This is how Hanzo first meets Jesse McCree.
Hanzo is in Numbani and the city is not at all to his liking. The heat and humidity make the dragons restless under his skin. The buildings are all chrome and gleaming glass, blotting out the sun with their sheer size and enclosing claustrophobically all around him. Worst of all, his current target — Kehinde Tejuoso, a man with prominent Talon ties — spends most of his time in the dirty, disreputable underbelly of the city.
Hanzo has been living in exile for nearly seven years and has long grown accustomed to filthy places such as these. However, it does not make him like them any better.
Luckily, Tejuoso is foolish enough to be a creature of habit. It takes Hanzo very little time to locate the man's favorite gambling den, and even less time to design an efficient plan to take his life.
Hanzo can't wait to get out of this city.
He impersonates one of his more careless cousins, hacking and exploiting Ozuru's personal digital information with ease. Using the clan's connections, he sets up a sham business meeting — between his cousin and a nonexistent client — in one of the private rooms of the gambling den.
All Hanzo really wants is access to the private wing, where Tejuoso's room also is, and the man's life will be his. The subsequent withdrawal and escape should be child's play, so long as he maintains his disguise.
As part of the disguise, he retrieves an old suit from one of his many safe deposit boxes. It's a deep blue pinstripe and fits slightly looser than it should — he's lost some muscle tone in the years since he was first fitted for it, due to a combination of stress, diet, and age.
Once he's dressed, he stares critically into the mirror of his hotel bathroom. Clicks his tongue and makes a mental note to scale up his personal regimen. Then, he slicks back his hair in the style his cousin favors, which sharpens the angles of his face and further obfuscates his own features. He packs Stormbow disassembled in a briefcase.
He calls a car to the gambling house. Upon arrival, he stalks into the building with all the haughty poise he can muster. People part automatically before him. Eyes track him closely across the main floor, practically burning into his skin, but Hanzo remains unfazed. He is well-practiced at maintaining his image under intense scrutiny.
The security guards stiffen up as he approaches the hall leading to the private wing. Between the four guards, their appraisal varies between professional and appreciative.
Hanzo directs his attention to the guard who seems the most distracted by the pull of Hanzo's suit across his chest.
"Shimada Ozuru," Hanzo says, in a clipped, slightly nasal voice. "I am here for business in room two-one-seven."
"Uh — right, yes, can I see some ID, sir?"
Hanzo gives an aggrieved sigh and yanks out a small personal tablet. He pulls up a false ID with Ozuru's information, and an impeccable composite of his and Ozuru's faces. As he flashes the ID, he leans in unnecessarily close and maintains a steady, dark stare on the guard.
"Go— go ahead, sir," the guard says after only a second, clearing his throat. He barely even glanced at the ID.
Hanzo gives a curt nod and stalks right past them.
The halls are completely empty so he reaches the hallway right outside Tejuoso's room without incident. Muffled voices drift out from behind the door. Excellent. He kneels down and begins rapidly assembling his bow.
Hanzo has only just thrown his quiver over his shoulder and nocked his first arrow when a group of guards — the same guards — come around the corner of the hall. There is a cry of alarm and one of them shouts into their radio.
Cursing, Hanzo quickly takes down all four, but the damage is done. In all likelihood, their backup is already on its way, with orders to take him down on sight.
Careless, how could he be so careless? In his eagerness to get this assignment over with, he did not bother to memorize the schedule for the guard rotation. Bad luck combined with fatal stupidity. His escape is now almost certainly compromised — soon, Talon is going to be sweeping the entire city for a man of his description.
He growls in frustration. In one violent motion, he kicks down Tejuoso's door. In the split second while all the occupants in the room are frozen in shock, Hanzo instantaneously picks out Tejuoso and shoots him in the eye. The man collapses behind the table.
A moment of silence. And then the screaming and shooting starts.
Hanzo braces himself against the wall of the hallway, against the roar of return fire through the open doorway. This is normally the part where he would retreat from the building via literally any other route — but he has to confirm the kill. He needs to. Tejuoso is almost certainly dead, but it has become Hanzo's practice to always check the body.
