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The Things We Do For Love

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By Genji Shimada, Guest Writer for the Santa Fe Magic Times: Midnight Column, 2:35 am PST

Sitting back in my office chair, contemplating on where to begin this story, there is the question as to why it should be written. What is the purpose of telling my readers how I met the love of my life? In my previous entries, she comes up whenever I do or say something foolish.

Just by being with her, the truth of the matter is that an accident can escalate into something intentional. As cliche as this may sound, spending all this time with her has made me into a new man. For that, there is more than enough reason to tell the story.

No one expected us to last. Not even her family, let alone my family. My brother expressed his strong doubts, considering my history with the men and women I’ve acquainted with. Keep in mind that this is not a story our children will hear about; at least not every detail. We have no intentions of traumatizing them until they’re old enough to understand.

We first met at a bar in downtown Reno, about half an hour away from home. Hanzo and I were there at our usual time of night to mingle. He claimed he only accompanied me because he wanted to keep me out of trouble, but spending time with him was almost like drinking with your babysitter: awkward and cheap, especially when they don't leave a tip.

I had already greeted the bartender when the side of a certain young woman came into my view. Part of her head was shaved, while the other side was shoulder-length black and white hair tied into a loose pigtail. She was wearing an open-backed black dress, the loose bottom hem brushing the top of crossed knees. When she turned my direction, I caught a glimpse of her face. Her dark brown eyes in particular sparked something of familiarity, but I couldn’t quite grasp where I recognized them just yet.

“Genji,” interrupted Hanzo, retracting me from my thoughts by waving a hand in front of me. “Don’t even think about it.”

“Relax, I’m just going to talk to her.”

“Yeah, right. If you get too close with her, I’m taking you home.” He rolled his eyes when he saw my response was to flip him up. I took pride in getting him off my back.

She was sitting at the counter next to another woman, presumably a friend, with light blue skin and gills on her neck. When they noticed me approaching them, the friend narrowed her gaze at me, lips curled back to bare part of her fangs, growling under her breath. As for her, she watched me in intrigue, eyebrows raised when I bowed.

“Good evening, ladies. May I buy you both a drink?”

“Hmm,” mumbled my woman of interest, looking over at her friend, who squinted her eyes. She nodded and turned her gaze to me, raising a hand to her mouth. Whatever her friend was telling her, it couldn’t have been something positive.

“My friend said she’d be more comfortable if you sat next to me.”

She gestured her hand towards the empty seat next to her, despite her friend gawking. Not even a second after sitting down, she uncrossed her knees and reached a firm hand onto my butt, catching me by surprise. She fiddled in the back pocket of my pants until she found my wallet.

“Just making sure you’re not broke,” she reassured me, winking when she slipped the aforementioned wallet out of the pocket and rummaged through it, her friend peering over to stare at my money, credit cards, and other assorted contents. When she found my condoms, she exasperated a gasp and pulled one out with a snort.

On one hand, there was no reason to feel embarrassed to carry condoms in my wallet. On the other hand, the fact that she pulled those out first could have had people, especially Hanzo, thinking my sole interest was to sleep with her. I cleared my throat to collect myself.

“There’s no need to be concerned, ladies,” I told them, reaching for my wallet and breathing a sigh of relief when she gladly handed it back. “I have more than enough to afford a few drinks for the three of us.”

We started simple, as it was my usual approach when getting acquainted. She insisted it began with a mimosa but it would have felt inappropriate to verify this detail while she was nursing our youngest. For consistency’s sake, we’ll say it was a mimosa. Very light, with a hint of lemon, considering she enjoys the tartness of citrus.

She settled her clutch on the counter and reached for her drink. Her friend took her time, opting to stir the drink with her index finger and raising the dripping liquid to her lips. She wrinkled her nose and gagged at the sour taste. Now this strange woman was leaning against my shoulder, stifling her laughter.

“So, if I may, would it be strange for me to ask for your names?”

“You may call me “Sombra,” she said, collecting herself and sitting up on the bar stool with a sniffle. “My friend here is Amelie, or “Widowmaker.” Not a very creative nickname for a siren but she seems to take pride in it.”

“Do you go by anything else?”

