Safe houses come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes they are rundown apartments in the city where the windows have optimal sight lines, within easy distance of mass public transit and multiple escape routes. Sometimes they are quaint little homes in suburbia, cute cookie-cutter two-story no-one-would-suspect-a-thing split-levels no less than five minutes from the closest major highway. Sometimes they are remnants from the Omnic Crisis, bunkers hidden under abandoned factories or warehouses, strong enough to withstand missile blasts and containing enough stored canned goods to survive a second Crisis.
And then there is this.
“I know it ain’t much, but it has a roof,” Jesse says as he shuts the rickety wooden door behind them.
“This is a shed,” Hanzo states, moving his flashlight across the four walls with disdain.
Jesse draws in a breath as if he might argue, then exhales slowly in a puff of steam that lingers in the frigid air. “Yeah, I reckon that’s accurate.”
“You are certain there is nowhere else to go?”
“Wish there was, but even a hotel would draw attention at this point. Best to keep away from the public.” Jesse lights a small lantern on a bare-bones wooden table, then moves over to start the space heater. “Don’t worry, darlin’, we’ll make this place feel like home in no-time.”
Calling the one-room safehouse anything other than a shed seems generous, but it does have a few essentials. There are sealed containers with food, medical supplies, and dry linens stacked against one wall. A large munitions chest is wedged under the bed. One bed. Singular.
Hanzo sighs. Perhaps if the bed were bigger they could make do, but fitting just one of them on the narrow mattress will be a feat in and of itself. And he knows Jesse’s shoulders and knees must be bothering him. He has been behind the wheel of their stolen truck the whole day, navigating what feels like every remote backroad in Arizona in an effort to stay off radar. With Talon, Deadlock, and the authorities chasing them down, they have to lay low for the night until it is safe enough for Overwatch to send a pick-up.
“You should take the bed,” Hanzo says, leaning Stormbow against the wall opposite the door. There is enough floor space for him to stretch out, and he can make do with what little blankets there are to make a decent enough pallet. “I will sleep on the floor.”
“No-can-do,” Jesse replies. The heater flares to life and casts a faint orange glow on the room. He grunts as he straightens, the sound not enough to cover the faint crack in the joints. “We can share.”
Tempting, Hanzo thinks, hiding a smile. Tempting and altruistic, but Hanzo does not think he can spend an entire night in such close proximity with the cowboy and not make a fool of himself. He drops his bag on the floor and starts to open it. “Do not be ridiculous. Your back will be useless tomorrow if you do not--”
“Wouldn’t do that if I were you,” Jesse says, cutting him off.
“Leave your stuff on the floor.” He starts moving the boxes away from the wall, one by one, as if looking for something. “It’s not safe.”
Hanzo sighs and straightens. “What are you talking about? From what?”
Jesse moves the last box and hums at something Hanzo cannot see, bending at the waist to scoop that something off the floor. He turns and presents--
“WHAT THE FUCK!”
Hanzo has no idea how he got from the floor to perched atop the wobbly table on the other side of the room. He may have broken a few laws of physics, or maybe the space-time continuum. Nothing would surprise him, because Hanzo would develop psychic abilities and teleport rather than be anywhere near the scorpion currently hanging from Jesse’s pinched fingers.
The little brown creature dangles from Jesse’s fingers, articulated body and legs writhing in the air, and Hanzo thinks he might transcend out of his very skin and into the air. “What the fuck!?” he repeats, two octaves higher than before.
“As I was sayin’, it ain’t safe to leave your stuff on the floor. This time of year, scorpions find warm safe places to hibernate. Building out in the middle-of-nowhere desert? Perfect spot for ‘em.” He twists his wrist so he can get a good look at the one in his hand. “Fat little guy. You know, people say that the smaller the scorpion the more poisonous they are, but that’s a myth? Big or small, babies or full-grown, they all pack the same wallop.”
Words fail Hanzo, and while he would rather have kept his dignity, all that escapes him is a distressed whine as his prosthetic feet shuffle a little further toward the opposite edge of the table.
Jesse tilts his head, cheshire smile spreading over his face. “Now, Hanzo Shimada, don’t tell me you’re afraid of a little ole critter like this.”
