Chapter 1: I am this great, unstable mass of blood and foam
This started as part of We Get What We Deserve but I ended up spinning it off into its own thing as the story developed. WGWWD is my baby, so I’ll love you for reading it, but this work stands on its own. If you’ve read WGWWD, think of this as happening not long before the end of the series.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
This is bad.
Jesse groans through his teeth as he stumbles again. Hanzo’s having trouble keeping his grip on the blood-slicked body armor. Genji wishes he could help, but his left leg is completely unresponsive from the knee down, only barely better than nothing. He can only manage a hobble without the wall for support.
The only light is from the overhead fluorescents in a few scattered offices, cutting harsh shadows into the hallway. Genji doesn’t need the light, the amplified infrared overlay from his helmet sensors is more than enough to navigate this office building, so he’s leading the way. The way where, he’s not sure. Any place that’s not in the middle of a long hallway with no cover.
He sees a dark alcove, dark even to him, and he leads them into it. Hanzo sets Jesse down, gently guiding him to the floor. Jesse is almost dead weight in his arms, weak from blood loss. Genji slides down the wall into a crouch, his useless leg sprawled out beside him. He takes another futile look into Hanzo’s empty quiver, the last arrow fired to silence a Talon scout four minutes ago. Hanzo didn’t dare leave to retrieve it while both Jesse and Genji were injured.
There’s faint shouting in the distance. They must have found the body of the scout.
This is really bad.
Hanzo hooks his bow over his shoulder and unwinds Jesse’s serape, then presses it against the wound. Jesse makes a small, choked noise when Hanzo bears down. Hanzo screws his eyes shut, wincing in sympathy, but he doesn’t let up.
“We’ve found some cover, but they’re close,” Genji whispers into the comm.
“I’m still six minutes out,” Fareeha calls back. “Just hold on!”
They don’t have six minutes. Jesse left a trail of blood leading right to them, and those Talon fuckers won’t miss it. Fareeha knows that. It won’t stop her trying though, and for that Genji’s grateful. She’ll give them the hell they deserve, if nothing else.
“Acknowledged,” Genji says, muting his mic.
“I still got thirty-eight shots,” Jesse says. “Just prop me up so I can see and get ready to pass the speedloaders.”
Jesse McCree with nearly forty rounds usually makes for good odds, but there’s no way he can aim for shit right now. He could barely stay upright a minute ago. His pathological refusal to just roll over and die is heartening though.
“Toss ‘em a flashbang first, just t’say hi,” Jesse adds. He’s out of flashbangs, has been for a while. He can’t seem to remember that, but Genji’s quit correcting him.
Genji’s dragon churns with frustration under his skin. If he could move, he could do something about that Talon squad when they show up. Hobbled, well, he doesn’t think they’ll be feeling generous enough to get within impaling distance before opening fire.
But he’s not the only one who could do it.
Hanzo turns toward him. Genji takes a deep breath. He’s not going to like this idea.
“You have to use them.”
“I’m out of arrows!” Hanzo hisses. “I don’t think they’d make a difference if I ran in barehanded.”
“That’s not what I mean.”
Genji reaches over his shoulder and draws his sword. Hanzo balks, jerks away as far as he can without moving his hands. Genji could have offered him an armed grenade and he wouldn’t have reacted as badly.
“I can’t, Genji.”
“Yes, you can. We’re going to die here if we don’t do something, and fast. You’re our best shot for survival.” It feels like playing dirty, but he doesn’t want to watch his brother and his best friend get gunned down in front of him. Doesn’t want to get gunned down himself.
“Don’t gotta do nothin’, sugar,” Jesse mumbles. “I can still shoot.” Both brothers look at him. His color is getting bad, and the blood is still coming. He needs medical intervention, and he needs it ten minutes ago.
“Please, Hanzo,” Genji pleads. He knows his brother hasn’t touched a sword in ten years, he knows why, fuck he knows why, but he was truly gifted in the art. With the kind of power Hanzo is capable of wielding, he stands the best chance of getting the three of them out of this alive.
“Genji, anything else, I would do anything else.”
“What else is there? Do you think you can shoot his gun fast enough to kill them in time? I know I can’t.”
Hanzo looks stricken, his eyes darting between Genji and Jesse. He opens his mouth, barely, but no words seem to come. Genji knows asking his brother to pick up a sword again is no small thing. He wishes he didn’t have to.
The pounding of footsteps begins to echo down the hallway. They’re closing in on them.
Hanzo curls over Jesse, pressing his forehead against the other man’s. Jesse mumbles something Genji knows isn’t meant for him, and he pretends he didn’t hear. Hanzo stays like that, breathing Jesse’s air, for the space of a few heartbeats before kissing Jesse’s forehead and sitting back up.
“Give it to me,” Hanzo says. His voice lacks his usually surety, but his outstretched hand is steady.
Genji hands him his sword. Hanzo hesitates for the barest instant, but he takes it. Genji takes his place pressing the serape into Jesse’s wound.
Hanzo stands and tests the heft of the sword. The sight of him causes a reflexive surge of unease in Genji. That silhouette is burned into his memory, and no amount of time will dampen his response. But this isn’t like the last time Hanzo stood over him with a sword.
The thundering of boots is closer now, almost on them. Hanzo darts out of the shadows, bellowing his incantation-cum-battle cry. Blue light bathes the hallway as Hanzo’s dragons burst into existence. Genji throws himself over Jesse, for all the good it might do.
The screaming begins almost immediately, cut with gunfire. Genji’s faintly surprised he can hear it over the pounding of the blood in his ears. Jesse grabs his upper arm, maybe out of panic. At least he still has enough of his wits to stay quiet.
Genji knows what it must look like out there. Those men, armored and armed to the teeth, firing wildly at his brother. Hanzo—who is burning blue with electric fire, ionizing the air around him and moving faster than any human should, dodging blows and bullets almost before they happen, slicing through body armor and meat and bone like it’s water—has become an unstoppable, implacable maelstrom.
Genji is intimately familiar with that feeling of power and exhilaration from all those brief moments when he and his own dragon have overlapped. Her senses become his, her reflexes his, her power his. Her teeth and claws tearing into the nervous systems of his enemies, burning them out as he cuts them open. Her firing his synapses in perfect unity, wringing every possible unit of force out of him. The great glowing web of probability forking out around him, futures looming brightest just before the wave functions collapse into actuality and his enemies attack. He can’t even begin to imagine what a taste of the bicameral mind of Hanzo’s dragons is like in that state, how much more they must be.
The footsteps and gunfire peters out as the light dims, and then, finally, silence and darkness. Genji waits for Hanzo to say something, waits for anyone to say something. Jesse is breathing through an open mouth, rapid and shallow, and his eyes are wild with fear. Genji takes Jesse’s hands and places them on the serape. He meets Jesse’s eyes through his visor, and Jesse nods.
Genji arms himself with a set of shuriken before twisting to get up. He soundlessly crawls to the corner, ears straining to hear anything. If Hanzo died out there—
Hanzo’s too stubborn for that.
Genji peers around the corner. The walls and floors are scorched and scarred in long arcs. Bodies cover the floor, all little better than mangled heaps of burnt meat. The air reeks of gun smoke and ozone and death. Genji fights the urge to gag on the smell, activates the scrubbers in his respirator. He pulls himself up the wall to get a better look, but none of these people are his brother. He must be chasing down the runners. That must be it.
Genji retracts the shuriken and limps back to Jesse.
“Where is he?” Jesse asks.
“Mopping up,” Genji replies. Hopes that by saying it, he can make it true.
It’s not easy to get Jesse back on his feet, but Genji manages. He wads up the serape and shoves it under Jesse’s ruined body armor, hoping that’s enough pressure to make a difference. They end up leaning on each other to stay upright, just like old times. The nostalgia does nothing to blunt the cold fear eating its way through Genji.
