking into my brother's confused face that begged me to help him release his pain with the pleasure of our bodies, I knew then why I could not follow through. Why I could not kill my brother at this weak and vulnerable moment made by the falsehood of pre-programmed lust. To do so would have made me no different than the elders that had sent him for me. The victory of his death would do to me as it now did to him. Bittersweet. Empty. Desperate. I was only sorry that I had had to travel so far on a wave of hatred to realise it, a hatred that allowed myself to take advantage of him in this way.
I know what you must be thinking. I did not make love to my brother despite his advances – his obvious self-deprecating need to feel. Somehow, I managed to convince him that I needed to gather the appropriate supplies to ensure his safety and release. Once out of sight, I left as quickly as I arrived. Although a part of me knew what my brother hungered for was an omnic that only existed as a falsity, it struck my senses with guilt that I could not grant him what he desired, to be Bashou just a little longer. This lie was likely to go beyond rational, beyond myself. It should not be a question of whether or not I would have given in, and yet I admit to you that I do not know the answer.
I do not know how he must have felt to be abandoned so suddenly, and I tried not to think on it to spare myself from the responsibility of having left him wanton and tormented. It was unfortunate that the pupil had warned me of this and I foolishly disregarded him, allowing myself to believe that a machine could not possibly understand the intense burden of emotion. When I arrived back in Nepal and stepped to the Shimbali temple, it was no surprise to me that he was awaiting my return. Instantly, I dropped to my knees before him. My bow was as sincere and as deep as I could manage. I begged him to show me the path to forgiveness. To open my heart from the pain and self-inflicted torment. The man I was before was no longer, but the man I am now had not yet properly coped with that loss. Hanzo had opened my eyes to that. As I pleaded with him, I wept the heaviness of the vexations I did not know I had been shouldering. No matter how much hatred lit my soul into a fervent wicker, I could not run from the truth, the truth that had made Bashou.
I love my brother.
I miss my brother.
My only wish, in this second chance at life, is to forgive Hanzo and embrace him so that he feels my love meld with his. It never mattered what I did amongst the clan. My freedom was his cage. We are the products of our upbringing and I cannot fault him for doing what he was taught to believe was right. So, I humbled myself to this pupil and asked him to become my master in the ways of the Shimbali. To teach me how to let go of my past and embrace my future. Only then, can I learn to walk the earth again. As the pupil has said time and time again, my life is my own to command.
Without question, the pupil has accepted me and tomorrow begins my journey. I do not know what the future will hold, but I am willing to try. For your sake. For my sake. For my brother. Wish me well in your thoughts, Angela. The path I now choose to walk will determine the man that returns to you. Leave a light out for me. Someday, I will return home. I can only hope it will be as a man that you can still call your friend.
The tears fell from his eyes into long, hot strips upon Hanzo's face. The letter grew distorted from the stinging wetness, blinding him, so he simply let the mobile device fall and unceremoniously clack against the floor of the shooting range. He fought with himself, the knowledge that Bashou had been his brother all along whipped at him like sharp leather. He was a fool. The folly of his youth had been his ignorance to the truth. If he had taken the moments to properly discern that omnic's form and words, he may have known then it was Genji. But, that wasn't as honest as he intended. It was not like him to remember the faces of those he used for his own selfishness, and he had the intention to use Bashou for just that. For years Hanzo pushed the memories of his brother to the farthest reaches of his mind, forgetting what he could to prevent the pain of his absence. This had worked so well, he did not even realise at the family temple when the assassin brandished the dragon of the North wind that it could be his brother. With that, how could his mind begin to piece together that Bashou, the assassin, and the cyborg recreation of Genji had all been one in the same? It haunted him to the possibility that he could have crossed paths with him more than once before and simply never bothered to notice. It was becoming too much to stand.
Suddenly, Hanzo felt a sharp twist in his acute senses, restraining him from his thoughts. It had him in one smooth motion pull an arrow into his storm bow like pouring liquid fire down his arm. With a spin like a dancer on his heel, he positioned the tip directly at the nose of his uninvited guest that had had the impudence to walk up behind him. The panic caused him to feel trapped in great contrast to the open vastness of the range. Jesse McCree immediately tossed his hands up to show that he brandished no weapon, and the realisation doused his adrenaline enough to slowly lower his storm bow from high alert.
“Shit, son, what's got you strung up tighter than a bull this damn early in the morning?” Hanzo threw him a sideways glance and disregarded the question, quickly wiping his face with the cloth of his shirt. The last thing he wanted this cowboy to see was how much of a mess he was. In typical fashion, he apologised with a quick nod, finding that Jesse McCree posed as much threat to him as a traffic light. The typical clinking of the man's spurs should have been a dead giveaway, but his clouded thoughts must have dulled them. He hadn't heard anything outside the echo chamber of his mind. How could he with the knowledge that his own brother nearly pity fucked him some odd years ago?