It's a perfectly reasonable practice for a mercenary, but Hanzo isn't motivated by logic.
He always checks because he never did the same for Genji.
Too terrified and sickened by what he'd done, he'd barely suppressed the urge to throw up long enough to order his men to get rid of the body.
He regrets it now. Almost half as much as the act itself. He's had enough endless nightmares of Genji coming back to life and hunting him down just like he deserves — so now, of course, Hanzo always checks the body.
The practice becomes extremely inconvenient in situations such as these.
Well, it's not like any element of stealth hasn't already been lost, Hanzo thinks irritably.
He raises his bow. Aims just around the corner of the doorway. With the slightest force of will, he allows the dragons to uncoil from his bones. They twist and ripple wildly in his flesh, barely restrained in their bloodlust — at least, until he bellows out a command and looses his arrow in the same instant.
The dragons burst from his left arm in an explosive rush of light, sound, and energy. As they carve a path of destruction through the room, the screaming briefly intensifies before it stops all at once. The vivid blue light recedes as the dragons smash through the sliding glass door of the balcony and vanish into the night.
It's eerily silent as Hanzo quickly picks his way through the devastated room. He kneels beside Tejuoso's body. No breathing, no pulse. Dead.
Time to go.
Hanzo passes through the shattered glass partition, out onto the open balcony — and freezes.
There is a man. Tall, dark, dressed in civilian clothes. Gun in his hand. He is leaning against the railing on one end of the balcony, stunned with disbelief.
He stares at Hanzo, his eyes flicking from Hanzo's face, to his bow, to the distinctive tattoo completely exposed through his torn left sleeve.
Hanzo levels his bow and arrow against the stranger and the stranger immediately raises his gun. A six-shooter.
Hanzo's mind races, automatically calculating firing speeds and angles of release and average reaction times — but he knows there's absolutely no way to break this stalemate without getting a lethal shot to the face.
He curses again and leaps over the railing.
His mechanical bracers bear the brunt of the two-story impact against pavement. He's up and running at once. His heart beats hard and furious in his chest. His face is flushed with mortification.
This assignment was a disaster from start to finish — it's almost poetic that he topped it all off by leaving a witness behind.
Two days later, Hanzo finds out exactly who that stranger in Numbani actually was.
A contact of Hanzo's has sent along another set of targets. Some are open hits, others offers for private contracts.
As Hanzo browses through the target files on his tablet — ignoring the rewards and focusing only on their criminal records — he suddenly comes across a familiar face.
Jesse McCree. Mercenary and ex-intelligence. Open hit. Sixty million dollar bounty. Wanted on so many counts that Hanzo has to scroll down several times to even read them all. Included among the list are numerous high-profile assassinations, acts of political destabilization, conspiracy and subterfuge — and, inexplicably, a handful of hypertrain heists.
Hanzo scrolls back up and stares once more at that face — dark and handsome, with a crooked nose, deep-set eyes, and a wild scruff of a beard. Hanzo thinks back to that balcony in Numbani.
Hanzo didn't just leave behind a witness that night.
He left a rival.
The second time Hanzo runs into Jesse McCree, he's in the city of Oasis.
He's been tracking his next target — Catherine Shelby, omnic parts trafficker in the States — for about a week. Shelby has been vacationing in Oasis with a civilian friend. Having learnt his lesson from Numbani, Hanzo has been taking his time, watching and waiting for the right moment, always following from a distance.
The day that Hanzo finally decides to kill her, he senses that he has collected a follower of his own.
Whoever they are, they are good. Very discreet. They only reveal their hand by being ever so slightly over-eager.
Most likely another clan assassin, Hanzo thinks.
After leaving Shelby dead in an alley, and her civilian friend unconscious beside her, Hanzo stands in a shadowed nook where he has full view of the bodies.
He only has to wait five minutes before he sees a man come around the corner.
