Chapter 1: The Hand That Loads The Revolver
This fic was one of the first 10 McHanzo fanfictions on this website. I began phasing it out when I felt that my work was no longer valuable to readers due to other works skyrocketing in popularity. Yet there was always that one person who would comment on every chapter, providing me with the kind of validation and reassurance that I needed and craved. That person would take time out of her day to tell me what she liked about my updates, things that she loved about the story, and would always make sure to let me know that I was appreciated for writing this fiction.
That is why I have gifted this work to Randgrid. Without her continual support, this wouldn't exist anymore. It would be in the dust, far far behind. I know it's updating slowly, but I intend to see it through. Thanks to everyone who has supported me this far, and thank you, August, so much, for your constant support and praise. This fic is yours.
Cover art created by Jacks-Mom on Tumblr.
The air smelled like burnt grease and sour milk. Just rubbing his fingertips together almost made McCree feel like his skin was getting oily. He brushed them off on his serape, his head shaking just once, not even really all that disgusted. Sidestepping a cart, the older man placed both hands in the pockets of his leather jeans, now giving himself a more casual appearance, but it was clear that he didn't belong here. His worn cowboy hat stuck out like a sore thumb on the streets of Hanamura, not to mention his faded, weathered clothing. After all these years, his serape was worn out through and through, and despite the numerous sewing and patching jobs he had performed, there was very little left to doctor at this point. Still, it was precious to him, and he kept it as close as the loose threads would allow. Subconsciously, he glanced down at it as he walked, as if he were reassuring himself that it was still there on his shoulders.
He hitched up his pants a few moments later, thumbs brushing over his signature belt buckle. He'd kept that, too. The corners of Jesse's lips twitched under his mustache as he thought about everything that he was still holding onto from his days in Overwatch and even from before. The hat, the serape, the belt buckle.. his fingers delivered a reassuring touch to his Peacekeeper, secure in its holster at his belt. Maybe there were just things that he couldn't let go of. The cigar that he put into his mouth and lit only confirmed his thoughts; he'd probably die due to smoking, but that wasn't high on his list of priorities.
So what exactly IS on his list of priorities?
At the moment, nothing. Hanamura wasn't exactly a prime vacation spot, but then again, McCree wasn't exactly looking for a vacation. The city had changed since he'd last been here with Overwatch. Most of the old, imperial buildings still stood high and proud, overlooking the city, but as for the heart of the city itself, it seemed to have been overhauled into something more modern, something that wouldn't have suited Jesse's tactical purposes years ago. He took a drag on the cigar, jerking his chin upwards as the smoke filled his lungs, his eyes still not missing any details that went on nearby. Even in his sixties, there wasn't much that escaped his notice. His eyesight wasn't bad yet. Perhaps his hearing was; having explosions ringing in ones ears for years repeating usually doesn't do them any favours. He never paid it any mind. He wouldn't be out visiting his old Overwatch stomping grounds if he felt like he wasn't fit for it, anyway. Just making his way through China had been bad enough; so, so much had changed there, and it was almost damn terrifying. At least Hanamura preserved the fragile imperial appearance of the city as best it could while renovating the rest. McCree could count on one hand the number of the cherry blossom trees he'd seen since being here, and that was a downright shame. Every place has to keep up with the times, he figured.
Modern times also meant modern places to go, and the bar down the street seemed as good of a place as any to go to. It was a decent bar, and was favoured by the slinger since no one told him to put out the cigar when he sat down. The bartender eventually noticed his new patron sitting at the counter and walked over to McCree, placing one arm on the counter and leaning over. "What'll you have there, cowboy?"
"Hadn't really thought that far into it yet," Jesse replied, scratching his bearded chin, "You got whiskey in this joint?"
Standing back up, the bartender looked at McCree with a curious eye, and then shrugged. "You'd be the first to open the one bottle we got." Turning around, he reached up on the shelf, pulling out a rather dusty-looking, rectangular bottle, crafted from a dark green glass. He unwound the cord from around the top, popping the metal-capped cork and reaching for a glass.
"Now hold up there, partner," Jesse interjected, raising a hand in protest, "That there's tequila. Corzo. Shit's ancient."