“Why do you want to know?”

“No reason. It’s just that I feel like I’ve seen you before,” I answered.

Sombra clicked her tongue and furrowed her brow, tapping the side of her cheek as she took a few moments to observe me.

“What did you say your name was?” she asked.

“I didn’t. My name is Genji Shimada.”

She raised her hands to her mouth and turned back to her friend, who looked at her in confusion. For a split second, she looked like she was about to cry. Perhaps she was aware of my reputation and needed a way to turn me away. She rubbed her eyes a few times with the edges of her palms before turning back and smacking my chest with a cackle.

“Genji, you idiot. How could you not remember your childhood partner-in-crime when it came to causing mischief around Shimada Castle?”

Her question had me thinking back to an instance several years ago. My father greeted a man by the name of Gabriel Reyes, accompanied by his wife and daughter, Lydia and Olivia. Olivia almost always wore a facemask to avoid spreading anything. She was very frail, bony and awkward as she stood with a slouch. The three of them stayed with us while Olivia was being treated by the Elder.

One morning, after she had dealt with a treatment that left her moaning in discomfort, I offered to conjure a bunny to lift her spirits, using the Elder’s conjuring potion I had taken from her room. Needless to say, things went wrong when our parents were baffled by the sudden influx of rabbits around the castle. Even though we both scolded for our misdeeds, she couldn’t stop giggling.

After she was well enough to keep food down, her family left with their gratitudes to my father and the Elder for accommodating them. They hadn’t visited since and I never knew what became of her until that moment.

“Olivia…”

“Genji,” she cooed, pinching my cheek. “It’s such a shame I can’t make fun of you for being shorter than me anymore.”

“Maybe for you but I wouldn’t doubt you have a few magic tricks up your sleeve.”

“That’s for me to know and for you to never find out.”

After she finished her drink, she snapped her fingers to summon the bartender. She mumbled a curse as she rummaged through her clutch to find her credit card. When she did, she slammed it on the counter, snorting when she almost knocked over a glass.

“Change of plans. We’re putting this on my tab.”

We spoke for another hour until she had to take Amelie home. Before they left, she left her number on my phone. She told me she had just moved back to Reno after spending a few years with her mother in Santa Fe. We live with her at the moment but that’s a story for another chapter.
----
Perhaps it was the alcohol speaking but I couldn’t stop thinking about Sombra as Hanzo was driving home. I scrubbed my hands against my face, groaning. Not even an aspirin could ease the throbbing pains inside my head. I glanced over at Hanzo as we were waiting at a stoplight.

“I can’t believe I found her again.”

“It’s good to see she has no need for the facemask anymore.”

“I know,” I said, shutting my eyes with a sigh. “She’s so gorgeous now.”

“Alright, Genji. It’s time to get your dick out of your brain. It’s important you don’t try to pursue her in that way.”

“I’m not. I just said she’s gorgeous.”

“Hmmm,” Hanzo mumbled.

There was not enough sobriety in my body to contest his doubts. The only thing that mattered was getting me to bed that night. That was when my phone pinged. Reaching into my pockets, I pulled out my phone to check my notifications. There was a text from an unrecognizable number. It didn’t take long for me to realize it was from Sombra.

[Undisclosed Number]: Genji! <3 let’s see each other again in the morning, yeah?

Her offer was tempting. At the same time, that would mean skipping my morning training session with the Elder. My head was so clouded that I couldn’t think straight. Even so, what was the damage of skipping one morning if she was going to make me do the same damn thing, anyway?

[PMasterGenji]: You’re on. Name your time and location.

[WitchyHax]: 8am. My place. I’ll send you my address in a sec.

The morning could not come any sooner.
----
Sombra told me her father was not fond of the fact that I wanted to spend more time with her. After her mother divorced him, Sombra lived back and forth between both parents, moving back with her father due to her witch training. The responsibility of being an heiress, she said, was “a socially exhausting feat I wish I could have just ignored.”

“After we met, he wanted to put a spell to permanently silence your voice but I told him to stop overreacting because all we did was have a few drinks. He’s a good man, but that old asshat needs to learn to chill.”