Hanzo nearly chokes. He recognizes the man instantly — even under the touristy Hawaiian shirt and the ridiculous wide-brimmed straw hat.
It's Jesse McCree.
Hanzo can hardly believe his eyes. Jesse McCree is the one who's been following him.
McCree lets out a low whistle at the sight of the bodies. He wanders closer to take a look, then straightens up with a shake of his head.
"What a stone cold bastard," he says aloud.
Hanzo steps out silently from the shadows and grabs McCree from behind. He twists the man's arm in a deft maneuver and shoves him to the ground.
"You have been following me around all day," he hisses. He feigns ignorance of McCree's identity, wondering what sort of cover story he'll hear. And why on earth the man would be following him. "Who are you and what do you want?"
But McCree only shifts slightly under Hanzo's grip, seemingly unconcerned that his face is plastered into the ground. Rather than feigning ignorance, the man answers with complete and bizarre honesty. "I'm another merc, but off duty— was only just curious, hon," he says, in a low, sweet drawl. "Wanted to see how you were gonna deal with Shelby. Didn't mean no harm by it—"
The man stops talking as Hanzo presses the tip of an arrow against the base of his neck, right where it meets his spine.
"Do not lie to me." Hanzo can't quite hide his own bewilderment. McCree has been following him out of curiosity? Inconceivable. "Who sent you?" he tries. "Was it the family?" The words sound absurd the moment they come out of his mouth. As if in a million years the clan would hire someone as notorious as Jesse McCree to hunt down Hanzo. "No," Hanzo mutters, "they'd never send someone so loud and obvious—"
"Hey, I can be subtle," McCree pipes up. Hanzo scowls and presses the arrow harder, though with no intention of following through.
Of course, he's immediately called out on his bluff.
"Jeez, you really gonna kill me now?" McCree asks, still sounding as nonchalant as ever.
Hanzo pauses, then gives a sharp sigh. He removes the arrow.
"No," he says irritably. "I never kill on a whim— not even idiot bounty hunters who should know better than to follow me." Hanzo twists McCree's arm just a bit harder. He should at least try to warn off the other man. "Do not make the same mistake again. I will not be so forgiving the next time, and you may not live to regret it."
McCree never does end up heeding Hanzo's words — but to be fair, Hanzo never follows through on his threat either.
The third time they meet is in Kathmandu in the dead of night.
McCree has already nabbed the target and is whistling tunelessly over the body as he reloads his gun.
Hanzo watches from his hidden perch on a nearby building. Normally, if he found his target stolen by another hunter, he would simply move on. Under any normal circumstances, McCree would never even know Hanzo had been here.
But Hanzo is hesitating.
He is hesitating because this target is, in fact, far below both Hanzo and McCree's pay grades.
Although the target is a well-known terrorist bomber, he generally targets ordinary civilians rather than influential individuals or groups. As a result, he hasn't made any especially powerful enemies, so the bounty is only a paltry ten thousand. Hardly worth the effort of flying to Nepal, if money was the main motivation for McCree. There are far more lucrative jobs out there.
...Yet here he is, anyway.
Hanzo suddenly recalls everything he read on McCree's file in precise detail — all of the various crimes that earned him that sixty million dollar bounty. The countless assassinations of powerful, corrupt, and otherwise untouchable political figures. The numerous information thefts and leaks, shocking and despicable enough to topple multinational organizations.
And now, the man is making his living as a bounty hunter, but choosing targets that barely even cover his cost of travel.
The money is immaterial to him, Hanzo realizes. Jesse McCree is dispensing justice.
He is just like Hanzo.
The thought swirls around in Hanzo's mind. It settles, then solidifies. And Hanzo comes to a decision.
Hanzo calls out to McCree.
"What did I tell you the last time?"
McCree whips around, gun immediately pointed in Hanzo's direction. But after the initial shock passes, after McCree's eyes light up in recognition, he seems inexplicably delighted to see Hanzo. The gun goes down.
"Aw, now that ain't fair," McCree says. "I know I don't have the best track record, but I actually wasn't following you this time. Just the target. Matter of fact, I got here first — so who's to say you weren't the one following me?"