Where is Hanzo?
Jesse stops dead when he sees the hallway, jaw hanging open. Genji can’t fault him, but he drags him forward anyway. He knows Jesse’s seen worse. He doesn’t linger on why they’re both so inured to this kind of brutality.
“Fareeha, hostiles neutralized. I’m going to try to bring us out on the south side.”
“Roger, Genji,” she says, relief evident in her voice. “I’ll be waiting for you.”
The hallway is completely dark now, the only light coming from the streetlights outside. Genji can see no sign of anything living no matter which set of sensors he queries. He can’t stop cycling through them though, like a nervous tic.
They come to a junction. There’s scorch marks on the wall down one path, but the other leads back outside. Genji takes them toward the exit. Jesse is leaning harder on him, his breath catching more frequently. Genji tries to keep his focus on their surroundings, alert for danger, even if he’s not sure what he’d do. He should have at least taken Peacekeeper.
When they stumble out into the courtyard, Fareeha is there pacing. She runs to them as soon as they breach the doorway. Genji gets a little feedback from her calling her brother’s name with her mic still hot.
Genji shoves Jesse into her arms as soon as she’s close enough. She picks him up and cradles him against her chest. The Raptora suit enhances her natural strength to the point that Jesse’s bodyweight is no worse than a child’s.
“Get him out of here!”
“No!” Jesse snarls, shoving at Fareeha. “Where’s Hanzo?”
“I’ll get him,” Genji says. “Go, Fareeha!”
Fareeha adjusts her grip on Jesse, pressing him close despite his protests, and then with a pulse from her boosters is airborne. Genji watches until he’s reasonably sure that if someone was going to take a shot at them they’d have done it before turning back to the building.
It’s easy to track Hanzo—just follow the carnage. There are three more corpses and a trail of burnt air leading Genji deeper into the building. The ceilings in this part of the building are lower and the light fixtures are damaged, housings mangled and sparking. They didn’t come this way, so Genji has no idea if it was dark before and the lights were collateral damage, or if Hanzo deliberately tried to drown this area in darkness.
It’s eerily quiet. Hanzo must have gotten them all.
Genji finds his sword first. It’s clean. Genji knows from experience that’s because the blood flashed off. He sheaths it, hoping he won’t need it, and keeps going.
He hears something, a soft hissing. He freezes, listens for a long moment, but it doesn’t get more or less faint. He rolls his wrist for a set of shuriken and eases forward to the noise.
He rounds a corner and finds a pair of restrooms. The sound must be a running faucet. There’s a strip of light under the door to the men’s and blood on the handle. Genji presses the door open.
Hanzo is standing at the sink furthest from the door, leaning with both elbows on the counter and his hands under the water. Dark red smears mark a path toward him, like he staggered back there and had to catch himself on the counter and the cubicle dividers. He’s muttering to himself, low enough Genji can’t hear. Genji swallows hard.
“Hanzo?” he calls. Tries to keep his voice even and calm. Hanzo flinches and curls further forward. “Hanzo!”
Genji limps toward him, leaning on the counter but dodging the blood smears. Blood isn’t pooling under his brother, so maybe he wasn’t hit. Maybe none of this is his. Genji stops just out of arm’s reach. Hanzo still won’t look at him.
He’s staring at his hands. The upper parts of the sink are spattered pink with the diluted blood. The skin on his hands is flushed with the heat from the water. It probably isn’t hot enough to scald, but Genji’s not sure Hanzo would have noticed if it was.
Hanzo himself is spattered with small dark dots on his clothes. His face is smeared with rusty streaks. It looks like he tried to wipe it off before his hands were clean. Even at his angle, Genji can see the vivid whites of Hanzo’s eyes.
Genji chews on his bottom lip. He asked his brother to save them, and he did. Now it’s on him to deal with the fallout.
“Brother?” he tries, voice softer this time.
“It won’t come off,” Hanzo says, his voice strangled.
Genji steps closer, leans his hip into the counter for balance. He turns off the water, then slowly reaches down toward Hanzo’s hands. Hanzo jerks his hands back to his chest. He’s staring at Genji’s hands, at his side, which are—
Oh. Jesse bled on him.
“It’s okay, I’m okay, Hanzo.”
Genji reaches across his brother, who edges back slightly, and grabs a handful of paper towels from the dispenser and wets them. He wipes his own hands clean and then reaches for Hanzo with a bunched up damp towel.
“Here, let me.”
Hanzo is frozen in place while Genji does his best to wipe the blood from his forearms and face. Hanzo’s focus slips to his own hands, still pinkish from the hot water, as Genji works as quickly as he can.
He steps back and scans over Hanzo. There’s nothing he can do about his clothes, but at least his skin is clean. Genji’s first instinct seems to be right, none of the blood was Hanzo’s. He managed to come out of the summoning and fight unscathed.
“We have to go, all right?” Genji says, hoping to get his attention. It’s not as if it’s untrue. The longer they’re here, the better the chance that someone—maybe Talon, maybe the local authorities—finds them. Genji’s already spent much more time than he’s comfortable with.
Hanzo doesn’t react, is still staring at his hands. Well, Genji thinks, desperate times.
Genji throws his arm over Hanzo’s shoulders and leans into him. Hanzo instinctively shifts to take his weight instead of falling like Genji feared or throwing him off in offense liked he’d hoped. Genji steps forward, tugging Hanzo along. He begins to walk, supporting Genji’s weight. It’s something.
They make better time leaving than he did with Jesse or on his own, but Hanzo doesn’t seem to really be with him. He’s staring ahead, blank and quiet. He’s alive though, they’re both alive, and Genji can work with that. He just has to get them back to the Orca.
Genji takes them out the west side of the building, just in case anyone saw him hand Jesse off to Fareeha. He flips through the sensor overlays—nothing. He still keeps to the shadows, carefully weaving them through the dimmest alleyways and side streets. This business park is abandoned at this time of night, but Genji can’t stomach any more risk right now. At least, even in his fugue state, Hanzo’s footfalls are as silent as his own. Some things are just that ingrained, Genji supposes.
Hanzo starts trembling, maybe as part of the comedown from the adrenaline, maybe from fatigue from the summoning. Genji tightens his grip, mutters some encouragement. It’s not much further now. He doesn’t have to keep it together for much longer.
When they finally round the corner to where the Orca is sitting, Genji sags with relief. Hanzo still doesn’t say a word. If anything, he’s retreated further into his own head. He hasn’t stopped trembling though.
Genji leads them up the ramp. Jesse is shouting, hysterical, half lying in a cryopod. Both Amari women are standing over him. Reinhardt is fretting behind them, hands up ineffectually and making abortive movements toward the cryopod. There are empty biotic darts scattered at their feet.
“Where’n the fuck is Hanzo? ‘M not leavin’ without him!”
“Jess, please, Genji’s looking for him, they’ll be fine,” Fareeha says, catching Jesse’s arm as he makes a wild swipe.
“Jack leaves people, Reeha, ‘m not lettin’ him leave Hanzo.”
“Jack’s not here,” Fareeha starts. Her frustration is palpable, her voice thin. She’s struggling to force him into the pod without aggravating his injury. Jesse’s starting to hyperventilate and sway, his complexion gray. There’s blood all across his front, smeared onto both Captain Amari and Fareeha, smeared into the cryopod. He needs a transfusion immediately, or he needs to be in stasis. Anything else, and he’ll finish the flight in a body bag.
“Jesse McCree!” Captain Amari snaps, not shouting but not lacking any authority. Jesse’s mouth shuts with an audible click. “Quit this foolishness and lie down. Hanzo’s on board.” Fareeha’s head snaps up to look at the two of them. Genji waves weakly.