Pausing, the bartender stared at the bottle, as if confused. "My boss told me to serve it to anyone who wanted whiskey, so I thought-"
"That's because they aged it in barrels," McCree sighed, exasperated. "I don't really care, anyhow. I'll take it. Just keep in mind for next time that it ain't whiskey."
He feared that he might have scared the bartender, judging by how he left the bottle at McCree's elbow and vanished into the back room. Didn't bother him none. The anejo warmed his throat and bloomed pleasantly in his stomach. It wasn't whiskey, but it was mighty fine tequila, and the oaky flavour suited him as well as anything else could have. McCree poured himself another shot, this time choosing to sip at it, to savour it. There wasn't really any hurry, anyway; it's not like he had places to be. Jesse's mechanical fingers clinked against the glass as he picked it up, bringing it to his lips and back down again, now glancing around the bar to survey the other patrons. Off to his right, there was a man in a rather ill-fitting suit, with several shot glasses in front of him, and looking particularly cheery with himself. Even if his suit looked bad, at least he was having a good time. There were two girls not too far away from the terrible-suit man, and both of them seemed to enjoy looking in McCree's direction and giggling between themselves. He paid them no mind; they were darn cute, but hell, he was too old to be chasing girls anymore. Glancing to his left, he noticed a rather.. argumentative couple bickering between themselves; both drinks in front of them remained untouched. Perhaps their relationship was so bad they couldn't even turn to alcohol to mellow their problems.
All around the establishment were the traditional low tables surrounded by neat cushions, and judging by the man off to his right with a bowl of rice and a bottle of rice wine, it was more than safe to assume that this bar also served food as well. Jesse's stomach rumbled lightly, perhaps indignant that he was feeling it liquor instead of food. He didn't particularly care. The third shot was poured, and McCree was feeling pleasantly warm. He wasn't anywhere near being buzzed, but the aged tequila was definitely doing its job. As he tugged at his serape to move it back more over his shoulders, a lone figure in the corner of the room caught his eye, and nearly made him catch his breath. The dragon tattoo gave it away instantly, but combined with the familiar loose clothing, tied-back hair, and the faint glimpse of metallic legs under the table, it only confirmed the man's identity.
Chuckling under his breath, McCree picked up the tequila bottle and his half-filled glass, hopping off the barstool and meandering over to the corner table. Despite his jangling boots and overall heavy footsteps, he was surprised that he wasn't even noticed by the other. "Hanzo Shimada." McCree said pleasantly, sitting hard on a cushion opposite his old partner.
He was surprised by how Hanzo jerked to a sitting position, as if startled. "Who are you? How do you know my.." The warrior's voice trailed off after a moment, and he leaned forward to pour himself another cup of sake. "McCree," he said a moment later, lifting the ceramic cup to his lips, "How did you find me?"
Raising an eyebrow, Jesse shook his head once or twice, tapping the rim of the shot glass in a slightly awkward manner. "I ain't lookin' for anyone, least of all you," he muttered, a bit chuffed that he hadn't been greeted as warmly, "I was just revisiting a few of our old stomping grounds, you know?"
"Hah," the assassin burst out, not sounding at all amused, "There's little left here to remember, as I'm sure you've seen." Hanzo downed the cup and poured himself another. The way he tilted the carafe silently told McCree that Hanzo had probably been here for awhile, since over half the sake seemed to be already gone.
"Perhaps." Jesse replied gently, now rubbing his gloved thumb in a circle across the rim, listening to the faint squeak of the glass under the leather. "I didn't know you stayed here."
It was a bit alarming how quickly Hanzo had downed the sake.. and was now pouring himself yet another cup. "This is my home," Hanzo said after a moment, staring at the carafe, "I should have expected myself to come crawling back here sooner or later."
"Come on, partner," McCree smiled, tapping his fingertips together, "You're making it out to be a bad thing."
"You know nothing of my life."