She was cut off for a moment because as I was recording her statement, the baby threw up on my shirt and started to cry. I jokingly told her that her foul language poisoned his stomach and caused his little accident. She responded by telling me to shut up and to take off my shirt.
----
As prefaced in our texts from the previous night, we met up at her apartment on the eighteenth floor. Her father owned the entire building with the rest of the tenants being some of his loyal confidants. Just as I was about to knock, I heard two voices on the other end, which turned out to be her talking to her father.

“I told you already, dad: he’s a Shimada. You can trust him.”

“It’s not that I don’t trust him, mija. He’s a young adult male with certain things on his mind when it comes to girls like you. You need to be careful.”

That must have been the perfect opportunity to knock, considering Sombra breathed a sigh of relief afterwards. When she answered the door, she broke into a grin and hastily took my hand. Peering past the door, her father was staring at his phone, grumbling. There was no need to start a conversation with him but of course, that was me speaking too soon.

“Don’t have her out past five. She needs to be back for training tonight.”

“Of course. I promise I’ll take good care of your daughter,” I told him.

“That’s what I’m afraid of,” he scoffed.

Sombra told me that spending more time with me gave her more of an excuse to be away from her father, considering Amelie was preoccupied in the mornings with her family’s cafe. As for me, I had to remind myself to make up an excuse as to why I didn’t show up to training that morning.

It was hot that day, a scorching seventy-eight degrees. We started off at the lake a few miles east from my house. She wouldn’t even wait for me to park to start shuffling out of her shirt and pants, tossing the articles in the backseat to reveal her bikini.

Sombra sat on the edge of the shallow end and dipped her feet in the water, circling and kicking them around to watch the ripples expand and drift to the other side. The moment I sat next to her, she leaned her head against my shoulder with a sigh.

“This is gonna sound really weird but can I ask you to do something for me?”

“What is it?”

“Can you let your Elder know that my family and I appreciate what she did for me when I was sick?”

“I will let her know sometime tonight. I actually skipped alchemy training this morning to spend time with you.”

She gawked at me and batted my chest.

“You are terrible, Genji Shimada.”

“I know. I get that a lot.”

We started to snicker. What a relief. Other than her appearance, she hadn’t changed since childhood. We spent the next hour or so reminiscing on those precious moments, back when laughter was the best form of recovery. The once fragile five year-old became a healthy and glowing twenty-one year-old. If only we had stayed close for much longer but any time with her was better than never seeing her again.

Suddenly, a strong force shoved me forward hurling me off the ledge. Gasping, I held my breath the second my body crashed into the water underneath us. The faint sound of her laughter echoed with the sounds of the water rushing through my ears. It wouldn’t be until she called out for me that I swam back up to the surface and grabbed her by the shoulders, pulling her in.

Needless to say, she’s not as good at holding her breath. She immediately swam back up to the surface, stumbling onto the ledge with violent coughs, collapsing onto her wobbling knees. By the time she saw me swim back up, she shot a glare at me. I climbed back onto the ledge and laid down on my back, arms crossed behind my head.

“You okay?”

“You’re such an asshole. I oughta put a curse on you.”

“Yeah? Go ahead then. Do your worst.”

There was no challenge when it came to Sombra. She always got what she wanted. And in this situation, she wanted to punish me for my wrongdoings. She started by crawling on top of me, straddling my hips and leaning in towards my face, a devious smirk running past her lips. In my mind, there was no doubt she was looking to kiss me. Instead, she did something much worse.

She brushed past my face and whispered into my ear,

“If you thought I was going to kiss you just now, you’re sadly mistaken. You have to earn that.”

From there, she pulled away and pressed a teasing finger to my nose before standing up, leaving me to stare up at her with knitted brows. My mouth was agape from the anguishing thought that she cursed me with this brief moment of fantasy, only to leave me in the dark for a while longer.

Once we were mostly dried off, we went out for tacos at her favorite spot a few blocks from her apartment. As prefaced in my previous entries, Sombra is a fast eater. How she managed to stuff a whole taco in her mouth without choking was the true magic she possessed. It would not come as a shock to me to find out that any, if not all, of our kids ended up inheriting her bottomless stomach.

