It was a year, to the day, since everything had gone pear-shaped. Jesse hadn’t been there when it had gone down – he’d left Overwatch when Gabe had changed. Or maybe Jesse had changed. Either way, he hadn’t been in Switzerland when Overwatch headquarters had exploded. He hadn’t been there when the man he’d come to regard as a father had died.
And to make it worse, their last conversation had been a vicious argument. It had been shortly after Ana Amari had been left behind – Jesse had considered Ana to basically be his mom and leaving her behind had never sat well with him. Jesse had called Gabe out on the direction Blackwatch had been going, things had gotten ugly and out of hand, and Jesse had left in the middle of the night.
So when everything went to shit, no one had contacted Jesse. He hadn’t left a way for people to get in touch. Leaving Blackwatch had rendered him an outlaw (again). He’d had to find out about the explosion while eating a plate of instant scrambled eggs and something that vaguely resembled hash browns in a shitty diner in L.A. It had taken all of his self-control to not vomit immediately at the news. Because how could it be possible that they were just gone?
His first priority post-explosion had been finding out who had survived and who had died. The news had been very clear about Gabriel Reyes and Jack Morrison meeting untimely ends in the incident – as well as Gabe being responsible for it. Jesse wasn’t entirely sure how he felt about that accusation, but given how things had been going at the end of his tenure with Blackwatch…well…he wasn’t ruling it out. While the news had been clear about Gabe and Jack, they hadn’t really given any information about other people who were involved with Overwatch. It had taken him the better part of a year to figure out who all had survived and who all he should be mourning.
Knowing didn’t really make Jesse feel any better about it.
Especially not on the year anniversary of everything. No, right now all he really wanted to do was fall into a bottle of whiskey and not emerge until later in the week. Jesse knew it was a recipe for a headache and regrets, though. Still sounds like a good plan, though.
He slumped back on the stiff bed in the cheap hotel room he had for the next two days. Jesse was splurging for the few nights and his back appreciated the whole ‘not sleeping on the ground’ thing. He wasn’t getting any younger and sometimes his back protested the rough treatment he put it through. Being on the run wasn’t exactly easy on the body. He ran his hand along the seam between skin and metal on his left arm. Another reminder of his age, and mistakes, he supposed. It figured that he leaves Overwatch without a word and within three months he winds up having his left forearm amputated.
Jesse had contacted Mercy when it happened. Angela had come to his aid without question and set him up with a cool, metal prosthetic. She had wanted him to come back to Overwatch with her, but he had staunchly refused. She had wanted to inform Overwatch that Jesse was okay, but he had begged her to keep things quiet. It was for his safety, mainly. The other part was that he wasn’t sure he was ready to face Gabe again. I wish I had gone with her. I wish. I wish. I wish. I wish...The thoughts echoed through his mind and he clamped his hands over his ears to try and muffle them – even though he knew it would do nothing.
He regretted not going back with Angela now, but he couldn’t exactly change the past. If he could do that, well, Jesse figured things would be a bit different.
He shoved the thoughts away and continued to sprawl across the bed. The urge to drink was still rising, Jesse needed to find something else to do before he went and bought the cheapest bottle of whiskey he could find. He rolled to his stomach and reached for the remote. TV was as good of a distraction as any and it might get him to fall asleep. The motion of rolling over dislodged both of his mobile devices from his pocket.
One was a standard burner phone that he’d ditch in a week. He couldn’t be too careful with that sort of thing. Jesse wasn’t going to give the people who were likely tracking him any chances. The other was a bit more high-tech – a data-pad similar to the one that he had used back when he was at Overwatch. It was a good way to keep an eye on the bounty on his head, as well as other things out on him. And it let him find jobs. All important things. Should probably get some more jobs rolling. Not doing any good just sitting on my ass all day. Jus’ gonna get fat and less useful if I keep lazin’ around.
He scooped the phone up as he rolled to his side. Jesse didn’t really have any contacts in the phone, most of the numbers he needed were memorized. Or there were better, safer ways for him to contact them. A faint wave of nausea and sadness surged up when he realized that there weren’t many people that would be happy to hear from him. The way Jesse had to live meant that he wasn’t exactly making friends most of the time – and if someone did happen to like his company, Jesse was usually a burden on them. Somehow. Don’t want anyone in danger cuz of me. They’re better off without someone like me around.
He ran a hand across his face and groaned. Jesse could feel the stubble on his face; he’d need to shave soon. He had to be looking pretty scruffy at this point. He really wanted to go and find that bottle of whiskey and make a home in it. Especially at the realization that people weren’t going to recognize him. Jesse knew he looked different than he had when he was running with Overwatch. He had gained more muscle after leaving Overwatch, especially in his upper body, though there was a tiny bit of pudge on his belly from him drinking too much soda, eating too many sweets, and hunkering down and hiding for stretches of time.
Before he really realized what he was doing, Jesse was pulling up a contact that he hadn’t used in ages. Before he’d left Overwatch, even. Jesse had added the contact to the burner phone out of habit more than anything else. He wasn’t even sure that he was still alive, and even if he was, it wasn’t like he was going to respond to Jesse anyway and Jesse wouldn’t blame him. It had been a good three years since they’d managed to meet up and then Jesse had fallen off the face of the planet. In retrospect, he probably should have messaged Hanzo that he was alive after everything went down at Switzerland. It was only polite to let the man you’d been having a fling with on and off for a decade know that you didn’t die in a fiery explosion. I can’t even admit to myself that it’s more than a fling. Pathetic. I miss him…miss him so damn much…
Jesse wasn’t even sure that Hanzo would like what he’d become. Jesse certainly didn’t like who he’d become.
