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Judgment and Redemption

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JUDGMENT

 

There wasn’t much in Jesse’s past that he didn’t regret, but nothing wracked him more with guilt than what happened with Ashe. Not a night went by that he didn’t wake from dreams of the doe-eyed young girl he’d met and the vicious gang leader she’d become. All because of him.

 

He’d created a monster of his own likeness, and the universe had been punishing him ever since.

 

“Hey, darlin’; stick around,” he murmured into the darkness of the pre-dawn, eyes still closed but fully aware of every movement of long limbs and dexterous fingers that had controlled his very soul last night.

 

"I cannot," that sweet, husky voice hummed regretfully, returning to the bed and leaning over to caress his temple lightly; a mimicry of what he'd done when they first met in that smoky, poorly lit club and he'd caught a glimpse of the cute streaks of early greying.

 

"A couple hours can't hurt," he sighed, catching the strong hand and nosing against the calloused palm.

 

"A couple hours will bring hell down on you," was the apologetic reply. "I would love to stay if I could, James, but I live in a world that would tear you apart if they even suspected of what happened last night."

 

Jesse rolled over then to look up at the stunning man he'd somehow managed to charm last night. Reaching up, he curled his fingers gently through the immaculately trimmed beard he'd burned his lips on repeatedly.

 

"That ain't no kinda life, lover," he said softly. "Beautiful thang like you don't belong in no cage."

 

A sad smile curled the lips that pressed to his inner wrist.

 

“We are all slaves to the lives we lead. Tell me you believe differently; ‘James’ is but an alias you use to forget that life for a time, just as ‘Hiro’ is the mask I wear to be free for but a few hours. Anything more tempts fate, and I, for one, have tested it one too many times.”

 

“This is it, then,” Jesse whispered, already hating the nostalgic dread curling in his gut. “I ain’t ever gonna see you again, am I?”

 

“No,” the gorgeous man agreed sadly. Sitting up, Jesse curled his hand around the back of the man’s neck and tugged him down for one last kiss.

 

It was sweet, and bitter, and full of every desperate emotion he’d bottled up for years, and if he wasn’t mistaken, his partner felt much the same.

 

“I must go,” the man breathed when they finally had to break for air.

 

“Best night I’ve ever had,” Jesse sighed as he watched the man step away, donning his hooded cloak on the way to the door. “Ain’t forgetting you anytime soon, lover.” The man paused at the door to glance back at him, silhouette just visible and eyes glittering with reflections of street signs outside.

 

“...When the moon is full, it begins to wane,” he said quietly, a faint note of pain beneath his tone. “You will forget me. And it will be for the better. Farewell.” Drawing his hood up, he slipped silently from the room, leaving Jesse lonelier than he’d been in far too long; a feeling he hadn’t missed in the slightest.

 

Reluctantly, Jesse got out of bed, cleaned up and dressed for the day. His mood only grew worse as time passed and he left to meet up with his superior. Breakfast was a quiet affair, and after the meal, Gabriel Reyes handed him a folder.

 

“Your assignment.” The folder contained two photos of cruel looking men, and files on their histories.

 

“Warning or punishment?” Jesse asked, making note of the lengthy rap sheets for each.

 

“Both,” Reyes answered. “They get the punishment; their bosses get the warning.”

 

“So I’m making a scene of it,” Jesse scowled. These were the worst assignments. But that was Blackwatch; they kept the underworld in line where the authorities failed, and because they weren’t sanctioned by any government, they weren’t beholden to any laws.

 

“Yes. The more gruesome the better.” Reyes hesitated and leaned on the table. “I know you hate these assignments, but you're my best agent, and no one else quite has your skill with getting the message across, sabes ?”

 

“Yeah, yeah; yo sé .” Reyes chuckled at that, leaning back.

 

“Your accent is still terrible,” he noted lightly.

 

“Gotta be a pain in your ass somehow, sweetheart,” Jesse snorted, tucking the folder into his clothes. “When’s the reaping?”

 

“By the end of the day,” Reyes replied. “Should give you plenty of time to set the stage for this yakuza boss.”

 

“Twelve hours to make a mess?” Jesse scoffed, standing. “I’d be insulted if I thought it was cuz you thought I needed the time.”

 

“I know you don’t need the time,” Reyes said, rolling his eyes. “I just figured you’d appreciate it, hijo .”

 

“It is nice not to have a short deadline,” Jesse hummed agreement, tapping the man’s shoulder in passing. “See ya back at HQ, jefe .”

 

“Take care of yourself, Jesse. Use your beacon if you need it this time, comprendeme ?”

 

“Yeah, I got it, Dad; geez...” Jesse waved him off, heading out to find his targets.

 

Turned out, finding them was easy. Chasing the little cowards was the hard part. When he finally caught up to them, he made them pay for the chase, and then finished the job as clinically as ever. He took no pleasure in cutting off limbs and eviscerating bodies, but it had to be done, and afterward, he changed his clothes, being careful to dispose of the bloodied clothing in a way that couldn’t be traced back to him; namely, burning them.

 

It was nearing sunset when he finally left the scene, satisfied that he’d done the job properly. On his way out of Hanamura, he stopped by the temple, feeling it proper to make an offering to whatever gods ruled here for soiling their ground with blood.

 

He expected the locked gate. He didn’t expect the body he almost tripped over when he snuck in the back.

 

“Damn... Someone got your number, huh,” he huffed, crouching and touching his fingertips to what remained of the man’s mangled throat, more out of habit than anything. To his absolute shock, the faintest flutter thrummed against his fingers. “Holy shit; you’re alive??”

 

Immediately, he dug into his pouch for the beacon, fumbling to turn it on and tap out a coded pattern: injured civ; medic needed asap . Then he set himself to binding every wound he could with the limited supply of bandages he had. When those ran out, he shrugged off his jacket and vest and pulled off his shirt to tear it into strips.

 

A buzz from the beacon stopped him for a moment, and he pulled it out to read the message. Location restricted; bring to rendezvous , along with a set of coordinates. Muttering curses to himself, Jesse shoved the beacon back in his pouch and finished wrapping the poor man’s wounds. Then he yanked on his vest and jacket and carefully lifted the man into his arms.

 

The hardest part was getting out of the temple compound without jostling the man too much, but the most concerning was the distance to the rendezvous site; the man would be lucky not to bleed out before they arrived. Jesse refused to think about it, focusing all of his attention on getting there as quickly as possible.

 

Fortunately, the transport was waiting for him when he arrived. Doubly fortunate, a medic was also waiting. With any luck, he’d saved the man’s life. And if the universe was feeling generous for once, it might even make up for snuffing out two more, regardless of how sleazy they’d been. Jesse didn’t count on it, though; karma was a bitch that had it out for his ass, and he doubted she’d ever cut him any slack, not after all the bad he’d done.

 

✬✬✬

 

“McCree?” Jesse whirled, hand going to his Peacekeeper. He hesitated when he saw the person he least expected to meet in this tiny little Nepali village, sequestered in the Himalayas like a little patch of snow-covered paradise.

 

“Holy shit... Genji?” Unable to believe his eyes, Jesse just stared at him a moment.

 

“What are you doing here?” Genji demanded, terse and guarded, but not as venomous as he once was.

 

“I could ask you the same thing,” Jesse pointed out, still stunned. “If you’re still alive, why ain’t you back at Blackwatch?” Genji tensed, his hand twitching toward the short blade at his hip, and Jesse tightened his grip on the Peacekeeper reactively.

 

“I will not be returning to that organisation,” the ninja responded sharply.

 

“Wh- You- Not going back?” Jesse couldn’t believe it. Genji was a bloodthirsty machine, truly; Blackwatch had been the perfect place for him, a way to channel his viciousness into something productive.

 

Or at least... it had been productive... Until Reyes fell off the wagon with whatever darkness he’d let consume him.

 

“I no longer wish to be an object of pain and misery. Surely you understand that if you have left as well.” Jesse didn’t even bother to ask how he knew; Genji always had a knack for just... knowing shit. But still...

 

“Well, yeah,” he replied slowly. “But you were, like... obsessed wi-”

 

“Obsessed?” Genji cut in with a snarl. Jesse hesitated, well aware of how volatile the ninja could be.

 

“Okay, maybe obsessed ain’t the right word...”

 

“I do not care what word you use,” Genji interjected, fists clenched at his sides but otherwise surprisingly calm, considering. “It was toxic, to me and to everyone around me.”

 

That... was nothing like the Genji that Jesse knew. Or maybe it was, but a side of him that had only very vaguely been hinted at. After all, no one started out in the world as bitter as Genji had been after Jesse saved his life; that kind of rage only came from being seriously fucked over, and Jesse himself could attest to that.

 

“Damn, Genji...” he scoffed lightly, shaking his head. “You’ve really changed, haven’t ya? What have you been up to these last months got you all... self-respectin’ all the sudden?”

 

“I would take offense if I did not like you so much,” Genji said blandly.

 

Jesse blinked in absolute shock. Genji liked him? Genji liked anyone ? After all the times he’d cursed Jesse out for extracting him out of dangerous missions and taking him back to get patched up again, Jesse figured he’d be hated for the rest of his life and then some.

 

“Where are you staying tonight? I am living at the monastery for the moment, and I am sure my... teacher would not mind if you joined us for a night.”

 

Jesse just about choked, absolutely dumbfounded, and wasn’t able to recover before an omnic in monk’s clothing appeared seemingly out of nowhere, laying a hand on Genji’s shoulder.

 

“I would not mind in the slightest,” the monk hummed, genial. “However, I can only speak for my Master enough to say that the monastery is open to all who seek healing.”

 

“I- oh, well, I- I suppose every man needs healin’ at some point or another,” Jesse responded carefully.  He certainly wasn’t expecting any of this, least of all an omnic, and part of him felt an unexpected urge to protect this new, friendlier Genji.

 

Like there was anything to protect him from...

 

“Indeed,” the omnic purred. “Please feel free to approach the monastery whenever you are ready; Genji and I have a few more errands to complete.”

 

Jesse started to ask about the monastery, but hesitated, and in that moment, the omnic was already leading Genji away. Well now he was gonna feel terrible when he showed up on their doorstep with a message for the head monk.

 

Or he would have, if Genji and Zenyatta hadn’t smoothed the way. And Mondatta took the message easily, so it obviously wasn’t bad news. And then the meditation...

 

For the first time in his life, Jesse could actually believe that even a man like him could deserve healing.

 

✬✬✬

 

Too easy. The hired guns watching the Shimada mansion and the temple, none of them have any real talent. Anyone could get past them with a little training. And Hanzo has had plenty of training.

 

Once he clears out the mansion, he goes to the shrine. The shrine. The one he set up himself, back when he was still the heir to the Shimada empire.

 

An empire he’s spent the last decade tearing down piece by piece.

 

His ritual is simple, but soothing; it’s all he can do to honour his brother now. His tea is weak, watery, lukewarm. It’s the same tea he used to share with Genji when they were little, when they first learned how to brew tea themselves. It was a running joke between them that they would never learn to brew it properly, and even though Hanzo has since learned, he still makes this tea every year on this day.

 

But this day is different than years prior. This year, someone followed him. Hanzo first noticed him just outside the temple, moments before he disabled the omnic guards. He followed Hanzo without interfering, so Hanzo didn’t confront him. But now that he has peace and quiet, and his ritual has been completed, it’s time.

 

“Many assassins have come for me,” he speaks into the darkness, setting the tea cup down. “None have succeeded.” His finely tuned hearing picks up on the nearly inaudible tap behind him. That gives him all he needs to know. “Neither will you.”

 

“Bold words for a man who dares enter the den of his enemies,” a highly synthesised voice notes.

 

“...This place was once my home,” Hanzo explains softly, letting the renewed agony wash over him, fuel his will to survive; monster he may be, but seeking death is the coward’s way.

 

Only with the death of his past can he regain his honour, and only by regaining his honour will he find redemption for his wrongdoings. But to finally bury his past, he must live to see the end of the Shimada empire.

 

“It is a poor assassin who does not research his target,” he points out. “A poor assassin cannot hope to defeat me.” His hand slides slow and smooth to the bow on the floor beside him, and in an instant, he’s up and firing at the assassin, who twists out of the way with unearthly grace.

 

“I know who you are... Hanzo.” Hearing his name spoken so casually first startles him, then sparks rage. How dare anyone presume to know him, to know what he’s done or what he’s capable of doing!

 

Another arrow flies, and the assassin dodges it almost without looking.

 

“You are predictable,” the assassin goes on, as though discussing the weather. “Every year you come here, on the same day, to do the same thing.”

 

He’s only fueling Hanzo’s fury now, and three more arrows are loosed in rapid succession. Each one is dodged with such preternatural ease that Hanzo would admit reluctant admiration, were he not lost in anger.

 

“Why take such risks to honour someone you murdered?”

 

Hanzo jolts at that, and the assassin takes advantage of his hesitation, flicking a wrist and flinging shuriken that appeared seemingly from nowhere at him. He recovers in time to duck, guilt and rage exploding through him as he prepares another arrow.

 

“You know nothing of what you speak!” he snarls, firing.

 

This one, the assassin blocks with a wakizashi, but the force of Hanzo’s fury is behind it, and that force knocks him through the rice paper wall and into the courtyard. Hanzo half follows, firing a scatter arrow, but the assassin out of sight, and he can’t tell if any of the arrows hit. Until the assassin appears at another entrance to the shrine, waiting to catch Hanzo’s attention before darting up the stairs beyond to the balcony overlooking Hanamura.

 

Determined now to end this assassin, Hanzo chases him, still sensing him nearby, but unable to spot him.

 

“I know more than you think,” the assassin says, voice floating tauntingly around Hanzo’s ears; he can’t quite pinpoint the source. “You tell yourself that your brother defied the clan, that he needed to die. That killing him was the only way to prevent chaos. It was your duty.”