When noon came around, my phone rang. Without even looking at the caller ID, I knew it was Hanzo. Sombra “oooh”ed at me, but instead of answering, I tapped “decline” and set my phone to silent. Her “ooh”s escalated, which couldn’t be helped. Whatever consequences awaited me when I got home would have to wait.

Overall, our day was quiet and we seemed to enjoy each other’s company. It was around four-thirty when we returned to her apartment. Before she went inside, she patted my shoulders with a grin.

“Don’t be a stranger next time, okay? I’ll be in touch.”
-------
By the time I arrived home, Hanzo was silent, but he knew it was the Elder who would decide my punishment. To my relief, she let me off with a warning, but it was Father who needed to speak with me. She escorted me to his room and knocked twice before opening the door.

When I stepped into his room, Father was sitting up against the wall, back slouched against his bed frame. Mother was holding his hand, gingerly stroking the whitened knuckles with her thumb. I bowed before sitting on my knees in front of my parents, unsure what my father would say in regards to missing my training.

“Please forgive me, father,” I said. “I was getting reacquainted with the daughter of an old family friend of yours.”

“Which one?” he coughed in between his hoarse words.

“Miss Olivia Colomar-Reyes.”

“Reyes. Yes, I remember her family. Is she well?”

“She is. She wanted me to inform the Elder that she and her family appreciate the potion that helped with her recovery.”

The Elder bowed her head. Father loosened his grip around Mother’s hand, but she kept holding it in the event that he was trying to stand up. Instead, he cleared his throat and staggered his bloodshot gaze towards me.

“While it is good to reacquaint yourself with her, you must remember to listen to your brother and not skip any more training sessions with the elder. Prioritize the family before you prioritize her or anyone, for that matter.”

“I understand.”

Though I was true to my word for a little while, I had to consult the elder afterwards about changing my sessions to some evenings instead of every morning. She begrudgingly obliged on the condition that I would have to prepare the potions for father on my own. As such, I’d be working twice as hard to perfect them. If it meant spending more mornings with Sombra, as she desired, then there was no reason to complain.

---
I will not be going detail for detail on my first time with Sombra, due to word limits by my employer. Suggesting to sell the details to a porn site was a terrible idea, even though it was a joke. In response, she gestured a slow motion across my neck with her index finger. It’s not like there was a market for realistic intimacy in the first place.

A month had passed since our unexpected reunion at the bar. Mr. Reyes kept his distance between us for her sake but reminded me to not keep her past five on weekdays, seven on weekends. As agreed on by the Elder, my morning trainings during weekdays had been switched to evenings on Mondays and Wednesdays, to coincide with Sombra’s free-time those mornings. That way, we could spend more time together.

Saturday nights at the bar became standard, but something about her was different on this particular night. She admitted arguing with her father over the phone before leaving the apartment, but her behaviors were odd, nonetheless. For one thing, she came alone. She fiddled with the bottom hem of her dress, crossing her legs awkwardly and leaning in to my chest after one drink. Even Hanzo was asking if she was alright. Finally, she leaned up to my ear and said, loud enough for me to hear through the booming music,

“I want to go home.”

I looked down at her, concerned by her tone, which sounded like she was in pain. Suddenly, she grabbed the lapel of my shirt and bunched it against her fingers. Her pleading gaze was piercing right through me, burning a hole in my throat. We stepped outside for a moment, away from the music so we could hear each other a lot clearer. Her bottom lip was hanging on the edge of her teeth when she looked up at me.

“Please, Genji. Take me home.”

Before taking her to the car, I sent Hanzo a text telling him that I was going to drop off Sombra at her apartment. His response?

[Shimada_Han]: If her condition worsens, stay with her and give me a call.

[PMasterGenji]: Got it

We arrived at the apartment at around midnight. Her father was away on a business trip. The moment we reached the front door, she led me inside and waved her other hand to shut it behind me, locking it with a click. Her gaze tensed as she made her slow approach towards me.

Before I could speak up, she pressed her hands against the back of my neck and pulled me into a kiss. Of course, this was something I wasn’t expecting. Then she gradually slipped her tongue in my mouth, coaxing me to relax and match her slow, sensual movements. She chuckled between breaths while running delicate fingers through my hair, eliciting my deepening groans she took great pleasure in drinking up.