[SENT to: dragonfly <3] hey clever fella, still willing 2 give this cowman a shot?
Jesse sent the message and rolled back onto his belly and buried his face against the pillow. He’d used a few phrases that would cue Hanzo into it being Jesse and not some imposter or assassin. They were both well aware that phones could be stolen or hacked. He wasn’t sure why he sent the message – and really – he shouldn’t be sending the message. It wasn’t fair to Hanzo to contact him out of the blue just because it was the one year anniversary of Switzerland, when Jesse just needed a distraction. He cared about Hanzo…and contacting him like this just felt like a shitty move. Do I really need to feel this low to get in contact with him? I really am a piece of shit, ain’t I…
It was weird to think that they’d known each other over a decade at this point. Jesse and Gabe had gone on a recon mission to Hanamura (as well as a meeting with the Shimada-gumi) – it had been one of Jesse’s first missions with Blackwatch so he’d been beyond nervous. That had only amplified when he and Gabe had met the young master of the Shimada family. The beautiful young master of the Shimada family. Jesse had been instantly smitten. Jesse had been tasked with getting on Hanzo’s good side and apparently he’d succeeded a little too much. Gabe had known what had gone down and had said absolutely nothing on the matter – Jesse was glad of that. The Shimada family had requested that Jesse be one of the delegates for Blackwatch on future collaborations. That had just given him and Hanzo excuses to meet up.
Eventually Blackwatch had stopped its dealing with the Shimada because of their methods becoming less in line with what Blackwatch could accept. But because of that, Jesse had to go and find other ways to secretly meet up with Hanzo. It wasn’t often, but they’d managed. It wasn’t odd for either of them to fall out of contact for a stretch of time. The result of that brutal direction the Shimada-gumi had taken had wound up joining Overwatch a few years later – Hanzo’s younger brother Genji, freshly saved by Angela and now a cyborg. It had taken time for Jesse to get the story and he had trouble believing that Hanzo would try and kill his younger brother.
Jesse had developed feelings for Hanzo, it was hard not to, but he’d never really told him that. He figured it was just implied. I miss you, darlin’. I miss you all the damn time. Wish I’d told you how I felt when I had the chance. Always have had shit timing. Maybe he should have said something. Well, not like he could change the past. He shook the thoughts away and closed his eyes. Maybe he’d just sleep until he felt better about everything. Or at least until the next day rolled around.
He was almost dozing off when his phone vibrated in his hand. Jesse snorted and jolted – his grip on the device loosened enough that it fell off the bed and hit the ground. He sat up and wiped his mouth and was annoyed to find that he had been drooling on the pillow. He scrabbled over to the phone and scooped it up into his hands.
It wasn’t like he was expecting much of anything, but he was definitely hoping. Jesse felt a bit foolish to feel hopeful, but sometimes he needed that lightness. More than likely, the notification was for a job. Jesse could use the cash so he could continue to fund his life on the run.
[FROM contact: dragonfly <3] if this is your idea of a joke, then you will be sorry that you dared bring him up. he’s dead.
Jesse felt his heart stop for a few seconds when he saw that the message was from Hanzo, or at least whoever had Hanzo’s number. Especially when he noted that the phone’s location was in the same city Jesse was in. But the words had his shoulders sagging down and his face falling. He couldn’t really blame Hanzo for assuming that he was dead – it had been at least three years since they’d seen each other face to face. Any reasonable person would assume that either the other was dead or wanted nothing to do with them. Jesse wasn’t sure which one would hurt more.
[SENT to: dragonfly <3] i’m not dead, han. want 2 meet up? i miss u
Why was he doing this? The likelihood was that both of them were going to wind up hurt. Jesse didn’t want to hurt Hanzo. But at the same time, he did miss Hanzo. He was lonely and hurting and he just wanted some sort of familiarity. The thought of using someone he cared about so much as a means to distract himself and not feel so lonely made his gut churn.
Maybe he just wanted to see Hanzo.
Maybe the timing was just inconvenient and timed with the year anniversary of Switzerland coincidentally.
Jesse wasn’t actually sure and that only made the guilt worse.
I’m sorry, Han. I’m sorry for everything.
[FROM contact: dragonfly <3] if you are messing with me, I will make your life a living hell.
Jesse was certain that Hanzo was dead serious on that front. And he was certain that Hanzo had the capability of following through on that threat; Jesse had the misfortune of startling the archer once. He’d wound up on his back before he could even say ‘hello’ or ‘what the hell’ or even react. He wasn’t entirely sure that his back had recovered completely from that throw.
He was about to send his coordinates to Hanzo when he noticed that the other device was already on the move. Jesse chewed on his lower lip as anxiety flared up in the back of his throat. Having someone coming to his location was risky and made it feel like ants were crawling underneath his skin. It wasn’t something he’d done since he’d had Angela come to fix his arm – and even then it was only under extreme duress.
Jesse got himself up and moving, mainly so he could make himself a bit more presentable. Not like a bedraggled, sleep-deprived cowboy. He splashed some water on his face and tried to tame his hair – emphasis on the word tried. The serape was pulled off and tossed to the side. He even made an attempt to not smell like cigar smoke. He felt a bit foolish getting all fidgety like a nervous teenager, but he hadn’t seen Hanzo in three years. Maybe he wanted to make a good ‘first’ impression.