“Yes, ma’am,” Jesse says meekly. He lies back without a fight. Fareeha and Captain Amari start pulling off the excess clothing, especially anything with metal, in an attempt to make coming out of cryo less miserable and Angela’s job easier on the other side. Captain Amari wraps his prosthetic so it won’t cause frostbite pressed against his side.
“Hanzo will be there when you get out of surgery, dear, I promise,” Captain Amari says. She injects him with the anesthesia, shuts the lid of the cryopod, and keys in the command to activate it. The indicators flash yellow as it fills with cryoprotectant and perfluorocarbons. She stays leaned over the window until the lights change to a steady green and Jesse is safely suspended and unconscious.
Captain Amari turns away, pressing the back of her hand against her eye and blowing out a long, slow breath. Jesse’s blood is on her gloves, and she gets some on her cheek. Fareeha looks ill, pressing her hand to the lid of the cryopod like she’s rooted there. Reinhardt digs around and finds a biohazard bag and a pack of disinfecting wipes. He hands the wipes to Captain Amari and Fareeha and holds out the open bag. Captain Amari tosses her gloves in without hesitating.
Fareeha tears herself away from the pod to wipe herself off. She attends to the grooves of her armor with a little too much force and all of her attention. Captain Amari puts her hand on her daughter’s shoulder, right where the armor gives way to the under suit, and squeezes once.
“Best get us in the air, dear.”
Fareeha starts toward the cockpit to begin the initial checks. Reinhardt walks to the cargo hatch and punches the button to raise the door. Genji tries to move Hanzo to a bench, and Captain Amari comes over to help.
She glances over Hanzo—like Genji, she doesn’t seem to find anything she can treat with just a field medic’s kit—and then turns to Genji. She kneels down in front of him and takes his leg in her hands, inspecting it for herself. He’d cut the synthetic nerves to that leg almost immediately. As far as his mind knows his leg stops at the knee again. The neural static, an endless, miserable miasma of false sensation, is worse than the absence of the limb in his opinion.
“It’s a purely electromechanical problem, ma’am,” Genji says. Nothing vital runs that far away from his torso, and all those systems are intact. She frowns. Maybe she just wanted something to do with her hands.
“I’ll notify Winston and Torbjörn to get ready to fabricate a replacement,” she says, setting his leg down. She pats his knee and gets back to her feet. Genji looks back to his brother.
Hanzo’s stopped trembling, but he’s still got that thousand yard stare. Genji reaches out to touch him, but wavers. Hanzo’s unwelcoming of touch, except for Jesse. Now that there’s no pressing reason, Genji’s not sure if it’s a good idea. Genji lets his hand drop back to the seat.
Captain Amari comes back, a small plastic cup, a packet of fortified drink mix from an MRE, and a bottle of water in hand. She hands the plastic cup to Hanzo. Two small round tablets rattle around the bottom.
“Take those,” she says. She glances to Genji. “Potassium iodide. He smells like ozone.”
Hanzo does what she asks without looking at her, like he’s on autopilot. She rips the packet open and dumps it into the bottle of water, shaking it around. She hands that to Hanzo as well, but turns to Genji.
“Make sure he drinks it.”
The Captain goes back across the hold and sits down next to the cryopod, setting her hand on it like she’s steadying it. Steadying herself, maybe. Reinhardt sits beside her. Very gently, he pulls her by the chin so he can wipe the blood from her cheek, then takes her free hand. She shuffles so she’s leaning against him and closes her eye.
The hum of the engines is all the warning they get before Fareeha takes the Orca up. It shudders in the air, climbing steeply. She isn’t wasting any time. The level out at altitude is a little smoother, but only a little. She doesn’t come out of the cockpit, even though by now she could have let the autopilot take over. Either she wants something to do or she’s pushing the Orca faster than the autopilot will allow.
Genji leans back into the seat and closes his eyes. Forces himself to just stop and breathe for a moment. Even as badly as the mission ended, they are leaving with as many people as they brought. He, Jesse, and Hanzo had been able to destroy the servers before they ran into enemy resistance. That was a solid win by Blackwatch reckoning.
“I want to see Jesse,” Hanzo says softly. He doesn’t sound like himself, his voice small and almost timid. Genji twists to put himself between Hanzo and cryopod. He’s not sure exactly how Hanzo would react to seeing it, but it won’t be good.
“Not right now, okay? Angela needs to take care of him first.”
Normally Hanzo would fume and fight about being denied anything, but right now, in the grip of this fugue state, he just lets his gaze fall to the floor between his feet.
“Oh.” Hanzo begins wiping his hands down the side of his pants, the bottle abandoned at his side. There’s still blood under his fingernails and caught in his cuticles. Genji looks around but there’s nothing close enough clean it. Hanzo is staring at his hands when Genji looks back.
“I,” Hanzo starts. “I didn’t hurt him, did I?”
Genji moves so he’s in Hanzo’s line of sight. He places his hands over his brother’s, covering the sight of the dried blood.
“Hanzo, listen to me. You saved our lives.”
Hanzo nods, turns his hands over and clenches them into fists in his lap. Genji can admit to himself that his brother is more a stranger than not. Jesse can tell the difference between Hanzo truly finding calm and merely delaying a breakdown, but Genji still cannot. It rankles him, he ought to be able to tell, but those years they spent under the same roof give him no insight.
Genji retrieves the bottle and places it back in Hanzo’s hands.
“The Captain said to drink it. You might feel better if you do.”
Hanzo lifts it to his lips and obediently empties half the bottle in one go. Genji sits himself back in the jump seat.
It won’t be that long before they get back to the Watchpoint and they can put this behind them. Jesse will be fine once Angela gets to him. Hanzo will eventually circle back to himself. This will just be a story they tell one day, trying to one up the old soldiers over drinks.
Funny thing, Genji never did quite master the art of convincing himself just by wanting something.
Anddd now I need to go find a new stick to hit my favs with. BRB
I'm generally lurking and posting drabbles on tumblr at https://saltytothecore.tumblr.com/
Chapter 2: And no one in his right mind
Good news everyone, I found another stick.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Angela meets them on the landing pad with seemingly half the Watchpoint in tow. Between Reinhardt, Morrison, and Winston, they maneuver the cryopod out of the Orca and onto the gurney Angela brought. Captain Amari wastes no time in detailing her assessment of Jesse’s injuries. Her hand never leaves the cryopod as they walk back inside.
If Genji remembers correctly, the protocol is this: Jesse will have about three hours of suspension with the onboard batteries, and that will give Angela plenty of time to prep for surgery. She’ll thaw Jesse just before taking him to the operating theater. She might keep him cold if she thinks the injury is grave enough, but Jesse’s most immediate peril is the blood loss not the wound. It was only a single gunshot, and his armor absorbed a large part of the force. There will almost certainly be debris besides just the bullet, or what’s left of the bullet, but this is the kind of thing Angela’s biotics and deft hand with the surgical robots is for. Angela could treat worse with her eyes closed.
Genji is living proof of that.
Fareeha and Hanzo sat out of the way and watched them load the cryopod, but now Fareeha is gathering up Jesse’s things with the intensity of someone desperately trying to keep their mind off something. Genji leaves her to it.
Hanzo stands up, and Genji glances up at him. He looks haunted, all tight lips and gray complexion. Genji’s not sure if that’s worse than before. Hanzo offers his hand to Genji without really making eye contact. Genji takes it and heaves himself to his feet. Hanzo pulls his arm over his own shoulders and helps him down the ramp.
He hasn’t said anything since the beginning of the flight, and he doesn’t say anything now, but Genji’s not sure what there is to say. This still feels like a good sign. Hanzo is at least present again.
