Urban warfare was never pretty, but at least they’d managed to get almost all the civilians evacuated after the first attack. It’d only been a few days and yet Jesse felt like they’d been entrenched in this godforsaken place for a month. Even watching Hanzo shoot down piñatas with trick shots and an unexpected boyish glee wasn’t making up for the monotony anymore - the omnics pushed forward, the team drove them back, rinse and repeat. At least there’d been some sort of snack left in most of the houses. He’d even found an unopened bottle of tequila in the gutter last night. Things could be looking up.
Whatever this damn Lumerico thing was about, it better be worth all the hassle.
“How’s it looking, McCree?” Lena asked over the radio, sounding like she was having the time of her life while her pulse pistols crackled in the background.
Jesse peeked out over the street from his vantage point on the balcony. “Everything’s quiet. I’d say too quiet, but I’m not an idiot.”
She laughed breathlessly, which sounded really weird when she rewound herself straight after. “Just keep on keeping on, then. Tell me if someone tries to flank us and I’ll pick ‘em off!”
He leaned against the railings and spun his gun around a couple of times. Playing lookout was boring as all hell. He had no idea what Hanzo usually did to survive the tedium. Speaking of - Hanzo should be covering the neighborhood next to Jesse’s. Jesse narrowed his eyes at the rooftops over there but couldn’t spot anything. He tuned in to Hanzo’s channel, because he really was bored and even being admonished for not giving things his full attention would be a welcome change.
“Hey, Hanzo, how’s it going over on your side?” He waited for an answer, but none came. He gave it another few seconds. After a while started tapping his foot. Still nothing. “Huh. You there?”
It could be nothing. It could be the radio shorting out for a second. Could be he just lost it in a scuffle and would pick it up again when he realized. Could be the omnics were trying to hack the frequency and Athena hadn’t quite gotten on top of it yet.
Could be something else.
He hurriedly retraced his steps in his head to figure out where he’d last seen Hanzo and set off, starting at a walk but shifting into a flat out sprint after a few steps.
He found him in one of the alleys, slumped against the wall and with four omnics at his feet, all of them sputtering sparks in one last death cramp. He wasn’t moving. The side of his shirt was dark with blood and there was an ugly-looking cut on his forehead. Jesse stumbled to his knees next to him but then realized he didn’t know what to do - he shouldn’t move him in case something was broken in his spine or something, but…
The decision was made for him when Hanzo started sliding slowly down the wall; Jesse shifted him as gently as he could into his lap instead, where he could at least keep him steady.
“Hey. Come on.” Jesse brushed the hair out of his forehead, the blood making it sticky. “Wake up. Hanzo. Wake up.”
He got a small noise, but nothing that really suggested consciousness, and Hanzo’s breathing sounded labored and shaky. There was a slash in his shirt and his side was bleeding - Jesse didn’t think the wound was especially deep but with the blood it was hard to tell. He put his hand there and pressed down anyway.
“Fuck. I need a medic here!”
He realized he’d been holding his breath when Ziegler’s answer came over the radio and it stumbled back out of his lungs. “I am on my way.”
Every second that ticked by while he waited seemed to contain its own horrible eternity. He kept straining his ears just to make sure Hanzo was still breathing, feeling his hands grow slick with blood, and he didn’t dare to move in case that would jolt something and make it worse.
“Aw, come on,” he said quietly. “It’s been fifteen years. You’re not chickening out on me after fifteen years.”
The lack of an answer felt like a punch to the gut.
He heard the tell-tale clicks of her heels. “Over here, doc.”
She peeked around the corner, perked up when she noticed Jesse and strode up to them. “Ah, there you are. Do you know what happened?”
“No, I just found him like this. I... doc,” he said, looking up at her. “Angela - ”
She squeezed his shoulder gently and kneeled down next to him. “It will be all right. Just hold him so I can get a proper look.”
She touched her fingers to Hanzo’s wrist, taking his pulse with a concentrated frown, then made a satisfied sound and went on. “Move you hand out of the way, please?”
The blood welled up a little when Jesse let up the pressure, but she hummed dismissively and just guided his hand back.