Soon enough, there was someone pounding on the door. Jesse took a few steps but paused just shy of opening the door. His hand hovered above the doorknob and he let his eyes close for a few moments. His mind drifted to the last time he’d seen Hanzo as a means to calm himself down. It had been a long weekend in Ireland and it had been just the escape that both of them needed. It had honestly been difficult for him to drag himself back to Blackwatch after that one; it was one of the first times that had happened. Jesse had held onto those memories through difficult times. He exhaled and told himself internally that he was being an idiot before opening the door.
And there was Hanzo. Jesse and Hanzo were in their thirties now and he supposed it was starting to show. There was so much that had stayed the same about his face. The sharp cheekbones and jawline, the shape of his lips, the dark chocolate color that made up his eyes. But where there had been youthful smiles and energy there was now something hard and the bone deep exhaustion that being on the run constantly brought on – though Jesse had to wonder why Hanzo had been on the run. There were the starts of fine greys at Hanzo’s temples, but they didn’t detract from his appearance in the slightest, nor did the faint stubble that spread across his jaw. Jesse thought Hanzo was beautiful, he’d always thought that. And he suspected that he always would. Though, the biggest difference in Hanzo’s appearance in comparison to previous years was the furious expression etched on his face.
“You.” Hanzo lifted both hands and shoved Jesse into the hotel room. Jesse could hear a slight waver in his voice, one that he knew Hanzo was trying to hide. Jesse knew that Hanzo never did like showing that emotions had an effect on him – and it hurt that Hanzo was back to hiding himself from Jesse. “Nothing for three years. Nothing.”
Jesse did nothing to protect himself from the shove and marginally braced himself for anything else that Hanzo threw at him. “I know…I’ve got no excuses, darlin’.”
“I am not your darling.” Hanzo shoved again as his eyes narrowed and his lips pulled back into a snarl. “You disappear for three years and expect that I’ll just come crawling back to you? I figured you’d found someone else to run around with, some other distraction.” He stumbled over a few words in English before going on a long tirade in Japanese.
Jesse hadn’t expected anything to come from texting Hanzo – and he wouldn’t have been surprised had Hanzo just told him to fuck off. He wouldn’t have blamed him. What Hanzo was saying stung a bit, but it wasn’t unexpected at all. His attention wavered from the angry words in a foreign language and focused in on how Hanzo managed to be the most stunning man Jesse had ever laid eyes on – even when he was filled with piss and vinegar. He didn’t care that he was being torn a new one, he was just happy to see Hanzo.
“Han…I didn’t expect you to even respond.” Jesse held his hands up in surrender. “Wouldn’t have blamed you either.” He wanted to say that it was only ever Hanzo that he’d wanted to be with, but he clammed up and shoved the words down. He coughed and shifted uncomfortably. “An’ you were never a distraction…”
“I thought you were…were…I thought you were dead!” Hanzo shoved at him again, this time harder. Again, Jesse made no attempts to stop the action or defend himself. “Overwatch HQ blows up and you don’t even bother to tell me that you’re alive. Stupid…inconsiderate asshole!”
Jesse stumbled back a few feet and let his head hang low. He deserved anything and everything that Hanzo threw at him, both verbally and physically. He swallowed past the lump in his throat and tried to make eye contact again. Hanzo’s face was twisted in fury, but his lips were trembling and it looked like his eyes were watering. He was barely holding together. I shouldn’t have messaged him…this is just hurting him. Why do I always wind up hurtin’ the people I care about? I should jus’ keep to myself…everyone’d be better off.
But something in him zinged and he felt his lips tug down into a frown. Maybe it was the mention of Overwatch, maybe it was just years of Jesse not having to deal with situations like this. While he knew that he was at fault here, he knew that everything didn’t fall on his shoulders. He was not the only one at fault. “…don’t put this all on me, sugar. You coulda reached out too.” No, why am I saying that, I don’t want to fight.
Hanzo froze with his jaw hanging slightly slack. There was a moment of silence that seemed to stretch between them for an eternity. It was one of those moments that had Jesse’s fight or flight reflex kicking in – and while he had a very developed fight reflex, this time his mind was urging him to run like hell. S’all I’m good for anyway. Runnin’ away from everything.
Jesse didn’t see it coming until it was too late. There had been a subtle shift in Hanzo’s upper body, the man’s lips had pulled back in a slight snarl, and then his fist had collided with Jesse’s cheek. He grunted as his ass hit the ground, followed by his back. That’s gonna leave a mark. Years of scrapping with people, fighting for his life, running with dangerous crowds, and fight training kept Jesse from seriously hurting himself on impact. He rubbed at his jaw and glared up at Hanzo. “You coulda. You coulda sent a message, you coulda tried to find out if I was out there. But nah.”
No. This ain’t how I wanted this to go. I wanted to…I wanted…I wanted…I wanted… While Jesse had wanted a peaceful meeting, it seemed that all of his frustration, sadness, and anger from the last three years was boiling over onto the person who deserved it the least. But what bothered him the most was that Jesse knew there was truth in his words. Hanzo could have reached out to him. He could have made an attempt. Jesse sure as hell would have tried to find Hanzo had their roles been reversed. He had sought out everyone from Overwatch once Switzerland had gone sky high – he had needed to know for sure.
“Don’t presume to understand my situation, McCree.” Hanzo spat his name out like it was poison. He was stalking closer again. “You are not the only one who has had a rough time.”