Genji should get his leg checked out, but—
But he’s scared of leaving Hanzo alone. He’s not in pain, and nothing is going to get worse if he waits. He doesn’t know what Hanzo will do if given hours to himself, though he has his suspicions. Hangovers aren’t hard to spot from the outside, and Jesse has let things slip in moments of worried aggravation.
He can’t leave his brother alone. Not right now.
At the corner of Genji’s HUD he sees a familiar glyph indicating a request to establish point to point communications. He checks the metadata out of habit, though there’s no need. Genji knows the identifier by heart, but even if he didn’t, it could only be Zenyatta. He’s the only omnic on base. Genji looks around, but he doesn’t see his master. He must have only just gotten in range. Genji sends back the acknowledge, and text pops up in his vision.
>> Are you all right?
Subvocalizing is second nature after his time in Nepal. He’s outfitted with the necessary software and hardware to approximate speaking native omnic protocols, and he’s picked up the knack for engaging the dictation routines piped to his speech centers without having to actually waste time speaking. He’s nowhere near as fast as the omnics, he couldn’t be because of a layer of autotranslation software converting to and from human readable text, but he’s pretty good for a human.
<< I‘m fine
Zenyatta rounds the corner, not in any visible hurry, and strides directly toward Genji.
>> You do not look fine
<< You should see the other guy
Zenyatta sends him a wordless burst, the omnic equivalent of a loud sigh. Genji is intimately familiar with annoyance in the metadata, both human and omnic. He cracks a smile behind his respirator.
Zenyatta pauses, just shy of the ramp, with a complete arrest of motion only omnics are capable of and turns to Hanzo.
>> Your brother is not well
<< Jesse’s in cryo. We almost didn’t make it
>> It’s more than that
<< I know
Zenyatta turns back to him without replying, but he doesn’t close the link. Zenyatta’s scrutiny brings him an odd mix of familiarity and abashment. He’s sure Zenyatta had been worried. Zenyatta isn’t immune to feeling, he just understands best how to let the feelings flow without causing harm. But worry, worry with real reason, is a difficult one to let go.
Genji glances at his brother. Jesse’s blood is still on his clothes. It looks like it’s gone stiff. That’s a reminder none of them need.
“Let’s get cleaned up. I’m sure there’s time before Jesse’s ready for visitors,” Genji suggests.
Hanzo jerks, as if caught by surprise. He stares at Genji blankly for a beat before answering.
“If you think so.”
Zenyatta steps to Hanzo’s other side but is careful not to touch. Genji feels, in that inexplicable way, Zenyatta’s aura expand and envelop them all. He feels a kind of clarity wash over him, and with the clarity, calm. Tension Genji hadn’t recognized flows out of his brother.
Genji heads to his own bunk, since it’s closest. He leaves Hanzo standing just inside the doorway as he digs through the pile of clean laundry spilling out of his closet. Genji hands Hanzo one of his sweatshirts and a pair of cotton pants that had been Jesse’s originally.
“Go on, you first.”
Genji nudges him toward the en-suite bathroom. He waits until he hears the water begin to run, and only then does he let himself drop onto his bed. Zenyatta lays a hand on his shoulder.
“Thank you,” Genji murmurs.
“Of course,” Zenyatta replies, switching back to spoken communication. It lacks the precision and speed of native omnic, but Zenyatta never seems to mind meeting Genji on his preferred terms. Right now, Genji is especially grateful.
Genji begins pulling off his armor, dumping the panels in a corner by his bed. Zenyatta picks one up and inspects it. There’s dark brown flaking off one edge.
“It’s not mine. I’ve just got—” Genji raps his knuckles against his bad calf. “We met heavy resistance on the way out. Someone got a lucky shot on Jesse, and then me. Hanzo had to clear them out.”
Zenyatta sets the piece of armor back down and tips his head toward the bathroom, as if he was listening. Genji pulls more armor off waiting for him to speak.
“Your brother is accustomed to violence.”
“He was out of arrows. I suggested he summon his dragons with my sword. He did it.”
Part of his armor is stuck, bent inward by the bullet that damaged his leg. Genji tugs as hard as he can, but the angle is awkward, and he can’t quite keep his leg still to get leverage. Zenyatta kneels down and steadies his leg. Genji is then able to pry the piece free. He holds it up and inspects it. It will probably have to be replaced. Genji sets it apart from the others.
“He didn’t want to do it,” Genji says softly. “He wasn’t himself when I found him. I’m worried, master.”
“Rightly so,” Zenyatta says. Not an accusation, simply a statement of fact. Zenyatta gets back to his feet and folds his hands behind his back. Genji looks to the floor.
“I don’t know what the right answer was. I think we would have died there if he hadn’t, but I didn’t expect— I don’t know how to help.”
“It might not be something you can help.” Genji snaps his head up. “He will or will not heal at his own pace. You cannot force him. It took you time, remember.”
“You know, I didn’t think I’d miss Blackwatch, but well—in Blackwatch, I just followed orders. Reyes worried about how to keep us alive, how to finish the jobs. Worried about if things were right or wrong. Though—” Genji shrugs. “Though sometimes he would say it was all just kinds of bad. He was picking the bad he thought he could live with.”
Zenyatta hums. Genji tugs the under armor off his left arm, then scratches the skin to relieve the sudden itch from the dried sweat.
“Do you think it would help if I talked to him?” Genji asks.
The sound of the water stops. Both Genji and Zenyatta glance at the closed door.
“I think he would be for more forthcoming with you if the two of you are alone.”
“You’re probably right.”
Zenyatta reaches down and squeezes Genji’s shoulder in a very human gesture of solidary.
>> I’ll come find you later.
His metadata is all warmth and assurance. It means as much as the touch.
As Zenyatta leaves, he takes his aura with him, but Genji’s feeling of calm and clarity stays. He hears his brother putter in the bathroom, small muffled thumps and rattles.
Genji pulls off his helmet and respirator, scratching his face and running his hands through his hair to fluff it out. The respirator is not uncomfortable exactly, but air, even the still air of the Watchpoint, feels better on his face.
The door to the bathroom slides open. Hanzo looks a little more like himself, despite the wet hair and the unusually casual clothes. His old clothes are wadded up in his arms.
“Do you?” Hanzo starts, gesturing back at the bathroom, but Genji waves him off.
“I still have to get my leg looked at, and I always end up covered in something down there. I think old Torbjörn is holding a grudge over some youthful transgressions.”
They stare at each other, a heavy silence falling. Genji tries to think of a way to break it, but Hanzo starts pawing through the pockets of his old clothes. He pulls out a crushed package of cigarettes. Genji gives him a pointed look. Hanzo fidgets with the package, but eventually slips it into the waistband of his pants.
“How bad was Jesse?” Hanzo asks, finally.
Genji frowns. He doesn’t know what to make of Hanzo not remembering. He had been out of it when Genji found him, but that out of it?
“Gutshot. Captain Amari is a better sniper than a medic, and she knows it. I think his blood loss had her spooked, and she fridged him because she’d rather be safe than sorry.”
Hanzo doesn’t look relieved. His gaze falls to the floor, a tight frown forming. Genji supposes it’s not relieving news on its own, but this is not the first time he’s seen Jesse come back in cryo. It’s never good, but it’s better than a body bag. Hanzo probably doesn’t think of it that way.
“What about you?” Genji asks.
“Fine,” Hanzo responds, looking back up with a stone blank expression. Genji crosses his arms and levels him with a stare he hopes would have made Commander Reyes proud. Hanzo sighs, his shoulders slumping.
“You were not fine.”
Hanzo takes an abrupt step forward, and Genji starts to get to his feet to stop him. He hadn’t intended to chase his brother off. But Hanzo doesn’t go for the door. Instead, he ends up at the window. He pulls it open, letting the humid, warm air spill in, and starts rummaging through his clothes again.