 

“It was my duty,” Hanzo agrees, guilt surging again beneath the rage. “It was also my burden.” He’s centered on the voice now, behind him in the shadows, and he readies his last two arrows. “That does not mean I cannot honour him!”

 

Whipping around, he fires one arrow, only for the assassin to knock it aside with his blade. The weighted arrowhead hits the floor with just enough force left to stick partially upright, and irritation that no arrow has hit the assassin yet spikes in Hanzo.

 

Immediately, he unleashes his last arrow, drawing back the string so far that his bow creaks in protest. The power behind this arrow is enough to pierce metal walls, and if it hits, it will undoubtedly punch through the assassin as easily as a fist through rice paper.

 

To Hanzo’s shock, the assassin shifts, abruptly changing his grip on the wakizashi, and slices the arrow cleanly in two, the halves slamming so hard into the wall behind that they will be impossible to remove. But the shock only lasts a moment, fury returned doubled, and he leaps forward, attacking with the reinforced body of his bow.

 

Metal clashes with metal, Hanzo’s rage and guilt pounding uselessly against the assassin’s calm persistence. Beneath his armour, he must have cybernetic enhancements, much as Hanzo does, but stronger; he beats Hanzo back, pinning him for a moment against the railing.

 

“You think you honour Genji with incense and tea?” the assassin demands. “Honour resides in one’s actions, not in offerings to the dead!”

 

Hanzo’s gaze falls on the arrow jutting from the floor beyond the assassin, and his fury provides a solution with very little thought.

 

“You dare to lecture me about honour?” he snarls, holding back the blade. “You are not worthy to say his name!!” Throwing his weight to the side, he knocks the assassin back and lunges through the opening it creates to slide across the floor and snatch up the arrow. Rising, he calls on Seiryu and Oryu, the dragon spirits bound to the tattoo etched into his shoulder and arm; “ Ryu ga waga teki wo kurau!

 

The eager spirits pour into his arrow as he lets it fly, following the path it would take as the power of the spirits disintegrates the fragile material of the arrow itself.

 

Grim satisfaction settles in Hanzo’s chest with the knowledge that the assassin will be consumed, body and soul, but the satisfaction withers into stunned disbelief when the assassin plants himself, draws his katana, and speaks words Hanzo never thought he’d hear again.

 

Ryujin no ken wo kurae!

 

Ryujin heeds the summons, and the assassin twists, guiding the dragon spirit redirect Seiryu and Oryu back at Hanzo. He braces himself ― the Shimada blood in his veins protects him from being consumed ― but the shock leaves him off balance, and when the dragon spirits dissipate, he couldn’t stop himself from falling to his knees if he tried.

 

“How...? Only a Shimada...” Hanzo can’t even find the words, lost and confused.

 

Suddenly the assassin is beside him, wakizashi pressed to his throat.

 

It’s over. Hanzo has no will left to fight.

 

“Go on then,” he says quietly, coming to peace with his fate. He closes his eyes, finding that he looks forward to the end of his suffering. “Finish it.”

 

“...No.” The blade moves away from Hanzo’s neck, and he blinks in surprise, looking up as the assassin sheaths it. “You have a purpose in this world still, brother.”

 

Blankness sweeps away all thought for a moment, and then it registers, a tiny bubble of guilty hope springing up inside Hanzo as he jumps to his feet and whirls to face the assassin.

 

“Not possible,” he breathes, pushing down the hope and yet still straining to find even just a hint... “My brother is dead.”

 

In answer, the assassin reaches up and unlatches his mask with a hiss, pulling it away to reveal a heavily scarred face framed in prosthetics; it would be almost impossible to recognise him... but for the eyes.

 

Hanzo could never forget those eyes, that deep amber gaze that once looked at him with innocent fondness, then with sad regret, and finally with bitter betrayal.

 

“Genji...” It shouldn’t be possible, and yet, there he stood, alive and well. The guilt returns with such force that Hanzo can hardly bear it. He drops his gaze, shamed; it is his fault that Genji is like this. “What have you become?”

 

“I am at peace with who I am,” Genji replies calmly, replacing the mask. “It was a harsh journey, but through it, I have forgiven you. Now you must forgive yourself.” Turning away, he goes to the railing and looks out over the city, while Hanzo stares at him, bemused and uncertain. “We are no longer children, Hanzo. The choices we make will shape the world, and with it, our own fates.”

 

“Real life is not like the stories our father told us, Genji,” Hanzo says shortly, torn between relief that his brother still lives, and guilt for what his own actions have done to his brother. “It is not so easy to change who we are. Who I am.”

 

“Perhaps not,” Genji allows, looking back. “Perhaps I am a fool to think there is hope for you. But I do.” Hanzo falters beneath his brother’s conviction, and Genji hops lightly onto the railing. “I dream of a day when we stand side-by-side once more, brother. Whether or not that day comes is up to you.”

 

Hanzo stands there long after Genji has vanished into the night, at war with himself; ten years is a long time to feel such anger and bitterness... Almost a quarter of his life, lost. He’s not even sure he knows how to live without it now.

 

One thing is certain: Genji would be better off without him.

 

✫✫✫

 

It may not be the temple at Hanamura, but it is impressive. Hanzo pauses in the gate and watches the scattering of worshipers praying, making offerings, buying charms. He feels out of place here, exposed, but it has been a year, and the need to return to Hanamura was so strong that he decided it best to visit some temple; there is no need to pay respects at the shrine any longer, no matter how desperately he wants to.

 

Taking a calming breath, he steps onto the temple grounds.

 

The shrine room is mostly empty, but for an omnic near the front seated in full lotus. Hanzo finds a place in the corner to kneel and pray, but finds himself uncertain what to pray for . He sits in the silence of uncertainty for a long time, lost now that he has no ritual to follow.

 

“Lost traditions leave quite an emptiness behind, no?”

 

It takes Hanzo a while to realise the omnic is talking to him, and he tenses, disliking the idea that a stranger knows anything about him, particularly an omnic. He doesn’t respond, watching the omnic closely.

 

“In my experience, replacing is far better than removing,” the omnic says lightly, pressing its hands together in front of its chest, the giant orbs floating around its neck spinning quickly and glowing faintly for just a moment. Then it relaxes and...

 

Hanzo stares in startled awe as the omnic lifts off the ground, hovering several feet above it, and turns to face him, hands folded in its lap.

 

“You are troubled,” the omnic notes. “I would help, if you allow me.”

 

“I am not troubled,” Hanzo denies. The omnic makes a sound like a sigh, but as far as Hanzo knows, they don’t need to breathe, so a sigh would be pointless.

 

“You sit in a corner with your back to a wall and every entrance and exit in plain view. Rather than pray or meditate, you stare at your hands as though they hold the answers you seek. Answers to questions you cannot even put into words. If that were not enough, your soul is rife with Discord; you have not known Harmony in years, have you?”

 

Every fiber of Hanzo’s being is on high alert now, and he stares hard at the omnic, itching to reach for his bow but not daring to get into a fight with so many innocents around.

 

“...It has been many years since an omnic assassin was sent to kill me,” he says lowly. “I will admit, I did not expect anyone like you... Why did you not attack while my mind was elsewhere?”

 

“I am not an assassin,” the omnic answers, sounding amused. “Once, in my past, I was known to kill, but those days have long since gone. Now I seek only peace of mind and of soul for those I meet.”

 

“You would help a stranger?” Hanzo scoffs.

 

“You would not?” the omnic returns, cocking its head. “I think you care more for others than you would like to admit.”

 

“What makes you say that?” Shaking his head, Hanzo stands, turning to leave.

 

“Sarcasm is a painfully barbed wall, Hanzo,” the omnic hums calmly, so casual in his delivery, while Hanzo goes cold. “Be careful you do not cut yourself to keep others at bay.”

 

“...How...?” This time he doesn’t stop himself from reaching for his bow.

 

“I know who you are,” the omnic explains, tipping its head as though looking at him.

 

“You are an assassin!”

 

“No,” the omnic chuckles. “Not anymore. That is not why I know you. Forgive the deception, but I feared you would flee before I had even a moment to speak if I approached too quickly.” Raising a hand, it gestures for him to sit. “Please. Let us talk.”

 

“About what?” Hanzo growls, still gripping his bow.

 

“...About Genji.”

 

Stunned, Hanzo stares at it. Of course, if Genji is alive, it stands to reason that he’s had contact with others in the world. But what are the odds of anyone knowing who Genji really is? Knowing that he and Hanzo are related? It can’t be coincidence, which means this omnic really, truly knows Genji.

 

“Who are you?” he asks cautiously, not yet letting go of his bow; if the omnic knows what he did to Genji, there is still a chance it’s here for vengeance.

 

“My name is Tekhartha Zenyatta,” the omnic hums pleasantly, nodding politely. “I had the honour of mentoring your brother in his darkest time. He has told me much about you and your childhoods in Hanamura. Truthfully, I have wanted to meet you for a long time. I did not think I would be so lucky to get the opportunity so soon, especially after last year.” Hanzo stiffens, and the omnic cocks his head, answering the unasked question; “Yes, I am aware of what happened. Who do you think convinced Genji to confront you? He was rather reluctant to cause you pain, but it was a necessary step in his healing. And in yours.”

 

“I do not need healing,” Hanzo scoffs, cautiously releasing his bow but keeping a hand near it just in case.

 

“We are all in need of healing, at some point in our lives,” the omnic says simply. “Please. Sit.”

 

It’s the last thing Hanzo wants to do, but his curiosity about Genji won’t let him leave just yet; after all, it’s been ten years, and being on the brink of death changes a person, as he himself can testify, so Genji must have changed. But Genji is still his brother, and he wants to know.

 

“...How did he survive?” He doesn’t sit, but the omnic doesn’t mention it again.

 

“Blackwatch. One of their agents found him and got him medical attention. The two are quite good friends now, though there was a long time that Genji despised him for it; he believed he deserved to die, and did everything he could to make sure it happened.”

 

“...Everything...?”

 

“Mm,” the omnic hums. “He was rather reckless before he turned up on the doorstep of the monastery, half dead. It took a long time to earn his trust, but when I did...” The omnic makes a chuckling sound. “He is a fine blade with a razor’s edge. I seem to have become the hand that wields it.”

 

Hanzo doesn’t reply to that. He remembers all too clearly how Genji used to follow him around the grounds of their home, an eager child wanting nothing more than to be like his onii-san. In trying to spare Genji that life, Hanzo merely pushed him into the deepest levels of it.

 

In the silence, a young couple enters the shrine, paying respects while the omnic watches and Hanzo ponders what life would have been had he trained his brother instead of trying to protect him.

 

“The first time he mentioned you,” the omnic says after the couple leaves, “he had just come out of a panic attack because he was trying to work up the nerve to show me his scars, even though I had already seen them. He did not know that; it was the first sign of trust he gave me. It was not until last year that he told me more; about your childhood, growing up together, your diverging paths... the clan’s order to kill him.”

 

“It was my decision,” Hanzo murmurs, numb. “He was rebellious, and the clan warned me that if I did not intervene, they would. It was my duty to uphold the clan’s honour.”

 

“Duty,” the omnic echoes quietly. “Orders. Expectations... It is a difficult life for one to be beholden to the will of another. We are not so different, you and I; both were once servants of those whose goals required our hands to be bathed in blood.”

 

“We are nothing alike,” Hanzo growls, barely pushing down the drowning sensation clawing at his throat. The omnic raises a pacifying hand, dipping its head in acquiescence.

 

“There is hope for you, Hanzo,” it says simply, convicted. “Just as there was for me, for Genji. He has come so far from the man he was when we met, and I know it is possible for you too.”

 

“I am beyond redemption,” he argues, shaking his head. “I killed my brother.”

 

“You tried. You failed. The Iris is not done with either of you.” Hanzo scowls at that, looking away, and after a moment, it seems the omnic gives up; “Genji and I have joined Overwatch. If what I hear is correct, your skills could be put to great use in the same organisation. Think on it, and if you find yourself curious, go to Gibraltar; your presence will be noticed. It was an honour to meet you, Hanzo.”

 

✫✫✫

 

REDEMPTION

 

“Y’all are so affectionate, I’m smothered.” Genji chuckles as he draws his knees up, giving Jesse room to sit at the end of the couch in the lounge.

 

“And yet, you find every excuse to interrupt,” he teases, smirking at his friend as he plops his feet down on Jesse’s lap the moment he’s settled.

 

“Watch it,” the cowboy grouses, holding his plate of macarons out of the way.

 

“There is a correlation between the times we show affection and the times you seek us out,” Zenyatta purrs, setting his book aside and running his hand over the close-cut scruff of dark hair on Genji’s head. His other hand is laced with Genji’s on the ninja’s chest.

 

“Maybe cuz the only times I can seek you out are the times you’re bein’ affectionate,” Jesse retorts, popping a macaron in his mouth and then offering one to Genji.

 

“Thank you. Did your mission go well? Clearly you came back in one piece.”

 

“And achin’ like that time I got hit by a truck,” Jesse mutters around a mouthful. Genji laughs.

 

“You were hit by a truck?” Zenyatta asks, tipping his head curiously. Genji answers while Jesse grimaces and swallows his cookie.

 

“We finished a mission for Blackwatch flawlessly and on our way back, a child chased her toy into the street. He threw his equipment at me and pushed her out of the way. How many bones did you break again?”

 

“Three,” Jesse humphs. “And one of ‘em was my orbital bone; couldn’t see for a week, couldn’t go on missions for a month.”

 

“A noble sacrifice,” Zenyatta chuckles, tracing a line down the bridge of Genji’s nose and then up along his brow and down across his cheekbone. The ninja sighs and closes his eyes, leaning into the touch, and Jesse rolls his own.