“Merely a scratch.” She did something with her staff - started some kind of scan, maybe? - and consulted a tablet she’d been carrying with her. She muttered to herself as images popped up and then flickered away again as she scrolled through them. “No cranial fractures… lungs seem fine despite broken ribs… no significant blunt trauma to -”
“Would you mind not listing all the things that could’ve killed him while I’m in earshot?” Jesse asked, hearing the slightly hysterical edge to his own voice.
She made an apologetic face. “I’m sorry, I was not thinking.”
This time she simply hummed to herself as she went through the results. It didn’t make Jesse feel much better.
“What… can you tell what’s wrong, or…”
“I would hazard falling down from someplace high with only limited control while fighting them.” She nodded her head towards the dead omnics and adjusted something on the staff. “Some kind of powerful sedative too, to incapacitate him. That must be how they could get the drop on him. It was very good you found him so soon; this should be no problem. Let me…”
Whatever she did went so far over Jesse’s head that it might as well be on a trajectory for the moon by now, but after a little while Hanzo gave a sharp gasp and jerked against him, and then his breath settled down again to a normal deep rhythm.
“The wonders of modern medicine,” Angela beamed.
Jesse moved his hand away from the wound and wiped away some of the blood. Underneath there was only new skin, pink and fragile-looking but healed. He waited, heart hammering in his throat. “How soon is he gonna…”
“Give it a minute or so.”
As if on cue Hanzo cracked his eyes open and then looked like he regretted doing so until he saw Jesse. He smiled groggily and turned his face into Jesse’s hand.
“Too slow,” he mumbled, like he was apologizing for forgetting to do the dishes or something.
Jesse crumpled forward and swore extensively and earnestly under his breath.
“Hm.” Hanzo reached out and touched Jesse’s face, then moved his head to squint at Angela. “...thank you. I am in your debt.”
“I am simply doing my job,” she said dismissively, but she was smiling. “Just take it easy, Give it some time before you move about again.”
Hanzo muttered something that had all the hallmarks of sarcasm to it and turned his face into Jesse’s chest, still half out of it. Jesse cupped the back of his head, still feeling like someone had kicked him off a spacecraft in lower orbit with no parachute, nerves fried to tatters upon reentry. “I think that grunt meant there’s no danger of him going anywhere for a while.”
Angela looked at him.
“He will be completely fine,” she said gently. “We should be able to take him to the jet soon.”
“I…” He didn’t know what to say. He brushed the hair out of Hanzo’s face, traced the line of his cheek with his fingertips. “Thank you.”
She put her hand on his shoulder again but didn’t say anything for a few minutes. Then she commented: “They did not mean to kill him, you know.”
“If they truly wanted him dead they would have just gunned him down on sight. The sedative indicates that they intended it to be non-lethal - as if they meant to capture him - but he fought back and they all fell off the roof instead. They seem to have… changed somehow.” Her brow wrinkled as she studied the omnics littering the cobbles. “During the war they would never have attempted to take prisoners. They simply slaughtered anything in their way.”
“Well,” Jesse said after a while. “That’s shit news for us, ain’t it. It was bad enough when they didn’t use their brains.”
“Mhm.” She looked over her shoulder and got to her feet. “I think the main attack has been staved off. I should get back there. Stay here with him, and we will pick you up on our way back.”
“Sure thing, doc.”
A small hesitation. ”...I am glad it turned out this way. I wish I could always find them in time.”
”Angela,” Jesse said, ”you’re already a miracle worker. Can’t ask you to save the whole world on your own on top of that.”
She gave a tired chuckle and walked away, the streetlights giving her blond hair a faint glow as she passed under them. She was a goddamn walking metaphor. It was almost a little too on the nose sometimes.
Hanzo seemed to still be dozing a little, and Jesse was more than happy to just sit there with his head in his lap and listen to him breathe deeply and steadily.
He really was getting too old for this shit.
After some time Hanzo stirred again, tilting his head to look up at Jesse.
“Welcome back,” Jesse said.
Hanzo started in on an arduous process of sitting up, wincing and clutching his side.
