“Please, do be safe.”
“I always am, ain’t I?”
“McCree isn’t responding.”
“What do you mean he isn’t responding?”
“Hanzo? Can you copy? Hanzo?”
The sky was the color of milk.
Hanzo stared upwards, letting the little raindrops splatter against his skin; they wormed their way under his eyelashes, danced with the tears that were making their own journey down his facial hair. His eyes were untrained, focusing on nothing in particular. If he disassociated hard enough, he reckoned he could stop thinking about how Jesse unabashedly loved rainy days, even if his skin was kissed from thousands of hours underneath the sun’s loving glow.
Hanzo closed his eyes and bowed his head toward the sea, the hot sting of tears threatening to shed not as painful as that recalled thought. The cliff-side of Gibraltar was especially windy from the overcast conditions, but he cared little. When Hanzo finally regained his sight, he stared down to the crashing waves below, the inky blackness of the water too fitting for the day.
His body urged him to get off his knees and take a dive in, to let the water consume him and claim his body for the depths. It would be over quicker than he would even realize -- he knew that much. Suicidal idealization was nothing new to Hanzo, but this time it was not someone he had been forced to murder. In the back of Hanzo’s mind, an insidious voice whispered that it was his fault that Jesse was dead.
The voice was cloying, but it had a nasty edge to it. His mind rumbled with thunderous rage and howling sorrow. If you had only held onto him a second longer, he may have been somewhere a second later, thus the sniper wouldn’t have--
No, it was not his fault. Not like Genji. He grabbed a stray rock and threw it to the ocean with an angered shout, imagining it as the toxic voice leaving his body. May the water swallow up that thought faster than it would his own body. His chest heaved up and down, and the racking sobs came.
They did not leave him for quite some time. ---
Hanzo’s eyes snapped open, his temple pounding in and out like a wailing siren. It was dark out, he could gather that much, and his body was wet and freezing. He gathered that he must had passed out from crying, as his body lay sideways, his face inches from a stagnant puddle. Above, stars were glittering above, the light that shone from them enough to make Hanzo’s heart ache from memories past. Behind him, blinking red lights of Gibraltar’s tarmac let him know that agents were still inside, most likely delegating. They were smart enough to leave him alone, Hanzo idly thought.
Muscles and bones creaked and groaned as he sat up. A hand fished for a sewn on pocket on the inside of his kyudo-gi, feeling around for a hidden stash of cigarettes and a pack of matches. To his dismay, the matches seemed damp, but the cigarettes were salvageable. Hanzo chewed the inside of his bottom lip as he struck match after match, throwing each useless one away onto the equally damp rocks around him before the last one finally lit up for him. He held the match between his forefinger and thumb, staring at it longingly. No, don’t think how it’s some sort of symbolism, or how Jesse is looking "down" somewhere and did this for you.
The cigarette habit he had picked up was because of Jesse. Though Hanzo never minded smoking cigars, they were hard on his lungs and the acrid smoke got to his head after a while. In the past when he had been wandering, cigarettes paired nicely with his alcoholism. Vices tended to do that. Hanzo held the cigarette in his teeth, cupping his hand to protect the match from any stray wind that thought to try his life at that moment. The cigarette burned greedily and Hanzo quickly threw the match to join the rest of its brethren; he took a long hit, letting the smoke fill up his lungs before blowing it out of his nose. Jesse used to do his mouth a lot, but Hanzo said it made him taste like an ashtray.
”So -- what? Sucking in the smoke won’t make me taste like an ashtray, but blowing it out my mouth will?”
“Nice deflection there, sweetheart.”
Hanzo locked his jaw and placed one hand on his forehead, bringing his knees in close. The nicotine wasn’t doing much for him, but it was better than jonesing and thinking about death at that same time. He took another drag on the cigarette, choosing to blow it out of his mouth instead. Tears started to well up in his eyes.
“Figured I’d find you here.”
Hanzo’s shoulders tensed as Genji drew near, the crunch of gravel under the other’s metal boots near ear grating. For a while his brother just stood there, the glow of his green suit clashing heavily with the subtleness of the stars above.
“Are you smoking?”
Hanzo did not answer, but he pointedly took a hit of the cigarette and flicked its ashes over the cliff. Genji took the no answer as a signal to sit down, whereas Hanzo literally meant the opposite. A hand landed on Hanzo’s shoulder, and he bristled as if he had been touched by a hot brand.
“Go away!” he hissed, throwing his cigarette pack at Genji. The paper box bounced off of the metal and fell right into Genji’s lap. The cyborg peered down at it, but chose to move on and ignore it.