What had intended to be pleasant conversation was now sour and stagnant, only tattooed with the clinking of ceramic against wood as Hanzo continued to drink. McCree felt as if he were responsible somehow, but the fact that Hanzo had been drinking before he'd arrived on the scene begged to differ. Hanzo wasn't himself, and it was rather concerning. But what did Jesse care? They weren't even friends, and they never had been. If anything, McCree and Hanzo had never really spoken all that much, before now. They were very different people, from different backgrounds and different lifestyles. There was little to no common ground between them, except for the fact that they both seemed to enjoy alcohol. Perhaps Hanzo enjoyed it a bit too much.
The silent tension hung heavily in the air as Hanzo finished his sake, and appeared to want more but was hesitant in asking the bartender. Both men stared at each other, eyes unblinking, until Hanzo lowered his gaze to the table, tapping his fingertips on the surface. "So.. just here to visit?"
McCree felt like a sack of stones had been lifted from his shoulders and he let out the breath that he didn't even realise that he'd been holding. "Yeah, more or less. Wasn't really here for any real reason other than nostalgia." Pouring himself another shot, Jesse hesitantly pushed the Corzo to the center of the table, where Hanzo did not hesitate to follow suit. "I was in China just a few days ago to see the tower. Actually ran into Mei-Ling there."
"Did you now?" Hanzo queried. He made a face at the taste of the tequila, but he continued to sip it down regardless. "How is she?"
Shrugging, Jesse scooted over to the next set of cushions so he could lean back against the wall. "She seems well enough. Didn't mention Overwatch much. Maybe she's moving on to better things."
Hanzo didn't reply, more focused on copying McCree's earlier actions by rubbing his thumb over the rim of his cup. Just looking at the man's glazed eyes and listening to his lightly-slurred words only made Jesse feel a bit regretful having given him more alcohol. Probably shouldn't have done that. "What about you?" He asked Hanzo, trying to keep the conversation going, if not just for his own personal relief.
"Nothing," Hanzo replied almost immediately, glancing at the bottle of tequila and then back down at the table. His brown eyes snapped up at Jesse, only to have a bit of trouble focusing on the outlaw's face before he opened his mouth to speak again. "I suppose you're not up to anything either, considering that you're just wandering around like a nomad."
"Guilty as charged," McCree grinned, "It's nice to get out and see all of the old shit while I'm still young enough to do it."
That actually brought a rough laugh from Hanzo, who shook his head a bit playfully. "You don't look as young as you used to."
"Hey now, partner," Jesse chuckled, holding up both hands in mock protest, "The aging process isn't affecting my ears yet. Could be affecting your eyesight. I still look damn good."
He was getting wrinkles, especially in the corners of his eyes and around his lips. Plus, his hair and beard were now boasting grey hair amidst the chocolate brown strands, and he couldn't be assed to hide them with dyes. Jesse McCree was going to become an old geezer one of these days, and he could only hope that he wouldn't turn into a crotchety old man like Morrison was. Glancing over at Hanzo, he marveled at the fact that the other didn't seem to have aged much at all. Really, the only thing he could notice was the increase of grey hair, but Hanzo hardly had any wrinkles at all. There was no way this guy was nearly seventy. Maybe he was immortal.
Unfortunately, he didn't have much time to look at Hanzo's features, since the other was focused on getting out from the corner and unsteadily onto his feet. "You gonna make it there, partner?" McCree asked, standing to his feet as well, "Yer a little wobbly on those metal toes of yours."
Huffing indignantly, Hanzo tossed a few coins on the table next to the empty cup, skirting his way out of the bar with McCree following him. "I'm going home, and you're not to follow me."
"Hey there now, who said I was following you?"
"Because you are."
McCree frowned, tucking the half-empty bottle under his arm. "My hotel's just down the street; I was going to head there."
"See that you do."
Hanzo began walking down the opposite way, dipping in and out of a relatively straight line, but he seemed to have good footing, as far as anything else was concerned. McCree didn't even wave goodbye, only turning away to walk back to his hotel. Perhaps that was the fate that all Overwatch members shared; no one really wanted to be in close proximity to anyone that they'd once nearly died beside a thousand times and over again.