He pulls out a lighter, disposable and violently orange, and drops the rest of his clothes in a pile at his feet. Genji rolls his eyes, despite Hanzo not looking at him, while Hanzo fishes a cigarette out of the box. He doesn’t hesitate in lighting it, or in taking a long drag and blowing the white smoke out the window.
“You scared me, Hanzo,” Genji says, surprised by his own honesty. Then, more softly. “I’m sorry I had to ask you do to that.”
Hanzo flicks the ashes off the end of his cigarette and takes another drag. He holds in the smoke for a moment, eyes closed, before blowing it out and answering.
“But you were right. You and Jesse are alive.”
“That doesn’t mean I can’t be sorry. I’m sorry that’s what it took. I’m sorry that the mission went so badly.”
Hanzo opens his eyes just enough to scowl. In moments he’s less proud of, he lets that scowl catapult them both into to antagonism of their youth. It’s baldly bait, but Genji doesn’t let himself rise.
“You shouldn’t be sorry.” Hanzo sucks the cigarette most of the way down to the filter, then lights a second one from the embers of the first. He flicks the filter out the window.
“Well I am. You saved my life and Jesse’s life, but it clearly cost you something. The last thing I want for you is to sit and brood.”
“I do not—” Hanzo starts, jabbing at Genji with the cigarette, but Genji holds up his hand.
“Sit and whatever.” Genji catches his eyes, holds the contact. “Look, you don’t have to talk to me, but—well, I’m sure Jesse would listen.”
“Jesse should focus himself on recovery.”
“Oh please,” Genji scoffs. “Jesse will be back to full health by the end of the week and on his feet before that. He drives Angela nuts cooped up in the medbay.”
Hanzo’s lips quirk up, fond.
“He does, doesn’t he?”
Genji leans back onto his arms, the tension in the room dissipated. Hanzo finishes his cigarette without that tiny smile flagging and doesn’t light another. Hanzo tosses the second filter out the window like the first and pulls the sash back down, turning back to face Genji. He smooths his beard, staring at the floor between them.
“I don’t think Jesse would understand,” Hanzo says softly.
“Of course he—” Genji starts, but Hanzo interrupts.
“I mean, he’s not one for—” Hanzo wets his lips. “For spiritual subjects.”
Hanzo folds his arms, pressing them close against his chest, like he’s suddenly cold. Genji leans forward, studying him silently.
“It’s not the same, summoning them with my bow. It’s just a flash, and then they’re gone. I had forgotten what it was like to truly be one with them. But when they left—”
Hanzo presses his hand to his mouth, stares off into the middle distance. Genji feels a helpless fear crawl over him. Had he pushed Hanzo too far? This was a mistake.
But Hanzo blows out a ragged sigh and runs his hand through his hair, shaking it out over one shoulder. His hand drops to hover by the box of cigarettes again, but he folds it against his chest with the other one instead.
“When they left I was covered in, in blood and there was a sword in my hands and all I could smell was—”
Hanzo stops with a shudder. Genji waits for him to collect his thoughts again.
“I just wanted to get it off.”
Hanzo looks down at his crossed arms, frowning. Genji sees him rub his fingers against his sides, as if trying to wipe something off.
“I don’t remember much. Just that I had done something terrible.”
Genji purses his lips. Thoughts bubble up, comfort and consolation, but he can’t seem to find words his brother would accept. Hanzo doesn’t give him the time.
“How long will it be before Jesse’s out of surgery?”
“I’m not sure, honestly. Probably not too long.” He’s being optimistic, but it’s not lying precisely. Surely Angela will allow visitors in no more than a few hours. “We can go wait.”
Hanzo bends over and collects his clothes, stuffing his cigarettes and lighter back into a pocket, as an answer. He tucks them under one arm this time, offering Genji help up. Genji accepts. It will be a relief to have two working legs again.
Hanzo turns the wrong way out of Genji’s door. Genji gives him a quizzical look.
“I’m going to soak these,” Hanzo says.
Hanzo waits for Genji to steady himself on his own feet before disappearing into his own room. Genji rubs at his left shoulder, more out of habit than any actually discomfort. It could have gone better, talking with his brother. It could also have gone much worse.
Zenyatta’s door opens, and he steps out. He tilts his head in silent inquiry. Genji shrugs.
“We’re going to wait for Jesse to get out surgery.”
Zenyatta falls briefly still and quiet, either thinking or receiving.
“Athena is indicating nominal vital signs at the moment. Her estimation of complication is single digit probability.”
Genji nods. Hanzo will be relieved to hear that.
Captain Amari rounds the corner at the end of the hall, coming from the old officer’s suites. She’s completely changed out of her combat gear, dressed in lose fitting civvies with her hair in a low bun. She’s got a small, well-worn canvas bag on one shoulder, and Jesse’s holster and belt on the other. Peacekeeper is tucked in its place.
“Genji!” she says. Genji snaps to attention on pure reflex. “Are you still standing around on that bad leg?”
“I was with my brother,” Genji says. He knows she doesn’t need more explanation than that.
“Go take care of yourself. I’ll watch him.”
“Didn’t you hear me before? I’m going to see to it he’s front and center when Angela’s through with Jesse.”
Her tone brooks no argument. Genji’s not dumb enough to even try.
“Yes, ma’am,” he sighs.
“Zenyatta, dear, would you mind helping Genji to engineering?”
“Of course not,” Zenyatta says. Genji detects amusement in his tone, though if Captain Amari does too she isn’t letting on. Zenyatta offers his arm. He is a more stable crutch by far. Captain Amari shoos them on, then turns expectantly toward Hanzo’s door.
There are worse hands he could be leaving Hanzo in.
I know, I know, I was a, erm, little light on Jesse this chapter. But Hanzo needed some TLC.
I'm generally lurking on tumblr and posting goofy headcanons at https://saltytothecore.tumblr.com/
Chapter 3: would make my home his home
A wild POV switch appears
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Captain Amari is waiting in place of his brother when Hanzo leaves his bunk. It takes him a beat to process what she’s doing, as he had let himself get caught up considering the state of his gear. He’s not yet sure if his clothes are a loss. Jesse swears he knows all sorts of tricks but—
Hanzo smoked another cigarette while he waited for his sink to fill with cold water, and though his lungs are burning he thinks he could stomach another. But, no, the door is open now and she’s staring at him. He glances around, but doesn’t see his brother.
“I sent him to get his leg checked,” she says by way of greeting. “Here.”
She holds out a weathered canvas bag, and he takes it. On her other shoulder is Jesse’s weapon. Hanzo stares at her, a bit at a loss.
“Come on then.”
She turns and starts walking, and Hanzo follows. She doesn’t appear to be in a rush, but he finds himself having to extend his usual stride to match the pace she sets. Puzzling over that doesn’t distract him for long, though.
He is sick with the knowledge that he could have done more to protect Genji and Jesse. If he’d covered them better, Talon wouldn’t have been able to get a shot off. If he’d been more careful in managing his ammunition, he might have been able to cover their escape. If he had been a better leader, a better brother, Genji would be safe in Hanamura right now. If he’d never sent Genji to Blackwatch, Genji wouldn’t have cajoled Jesse into joining the Recall in the first place.
And while Hanzo deserves to be drowning in uncertainty, Jesse deserves to be under the desert sun he misses so much, not fighting for his life on an operating table.
Hanzo almost walks into Captain Amari when she stops suddenly. She led him to what serves as their waiting room. The door sticks, but she shoves it down its track before he thinks to offer his assistance. It looks much the same as the last time Hanzo was here, with chairs haphazardly spread around and a couple of small tables dragged in from the mess. It sees more use than a reasonable person would be comfortable with. Captain Amari sets Peacekeeper on a table, and Hanzo rests the bag beside it.