He takes one step closer, and Hanzo just about loses it. “McCree,” he warns, voice loud and quaking. “Do not bring that thing one inch closer to me!”
“He ain’t deadly,” Jesse tries, but he quickly gets cut off by Hanzo flailing his arms.
“I do not care!” Hanzo wails. “Just get rid of it!”
“Alright, alright!” He laughs and holds the scorpion up in the light. “Sorry fella, you’ll have to find somewhere else to hide tonight.” Without further ado Jesse opens the door and flings it out into the night, wiping his hands on his chaps once the door is shut. “There, no more scorpion.”
Hanzo sighs, kneeling down to step off the table.
“Unless there’s more hidin’ in here.”
And back up on the table he goes. “What?” Hanzo utters. He starts turning in place, head swiveling every direction as if he might spot one scurrying closer. “What? Where? What do we do? Can they get on tables? McCree?” He looks up to see Jesse with his hands propped on his hips, lips pressed in a hard line, turning red with concealed glee. Hanzo glares at him. “McCree! This is not funny!”
“Yeah it is!” Jesse starts laughing, joyful laughs that last far longer than Hanzo feels necessary. “Hanzo--Hanzo, I can’t--you--and you--” He has to hold his sides, breath wheezing in the cold.
Hanzo clenches his jaw and crosses his arms over his chest, unamused. “Would you just--alright, fine, laugh, get it out of your system, because when I get down I am going to stab you in the throat with an arrow.”
Jesse giggles, wiping tears from his eyes. “Aww, come on now, sweetheart, don’t be like that.” He takes a deep breath that gets let out on a few more snickers. “You just stay up on your nest, I’ll root them out.”
Hanzo whines in reply, which just sets Jesse off again.
A thorough search of the room reveals two more curled in a dark corner and another wedged between the floorboard and the munitions chest. All are flicked out the door, same as the first. Every scorpion elicits a new distressed noise from Hanzo and a slew of grumbled obscenities in no less than six languages. “What about the bed?” Hanzo asks.
“Well, lucky for us, the mattress is plastic-sealed,” Jesse says, flipping the bare mattress over to check the underside and finding nothing but dust. “And the legs of the frame sit in buckets with this sticky paste at the bottom. If they climb in them they get stuck.” He taps his boot against one of the metal buckets. “Nothin’ to worry about.”
“It is safe?” Hanzo asks, wary.
Jesse offers a hand up to help him step down. “Sure is, sug. And I got one more precaution to make you feel safe as a bug in a rug--you know what? Maybe not the best simile right now.”
“No, it is not,” Hanzo grouses, taking the proffered hand and easing back to the ground. Being on ground level feels like he is opening himself up to a direct attack. “What is this other precaution you speak of?”
“Gotcha right here,” Jesse says, going back to the linen box and digging in. “Here, put this on the bed.”
He tosses Hanzo a few flannel sheets, and Hanzo turns to stare at the bed like the furniture itself might bite him. “Do I have to?”
Jesse looks back at him, a reassuring smile on his face. “It’s safe, darlin’, I promise. Nothin’s goin’ to get you.”
Grumbling under his breath, Hanzo shakes out the linens. Putting them on the bed is more stressful than the time they had to diffuse an explosive from under a payload. At least then they knew where the danger was coming from. Every time Hanzo touches the bed he thinks something is going to leap out and sting him.
He just gets the bed fixed to his liking when Jesse comes over with fine white netting draped in his arms. “This will keep us safe while we sleep,” he says, holding it up by a hook. Hanzo looks up at the ceiling and sees a small metal loop in the wood right over the bed. “Standard-issue mosquito net. Also doubles as your very own scorpion and tarantula shield.” Hanzo goes stiff as a board and Jesse blurts, “Or not! No tarantulas here! Nothing to worry about, of course! Let me just get this set up…”
Thirty minutes and a lot of coaxing later, Hanzo and Jesse settle in for the night under the protective cover of the mosquito-slash-scorpion-slash-tarantula net. They only remove their armor, opting to stay fully clothed in case their pursuers find their hiding spot, and the blankets are old and scratchy and smell faintly stale. There is not enough room for two grown men with a platonic relationship, and Hanzo refuses to remove his prosthetics. His skin crawls at the thought of what might be skittering under the bed, his muscles are tense with lingering anxiety. Oh, and not to mention that pesky crush he has on the man currently pressed up all warm and solid against his back. He hates this.