Jesse shoved to his feet and rubbed at his cheek again. His glare was growing more pointed and his hands were balling into fists. His metallic hand clicked as he completed the fist and light glinted off of it. “Suppose yer right about that.” The words seemed like he was acquiescing and backing down, but Jesse could feel the emotions sizzling up higher and higher. “Like what happened with Genji, right?” He knew bringing up Genji was a low blow, but the words spilled from his mouth anyway. He’d always had trouble stopping once he’d started and it seemed that now was no exception.
He watched the color drain from Hanzo’s face and his eyes widen in fear. Jesse couldn’t tell if Hanzo was frightened because Jesse knew a little about what had happened with Genji or just of Jesse in general. Both thoughts were a punch to the gut. Being with Hanzo had always made him feel safe and comfortable…tonight it was just feeding the fire that spurred on his frustration.
“Don’t…you don’t…you can’t know about that.” Hanzo took a step away from him and Jesse realized the fear was a combination of both things. “H…how…”
“Genji’s alive, by the way. Mercy found him, brought him back to Overwatch a few years back.” Jesse crossed his arms over his chest and grinded his teeth. “He told me ‘bout what happened. Wasn’t sure what to believe, to be honest. Didn’t think you’d kill yer brother. Didn’t want to believe it either.”
He wanted to stop saying things like this; he didn’t want to push Hanzo away from him. He didn’t want to lose someone else he cared about. Jesse didn’t even want to think about this argument being his last conversation with Hanzo. He didn’t think he could go through that again. But the words kept coming, it was like the figurative dam had burst and nothing could stop them. S’for the better. Everyone ‘round me winds up hurt or dead…Hanzo’s better off without me draggin’ him down.
“You can’t know…you cannot…” Hanzo took another step and Jesse noted that his feet didn’t make any sound even though his steps were clumsy and panicked. “He can’t…I…” All other words choked in his throat and Jesse watched Hanzo clamp a hand over his mouth.
“Genji’s alive.” Jesse repeated. “He wasn’t at HQ when it blew…think he’s somewhere in Nepal now.” The words were gentler, but not exactly warm.
Hanzo’s free hand joined the other and his face was completely obscured from Jesse’s sight. Jesse and Hanzo’s ragged breathing was the only sound that filled the room. The thoughts were threatening to swallow him whole again. There I go fuckin’ everything up again. Genius idea, bring up the fact that Hanzo tried to kill his brother. I went too far, I always fuck good things up, shit timing, people are better off not bein’ ‘round me, I wish…I wish…please don’t leave me. Please…please…please…please…
Jesse waited for an acerbic response, but none came. It took him a few moments to realize that Hanzo’s shoulders were shaking, that his whole body was trembling ever so slightly. That his breathing was labored and that his hands were attempting to muffle any sounds he made.
That he was crying.
That he’d made Hanzo cry.
“Han…” Jesse tried to take a step closer to him, but his legs locked up and froze him in place. “Hey…I’m…”
“Shut up!” Hanzo’s voice cracked and he stepped back again, but lost his footing and wound up on the ground. It was only then that Jesse realized that Hanzo’s lower legs were metallic. And not in the sense of armor. They were prosthetics. He wanted to know how and when those had happened “You don’t…you don’t get to come back into my life and make me feel…” The sentence trailed off and Hanzo let out a frustrated sound, but made no attempt to get off the ground. “You don’t get to…you…how dare you…”
He didn’t know how to respond for a few moments. Part of him thought that he needed to let Hanzo have his space, that maybe it would help him. But it hurt to see Hanzo sitting on the ground with his face hidden and shoulders shaking as he tried to stifle any and all sounds. It was all made worse because he’d caused this, he’d been the one to make Hanzo break down like this.
“Make you feel…?” Jesse let the question fall from his mouth. He wanted to know what Hanzo meant. Jesse assumed that Hanzo seeing him had ripped away all the healing he’d managed to do and exposed the wounds again. He assumed that it brought back all the negative emotions.
Hanzo shook his head and kept his face hidden. “No, I…you…” Another frustrated sound escaped him and one hand tangled in his hair. “I thought…”
No, Jesse couldn’t just sit back and let Hanzo cry like this. It wasn’t right. He had never wanted to hurt Hanzo like this. He exhaled and tried to push away the negative feelings that were coursing through him. Maybe…jus’ maybe…maybe I can fix…maybe…please…
“C’mere.” Jesse managed to close the distance between them and reached for Hanzo’s arm to help him up. As expected, Hanzo shoved at him and fought tooth and nail to get up on his own. “Jus’ let me help you, Han.” There was more bite to his voice than he’d intended, but it got Hanzo to stop clawing at him.
Hanzo allowed the help insofar as getting to his feet, and then he immediately pulled his arms away from Jesse and put distance between them again. But now Jesse could see the fragility that Hanzo had been trying to hide from him. Hanzo was just as much of a mess as Jesse was; he just hid it behind stoicism and haughty expressions. The distance was to hide the cracks in his armor, cracks that most others wouldn’t see, but Jesse knew him well enough to be able to.
“I don’t need help.” Hanzo’s voice was not convincing in the least, but Jesse wouldn’t call him out on it. He didn’t want to open his mouth and fuck things up even more than he already had.
He let Hanzo have the distance he needed and lingered a few feet away. Not like he really knew what to say at this point – it felt like he’d said enough already. He crossed his arms over his chest and sighed as the metallic arm caught the light and glinted. At least Jesse was finally used to the difference in balance that had happened because of one arm being metal. It had screwed everything up for longer than he’d liked – on top of that he was only just getting his shooting back up to snuff.