 

“Forget cookies; gonna get cavities just bein’ around you two.”

 

“Not from all your smoking?” Genji retorts, cracking open an eye to look at him.

 

“Don’t you start knockin’ my bad habits now,” Jesse warns, pinching the ninja’s thigh roughly and making him jerk. Genji swatts his hand away, snickering. “‘Sides, you ain’t got room to talk, masochist; seeking out pain like you’re addicted.”

 

“Masochist?” Zenyatta echoes, intrigued.

 

“I do not!” Genji protests, pushing up to his elbows to give Jesse a bland, warning look. “I sought death, and now I no longer seek it; that is all.”

 

“Uh-huh. Sure. I believe you.” The cowboy’s grin says otherwise, and Genji groans as he falls back on Zenyatta’s lap.

 

“Do not listen to him, Master; he is a fool and his eye must still be ruined.”

 

“Mm,” the monk hums, resting his hand on Genji’s chest again and returning the other to his hair. He’s clearly filing the information away for later use, and Jesse makes a mental note to encourage them toward Zenyatta’s room tonight; the wall between his and Genji’s rooms is far too thin for his liking.

 

“Please, listen to him; he’s absolutely right.”

 

Jesse jolts, heart stopping for a moment at the unexpected voice just behind him; he accidentally drops the macarons in the process, and turns a narrow look on the omnic leaning on the back of the couch.

 

“Damnit, 17; warn a guy!” he growls. “Give me a goddamn heart attack one of these days...”

 

“Such a shame,” Lynx says blandly, antennae twitching upward. “Whatever would the world do without a foxy gunslinger such as yourself?”

 

“Real funny, Lynx,” Jesse returns. “Look; you made me drop my cookies.”

 

“Oh the horror.”

 

“Leave him be, 17,” Zenyatta chuckles.

 

“But he’s so fun to taunt,” Lynx whines. If they had human expressions, Jesse doesn’t doubt they’d be pouting and batting their eyes like the shameless little brat they are. Cute, but still a brat.

 

“Seconded,” Genji snickers, nudging his shin against Jesse’s stomach.

 

“I am certain he is,” Zenyatta allows lightly, “but I would fear his retribution, were I you.”

 

“I dare him to try,” Lynx purrs, glancing at Jesse, who just flips them off. “No thanks, American; you’re not my type. And I doubt I’m yours. Hey, 2, before I get caught up in the banter and forget; someone’s in town that I think you’d be interested to see.”

 

“Oh?” Zenyatta looks up curiously.

 

“Looks like his curiosity got the better of him,” Lynx agrees. “Figured you’d want to know since I led him here and he’s talking to Winston right now.”

 

“Already?” Zenyatta asks, surprised.

 

“Who?” Jesse pipes up, too curious himself.

 

“Shimada Hanzo,” Lynx answers. Genji immediately stiffens, humour dying away completely to be replaced with something akin to terror. Zenyatta hushes him gently, smoothing the back of his hand against Genji’s cheek.

 

“He’s here?” Jesse exclaims, incredulous. The pain in his best friend’s voice when he finally opened up to them about what happened with his brother is still fresh in Jesse’s mind, as though it happened yesterday, not yesteryear. “And nobody thought to warn Genji?”

 

“It is fine, Jesse,” Genji says softly, voice strained. “I expected this.”

 

“Didn’t mean that to be quite as much of a bomb as it was,” Lynx speaks up apologetically, antennae dipped low. “Sorry.”

 

“Do not apologize,” Genji counters, shaking his head as he sits up. “It is better to hear it before I run into him.” He reaches for his helmet and mask, pulling them on quickly and quietly. Zenyatta lays a comforting hand on his arm.

 

“You do not have to face him yet, Genji; you can wait until you are ready.”

 

“I will never be ready,” the ninja says softly. “But I faced him once; I can do it again.”

 

“We’ll be right there with you, buddy,” Jesse says, setting the plate of gathered macarons on the end table and standing. “Whenever you’re ready.”

 

“Last I saw, they were headed to Winston’s office,” Lynx supplies helpfully. “If you don’t mind, 2; would you give this to him when you get a chance?” He holds out a small thumb drive. “I was on my way to deliver it, but now I don’t want to interrupt.”

 

“Of course,” Zenyatta nods, taking it. “When will you return?”

 

“I don’t know,” Lynx shrugs, antennae twitching. “Soon, probably; can’t resist sticking my non-existent nose into other people’s business, especially drama.”

 

“It will certainly be dramatic,” Genji says dryly. “It always is with Hanzo.”

 

✬✬✬

 

Jesse doesn’t have a clue what he was expecting, but nowhere even close to being on the list was seeing him again. There’s a precious few seconds when the three of them walk through the open door to Winston’s office and Hanzo hasn’t seen them yet that Jesse just stands there gawping like a fish out of water.

 

He hasn’t changed a bit, but for a proper streaking of grey at his temples and a heaviness around his broad shoulders like he carries the weight of the world on them, and Jesse is overcome with the need to draw him in and kiss away the stress. He holds his breath, as though that’ll keep Hanzo from noticing him so he can keep drinking in the view.

 

“Hanzo,” Genji says quietly, shattering the spell. Hanzo jerks around to look at his brother, a flicker of hesitant disbelief in his gorgeous dark eyes before they shift slightly past Genji and widen in utter shock.

 

“You...” he breathes.

 

“Me,” Jesse grimaces agreement. Genji glances between them, perplexed.

 

“You... know each other?”

 

“In the biblical sense,” Jesse admits sheepishly. “Hell, Genji, I didn’t know he was your brother... Now it’s all kinds of awkward.”

 

“Speak for yourself, American,” Hanzo says coolly, gaze narrowed sharply. “I presume you are the one who saved my brother’s life?”

 

“Guilty as charged, sir,” Jesse nods. “Never woulda guessed you two are related.”

 

“I thought I would be the awkward one,” Genji murmurs to Zenyatta, who’s watching with far more amusement than he has a right to feel in this situation. Jesse gives them both a dark look that says he doesn’t appreciate the lack of help.

 

"I, uh... I see I don't need to worry about introductions," Winston clears his throat, cutting into the growing tension. "By Agent Shimada- er, Genji's recommendation, Hanzo will be joining us as a member of Overwatch. There'll be a probationary period, of course, at the end of which an assessment will be made based on the reports and opinions of those who work with Hanzo. So find a way to get along, McCree."

 

"Ain't no problem here, boss," Jesse says, raising his hands. "I can put aside the past. How 'bout you, darlin'?" Hanzo stiffens, features tightening as his hand twitches toward the bow hung over one shoulder.

 

"Do not call me that and yes, I will put the past aside."

 

"Sure thing, sugar," Jesse grins, unable to resist giving him one last jab. Genji elbows him roughly in the side and he huffs in pain, moving away from the attack.

 

"Behave," Genji chides.

 

"Yes, Dad," Jesse scoffs, rolling his eyes.

 

"Then it's settled!" Winston says hurriedly before anyone else can speak. "Genji, would you mind showing your brother around? Zenyatta, I'd like to discuss something, if you have a moment."

 

"Of course," Zenyatta purrs, touching Genji's shoulder once more before floating a little closer to Winston; Jesse isn't sure he's seen the former monk walk since the days following Mondatta's assassination. "I also received a data packet from Lynx for you; they did not want to interrupt your meeting."

 

"Oh, perfect timing!"

 

While they get into it, Genji stares at Hanzo, and Hanzo stares back, leaving Jesse feeling a bit like a third wheel. Before he can crack a joke to ease things, Hanzo looks away and takes a breath.

 

"I suppose I should first ask where I will be staying," he says, a faltering in his tone that speaks of a timidity Jesse didn't know he could possess; he'd been so confident and self-assured that night, if a bit jaded.

 

"Ah, yes; this way," Genji says, equally hesitant. He leads the way toward the living quarters, and Jesse trails along after Hanzo, who promptly turns an irritated glance at him.

 

"Do you not have anything better to do?"

 

"No, sir," Jesse answers easily. "I promised Genji I'd stick with him through this."

 

A spark of guilt lights in Hanzo's eyes as he quickly looks away, jaw clenched. It brings Jesse's attention to the ever-perfect, excellently trimmed beard that he suddenly longs to feel against his lips; against his neck, his chest, his-

 

"Whatcha been up to these last ten or so years, if'n you don't mind my askin'?" Jesse speaks up into the silence, half to chase it away, half to drown out his own thoughts.

 

"I mind," Hanzo answers shortly.

 

"He was an assassin for hire," Genji replies in his stead. "And most of his time was spent dismantling the Shimada empire." He glances over his shoulder. "I asked Lynx for information."

 

"Who is Lynx?" Hanzo scowls, guarded and defensive.

 

"A friend of Zenyatta's," Jesse answers, "and the one who brought you here. Lynx Seventeen is an omnic hacker who mostly works for Volskaya Industries, but occasionally handles information for Overwatch. Ain't nobody can dig up dirt on somebody quite like them."

 

"Except Sombra," Genji points out. "She is ever an opportunist."

 

"Feel kinda sorry for her, to be honest..."

 

"Why?" Genji turns, walking backwards for a moment.

 

"Girl had a shit life, did what she had to to survive, and now the world hates her for it," Jesse sighs. "Don't blame her for it myself... but I ain't denyin' she's a threat; make no mistake."

 

"Mm. We can hardly judge her, considering our own pasts," Genji agrees, turning back around in time to turn the corner into the living quarters. Jesse does his best not to notice how Hanzo is staring between them like they're one of those interlocking puzzles he's trying to figure out.

 

“There are not many rooms here,” Hanzo frowns as they make their way down the hall toward the empty rooms after Zenyatta’s and D.va’s, the two newest recruits.

 

“This is just for the onsite agents,” Jesse replies. “The special agents, if you will; most of the staff lives nearby, so they got nine-to-five’s. Us special few are basically on-call 24/7. We eat, live and breathe this stuff, but don’t worry; we got plenty o’ downtime.”

 

“Hana Song is our newest after you,” Genji says, stopping beside a half-open door and tipping his head toward the door across the hall, which is decorated in stickers and posters. “You will most likely go through orientation together, but she is already a full agent, so she outranks you.”

 

“Not that rank really matters ‘round here,” Jesse scoffs. “Technically, I outrank everyone here but Winston and Tracer. But really, no one pulls rank ‘less we’re out in the field and in immediate danger.”

 

“Thank you,” Hanzo says in a clipped tone, like it isn’t something he says often. He doesn’t look at either of them as he slips into the room and hesitates to close the door. “...Schedule?”

 

“Standard times are posted on the backs of every door,” Jesse answers, gesturing. “When the cafeteria and training center are open, when we go through team-building exercises; all there. You’ll get an individualised schedule by the end of the week.” Hanzo nods, still not looking at them, and closes the door quietly.

 

Genji breathes a sigh of relief after they’ve moved back down the hall, away from Hanzo’s room, and stops for a moment, gripping Jesse’s wrist tightly in a trembling grasp.

 

“Thank you, Jesse,” he says softly, heartfelt.

 

“You’re my best friend, Genji; it was my pleasure,” he assures.

 

“You did not have to stay when you realised he was a one-night stand.”

 

“Aw, shucks, buddy; if I ran from every one-nighter, I’d never get anything done,” Jesse laughs, pointedly ignoring the unusual pit in his chest.

 

“Slut,” Genji scoffs, a teasing note in his voice.

 

“Like you can talk, playboy,” Jesse returns rapidfire, bumping his shoulder against the ninja’s. Genji laughs as well, and Jesse considers this event a success; no one died, and his best friend isn’t heading into town for a drink. Now the question is whether or not Jesse needs one, because all he can think about is getting a repeat of that night so long ago.

 

✬✬✬

 

Why does he have to be here? Hanzo sits heavily on the end of the thin mattress and rubs both hands over his face, already exhausted. He thought two months was long enough to know for sure that Overwatch is his best chance at redemption, but now the doubts are creeping back in, and that man’s presence does nothing to help.

 

That man ― McCree ― was his first and only. Unlike Genji, who had enough free reign to be something of a playboy in his youth, sleeping around with anyone who caught his fancy, male or female, Hanzo never had that freedom. Never had the opportunity to explore himself. The few times he managed to sneak out to bars or clubs, he always lost his nerve whenever someone approached, no matter who it was.

 

Except McCree. But to be fair, Hanzo was entirely too drunk that night when McCree slid into the booth across from him with a charming smile and a sweet personality; Hanzo had no chance. And when he awoke after, the realisation of what he’d done sent him running, never to sneak out again.

 

Maybe he’s interested in men, or maybe he’s only interested in McCree. Either way, having to spend day after day with him will no doubt drive Hanzo mad.

 

Not to mention Genji’s proximity; if the need to fall into McCree’s bed again doesn’t destroy him, the flood of guilt for the things he did to his brother certainly will.

 

He should never have let that omnic talk him into this.

 

But then, it wasn’t the omnic that talked him into joining Overwatch; he did that himself. The omnic merely presented an opportunity.

 

Hanzo falls back on the bed with a heavy sigh. This is clearly the worst idea he has ever had, but he can hardly back out now, not after he promised Winston his best; his honour is at stake. Why he ever thought it would be worthwhile is a complete and utter mystery, but now he’s in up to his neck, and he’s going to have to learn how to swim, or else drown.

 

After several minutes of chasing his thoughts around in circles, he sits up and grabs his bow and quiver. If his mind won’t be quiet, then he’ll make use of it.