When we broke apart, she smoothed her hands on my cheeks, rubbing them with her thumbs as if she were worshipping the frames of my cheekbones. All this time, she wanted me all to herself. She wouldn’t have gone all this way without wanting something from me. Granted, I had been sated for quite some time, but with Sombra, the desire for me was a lot stronger than my desire for her. But it’s as I said before: she always got what she wanted.

“Are we doing it here or in the bedroom?”

“My dad’s room has the bigger bed.”

“That’s fucking disgusting.”

“So is what we’re doing,” she cooed, rutting an impatient knee against my thigh. “Come on, playboy. What’s stopping you?”

With the way she was riling me up, beggars can’t be choosers. So much to my better judgment, she directed me to her father’s room. The musky scent of the array of colognes on his nightstand made it seem like he was watching us. At the same time, the thrill of being caught, while impossible due to circumstances, gave me this unexplained adrenaline rush. My thoughts were racing with ravenous thoughts.

Go ahead then. Let that old geezer catch me, ass out, fucking his daughter from behind, and on his bed, to add insult to injury. Hell, I would want her to scream my name as he walked through the door. My cock would be shoved so far up her ass, she’d be bedrest for a month.

And oh, she was smiling. Either she was putting those thoughts in my head or she was thinking something similar. The moment I set her down on the bed, she adjusted herself so she was sitting up and staring at me. My heart was starting to race when she raised a finger, beckoning a “come here” motion. An aggressive shiver ran up my spine as I was crawling onto the bed to join her.

According to her, she heard a low growl rumble from the back of my throat. My pupils turned a glowing bright green. The thought of it is not outlandish, to say the least. Previous lovers have claimed an instance similar, just before we engaged in anything on the bed (or in the back of Hanzo’s car, in an instance a few months before Sombra).

Arms wrapped firm around my neck, she drew out her moaning while we were grinding our hips together. Our bodies were tensing from the gradual friction. Her breathing hitched, nails digging into my skin. Even with the aggressive green-eyed stare peering right through her, she was not intimidated.

From there, that’s where it all becomes a blur. There are bits and pieces I remember, such as the smooth touch of her skin, prickling to the touch of my fingers. My face was buried on her neck most of the time, losing myself to the alluring scent of her jasmine and vanilla perfume. Mixed with the musk of her sweat, pulling away was not an option.

By the time we rode out our orgasms, the last bits of her moans crescendoed from the back of her throat. She then collapsed onto my chest, craned her head to my shoulder, and stroked the bottom of my chin with a content sigh. At least she was pleased. We spent a few minutes in euphoric silence until I excused myself to the restroom to draw us a bath. That and I needed to pee.

Some of you may understand the struggle of trying to pee with a hard-on. Even with my two years of experience, there was no way of pointing it down and expecting it to flow regularly. There was no other option than to shake it out and be patient. At least I passed the time by looking at myself in the mirror in front of me, admiring Sombra’s handiwork with the several dark purple lipstick marks she left all over my neck, face (most notably, around my lips and chin), and collar bones. After a few agonizing minutes, I managed to get it all out before flushing and washing my hands.

After I turned the water knobs on the bathtub, I cracked the bathroom door open. Sombra had pulled the sheets off and set our clothes in a small pile next to the bed. She approached me at the door, grazing her fingernails against my cheeks, biting her lip at the sight of her marks. Chuckling, I tucked my hand underneath her chin, gently tilting her head up to meet my softened gaze.

“You did great,” I told her, “I am impressed by your bold works of art all over my body, it’s almost a shame we have to clean it off.”

“Well, it was my first time,” she admitted.

“In that case, you have convinced me to stay the night.”

We exchanged a few more kisses before I finished drawing the bath.

The tub itself was spherical and wide enough for her to settle comfortably on my lap. The water was lukewarm, wafting with the faint scent of aloe, considering her father’s body wash was the only thing I could find to clean us up. Surely, he wouldn’t mind. As I was scrubbing her backside with a hand towel, I caught a glance at the glowing purple dots curving alongside her spine. She explained to me one day at my desk that they are “where most of my magic is connected and dispersed throughout my body.” The way they swayed with her spinal movements was almost hypnotizing to watch.