His voice felt strained, controlled. Cold. Distant. “If you desire the use of the range in private, Mr McCree, please, understand I will show myself out.” There were better places for him to lose his mind, none of which needed to be witness by any of the Overwatch. He had only taken a single step when a metal hand reached out to him, placing its warmth on his bare arm. It felt like acid in his current state, making him practically hiss from the contact. McCree seemed to promptly notice and relinquished him, but his eyes searched him like a handler approaching a wild animal. Hanzo felt it close to the truth, feeling like a dying storm casting itself aside to prevent a flood.
“Do ya,” McCree seemed to fight with himself over whatever turned inside him, “do ya need to talk?” He needed to leave. To run. What would talking to a stranger accomplish? It offended him that this crass man would even ask. Hanzo practically growled out his decline in a low threat. It was enough to get the cowboy to take a step back and remember his place. A moment later, he watched the ruffian trade him for the mobile device that still sat upon the floor. Maybe Jesse McCree knew instantly, or maybe he didn't, but the pain around his eyes seemed to take on something akin to sympathy. He would not have it. Not from him. “Hanzo,” McCree paused, waiting to see how he would respond. But Hanzo gave his response in the form of actions. He turned away, shouldering his quiver and storm bow, then made his way for the exit. Just before he reached the motion sensors, the cowboy called out to him again. He should not have stooped, but he did. Like a petrified distortion of whom he once was.
“If you leave, you'll break his heart.” Hanzo did not respond, letting the sentence hang. “And, I'd never forgive you.” Silence. It filled the empty space about them like a thick toxin doomed to choke him out. McCree's opinion mattered little to him, but still he stayed put, waiting, although he wasn't sure what for. Jesse McCree took advantage of it. “Whatever it is, whatever's done opened you sore, you can't keep runnin' away. Ain't a person on this compound that don't know I'd sooner put a bullet between your eyes than share a beer with you, but if I'm the only voice of reason you have that can convince you to stay, I'll own that responsibility.” When Hanzo still didn't reply, his voice became ragged, laced with frustration. “Damn it, Shimada, it's too damn early for this shit! What the hell's got you so riled up and ready to run! You think I want to spend my morning bitchin' at you?”
“Do you have siblings, McCree?” The question broke softly, stunning the cowboy into a wavering silence. Hanzo closed his eyes, feeling the anxiety contort beneath his skin, “The unconditional bond siblings share is stronger than any marriage. It outlives spouses; the death of family. It can be twisted, abused, bent to break, but it will always remain. Unchanged in time.” He felt his voice rise with the bile that threatened to burn his stomach open. “I murdered my brother and I am haunted by his memory in the face of his living corpse!” Hanzo practically rolled with thunder to face him, practically tearing himself at the seams. “How could you possibly understand what it's like to mourn your soulmate!”
The shot broke through the air in a massive roar, temporarily deafening Hanzo. It had been so fast, he had not even seen the revolver draw with his naked eye. He was only able to comprehend its aftermath as McCree spun the weapon about his finger and laced it neatly back into its holster. A bullet lay buried deep in the wall behind him, only being stopped by the shooting range's safely protocols. “Next time, that wall will be you.” McCree tossed his head lazily to pop his neck grotesquely from stiffness, rolling his muscles as if in preparation for a fight. “It'd be wise of you not to go prattling on about things you don't understand.” The cowboy's voice carried heavily, darkly. “You think you stand apart from the rest of us? That you're the villain of your own story?” The laugh was basically spat at him, “Well, I got news for you, darlin'. Ain't no heroes to be found in these here walls. What you're standing in is a pit of demons trying to repent for their own sins. The only difference between us and you is that we've come to accept ourselves for what we are – and have been. Lies. Greed. Passion. You've come to the wrong neighbourhood if'n you're thinking you'll get a redemption by stiff-lipping and snapping teeth at your fellow sinners.”
The spurs clinked with each of his steps as he approached Hanzo with purpose in mind. When he was within distance and Hanzo hadn't given an inch to the action, a heavy hand shoved into his shoulder painfully, gripping him like a vice. Hanzo had no choice but to allow himself to be roughly dragged out the door. “Let's take a walk, shall we?”
Chapter 9: Chapter Nine
“I'm guessin' you learned some story you ain't too happy 'bout.” Jesse McCree stoked a cigar he seemingly pulled from nowhere, as though he could manifest them from thin air, taking a moment to puff the end into bright, hot embers. The morning cool air had long since dissipated into the warmth of day. The sky was too bright and colourful for how Hanzo's mind felt. Like a static mess hell-bent on gratuitous suffocation. Wherever the cowboy was leading was taking them around the perimeter of Watchpoint. The salty sea licked waves against the wet, dark rocks below, adding a gentle hiss to their ambiance.