“Fuck off,” he muttered, exhaling smoke at the same time.
Genji was no stranger to his brother cursing. Granted, it usually was in Japanese, or it had been some time since their father had wrongfully punished Hanzo for something he hadn’t done. But to be surprised by it? Genji thought it was apropos, considering what happened. Feeling the awkward tension in the air, Genji shifted his sitting position to something more casual, bringing up his knees level to his chest, copying his older brother. Hanzo scoffed and turned his back on his brother, throwing away the cigarette to the sea.
“We both know you don’t want me gone.”
“That is a doltish interpretation of ‘fuck off’, Genji."
“You and I have seem to always have different interpretations for everything, Hanzo.”
The silence between them was bigger than the gulf between the cliff-side and the mainland over yonder, heavier than the humidity around them. But Hanzo had no intention of breaking the ice. Genji sighed deeply, reaching up to unclasp his front mask. The soft whoosh of steam that escaped his body as he did so curled itself around Hanzo, who swatted it away in irritation.
“Steam annoys you, but the cancerous smoke of a cigarette does not?”
“If you’re going to lecture me about a damn cigarette--”
“Knock it off, Hanzo.”
Hanzo rounded on his brother, but paused at the appearance of their face. A myriad of scars marred Genji’s once flawless skin. Even his eyebrows had notches in them from slash marks. A puff of black hair hung low on his forward, escaping from underneath the metal dome of the helmet. Hanzo could not see Genji’s mouth, but he knew just from the furrowed brow that his brother was frowning.
“You think...you’re the only one who misses him?” Genji’s voice was but a whisper above the lapping of the ocean waves. Quite embarrassed, Hanzo leaned forward and placed his head between his knees, rubbing at the nape of his neck. It was foolish, he noted, to think Jesse only mattered to him. But for all intents and purposes, Genji knew Jesse much, much longer than he. They had been the best of friends. Jesse had even confided in Hanzo one night that they briefly dated, but pre recall distance made it too hard. The fact that they kept in touch over the five or so years often left a bitter taste in Hanzo’s mouth. One that was worse than a cigarette.
But how could he -- how could he sit there and be jealous, when Genji kept Jesse sane through those years? When Genji spoke highly of Hanzo, despite Hanzo believing he himself was past redemption and unworthy of praise? How could he think nothing of warm hearted thoughts toward his baby brother, who introduced him to Jesse, and thusly the idea of love -- and self love for that matter -- after everything he had been through?
Because, said the voice he thought he had thrown into the ocean blue, the tone sharp and crackling like a lightning storm over deep waters, you’re an ungrateful, miserable fool who did nothing but follow orders like a puppet. You killed your brother--
Hanzo picked up another jagged rock and threw it off the cliff for an offering.
“How did he die?” Hanzo already knew the answer, but he wanted to hear it from Genji. It had been told to him through a cold debriefing. There had been no malice or the intention of being harmful in the meeting, but there was only so much emotion Soldier: 76 could convey without sounding strained.
Genji’s fingers curled into fists over his knees. “It was supposed to be reconnaissance. Me, him, and Lena. Lena got ahead of us, so it was just me and Jesse for the time being. We heard her shout, and...he stepped out behind the building on reflex or instinct, I suppose--” his breath hitched. Genji continued to speak only after he caught his breath.
“The bullet landed between his eyes. Angela was too far away to come and save him in time. I tried to do chest compressions, but his body kept coming under fire. I couldn’t-- I should have--” Genji silenced himself, leaning forward with his head bowed toward the rock as Hanzo had done minutes prior. Hanzo’s lips moved like a gaping fish, but words failed to come out.
Of course Jesse had died trying to save someone else. How fitting of him. Those who did not know him had the outlaw pegged as a selfish asshole who only thought about himself. Anyone who had spent more than five minutes with him knew that it was simply untrue -- he was a selfless man who was incredibly resourceful, cared about his comrades, and was willing to put his life on the line to protect what was just.
Hearing Jesse’s death through Genji made the pill easier to swallow, but the lump still stayed in Hanzo’s throat. For a while, the only sounds between them were the crashing of the waves to the shore and the occasional whipping sound of their ribbons in the wind.
“What was he like in the past?”
“Hm?” Genji peered over to Hanzo, who was now on his knees, hands curled into the fabric of his pants.
“You knew Jesse back then. What was he like?”
Genji crossed his legs again, picking up the cigarette packet that was near his crotch. The paper was soaked, and he had a hard time reading what brand it was. While inspecting it, he spoke up, “Can’t say he was much different than now.”
Hanzo bleated. “That-- That’s not a -- give me a more comprehensive answer!”