Unlocking the door to his room, Jesse was greeted by the smell of stale cigarettes and air freshener, and it only made him want another cigar but it was too late for that. He set his hat on the faux wood table, and carefully folded his serape and set it right there next to it. The tequila bottle was left on the windowsill, and Jesse didn't even bother taking off his clothes as he flopped backwards onto the bed. Lazily kicking his boots onto the floor, McCree tiredly grabbed one of the pillows and smushed it over his face, groaning aloud into it before letting himself pass out. It had been a long day.
Chapter 2: Coffee
His mouth felt like a bale of cotton, and licking his lips only made them stick together. McCree slowly sat up, his eyes crinkling at the thin slivers of sunlight that peeked through the slatted blinds covering the windows. What time was it? He had no idea. Pressing his knuckles onto the bed, he popped nearly the entire lot of them as he slowly swung his legs over the edge of the mattress. For a moment, his toes brushed the floor, blindly searching for his slippers, but he had to slowly remember that he wasn’t at home. And furthermore, he was still wearing his socks. From last night. They were a bit stiff and didn’t particularly look all that great. Gingerly, McCree pulled the socks off his feet and tossed them on top of the chair in the corner of the room. He would deal with them later. Right now, he needed a shower.. and probably breakfast. The rumbling of his stomach was still present, and he could only assume that feeding it tequila hadn’t been high up on his list of wise choices. Then again, his entire life had revolved around doing stupid things, for the most part, and tequila was far from being the tip of the iceberg.
A grumbling cough got caught in his throat as Jesse practically heaved himself out of bed, his bare feet padding silently on the carpeted floor as he sleepily made his way into the bathroom. He didn’t even bother turning the light on, only shoved his arm into the standalone shower and turned it on. The water could heat up while he went about the rest of his business, such as actually undressing. Ignoring the fact that his clothes smelled awful from the part of the city that he had frequented last night, McCree balled them up in his hands and threw them over to join his socks on the chair, electing to deal with those later as well. There was no rush. He didn’t have anything to do today, anyway.
The hot water felt good on his skin, and helped ease him from a half-asleep state to a more functional one, but he would still need breakfast before he was at 100% capacity. He’d be damned if he had to eat rice. Coffee sounded good, too. Running both hands through his hair, McCree pushed the soaked strands out of his face, eyes closed as his head upturned to meet the water’s spray. The water droplets pelted his closed eyelids and plastered his facial hair to his face in all different directions, and his mechanical hand smoothed them over as he turned back around, letting the water soak into his long hair and cascade down his back. He didn’t even have any shampoo or anything like that, but he’d be damned if he’d miss out on a good shower. Perhaps he remained in there a bit too long; losing track of time as he just stood there under the water, alternating between closing his eyes and just staring dully at the shower’s tiled wall.
After spending roughly an hour just standing in the shower completely idle, Jesse shut off the water, blindly reaching for the fluffy white towel that was hanging on the flimsy metal rod outside the shower door. He pressed it to his face, feeling the soft fibers soak up the water from his skin, and took extra care to dab around his eyes before pulling the towel away. McCree’s hair was rubbed hastily with the towel, then feeling it plaster against his bare shoulders as he wrapped the towel around his waist, stepping out of the shower as he did so. Water trickled down his legs, pooling at his feet, while it continued to drip from his hair and soak into the towel. It hadn’t really been a conscious decision to let his hair grow as long as it was, but Jesse hadn’t really cared to ever keep it trimmed once he was running amuck across the globe. At this point, it was well-past his shoulder blades, and made it a pain in the ass to dry off after a shower.
Pressing his right hand against the mirror over the sink, the outlaw rubbed it against the glass several times, swiping over the film of condensation that covered it. He more or less ended up just smearing the droplets around, not doing much to allow him to see his reflection, and so he turned to using the hand towel to clear the mirror instead. Sometimes he didn’t recognise himself. Jesse leaned close towards the mirror, brushing his calloused fingertips over the silvery hair in his mustache, briefly admiring them before stepping back, looking at his overall reflection. Despite his aging, he still retained his overall appearance in terms of muscle and general figure, and for that, he was grateful. He could stand to exercise a few times a week, but he wasn’t much for doing that anymore. In all honesty, he wasn’t much for doing much of anything these days, save for wandering around the globe to wherever he pleased. Overwatch had been generous to let him use one of their aircraft, and he hadn’t wasted any time in doing so. Perhaps it paid off to have been in good standing with them when he retired. Well, that is to say, if you could even call it retiring. McCree still entangled himself with a few shenanigans from time to time, but it was far from being mercenary work or anything like it. It wasn’t because he was getting old; he just.. was tired. Tired of it all. Too many years had he spent living it like he was seconds from dying, and that wasn’t something that he could continue to do anymore. Briefly remembering his incident at the bar last night, Jesse idly wondered if Hanzo felt similarly. Maybe that’s why he was more fascinated with alcohol than anything else. It was concerning, but McCree didn’t particularly care.