The sudden cigar pushed into his face came as a surprise which brought him to a stammering halt. “Wanna hit?” McCree asked politely. Every part of him wanted to argue why he would rather throw himself into the sharp rocks below than to take a drag off a cigar from a stranger, but he was too morose and lethargic to actually care about the looming consequences of sharing spit, so he leaned in and took a quick stoke. It'd been a while since he'd smoked anything, let alone an actual cigar, so a cough managed to choke its way out of him until he was able to settle his lungs. McCree was kind enough to withhold judgement and wait. After a moment, “Look, I ain't gonna pry into your business and all, 'cause whatever you and Genji got rolled up in your history is yours, but I can't let you use that to demean what he's become. He's put in hard work.”
Hanzo huffed at that. “I never said that I would demean him.”
“Yeah? And I told you to open up to him, not to bury yourself in self-pity because you've come to realise he managed to live on without you.” Oh, if only it were that simple. It was true in part, however, and that made Hanzo briefly snort to show his offence. When the cowboy didn't bother to acknowledge it, it only served to make him more cross. Instead, Jesse McCree kept a stern, yet languid, pace through the perimeter with Hanzo tailing behind like a reluctant animal on a leash. It was almost an insult that the cowboy would show his back to him so openly now when he had been the first to throw threats since his arrival, but perhaps this was just a show of how little McCree actually perceived him a threat. It wouldn't be far from the truth since Hanzo felt he didn't have the energy to commit murderous knavery this early in the day. He hadn't slept well, so the least amount of energy he could expend was preferable. Not to mention, Hanzo wasn't exactly ecstatic to draw the quick shot to his attention again.
The walk remained in silence for a few more minutes, and thankfully, it didn't seem to be awkward or unwanted. Hearing the tumbling, wet waves of the consistent sea below and the distant calls of birds was, in its own way, helping to relieve some of the spare tension. It helped him to better find reasons for Jesse McCree's desire for the walk. Maybe he thought the change of scenery would somehow calm them both down, since it was still obvious McCree was frustrated with him. Not that he could blame him; while he would jump at the chance for a mercy killing, McCree didn't come off as the type to drag one out. However, a moment later and the cowboy had them round a large wall of rock where an old snuffed camp fire sat between two smoothed boulders. This was obviously a lookout post where those doing perimeter checks would hold and scope through the hours of day and night, if he was judging right by the 'lived-in' look of the small area. When McCree took a boulder to sit himself on, Hanzo debated the merits of choosing to stand, but ultimately took the other across from him. Jesse McCree didn't even wait for him to fully sit down before he was drawing out his revolver – giving Hanzo just a slight panicked rush – but instead of aiming it at him again, he spun it around his finger with the weapon falling into a position as to examine it. The cylinder was popped to the side and from the mysterious black hole that must be on the cowboy's person somewhere, he brought out a small tool kit. Hanzo eyed him cautiously.
“So,” McCree began without even giving him a glance upward, “I don't want to waste my time and, to be honest, there are better ways to piss me off that won't end with a bullet in someone's head.” Hanzo didn't respond, instead watching the man tinker around with his project carefully, like a finely tuned clock. “So here's the deal; I'll answer any question you want to know about your brother, if after you tell me what's eatin' your ass. Sound good?” Finally, the cowboy's gaze flicked up at him, catching his eye, before it just as quickly left him to return to his task. For a moment, Hanzo thought on that, weighing out the pros and cons of such an agreement. It had been McCree whom had told him about the letters, but was it safe to assume he already knew the contents? He and his brother were awfully close, it seemed. But, admitting to what he re-lived in that moment wasn't as appealing as storming off and committing a local felony. Or several.
He wanted to answer, but instead he asked, “Why?” It came out bold, suspicious. The answer he got back was just as curt. “Why not?” Fair point. So, he conceded for the moment.
“Commander Morrison informed me that you and my brother did not always get along. However, he said that your relationship changed over night.” That had McCree come to a stop, but the pause was so indistinct that if he hadn't been trained as acutely as he was, he would have missed it. “What happened that night that changed you both?”
Jesse McCree appeared to try and laugh it off, but he was clearly uncomfortable with the questioning. That only served to drive his curiosity. What did this man have to hide? “How do you know that wasn't an embellishment on the commander's part?” Apparently more than he would have gathered on his own.
“I do not have reason to believe he would lie.” It was true.
“You also don't have reason to believe he'd tell the truth.”
Fair enough, but Hanzo looked him over, noting that the man was trying to focus on his revolver more so than Hanzo's regard. “Your hesitance is telling. And, you agreed that I could ask any question regarding my brother. Unless you would like to change the parameters of our agreement?” If there was one thing Hanzo was sure he could out-do the cowboy in, it was stubbornness, so he let the question sit.
Ultimately, with very few choices left from his own intention, Jesse McCree eventually gave a long sigh and attempted to distract himself as long as he could with his revolver. He knew an answer had to be given or else they were likely both to abandon the idea altogether. “Fine. But it ain't story I'm too keen on tellin' just anybody. I expect you to keep this under your shirt, yeah?” Hanzo could think of little reason why he would repeat anything to anyone from under his shirt, but the colloquialism was agreed to. Curiosity was a compelling nature.