 

It takes him a hesitant request for directions and several wrong turns to find the training center, and when he does, he almost backs out entirely; one area is closed off for the use of a slender young woman with brown hair and something circular strapped to her chest, but the main area is occupied by Genji and McCree. They finish whatever routine they’re going through, which results in Genji pinning McCree to the floor, and then, as they separate with mutual laughter, each pulls out a more deadly weapon; Genji his wakizashi, and McCree an enormous revolver.

 

"Sure ya wanna try this again, amigo?” McCree asks with a grin. “Last time I dented your armour, Angela ‘bout threw a fit.”

 

“You will not dent my armour this time,” Genji chuckles, readying his blade. “ Kakugo; itsu demo koi!

 

“Suit yourself,” McCree smirks, rolling his shoulder and holding his gun at the ready.

 

Hanzo stares in abject horror. Surely the American isn’t really going to shoot Genji. An arrow may outrun a bullet, but a blade has no chance.

 

McCree and Genji stay in a stand-off for several tense seconds, and then McCree draws and fires with blinding speed, emptying the revolver at Genji. Hanzo takes an abortive step forward, but his brother is already reacting, wakizashi shifting just so to deflect every single bullet. Two hit the wall behind him, three pierce the floor between them, and the last pings off the floor at McCree’s feet, making him dance back with a clumsy sort of grace that Hanzo finds almost endearing, before he realises his thought and pushes it firmly out of his mind.

 

“Watch it, Shimada!” the American scolds, laughing anyway.

 

“Sorry,” Genji replies smugly, sheathing his blade.

 

“You ain’t sorry, you little prick,” McCree retorts goodnaturedly. Then he catches sight of Hanzo and his grin falters. “Oh... Didn’t see you there, dar- ah... Han.”

 

“Hanzo,” Genji greets, an uncertain edge beneath his otherwise welcoming tone.

 

“The place is occupied,” Hanzo says, a touch sharper than he intended, but he’s too busy struggling to hide the wild spur of unnameable emotions inside himself to maintain control of his voice as well. “I will return another time.”

 

“No, please-”

 

“Don’t worry about it,” McCree says at the same time, overlapping Genji. They exchange glances, and McCree nods slightly, deferring.

 

“There is plenty of room, Hanzo,” Genji says, gesturing to the center as a whole. “Tracer needs her own space to practice because she warps time, but the rest of the facility is available.” Hesitating, he adds, “There are simulations that can be run if you would like a moving target.” Hanzo frowns curiously without meaning to, and Genji looks toward the ceiling. “Athena, run simulation A-dash-3K on easy, please.”

 

“Authorisation required,” a lovely female voice replies, startling Hanzo, who looks around for the source instinctively.

 

“Agent Shimada Genji, authorising for probationary agent Shimada Hanzo.”

 

“Authorisation accepted. Welcome, Agents Shimada. Running simulation A-dash-3K on easy.”

 

Genji gestures to McCree as the lights dim, and the American moves out of the way, against the wall. A figure pixelates into view at the far end of the room, and Genji flicks his wrist, releasing a trio of shuriken, one of which he flings at the figure. The shuriken flies into the center of the figure, which bursts into pixels of light as the shuriken clatters harmlessly to the floor where it just was.

 

“That is one,” Genji notes, glancing at Hanzo. “To zero.”

 

It’s a game, Hanzo realises. Or at least, Genji is making it a game. Just as when they were children. The long-buried competitive streak in Hanzo blazes to the surface, and he draws and fires his arrow before the next figure is even fully formed.

 

“One to one,” he corrects. Genji gives a soft laugh and shifts his stance.

 

“Athena, raise the difficulty with every enemy downed.”

 

“Understood; setting simulation to adaptive mode. What keyword would you like for shutdown?”

 

“Set keyword to ‘halt,’” Genji decides, rolling his shoulders a bit.

 

“Keyword set. Begin.”

 

Genji’s shuriken catches the next figure a fraction of a second before Hanzo’s arrow would have hit. After that, it’s a race to see who can get to each figure first, until multiple figures appear at once, and then it becomes a race to see who can get the most.

 

Only when the figures outnumber the brothers twenty to one do they finally stop, Genji calling out the keyword as he plops down on the ground in exhaustion. Hanzo follows suit, slumped over on his knees with only the bow keeping him up. Both of them are panting heavily, and Genji suddenly starts laughing. Hanzo casts a tired, baffled glance at him, which only makes him laugh harder.

 

“Calm down there, amigo,” McCree smiles fondly, standing over them now. He kicks lightly at Genji’s hip. “You sound like a madman.”

 

“I am,” Genji snickers. “I have not defeated my brother in over twenty years; tell me you would not be giddy in my position.”

 

“Defeated?” Hanzo sputters, drawing himself up. “I destroyed nine more than you.”

 

“You miscounted,” Genji scoffs. “And I took out four sets of doubles.”

 

“That is not even possible,” Hanzo retorts. “Hard light does not work like that.”

 

“You underestimate my skills, brother,” Genji chuckles, stretching to pat Hanzo’s knee. “Jesse, help me up.” He raises his hand, and McCree complies, taking it and pulling him to his feet.

 

“Show-off,” McCree chuckles, thumping his shoulder. “Need a hand?” He offers one to Hanzo, who can’t think for a moment; between the casual touch of someone he almost murdered, and the automatic banter, and the easy way McCree reaches out for him...

 

Something inside him shatters. He turns away and pushes to his feet without help, walking out of the room with a buzzing in his head that drowns out anything McCree or Genji might have said. He’s not even sure where he’s going, until he takes a deep shuddering breath and realises he smells flowers.

 

A garden. Large, and well-maintained. He glances around, but he seems to be alone, so he sets his bow against a whitewashed stone wall and takes hesitant steps deeper into the garden. He pauses beside a rose bush with large orange-pink blossoms and reaches out to brush a finger lightly over the petals.

 

“Your brother loves those roses.” Hanzo whirls to face the newcomer, grabbing for his bow, and relaxes only slightly when he sees the omnic floating nearby, watching him.

 

“There are no cherry trees,” Hanzo notes, pointedly ignoring the roses now.

 

“No, there are not,” the omnic hums, allowing him to change the subject. “It is most unfortunate; I would love to see that beauty here.”

 

“You have seen them?”

 

“I was in Hanamura with Genji last year,” the omnic explains. “I understand I missed the falling of the spring blossoms. I would love to see one transplanted here, but I fear the climate may not suit it.”

 

“Actually, it would not be out of place,” Hanzo says, shaking his head lightly. “The blossoms fell late in Hanamura this year; the weather here is not so different. It would not be the same, but it would still be pretty.”

 

“Mm. I would like that,” the omnic sighs, turning his faceplate up toward the evening sky.

 

Hanzo watches him, mildly perplexed as to why this omnic seems to be so interested in him. It occurs to him that he’s given the omnic a gender, and he tells himself it’s because it’s easier. Or maybe because the omnic is so closely related to Genji.

 

Breathing in, he clenches his fist and pushes his brother from his mind.

 

“It will take time, you know,” the omnic says suddenly.

 

“What will?” Hanzo asks quietly, certain he already knows.

 

“Healing,” the omnic answers. “It took Genji years, and he only managed it with my help. There is no shame in asking.”

 

“I do not need help; I do not need healing,” Hanzo growls.

 

“We all need healing, Hanzo. At some point in our lives. You are stronger than most, to have come this far without seeking it.”

 

“Because there is nothing to seek!”

 

“Then why did you run?” the omnic asks pointedly. “From Genji? From Jesse? You are running from the very things you need, and unless you stop running, you will always feel as you do now.”

 

“You do not know how I feel,” Hanzo hisses, reaching for his bow again.

 

“...Guilty,” the omnic says after a moment, voice low and pained. “Drenched in blood that should never have been spilt. Angry. The world is a cruel place that fosters enmity where love belongs. Hateful. You do not belong here, where everything you do hurts someone new. Cowardly. No matter how hard you wish for it, death terrifies you. Hanzo... I know exactly how you feel... because I was you. Not a day goes by that I do not think of every life snuffed out by my hands on someone else’s orders. Not a day goes by that I do not ache for every soul I destroyed. I did not even know their names; I still do not. And that is a burden I carry that even Genji cannot lighten.”

 

Hanzo can’t breathe. Every word sits on his chest like a brick, multiplying and pressing down on him, crushing him with the truth even as he tries to deny it.

 

“You are as broken as he was, filled with rage and hatred, and only your self-imposed penance has kept you from falling apart. What will you do when the Shimada empire is no more? Will it ever truly end, unless you and Genji are dead? Can you kill your brother, again? For the very thing that nearly killed him once? You cannot continue like this, Hanzo, and I know you know it; one day, there will be nothing left. Not of your mission, and most certainly not of you.”

 

“...Why are you saying these things?” Hanzo tries to demand the answer, but his voice comes out soft, trembling.

 

“Because it is time to face yourself,” Zenyatta says gently. “And you will never be able to unless someone opens your eyes. Trust me; for better or worse, you will thank me when you have finally come to terms with who you are. I believe in the Harmony... the goodness of your soul. Do you?”

 

✫✫✫

 

Hanzo's first mission is a complete train wreck. It started out well enough; a simple extraction two weeks after he first arrived, just a quick in-and-out to retrieve an omnic with information on its processor that couldn't be allowed to fall into the wrong hands. Then he found out McCree would be his captain and he very nearly pleaded to be removed from the mission. Worse, Zenyatta was their medic. His only relief was that D.va ― the popular gamer girl Hana Song ― was his partner. They've been training together a lot over the past two weeks, so he thought it would help to have someone to talk to that wasn't his one-night-stand or the only person he truly feared now.

 

Then everything fell apart when they found out the target was already dismantled and its processor missing. Zenyatta radiated anger when they found the omnic's body, and Hanzo actually dared to step around McCree in order to hide from him.

 

And then the ambush was sprung, which led to the current situation, with D.va down and everyone else pinned.

 

"Han, don't you have that multi-arrow?" McCree calls across the hall between them that's so full of bullets they can't even peek without risking a lucky shot to the eye.

 

"It is called a scatter arrow, and no," Hanzo growls back. "It was supposed to be a simple mission; I only brought regular arrows and two sonic arrows."

 

"Sonic arrows?"

 

"For detection," Hanzo clarifies dryly. He taps the monocle eye piece stuck to his temple that lets him see the ripples produced by the reflections of sound and energy off warm bodies.

 

"...Zen, what d'you need for those discord balls of yours?"

 

"Only line of sight and two seconds to cast it," the omnic sharing his cover replies. "It is the same for a healing orb; four seconds to cast discord on an enemy and healing on Miss Song."

 

"Get ready, then; I'm gonna buy you five," mcCree says grimly, checking his revolver. "Hanzo, the moment I'm out of cover, they're gonna focus me; use that and get a sonic arrow in there to find out how many there are and where they're hiding. Keep us updated. Zen, be ready on my mark."

 

Hanzo hates this plan, but at the moment he can't come up with anything better, so he readies a sonic arrow and nods as Zenyatta pulls two orbs from the circle around his neck and fills one with golden healing energy, the other with dark, deadly energy.

 

"Three," McCree counts, "two, one; GO!" Darting out from behind the wall, he tucks into a neat roll toward an overturned table that won't last more than a few short seconds under the barrage of bullets that follows him. Hanzo whips around the corner and fires the sonic arrow down the corridor where the enemy are hiding, and Zenyatta flings the golden orb at D.va, huddled behind a statue in the middle of the room. The sonic arrow activates as it hits the ground, sending out pulses that create a visual guide to everything in the area, laid out plainly on the screen of Hanzo's eyepiece. He draws back a regular arrow and fires just as someone peeks around the corner, hitting them square through the eye.

 

"There!" he calls to Zenyatta, pointing even as he draws back another arrow. The dark orb flies forward and clings to the target while Hanzo takes out two more, leaving only three, including the one now cursing in the corner and shouting rudely at their companions.

 

McCree darts into the area, firing his revolver, and Hanzo wants to curse as well, rushing after the man to provide backup. Fortunate, because someone was outside the range of the now depleted sonic arrow, and they take aim at McCree while his back is turned. Without hesitation, Hanzo nocks an arrow and lets it loose, making McCree falter and duck reactively. The arrow strikes dead center body mass, and the shot goes wild as the enemy falls.

 

"Damn... Little warning next time, darlin'?" the American huffs, shaken.

 

"Jesse," Zenyatta calls before Hanzo can reply. A good thing, probably, since Hanzo's tongue is tied by the pet name that he enjoys far too much for his own sanity.

 

"Got him?" McCree is already gone, striding over to the omnic and leaving Hanzo struggling to maintain his self control.

 

"He is restrained," Zenyatta reports. "I must ask that you save the interrogation for later, however; Miss Song is badly in need of more medical care than I can provide."

 

"We'll get her back to Angela," McCree nods. "Hanzo, you've got rear guard; Zen take point. I'll carry Hana."

 

"I can walk just fine on my own!" D.va protests, swatting his hands away. But when she tries to stand, she has to stifle a yelp and grabs at her side.

 

"I'm sure you can," McCree says gently, "but for the sake of expediency, I'm gonna carry you, alright?"

 

"Fine," she grumbles, reluctantly allowing him to scoop her up in an easy bridal carry. Hanzo tries not to feel jealous as he follows, one arrow nocked and another prepared.

 

They make it back to the carefully camouflaged transport quickly and without issue, but as they near it, Zenyatta suddenly stops and whirls.

 

"Hanzo!" The warning is just enough for Hanzo to turn before something sharp and hot pierces his shoulder. He hisses, bow coming up, but there was no gunshot, so there's no way to know which direction it came from. As he quickly scans his surroundings, a dizziness settles over him, followed by a faint but growing nausea.

 

Abruptly he realises he's been poisoned, and he drops the bow to grab at his shoulder, yanking out the tiny dart embedded there.