Hanzo was pointedly looking away from him, though Jesse could see him sneaking glimpses as well as a confused expression spreading across his face. “What the fuck happened to your arm?” Hanzo’s red-rimmed eyes flicked from the metal arm to Jesse’s face. “Did that…did that happen in Switzerland?” His expression softened just a little and Jesse could see the worry plain as day.
He tensed at the mention of that place and looked away from Hanzo. “Naw. Wasn’t at Switzerland HQ when it blew up. Hell, wasn’t with Overwatch anymore.” He shook his head and rubbed at where flesh met metal – there was a strange ache passing through that area. He hated when it was like that. “Jus’ made a mistake after I left Overwatch. Hurt my arm bad enough that I lost it.”
He really didn’t want to go into the details. Jesse was embarrassed by it…and it was a frightening memory. He’d gone home to New Mexico despite Deadlock’s presence there and it had bitten him in the ass. Hard. A few Deadlocks had played him good and gotten him cornered somewhere remote and given him a little ‘justice’ for daring to join the ‘feds’. Jesse had been lucky to survive at all.
“…you left Overwatch.” Hanzo was staring again. “I thought they were your family.”
There was a tone in Hanzo’s voice that Jesse didn’t really like, but he ignored it. He didn’t want to fight anymore. He was too tired to keep fighting. “Gabe was losin’ it at the end. Left not long after Amari died.”
Jesse had told Hanzo what Ana Amari meant to him, that she was basically his mother. Leaving her behind had hurt him in a way that Jesse hadn’t really been able to articulate. So he’d just let the feelings stew. Eventually, he and Gabe had argued. And then Jesse had left. Why did I leave, why did I leave my family behind, why do I always run away, why why why why why…
“I see…” Hanzo shifted and stared at the wall. “I left the Shimada. After Genji. Because of what they had me do to Genji.”
Jesse stared at him in disbelief. That wasn’t something he would have expected. The entire time Jesse had known Hanzo he had been poised to take over the Shimada – him giving that up felt unreal. But if they were the ones who had made him attempt to kill Genji…then he could believe it. While the brothers hadn’t always gotten along, Jesse knew they cared about each other. Fiercely. Because when he’d first met Genji back on that mission to Hanamura, Genji had threatened Jesse was severe bodily harm if he hurt Hanzo.
Silence spread between them again. Jesse wanted to be done fighting; he wanted to have things be back like they were, though he wasn’t entirely sure that was possible. He took a few steps away and leaned against the wall. He was playing things cool, but it felt like there was glass in his chest. He didn’t want to lose Hanzo.
“It’s a year today.” Jesse surprised himself when he spoke again. “Th…they died a year ago.” He could feel his eyes watering and his face getting hot as he tried to hold back tears. “Han…I didn’t get to say goodbye. Fuck, the last thing I said to Gabe was ‘go fuck yourself’.”
The room was quiet for a few moments and Jesse couldn’t bring himself to look over at Hanzo. He hadn’t expected to actually talk about what was bothering him. Actually, he wasn’t entirely sure what he had expecting to happen.
“…Jesse…” Hanzo’s voice was a good deal softer now, gentler as well. It sounded like he had let go of some anger as well. At least for the moment.
“Fuckin’ ran away from that, I run away from everything.” Jesse snorted as he felt the urge to drink whiskey rising again. He balled one of his hands against his forehead and rubbed. “S’all I’m good for. Runnin’ away and hurtin’ people.”
He didn’t dare look over at Hanzo – he was afraid of what he’d see. Jesse liked to imagine that Hanzo was looking sympathetic and was about to say something to counter him. But he was terrified that he’d look over and see that Hanzo was agreeing. And he knew that seeing something like that would shatter what little self-worth he’d managed to hold onto for all these years.
“Don’t you dare talk like that.” Hanzo’s voice was shaking, though this time it wasn’t from suppressed tears. “You are good for so much more than running and you know it.” He took in a deep, heaving breath. “You are a good, kindhearted man who somehow still has softness in his heart despite a past that would make trained soldiers faint.” Jesse flinched when the words were closer, when Hanzo’s nearly inaudible footsteps were coming closer. “And I love you.”
Jesse froze. Hanzo was barely a few inches away from him, their chests were nearly touching. Despite Hanzo being several inches shorter, he was still managing to get up in Jesse’s face and was staring him down with a stare that was almost ferocious. But it was the words that had him unable to move or breathe or anything. Hanzo loved him. But he deserves so much better than a goddamned runaway cowboy…
He opened his mouth to speak, but could only eke out a dry gasp. The tears that he had been trying to hold back were threatening to spill down his cheeks and he wasn’t entirely sure he’d be able to stop them this time. Jesse stared down at him, at the blazing, fierce expression on Hanzo’s face, at how his eyes flashed with anger and more, and how close the archer had gotten to him. “But…I…” His throat tightened and he felt his lower lip start trembling. “…why?” Jesse closed his eyes again, this time it was mainly to try and hold tears back. His shoulders bucked as he tried to hold everything in. A soft, warm hand pressed to his cheek and smoothed against the stubble. It was such a tender, gentle touch that Jesse was nearly overwhelmed. A short, hiccupping sob slipped from between his lips and Jesse tucked his chin down in an attempt to hide himself. Who would want this…I’m a fuckin’ mess.
“Oh Jesse…” There was no pity in Hanzo’s voice, just a surprisingly gentle tone for a man who was widely regarded as hard and difficult. Jesse bit into his lower lip in hopes that the pain would stop the tears, but it didn’t. “Jesse…come here. Please.”