Jesse McCree ran a quick metal hand through his hair and sat back a ways to comfort the situation. “When I joined Overwatch,” he said with a quick suck on his teeth to prepare, “I'll admit it, I was a no-good punk with an ill-mannered temper and ready to fight just about anyone that stepped across me. I'd have run off in a heartbeat if'n the commanders hadn't been so far up my ass with every rule and regulation. And that didn't change much when your brother got slapped on the table for recruitment either.”
McCree took a drag of his cigar and rolled it around his lips before setting it on the edge of the boulder. He looked at Hanzo as if waving a warning. “Now, I didn't know next to nothin' about Genji or who he was, where he came from, but Overwatch thought he was important enough to resurrect. Overwatch, mind you, not me. I thought he was a useless carcass ain't worth nothin' to pump laundered money into, and I was sure he'd die over night anyway. It was just my luck he didn't. Can't say I'm too upset by that now,” he gave a small sardonic chuckle, “but at the time, I was furious. Y' see, the commanders failed to mention that not all of Overwatch's projects were green lit by the powers that be. Genji was one of those,” he waved his hand around as if it would give the meaning he was looking for, “secret projects. The ones that blurred the line between virtuous and immoral. So, as you can imagine, they were short staffed on who could assist with such a covert operation. That made yours truly,” he threw a thumb at himself, “his appointed and personal attendant.”
The way McCree said it had Hanzo think on how he could not begin to imagine having to take on such a responsibility as a properly trained nurse or practitioner, let alone someone against their will with little knowledge. Even in his youth, when his family name had given him access to all the education and knowledge he could ever ask for, the undertakings to understand that of medical practises were strenuous with detail.
“I was his assistant for physical, speech, and occupational therapy, all of which I knew a grand total of dick about. And, as Genji began to come around, he wasn't exactly thrilled either. We were two stubborn fools hell bent on self destruction. Not necessarily the type of partnership you want with a team that needed to work close to the hip. While I was working with a man learning how to be reborn, he was working with a man that would have traded all the fucks he had for a bottle of bourbon. But, let's be real; what choice did we have? It was this, or prison. So, to keep the commanders from bustin' my ass to kitchen duty, I learned all that was necessary from Angela to get him up and moving again.”
McCree danced a finger in the air on his next thought, “I'mma tell you outright, Genji was a little bitch. There's really no other way to put it. Try as I might, that little shit would find ways to make my unwilling nursemaid life a living hell. I'd be tryin' to spoon feed him and he'd spit it back into my face, or I'd be sponge-bathing him and he'd try to find a way to drown me. He'd tell me in both languages all the things I could do on his dick and to invite my mother for the ride.” The cowboy seethed through his teeth as he stoked his cigar and placed it back, “Shit, if Genji hadn't needed to be strapped to a battery pack in Angela's office every night, I'd have probably unplugged him the moment I knew how.
“But, as he got better, more capable of doing things himself, you'd think it would have gotten easier, but naw, son, it just made matters worse. Now the fuck could run circles around me and slap my ass at the same time as he was telling me to go fuck myself. And once he no longer needed to be hooked up to the battery, naturally, the commanders gave him a bunk. My bunk.” McCree looked at him as though Hanzo was supposed to find the very idea ridiculous. Being an older brother, Hanzo was used to having his brother share his space and invade his personal bubble, but he could sympathise with the amount of work that must have gone into daily care of Genji only to have to carry that into the night. Even with the memories of how he had been a loving older brother, Hanzo knew how much of a handful Genji could be when he was being a brat.
“The first night wasn't so bad.” Jesse McCree admitted, “he stayed in his bed and me mine. I don't think he slept, to be honest, probably 'cause I didn't either. Once we got too tired to keep that up and accepted that we both required sleep to be moderately functional, that's when I knew my life was taking a turn. And let me tell you, Shimada,” and here, McCree sat his revolver aside and hunched over his open knees so he could look at him squarely, “I didn't think Genji could get any worse until that boy did manage to fall asleep.
“He had already taken my life by day, the commanders on my ass for when I wasn't on his, and now my nights were being stolen too. You see, Genji didn't just sleep; he reawakened.” He let that hang for Hanzo, although he wasn't sure yet what the word was implying. “Now, I ain't gonna sugar coat this for you. I want you to know that your brother would scream all through the night from his nightmares. I'd be woken up by his desperate please with the shadows of his mind, 'brother no!', 'Hanzo, please!', begging his demons to stop.” Almost immediately, his blood grew cold with his breath feeling caught. Hanzo looked away to regain himself, but McCree didn't stop. “Sure, he'd cry and I'd hear him sob for hours through his dreams, and sometimes he'd get so tuckered out I would be able to get about an hour's rest. Even that was pushing it.” The cigar had been stoked down too far to hold, so he flicked it out in the rock debris.
