Hanzo stepped from his rental car, adjusting his sunglasses as he took in the ranch that was now officially his. Illuminated by the glow of the sun setting behind him, the wooden exterior boasted an old-fashioned, unpainted style. The ranch had two floors, the first of which was made of lovingly and painstakingly notched wooden logs. On the second floor the pattern changed to vertically lined planks, supported by numerous pillars of solid wood, interspersed with large windows. There were so many more rooms than he'd ever need, but he'd fallen in love with this place on a parcel of fifty acres of land in the rural southwest of the United States, and how peaceful it looked with the colours the sun made as it set against the wooden exterior. So much so, in fact, that he'd moved all the way to Santa Fe, New Mexico, from Japan.
It was the perfect escape from his clan.
Hanzo's shoes kicked up dust as he crossed the hard-packed dirt driveway and took the few steps up the front porch, keys in hand. He turned the key slowly in the lock and let the door swing open. The main entrance opened to a large living room on the right and the kitchen and dining areas to the left. Hardwood floors in walnut ran perpendicular to the doorway, bathed in warm, orange spots of light and long shadows. White sheets draped over pieces of furniture, leftover from the estate’s sale. Moving as far as he had, he didn’t mind much. Most anything was better than the nothing he had on arrival.
He searched the wall to the right and found a switch, flicking it. When nothing happened, he frowned and flipped the second switch. Still, nothing.
Hanzo let out a sigh of exasperation. He'd been trying to have the electricity company turn it on before his arrival, but they'd seemed hesitant to do so until he'd finally argued them into submission. Yet here he stood, without the electricity he'd been promised. Someone would be getting hell for it in the morning. As it was, it was too late to be calling them up, and he didn't want to drive all the way back to town to find a hotel. It was late spring and fairly warm; he could stay in the house for the night.
Hopping back down the front porch, Hanzo retrieved his duffel and computer bag from the car before heading back into the house. He closed the door behind himself and dropped the duffel next to it, carrying the computer bag further into the living room. He tugged the dusty curtains open to let in more of the retreating sunlight before finding a sheet-covered mound that was most certainly couch-shaped and pulling the cloth off. Beneath it he found a soft, navy blue sectional still in very good condition. Another sheet uncovered a coffee table, and two more revealed overstuffed chairs.
Hanzo balled up the sheets and tossed them to a corner of the room before retrieving his bag. Settling in on the couch, he pulled out his tablet computer and booted it up. He checked the connection and was pleased to see it was quite strong. Satellite was a more expensive connection, but if it remained strong out around his new home he didn't mind.
Hanzo flicked through his emails, ignoring the ones from clan members and deleting them immediately. He knew what he would find within-- condemnation, begging, threats. He was done with that. There was only one family member he cared to communicate with, and Genji had been in and out of communication the last two years while he traveled the world. Hanzo had last heard from him about six months ago, when he was planning to go to Nepal. Genji had no idea Hanzo had finally up and left Hanamura. He'd sent his brother an email three weeks prior to get in touch with him, but had yet to hear back.
Scrolling through his inbox, a chill made its way up his spine. He shivered, wondering at the chill that seemed to settle on his skin in a room that hadn't been cold five minutes prior. He glanced out the window where the sun was still setting across the horizon and set his tablet aside. He found his way back to his duffel where he retrieved a sweater before reclining again on the couch, this time to watch a movie.
Hanzo jerked awake surrounded by darkness. He stared blearily about at the unfamiliar space until his brain caught up and he remembered he was in America, in his new home.
What had woken him?
His tablet had slid from his chest to the space between himself and the couch, long ago having gone into power saver mode. He set it on the coffee table as he sat up to look around. Something had woken him, but he wasn't sure what. The front door, easily within view, was closed. Light from the moon poured through the front windows, illuminating things surprisingly well now that he'd adjusted to it. Judging by it's position, it was very early in the morning. Everything was silent.
He ran a hand over his hair, tugging it from the half-undone tie that had held it up. Now loose, it tumbled to his shoulders in kinked waves. The release of pressure on his scalp was a relief as he followed the motion by combing his fingers through it. It was his first night in a new place, he'd traveled long by both plane and vehicle to get here, it wouldn't be surprising if the excitement of the last--
The sharp bang had Hanzo on his feet in seconds, searching for the cause of the noise. In the wake of the startling sound the house had fallen utterly, completely still again.
A chill rushed up his spine as he decided the noise had originated upstairs. He glanced at the front door once more, unable to shake the regret that he'd left his bow case in the car even as he knew it likely wouldn't do him any good in the house, and made his way towards the stairs.