Fetching his razor, the outlaw went about his casual facial grooming, removing the coarse stubble around his neck, and then simply trimming the little bits on his cheeks. He didn’t care about the rest. Gabriel used to give him hell for his rather careless beard, but McCree wasn’t a man to be coaxed into doing things just because someone else didn’t like something. It would kill a man to do so. He had better things to do anyway, such as nothing.
A fresh change of clothes seemed to improve Jesse’s mood a little bit, even though he chose to leave the serape in his room while he went down to the ground floor for breakfast. It was a rather simple continental, boasting a somewhat wide variety of breakfast foods, including two cooks running an omelette station. He managed to convince of of the cooks to make him some over-easy eggs, four in fact, and after filling the rest of his plate with somewhat limp hash browns, McCree poured himself a cup of black coffee and sat down at one of the smaller tables. Breakfast; it’s the one thing he has going for him at this point.
Not even touching the eggs just yet, he began tackling the hash browns, taking advantage of their lukewarm state before they got too cold. The glass-capped pad at his elbow was slid to the center of the table, tapping it with his fingers to bring up the 3-D interface. Flicking through it, McCree pretended to be interested in the news feed from Hanamura, more or less giving himself something to do while he chewed. Most of what was on the feed were reports from minor stations throughout the city, talking about petty issues that in no way interested Jesse in the slightest. He took a gulp of coffee, savouring the harsh, bitter flavour for a moment before swallowing. He’d never been one to put things like milk or sugar in his coffee; it ruined the taste. They say the bitter man swallows the bitter cup, but McCree was far from being a bitter man; he was just traveling on the fine edges of apathy and mild contempt. That was all. Another sip to wash down the bite of hash browns, and he inwardly wished that there had been toast to accompany his breakfast. He could have made a sandwich.
Popping one of the egg yolks with a fork, Jesse lazily pushed the egg through the runny, yellow mess, coating it before he sliced it in half and popped one of the halves in his mouth. Could use salt, but there wasn’t any at the table. Glancing over to his left, he noted a salt shaker on the opposite table, but was it really worth it to get up just for that? He’d only sat down a moment ago.
As he turned his attention back to his hash browns, a hand entered his peripheral vision, which placed a salt shaker on the table in front of his plate. McCree looked up at his guest, which caused him to rise halfway out of his chair. “Hanzo,” he said, honestly surprised, “What are you-”
The eldest Shimada held up a hand, as if to stop McCree from fully standing up, and the outlaw slowly resumed his previous sitting position.
“May I?” Hanzo asked a moment later, gesturing to the empty chair across from where Jesse was sitting.
“Please.” McCree nodded at the chair before scooting his own closer to the table, hesitating for a moment before picking up the salt shaker, cracking a grin as he sprinkled a bit over his eggs.
Hanzo clasped his hands together, resting them on the tabletop, and he seemed more content to stare at the idle news feed hologram than he was at Jesse. “I wanted to apologise for my behaviour last night. It was ill of me to treat a guest as such, especially when.. intoxicated.”
Continuing to chew, McCree held up his left hand, waving Hanzo off. “No need for that, partner,” he replied after swallowing, “I kinda snuck up on you a bit, I reckon. It was a public place, anyway; I wasn’t exactly your guest, all things considered.”
“No, but this is my home, and I’ve been a poor host,” Hanzo stated, looking Jesse in the eye, “And it’s even less acceptable of me to have been so brash to a member of Overwatch.”