“For months, I listened to Genji scream your name. Begging. Pleading. Tormented by the memories again and again every time he closed his eyes. And now, it made sense why he was such a little shit. I sort of felt bad for him, but at the same time, I had my own problems. So, I began to ignore it. Eventually, when Genji stopped getting reactions out of me, he only grew more hateful and cruel. Pushing his limits with me. Slapping harder. Crasser remarks. Spitting fire like a caged animal. But, I kept right on ignorin' it. His problems – his life – meant so little to me then. I'd been worn down to bare bones, numbing myself through the daily routine that was upkeep on a ghost.” He sighed, shaking his head, “Everything changed, though, one cool autumn night.
“The following day was when Genji was due to begin his training with Lena,” McCree reminded him that her well known named was Tracer again, “so he'd turned in early and I went to the shooting range with Commander Reyes. When I finished, I headed back to the bunk m'self. Now, keep in mind that I had grown accustomed to Genji's nightly screams and terrors. That's important here,” he told Hanzo this with a waggle of his metal finger. “As I approached the bunk, it occurred to me that everything was silent. Too quiet. This wasn't normal. Even when Genji was awake, he was making nonsense and being a general displeasure. Something about this... it was different.” He paused. It looked like McCree was composing himself for his next memory. Admittedly, Hanzo felt he knew where this story was leading. The thought sat deep in his gut. “I fought with myself to palm the entry code. I prob'ly stood there longer than I needed to. But, eventually, I opened it and took a look inside.” Something dark crossed over the cowboy, like storm clouds rolling in the distance, or a shadow blotting out the sun.
“Genji had hung himself.” The mental image flashed through him like a current, but Hanzo knew it could not compare to the pictures playing behind Jesse McCree's blanked stare. “He'd removed his legs and fastened rope around the ceiling pits. And I just stood there, in awe, watching his body sway. It didn't make no sense. I'd seen death more than once, hell, I'd killed many of 'em. But, something 'bout knowing Genji's suffering had led him to this – it hit me hard. Like watching a losing battle. I'm only thankful that I didn't leave him there or looked away, 'cause if'n I had, I wouldn't have noticed that he was still alive.”
The image colourfully described played in his mind's eye, making Hanzo's skin prickle and his nerves contort the maw of his grief. Like a beast, he could feel it writhe and take hold of him, choking him. He had done this to his brother. Not only had he killed Genji once, but almost twice over. The pain that had been lying behind his brother's eyes must have been a crueller fate than the death itself. It nearly broke him. The calm hand that then reached out to touch him nearly destroyed his resolve, and he looked up to see Jesse McCree was checking on him. It may as well have been written on his face. Murderer. “I am fine.” Hanzo was not fine. “You may continue.”
Although it appeared that Jesse McCree would sooner believe he could literally turn into a dragon than believe he was fine, he carried on, but still threw him a cautious glance. “When I saw Genji was still alive, two things went through my head in that moment. The first,” he held a single digit up, but instead told this to the ground, “was that if he died, I'd be free of 'im. No more Genji, no more nursemaid.” He held up a second finger to join the first, “The second, was that neither of us had chosen this life. We weren't the cause of this suffering, just the by-products of a larger, shittier system.” His hand dropped into his lap. “It wasn't ideal, being recruited to be weapons for the darker part of the Overwatch heroes, but it was better than what we had. All this time, we'd been squanderin' our second chance due to selfishness and hatred. Where did it end? Where could we draw the line? Looking up at Genji, I saw where he was drawing his – and I wouldn't have it. I don't know which I was more pissed at: Genji or the rope that held him, but I cut that son of a bitch down so fast, slapping his face to get him to breathe right and checking all his vitals.
“After Genji was able to make head or tails of the situation, he was pissed beyond belief. Started screaming at me, 'let me die, let me die!', and he began reaching for anything within arm's distance to finish the job. It was insanity. I grabbed him 'round his middle and held him back from anything sharp or shooty. You'd think he'd had a better plan of suicide than a hanging, but after all the pain he went through dying once, it made sense why he'd rather not. Hanging into a peaceful sleep of death was likely an oasis in comparison. But, now that he knew he could be stopped, all bets were off. Since his legs weren't attached, he was a little lighter than usual, but his thrashing made it sincerely difficult to keep a hold. He wrestled with me, screaming, crying, demanding that it was his right to die. I just kept holding him. It was the longest night of my life... but, I never let go. I held him all through the night. He managed to beat the living shit out of me despite his disadvantage, but I refused to relent, bloody nose and swollen face 'nd all. I'm almost certain that if he'd had his legs, I'd been more than just a sore, bloody mess. Eventually though, he did tire himself out. We looked ridiculous on the floor like that. Face down with me on top of him like a blanket. Naturally, the first thing he asked me was why? And I told him the truth: I didn't know why. He cried, I cried. There was a lot of not-so-manly crying. But, I remember the words that changed us there on forward. I said the first thing that came to mind; 'Wanna grab a beer?' ” The soft airy laugh that followed after, held back an emotion Hanzo felt was the weight of two lifetimes. Enough to crush a man to his smallest point. Sometime between hearing the laugh echo in the valley of his mind and feeling the wind bring him back to reality, Jesse McCree had taken back up his revolver. It was clear the air about the cowboy had exposed itself vulnerable. All this time, Hanzo felt like his wounds were still open and sore for the world to witness, and so it did not occur to him to see the pain that may shroud others. He could see it now. And a deeper part of him, somewhere far in the reaches of his mind all the way back to his days as a boy, was thankful.