Suspicion coloured his thoughts. He'd been exceedingly careful in his dealings when buying the ranch and leaving Hanamura for good, taking every precaution to prevent his father from discovering his intentions. Still, he would not dismiss the idea that somehow the clan had discovered his plan and followed him to America. He should have prepared for the possibility, really; a lapse in judgement he was certainly regretting now.
He paused at the bottom of the staircase, its open end wide and pointing toward the front of the house before twisting to climb parallel to the back wall. Gripping one of the dark wooden banisters, Hanzo scaled the first step, then the second, testing his weight with each one on the unfamiliar steps. If someone was in the house with him, he did not want to alert them to his presence. No other noises emanated from the second floor, but strangely everything grew colder as he climbed. He paid the temperature little mind, however, dismissing the chill as unimportant as the second floor slowly came into view.
The hallway on this side of the house was darker now that the moon had begun to set. The doors along his right were all closed, except for one rectangle of light that spilled across the floor at the far end of the hall behind him.
Seeing no threat, he continued his climb of the last few stairs with the same caution as the rest. At the top, he paused to consider his next move. Hanzo crept cautiously to the nearest closed door. He paused again just outside it, listening as his hand came to rest on the doorknob. He shifted his balance, lowering his stance, and when everything remained quiet he turned the knob, his whole body tense and ready to spring. Even the hinges on the door were silent as it swung open, revealing a sparsely furnished office and nothing out of place.
Hanzo left the door open and turned sharp eyes back down the hall. He stalked silently to the next door, moving fluidly in the dark and repeating the same pattern at every door. He discovered a bedroom, a bathroom, and a second bedroom, all of which were just as quiet, clean, and untouched as the first one.
The only remaining door in the hallway was the open one, through which a pale rectangle of light stretched, beckoning. He pressed to the wall, sliding along it quietly until he was barely a foot away. Slowing to a crawl, he edged toward the door frame and prepared to swing into the room when, as fast as lightning, the door slammed shut.
Adrenaline rushed up Hanzo's spine and his training took over as he lunged at the door. He jerked the handle, throwing the door open again with a sharp crack as it hit the wall. The sight that greeted him was both surprising and relieving-- a mostly empty room, just like the others. Along the left wall stood a long, low dresser covered in another dust protector, and to the right, raised on a platform, stood a large, four-poster bed framed by covered bedside tables. The master bedroom. The entire room glowed softly in the light of the moon, but Hanzo did not yet drop his guard.
There was a door to his far right, which opened to reveal an empty walk-through closet with an open door at the end. With no threat in sight, he edged carefully through the closet until he could see the room at the far end fully. It was the master bath, also empty. Hanzo relaxed marginally, backing out into the bedroom again.
He stood quietly, studying the room as he considered what could be causing the doors to slam. When an obvious answer didn't come to him, he decided it was time to move back downstairs. He'd have someone come in and look at the doors if the issue persisted.
Hanzo was back in the hallway when the door slammed shut behind him again .
He spun around, eyeing it in trepidation. His brow pressed low, creasing the space between them as his lips pressed in a thin line. His hand closed on the doorknob once more only to be met with resistance. He tried again, and when the door refused to budge a second time, he stepped back to examine it. Light leaked around the edges of the frame, and as he stood there in the quiet of the house, his left arm began to tingle underneath his sweater. He jolted in surprise as he felt the dragons shift beneath his skin and he narrowed his eyes back on the door, a different kind of suspicion altogether settling within him.
He reached out for the door a third time, but before his hand met the knob again another resounding slam had him spinning to face the rest of the empty hallway. By the time he registered that the next door down had slammed shut on its own as well, the bathroom door beyond that crashed closed with a bang. The third bedroom followed suit, and finally the office door thundered closed. The tingle in his arm had escalated to a burn, but Hanzo was frozen in place, staring down the dark hallway in unease and confusion.
Something was definitely wrong, but he had absolutely no idea what.
A soft click to his right drew his attention back to the master bedroom. The door was partially open now, a gap barely an inch wide taunting him where he stood. The dragons were roiling beneath his skin now, churning and pressing against their bindings, and Hanzo suddenly knew he'd find the explanation to this bizarre ordeal behind that door.
When he gripped the doorknob this time he immediately jerked it back. The metal of the knob was cold enough that it practically burned. He pressed the palm of his hand flat to the wood and pushed that way, letting the door swing open. Inside, the room remained as he’d left it-- covered dresser, moonlight through the windows, raised bed, and--
Hanzo stopped in the doorway, staring across the room. In the far corner, a figure stood with its back to him, perfectly still. He didn't dare move for a quiet moment, assessing if the other had heard him enter.
He no longer believed his family had found him-- no, this was something else completely.
He squinted, trying to make out the details of the figure. It was tall, broad, definitely masculine despite the slump of his posture, but he couldn't make out the colour of his skin or hair. Was that a hat? The figure was all shades of grey, with a strange crease running up the middle of him. He realized the reason he couldn't make out the colours of the other's form properly was because the figure was mostly transparent.
