Genji found Jesse at the usual after-mission spot — the small outdoor balcony at the top of Overwatch: Gibraltar that granted access to the satellite receivers. Jesse sat on a hard, plastic chair in front of a small card table that held his gun-cleaning supplies. He had Peacekeeper partially dismantled, and he was polishing the firearm’s inner workings with Hoppe's #9, if the nearly-overpowering smell of the cleaner’s fumes was anything to go by.
This is why Jesse was here instead of in his quarters. He always cleaned Peacekeeper after using it. “I take care of her, she takes care of me,” Jesse had said about his gun, and his room didn’t offer enough ventilation to do the job. Years ago, back when they were in Blackwatch together, Jesse had once told him that, while he liked the smell of Hoppe’s just fine, he didn’t like it enough to let it give him a raging headache.
“Speaking from experience?” Genji had asked, and the surly, slightly guilty look Jesse threw him made him laugh. Genji had teased him for an entire week about how it figured a cowboy would get high sniffing gun cleaner.
“I didn’t do it on purpose,” Jesse had grumbled. “My room didn’t have a window.” That only made Genji laugh more, but Jesse never seemed to really mind being the butt of the joke. Not back then, when laughs for both of them were few and far between.
It was mostly quiet at the top of the Rock, with only the sound of the wind and the crashing waves far below. The sun had set mere minutes ago, and it was dark enough that Genji could just barely make out Jesse’s face under the brim of his hat. His eyes were lost in shadow, and an unlit cigarillo hung from his lips as he used a silicon cloth to thoroughly rub the cleaner into all of Peacekeeper’s nooks and crannies with a meditative ease. Jesse wouldn’t light the cigarillo until he was done, since apparently Hoppe’s #9 and its fumes were flammable and, as he told Genji, “I got no desire to burn my beard off.”
Genji didn’t ask if Jesse needed more light for his task, since he knew all too well that Jesse could clean Peacekeeper blindfolded. He’d lost a bet on it, after all.
“Howdy, Genji,” Jesse said, without looking up. His voice had that warm, easy-going tone that made Genji feel welcome, even though he knew he was intruding on what could only be called a post-mission ritual at this point. “You need me for something?”
“No,” Genji said. “I just wanted to tell you that I have decided to try and recruit Hanzo.”
Jesse actually stopped cleaning Peacekeeper and looked up. “Winston gave you the go-ahead, then?”
A frown tugged at the corner of Jesse’s mouth. “Does Angie know?”
“She does,” Genji said, suppressing a wince. “She reminded me – at great length, I might add – about how close I came to death, about my long and difficult recovery, and how hard it was for me to come to terms with no longer being fully human.”
Jesse whistled through his teeth; a sound of amazement. “She didn’t pull any punches, I see,” he said. He paused for a moment, moving his cigarillo from one side of his mouth to the other with a roll of his tongue, and clamping it in his teeth. “Guess I don’t need to wonder if you’ve thought this through if you’re still going after all that.” Jesse’s shadowed eyes peered at him from under the brim of his hat. “Though, for my part, I can’t help but recall a time when you told me that, with every person you struck down with your sword, you imagined them with Hanzo’s face.”
“That is true,” Genji said, “but you already know I’m not the man I was.”
“I know you ain’t,” Jesse said. “But it’s one thing to say you’ve forgiven your brother for nearly killing you, and another thing entirely to come face to face with him for the first time afterwards. There’s nearly ten years of wear and tear that have made you who you are, and I like it, because you sure seem a hell of a lot happier than you used to be. But who’s to say what those ten years have done to him?”
“Who indeed?” Genji said. “I guess I will have to find out.”
Jesse sighed and leaned back in his chair, pushing the brim of his hat up to look Genji in the face in the fading light. Genji didn’t have his face plate off, but Jesse seemed to have a knack for reading him anyway. “There are so many things that could go wrong with this, I can’t even count them all,” he said.
“You are correct,” Genji said, tilting his head as he wondered if Jesse was actually going to try to talk him out of his errand. “I am fully aware of how dangerous this could be.”
But Jesse just snorted and shook his head. “Care for some back-up? ‘Cause I’ll come with you, if you want.”
Genji smiled. “I know you would, my friend, but I believe this is something I need to do alone.”
“I had a feeling you were gonna say that.” Jesse went to rub his gloved hand over his face but stopped as he seemed to remember his gloves probably had Hoppe’s #9 on them. “Fine. I can’t say I like it, but… well, I hope it works out for you. And if you come back with him, I’ll do my damndest to be peaceable with him. But just so you know, if things go south… if he makes a single scratch on your shiny metal ass, he’ll have to reckon with my Deadeye.”
Genji felt his dragon stir uneasily within him at the mention of the Deadeye. He hadn’t seen Jesse use it since the Recall, but he remembered it all too well from their Blackwatch days. The feeling of blasting furnace heat coming from his friend, and the unearthly glow that heralded swift, sure death to any enemy within sight. Three at once, five at once, six at once… then, impossibly, eleven at once, and Genji had seen the tears of blood that leaked from Jesse’s eye afterward. Time and again. The number of enemies didn’t seem to matter. The number of bullets in Peacekeeper didn’t seem to matter.
If Jesse McCree unleashed his Deadeye on someone, or a multitude of someones, there was nothing they could do but somehow duck out of his sight in a split second, or die.
A family curse, Jesse had told him once, and the haunted, hunted look that flashed for a brief moment on the cowboy’s face kept Genji from pressing for more details. Jesse never gave up more information on the Deadeye again, but he didn’t hesitate to use it in the service of Blackwatch. And now, the recalled Overwatch.
And now he had pledged to use it to avenge him, if necessary.
“If Hanzo hasn’t changed,” Genji said slowly. “If he is still a puppet whose strings are pulled by others; if he has become as ruthless and malevolent as the clan elders…”
Genji heaved a deep sigh, feeling a fleeting touch of gratitude that the different sensations of his cybernetic lung and his flesh lung exhaling air in a rush no longer made him feel the sting of self-hatred. He had come a long way. He hoped with fervent desire that Hanzo had as well, but…
He reached behind his neck and released his face plate with a hiss of hydraulics, removing it so that he could meet Jesse’s gaze with his own eyes. “If he still desires me dead, and if this time, he succeeds… I would expect nothing less of you.”
Jesse said nothing in response. Just tipped his hat and smiled a little.
Genji saw the pain hidden behind that smile and nodded in return.
Then he left to find his brother.
The next chapter will take place immediately after the “Dragons” Overwatch cinematic, and I plan to post it on Monday.
Please read the tags. :)
This is my first Overwatch fic, and I am, quite frankly, terrified that it sucks. Criticism is welcome. Kudos and comments will be appreciated like you would not believe.