 

"Han!" Strong arms wrap around him as he stumbles, the dizziness becoming too much. He blinks, trying to focus his dazed vision on the face above him, but there are too many stars, and darkness is creeping in, and his head is pounding now, ears ringing... The world is swaying and rocking and spinning all at once, and it's all he can do now to hold back the nausea.

 

It takes him far too long to claw his way up from the drowning darkness, fighting against the nausea every step of the way, struggling even to breathe, but when he finally comes up, he's still frustratingly disoriented, and the blindingly white walls don't help.

 

"Han? He's awake! Ange, he's up!"

 

“I heard you the first time; move.” Cool hands touch Hanzo’s cheek and neck even as he scrambles wildly for his bow. “Calm down, Hanzo; you’re safe.”

 

Hesitating, he looks up at the woman pushing him gently back down, blinking against the glare of the lights behind her. She frowns and glances over her shoulder.

 

“Jesse, lower the lights, please.”

 

A sigh of relief escapes Hanzo as the lights dim and he can make out the vaguely familiar features of Angela Zeigler, the primary healer and caretaker of Overwatch. They’ve only met once or twice in the past few weeks, but her presence now can’t mean anything good.

 

“D.va...” he begins, trying to get up.

 

“Is fine,” Angela says firmly, pushing against his shoulder. “Stay down; that poison should have killed you. You’re lucky Zenyatta is so talented in the field; he kept you and Hana stabilised far longer than most medics would be able to.”

 

“What happened?” Hanzo asks, allowing her to guide him back down on the surprisingly comfortable cot.

 

“Ask Jesse,” Angela hums, peeling back the gauze on his shoulder to check the angry red lump around a pinpoint hole oozing clear liquid streaked with blood. “Mm, good, good; you’re healing well. One more day, I think.”

 

“...McCree...?” Hanzo speaks up reluctantly, not daring to look at the man. “How long have I been unconscious?”

 

“...Too long,” McCree answers quietly.

 

“How long?”

 

“...Two days and change,” he admits finally, a note of pain in his tone.

 

“D.va is... truly alright?” Now Hanzo turns his head to look at the American, aching with the thought that by distracting McCree with his own injury, the former gamer might have been hurt more.

 

“She’s fine,” McCree assures, reaching out as though to touch his shoulder but stopping. “Missin’ her training partner, though I’m pretty sure she ain’t admittin’ it any time soon.” He gives Hanzo a hesitant, careful smile. “Complained that nobody got aim like you.”

 

“And Zenyatta?” It sticks in his throat to ask, but not for the same reason as it would have two weeks ago.

 

“Totally fine,” McCree answers, voice and smile straining. “No damage. Came out better than the rest of us, you ask me.”

 

“The rest- Did you-?” Hanzo shoves himself up to his elbows, and promptly sinks back with a groan, head spinning.

 

“Easy, easy there, darlin’,” McCree says quickly, raising his hands and settling on the edge of the cot as Angela murmurs something about getting sedatives and leaves the room. McCree waves her off absently, focused on Hanzo. “Hey, relax... You’re gonna need all your strength to match up against D.va once you’re back on your feet.”

 

Hanzo grunts dismissively, wanting nothing more at the moment than for this headache to end. He pressed his hands to his eyes, trying to push it back, and a question forms on his tongue against his will, sliding away before he can stop it.

 

“You were hurt?”

 

“Just a scratch,” McCree scoffs, voice a bit lighter now. “Had to get the guy who shot you ‘fore he got the rest of us, you know? Got in a little tussle; nothin’ to worry about. Just glad you’re okay.”

 

“I will be,” Hanzo grumbles, dropping his hands and glaring at the ceiling. “When my head stops spinning and I can see straight.”

 

McCree laughs, and a small, pleased smile tugs at Hanzo’s lips before he realises and hides it, turning away. He jolts internally when a warm, calloused hand settles on his wrist and grips for just a moment.

 

“Don’t be a pain, eh? Let Ange work her magic and you’ll be up and about ‘fore ya know it.” Standing, McCree heads for the door, his spurs a pleasant melody in the quiet. Hanzo turns just enough to watch him leave, trying hard to ignore the heaviness in his chest and biting his lip to keep from calling out.

 

It is only the residual poison making you weak, needy...

 

He can tell himself that as many times as he wants. It doesn’t stop him from feeling so very alone when the door closes behind McCree.

 

✫✫✫

 

“How long were you going to wait to tell me you are in love with my brother?” Jesse glances up at the question, scowling to hide the way his heart leaps in his chest.

 

“The heck are you talkin’ about?” he asks blandly, returning to the pieces of the Peacemaker that he’s cleaning and polishing before he reassembles it.

 

“I am damaged, Jesse, but not blind,” Genji returns, stepping into the room and dropping into Jesse’s chair. “Zenyatta told me what happened.”

 

Jesse pauses just as he sets down a finished piece, holding his breath for a second too long, and then picks up the next piece as casually as he can.

 

“Oh yeah?” he hums. “What’d he say happened?”

 

“You went into a rage and very nearly beat the man to death with your fists,” Genji says pointedly. “Not once in all our years together have you... ‘lost your shit,’ to borrow your crude language. I have always known you have a storm of a temper, but you have the longest fuse of anyone I have ever met, excepting perhaps Zenyatta...”

 

“You got a point, Genji?” Jesse interjects on the pause, glancing up again in mild exasperation. The ninja leans forward, bracing his elbows on his knees. Even though he can’t see it behind the mask, Jesse can feel the ninja’s gaze boring into him.

 

“You were furious that Hanzo was injured. Add to that the fact that you never take your eyes off of him while in the same room?”

 

“You seriously think I’m in love with your brother?” Jesse asks, refusing to admit it, even to himself. “The guy I slept with once , years ago, and only know the vaguest details about because of what little you can stand to share? How can I be in love with someone I don’t even know?”

 

“You are a terrible liar,” Genji hums, unamused.

 

“Genji,” Jesse sighs, really exasperated now. “He’s been here two weeks. Ain’t even enough time for you to stop flinching whenever he walks into the room, much less to fall in love.”

 

"The process of my healing has nothing to do with your feelings for him and you know it," Genji returns. "Jesse. I have been in your shoes; I understand the feeling."

 

"It ain't like that," Jesse insists. "Besides, even if it was, like hell I'd go behind your back and date the guy who tried to kill you."

 

"You are making excuses, Jesse McCree," Genji scolds sharply. "Do not dare make this about me when you know very well it is your own cowardice preventing you from seeking what you desire."

 

"He doesn't want me!" Jesse snaps, dropping the piece of his gun and turning a dark look on his friend. "He made that clear the morning after, and again when we met for real. I ain't about to push myself on anyone that don't want it just as bad as I do, and don't even try to tell me he does; you think he avoids you like the plague, then you ain't been watchin' to see how fast he runs when I enter the room. He don't want nothing to do with me, so fine; we're both part of Overwatch and that's it."

 

"Jesse..."

 

"Don't even start," he cuts in, standing and roughly scrubbing cleaning oil from his hands. "You got lucky with Zen; I used up all my luck in my teens and now all I got left is bad karma."

 

"There is nothing 'lucky' about pining for seven years," Genji growls, also standing. "Nothing 'lucky' about knowing from the very start that he must be the one to make the first move. I am blessed and fortunate, not 'lucky,' and you cannot expect the world to cater to you out of sympathy; if you do not confront him, you will only suffer."

 

"Like you can talk," Jesse scoffs; it's a low blow, but it's off his tongue before he can stop it. "How long did it take us to convince you to go see him in Hanamura and let him know you're alive?"

 

Genji recoils visibly, and Jesse immediately regrets his words, but before he can do more than step forward and open his mouth, the ninja is gone, leaving him feeling like shit and hating himself even more. He paces for a moment, torn, but he can't let things stand like this; Genji is his best friend, and Jesse can't stand the thought of losing him like he lost Ashe.

 

Genji's room is empty, but that was expected, so Jesse goes to Zenyatta's room. He hesitates for a moment at the door, worried that Genji won't want to see him, but if he doesn't apologise now, it won't be any easier later. So he knocks.

 

"Enter," Zenyatta calls.

 

"Hey," Jesse greets sheepishly. Zenyatta is sitting cross-legged on the bed, and sets down his book when Jesse enters.

 

"Hello, Jesse. What can I do for you?"

 

"Er... where's Genji?" Jesse frowns, realising the ninja isn't here.

 

"He was with you," Zenyatta says, tipping his head. "Did something happen? You seem more unsettled than usual."

 

"I... I made a stupid mistake," Jesse admits, fidgeting with his belt buckle so his hands have something to do. "Said something I shouldn't have."

 

"Everyone makes mistakes," Zenyatta assures gently. "You came hoping to make amends?"

 

"Yeah..."

 

"Hmm." The former monk sits quietly for a moment, making Jesse all the more fidgety. "My guess would be the garden, but you might try the training center as well. If he is not in either of those places, he may well be visiting Hanzo."

 

That would surprise Jesse, if Genji hadn't been in the infirmary nearly as often as he was while Hanzo recovered. It makes sense actually, so with a nod of thanks, he heads there first.

 

"...out of line, Genji!" The harsh words stop Jesse with his hand on the door, and he falters, not wanting to intrude on an argument.

 

"I am not; I speak only truth!" Genji returns sharply. "How are you both so blind??"

 

"An unwillingness to acknowledge is not the same as blindness," Hanzo growls. "I see very well what my heart longs for, but I know I do not deserve it; I will not chase after what I have not earned."

 

"You do not even believe you deserve to live!" Genji exclaims, frustrated and angry. "How many opportunities for a better life have passed you by because of your stubbornness??"

 

"It is my penance," Hanzo says quietly, a cold edge to his voice. "The punishment for everything I have done, to you and to others."

 

"You were manipulated by the clan," Genji snarls.

 

"A willing pawn," Hanzo retorts. "I do not deserve any leniency-"

 

"What is wrong with you??" Genji cuts in furiously.

 

He continues in rapidfire Japanese, too quick for Jesse's highly limited knowledge to even catch the gist. Hanzo returns it, short and sharp, and they trade for several long seconds, growing more and more heated until Jesse can't stand it anymore; he knocks loudly and opens the door.

 

"Am I interrupting?" he asks, trying for a light, playful tone that sounds forced even to his own ears.

 

"We are done here," Genji hisses, mask still turned to Hanzo like he's glaring. Then he turns and leaves, shouldering roughly past Jesse in the process.

 

"...In some ways, he has not changed at all," Hanzo says quietly, sitting half-propped against the wall and absently rubbing his arm just below the bandage. "He is still passionate and hot-headed when he sets his mind to something."

 

“I’m sorry about that,” Jesse apologises timidly. “It’s my fault he’s in a mood.”

 

“You fought?” Hanzo asks, brows lifting in surprise.

 

“That such a surprise?” Jesse returns, leaning against the doorframe.

 

“You two seemed inseparable. Not even when we were children was Genji so open with anyone.”

 

“Gotta be my charm then,” Jesse grins in spite of himself. He can’t help it; around Hanzo, he just... reacts.

 

“You are incorrigible and reckless,” Hanzo scoffs, rolling his eyes. “What Genji saw in you will ever be a mystery.”

 

“You say that like you didn’t see som-” Jesse breaks off the moment he realises what he’s saying, but it’s too late; Hanzo stiffens and the tension in the room skyrockets.

 

Heavy silence hangs between them, thick and awkward, until Jesse clears his throat, hating himself for ruining the moment.

 

“I’ll, uh- I won’t keep you up,” he says unsteadily, rocking back and forth on his feet to remind himself to leave. “Gotta rest or Ange’ll never let you out.”

 

"Yes." Hanzo doesn't say anything else, doesn't even look at him, and Jesse finally leaves, feeling oddly cheated.

 

✬✬✬

 

"Now that Hanzo has recovered," Winston says loudly to get everyone's attention. The room settles, and Jesse glances across from his corner at where Genji and Zenyatta are sitting together.

 

He still hasn't gotten to apologise, since Genji holed up in his lover's room last night and refused to hear Jesse out. And at breakfast this morning, he didn't reply when Jesse tentatively greeted him, so it's safe to assume he's not forgiven yet.

 

"Now that Hanzo has recovered," Winston repeats once he has everyone's attention, "I figured we should probably touch base with everyone involved. Ah, yes, Genji?"

 

"If this is related to the last mission," the ninja says, lowering his hand, "why am I here?"

 

"And where is D.va?" Hanzo adds.

 

"I'm getting there," Winston promises, adjusting his glasses and glancing over the papers in his hand. "Firstly, based on Jesse's field assessment and the reports of Hanzo's teammates, he is officially a member of Overwatch. Welcome to the team, Hanzo."

 

" Arigato gozaimasu, Winston," Hanzo says, bowing slightly.

 

"Glad to have you. Second, and more important, I have here a report from Dr. Zeigler pertaining to the poison coating the dart that put Hanzo down for so long."

 

"It is not the worst thing to happen to me," Hanzo says lightly, easing the sudden tension in the room.

 

"I'd wait to hear what it is before I said that, if I were you," Winston rumbles solemnly. "I asked Lynx Seventeen to do a little digging once I got Dr. Zeigler's report... And coupled with our prisoner's testimony..." He hesitates, and Jesse scowls, not liking this at all. Winston sighs, setting the papers down and meeting Hanzo's gaze. "It doesn't look like the Shimada clan is done with you yet."

 

If the tension was stifling before, someone might drown now; it's pretty clear that no one appreciates this news, Hanzo least of all, and Jesse has to stop himself from going over to hug him.

 

"...I endangered the lives of my team," Hanzo says quietly, the faintest edge of horror behind his steady tone.

 

"Hanzo..." Winston begins uneasily.