"Do not be ridiculous," Hanzo says automatically. "I came to Nepal for the target."
"Well," McCree says, laughter in his voice as he gestures down at the body, "you found him. Bit too late though, sorry."
They talk a little. And as they do, Hanzo comes to a second major realization — he realizes that he likes this man.
Hanzo likes this man, with his confidence, his easy charm, and his dedication towards doing what's right.
It's a disquieting thing to discover about himself, considering that Hanzo hasn't voluntarily spent time with another person for seven years.
And it keeps happening. Target after target, Hanzo keeps spotting McCree from afar, and instead of working around him — as Hanzo logically should — instead he allows himself to be seen. Allows McCree to notice him again and again, just so they can talk. Talk over cooling bodies that either one of them has just dispatched. Talk about everything and nothing, for hours at a time.
Soon, Hanzo knows many things about Jesse McCree, beyond his extensive list of crimes and accomplishments.
Hanzo knows that McCree is able to kill nine men with six bullets. That his eyes are sharp as a hawk’s but he needs glasses to read up close. That his prosthetic cannot feel pain but the stump of his left arm still aches when it rains.
Hanzo also knows that he has a weakness for children and the elderly. That he is brave, honorable, and loyal to a fault. And that — despite everything he’s seen — he still believes ordinary people are good at heart.
Hanzo knows a lot about Jesse McCree. But on the other hand, Hanzo reveals very little about himself.
McCree only knows him as Dragonstrike, the assassin — nothing of his past, his upbringing, his criminal connections. Hanzo knows full well that this anonymity is the only reason a vigilante and idealist like McCree even tolerates his company. He knows that if he wishes to maintain this relationship, he has to remain Dragonstrike.
But the title soon grows unbearable anyway.
Hanzo has always hated it. Dragonstrike is only a reminder that he was once careless enough to allow a client to witness the dragons. A client who henceforth attached that stupid label to him forever.
Hanzo would rather be called any false name than Dragonstrike.
"If you must call me something," Hanzo tells McCree, several months into their acquaintanceship, "then…Ryu will suffice." Ridiculously, he actually hesitates for a split second. As if he were actually going to use his real one.
McCree either doesn't notice or doesn't care about Hanzo's unease. "Ryu it is," McCree says, accepting the new name with an easy grin.
Hanzo pretends he doesn't wish McCree was saying a different one instead.
It takes nine months before McCree makes his first offer of partnership.
Hanzo is crouched over a body in Giza, searching through the pockets for a flash drive his client wants. McCree is watching him in silence.
"Work with me," McCree suddenly says. "Let's be partners."
Hanzo tenses up. He does not understand.
"Lately," McCree explains, "I've just been thinking about how much I'd like it if someone I trusted was watching my back for once, and vice versa. And I realized that maybe I want you to be that someone."
Why? Hanzo thinks. Why me of all people? It's not the first time he's been baffled by Jesse McCree, but it's the first time he has seriously doubted McCree's soundness of mind.
Trusting anyone in this line of work? Foolish. Impractical. Unimaginable.
Hanzo refuses the offer and vanishes. Stops talking to McCree entirely. Erases any hint of his own existence.
It's a return to form for Hanzo.
Yet somehow, it feels as though the nights have grown even longer and colder than before. Hanzo wasn't aware how invigorating it had been to have someone to talk to and confide in for once. Even if that someone had been another mercenary who didn't even know Hanzo's real name, let alone the true extent of his crimes.
It takes Hanzo four months to come to terms with a third major realization — that he hates this. That he hates being alone, even after seven odd years of it. And that, at heart, he does truly miss McCree.
Hanzo finally gives in.
He resurfaces in Hong Kong, knowing that McCree will find him.
It takes the man only two days to track Hanzo down to a bar in Tsim Sha Tsui to make a second offer of partnership.