The anger and frustration from earlier had left Jesse entirely at this point – it seemed the same with Hanzo as well. He wordlessly took Hanzo’s hand and let him lead him to the bed. His mind was in a haze as first Hanzo settled in on the bed and then guided Jesse so he could rest his head in his lap. All of the actions were so tender…so loving…and Jesse just couldn’t handle it. He couldn’t comprehend why someone would be so kind after Jesse had said all of those unkind words, after he had abandoned him for three years, and so many other things. He just didn’t understand.
“I don’t…why do you…” Jesse couldn’t finish the sentence; the words died in his throat and were drowned out by a sharp intake of breath.
“Shh…” Hanzo’s fingers ran through Jesse’s hair, the contact was gentle and steady, a reassurance that Jesse was not alone. “I love you because you helped me realize there was more to the world than what was expected of me. You treated me with kindness, but like an equal rather than some lord. I can be me around you.”
“H…Han…” Jesse swallowed dryly. “I…”
He felt Hanzo hum and realized that the other man had leaned down and was speaking very close to his ear. The gruffness that Hanzo’s voice usually had was toned down; it was soft and soothing now. And his fingers kept running through Jesse’s hair. Jesse finally reached out with his right hand and grasped at Hanzo’s free hand and clutched it tightly.
“I was hurt and angry and so upset that you left me alone…I thought you had found someone else.” Hanzo’s voice was still so quiet, though it was quaking ever so slightly as he spoke. “I thought…that you had forgotten me. So…I tried to ignore my feelings…I didn’t want to feel them because when I did it hurt. And then I thought you died…and…”
Jesse’s heart ached at that. He took in a few deep, heaving breaths in an attempt to calm himself enough to speak. “Hanzo…it was only ever you. Always you. Never anyone else.” He managed, but the words were broken apart and shaky. “Because I…I…lo…” He pushed his metal hand against his face and hid the tears. “I didn’t…I couldn’t lose you too.”
Silence fell between them, only interrupting by the sharp breaths Jesse made as he tried to calm himself even just a little. It was working, albeit far slower than he wanted it to. He closed his eyes and grimaced as tears slid down his cheeks and fell to Hanzo’s pants as well as the bedspread.
“Han…they’re all gone…” Jesse whispered. “All o’ Blackwatch is gone…and Amari…and Jack too…” His voice cracked and he clenched his teeth together. “I…tracked down the whereabouts of all Overwatch agents…but what the hell am I s’posed to do now?”
Jesse wasn’t good for anything except getting information out of people, sneaking around for ages without being noticed, and shooting guns. It didn’t exactly make him employable in the real world. It wasn’t like he could settle down and work in an office. And on top of that…his family was gone. He’d always assumed that once he’d cooled his head and once Gabe had pulled his head out of his ass that Jesse would just go back to Blackwatch. That he would always have that opportunity. And then it had been wrenched away from him before he’d had the chance to apologize for being a no-good ingrate.
“Jess…” Hanzo kept teasing his fingers through Jesse’s hair. He seemed to be about to say something else, but Jesse made a soft frustrated sound that was almost like a squeak.
“I’m a fuckin’ mess…I’m sorry Han…I…” He shook his head. “I’m jus’ no good. A no-good ingrate.” The hair stroking stopped and Jesse felt pain zing along his scalp. It took him a second to realize that Hanzo had flicked him upside the head. “What the fuck!”
“You are plenty good, Jesse.” Hanzo’s voice was firm and unyielding, but still gentle. “Even if you don’t believe it…everyone around you does.”
Jesse went silent at that. His mind flickered through all the moments where he’d been chewed out by Jack and Ana and Gabe, and before that the Deadlock bosses. He’d heard from Jack – repeatedly – that he wasn’t going to amount to anything good. He was just a criminal. He’d heard from Ana that he was too undisciplined. The Deadlock bosses had said they’d made him what he was and that he best not forget that. Gabe had even said some harsh things…but Gabe had believed in him. And while Jesse’s initial thoughts had centered on negative memories, he remembered how people had started treating him once some of the Deadlock had worn out of him. How they greeted him like an equal rather than some piece of dirt, how they had wanted to spend time with him, them asking about his day; so many little things that made him realize that, yes, people had thought he was good. Some had even asked him for advice…
But…his mind focused on the current day instead. How Jesse had contacted Hanzo out of loneliness and desperation, and even worse, how he had treated the man he loved in such a cruel way, especially the fact that he’d brought up what Hanzo had tried to do to Genji. “…e…even though I said all those things?” Jesse’s voice was almost timid when he spoke again and he hated it. He hated how young it made him sound. And how vulnerable. I sound so pathetic when I’m like this…I hate it, hate it so much…
“You’re forgiven.” Hanzo whispered. “…you were right. I could have reached out. And…I am glad Genji is alive. I just wish…” His voice trailed off into silence. Jesse knew he wasn’t going to finish the sentence. And he knew what he wished: that he had not attempted to kill Genji.
“I’m sorry, Han…I shoulda done right by you. I shoulda at least told you I was alive.” Jesse turned his head and buried it partially against Hanzo’s thigh. “I’m just sorry.”
“Jesse…you’re forgiven.” The soft, soothing voice was back, as were the fingers that were stroking through his hair. “You reached out now. That is what matters.”
They stayed like that the entire time it took Jesse to calm down. It took longer than he would admit and he was sure that Hanzo’s legs had to be asleep. It wasn’t like Jesse was light. Once the tears had dried and they were both calm, they settled into the bed side by side. Jesse was holding Hanzo’s hand underneath the blanket and he really didn’t want to let go. Ever. Now that he had Hanzo again, he didn’t want to lose him. Jesse had lost a lot in his lifetime, more than most people did in twice as many years. He wasn’t sure his heart could bear another loss.
