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Confess Your Pains and Find Reprieve

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It’d taken some time for Hanzo to understand, in full, what kind of a profound adoration he had for Kenshi. It was no mystery to him anymore that he was in love, as it once was — yet, times stood out among the rest where the realization hit him like a meteor.

When they kissed in the morning and Hanzo felt, for the first times in a long while, he could not pull away; when he received word from a border patrol that the swordsman had entered the territory, or when he found out himself in Kenshi appearing unannounced through the Shirai-ryū gates, and his heart surged with relief and an ease of seeing him again; the cocky little smile Kenshi adopted when he caught onto Hanzo feeling this way, and knew well the effect he had. Sometimes, it was as simple as the mesmerization that took him when he looked into Kenshi’s eyes, unlike any others in the world. How the red of his uniform blended him into the Fire Gardens in autumn like a painting.

Happiness struck him like a sword thrust through his back. No matter his attempts to kill or flee from this attacker, it was so stuck to him that he could not hope, in a million years, that it would grow tired of him and leave on its own.

It scared him far more than he was comfortable with.

Love, at least in the romantic sense, was an emotion he had danced very little with; he had loved his wife, and she was no longer. Nobody before her had mattered much in the long run, nor had he given anyone the chance after. As far as he knew, Kenshi reciprocated his feelings in full, but that was amidst his concerns. He yearned for a full and fulfilling love without anxiety, as the swordsman seemed to have things.

Kenshi took life with as many troubles as a leaf drifting through a stream; no matter it’s fate, it would never sprout legs and walk, and it would never find an anxious center pondering it’s potential fate. It would continue relaxed as always through anything it was taken to, living with the current.

For this coupled with the business of being Grandmaster of the Shirai-ryū, Hanzo valued the times when Kenshi was able to rest in his bed with him for the nights. Be these times active or at ease mattered none to him. Laying beside him, in each other’s arms, was plenty to satisfy him.

His nights were most peaceful with Kenshi there. Something of the subconscious, he assumed, but he was no psychologist.

Something, he knew not what, awoke him far too early. With his arm pinned beneath Kenshi’s shoulders and one of Kenshi’s stuck under his back, he couldn’t see the time if he wanted to. The room was only moonlit. No dream left him disturbed, no loud crash of a mischievous student’s failed plans startled him to life. Only he and Kenshi were there, and his heart swelled when he turned and saw the swordsman’s sleeping face pressed into the pillow, relieved that he was still just as he was when they’d gone to sleep. An arm from each was wrapped around or draped across the other, Hanzo on his back and Kenshi on his stomach overlapping himself and legs entangled in his own.

Hanzo sighed slow and contentedly. For the better part of some ten minutes, he lay there in more peace than he could reach with meditation.

In increments, Kenshi began to turn away from him, first in a switch of leg position, then a movement of shoulder. Hanzo wishfully moved with him, attempting to put his own face by the crook of Kenshi's neck, and reach over his chest — but as he did so, Kenshi turned his face away too.

He hesitated for a long moment, waiting for something he didn't know; then resigned, and turned back to his own side. No sooner did he lift his weight than did Kenshi pull his arm back to his person, and he turned the entirety of his body the other way. A cold spot formed where he’d been.

What brought this on? More often than not, it was Hanzo who hedged, and Kenshi who pushed incessantly. Their stubborn natures battled without end. And with the weather standards of Hanzo’s island, Kenshi was always in his arms in the coldest parts of the night. Needless to say, what arose in the forefront of his mind was the sole question; did I do something?

Hanzo attempted to assure himself that this was too much introspection for the behavior of a sleeping man, but it was the spark of an uneasiness that would remain in him until he managed to find a disconcerted sleep.

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Kenshi was already gone the next morning.

This worried him greatly the instant Hanzo realized the fact. An instinct, as there had been too many times when Kenshi had really left, not to return for any amount of time (possibly ever, some day, with their particular kind of work), without a word said of his departure. Gone like wind. Hanzo had grown used to it, but he feared it no less; just acclimated to it, and made to push his feelings aside. As he was also used to.

The idea of a day when Kenshi was really never to come back, another piece of family taken from him, was one he didn’t want to envision, lest the thought should bring it to life.

His place in bed was still warm and imprinted, though, therefore the man couldn’t be far. Hanzo found him down the hall, his silhouette calmly overlooking the balcony there betwixt open shōji doors, lamps lit on either side of him. Sudden relief bloomed in his chest, letting out a breath he'd subconsciously held, but it was short lived when Kenshi heard his steps and turned his way.