 

"You did no such thing," Zenyatta states firmly, interjecting. All attention turns toward the former monk, who couldn't appear calmer. "Running away now, however, will endanger us; the clan clearly knows you are associated with Overwatch, and will continue to target us to get to you. If you think to draw them off by leaving, you sadly underestimate our skills, and overestimate your own. We are a team, Hanzo; more than that, we are a family, and we protect each other as such. We are safer together, and you are safer with us."

 

Hanzo shakes his head, fists clenched tight as his sides, and again Jesse has to push back the desire to embrace him, to soothe and comfort him.

 

“Han, at least let us try,” he says instead. “Ya got nothin’ to lose.”

 

“Yes,” Hanzo says, looking up at Genji, and then glancing at Jesse, a deep-seated pain behind his dark eyes. “I do.” Without waiting for a response, he leaves the room.

 

“...He’s gonna run,” Jesse notes grimly.

 

“How do you know?” Winston frowns.

 

“‘Cause I would, in his shoes.”

 

“But-”

 

“He just got his brother back after a decade, Winston,” Jesse cuts in, irritable. “He’s finally got somethin’ to protect and he ain’t lettin’ anyone hurt him now.”

 

“Where do you think he would go?” Zenyatta asks.

 

“I dunno,” Jesse dismisses, antsy and desperate to go . Where, he has no clue, but he wants out of here, and now.

 

“Think, Jesse,” the monk coaxes. “By the time one of us gets to his room, he will be gone, and knowing him is the only way we will be able to find him.”

 

“You’d know him better than me, apparently,” Jesse mutters.

 

“There are three people in the world who know my brother better than anyone else,” Genji speaks up. “They are in this room.”

 

“Ah, don’t look at me!” Winston says quickly. “I’ll, uh... I’ll leave you to it.” Clearing his throat, he leaves the room in a hurry.

 

“Think, Jesse,” Zenyatta says again.

 

“‘Bout what, Zen?” Jesse snaps. “The fact that everythang I touch goes ta hell, and that’s why I understand him? The fact that I’m the reason everyone I love suffers? Hell, only reason Genji got out of it is ‘cause o’ you. You-” Frustrated, he glances at the door, gauging the possibility of just leaving, but Genji shifts into the path, blocking him. “Ya know what? You’re right; I do understand him. And I know you ain’t gonna find him unless he wants to be found.”

 

“Mm. Unfortunately, I agree,” Zenyatta sighs. “He is a loner, like I was. He does not trust easily, and he will not stop until his mission is complete.”

 

“Destroying the Shimada empire,” Genji says grimly. 

 

“He has made up his mind,” Zenyatta agrees.

 

“He didn’t before?” Jesse scowls.

 

“Before, it was guilt that drove him,” Genji explains. “He wanted to make amends for what he did to me.”

 

“Now, as you said, he has something to protect,” Zenyatta adds. “He is determined to give his life if he must; his penance for the wrong he has done. That, I understand.”

 

“And I understand his rage,” Genji continues. “The hatred in his heart of the world, and most importantly, of himself and his part in everything that has happened.”

 

“But neither of us can quite comprehend who he has become,” Zenyatta states. “You saw a side of him years ago that we have never seen...”

 

“He is not the big brother I grew up with anymore.”

 

“Nor is he the lone warrior seeking to make amends.”

 

“He has become a guardian.”

 

“Whether he realises it or not.”

 

“Like you, Jesse,” Genji insists, reaching out to grip the cowboy’s shoulder.

 

When did he get so close? Jesse can’t think straight; they’re saying... He understands what they’re saying, logically. But it just isn’t clicking.

 

“You know him better than you are willing to admit,” Zenyatta says carefully. “You notice the finer details; his preference for tea over coffee, his gentler mood after training, the care he takes with his bow...” Jesse shakes his head reactively, trying very hard not to think about the juxtaposition of the tenderness with which Hanzo maintains his bow and arrows against the similar tenderness with which he took care of Jesse’s body so long ago.

 

“Jesse... We are not asking you to face your feelings,” Genji says gently. “Just tell us... where you would go. In his shoes.”

 

God, it’s so easy... Jesse can’t close his eyes without remembering the thinly veiled panic on Hanzo’s face when he was poisoned. Or the flood of rage that made him chase the assassin down and beat him to within an inch of his life before Zenyatta stopped him. Can’t forget his own fear of Hanzo’s death if he tried. And hell, he’s tried; tried to get rid of every thought of the man from his heart and soul only to turn around and find twenty more.

 

They may not be asking him to face his feelings, but it’s happening anyway. And he doesn’t even have to think to know what he’d do if the Deadlock gang threatened Hanzo or Genji or Zenyatta, or anyone else at Overwatch.

 

“Home,” he whispers, looking up at two of the most important people in his life. “I’d go home; take the fight to them, and make them regret ever threatening my loved ones. He’s goin’ straight to Hanamura.”

 

✬✬✬

 

Logically, Hanzo knows nothing about Hanamura has changed enough to make that much of a difference in the past year and more since his last visit, but it still feels different. It feels foreign now, in fact; more so than it ever has.

 

He’s the one that has changed. Spending a year staying as far from Hanamura as he can manage, followed by months of lost confusion that led him to Overwatch, and then the best fortnight of his entire life... The decade prior is so far eclipsed that it seems a ghostly nightmare almost faded from memory. Only the night he thought he ended his brother’s life stands out as vividly as ever, but for the first time, it fills him with a cold vengeance rather than hot, aching guilt.

 

Tonight, it all ends. The last of the Shimada elders will die, and what tenuous structure remains of the stripped and feeble empire will finally collapse. A task he’s never quite been able to push himself into completing before now. This time, there is no hesitation in his heart as he purchases a room for the night and goes out for some food; the decision is so solid in his mind that it feels blissfully normal to shop for a quick meal to enjoy in the comfort of his room until night falls.

 

However, when he returns to his room, he knows instinctively the moment he enters that he is not alone; someone else is here, and that can only mean that someone is aware of his business in Hanamura. He remains casual and at ease as he removes his shoes by the door. Then he places his bag beside the rice paper dividing screen separating the bed from the small, joined kitchenette/sitting room.

 

The instant a figure steps out behind him from around the screen, he drops to the floor, sweeping their feet out from under them and rolling on top to pin them to the floor, wrists gripped too tightly for them to attack.

 

“Easy, easy, darlin’!” Hanzo falters at the familiar voice leaving the lips of a face that is only vaguely familiar.

 

McCree is clean-shaven but for a thin goatee, and his hair has been trimmed and coloured lighter. He isn’t wearing any of his usual gear either; instead he has on something like a casual suit, and the only reason Hanzo knows the man has his gun is because he can feel it against his inner thigh, concealed under the jacket.

 

“What are you doing here, McCree?” he demands lowly, not yet moving or letting go. “How did you find me?”

 

“Lucky guess,” the American says, a faint huskiness deepening his voice as his dark gaze skips down to Hanzo’s lips and then back up to his eyes.

 

“Why do I not believe you?” Hanzo growls, glaring and hoping his body doesn’t mistake the situation.

 

“Believe it or don’t; it’s true,” McCree answers, shifting his legs up behind Hanzo’s back.

 

“Stop it!” Hanzo snaps, turning to elbow at his knees. The instant he lets go of McCree’s wrists, the man jolts, hips twisting, legs tangled with Hanzo’s and preventing him from adjusting to compensate. Then McCree is on top, pinning Hanzo to the floor.

 

“Why?” he hums, brow quirked. “You started it.”

 

You started it!” Hanzo retorts, pressing back but knowing that McCree’s superior weight gives him the advantage. “Thirteen years ago!”

 

“...You didn’t have to come back to my room with me,” the cowboy points out, voice lowered and sultry, sparking something equal parts eager and uneasy in Hanzo’s gut.

 

“You did not have to offer me a drink,” he hisses back, hating how easily he gives in and stops fighting.

 

"Guess we both made some compromisin’ decisions back then," McCree says, leaning a little closer. "You regret it?"

 

"Get off of me."

 

"Do ya?"

 

"I said, get off of me," Hanzo growls.

 

"Not until you answer the question," McCree replies. Hanzo purses his lips; there's no safe answer, and they both know it.

 

"... If I answer, you will get off?"

 

"Sure. If... you're honest."

 

And there is the crux of it. If Hanzo answers honestly, neither of them will want to move. And that isn't something Hanzo can deal with right now, not while the clan is still alive. But if he lies, McCree will know...

 

"... No. I do not regret it."

 

"Good. Neither do I."

 

Hanzo’s heart stops when McCree’s lips meet his, but they’re gone before he can react, and for a moment he stares at the American leaning over him, stunned by his audacity.

 

“...You said you would get off,” he notes pointedly, making one last attempt to maintain his dignity.

 

“Never said when,” McCree grins, and there goes the last shred of self-control Hanzo possessed.

 

“Why are you doing this?” he breathes, hyper-aware of every place where their bodies meet.

 

“Well... Technically I’m just s’posed to keep you busy while Genji, Zen and Lynx make quick work of whatshisface, that old guy you’re here to kill.”

 

“Shimada Nagato,” Hanzo supplies blandly. “So you are to seduce me while they steal my vengeance?”

 

“Seduce, no. At least, that’s not what they said,” McCree chuckles, thumbs rubbing gentle circles on the inside of Hanzo’s wrists. “The word they used was ‘occupy’; the seduction was my own decision.”

 

“You are still complicite in taking away my vengeance,” Hanzo points out. McCree’s grin falters and slides away with a sigh as he sits back on Hanzo’s thighs, to his surprise.

 

“Han... Look, I get it; wantin’ to make ‘em pay...” he says slowly, absently tracing the lines of Hanzo’s clothes across his chest. “But it ain’t gonna change anythang; you won’t feel any better after.”

 

“It has nothing to do with how I feel,” Hanzo says quietly, clenching his fists and fighting to keep his voice and breathing steady. “I have spent too long looking over my shoulder at every turn. I let them make me a monster; I will not let them hurt anyone else.”

 

“They won’t,” McCree assures, resting his hand on Hanzo’s sternum. “Pretty soon here, the last head of the hydra’ll be lopped off, and the rest of the body’ll wither and die.”

 

“Stubborn...” Hanzo huffs, surprised to find he isn’t angry; even just a year ago, he would have been furious at them all for this, but now all he feels is an odd sense of empty relief.

 

It’s over. Well and truly over.

 

“Who, me?” McCree hums, lips tipping up. “Why, ‘cause I refuse to let you get yourself killed?”

 

“Because you are incorrigible and relentless,” Hanzo scoffs. He moves his hands to McCree’s waist to push him off, but the American grabs his wrist in one hand, the other sliding up his chest and then to the floor at his shoulder.

 

“Would you believe me if I said I love you?”

 

The whispered question catches Hanzo off-guard entirely, and he stares, rolling the words over and over in his head as though that will make it easier to understand.

 

"What?"

 

"I love you, Hanzo," McCree murmurs, pulling Hanzo's hand to his lips and kissing the heel of his palm without breaking from his gaze. "Fell for you a long time ago and just couldn't put words to it, even for myself. Kept denyin' it and then hidin' it..."

 

"You cannot love me," Hanzo says without thought, still not quite processing what's happening.

 

“Why not?” McCree hums, lips moving to Hanzo’s inner wrist.

 

“You-” Hanzo blanks completely, gaze tracking every little kiss against his wrist. McCree even pushes his sleeve out of the way to gain access to more skin.

 

“You’re so wonderful...” McCree whispers, eyes closing as he breathes in. It twists something in Hanzo’s abdomen, and he takes a shuddering breath, terrified of the heat that sweeps through him.

 

“McCree... wait,” Hanzo murmurs, struggling not to shudder under the force of need .

 

“For what?”

 

“You cannot love me; you do not even know me,” Hanzo gasps as McCree nips at his wrist.

 

“That’s the excuse I used too,” the American humphs, pulling Hanzo’s hand up behind his neck and leaning down. “But I don’t need to know your favourite colour to know your heart is good. I was pissed, Hanzo; when you got poisoned, I ‘bout lost my mind. Never been more furious in my life, and I didn’t even give it a thought until Zen pulled me off that bastard ‘fore I killed him. I ain’t got a reason, darlin’. I can’t even say for sure what it is about you that I love; I just know. But I can damn well pinpoint the moment I knew.”

 

“When did you know?” Hanzo whispers in spite of himself, curling his fingers into the short hairs at the back of McCree’s neck. The cowboy smiles softly, the expression melting Hanzo.

 

“I knew when you kissed me back like you’d never get another chance.”

 

✫✫✫

 

Most of the evening is lost to a fog of desperation and surprising tenderness. Hanzo wakes to a gentle caress against his cheek, nose twitching at the scent of hot matcha nearby.

 

“Hey,” Jesse says softly, smiling when Hanzo stirs and blinks at him. “Thought you might like some tea. It ain’t perfect ― I’ll be the first to admit I got no skill if it ain’t instant ― but I got it close as I could.” He settles on the edge of the bed, one leg tucked under and the other knee drawn to his chest as he sets the cup on the floor within reach.

 

Hanzo grumbles and buries his face in the pillow, refusing to acknowledge the aftercare; as good as it was ― as caring and gentle as Jesse was ― a small part of him still hates how easily he gave in to the American’s advances. It’s as though nothing has changed in thirteen years; he still fell into Jesse’s bed with a few calculated touches and careful words.

 

And yet, in the same breath, when was the last time Hanzo felt so relaxed, so free of stress and worry? When was the last time he even slept properly?

 

Sitting up with a thoroughly annoyed sigh, he gives Jesse a bland glare. The man is shirtless, dressed only in his suit pants, and it takes everything Hanzo has not to let his gaze fall to the purple-red marks all over Jesse's torso.