“Whoa, careful,” Jesse said, scrambling to support him. “You nearly became a permanent resident of the other side of the veil just now.”
“You and your dramatics,” Hanzo mumbled, but he let Jesse guide him to sit leaned up against him. He glanced down at his shirt and sighed. “I will have to stitch that. I have no more spares.”
“If you can get the blood out first.”
Jesse put his arms around him, feeling the shake in his hands now. “What the hell was that? You forget how to duck all of a sudden?”
“They knocked me off a rooftop. And there were four of them.”
“All I’m hearin’ is excuses,” Jesse said, hugging him tightly.
“And I got all of them in the end,” he grumbled against the side of Jesse’s face.
Jesse sat back. “Seconds before you passed out. See, the most important part about winning is to be able to walk away and tell the tale.”
Hanzo muttered something inscrutable and glanced around. “Did we win?”
“For now. If we’re staying here much longer I’m gonna have to raid some houses for booze, though. This place sucks.”
Well, after this he’d probably feel the warm slickness of blood on his hands every time he thought about Dorado. He definitely needed a drink.
Hanzo took Jesse’s hand, squeezing it to ease the shaking. “I did not mean to…”
“Hey. Don’t. It worked out fine.”
“Thanks to Dr. Ziegler.”
“Mhm. She’s good like that.”
They sat there quietly for a while, surrounded by the wreckage of a party that never happened. Jesse poked at a half-busted piñata with the toe of his boot. Its papier-mâché gut had been torn open to spew brightly colored candy over the cobbles. Jesse sympathized; being created solely for someone to kick the crap out of you was a rough hand to be dealt.
Hanzo’s hand still felt a little too cold and clammy in Jesse’s. He glanced over. “How’re you feeling?”
Hanzo gave a mirthless laugh. “I am keeping busy dreading the walk back to the jet. Standing up seems ambitious enough.”
“Yeah, I’m not carryin’ you,” Jesse said, exploiting the fact that there was no one else there to nuzzle in and kiss the soft patch of skin right behind his ear. “If anyone’s to be hauled over a threshold some day it’s gonna be me.”
Hanzo laughed weakly. “That could be arranged.”
Jesse leaned his forehead against Hanzo’s temple and closed his eyes. He tried to remember the brand of that Swiss chocolate Angela used to love. Fareeha would know. Must be some way to procure a box of those from somewhere.
”...Genji must never know about this.”
”I don’t think he’d actually make fun of you if he knew you’d almost shuffled off this mortal coil as well as the rooftop,” said Jesse, who had known both of them for far too long to take the comment as misplaced worry.
”I would not count on it,” Hanzo said darkly. ”When I was twelve I almost drowned. The next year he got me a swimming ring for my birthday.”
”You have to admit that’s pretty good comedic timing for a nine year old.”
Jesse itched to punch a wall, but these people had enough problems without some random guy walking in and messing up their plasterwork. He hoped he’d get to shoot something soon.
”Five years ago I would have been content to die,” Hanzo said suddenly. ”In many ways that was simpler. I had no duty to anyone.”
”Well,” Jesse said. He didn’t know if there was anything else to say to that.
Hanzo touched Jesse’s jaw to turn his face towards him and kissed him.
”I thought I had no one I needed to come back for then,” he said quietly. ”Now I do.”
Jesse cleared his throat, eyes closed. ”Y’know, I’ll hold you to that.”
Hanzo sighed and brushed their noses together. ”Please do. I am getting too old to topple off buildings.”
”See, maybe I’m just a square but I don’t think I was ever young enough for that.” Jesse glanced over at the piñata and leaned forward to pick it up. He set it down next to him, propping it against the wall so it would stay upright. ”There.”
He lit a cigar and crossed his legs at the ankles. ”Too bad about the party,” he said after a while. ”Looks like it was gonna be a good one.”
Hanzo didn’t answer because he’d fallen asleep again, snoring quietly with his head resting on Jesse’s shoulder. Jesse chuckled and wrapped his arm around his waist, pulling him close to keep him steady. He tipped his head back and watched the smoke rise towards a mostly starless sky.
He thought he could still hear music being played somewhere in the distance.