“Pull up a chair,” she says.
Hanzo brings one over and sets it across from her. She opens the bag and rummages through its contents, coming up with a stained green mat. Small bottles and an open pack of little fabric squares follow. Lastly, a thin metal pipe tipped with a wire brush appears. All the implements needed to clean a firearm.
“I find keeping my hands busy helps pass the time,” Captain Amari says, quite conversationally.
Captain Amari unfolds the mat and arrays her tools. Then she pulls Peacekeeper from its holster and inspects it. She rubs her thumbnail across a scratch on the barrel, clicks her tongue at a gouge in the grip. It’s strange, seeing that gun in someone else’s hands, but she seems confident in her handling of it. If Jesse trusted anyone with his gun, it would be her.
“You know, I tried to train that boy as a sniper. He showed real promise.”
Hanzo furrows his eyebrows as he tries to picture Jesse perched on lonely rooftops, laid flat behind a long rifle as Captain Amari opens Peacekeeper’s cylinder and glances down the barrel from the back. She sets it on the mat and reaches for the holster and belt, inspecting it too.
“He just didn’t have the patience. What he did have was all these romantic notions of what combat should be like floating in his head. Always came home light on sidearm ammunition, even when we sent him in with a carbine.”
She shakes her head, though she’s smiling. She hands Hanzo the holster, which he accepts, though not without a questioning look. She reaches into the bag and hands him a tin of leather grease and a soft bristled brush.
“I think he’s gotten that wet. He doesn’t pay as much attention to that part of his kit as he should, and I can’t get him to use something more forgiving.”
She sounds fond and exasperated in equal measure. She dips the brush in the solvent, then pushes it down the barrel. Hanzo opens the tin and dips his brush in the viscous, translucent grease inside, then rubs it into the more scuffed parts of the holster.
“You know, he got Gabriel to requisition him this on a bet. Six months with no reprimands and he’d beat all of Gabriel’s range scores. Jesse had never gone more than six weeks without a disciplinary issue, so Gabriel took him up.”
She sets the gun down and leans forward, conspiratorially.
“He was a model agent. He volunteered for duties, even started dressing to Overwatch codes, cut his hair short, shaved. Jack didn’t recognize him at a meeting, Jesse let it go the whole hour without giving himself away, and that was the single most entertaining morning of my career. I didn’t know he could say ‘Sir’ without that nasty edge to it.”
Hanzo huffs, lets himself smile at the thought of Jesse in short hair and a blue uniform.
“I’ll believe that when I hear it.”
Captain Amari chuckles and picks the gun back up, returning to her work, as does Hanzo. A pile of patches grows on a corner of the mat, mostly shades of gray and black, with a few clean, white ones scattered through. Hanzo works grease into all the nooks of the belt and holster. It’s meditative in its way, carefully working the leather and watching a sheen return. He lets the simple task consume him, driving out other thoughts. The smell of solvent and the soft scraping of bristles is also deeply familiar. Hanzo can almost forget it’s not Jesse sitting across from him.
The residents of the Watchpoint drift into the room in ones and twos, murmuring greetings and reassurances to each other. The general tenor of the group remains subdued no matter who joins. It’s not unexpected. Gatherings never form here except for somber reasons.
Finally, Captain Amari wipes her hands off on a stained rag and then takes a clean one and drops a little gun oil on it. She begins brushing that over Peacekeeper, careful not to touch the metal once oiled. When she’s done, she sets the gun down and drops the oil rag over it.
Hanzo thinks he’s done as much as he can. He wipes off any excess where he sees it, then passes the holster across the table for inspection. Captain Amari seems to approve, as she places Peacekeeper back in its place.
Hanzo folds his hands in his lap and watches Captain Amari pack up her kit. He glances at the clock on the wall. He knows how long he’s been here, but that doesn’t matter much without knowing how much longer he’ll have to wait. He rubs his thumbs across his fingers. The grease feels strange, persistently slick. Nothing like the tackiness of blood.
Captain Amari leaves, giving him a tired smile on her way and taking Peacekeeper with her. Hanzo can’t put the feeling of the grease out of his mind, and he feels odd sitting alone at the table. He gets up and walks out the door, though he only goes as far as the restroom. It takes a few minutes of dedicated scrubbing with little aid from the thin hand soap, but he manages to get his hands clean again.
In the hallway, he pauses. He considers going back to his bunk for another cigarette—or maybe a quick drink, just one to steady his nerves—but what if Dr. Ziegler comes back? He doesn’t want to be the last to know Jesse’s prognosis. With a sigh, he goes back to the waiting room.
A card game has sprung up at the table he had been sitting at, Morrison, Hana, and Lena bent over their respective hands, so he sits against the wall this time. It suits him better anyway.
A final straggler comes in—Fareeha. She glances around before spotting Hanzo and turning toward him. She sits down heavily in the chair next to him. Her hair is wet, and she smells strongly of vanilla. She kicks her long legs out in front of her and slumps down a little. At first she doesn’t seem to have anything to say, despite having sought him out. She seems more intent on getting the chair to accommodate the more relaxed position she wants, so Hanzo turns away, determined to mind his own business. Finally, she faces him.
“Hey,” Fareeha knocks her knee into Hanzo’s. Hanzo flinches away and tucks his knees together. “Thanks for getting Jess out of there.”
“Of course,” he murmurs.
She doesn’t say anything to him after that.
Captain Amari returns, sits down next to Reinhardt. Fareeha dozes off twice, jerking awake again both times when she began to slide further forward in her chair. Others mill around the room, getting up to force life back into stiffening muscles or strike up a conversation to pass the time. No one stops to talk to him, which is fine. Preferable, even.
Time drags. Exhaustion sharpens the edges of every sound, makes his thoughts circle in an endless grating loop. He could have lost Jesse. (He could still lose Jesse.) Genji is hurt. (Not as badly as Hanzo hurt him.) He just washed his hands. (He has blood on his hands.)
On and on.
Hanzo is so lost in his own thoughts that he doesn’t notice Dr. Ziegler come in until the sudden cessation of noise strikes him. She is dressed in pale blue scrubs, her hair still bound up under a cap and her mask hanging around her neck. Lucio is standing just behind her, looking much the same. They must have come straight from the recovery room.
“It went as well as I could expect,” she says without preamble. There’s soft laughing and relieved sighs all around. “He’s not awake yet. I’m keeping him to watch for infection, but I expect him to make a full recovery. I know you all want to see him, but please, don’t crowd the recovery room. He needs rest.”
Captain Amari immediately gets up to speak with Dr. Ziegler directly, no doubt interested in a more detailed report. Fareeha stretches in the seat next to him, her joints loudly popping. Hanzo pushes himself out of his own chair, but hesitates to move far. He watches to see who will make the left out of the waiting room that leads further into the medbay
Despite what Hanzo expects, there’s no discussion, no jockeying about who should go. Everyone but Hanzo, Fareeha, and Captain Amari shuffles out and turns right, calling out requests to pass along their well wishes as they go.
The three of them follow Dr. Ziegler to Jesse’s room almost silently. It’s the one right next to Dr. Ziegler’s office, which is her protocol. Dr. Ziegler turns into her office, and Captain Amari and Fareeha go inside Jesse’s room. Hanzo has to steel himself, hesitating for just a moment outside the door. He knows what to expect, but it’s never easy.
Jesse is asleep in one of the wide hospital beds, the blankets pulled up to his chin. Tubing and wires snake out from underneath, connecting back to the bags and machines flanking him. Dr. Ziegler left the lights turned low, but the afternoon sunlight streaming through the window is illumination enough. Jesse looks peaceful, but far too still. He tends to fidget and grumble in his sleep. His quiet marks the sedation for what it is.