“I hate this,” Hanzo says into the dim room.
Jesse breathes in and out slowly, a tired sigh. “I know you do, darlin’. Sorry.”
And now he feels bad. None of this is Jesse’s fault, and he is the one that pushed himself so hard today, encouraging Hanzo to get a few hours sleep while making sure they found shelter for the night. “Do not apologize. You got us here...well, you got us shelter. Thank you for that.”
“Yeah,” Jesse chuckles. “At least we ain’t freezin’ to death.”
“Does it really get so cold in the desert?”
“Sure does. Why do you think ever’thing’s tryin’ to hide out in this here shack?”
Hanzo tries not to tense at the reminder. He knows he should shut his eyes and try to sleep, but every time he does he imagines legs and pincers and stingers on tails coming over the blankets toward him. Instead he keeps his eyes wide trying to take in all the little details in the limited light from the heater.
He should at least let Jesse sleep, but nerves have him asking, “How are you so comfortable with them?”
“With the...scorpions,” Hanzo clarifies.
“Oh, that.” The bed shifts and creaks as Jesse adjusts position, and when next he speaks his gentle rumble is pointed more directly at the back of Hanzo’s head. “I grew up with ‘em, you know? Scorpions, tarantulas, rattlesnakes, they’re just a part of life around here. They don’t have any scorpions in Japan?”
“Some. Not like here.” They were not native to Hanamura. Hanzo cannot imagine living in a place where they would be a common occurrence. “Were you ever stung?”
Jesse chuckles. “Yeah, once. Can’t remember how old I was, maybe five or six. I remember it was during the winter, though. Stuck my hand in the cupboard to get a snack and next thing I know I’m bawlin’ in my mama’s lap.”
Despite his fears, Hanzo has to smile. “Did you dress as a cowboy back then, too?”
“Damn right I did. Gun was Fisher Price, but I still kept the law in the playground just fine.”
Hanzo snorts, shoulders finally starting to relax. Releasing the tension makes his body ease more into Jesse’s, and while he knows he should at least try and put more distance between them, he is just too tired to try. If Jesse has a problem with it he can say so. “What did it feel like? Getting stung?”
“God awful. Not, uh, not that I want to get you all worried,” Jesse quickly adds, hand fluttering by Hanzo’s shoulder like one might calm a frightened animal.
“I asked,” Hanzo says, shushing him. “Go on. I want to know.”
Unexpectedly, Jesse’s hand settles on Hanzo’s shoulder, a warm and comforting weight. Hanzo fights to keep from tensing, and after a moment Jesse begins to rub up and down his bicep. “Yeah, it was pretty bad. I was a kid, though, so it hurt worse than for an adult. Felt like this pulsing sting all up my arm and down my side. It would go numb in random places, all the poison mucking things up. And I remember my mouth got all dry and tasted like cotton.”
“That must have been terrifying,” Hazo murmurs, turning his head a little to try and see Jesse. Too dark and not a good angle, all he can see is his outline.
“Like I said, I was just a kid. Honestly I bet it was scarier for my mama. She was all worked up, hauled my ass down to the ER. With how long we waited to be seen, I guess the doctor’s weren’t too worried. By the time we got called back to see someone Mama’d moved on from upset to pissed. Hollered like you wouldn’t believe.”
Hanzo grins. “Your mother sounds formidable.”
“Yeah, she was,” Jesse agrees, happy and wistful. He lays quiet for a moment, lost in thought, then comes back to the topic at hand. “Never got stung again, though. Of course, it had to be the left arm, didn’t it? Universe came for that arm eventually.”
“Unfortunate,” Hanzo agrees, closing his eyes. Jesse’s hand continues to slowly pet Hanzo’s arm, making longer and wider strokes down to his forearm and up toward his shoulders and neck. If he were less exhausted, he might question why Jesse is suddenly so touchy-feely. Though, the cowboy always is more affectionate than the others. At least with him.