His face was nigh haunted. Half-lidded eyes, dark circles below, a deep frown etched into his features. Just for a moment. Then, likely in effort to mask it, he gave a tired smile, and presently softened his expression.

But the bags under his eyes were puffy with exhaustion, more so than usual; Hanzo only knew from waking up with him so many times, and never being able to take his eyes off him. His face was always just slightly swollen when he woke, and the amount of sleep he’d gotten could be gauged by this to one observant enough.

Even the facts alone that he’d left without his blindfold, without Sentō, without brushing his hair or beard down, just a bare face, what he’d slept in, and the extra blanket to combat the autumn temperature.. Everything was unlike himself.

While distress pierced his core, his approach was tentative. He walked gently up to his partner and friend, one hand on the railing and the other come up to reach for his back, fingers running over the muscles along his spine.

What were the right words? He was rarely in this kind of position; Kenshi seemed to have such a strong grip on himself, never bothered, never finding hardships, even if Hanzo knew this was not true at his roots.

Despite emotional incapacities by the dozens, Hanzo persevered. “What’s wrong?”

Kenshi looked out into the still dark landscape, though it made no difference to him. He replied, “It's nothing,” and no more, for a long pause, until, simply, “Unpleasant dreams. I’m alright.”

“Are you sure?”

Kenshi turned back to him and smiled — if not genuinely, then enough to convince Hanzo it was so — reaching to delicately cup Hanzo's face on either side and run his fingers through his beard. It tickled pleasantly, but he could hardly pay attention to that when the glow of Kenshi's eyes so enraptured him.

“You always put me at ease.”

Struck by his silver tongue once more, Hanzo believed him, and when Kenshi kissed the corner of his lips, he tilted into it pliantly. The early-morning tiredness that had been shoved aside now returned with the warmth of Kenshi’s chest against his, leaving him sentimental and malleable. “I have a lesson to teach today, don’t I?” Kenshi continued. “You go back to sleep; I’ll get dressed, then see that the night guards are still awake.”

Uncertain but beguiled at once, he nodded with some hesitancy, certain his strange expression was well written on his face. But, he hadn’t a clue how well Kenshi determined that without his sword.

In a spur of casual romance still uncharacteristic of himself, he offered a peck on Kenshi's cheek, let his hands linger, before leaving Kenshi to his wayless devices.

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The coming night, something woke Hanzo. What remained a mystery to him, but in some hour early in the morning, he opened his eyes to the still-dark room, with no swordsman clung to his back as they’d gone to bed.

With the sluggish laziness of an untimely awakening, he checked over his shoulder just to ensure he was still there, and he was. All he saw was his back, arched as his body curled into itself and bare as he’d rolled out from under the blanket — but he, inexplicably, could not tell himself to turn back around and ignore it.

He moved closer, to see his lover’s face. What he found was how Kenshi’s hands were held into fists but with nothing to hold, and a cold sweat overcome his body.

Almost, Hanzo let him be; but this was not how he slept. He didn’t twitch in the shoulders as he did now, his skin not with a sheen of sweat across that reflected moonlight, rarely wrapped tightly in blankets for his source of heat. How he did sleep was on his stomach or on top of Hanzo’s (though he preferred to be on his back after intimate nights), he made a cradle of his pillow with his arms and slept like the dead only when Hanzo was beside him, he snored ever so lightly and sighed audibly when his dreams were nice.

Seeing his trembling, Hanzo assumed (perhaps knowingly with naïvity) it was the frigid Hokkaido colds at fault — and, taking pity on him, scooted closer to wrap his arms and blanket around the sleeping form, that his furnace-like form might bring him some comfort.

However, Kenshi lurched in response to the touch, as if he’d been suddenly burnt, jumping nigh upright with a gasp. Taken aback, Hanzo pulled away instantly, first thought being that it was himself; but Kenshi seemed like he’d just been shocked alive, panting like he could just now breathe again. His hand looked to have been reaching for something, but hovered uselessly in the air as his target vanished with his dream.

Kenshi turned his head over his shoulder a bit, and relaxed his muscles when he recognized Hanzo, vocalizing a sigh of relief. For something to do, that idle hand clutched at his heart to will it’s beating slow. He fell back into his pillow, on his back this time, with closed eyes.