Just barely, he could see the side of the weapon frame exposed to show the trigger spring and unique tuning. He didn't know what to say in that moment given how raw it all felt, so he just watched stupidly as McCree used small instruments to fine tune the mechanics. After a minute, he cleared his throat awkwardly, although he tried very hard not to be. Thankfully, if McCree noticed, he didn't bother to show it. “You will benefit more from a faster spring release.” It sounded too loud in the quiet, in spite of the air and openness of the lookout spot.
McCree quirked a brow and looked up. “I beg your pardon?”
Hanzo swallowed and gestured vaguely at the exposed frame and springs. “Your custom bullets are heavier than normal revolver grade manufacturing. For better accuracy, you will want a faster spring release. The kickback and aim displacement may grow, but with proper compensation, your targets will feel more in line with your aim. Especially, if you fan your hammer for closer targets and follow up with a reload.”
A genuine laugh and the frame was snapped shut, “You got all that from just a bullet you saw in the wall?” It appeared the cowboy was mildly impressed. Hanzo tersely nodded, not even trying to think of what else to say. He looked away, not sure how he was feeling or if the gravity of the memories were taking full hold. The awkward tension could have been obscuring just how affected he felt. Thankfully, McCree didn't seem all that bothered by the change in subject and actually offered him a kind smile. “Can't say I'm all that surprised. With how everyone has been talking about you, of course you have knowledge in custom arms assembly. You're a right breath of fresh air 'round these parts, seeing as we're all about as educated as a public school system will allow.” If it had been a joke, Hanzo did not entirely get it, but the way it had been said did bring something gentle into the air. Soon, they were both snickering like fools. He felt better somehow. After that, McCree stood and offered a hand to help Hanzo up from his seat. Although every fibre of his person screamed internally, Hanzo took it and allowed himself to be pulled up. The hand that held his was cold and metal, but it was firm and human. Exactly what he expected.
“I know I can come off rough around the edges,” he began to Hanzo once he had released his hand, “but Genji means a lot to me. We've banded together through so much. You gotta understand. If you leave now, it'd shatter him. A lot like that night.” He placed a comfortable weight on his shoulder and tilted his head to the side so he wouldn't quite be looking straight down at him, “Regardless of what you've come to know, whatever it was that spooked you, just know that the past is just that; the past. The future is always something more than the foundation we set, and it doesn't carry nearly as much weight as the effort we put into it now to maintain. Y' know what I mean?” And he did know what he meant. It was clear to him just how much living Hanzo had missed while being dead to himself. Genji and Jesse McCree were an item he could respect. He'd been there for his little brother when he could not. He saved his life when Hanzo himself took it to begin with. If Genji found solace in this man, then so could he, given time. McCree was a good-hearted man past all the scruff and smoke.
It took him just a moment, but Hanzo found his voice and looked into the man. It was his turn to placate his bargain. “You are correct that I learned something that was not as I expected.” Jesse didn't interrupt, he just waited patiently for him. “My brother, fuelled by pain and anger, sought me out to take my life in vengeance. Upon infiltrating my ignorant trust, and like the skilled assassin he was trained to be in youth, he got as close as he needed to secure his kill. Only, he found that he... loved me too much.” Jesse nodded at that sympathetically. Hanzo closed his eyes and released a breath. It felt like a large burden had been lifted from him, even though he couldn't exactly name what the burden had been in this context. It was to his relief that Jesse didn't press him more. Perhaps, he understood how difficult it was for Hanzo to form his thoughts into words. Especially for strangers. The words he did choose to share held so little, and yet, could give much more.
“You know, Hanzo,” he looked up at his name, “you're really lucky to have someone love you so much like that. Not even death could stop your little brother from finding it in himself. For every love like that, ten thousand fail behind it. It's special.” Yes. It was special, wasn't it? Genji had suffered at his hands, the weapons they were made to be, but even that could not stop him from recalling their bond. Like the dragons themselves, it was eternal, immortal. It was just as well that he could not be immune either. Craving his brother's warmth, touch, and love. Anything that could bring back the days they had lost. He had spent so many years seeking redemption, that he had forgotten redemption could take many forms. It could bare much pain, yes, but it could also sweeten his mouth with honey. His redemption did not need him to suffer. This was what Genji had been trying to share with him by welcoming him into the Overwatch company. How foolish he was not to see. At the same time, though, to ask Hanzo to wilfully accept such a form of redemption, was much like begging a wolf not to howl at the moon. Could he find it in himself to bare himself vulnerable and grant his brother's offering? He was not so sure, but anything was possible.