This time, Hanzo accepts.
so chapter 1 is a direct hanzo POV of Loving Dragonstrike, but later chapters will show the partnership developing over time. i am also planning a third fic for their eventual reunion after recall (with spicy identity reveal)
thanks again for reading folks
unbetaed, critique and feedback are always welcome
This is how Hanzo learns to trust Jesse McCree.
"Partners?" A year after their first meeting in Numbani, McCree offers his hand beneath the darkness and neon of a bar in Hong Kong — and this time, Hanzo gives in.
"Partners," Hanzo says. He shakes McCree's hand.
It's the first time in months that he's felt another person's skin without the intent to harm. He holds on for just slightly too long, and McCree is the one who has to gently disentangle their fingers.
There's a funny little smile on his face as he does so.
Their first order of business is to outline a basic partnership agreement. Rewards split fifty-fifty. Mutual agreement on targets beforehand. Equal vetoing power as their assignments progress.
They switch between ironing out the details of their partnership, drinking, and simply catching up on the months they've been apart. As usual, McCree is filled with wild and interesting tales that he tells with an expert storyteller voice and expressive gestures. Usually, Hanzo could not be any more different — but after months of silence, he does venture to tell a few stories of his own. He even manages several deadpan lines that make McCree wheeze with laughter for every single one.
It's about three in the morning by the time they finally retire from the bar. By silent agreement, McCree follows Hanzo back to his motel room.
It's a small, cramped place in the heart of downtown. A single dying light bulb barely illuminates the room. There is no air conditioner, so the window is cracked wide open, allowing the hot air and bustling sounds of the city to drift through — just as loud as during the daytime. A neighbor's dog keeps barking. Occasionally, a police siren wails in the background.
McCree sits in the single, rickety chair next to the window. He's idly fiddling with his six-shooter, loading and unloading the cylinders over and over. Lit from behind by the city lights, weapon in hand, he makes a shadowed and menacing figure in the corner of the room.
Yet inexplicably, Hanzo feels perfectly at ease. Greater security in numbers, he thinks. That would explain it.
"I flew in two days ago," McCree says. "Camped out at a friend's for the first night. Ain't found a proper place to hole down yet."
"This building is safe," Hanzo says. He's seated on the single bed across from McCree, watching the hypnotizing movements of the man's hands over his gun. "I've known Mr. Kwok, the manager, for several years. The place is usable if we need to stay a few more days."
McCree's hands pause. The flickering gleam from the light bulb catches on the curve of his smile. "Well, partner? 'S there a reason we should stay?"
Hanzo shrugs. "There is a target in the city that I was considering. Open hit, two million — a million each, I suppose, now that we are working together."
Mccree makes an absent humming sound. He sets his gun onto the side table, leaving it loaded but with the internal safety on. "Talk to me about this target."
Hanzo received the intel about a week ago.
Lau Sik-Wah, aka Daniel Lau. An influential director within the Department of Justice and also a longtime member of Talon. Responsible for countless instances of evidence suppression and stalling of legal proceedings, to the enormous benefit of Talon's criminal operations in Hong Kong. Needless to say, Lau himself has profited quite lucratively from all this. The man lives in a lavish house on Victoria Peak with his wife and son, though he keeps an endless string of lovers on the side. And apparently, he also mistreats his personal security, his maids, and his dogs.
"Sounds like a real piece of shit," McCree says, once Hanzo has given him the rundown. "I'm game if you are."
Hanzo nods. "Then we can start in the morning."
McCree graciously refuses Hanzo's offer of the bed and takes the threadbare sofa instead.
"Trust me," he says, as he folds himself onto the sofa. "I can sleep anywhere."
Hanzo doesn't quite believe him. His long legs hang off the end and his back can't possibly be comfortable like that — but true to his word, the man is asleep in seconds.
Hanzo stares at McCree for a solid minute, watching the slow rise and fall of the man's broad chest. He briefly contemplates just what he has done tonight, by accepting another person — particularly this one — into his life.
Hanzo has no clear answer to his own question. So, he decides to go to bed as well.