Hanzo's eyes widened in alarm when it finally dawned on him-- what he was looking at was a *spirit*. He was no stranger to spirits. He'd had the dragons for most of his life, but he'd never heard more than myths of human spirits-- literal ghost stories. He fumbled for something to say or do, some way to confront the situation before him, but had no idea of the etiquette-- if there was any-- to meeting a ghost. It was a decision he was saved from making as the spirit in question took the opportunity to speak first.
The voice that bounced off the walls was barely more than a low, raspy whisper and Hanzo was unsure if he'd heard right.
"I apologize, spirit, but I--"
The scream rattled the walls and Hanzo took a step back as the shape in the corner flickered where it stood. He took another step back as it moved, turning to face him. The hat obscured most of the ghost's face, but Hanzo could just barely see the outline of its mouth. Its lips were twisted and its sharp teeth bared in a snarl before the whole thing blinked out of existence. It reappeared nearly on top of him and Hanzo stumbled backwards to get away. It did no good as the ghost followed him through the door and into the hallway, until Hanzo felt the cold wall at his back.
The flickering image appeared inches from him, radiating chill in waves that sunk right through his sweater and straight into his bones. This close, the figure loomed over him, much taller than himself, and Hanzo could make out more details of the ghost's face. The snarling mouth was surrounded by a messy beard and under the brim of the hat he found a wide, crooked nose and eyes that sent a spike of fear down Hanzo's back.
Red eyes, glowing in the darkness of the house, glared down venomously at the smaller man. They bubbled with animosity and unbridled hatred as they stared down at him. Hanzo's mouth opened, closing again when his words escaped his grasp. The ghost snarled, gnashing his teeth as he pressed closer until their noses practically touched. When he spoke again, it was no longer a scream, but the growl he did produce thundered through the silence hanging around them as if he was.
"Get out of my home, trespasser, before I remove you."
Hanzo was unarmed and had no knowledge on human spirits; saying he was at a disadvantage would have been an understatement, but despite that he felt some obligation to attempt a peaceful solution.
"I do not mean any harm--"
Red eyes flashed and semi-transparent hands shot out to snatch fistfuls of Hanzo's sweater.
"You goddamn stupid or som--" The spirit froze, red gaze flickering and fading to the same semi-transparent grey as the rest of him, glancing down at where his hands fisted in the thick material. "Dios mio, I can touch you?"
Frozen where he stood, Hanzo looked down at the hands gripping his shirt, and back up to the ghost looming over him. Words escaped him as he grasped at the reality that the spirit could touch him. It was obvious from his words that this wasn't the norm, and Hanzo had no idea what that meant for him, but his gut told him it was not good.
The pressure in his arm chose that moment to come to a head, blue energy crackling along his skin and glowing beneath the material of his sweater. It raced from his hand up his arm, arcing down his chest and across the gap to course along the ghostly figure in front of him. It snapped and sizzled as it rushed through the ghost, and suddenly the red eyes were back and he was screeching in fury.
Hanzo clapped his hands over his ears to protect them from the shrill noise, but couldn't escape the sound of agony as the ghost twisted and contorted, blinking but seeming unable to escape. The tight grasp on his shirt yanked him forward and up, and Hanzo let go of his ears to instead grab at the hands of the ghostly man as he was lifted off his feet.
It was the wrong thing to do as the spirit let out a fresh howl of agony and jerked, throwing Hanzo with an inhuman amount of force. Hanzo flailed as he tumbled through the air, struggling to cover his head to protect it from the inevitable impact. He hit the ground at the top of the stairs, his shoulder taking the staggering impact first. Hanzo had no time to react to the pain as his momentum took him over the edge of the stairs. His body bounced violently until he hit the split landing, where the back of his head hit the floor with a deafening crack. He finally slumped to a stop against the far set of balusters.
His vision swam, shadows stretching from all edges of his vision as his head throbbed. A form materialized at the top of the stairs and Hanzo struggled against the darkness threatening to take him under. He blinked, and when he next opened his eyes the outline of boots stood a short distance from his face.
"Shit. Didn't mean t'hurt ya."
The figure crouched in front of him, and Hanzo knew it was the spirit. He struggled to move, but the motion sent pain and dizziness radiating through every inch of him and he moaned instead.
"Musta hit your head good there, sugar." Cold hands pressed against Hanzo's head gently, and the shudder that passed through him made his vision slip again.
"Please..." Hanzo gasped. "Hurts."
The hands on his head stilled at Hanzo's words and he thought he heard a curse.
"Alright, darlin', don't you worry. I'll take care of ya."
Hanzo didn't have time to refuse as the darkness won out and he slipped into unconsciousness.