The walk back had been far more pleasant than how it had began. Granted, neither of them being maimed or dead was an improvement from what he thought would occur. Hanzo found himself walking side by side with Jesse McCree without any hesitation. Equal. It was as though they had formed a wordless understanding of the other, or maybe Jesse McCree just did not have the strength to be on high guard. Either way, something around them felt lighter and Hanzo found himself welcoming the opportunity for conversation. They talked about Winston and how odd it was for a gorilla to do dishes. They discussed the demure and kind nature of Mei. Jesse told stories of him, Tracer, and Torbjörn in passing. When he spoke of Genji, though, the lines within his face changed alongside the light of his eyes. There was a kindness there that he hadn't noticed before, and it warmed him. When they finally circled back to the compound, a small part of him didn't want the cowboy to go. It was odd, but not something unpleasant. Despite the hardness, Jesse McCree seemed to have a way to disarm others with his natural charm. It didn't stop both of their cautiousness in the other, but it was a start, he supposed.
“I got some things to get at. You should go see your brother.” It wasn't a suggestion. Before Hanzo could begin to explain that he had no idea where he could be, Jesse shushed him with a gentle wave of his hand like he already knew the ridiculousness of his next question. “He's with Angela. Get on to the Medical Bay. Say hi for me, would ya?” He nodded his agreement to pass on the salutations, “And Hanzo?” The way his name had been said spoke greatly to the changes in tension around them. Hanzo waited politely as McCree's face softened with something genuine. “Do us both a favour and this time, just be yourself. Be the older brother.” Be the older brother. With that, Jesse waved him off and went about his life without even a cautionary glance back. It was resolute, and Hanzo couldn't stop himself from the sudden surge of emotion that hit him. It was a mix of passion, pride, and humility. Genji had needed him in the past, and Genji was choosing to need him now. Even with all of the Overwatch, all of the new events that had become of his brother, Genji was choosing to have him in his life now. All this time, so little of that had made sense, but now, it was like the pieces were beginning to form a blurry image of the person he wanted to be. To be for Genji. He could see a better version of himself, however slightly. So, with a quick foot, Hanzo left for the Medical Bay, feeling drawn as if pulled tight on a string to something yearning. Somehow he knew, Genji would be waiting.
Hanzo didn't bother to announce himself. A part of him felt that at this point, he did not necessarily need to, given how he popped in and out like a game of chairs. He momentarily thought that, perhaps, he should have when the Medical Bay doors opened and he was greeted by the concerned look of Dr Ziegler as she tended her current patient. When her mind comprehended that it was he who had allowed himself inside, her features softened and she waved him over kindly. The patient, his brother Genji, was sitting upright on a medical bed that had been wheeled out into the central area with various medical machinery in tow. Wires were still laid strewn about, but a lot less were attached than the night before. Likely because Genji was awake now. His back was to Hanzo, so he didn't see what the good doctor was doing until he approached and rounded the bed.
It was nice to see that his brother was smiling. The moment he saw Hanzo, he was sure it had grown; a tender fondness like it was just for him. It felt like days since they had last seen each other, even though it had only been a few hours. An eternity in Hanzo's mind finally made into a summit. He greeted his brother with a silent noise and a tilt of his head, which Genji attempted to reciprocate in kind. It looked like he had also wanted to greet him proper, but upon opening his mouth, no words came. That wasn't a surprise since the front part of his throat was still missing. Thankfully, his head appeared whole, with his wild, dark hair flaring in every direction. It was just like his brother to always look like he was rolling out bed with a mess like that, even when he was being operated on. It had him smile. The genuine emotion from that made it much easier for Hanzo to stomach the gaping opening of the throat that hissed and hummed from larger ventilators stationed by the bed. Dr Ziegler was once again moving a long and thin device around the inner parts of the oesophagus. It was a statement on how used to the process Genji was that he didn't flinch under her care. He was sure Genji felt nothing, but the idea of it would have made Hanzo weary. Then, without bothering to ask, the doctor handed Hanzo a tablet, and he took it into his hands as swiftly as accepting a cup of coffee, using it as a silent approval to be her assistant again.
“He still doesn't have his vocal chords installed, so Genji will be rather silent, I'm afraid. I'm making adjustments now for the first prototype I finalised with my remote colleague a few hours ago. It's crude, but it should give us valuable data for something more permanent in the future.” At that, Genji tried to speak again, only to make nothing but silence. It was quite the advantageous situation, if ever he had one. There were so many things Hanzo felt he wanted to talk about in that moment, and the fact that Genji could not openly respond was almost comforting, since it meant he would not be interrupted or given feedback that may suggest he should reconsider. Dr Ziegler appeared to notice this as well.