Normally, it takes him the better part of an hour to fall asleep — but tonight, he finds himself drifting off only moments later.
His sleep is deep and dreamless.
The next morning, he snaps awake at the faintest sound of movement in the room.
"Morning," McCree says. He's standing by the window, peering at the city outside with interest as he rolls out the stiffness in his shoulders. He glances over as Hanzo suddenly sits up in bed.
For a moment, Hanzo stares at McCree like he's an apparition. Then, he remembers the night before. The bar, the offer — his acceptance.
Most of the tension leaves Hanzo's shoulders. "Good morning." His voice comes out in a low rasp. He rubs the sleep from his eyes and combs a hand through his hair. His fingers catch on several tangles and he winces as he pulls them loose, before tying his hair up like usual.
"Shall we begin?" he asks, through a wide yawn — then, he pauses and frowns.
McCree is looking at him with another odd, unreadable smile. His eyes are crinkled at the corners.
He quickly schools his expression when Hanzo scowls at him.
"Ready whenever you are," McCree says gravely.
They pick up breakfast from a local bakery downstairs and eat their pastries as they wander through the gradually wakening streets.
By the time the morning sun is high in the sky and the streets are full of people, they have a plan.
By that evening, they begin to execute it.
For three days straight, they scope out Lau's private estate, efficiently dividing the perimeter and land area between them. At the end of every day, they meet back at the motel room. Pool their information, solidify their plan of attack. Pick up takeout from the same cheap but tasty joint downstairs and eat it in Hanzo's room, precariously balancing their side dishes on the tiny end table between them.
Finally, the two of them agree that they are ready.
At nightfall of the next day, they follow their predetermined route through the isolated, hilly woods to Lau's house.
Everything goes perfectly smoothly. They easily breach Lau's perimeter, avoiding all the cameras and sensors they mapped out over the previous days.
The mansion is a gleaming beacon in the night. It rises up through the tree cover of the surrounding forest, a glass and steel jewel in the darkness.
They have a decent floor plan based on private construction blueprints and military satellite imaging — both of which Hanzo procured after a few hours work at his laptop — so they are able to break into the estate from a little-used entrance meant for maintenance workers.
Hanzo and McCree make it all the way into the main house without tripping a single alarm or meeting another person.
They're just turning the corner on the hallway leading towards the living quarters, when they run into Lau's son.
He's bleary-eyed, roughly teenager age. He's got a gaming headset around his neck, a blanket around his shoulders, and a jug of soda and a plate of food in his hands. He's trying to balance the drink and the food as he opens his bedroom door.
He does a double take at the sight of them — both in jet black combat gear, both fully armed.
In a split second, McCree darts forward and silently disables the kid, clapping a hand over his mouth so he can't scream and pinning him against the hallway wall. The food and drink fall to the floor, but the hallway is carpeted and they barely make a sound.
Lau's son thrashes frantically but completely ineffectively in McCree's iron grip.
Hanzo pulls a tranq from his quiver and sticks it into the son's neck. It takes only a few minutes before he's slumped over, completely unconscious. McCree loosens his grip, lets the kid slide slowly to the floor, next to his overturned pizza and dribbling Coke.
They continue down the hallway. Lau obviously prefers his privacy — for both his incriminating Talon meetings and his various lovers — so there are no guards or security cameras inside most of the mansion. All the better for them.
After climbing two flights of stairs, they find Lau in the third room on the right.
He's fast asleep in bed with two other people, neither of which is his wife. All of them are mostly naked.
McCree and Hanzo exchange a look and a nod. Hanzo sidles forward and tranqs all three of them unconscious. Then, he carefully opens a syringe with a lethal dose of potassium chloride. He aims at the crook of Lau's inner arm. The moment he injects it, McCree clamps a hand over Lau's mouth and another across his chest, just in case he wakes and struggles.
He does not. After counting down seven minutes, McCree releases his grip and checks the pulse. Dead.
Whenever possible, lethal injection was always a nice, clean way to do it — the two of them had agreed as much during their discussion and planning stage.