“Do you enjoy spending time with me, Genji?” She said this as she turned her gaze to me.

“Of course I do. You’re special to me.”

Telling her this without a moment’s hesitation was the stupidest yet most sincere thing I’d ever done. There was no use taking it back because she was already smiling. She pressed her chest closer to mine. My stomach started to tighten upon feeling the intense thumps of her heartbeat.

Hanzo was right. What the fuck was I thinking? We’d only known each other for a month, and this was not counting the time I saw her when we were children. Still, it was not improbable to say my actions weren't rushed. Even if it was a month, we spent pretty much every day and night with each other, like any couple would.

“Thank you, Genji.”

“Only for you, Olivia.”
----
We spent the rest of that night asleep in her bed. She had already reassured me her father wouldn’t be coming home until the following evening, so there was plenty of time for her to conceal any evidence of our night’s activities in his room.

The following morning, my phone was half of its battery and flooded with texts and a voicemail from Hanzo. Considering I took his car to drop Sombra off and never returned, he had every reason to be upset. Taking my time was not an option and I would have to bid my dearest Sombra farewell. After putting my clothes on, I leaned in and kissed her before making my way back.

Sure enough, Hanzo had another earful to give me the moment I walked through the front door of the house. This was not like the other times, though. Every part of me had to fight the urge to say he was wrong about my priorities. He wasn’t. To be honest, I wanted to cry not because I was being chastised but rather, the constant reminders that I would potentially cause our family's decline. The thought induced enough anxiety out of me and it wasn't long until I swallowed the bitter lump in my throat.

“I get it, Hanzo! If her father has a problem with seeing his daughter, he can take it out on me. Our family shouldn’t have to suffer for my mistakes.”

Hanzo wanted to interject but he could tell my voice was cracking. Instead, he drew an exasperated sigh and reached over to pat my shoulder. Being the obnoxious younger brother that I was, I forced him into a hug, sniffling onto his shoulder, even if he was disgusted by the gesture. It was as father told him, “look out for your brother.”

----

My daily ritual for the next few months with Sombra consisted of meeting each other for breakfast at Cafe Guillard. Though Amelie shot the occasional glance at me when she served our tea, I kept my focus on Sombra, who was smiling the whole time. There were times when she’d pull her friend aside and whisper something. Based on Amelie’s puzzled glances back at me, she was concerned for her friend’s well-being.

It wasn’t until the third or fourth month that she started cancelling our morning plans because she was not feeling well. Our last conversation over the phone was brief, apologizing several times for making me wait.

On one particular afternoon, I was about to ask if she needed anything when I heard the phone slam on the other end. My nose wrinkled from picking up the faint sound of her retching on the other line. This went on for another minute until she reached for her phone again, burping with a disgusted groan.

“Don’t worry about bringing me anything. Come over. I need to tell you something.”

“Okay. I’ll see you soon.”

Arriving at her apartment, there was this unexplained tension in my body. Was her health on the decline again? The thought of seeing her in a face mask again would have been devastating. There was silence on the other end until she heard me knock. She answered the door in a haste and jumped into my embrace, peppering me with kisses all around my face, despite the wavering scent of vomit and mouthwash under her breath.

“How are you feeling?”

“Let’s talk in my room.”

There was no need to even look at Mr. Reyes. The strong scent of his cologne within a close proximity to us coaxed me to walk faster. She clicked her tongue and squeezed my hand, reminding me that she was the reason for me being here, not him. It was a good distraction until she closed the door behind her.

“I hope you don’t take offense to this," she said, sitting on her bed and patting the spot next to her, "but I was thinking maybe we rushed things a little too early.”

“What do you mean?”

She took a deep breath and rested an anxious hand over her stomach, an action that would regrettably fly over my head.

“My dad found out what we did a few months and took me to our doctor. She said I’m sick as a result of that night we had sex.”