“Ex-member,” McCree corrected, curling his fingers around the handle of the coffee mug, “I’ve been retired for about two years now.”
Hanzo nodded, dropping his eyes to stare at the table. His thumbs tapped together awkwardly, and he didn’t speak for a few minutes. It didn’t bother McCree none; he just continued to eat his breakfast.
“I’ve been away for longer than that,” Hanzo admitted after a few more moments of silence, still not yet looking at Jesse again, “Almost three years now.”
“We all gotta stop at some point, darlin’, you know that.”
Crooking a faint smile, Hanzo shook his head in mock protest. “I suppose you’re right. The days seem longer when you’re not doing much of anything, as opposed to.. well, what we used to do.”
“You got that right,” McCree replied, tucking the last bite of egg into his mouth, “But it’s nice to have time to watch the sunrise and the sunset every now and again.”
“Do you really do that?” Hanzo scoffed, now toying with the news tablet, terminating the holographic interface, “I thought only people in stories wasted their time by purposely sitting to watch the sun rise and fall.”
“Oh please, Hanzo.” Jesse chuckled a bit under his breath at the other, taking another sip of coffee before continuing. “You can’t tell me that you’ve never watched a damn sunrise in your life.”
“Of course I have,” the other retorted, looking like McCree had just offended his ancestors, “I’ve seen many, just not as deliberately as you make it out to be.”
McCree shook his head, his shoulders shaking with silent laughter while he placed his cutlery atop the empty plate. “So let’s do it then.”
“Watch the sunset. You an’ me. Tonight.”
Surprisingly, Hanzo didn’t outright refuse. Rather, he seemed to be contemplating the notion. “I suppose I have nothing else to do,” he said after a moment, stroking his neat beard with one hand, “And I know of a place that would be good for doing such an activity.”
Jesse blinked a few times, not actually having expected Hanzo to accept. “Well, I guess that’s settled,” he said in turn, pushing back his plate with a smile on his face.
Hanzo returned the smile, albeit very small, and stood up from the table. “I have some things to attend to before tonight; you still have your communicator from Overwatch, I assume?”
“I’d be an idiot not to have it,” McCree replied, “Why ask?”
“I will contact you later, via the communicator, and I will tell you where we will meet.”
Hanzo turned on his heel, walking out of the hotel lobby without even as much as a goodbye. McCree watched him go, idly sipping the last of the coffee. He momentarily wondered how Hanzo initially found him, but then remembered that he’d literally told the assassin that he was put up in a hotel down the street. Shouldn’t have been hard to find him, especially for Hanzo.
He could use a nap right about now, especially if he’d be up late watching the sunset. With Hanzo.
McCree shook his head as he retreated back to his room, opening his travel bag and rummaging through it until he found the small, handheld communicator. Clutching it in his palm, Jesse crawled back into bed, holding it tightly as he let himself fall back asleep.
Chapter 3: Scatter
“You still wear that.. thing?”
“Oh come on, Hanzo, there ain’t nothin’ wrong with it.”
Hanzo held up both of his hands in mock surrender, shouldering his small bag as he turned away to continue walking. Huffing, Jesse followed him, his fingers brushing over the faded serape in question. Yes, it was old, and he still wore it, but damn was it a precious piece of clothing; he wouldn’t wear it if it weren’t.
They had met on the outskirts of Hanamura only about ten minutes ago, and already Hanzo was acting ornery. Well, more than usual, anyway. He hadn’t even apologised to McCree for having disturbed his nap. Perhaps he shouldn’t have been napping anyway; it was something that old people did, and he’d be damned if he thought of himself as old. Next thing he’d be gardening, and then wondering where his grandkids were. He didn’t even have kids. Perhaps he could buy himself a wooden rocker and set it on his front porch so he could yell at the robot kids next door to get off his lawn. Visibly, the outlaw shook his head. He refused to become Morrison; there was no way in hell that he’d ever become that crotchety and brash.
Age didn’t seem to affect Hanzo much; he was walking along the stone path with an even, steady gait, and also looked mighty nostalgic with the Storm Bow strapped to his back.