They leave the room as they found it, throwing the sheets over the three on the bed. It'll be morning by the time the tranqs wear off and the body is discovered, by which time they'll be long gone.
The withdrawal from the house proceeds just as planned — up until it doesn't.
They've just left the main building when they hear an alarm begin to sound. Both of them freeze. Then, they immediately start moving into the woods.
"Wife already found the body?" McCree hisses, as they hurry along their pre-planned route.
Hanzo thinks furiously, then grunts a denial. "Not Lau," he says at last, as he ducks under another branch. "She found the son in the hallway, most likely."
McCree curses. "It's three in the goddamn morning, does no one else in that house ever sleep?"
They can already hear shouting in the distance behind them. Catch the beam of flashlights beginning to skitter through the trees. Soon, Lau's security will be sweeping the entire woods around the area.
By wordless agreement, they pick up their pace. But it's enough of a challenge to run at full speed downhill through untamed forest, let alone to do it in the dark. The moon is hidden behind cloud cover tonight and the night is pitch black.
Hanzo only knows McCree is still at his side by the sound of his rapid breathing and footsteps.
Their pre-planned route down the mountain is perfectly ideal. It's just plain bad luck that they stumble right into one of Lau's security teams, coming up from the other direction. And this group doesn't use any flashlights. The only warning they get is a shout of alarm from one of the guards, before the shooting starts.
The frantic and deafening firefight that follows is a complete mess. With only the movement of shadows to judge by, Hanzo can't even be sure that half his arrows are hitting their mark. But as the fight continues and the amount of returning gunfire begins to slow, it seems as though he and McCree are at least making some progress.
The two of them are pinned down by perhaps ten hostiles, braced behind a thick copse of trees, when all of a sudden the dragons flare up under Hanzo's skin, twisting and writhing frantically.
Without even thinking, Hanzo shoves McCree to the ground. The shots come a moment later — rogue shots, from an entirely different direction than the main group. Hanzo is hit. Left arm and right leg. Hanzo grits his teeth against a scream. Somehow, he still manages to aim and release an arrow, even as his left arm explodes in agony at the motion.
By some miracle, he hits the rogue shooter because the gunfire from that direction abruptly stops.
But Hanzo is now useless.
Even now, delirious with pain, his rational mind is well aware that he has suddenly gone from an asset to an enormous liability. Nothing more than deadweight. And he and McCree still have ten hostiles to contend with.
Hanzo leans back against a tree and sinks to the ground with a grunt. He lands right next to McCree — who has only just scrambled to his knees after Hanzo knocked him flat.
Although Hanzo was the only one who got shot, McCree is the one who makes a helpless, pained sound once he realizes what has happened. For a moment, he seems to be in a blind panic as he kneels over Hanzo, hands moving over his body, frantically cataloguing his injuries. His hands are trembling.
Then, suddenly, they aren't.
It's like a switch has been flipped. In the darkness, McCree rapidly strips down Hanzo's gear until the two gunshot wounds are exposed. Then, he starts efficiently binding Hanzo's arm, before moving onto his leg. The whole time, he does not say a word. All Hanzo can hear is the intermittent roar of gunfire from the remaining hostiles.
McCree needs to leave, or the two of them will both be dead, Hanzo thinks, as McCree finishes the binding and starts briskly re-dressing Hanzo in his gear. Even without sight, Hanzo can tell the bandaging is expertly done. His body armor fits almost seamlessly over top of it. He admires McCree's competence for one long distracted moment, before abruptly realizing that he is already going into shock.
He ruthlessly applies his training to detach his mind from his body, compartmentalizing the pain and finally managing to gather his scattered thoughts.
"You go ahead," Hanzo says. "I will hide out here and wait for them to pass before I follow you."
"Bullshit," McCree says, hard and flat.
Hanzo mentally curses the man. Why couldn't he just take the excuse?
"There are too many guards for both of us to escape, injured as I am now," Hanzo snaps. He reaches out blindly with his right hand and manages to grab McCree by one of the straps of his chest plate. As he yanks McCree closer, there is another staccato burst of gunfire in the background.