Hanzo was wordless for several long beats of time. This morning.. was this what had plagued him? What Hanzo had ignored? Guilt sliced through his conscience — presently, he felt it plunge into him, with the familiar dark dread that made his face pale and his fingers numb in nervous adrenaline.

With brows knit in deep concern, he looked down at his partner in only silence, watching the heavy rise and fall of his chest which gleamed with sweat in the creases and valleys of lean muscle. In his mind’s eye, he saw the night prior; Kenshi waking like this and Hanzo not stirring. Stressed that he should stumble from the room in an hour of the morning countable on one hand, little but a blanket with him, to put it from his mind alone. That something told him he shouldn’t wake Hanzo and share his unrest, his conflict of mind… How could he say sleep was never so important to him as the well-being of his swordsman? He would kill and die for him, whichever would come first. An hour’s less of sleep on some nondescript day was the least he could offer.

It was strangely coincidental, but it felt very much like an second chance for that.

Hanzo leaned overtop Kenshi, propped up by one strong arm at the elbow, his other hand rest idly on Kenshi's chest as he looked down into his face with worried gaze. He did not jump at the touch, but slid his eyes open part way, illuminating his lashes and cheeks in the faintest glow, to peer up at him in return. Even now, just awoken, Hanzo can feel the race of Kenshi's fluttering heartbeat, stricken with a fear Hanzo couldn't know the source of.

That was what never failed to make him feel the most helpless; not knowing. As someone who was most fond of having control, he was most vulnerable in those places where he had none, and avoided this as some kind of disease. But what could he avoid of a lover’s own mind? He feared also what he may do to a relationship that he felt too vulnerable in, as many times as he had tried to push Kenshi away before.

This was a very opposite situation than what drove him to those times before. He didn’t fear Kenshi, but there was a fear in the great power Kenshi had on him, equally in his mind abilities as how the swordsman had enamoured him so quickly. Now he wished it was he with so menacing a telepathic power. He wished he could know, inherently, naturally, what was within the confines of Kenshi’s skull — not stuck striving to figure it out.

Blue eyes of a subdued glow blinked owlishly up at him, round and ambiguous. They revealed nothing in their sightless stare.

Despite nobody else around and nothing to tread carefully for, Hanzo's voice was quiet when he asked, “Are you alright?”

Kenshi smiled sweetly — selflessly, in truth.

“With you? More than.”

Hanzo's lips pursed slightly in what may be a poor imitation of a smile, or just only a half-attempt in the first place. Kenshi was flattering, always, for he had skill in these words where he lacked in others, but Hanzo had known him for too long to start pretending now that he doesn't know his tricks. As he’d done frequently before, he had planned maneuvers for attempting to redirect attention from himself. Not a man of spotlight, even in private.

Without Kenshi's strength in telepathy, Hanzo would be forced to exercise the very mortal practice of... emotions. Which, mind, he tried so greatly to pretend he didn't have, on a daily basis. This felt so strangely like their more typical scene had flipped sides. How many nights did Kenshi comfort him from another haunting dream, insisting he give answers through his sullen and ill-tempered nature?

A sense of assertiveness building in him, brought on by frustration of blatant deceit, pulled him to direct action. “Don’t pretend.”

Charismatic deflection swiftly turned into a hopeless realization upon Kenshi’s face. Which was in his benefit, in the long run; Hanzo didn’t take kindly to being treated like he was too ignorant to know. The telepath's brows rose a little, lips parted, before drawing and pursing respectively. He realized, but he wouldn’t try any less to deter the other.

“Please stop waking up for me,” Kenshi pleaded gently, reaching to trace the height of his face and outlining his beard. “It's important you sleep. Even more so than I, when you have a class of young fighters to teach in the morning.”

He was right. But, had Hanzo ever had a reputation for agreeing with other people?

That answer was no, in case there was any confusion.

Hanzo pushed Kenshi’s hand back away from his face, deterring his scheming advances, but held it in his own instead, gripping gentle yet firm. “You can never ask me not to forfeit mere things like sleep for your sake. I will always do it.”

The corners of Kenshi’s lip twitched upward. “Then you can sleep now that I'm well, hm?”

“Are you well?” For Kenshi couldn’t see it written on his face, the distrust was heavily evident in his tone. And well on purpose.

“I am.”

“I will be right here until you are.”

Never let it be known that Hanzo made his offers of aid sound like threats, but he indisputably did. As with any skills, he had spent years practicing the technique.