“Gotta be honest with you, Shimada. I never took you for one to be squeamish.” A touch of that earlier humor sneaks into his tone. “All that whinin’ over a little critter.”
Hanzo grunts. “That is Genji’s fault.”
“Uh oh,” Jesse chuckles. “There’s a story there.”
He debates sharing, but Jesse did tell his story so it is only fair. “When we were children, Genji thought it would be entertaining to drop a handful of bugs on my head while I was reading. I had no idea he was even there, and suddenly there were all sorts of...things, all over me. I swear he found every creature with over a hundred legs in the garden.”
“Oh no,” Jesse coos, squeezing Hanzo’s shoulder. His fingers then move up to Hanzo’s hair, and Hanzo inhales sharply, holding his breath. Careful fingers draw his long strands back away from his face and nails drag pleasantly along Hanzo’s scalp. “Don’t you worry, darlin’, you got a big, strong cowboy to protect you now.”
Hanzo’s heart flutters. He is sure Jesse must hear it in the silence. “Do I now?” he asks, weight leaning into Jesse’s chest. Hardly believing his luck, half expecting to be reading the situation all wrong.
Jesse cards his fingers through Hanzo’s hair again before he shifts forward, the wiry hairs of his beard tickling Hanzo’s ear. “Sure do. Shame it took a scorpion to get you in my bed, though.”
Laughter bubbles up out of Hanzo, tension bursting. This is really happening. Turning his head to look at Jesse brings their faces so close that their noses touch. “A good point. Perhaps you should step up your game, Jesse.”
That same sly smile is back again. “Sounds like a challenge.”
Hanzo just raises his eyebrows. “Well? I am waiting.”
Jesse captures Hanzo’s lips with his own, possessive fingers cupping Hanzo’s face to tilt his head back for the perfect angle. The kiss is passionate but slow, thorough, Jesse licking into Hanzo’s mouth and making him groan. All his worries disappear under Jesse’s persistent tongue. They separate just long enough for Hanzo to twist around in Jesse’s hold, then they dive back in with fervor. What little illusion of space they had between them disappears without a trace. Hanzo pushes a thigh between Jesse’s legs, Jesse yanks Hanzo tighter against his chest, and both let out twin moans of need into each other’s mouths.
“What do you want?” Jesse murmurs, pulling back just enough so they can both pant for air. “Tell me. Anything. Let me give it to you.”
Hanzo nearly whimpers at the words. “Just you,” he replies, fingers tangling in Jesse’s hair.
Broad hands slide down Hanzo’s body to squeeze his hips, then his ass, drawing that whimper out only to swallow it in another hard kiss. Jesse must decide that he needs more room to work because he eventually rolls them both and manhandles Hanzo to lay beneath him, which Hanzo has exactly zero problems with. He has spent more than one lonely night imagining what it would be like spread out with Jesse’s warm bulk holding him down. He draws his legs up to wrap around Jesse’s waist, and the grind of their hips together brings stars to Hanzo’s clenched-shut eyes. They have hardly begun and already this is better than all of Hanzo’s fantasies.
And then he opens his eyes.
There, over Jesse’s shoulder, beyond the netting and standing out stark against the white ceiling, is a scorpion.
Hanzo lets out a deafening screech the likes of which he has never heard from his own vocal cords. Animals within a ten mile radius probably perk up to listen. Poor Jesse’s eardrums, which happen to be in point-blank range, throb in protest. And then the rest of Hanzo’s fight-or-flight response catches up with his throat. In a burst of fear Hanzo catapults himself off the bed, shoving Jesse off in the process. His panic prevents him from unzipping the netting around them, and as they tumble onto the floor their weight yanks the hook and loop right out of the wall. All the netting comes falling down around them, along with their blankets, and a fine layer of dust for good measure. Up above them the scorpion creeps a few inches away from the new hole in the ceiling, wholly unaffected by the commotion below.
Jesse unzips the net and pokes his head and shoulders out, then patiently helps Hanzo untangle himself. He is never going to live this down, and Hanzo knows it, pointedly avoiding Jesse’s amused expression. He expects mockery, or at least some heavy teasing. Instead, Jesse just leans over and presses a kiss to Hanzo’s temple, and the next words are music to his ears. “How about we sleep in the truck?”