Hanzo can feel McCree's warm, measured breaths against his face.
"Do not try to be a hero," Hanzo hisses. "You need to leave. Now."
"No can do," McCree says, equally stubborn. "You and I are partners now."
Hanzo lets out a growl. "We agreed to work together, not die for each other — and in any case, you can rest assured that I am not anyone worth dying for."
McCree snorts. "Oh, so you ain't worth it, but somehow I am?"
"Yes," Hanzo almost shouts, before he can stop himself.
His head is pounding to the rhythm of enemy gunfire. He's beginning to feel the pain creeping over him again. He tries to reapply his training, but it's growing difficult.
"You are a good man, Jesse McCree," Hanzo grits out. "Unlike me, you deserve to live. Now leave, before I regret ever saving your life to begin with."
McCree falls silent again. But he still does not leave. The two of them stay there in the dirt, behind their cover of trees, for a long moment. Neither of them moves. The gunfire continues.
Then, a cloud shifts overhead and — for the first time that night — the moon is visible.
The sudden flood of moonlight illuminates the landscape around them, gilding the trees in silver. And Hanzo can finally see McCree. He is kneeling by Hanzo's side. Staring down at Hanzo with an intense and nameless expression on his face.
Hanzo must be hallucinating from the blood loss, because it almost looks something like worship. The sight is so strange and disorienting that he immediately forgets every single one of his prepared arguments.
There is a temporary lull in gunfire and at last, McCree breaks the silence between them.
"No matter what you say, I ain't leaving you," McCree says calmly. "You watched my back and got shot for it — so now, I'm gonna defend yours."
McCree brushes a hand over Hanzo's bandaged left arm. His touch is so light that it doesn't even hurt.
"Trust me," McCree whispers. "You stay here and I'll take care of them."
Hanzo doesn't believe him. But he is delirious and exhausted, and has no choice but to do as McCree says.
In the next lull of gunfire, McCree stands up.
Hanzo watches dazedly as McCree steps out from their cover. Time seems to stretch out endlessly between the rapid beats of Hanzo's heart. Any second now, the man is going to die, Hanzo thinks. And it's going to be entirely Hanzo's fault. Another ghost to haunt him, for what little time he has left.
Then, McCree tilts his head. Just enough for Hanzo to catch the eerie, blood-red gleam of his eye.
McCree shoots six times.
And ten bodies fall.
They make ten heavy thumps, so close in succession that Hanzo is barely able to distinguish them all. Then, the night is silent once more. The only one left standing is McCree. The moon is still out and it outlines every inch of his tall, dangerous frame. Haloes his head in silver. Catches the six-shooter in his hand, making it glitter with deadly, impossible promise.
If Hanzo was in his right mind, he would be gaping in astonishment. But as it stands, he only has the energy to close his eyes and mutter an absent, admiring curse in Japanese.
Hanzo knew about McCree's ability in the abstract, but he'd never witnessed it firsthand before — and had never quite believed it until now. It wasn't like he'd thought McCree was outright lying to him. But it was undeniable that Hanzo had been more than a little skeptical when he first heard about it. It had sounded like a fairytale, or a magic trick. No more than another wild story from an expert storyteller.
But then again, considering the things that Hanzo himself is capable of, he really should have given the other man more credit.
When McCree returns to Hanzo's side, the bloody gleam is gone from his eye. He's smiling again. He shoulders Hanzo's weight and easily lifts them both to standing. "Let's go, partner," he says. "Quickly, before their support shows up. We made enough noise to wake the whole damn forest."
Hanzo nods. His wounds are agony and his head is spinning, so he is far from steady on his feet — but McCree is there to catch him if he stumbles.
"Trust me," McCree murmurs into his ear, as they slowly descend the mountain, pressed tight against each other and moving as one. "I'm gonna get us both outta here."
This time, Hanzo believes him.
rip lau's son's leftover pizza
unbetaed, critique and feedback always welcome
see ya next time folks