“I am,” Kenshi insisted — but clearly he did not understand, he’d find more fruitful results in speaking to wind. The point is swept away like fall leaves by a confident gust. Kenshi sighed, looking pitiful under the scrutiny, scrambling for resolve but with a slippery grasp. “What can I do to convince you?”

Hanzo was entirely disinterested in convincing. For every bit that Kenshi was stubborn, Hanzo beat him tenfold. “Tell me the truth.”

A long pause of locked eyes came between them, until Kenshi leaned back and breathed a deep sigh. Reaching upwards, his hand rubbed the top of his head, flattening raised hair and attempting to sooth the stress of mere minutes before. Or perhaps the stress of now, facing a man he’d clearly chosen to give a part of his life to, but only now found the other side of his full determination.

“Something tells me this will be a long morning.” He offered a vague, open-fingered gesture upward, as asking permission to get up from this trap. “Shall we have some tea?”

Reluctant admittance was admittance nonetheless. Hanzo was happy to accept it. With a nod, he gathered himself from the blankets whether Kenshi would follow or not, and migrated to the other side of the room to ready his meoto yunomi. None of his ceremonial materials, which were not kept in his room anyway, and simply repurposed water from the sink, but Kenshi would not complain of these things.

To keep matches in his room seemed redundant, and he remembered this every time they came into use, but he had long since come into the practice of avoiding his abilities where he was able — at the wise recommendation of Kenshi himself — and fallen back into mortal practices of inconvenience. He hadn't the same luxury Kenshi did in this regard. Presently, Hanzo struck one against the box and lit candles for them.

Well, for him.

Next was the small, portable burner, which spit gas until it met the flame as well. All was set up swiftly by the time Kenshi was entirely ready to sit on the floor before the table, adjacent to Hanzo himself, finally with a proper shirt on. He’d had time to think. Hanzo recognized instantly that his face read unhappy above all else, the unease of someone long lost in thoughts which disturbed them, but were no more than thoughts in the end.

“Tell me, then,” Hanzo said, “what has been bothering you.”

Kenshi fidgeted only quietly and moderately before he even began, busy hands taking to pinching the end of his pants in between his fingers, and folding it into little loops. “I often dream in memories of my ancestors,” he began, simply. “As long as my sword is with me, I am connected to them in all ways. Warrior kings and masters— their lives were grotesque. Experiencing them, they all feel very... so real. It’s as if I'm living them in the moment, like they are memories of my own, and when I wake up, I feel like I haven't slept at all.”

Hanzo recalled once, many years ago, when Kenshi had mentioned something like this before; to this extent, however, he’d had no idea. As Kenshi’s eyes stared down at the delicate flame beneath the teapot, Hanzo wondered if he could see the light, or if it was too dim for him to pick up — and if he could, how brightly?

Kenshi was quite a mildly private man, most reserved in his personal matters — more so in the way that he’ll never bring them up on his own, less that he’ll deny when specific questions are brought up — yet Hanzo still wondered how they could ever spend so much time together, and grown so close, and still Hanzo knew so little of him. He knew he was connected spiritually with his ancestors, but not in this way. He knew he could see lights, but not in specific. Matters like these hadn’t became a factor. And how they should have, how Hanzo should know of Kenshi through and through as he felt Kenshi knew him sometimes. Somehow, he found blame on himself; if he’d tried harder, sooner, they would not have ended up so one sided. From the beginning it was so, and such a thought wracks him with guilt.

Just as Hanzo opened his mouth, only just, to offer some consoling word or comforting advice or apology, Kenshi spoke again — quietly, as though telling something he ought not to, or which had him nervous. Maybe both, even.

“I've seen many of their deaths, but.. not all of them lived honorable careers as warriors to their ends. The crimes they've harbored that now, only I know of. More than one lost their mind and killed their own families, or whoever else they could find — or then themselves... How can I explain what I've seen then turn into? Sometimes when I see through their eyes, I feel like I've long since been put out of my own head. They don't feel human. Degraded over time to have nothing more to themselves than kombat. I know it's their weapon which pulled them to their fates. There may have been reason that it was buried.”

His pale irides slid to gaze at his infamous blade, which lay patient against the wall in its red leather bindings. No visible malicious intent. Hanzo would never be able to understand what it was like to be Kenshi, for every bit of his existence defied any standards of normalcy, but in all he had imagined Sentō to be like for him, ominous was never exactly a way he’d thought of it. Never as unsettling. Strange, maybe, but the concept of it being something to fear reached him now. And he realized this may be much more of its reality than he’d thought.