He had missed this. He had missed being close to Hanzo, hearing his voice, just being together. Jesse didn’t want to lose that again, even temporarily.
But silence was unbearable, it always had been for Jesse. It made his thoughts that much louder and more noticeable. So he needed to find something to talk about. His mind darted through topics and tried to sort through what was appropriate and what was not.
It was hard to decide…
“What have you been up to, darlin’?” Jesse’s voice lacked its usual pep, but he was trying. He genuinely wanted to know as well…if Hanzo was no longer with the Shimada, then it was likely he was often in danger.
“Hunting down the Shimada-gumi.” Hanzo said the words like he was ordering lunch. Nonchalant. That words like that weren’t dangerous at all when they both knew otherwise. “And hiding from or dealing with whoever they send after me.”
Jesse’s chest tightened again, but he nodded. It made enough sense and was about what he’d expected. But that didn’t mean he had to like that Hanzo was in so much danger all the time. “Sounds like it’s been busy…”
Hanzo nodded absently. “Yes. It is my duty to take care of them. It is so I can redeem myself for what I did.”
Jesse knew Hanzo well enough to understand that redemption was more of an abstract concept that might never come to fruition. Hanzo would continue to feel shame for what he’d done…and then wouldn’t let go. It was something they had in common, at least a little. Jesse had a tough time letting go of the past at times.
“Sounds dangerous though.” Jesse muttered as he shifted ever so slightly. He wanted to be closer, but he didn’t want to push his luck.
“No more dangerous than what you face every day. I’m aware of the bounty on you, Jesse. Must be tempting to bounty hunters. $40,000,000 would almost be enough to tempt me.” There was an almost teasing tone in Hanzo’s voice that made Jesse’s heart skip a beat – though the serious conversation topic brought him down to reality quickly enough. “My bounty is higher than yours, though.”
Why does that feel like the outlaw version of ‘my dick is bigger than your dick’? Jesse sighed and turned to his side so he could see Hanzo better. “Guess we’re both in danger a lot of the time, sweetheart.”
And he really didn’t like that. Jesse had spent the better part of his life in some form of danger. With Deadlock, it had been the fact that he could die at any given moment from either a mission or another member getting pissed. Blackwatch, it was missions. And now while he was on the run? Bounty hunters and the like. He was tired of having to look over his shoulder. It was exhausting having to be constantly vigilant. As it was, he had a shitty sleep schedule (if one could call it that) and had vices to help curb the anxiety that came with being on the run for so long. Jesse just wanted to settle down somewhere that he could relax. Somewhere that didn’t know who he was. He wanted to be a no one, a faceless man in the crowd. He wanted to be normal. With Hanzo next to him and holding his hand and real for the first time in three years, Jesse felt the urge to leave everything behind more keenly than he ever had.
“Hey Han…you ever want to leave it all behind?” He traced the pad of his thumb along the back of Hanzo’s hand. Jesse couldn’t quite look Hanzo in the eye this time; he was a bit sheepish and nervous. There was something a little cowardly and selfish about running away from everything.
“Mm…yes. I do want to leave it behind sometimes.” Hanzo sighed as he rolled to his side as well. “It’s exhausting…I never know when a place is truly safe…”
The implication hung in the air – they couldn’t even be certain that the crappy hotel Jesse had found was safe. Someone could have recognized him when he booked the room and sold him out to another bounty hunter. Someone could have been following. Hell, if Hanzo had been able to track him so easily, others would be able to as well. He pushed down the anxiety that bubbled up involuntarily. They were fine. It was only for a night. They would be safe.
“I…want to get away from it all.” Jesse whispered and shot Hanzo a nervous look. “I’m tired of running…I just want to be normal for once.”
There’s nothing normal about a fuckin’ cowboy runnin’ around shootin’ people with perfect aim. Again, the thought was shoved away. Even if Jesse would always have that exceptional skill, he wanted a normal, mundane life. He wanted to feel safe and comfortable.
“I understand the feeling…” Hanzo’s eyes closed and Jesse watched his chest rise and fall with a heavy sigh. “Sometimes I dream of it.”
Jesse urged Hanzo to tell him – and eventually Hanzo caved and started detailing the places in his dreams. A modest home in the mountains, wildflowers that spread like a quilt over the yard, and even a vegetable garden. It was quiet and peaceful…and too perfect to true. At least that’s what Hanzo thought. Hanzo’s insistence that it was unattainable just made Jesse want to make it come true – he wanted to see Hanzo’s face when he realized that they were able to relax. He wanted to see that smile. In return, Jesse talked at length about how he wanted to go home to New Mexico and have a ranch with horses. He’d helped out on Deadlock’s ranch when he was there – and he’d loved every second of it. it helped that he was good with animals. He said so long as he had the right person (he’d winked at Hanzo at that point) by his side it would be perfect.
It had been nice to see Hanzo blush again. It was nice to know that even though they were older and far more jaded that Jesse was still able to fluster Hanzo.
The conversation died off for several long minutes, to the point that Jesse was a bit nervous that Hanzo might drift off.
“Hanzo…c’mon. Let’s go. Let’s just get out of here. Just the two of us.” Jesse shifted a little closer, to the point that his chest was a scarce few inches away from Hanzo’s. “Anywhere you want. Mountains, New Mexico…anywhere.”
The only things that mattered were them being far away from those who were hunting them down and that Hanzo was by his side. That’s all that Jesse wanted.