This was when the confusion hit. Was she implying that she contracted an STD from me? The idea was ludicrous at the time. Although, I can assure my readers that I have never, to the best of my medical knowledge, contracted or spread an STD. The story would end here if that were the case. After a moment of discontented silence, she reached over and touched my hand.

“So you’re saying you need me to back off because I got you sick.”

“Hey, hold on a minute,” she said, trying not to sound defensive. “That’s not what I’m saying.”

“What are you saying then, Miss Reyes?”

“I’m saying I need you more than ever, considering the circumstances.”

“Like what, letting you stay at my place to see the Elder again?”

“No, it’s more complicated than that!”

Admittedly, sharing this banter between us is reminding me how things could have turned out a lot better. At the same time, no relationship is without its disagreements, reasonable or not. Had I actually listened to what she was saying, I would have been more understanding. She would not had been so nervous to tell me what was wrong if I didn’t my confusion escalate to frustration. This was the hardest lesson to learn when it came to committing myself to her.

“Then tell me how all of this is my fault.”

Her gaze began to waver and soon, she was staring down at her lap, pulling her hand away and bunching it into a fist against her bedsheets.

“Forget it. Just go. I’m sorry for bothering you.”

Disgruntled, I stood up from her bed and made my way towards the door. It wasn’t until I touched the doorknob that I felt a sharp pain ride up my spine, like I was being electrocuted. My body was stiffened. I was unable to move, let alone breathe. My head felt like it was about to implode on itself. Through the frantic thoughts that I was about to die, a booming voice echoed in my eardrums.

Insolent boy. You will pay for your misdeeds brought onto my family.

The last thing I remembered before losing consciousness was hearing Sombra’s fading scream. When I attempted to ask her what happened, she stilled. I reached for her hand as she almost dropped the spoon she was stirring her coffee with. ”It doesn’t matter anymore. I still don’t forgive him for hurting you like that. You didn’t know and he overreacted. That’s all you need to know.”

For her sake, these details will remain classified.
----
According to Hanzo, I was unconscious for twenty-four hours. During that time, he picked me up from the apartment and took me home, at Mr. Reye’s request. He described my body as “lifeless and stiff, pale as the bedsheets on the bed.” There were apparently a few times when he rushed into the room because I was convulsing and foaming at the mouth. The Elder told him there was nothing she could do except wait, much to Hanzo's frustration. I remained unconscious leading up to the next morning.

I remembered stretching and not feeling any bones pop, which was strange but I was not fully awake to comprehend. When Hanzo walked into my room, he was carrying a bowl of hot water and a hand towel. The moment he looked down at me, he appeared dumbfounded at first, but then he set the bowl on top of my drawer and scrubbed his face with a groan.

“Oh, you’re fucking kidding me…”

Though the tone was not unusual for him in the morning, his words caught me off-guard. What the hell was he talking about? I tried to ask him but the annoying sounds of birds tweeting from the window were drowning out my voice. Sprawling out of bed, I made my way over to Hanzo, narrowing my gaze at him. What felt strange to me was the fact that my body felt weightless. When I dropped my arms, I started to drop, forcing me to flail them around to keep myself up. It was then that Hanzo pointed to the mirror, where I couldn’t even see myself. Instead, it was that of a sparrow. For a few moments, I thought I was dreaming. My chirps became more frantic until Hanzo had to pinch my beak to shush me.

“Listen carefully, Genji,” he told me, “I had to beg for Mr. Reyes to spare the rest of our family since this was all your doing. Sombra thinks you’re dead and it will most likely stay that way until you prove that you want her just as much as she does. We can’t expose your identity, either, or this curse will become permanent. She has to find out herself”

While it was a relief to hear that Mr. Reyes spared the rest of the family, being put under a curse like this couldn’t have been painful for me. Poor Sombra was distressed enough from being sick for the past few weeks. It was hard to imagine how she must have felt to see my lifeless body or if her father was aware as to how the incident would affect her in the long run.

“There’s one more thing you need to know…”

He mumbled a curse in Japanese while rubbing his temples, which was strange considering we’re not native Japanese speakers like our parents. He cupped his hands together, gesturing for me to fly over, which was a relief considering how tiring staying airborne was. From there, that’s when he’d break the news to me.

“Sombra is four months pregnant with your child.”