“Did you find what you were looking for?” She asked this in a telling way, an opening encouragement, without giving him a look. The letters, yes, of course. She continued to focus her practical knowledge on Genji's air flow. It took little effort for him to realise she was speaking to him since he couldn't fathom she would be speaking to his brother about anything in particular, but silence was what he gave anyway. Anyone looking upon him now could probably tell that he was unsure how exactly to begin to answer. His face, he knew, must have been wearing everything his mind had experienced in the last few hours. Confusion, humility, but also endearment, respect. In his heart, he was grateful that she had given him the chance to learn about his brother's past, but another part of his mind wasn't sure if it was something he could admit in front of his brother just yet. Did Genji even know that the doctor had passed the letters on to him? Hanzo felt it was safe to assume he didn't, since his anxiety and depression were still processing it all.
The distraction of the tablet filtering data in his hands as she moved the tool around, was welcome. Easy on his nerves. “I have found much of what I did not know I had lost.” Hanzo began, gently, guardedly. “The people of the Overwatch have helped me in many ways find understanding in both myself, and my brother.” Genji flicked his eyes up to him at that, seeming like he wanted to respond. Even though words could not escape him at this time, his eyes did hold a worried, yet curious, gaze. It was a look that Jesse McCree must have been alluding to. A look of fear that Hanzo may run away. The fear was appropriate.
The doctor gave a nod, removing the thin device to set it aside on a nearby tray. A small, ring-shaped device was floating within a sanitising blue light just beside it, awaiting its installation. “We can't pretend to know him as you have – ” she began, but Hanzo interrupted her pointedly.
“ – I also cannot pretend to know him as all of you have come to know.” As he said this, he was holding Genji's gaze. From an outsider's perspective, it could have been taken as pity, shame, or even contempt, but Hanzo knew what shown on his features was none of those. His mind wanted to force him to say it so that his brother's heart could rest, but instead he begged with his eyes for Genji to understand. When his brother broke the eye contact, it felt like a part of him was tearing away. It forced his hand, made words were there were none. Suddenly, he was saying all he could think to. Anything to bring Genji back. “The day I took my brother's life, was the day I took my own.” He breathed, gauging the reaction and taking a moment to think. “Apart, we have been nothing but ghosts of or former selves, but together,” here, Hanzo set the tablet aside and reached out his hand to touch Genji's cheek, so soft and pink, and stroked his thumb along the scars that lay there, “we are who we choose to be.” It was true. “Our lives are our own... to command.”
There it was. Genji searched him, his eyes darting over him as though Hanzo had transformed into a beast. Perhaps, he had. Perhaps, they both had. Hanzo could see his hands gripping the sides of the medical bed, tension high as though he were holding something back. One of the monitors began to steadily increase its whirring and data stream, and before Hanzo or Dr Ziegler could stop him – Genji was suddenly taking Hanzo into his arms, holding him tight. The wires looping inside and out of his brother strained to keep him in place and within safety range, but Genji did not relent. Air escaped his lungs as Hanzo's mind began to understand that the hard breathing was coming from the hole in Genji's throat. That the hands that held him so strongly were mechanical, metal, and made of a lifetime's worth of agony. But, Hanzo simply let his brother hold him, as if he was unsure how to physically respond. He felt stiff in the grasp, but slowly, his hands began to search up Genji's backside, feeling the knots of the cybernetic spine and the curves that seamed metal and flesh. His fingers moved over wire and nodes, until he could feel the soft skin just above. The remainder of what Genji had once been. A different life time. A different world. A different man.
“Genji,” Hanzo practically whispered, taking him just as tightly, “I have missed you for so long. I am sorry, my otouto.” When Hanzo had first arrived, he had fallen to his knees in shame, feeling like a man haunted by his past. Nothing could have prepared him for the guilt that washed over him as he grieved his brother while holding him in his arms. But this was much different now. He could feel Genji against his hands and chest. His warmth, his breath, his spirit. All this time, Hanzo had left himself to mourn and travel the world in search of his own grave, never truly allowing his soul to rest and heal. Haunting the earth. He had not wanted to heal. He never wanted to forget the day he banished himself to an eternal hellfire. But now, in Genji's embrace, Hanzo felt himself begin to mend together. Every breath against his neck was like a stitch upon his heart. It was as though his brother was unchaining his shackles -- and he was. He really was.
Genji was the first to pull away, mostly due to the fact that the monitors were beginning to beep critically and less strain needed to be on the wires maintaining him currently. Hanzo helped by pushing him back gently, allowing the tubing to continue to sustain his life. He was smiling. It felt hopeful and kind to smile with Genji. Still, his brother could not speak, but it did not prevent him from saying what he felt anyway. With both hands, he took Hanzo's head into his palms, pulling him forward to place the smallest kiss upon his forehead. Although it could not be heard, Hanzo could see the shapes of his brotherly name, 'anija', play upon his brother's lips. After ten years of grief, Hanzo felt it in himself that he could begin again. It would be a long road, and still there was so much left unsaid and undone that would take years to ebb away, but in that moment, none of it mattered. Genji had forgiven him.
And finally, Hanzo had forgiven himself.