“Jesse…” Hanzo wrapped arms around Jesse and pulled him close. Jesse buried his face against his chest and held back just as tightly. “That’s not…”
“Please Han…please, let’s just get out of here. Jus’…please…” Jesse gripped tight to Hanzo’s shirt and kept his face tucked to the fabric. He inhaled deeply – that slightly spicy scent he’d always associated Hanzo was still present. It was a slight comfort, but it didn’t make the urge to run away and hide forever go away. No, it just made it stronger because he’d missed Hanzo so much and he didn’t want to be away from him again.
Jesse watched as Hanzo pulled back and took in Jesse’s appearance. He was certain he had to be a hot mess – what with tearstains on his cheeks, red puffy eyes, and likely a frenetic expression. But Hanzo’s expression wasn’t judging, it was concerned and soft and almost fond. “Jesse…we both have duties here. We cannot just abandon them.”
“Hanzo…please. I…let’s just get away from all of this. No more bounty hunters, no more bein’ heroes, no more Shimada…just us.” Jesse’s hands shifted to the front of Hanzo’s shirt and gripped so tightly that his knuckles turned white. “C’mon…just the two of us. Please…”
It was like the thoughts that had been bubbling through his mind the whole night were spewing out of his mouth and he couldn’t stop them. Jesse could feel tears prickling at the corners of his eyes again but he made no attempt to stop them this time.
“I have to end the Shimada-gumi, Jesse. It is my duty…my responsibility. My burden for what I did to Genji.” Hanzo’s voice was soft, even. He was being reasonable. And Jesse shouldn’t feel like that was stabbing him through the heart, but that’s how it felt. “Perhaps…you could help me. Then once we finish…we can go somewhere.”
The small bubble of hope that floated up at the thought of ‘someday later’ shrank when he realized that he’d have to do exactly what he’d done in Blackwatch. What he was doing now. The only difference was that Hanzo would be by his side…and Jesse would fret over him getting hurt or worse. The two of them being together would just make the danger involved creep up higher and higher. Part of the reason that Jesse had lasted so long on his own was that people weren’t willing to take the risk involved to try and take him in. But their combined bounties would definitely sway people toward making attempts. And life would just get more and more dangerous…
And Jesse couldn’t put Hanzo in more danger.
“Han…please…” Jesse slowly sat up and then buried his face in his hands. “Please…just…please. I c…can’t…”
He knew that the answer was going to be no. That Hanzo was going to say that his duty came first. And Jesse couldn’t hold that against him. Jesse had been able to find some sort of redemption in working with Overwatch…and this was Hanzo’s way of finding his own redemption. As much as he wanted to run away with Hanzo, he wouldn’t take away his chance at redemption.
But it hurt. It felt like he was being ripped apart from the inside out.
“Someday…when everything is done…” Hanzo’s voice was getting closer, and then Jesse felt warm hands on his cheeks guiding his face upwards. A moment later and Jesse felt soft lips against his. “When everything is done, we will get away from everything. We will have our peace.”
The words were a slight comfort, but only a minor one. Jesse gave a weak smile and nodded. “When everything is done…” All he could do was parrot the words back to Hanzo. Anything beyond that felt impossible.
The sound of a chime made both of them jump before Hanzo pulled out his phone and grimaced. “…I have to go Jesse. I have a lead…that’s the reason I was in this area.” He gave an apologetic look as he slowly got to his feet. “Stay in touch this time.”
His heart sank as Hanzo stood up. The dull ache was back in his chest, but he got to his feet and walked with Hanzo to the hotel door. The false smile he wore when he was in public was plastered to his face, it didn’t quite meet his eyes, but it fooled most everyone. Jesse wanted to stop him. He wanted him to stay more than anything. But he didn’t say that – he wouldn’t be able to without breaking down again. Jesse breaking down again would hurt Hanzo even more…
And Jesse wasn’t going to do that again.
“I’ll try to. Don’t be a stranger, sugar.” Jesse leaned down and stole another short, sweet kiss. One that lingered just a little longer than it should have – one that told Hanzo how much Jesse wanted him to stay. A silent plea that he hoped said everything he could not. “And you stay safe.”
They didn’t say goodbyes. Phrases like those felt too permanent. And Jesse wanted to see Hanzo again, preferably soon, and preferably for a long time. He waved when Hanzo glanced over his shoulder while walking away. Jesse watched Hanzo’s retreating back for quite some time.
And then he was left on his own again.
His shoulders drooped down and he closed the door. Jesse snorted back a bitter laugh when he realized that – yet again – he hadn’t admitted that he was in love with Hanzo. It had been foolish of him to even think that Hanzo would want to run away with him. It had been three years since they had seen each other and Jesse couldn’t even admit his feelings.
He slumped back on the bed and closed his eyes. The silence in the hotel room was damn near overwhelming and it didn’t take long for the thoughts to begin ruminating again. I was too weak to go with him…too afraid of losing him. So afraid that I probably lost him…
Jesse got to his feet, shoved his hands in his pockets, and walked out of the room. He needed to find that bottle of whiskey more than ever now. His chest constricted and he kept his head down. Back to the life of an outlaw, back to being alone. Maybe it was what he deserved for being so scared. Distant thoughts of ‘someday’ echoed through his mind as he walked along the deserted streets. But someday wasn’t today…someday didn’t fix the ache that in his chest or how it almost seemed difficult to breathe. Maybe someday it would get better. Maybe someday he’d be strong enough to stop running.
But someday wasn’t today.