 

"...I despise you with every fiber of my being." He picks up the tea and takes a small sip, careful of the heat. Jesse chuckles, resting one hand on the other side of Hanzo's legs so he can lean in and kiss Hanzo's cheek.

 

"I'll accept that," he grins, rubbing the backs of his fingers along Hanzo's wrist. "For now."

 

"Everything aches," Hanzo notes, gaze narrowing when Jesse snorts in amusement.

 

"We didn't even do anythang actually strenuous," the American points out. "You were just tense the whole time."

 

"Your bedside manner is incredibly lacking."

 

"Sorry, sorry," Jesse laughs. "Lemme try again... You were amazing, and perfect, and every little sound you made set me on fire. You look gorgeous with your hair down, especially with my mark on you."

 

A startled sort of panic makes Hanzo clap a hand to his neck, where Jesse's mouth has been several times in the past couple of hours.

 

"Relax, sweetheart," Jesse grins, reach over and nudging Hanzo's hand out of the way to touch a spot just below where he was grabbing. "I know you're big on appearances, so I made sure you can hide it. Can't exactly say the same for myself." He glances down at his chest and trails his fingers along his own neck, where Hanzo most definitely was not so conscientious about placement.

 

"You started it," Hanzo humphs, refusing now to feel pride in the fact that Jesse bears his marks.

 

"True," Jesse grins. "Don't mind in the slightest, though; nice to be claimed." His wink causes Hanzo to choke on his tea ― which is surprisingly decent, all things considered.

 

"That- that was not- I was not claiming you!" Hanzo stammers through his coughing. Jesse simply laughs, taking the cup before Hanzo accidentally spills the remaining tea.

 

"Are you sure?"

 

Two things happen at once: Jesse squawks in shock and flops over awkwardly, and Hanzo lunges out of bed to snatch his bow, arrow nocked, drawn, and aimed at the intruder squatting casually by the partly open window in an instant.

 

"Goddamnit, Lynx!" Jesse growls, relaxing when he sees who it is. "How many times I gotta tell you not to sneak up on me??"

 

"Apparently more than 27," the omnic answers easily, seeming unbothered by the fact that it was half a second from having an arrow through its skull. "Yes, I am counting."

 

"Fuck you," Jesse grumbles, waving Hanzo down.

 

"Didn't think you'd be up for it so soon," Lynx hums, amused. "And anyway, didn't we already establish that we're not each other's type?"

 

“Cut it out, Lynx,” a new voice cuts in, chuckling. Genji slips into view, lowering a hood and rolling his shoulders. “You will destroy the relationship before it even begins.”

 

“Genji-!” Hanzo splutters, stunned.

 

“It would be such a pity,” Zenyatta agrees humorously, shrugging off a hooded jacket and tucking a scrap of black into it. “Especially after everything we have done to get them together.”

 

“Y’all are assholes, ya know that?” Jesse grumbles, standing and scooping up the tea cup with a sigh. “How’d it go?”

 

“He’s dead, if that’s what you’re asking,” Lynx purrs, stretching out on the floor and tucking their hands behind their head while Jesse goes into the main room for a minute to rinse out the cup. “Didn’t put up much of a fight, did he, Genji?”

 

“You say that as if anyone would put up a fight against Genji,” Zenyatta laughs, reaching across to tug at the back of Genji’s neck, touching faceplate to mask briefly. Genji hums, pleased, practically wiggling with glee, and that’s enough to shake Hanzo from his stupor.

 

“Genji, what-” Hanzo returns the arrow to his quiver, scowling. “What did you do?”

 

“You must ask?” Genji scoffs. “I have never felt more alive than seeing the look on Oji Nagato’s face when he realised who I was.”

 

“Excuse me?” Zenyatta hums, tipping his head as he leans against the wall beside Genji, who raises his hands quickly.

 

“Ah. My mistake; I have only ever felt more alive once,” he corrects.

 

“Once?” Zenyatta presses, clearly enjoying himself.

 

“Enough, please,” Hanzo sighs, picking up his shirt and tugging it on. “I have had enough flirting in my vicinity for months to come.”

 

“Had enough o’ me, darlin’?” Jesse hums, leaning against the divider.

 

“More than,” Hanzo says pointedly, glaring. “All of you have broken into my room, you know.”

 

“You really think we care?” Lynx laughs.

 

“Ease up, Lynx,” Jesse warns.

 

“Alright, alright,” the omnic answers, raising a hand. “Besides, you’re the one I came to bug; more entertaining.”

 

“Leave him alone,” Hanzo says shortly, pulling his hair back in his scarf. “I want all three of you out of my room. And I will be talking to each of you about this later.” He gives each of them a pointed look.

 

“Ugh... 2, he’s no fun,” Lynx grumbles, sitting up.

 

“He gets better,” Zenyatta chuckles, pushing away from the wall and offering them a hand.

 

“Hanzo,” Genji says, stepping closer. “You know it is over.”

 

Silence falls, expectant and tense, and everyone looks at Hanzo, waiting.

 

“...I know,” he answers after a long moment, watching his brother. “But it will be a while before this knows.” He taps his chest. “I- Thank you, Genji.” The words are forced out, but genuine, and Genji hums proudly.

 

“I am always on our side, brother,” he answers, taking another step and reaching out. He hesitates only a moment before laying his hand on Hanzo’s shoulder. “We are here for you, if ever you need.” Hanzo nods appreciatively, but doesn’t try to speak, not trusting himself.

 

“We will give you space,” Zenyatta assures gently, reaching a hand for Genji’s. “You no doubt have much to discuss. We should not have interrupted in the first place, I see.”

 

“It ain’t your fault, Zen,” Jesse says, waving him off. “Told ya to meet up here after... Why don’t y’all head on back to Gibraltar? We’ll follow.”

 

“You two go on,” Lynx hums. “I’ve got a new lead to follow up on with Sombra, and after what happened with Zarya, I can’t let it stand.”

 

“We understand,” Genji nods. “She has gotten dangerous in Talon’s hold; do what you need to.”

 

“And maybe limit yourself to my window this time,” Zenyatta notes as Genji tugs his hood up. “Or the front door.”

 

“Wouldn’t wanna scare the honeymooners,” Lynx laughs, antennae flicking playfully. Their LEDs blink just as playfully; an omnic wink.

 

“Lynx,” Jesse says in warning.

 

“Yes, yes; I’m going,” Lynx snickers. “Don’t have too much fun!” He’s gone before Jesse’s shoe hits the window frame, and Genji glances at Hanzo, clearly surprised.

 

“What?” Hanzo humphs. “You think you are the only one with a temper?” Genji’s laugh is a melody that sings long after they’re gone, and Hanzo reluctantly allows himself to wrap his arms around Jesse’s neck. “You owe me.”

 

“Best get to repaying you then,” Jesse grins, hands settling on Hanzo’s hips. “Where shall I start?”

 

✫✫✫

 

The ghostly memory of a girl’s manic laughter draws Jesse out of his already restless sleep, fortunately quietly this time; normally he comes awake fighting. Hanzo stirs beside him, reminding him where he is, and he relaxes with a sigh, rolling over to press up against the man’s back and pulling him close.

 

“Hmm... too tight...” Hanzo murmurs sleepily, hand shifting to cover Jesse’s.

 

“Sorry, baby,” Jesse whispers, kissing the back of his neck.

 

“Something wrong?” Hanzo’s fingers work their way between Jesse’s, and for a moment he forgets how to speak. It’s just long enough that Hanzo stirs again, twisting to blink and peer blearily at him. A furrow appears between his brows and he scowls faintly in annoyance, but he doesn’t let go. “What is it?”

 

"Nothin'; nightmare," Jesse says softly, kissing Hanzo's shoulder this time in apology. "Go back to sleep, sweetheart."

 

"I told you to stop the pet names," Hanzo reminds, closing his eyes a moment and breathing in deep. "What happened in your nightmare?"

 

"It ain't important," Jesse answers, biting back another pet name.

 

"It woke you up; it is important."

 

When Jesse still hesitates, not wanting to burden the man who is only just beginning to heal from his own traumas, Hanzo turns fully to face him, peeling open his eyes with a slight grimace at the loss of sleep. If there's one thing Hanzo truly loves, it's sleeping, and really, Jesse can't blame him; he understands better than most the struggle of going weeks or months on very little sleep caught at odd times in odd places. Now that Hanzo's safe with Overwatch, he's gotten more sleep than in the past decade, and from Jesse's experience, he is most definitely not a morning person.

 

"Speak," Hanzo says gruffly. "If you are not sleeping, I will not be able to sleep."

 

"Heh. Grumpy as always," Jesse notes, smiling lightly as he traces a fingertip along Hanzo's jaw. The look he gets for it amuses him enough to ease the uncertainty in his chest, and for a moment, his smile widens. Then he takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly. "You sure you're ready for my baggage?"

 

Now Hanzo hesitates, but Jesse expected as much; in the last month since the whole incident in Hanamura, things have been... interesting, to say the least. Private and guarded as he is, Hanzo has yet to verbally acknowledge whatever's going on between them, and has even outright denied it a few times when asked, but most nights have been spent together in Jesse's bed, and Hanzo has allowed Jesse to pamper him on occasion, so long as it's subtle and small, like making him tea in the mornings, or helping gather his arrows after training sessions. Anything more is a commitment he isn't willing to make yet, and Jesse is just fine with waiting. Usually. Doesn't stop him from looking forward to the day that Hanzo finally admits that there is something between them, hopefully in order to take it to the next stage.

 

"...Talking helps," Hanzo says quietly after a long silence, barely audible. "You taught me that."

 

"Well, yeah, but... me needin' to talk ain't got nothing to do with you bein' ready to listen." Jesse tries to keep his smile, but it's strained, and he knows Hanzo sees the pain behind it.

 

"You have been there for me more times than I can count," Hanzo points out. "It is time I return the favour."

 

"You don't owe me a thang, darlin'," Jesse assures, trailing his finger along Hanzo's pulse to his collarbone, just peeking out from under the soft, long-sleeve sleep shirt he's wearing.

 

"Stop stalling and talk," Hanzo grumbles, swatting absently at his hand.

 

"...There was a little girl in my hometown," Jesse says finally, slow and quiet as he tries not to relive everything while he explains. "An heiress to some... Southern oil empire or somethin' like that; had a lotta money to her name... We both got in all kinds o' trouble, met each other a number of times overnight behind bars. Finally decided we should see what each other got up to that put us there, and... became pretty inseparable, actually. She was frustrated with her home life, and I was actin' out after my daddy walked away, and we got on like a house afire. But she just wanted some freedom, and I was plain reckless, and I suggested we start a bit of a gang; gather up the lost ones like us, the orphans, the wild kids, the ones in jail more often than not. Convinced myself it'd be good for all of us, give us a family of sorts, you know? People to take care of." Jesse scoffs a wry laugh. "We took care of each other, alright. Got real close, and grew this mentality of us versus them. Called ourselves the Deadlock Rebels, and got into just as much trouble as before, but we had each other and at the time, that's all that mattered. One night, I got... absolutely sloshed. Woke up the next morning on a pile of gold in our little hideout in the mines. Everybody was celebratin' or recoverin' from celebratin', and when I asked what happened, all I got were congratulations on bein' a helluva good leader. When the heiress, Ashe, snuck out to meet us, she got pissed at me, but not for robbin' a bank... She got pissed that I didn't wait for her. I shoulda known then that somethin' was very, very wrong, but all I could think was that she was right and I shoulda waited. Next time she snuck out, we had some drinks and planned a real heist. Got away scott free. Same the next time, and the next... 'Bout eight or nine years we got away with it, terrorising our hometown and the surroundin' areas until the Deadlock Rebels were the most wanted crew in all the Southern US. Then the Omnic Crisis blew through town and left devastation in its wake... Almost lost my ma, and the near miss cleared my head a bit. I tried to talk Ashe down, but she saw it as an opportunity to take charge of the town, hold it under her thumb in a way she never could as an heiress, 'specially since the Crisis near demolished her family's empire. That was when I finally realised what I'd done... I started all of it; I got her into the stuff she never tried, I talked her into startin' the gang with me, I got us into the robbin' life... I ruined her, and everyone else in that gang. Worse, I ran away when I realised it. Couldn't even go back for Ma's funeral when she died of a stroke less than a year later. Figure everything's happened since is karma; got outlawed by the outlaws and I'll prob'ly get shot on sight I ever step foot in Deadlock territory again, did terrible things for Blackwatch and watched my commandin' officer fall prey to darkness without doing a damn thing so I ran from that too... Damn near alienated my best friend a month ago, and now that you know my story, I'll prob'ly lose you too."

 

"You clearly do not know me at all," Hanzo huffs blandly, flicking Jesse's nose roughly and then rolling away from him. Jesse frowns, rubbing the sore spot, and sits up to watch Hanzo yawn and stretch on his way to the bathroom. The light flicks on, and then immediately turns off, accompanied by a string of muttered curses that turn Jesse's frown into a faint grin. Hanzo's still cursing when he returns to the bed after relieving himself, and he crawls back under the covers with a sigh, curling up against Jesse's side.

 

"...You're... not gonna explain?" Jesse asks tentatively. Hanzo humphs and nuzzles into his shoulder, clearly going back to sleep, so Jesse resigns himself to not knowing. He has to swallow back the bite of bitter irritation that follows, but he refuses to let it bother him. Or tries to, anyway; it's hard not to feel like Hanzo is dismissing the fact that he just poured himself out completely, harder still to remember that Hanzo takes a long time to process things, especially when he's not fully awake.

 

It certainly doesn't make it any easier to sleep after that, and when morning comes, he still hasn't gotten more than a light doze. Fortunately, early mornings are nothing new to Jesse, especially after his Blackwatch days, and when he gets up, Hanzo only wakes enough to shuffle over into the warm spot he left behind.