Scorpion was a presence within his head too, and he had worked years upon years to silence him. If his kunai began speaking to him in the voices of his ancestors, he would have long since rid of them.

“This sword has saved my life. But sometimes, it makes me wonder where I’ll end up. I see what’s happened to my ancestors...” He trailed off, and lifted his shoulders in a loose shrug. “I guess that question will always come up, at some point, with an occupation like ours. Our lives are never safe.”

Hanzo cast his eyes away to the rice straw flooring beneath them, aware of how much tension he felt in his own expression. The corners of his lips were tight, forehead the same. In his mind, he scrambled for words to give, the right thing to say.

But he couldn’t simply muse on the perfect words forever, so he settled when too long an intermission passed. “You’ve spent so long giving me advice; take some of your own. What good does it do you to dwell on the potential of bad futures ahead?”

“I can’t help it. For so much of my life, I was living on a single path; my sole purpose in life was in my swordsmanship, I wasn’t concerned for anything else. Even my dreams belong to it. Now I have many more things in my life, and some things fewer. Especially with Takeda. A lot has changed. I wonder if I.. should be regretting more than I do. How much of myself have I given to this blade?”

“If it were really so much, then surely Sentō would have driven you to insanity by now.”

Kenshi looked up with a peculiarly blank look. “Has it?”

Not a moment of this conversation didn’t pull Hanzo’s breath from him; all of a sudden, this was a much more serious and philosophical topic than it started as. The blue eyes which stared at him seemed lost, in some way he could not explain. But for Kenshi’s sake, he needed a firmer grip on persistence through his bad habits towards sentimentally harrowing things, because the expression on his face gave Hanzo the unshakable sense that the fears he spoke of may end up true if he didn’t find an answer.

The kettle stuttered out a whistle as it sparked to life, demanding its share of attention in this fray.

Hanzo sighed as he mentally argued the weaknesses creeping up on him. Lifting the pot and blowing out the fire beneath, he shifted to a kneeling position so he could pour.

Kenshi spoke up again once he finished. “I’m sorry. It’s a heavy concept. Don’t doubt yourself; your presence already gives me immense comfort.”

“I wish to offer more than my presence.” His instinct, as always, is to make Kenshi be comforted in any way which works, so that he did. Scooting within arms reach, he pulled Kenshi’s head to his shoulder, and the rest of him close by the middle. The latter accepted without complaint.

As the man would do for him in such times of trouble, Hanzo rubbed up and down Kenshi's back with firm press — Kenshi melted in his hold, pushing his head further into the crook of his neck and exhaling deeply.

“You can retire your rōnin status, and your sword, and join the Shirai-ryū. I’ll always welcome you here.”

Another fruitless attempt, though one nonetheless, that had to be made. Kenshi smiled, sympathetic and pitying. “I don’t belong with your dōjō, my friend. Not yet, at least.”

While that was no genuine try to convince him, the rejection was still a sharp pin stuck through his heart. But now wasn’t the time for that argument again. Hanzo still had sympathy for his troubles, regardless of his true desires for Kenshi to stay with him. So, to lighten the mood, he found a tone of mock-scrutiny, and used his allotted one-joke-a-week. “You don’t think yellow would suit you?”

Kenshi gave a solemn nod with a half-suppressed smile, and replied, in equal mockery and good humor, “I look horrible in it.”

“What would you know?”

“I know many things that most blind men wouldn’t. And that I’ve always looked good in black.”

He hummed consideringly in response, and nodded his agreement. “I’ll have to say that you’re right.” A small smile crossed his face. “Your old uniform was very flattering of your figure.”

“I'm too old for something that tight again. I hope my current uniform doesn't disappoint you.”

“It certainly does not. You look dignified this way.”

To add a peak to his point, he cupped and patted Kenshi’s knee. He spotted, with very careful awareness, how Kenshi’s eyes moved and his smirk grew a fraction.

Lest they should forget and it grew cold, Hanzo lifted his hand instead up to the cup which had officially been assigned Kenshi’s — the slightly smaller of the two, although it was intended to be no insult to him — and offered it to its owner. Steam rose healthily from within the rim.