Jesse isn’t as pale as Hanzo remembers, but he still looks ragged. His hair lays limp and clumped on his forehead, spilling down onto the pillow in a dull brown halo. It’s probably just the mixture of sweat and the stabilization medium from the cryopod, but it looks dull and fragile. It compounds the image—Jesse, washed out, sick.
Hanzo grits his teeth. He hates seeing Jesse this way. (What must Genji have looked like?)
Captain Amari walks up to the side of the bed, brushes some of Jesse’s hair off of his forehead. Her expression is pinched, tired, and she leans into the bed. She looks older than her years, but only for a moment. The steel returns to her posture and she turns to glance at the equipment. She rearranges a few tubes to suit her better, then she steps back, gestures in silent invitation to Hanzo. He drifts forward, as if under the influence of some strange magnetism. In sense, he supposes he is.
Closer, he can hear Jesse breathing. Hanzo reaches forward and rests his hand on Jesse’s chest. It rises and falls slowly, an unhurried, unimpeded rhythm. It feels unreal. Hanzo finds himself unable to trust an inhale will come after every exhale.
He hears Fareeha drop into a chair behind him, and he self-consciously jerks his hand back. His fingers feel warm from Jesse’s body-heat. He curls them to preserve the feeling.
Captain Amari’s light footsteps sound behind him, and he glances over his shoulder. She pulls one of the chairs lining the walls to the edge of the bed. Hanzo expects her to sit down, but she turns to him.
“Go on,” she says.
Hanzo hesitates. Surely she would prefer to sit there, or maybe her daughter. Jesse would be glad to know any of them waited with him, but the intensity of what Hanzo feels for him seems wanting when measured against the years they’ve shared as family.
“You aren’t making a liar out of me, boy, so sit down.”
Hanzo drops into the seat on pure self-preservation instinct. She mutters something under her breath in what Hanzo assumes is Arabic. He thinks better of commenting himself. He discreetly pulls the chair further forward, now that he’s here, and reaches out to places his hand over Jesse’s, though it’s still covered by blankets.
Then, it’s just the waiting.
When Jesse starts to fidget and mumble, Hanzo sits up straighter. Both Fareeha and Captain Amari get up. Captain Amari sits at the foot of the bed and Fareeha leans on the foot rail. Jesse blinks his eyes open slowly, squinting even in the dim light. Hanzo holds his breath.
Jesse looks around, then tries to pull his hands free of the blanket. Hanzo pulls it out of the way to help him. Jesse lifts one hand to his face, scrubbing his eyes, then lets it fall to his chest. His gaze catches on Hanzo, and he stares, clearly foggy. Abruptly, his expression falls.
“Oh, Hanzo, darlin’, what’s th’matter?” Jesse says. He holds out his hand and Hanzo takes it, bringing it up to his face. Jesse tugs gently, leading Hanzo closer. He pulls Hanzo all the way down to his chest and loops his arm over Hanzo’s shoulders. Hanzo fists his hands in the blanket. He can hear Jesse’s steady heartbeat now.
“’S all right, baby,” Jesse continues. His drawl is thick, his voice low and sleepy. “’M fine. ‘S all fine.”
Hanzo doesn’t trust himself to speak, he just swallows thickly. Jesse is here, alive. He’s going to be fine. He lets himself stay there for much longer than he should in front of Jesse’s family, but he finally pushes himself back up. He indulges himself with taking Jesse’s hand though, careful of the IV.
Jesse’s eyes slide closed again, like he’s slipped back under, but he hums loudly and tunelessly. If he’s trying for any song at all, there’s no chance of any one recognizing it.
“Okay, we get it,” Fareeha says after a few moments. She reaches down and squeezes Jesse’s ankle.
“’M high as shit,” Jesse grumbles, abruptly giving up on humming. “Lemme sing.”
“Nuh-uh. You tried to punch me.”
“Don’t ‘member that.”
“Children,” Captain Amari interjects. There’s a soft chorus of apologies, none of them sincere. Hanzo can’t help the quick upturn of his lips.
“Where’s Genj’?” Jesse asks, suddenly frowning. “He’s not raidin’ my shit is he?”
Fareeha snorts, but Hanzo’s just puzzled.
“He’s getting his chemlights switched out,” Fareeha says, mock seriously. Jesse scowls, suspicious.
“He steals my uh,” Jesse looks blankly at Captain Amari, “Uh, my stuff. That’s definitely approved. Not contraband or nothin’. He’s, um, lazy about gettin’ his own. Not contraband stuff.”
Captain Amari laughs outright at that. Fareeha too. Jesse looks briefly panicked, but Hanzo pats his hand and that seems to distract him.
The sound of Dr. Ziegler’s footsteps herald her appearance in the doorway. She’s abandoned the cap and mask and thrown on a lab coat over her scrubs.
“Awake already?” She asks brightly. She doesn’t wait for an answer before pulling Jesse’s charts up and making notes. She starts asking him questions, and he gives mostly coherent answers. He’s not in pain. He feels sleepy. He needs a half dozen tamales and some tequila to wash it down.
Dr. Ziegler hums at his request, obviously not willing to dignify it with an answer, and pulls back the blanket. A few inches below Jesse’s ribs is a knot of angry red tissue, ringed with faded purple bruising. The skin there is shiny, new looking. Clearly her nanobiotics have been hard at work.
“I’m keeping you here to monitor for infection,” she says. Jesse doesn’t look thrilled, but he nods. “Behave yourself, remember. You’ll heal faster and leave faster that way.”
“Listen to her, dear,” Captain Amari reiterates, with some amusement. Fareeha mutters Ground-ed under her breath, and Jesse jerks his foot at her. Dr. Ziegler shakes her head.
Maybe it’s the painkillers, but Jesse seems in good spirits. Hanzo flicks his eyes to Jesse’s prosthetic. This isn’t even the worst injury he’s ever had. It will be just one scar among many soon. A bad memory and nothing else.
“Okay, Mom, he’s fine,” Fareeha says, standing up straight. Despite the mischief in her tone, she looks genuinely relieved.
“Well if you think so, dear,” Captain Amari says lightly, getting back to her feet. “Do you need anything, Jesse?”
“A better sister,” Jesse grumbles. “Least Hanzo’s on my side.”
“Naturally,” Hanzo says, squeezing Jesse’s hand. Captain Amari gives them a knowing look that makes the hair on the back of Hanzo’s neck rise, then turns to Fareeha.
“Let’s let him be. You need some rest too.”
Fareeha rolls her eyes and gets a gentle thump to the back of her head for it, but both women leave.
“I’ll be back to check on you in a few hours,” Dr. Ziegler says before following them.
Jesse shuffles on the bed, resettling himself, and blows a long sigh. He lies there quietly for a moment, and Hanzo wonders if he’s fallen asleep again. But his eyes crack back open, somehow sharper than they were a moment ago.
“Yer not all right,” Jesse says softly.
“I am fine.”
Hanzo slumps back in his chair. What is he supposed to say? What would Jesse believe? Even if this were a subject Hanzo wanted to breach, this is not the time. Jesse isn’t doing himself any favors worrying after him. Hanzo itches for a cigarette.
“Hanzo,” Jesse says, tugging his hand.
“There’s nothing that can’t wait.”
Jesse’s lips thin into a line, and he sighs.
“Don’t like it,” he mumbles, but it’s obvious that the drugs are winning out over Jesse’s innate stubbornness. He’s struggling to keep his eyes open. It’s for the best. He needs sleep to heal.
Hanzo watches him drift off. Jesse goes loose a little at time, his slow, heavy breathing just this side of snoring. The grip on his hand goes slack, but Hanzo can’t find it in himself to pull free.