For the first time in what felt like forever, Genji laughed. “You knew him well, Hanzo. He was the same guy that he is today. I’d say he was a bit more reckless in the past though, if there were any differences to be had.”
“Ah,” Genji exhaled, “he had a habit of wandering off and doing his own thing. Commander Reyes enabled him though, so I can’t say if it was really all him or a product of the environment. I think he saw Jesse as an extension of his arm, and thus was incapable of truly messing up. Despite the fact that Jesse did mess up a lot. Mostly in a bureaucratic way. If he got in trouble, then our commander would just bail him out. He could do no wrong, but it wasn’t as if he never cared. I think he embodied what Blackwatch stood for: to not be bound by tape when justice was concerned.” Genji smiled underneath his mask as he thought back to the zany adventures (and misadventures) the crew used to have. “You’ve felt that in him, didn’t you?”
Hanzo nodded his head solemnly. “Yes.”
“It’s what attracted me to him in the first place, so I can’t say I blame you for taking a liking to my seconds.” Genji chuckled as Hanzo made a move to slap him over the head while muttering curses in Japanese; Genji held onto his wrists to stop the flailing.
“You sound just like him! He would joke about ‘sloppy seconds’ or what have you,” Hanzo growled, settling down on his haunches once more.
Genji merely shrugged. “We didn’t last very long regardless, but we kept in touch. He knew about you”-- Hanzo whirled his head in Genji’s direction --”because of how much I told him about you. Keep in mind this was years ago, but I’ll never forget him saying he wanted to meet you one day. I told him that I missed you, wondered where you were, and all Jesse could say was that he wished that someday he could see you. Granted, at first it was to tell you off for what you did to me. But on the other hand...I still forgave you. He knew that if I could do that, then he should at least meet you.”
Hanzo locked eyes with Genji. The latter of which had a glossy sheen to his own.
“Who knew that he would?” Hanzo whispered, and Genji let the tears fall from his eyes, saying nothing in response. For some time, they stared at one another, until Hanzo finally caved and let his own tears run free.
“He cared so much for you, Hanzo. You were so different than anyone he had ever met, and that is why he talked non stop about you to me. He wanted you to heal, as I did. To see you like this would shatter his soul. For you to think that you are alone, that he alone is carried in your thoughts -- Jesse would not have that. You know this.”
“You are not alone. No one here blames you for anything. Be it me”-- Genji reached out and clasped a hand on Hanzo’s shoulder, relieved that this time his brother did not shirk away -- “or be it Jesse. Especially Jesse. You did not cause his death. And it would do you well to know this.”
Hanzo could feel the voice in his head, the one he thought he cast away twice, crawling its way back into the front of his mind, ensnaring his senses. Suddenly, he couldn’t see, he couldn’t even breathe, but Genji’s fingers squeezing the muscles in his shoulder brought him swiftly back to reality.
“Stay in this place. Stay right here, in the now. You can not sit here and wander lest you end be in the dark.”
Hanzo sharply inhaled. “How do you--?”
Genji emitted a small noise that was a cross between humming and laughter. “My master has told me to recognize when such ugly thoughts rear their head, and how to deal with them. You chosing the cliff side, where the dangerous waters lie -- it was no accident. I knew where to find you. Jesse also knew: whenever you were feeling down, you’d be here, and he’d tell me.”
Hanzo breathed out hard through his nose, leaning into his brother’s metallic arm. Genji patted the skin before suddenly rising, clasping the mask back onto his face and washing the top of Hanzo’s head in a eerie green light.
“It is late, and tomorrow we’re holding a wake for Jesse. Can you promise me you’ll be there? And not here? And not there?”
Hanzo brought his hands together, resting them in his lap, letting the sea breeze blow through his hair. He focused on Genji’s words, letting them anchor himself to the real world.
“I will be. Thank you, Genji.”
Genji nodded once. “I loved him too, Hanzo. Let that love be the lighthouse in the storm. Not the harbinger of a storm itself.”
Blinking rapidly, Hanzo snapped his head up to look at his brother once more, but Genji had already vanished. For a brief second, Hanzo vaguely wondered if he had imagined his brother by his side for the past half hour, but the crumpled cigarette box now perched against his left leg was a solid indicator that everything had been real. He hadn’t been dreaming, or imagining it. Genji had helped guide him through the storm of bad thoughts like a ship captain.
Hanzo raised his face to look at the sky once more that evening. It was a luxurious midnight blue, but no raindrops fell onto him this time. A lone star to the west seemed brighter than the others, and Hanzo stared at it for a long time.
It was his lighthouse.