 

After cleaning up and getting dressed, Jesse heads for the cafeteria to start the coffee brewing for everyone, then heats up water for Genji and Hanzo's tea; it varies whether the younger brother wants tea or coffee, but recently he's been taking tea more often, so Jesse makes enough for both, just in case. It's a soothing ritual anyway, and it helps calm his irritation from earlier.

 

"Good morning, Jesse," Zenyatta greets, startling him enough that he almost knocks over the pot of water.

 

"Jesus, Zen; one of these days I'm gonna have a heart attack because o' you or Lynx," Jesse breathes, pressing a hand to his chest. "You don't even make footsteps to warn me; gonna put a bell on you, I swear."

 

"Apologies," the monk chuckles. "If it is not too much trouble, would you mind making enough this morning for me as well?" He nods at the pot.

 

"Ain't no trouble at all," Jesse smiles, taking down another mug and filling it with water to add to the pot. "You're up a bit earlier than usual... Everythang alright?"

 

"Fine, thank you," Zenyatta assures. "I had too much cycling through my processors to shut down last night, and meditation left me with an odd sense of... agitation, I suppose? There is something I need to do, and I cannot think what."

 

"Got a vision from the Iris?" Jesse teases, checking on the coffee; Winston will be up soon, and coffee helps keep him from raiding the peanut butter until later in the day.

 

"Close enough," Zenyatta allows good naturedly. "In my first days as a monk-in-training, Mondatta always seemed to know when I was in need of comfort and assurance; this feeling is similar to what he described."

 

"So I'm in need of comfort and assurance?" Jesse grins.

 

"I would not be surprised," the monk answers a bit more seriously. "You are, after all, usually the only one awake at this time." The realisation that Zenyatta basically knows how he's feeling unnerves Jesse, and he clears his throat awkwardly, hoping to avoid questions.

 

"Um, what- uh... What tea would ya like?" he asks, looking anywhere but at Zenyatta, who hums knowingly.

 

"The same as you make for Genji will be fine," he replies, thankfully not pressing. "Are you ready for the mission to the States tomorrow?"

 

"Ugh; don't remind me," Jesse scoffs, rolling his eyes. "Even with the jet, it's gonna be hours in a small space with Lucio and Genji and Tracer; a recipe for disaster, you ask me."

 

"How unfortunate," Zenyatta sighs, a note of teasing humour in his tone. "You will have to be the responsible one."

 

"You're telling me," Jesse laughs, relaxing again now that the topic is in safer territory. "If I didn't already know Genji was a little brother, I'd guess it, the way he acts with Lee and Luc; they bring out the childish sides of each other, and I sure as hell ain't lookin' forward to tryna keep 'em on task."

 

"I will make an effort to see that Genji behaves," Zenyatta promises.

 

"Not gonna ask," Jesse says quickly, raising his hands. They both laugh while Jesse pours hot water into three mugs, mixing up the tea with practiced ease; he knows he isn't as good at it as Hanzo, but Hanzo hasn't complained yet, so he must be doing something right.

 

"Thank you," Zenyatta purrs, accepting his mug with a grateful nod.

 

"Is it really okay for you to drink that?" Jesse asks, rather belatedly. He has, of course, seen the monk sipping a special oil drink on a number of occasions, but being an omnic, it's to be expected.

 

"The herbal water is soothing to my components and helps clear buildup in my tubing," Zenyatta replies, amused. "A rare treat, if you will; too much or too often is of course damaging to my systems, but a cup every few months or so does no harm."

 

"Well... if you're sure..."

 

“I am,” Zenyatta chuckles. “Do-”

 

“Jesse!” Both shift to look out of the kitchen to the dining area, where Genji is darting across the room. He stops when he sees them. “Jesse... Ashe.”

 

The bottom of Jesse’s stomach drops out; he can feel the blood drain from his face.

 

“She’s here?” he asks, terrified of the answer.

 

“No,” Genji assures, shaking his head quickly. “Lynx brought news. You are going to want to hear it yourself.”

 

Immediately, Jesse abandons the drinks and follows Genji. The only thought going through his mind is that this has to be why he dreamed of her last night, the first one he can actually remember since the night after Hanzo first arrived at Overwatch.

 

Lynx is waiting in the garden, looking agitated; they’re pacing and their antennae twitch repeatedly. They look up the instant Genji steps out of the building.

 

“Where’s-” they break off when they see Jesse. “Good. Listen; you don’t have a lot of time. I came as soon as I found out, and I got this news late.”

 

“What news?”

“Calamity Ashe put out a hit on you,” Lynx explains.

 

“That ain’t nothing new,” Jesse sighs, torn between relief and irritation. “Got myself a reward poster in my room.” Lynx is already shaking their head.

 

“No, a real hit, like the kind that makes assassins sit up and take notice,” they say plainly, glancing around like they’re looking for such an assassin. “Five hundred thousand for your head, double if they bring you in alive.”

 

“A million?” Genji clarifies, stunned, looking at Jesse, who’s equally shocked, but probably for a different reason. “She has that kind of money?”

 

“‘Course she does,” Jesse scoffs, shaking his head. “If she ain’t stole it yet, she will soon.”

 

“She is seeking revenge for something?” Zenyatta asks, perplexed. “Why now?”

 

“Hell if I know; gave up thinkin’ I know what goes on in that head o’ hers long ago.”

 

“That’s not the worst part,” Lynx says lowly, stepping closer, antennae going back like a startled cat. “If my source is correct, and it’s rarely wrong... Widowmaker might take the contract.”

 

“Oh hell,” Jesse groans, closing his eyes with a grimace while Genji curses in Japanese.

 

He knew things were going too well for his luck, but damn if this isn’t worse than he expected. Fighting with Genji, he can deal with; they’ve already gotten pretty much back to how things were now that things are progressing with Hanzo. Rejection from Hanzo, he can also handle, though if anyone thinks for even a moment that he’d accept it, they’re dead wrong. Taking on Ashe, well... Ain’t nothing new about that.

 

But this? This isn’t just his own ass on the line anymore. Amelie ― Widowmaker now ― couldn’t care less who gets caught in the crossfire so long as she gets the kill, and Jesse can count on one hand the number of times she’s failed her mission. If she takes this contract, Jesse's as good as dead. So is anyone who stands up for him.

 

✬✬✬

 

“You cannot just leave,” Genji says incredulously, following Jesse into his room.

 

“Shh.” Jesse nods at his bed, where Hanzo is still sleeping peacefully, sheets pooled around his hips and exposing his broad back. Keeping his voice lowered, Jesse grabs his duffle bag and starts packing. “I’m just going Stateside early; y’all won’t be far behind, right?”

 

“Jesse, if she is out to kill you, you cannot be alone,” Genji says, insistent but quiet.

 

“Relax, amigo; I know her better than just about anyone. Doubt there’s a person alive who can keep out of her way as well as I can.”

 

“Then why are you going right to her?”

 

“I need to distract her, Genji,” Jesse says, turning to face him. “If she’s busy chasin’ me, she can’t do a damn thang t’ any o’ you.”

 

“So you want to be bait,” Genji scoffs.

 

“I’m gonna do whatever the hell I got to to protect you, and Han, and Zen,” Jesse explains firmly, determined. “You ain’t talkin’ me out of this; I ain’t got enough luck left to trust that y’all are gonna be safe if I don’t make a move. I won't do anythang dangerous; promise. Just gonna give her somethin’ to focus on that ain’t Overwatch.”

 

“You are going to get yourself killed going alone,” Genji hisses. “If you-”

 

“I will go.” They both look over as Hanzo sits up, rubbing his hands over his face. He stifles a yawn, not quite awake but still seeming fully aware. “You will have someone watching your back.”

 

“Han...”

 

“And I will get payback for stealing my vengeance,” Hanzo continues, ignoring Jesse.

 

He looks inordinately attractive with his hair a mess and a faded hickey on his shoulder. Jesse has to stop himself from going over and kissing him breathless.

 

“Hanzo, ya don’t-”

 

“Enough,” Hanzo sighs, waving him off. “I am going with you; you are not talking me out of this.”

 

If he didn’t know any better, Jesse would almost say that there was a faint smirk tugging at the archer’s lips. Hanzo stands, unbothered by his nakedness, and goes to the bathroom while Genji turns away, raising a hand to his mask.

 

“That was not something I needed to see,” the younger brother mutters.

 

“Someone’s a little shy,” Jesse grins at him, enjoying the moment of pride he gets from the fact that Hanzo didn’t immediately make excuses for his presence. Genji snorts and raises a finger at him.

 

“You have absolutely no shame, cowboy,” he chuckles as the water turns on in the shower.

 

“And proud of it,” Jesse winks. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I hear a shower callin’ my name.”

 

“Oh, God, Jesse stop, please, I beg of you,” Genji groans, going immediately for the door while Jesse saunters toward the bathroom. “I am not at all interested in your sexual encounters with my brother.”

 

“Suit yourself!” Jesse calls after him, slipping into the bathroom and closing the door behind him. “So. You’re comin’ with me, mm?”

 

“If you so much as touch the shower door, I will break your wrist,” Hanzo warns.

 

“Relax, darlin’; I know your boundaries pretty well by now,” Jesse assures, leaning against the door frame. After a moment’s hesitation, he dares to speak up; “You... didn’t make an excuse.”

 

“...An excuse for what?” Hanzo asks, his casual tone forced.

 

“Bein’ in my room,” Jesse says quietly. “You’ve been pretty vocal that ain’t nothin’ goin’ on between us, but, uh... this morning was pretty damnin’, you know.”

 

“I have no idea what you mean,” Hanzo replies.

 

“Han, come on; you know exactly what I mean,” Jesse sighs, looking down at his hands. He traces the thumb of his flesh hand over the ridges of metal knuckles, recalling how Hanzo has never said a word about it, but pays special attention to it whenever they’re alone. “Are you... afraid of me? Or ashamed?”

 

For a long moment, Hanzo doesn’t reply, and his figure behind the fogged glass doesn’t move. Only the gentle rush of the shower stirs the silence in the room, until it turns off. Jesse takes a towel and holds it out as Hanzo opens the door, the silence continuing a moment longer while the archer scrubs his head and then wraps the towel around his waist.

 

“Neither,” he answers finally, fist clenching and unclenching absently at his side. “It- Every morning, I wake up expecting it all to be a dream. Some days... Some days, I fear everything is an illusion, that I am still with the clan, deluding myself with fantasy to cope with the things I have done and will do.” Hesitating, he crosses his arms, brow furrowed as he stares into the distance. “I cannot commit to something that is not real, Jesse. And nothing I do can drown out that fear.”

 

Jesse could swear his heart almost shatters at that; unable to stop himself this time, he steps forward and gathers Hanzo against his chest, enveloping him in a tight hug and ignoring the wet that seeps into his clothes. Fingers curl into his shirt, trembling ever so slightly, and he wishes he knew what to say to soothe the man, to blot out his fear.

 

“I ain’t got a thing to say that’s gonna make you feel better,” he says softly, brushing a hand over the wet tangles of Hanzo’s hair. “I’m no good with that kinda stuff. But I can promise you, I ain’t leaving you, Han; not now, not ever if I can help it.”

 

“How do I know that?” Hanzo whispers against his neck.

 

“Can’t; just gotta have faith,” Jesse answers.

 

They stay like that for a while, until Jesse kisses Hanzo’s temple and steps back. Neither of them quite know what to say, it seems, so Hanzo steps past him and enters the bedroom without another word.

 

“Han... You really comin’ with me?” Jesse asks, leaning on the doorframe.

 

“Of course,” Hanzo replies, pulling on his pants and one of Jesse’s shirts. “I will be packed and ready to go within the hour.” He turns a warning glare on Jesse. “If you leave without me, I will track you down and make you regret it.” Jesse raises his hands immediately.

 

“Wouldn’t dream of it, darlin’,” he chuckles lightly.

 

“Stop. With the pet names,” Hanzo grumbles, grabbing his discarded shirt and heading for the door. “I mean it, Jesse; do not leave without me.”

 

Jesse stares after the man for a long, long moment, too stunned to think, much less speak after hearing his given name from the man's tongue for the first time, and so casually, at that. Then he quickly finishes packing his bag and hurries down the hall to Hanzo’s room. The door is open and Hanzo is in the midst of placing something in a duffle bag of his own. Before Jesse can say anything, someone else speaks.

 

“So... You are going to admit it?” Zenyatta asks, sounding amused.

 

“Admit what?” Hanzo returns lightly, sounding far more collected than he was moments ago with Jesse.

 

“That you and Jesse are in a relationship,” Zenyatta clarifies, humouring him. Hanzo stops, and Jesse holds his breath, waiting anxiously.

 

“I will not lie when asked directly,” Hanzo answers finally. He finishes packing and closes the bag, taking his bow from the stand on the table ― a habit he shares with Genji ― and unstringing it and separating the parts to place them carefully in a special case he keeps for transporting the bow and quiver.

 

“Are you in a relationship with Jesse?” Zenyatta purrs with wicked humour. Hanzo sighs, turning to face him, and pauses when he glimpses Jesse out of the corner of his eye. He looks over, meeting Jesse’s gaze, and Jesse swears his heart stops in desperate anticipation.

 

“Yes,” Hanzo answers quietly, not looking away. “I am.”

 

Jesse’s across the room in record time, sweeping Hanzo into a deep, joyous kiss. Hanzo responds, leaning into it and resting a hand on Jesse’s hip while Zenyatta laughs and excuses himself.

 

“God, Han; I love you so much,” Jesse breathes around the kiss, clinging to Hanzo like he’ll disappear if he lets go for even a moment.

 

“A terrible choice, if you ask me,” Hanzo chuckles, “and yet I can only hope you never stop.”

 

-:End:-