Some deep seated thing in him demands that he watch over Jesse, especially now, but he finds it hard to fight his own exhaustion. He leans into the bed, but he doesn’t let himself close his eyes. He drifts, caught between dozing and not.
Later, much later, Hanzo jerks at the sound of footsteps. Jesse grumbles something unintelligible and blinks back to wakefulness. Dr. Ziegler appears again in the door.
If she’s surprised to see Hanzo still here, she doesn’t show it. Businesslike, she checks the IV drips, replacing one that’s run almost dry. She inspects Jesse’s wound again, and he grunts softly.
“Tender?” she asks.
She makes more notes, seemingly unconcerned. To Hanzo’s untrained eye, there is little change from earlier. He supposes it’s a good sign.
“Well, no trouble yet,” she says. “But, I’m afraid that’s all the visiting I can permit for today.”
Jesse crosses his arms.
“Jesse McCree,” Dr. Ziegler says in warning. Her authority is not normally challenged.
“He’s stayin’ or I’m goin’ with him,” Jesse pronounces. Hanzo presses his lips together. The doctor’s expression is grimly considering. Hanzo imagines she’s having the same thought he is: Jesse will get out of the medbay unless she straps him down, and even that might not stop him. With an exasperated sigh, she relents.
“Fine, fine.” She turns to Hanzo. “He needs rest.”
“Of course,” Hanzo replies.
Jesse watches her leave with undisguised suspicion, but when it appears the coast is clear, his attention returns completely to Hanzo. Jesse is looking at him with open, naked concern, his gaze sharp and strangely sober. Hanzo feels and then fights down a sudden urge to fidget.
“C’mere,” Jesse says finally. He lifts up the blanket. Hanzo shakes his head, but Jesse just shakes the blanket and pouts.
“I’m gettin’ cold.”
“Fine,” Hanzo says, failing utterly to sound put upon. He careful crawls into the bed beside Jesse, threading himself around the tubing and laying his head on Jesse’s shoulder. Jesse lays his arm over Hanzo’s shoulders and tugs him even closer. He has to admit, this is much more comfortable than the chair.
Hanzo stretches his arm across Jesse’s chest. It’s pocked with scars and tattoos, reminders of a hard and eventful life. He can just barely feel Jesse’s heart beat under his palm. How close had it come to stopping forever? How many times more can Jesse cheat death?
“Hey, quit that.”
Hanzo looks up at Jesse, brows furrowed.
“Quit thinkin’ so hard and just tell me. What happened out there that’s got you like this? Last time I was laid up you gave me a piece of yer mind.”
Jesse squeezes his shoulder. It’s frightening and comforting by turns how easy it is for Jesse to see through him. How did Hanzo get someone like this in his life?
Hanzo hesitates to answer, but he knows Jesse will wait him out. It seems he saves all his patience for moments like these. Hanzo turns his face a little further into Jesse’s shoulder. It’s easier, not having to speak face to face.
“I swore I’d never touch a sword again, after—” Hanzo whispers. “But that’s what it took.”
“Shit, indeed,” Hanzo chuckles in spite of himself. It’s a perfectly Jesse response, and entirely fitting. “It was—there was some time when I couldn’t remember where I was or what I had been doing. I thought it was Genji’s blood I was covered in.”
“Christ,” Jesse says softly. Hanzo doesn’t even try to suppress the shudder that shakes him.
“We were out of options,” Hanzo says. Jesse echoes his words back to him.
“I am sick of hearin’ them damn words.” Hanzo tilts his head up to look at Jesse. He almost looks angry. “Baby, I’m sorry. I’m sorry you’re payin’ for our mistakes.”
“Oh yes there were. Somebody comes back sayin’ they were out of goddamned options there was a fuck up somewhere. I fuckin’ know that, I lived through enough Blackwatch fuck ups.”
Jesse scrubs his free hand down his face. His anger fades abruptly, replaced with visible exhaustion.
“Shit, I sound like Reyes.”
He chuckles, but it’s not a happy sound.
“Jesse,” Hanzo says softly, for lack of anything else to say. Jesse covers his outstretched hand with his own, the prosthetic fingers not cool for once.
“Thank you,” he says. “And I hate that’s what it took, but thank you fer savin’ my life.”
Hanzo swallows down the lump in his throat. Jesse presses his lips to Hanzo’s hairline. Hanzo closes his eyes and tucks his head under Jesse's chin. Now, lying in the dimness of the Watchpoint, Hanzo’s world feels compressed to this bed and the man who’s sharing it. Curled around Jesse, he finds himself content and blank, his bitter thoughts far away.
Genji walks briskly down the hall, taking full advantage of his newly repaired leg. Despite his speed, he is silent and the mug in his hand doesn’t even threaten to spill. It’s not his usual fair, black tea with lemon and honey, but it’s not for him.
Jesse likes this when he’s sick or injured. Said once it reminds him of better days.
Genji finds it adequate recompense for the teasing he usually deals out for Jesse’s trips to the medbay, but right now he hopes it will make up for his absence earlier. Not that Jesse is likely to hold it against him. Still, it can’t hurt.
Most don’t dare to tread in Angela’s medbay after the end of official visiting hours, but Genji always skirted her wrath before and doesn’t think that won’t continue. He is, after all, the charming brother. The halls are dark, lit only by the strip lights in the floor, but even without his visor it’s more than enough.
The door to Jesse’s room is pulled halfway shut, outlined by the faint glow from the various machines tracking his vitals. Genji slips through without having to touch the door.
He’s not entirely surprised to see his brother is still here, or even to see him sleeping in the hospital bed beside Jesse. Hanzo looks younger asleep. His hair is in a careless pile at his shoulders, and the perpetual frown is gone. He’s almost like a different person.
Jesse cracks an eye as Genji gets close, then quirks an eyebrow. Genji holds up the mug.
“How’d you know I was here?” Genji whispers. Hanzo doesn’t stir.
“Smelled somethin’” Jesse answers. Genji rolls his eyes and holds out the mug.
“I don’t know how you can smell anything with how much you smoke.”
Jesse just winks at him, the bastard. He grabs the proffered mug and takes a sip.
He sets the mug at his side, tucked in a wad of bedsheet. He’s certainly more lucid than the last time Genji saw him.
“How are you?” Genji asks. “Really?”
“Oh, fine. It’s just kinda tight feelin’ is all.”
Jesse must be warm, because most of the bedding is shoved down near his lap. The knot of inflamed, fresh scar tissue is just visible. The bullet went just south of his diaphragm. It’s lucky, in a way. They’d have had no chance of dealing with a sucking chest wound.
“He was real shook up,” Jesse says, his voice barely audible. He glances down at Hanzo. “He told me what happened.”
Genji sighs by way of answering. Jesse scrubs his free hand down his face. He’s wearing an expression Genji’s used to seeing on Reyes, a kind of tired resignation.
“Just bad and worse, huh?”
Jesse runs his fingers down Hanzo’s spine, then back up, contemplative. There’s a part of Genji that wants to tease out of habit, but there’s a much larger part that’s just grateful. Grateful to have his friend, grateful to have his brother, grateful to be sitting here thinking and breathing and living.
“I guess we both owe him a drink then, since he bailed us out,” Jesse says, lips quirked up. Genji huffs a small laugh.
“I guess so.”
They both lapse into an easy silence. It’s like old times, and yet, very different. Jesse takes another long sip from the tea, a small, soft smile cementing itself on his face. Fond nostalgia, perhaps, or contentment with the companionship. Hard for Genji to say.
He knew, when he decided to answer the Recall, that there would be bitter struggles. Near misses. One day, maybe, real loss. But right now there is a hard-won victory and sorely missed company.
This, he is sure, is good.
I don't know why, but this fic was a s t r u g g l e.
I'm generally lurking and posting drabbles on tumblr at https://saltytothecore.tumblr.com/