Kenshi sat up straight, and took the intricate, smooth cup in his own hands. No sooner did he do so than he hissed out in pain. “Ow—“ he inhaled sharply, putting the cup as quickly on the floor as possible without spilling, and shaking his hands out. He laughed, yet scolded the thermally-unaware man, “That’s hot, Hanzo.”

“Forgive me,” Hanzo apologized idly. It was easy to forget more than Kenshi’s hearing was sensitive; on top of the fact that the ex-wraith himself ran unusually hot for a mortal, now. He took Kenshi’s hands and lifted them in his own, touching the other’s sword-calloused fingertips to his lips, and kissed them delicately. One by one.

Kenshi looked no less than enraptured as his smile and lightly-humored expression melted into pure enamouring. It could have been Hanzo’s imagination, but he thought his eyes glowed just a bit more than they had been a minute ago.

Good. Malleable was just where he wanted Kenshi to be.

As it was no discomfort to him, he took the cup instead, blew a divot into the surface that ripples spread across the top.

“Drink. Tea will improve your mind.”

“Says who?”

“Confucius,” he deadpanned.

Hanzo held it a little closer, yet Kenshi matched him in a slight lean away for a moment’s further banter. “Confucius said tea will improve your mind?”

“Do you think I am a liar?” asked Hanzo, spoken right over Kenshi in his impatience.

“Of course not,” he replied, mischief left unhidden, “I know so.”

With one hand put behind the back of Kenshi’s neck, Hanzo pushed the cup right against Kenshi’s lips, like threatening he would drink whether Kenshi was speaking or not. The latter lifted to keep a hand on the former’s arm in surprise, but obliged nonetheless.

When they both came to an unspoken acceptable number of sips, Hanzo let him be for the moment. “You know,” he began again, “you do not see parts of yourself that you should.”

“I don’t see anything,” Kenshi corrected. As if he did not do so every day.

Hanzo pinched him in place of telling him to be quiet. The victim yipped his indignance, but otherwise got the message as he massaged the reddened bit of skin.

“You saved me from a place I thought I would never be able to escape from,” he continued, as though he hadn’t been interrupted, his voice firm and sturdy. “You never left me when I needed you. You’re the reason I am here, and the Shirai-ryū lives today. If I had hope for an honorable path in such a state, so do you. And the Gods could not smite me before I had the chance to pay you the same respect as you gave me then.”

He took Kenshi’s hand again, though this time entwined their fingers together. He brought it up to his mouth to kiss the flat back of.

“Don’t let doubt cloud your judgement. I will stay with you if not in person then in spirit, no matter where you are, and you will not become anything less than you are now. Without you to wield it, the sword is nothing. It doesn’t control you.”

With his head bowed low now, gaze averted to the ground, Kenshi nodded his gratitude a few times until looking up, worrying his bottom lip between his teeth. Hanzo remedied that with another drink of tea for him. His lips were a part of him he wanted damaged the least, to be entirely honest. They both finished their respective portions in relative silence, for they went quickly and the hour caught up to the both of them in due time, bringing sluggishness upon them.

The air was no longer stale with depression or weighed down by burdensome and ponderous talk.

Hanzo brought him back to bed with a tug of his arm, and an initiative of leading the way. Kenshi needed no guidance there; in all likelihood, he knew the room like the back of his hand. Hanzo held the covers open for him, and he slid in compliantly. They settled firmly held in one another’s tight hold, their hips fitting together as if shaped to be so. Hanzo’s cheek against Kenshi’s forehead and Kenshi’s hand cupping the back of Hanzo’s neck. Hanzo on the left side of the bed, Kenshi on the right, soft blankets atop. Gently he pressed his lips anywhere on Kenshi’s head that he could reach, and felt a deep breath of his remaining stresses ease from the other man.

“Purge ill thoughts from your mind, and sleep well. I’ll be here. Wake me if ever you should feel inclined.”

Kenshi’s response came as a contented hum of acknowledgement, but it was more than Hanzo needed to hear. He carded his fingers through Kenshi’s hair until his breathing grew slow and even and he was sure the man was asleep. Only then did he allow himself to drift off too.

Although he did not ask for any act of gratitude in return, his great reward would come the next morning, as Kenshi slept like dead weight long into the morning, sprawled halfway overtop his partner and the both of them tucked deeply in the comforters. And when he did wake, he kissed Hanzo without yet opening his eyes, greeting with an “I love you,” and proceeded to keep him trapped there until students came knocking at the door in worry.