“Is the bow a necessity?” McCree asked, taking a few quick steps to catch himself up to the other.
“Is your revolver a necessity?”
“.. point taken.”
Truth be told, Jesse couldn’t really think of a time when he had ever left home without it. Even this morning, when he went down to breakfast, it was in its holster, at his belt, just like it was now. His fingers glanced over the worn metal hammer, dipping into the slim grooves that had been buffed down to near nothing after years of mercilessly fanning it. Glancing back at the bow, it didn’t seem to have changed much. The blue-fletched arrows in the quiver triggered a moment of nostalgia, a flashback of having seen them years ago, many times, on the field of battle. Even just watching Hanzo in front of him almost made McCree feel like he was years young, back in his prime, but it only lasted for a second or two. Hanzo didn’t seem to notice Jesse’s momentary lapse in gait, and if he did, he made no sign of it.
“Where are we even going, Hanzo?” The outlaw pestered after another few minutes, fishing in his pocket for a cigar.
“Perhaps with your aging memory, you can’t even remember this area in general.”
McCree grumbled under his breath at Hanzo’s words, chewing on the end of his cigar before lighting it. “Look partner, I don’t claim to have some photographic memory.”
Hanzo turned his head ever so slightly to look back at McCree, eyebrows furrowing. “You’ll be likely to remember it once we arrive.”
Despite not knowing where they were going, the outlaw didn’t mind the journey to get them there. The stony path eventually crumbled off, leaving them to walk along a faintly-worn dirt pathway, one that Hanzo seemed to know all too well. They didn’t speak much as they walked, aside from the occasional “Are we there yet?” from McCree, which would bring about a low grunt from Hanzo. Jesse seemed to enjoy prodding at the other’s reactions, especially since Hanzo was a man of little humour. Still, there was plenty of scenery to keep him occupied, and much of aforementioned scenery were cherry blossom trees, much to McCree’s delight. He had missed seeing those in Hanamura; too many buildings where the trees used to bloom. Out here, beyond the clutching fingers of the city, they were free to grow, and blossom. As if attracted to his inner musing, a petal brushed against Jesse’s cheek as he walked, and his steely fingers touched the skin as if by instinct. The cold, smooth metal against his cheek was a harsh contrast to the soft petal beforehand, and for a moment, McCree almost stopped walking. Into his pocket his hand slid, curling around his cigar lighter. His thumb rubbed against the metal casing, slipping into a worn groove from years of doing the exact same thing he was doing now. It was a rare occasion that his robotic arm would present itself as something that shouldn’t exist; for the most part, he’d been very much used to it, and hardly ever noticed it, even when naked in front of a mirror. Perhaps it was just the small moments, like this one, that reminded him that he hadn’t been a whole person in a very long time, and that was a hard mouthful to swallow for anyone.
He should just follow Hanzo. Enough idle thinking about things that had no real bearing on his current life. Quickening his pace, McCree caught up to Hanzo after a few moments, still maintaining the assassin’s preferred silence. The sunlight seemed to highlight the eldest Shimada’s silvery hair more than the lighting in the bar had. At first glance, it was almost alarming at how much he really had, as compared to how little he used to have. Jesse was a year younger than Hanzo, but that man’s greying hair was considerably more numerous than his own, and McCree knew for a fact that all of that couldn’t be due to just aging. Thoughts drifting to how much he had witnessed Hanzo drink only made McCree wonder if Hanzo was really okay or not. Maybe they weren’t friends, but they had been partners. Only as close as the battlefield would allow them. Regardless of their status, it was rather concerning to see an old member of Overwatch acting as if they were now an alcoholic. Jesse liked to drink, but even he wouldn’t ever have considered putting down sake as quickly as Hanzo had, not to mention an entire carafe of it. But.. it was none of his business. It wasn’t his place to ask, and at the moment, he didn’t really care to ask. It was something to put out of his mind and never touch again. Shouldn’t be too hard.
“Now do you remember?”
McCree’s hand hesitantly reached out to touch the fallen tree, silvery fingers gently tracing over the smooth, worn bark before looking at the branches. Most of them were dead and dry, but a few had a few blossoms remaining attached to it, desperately fighting to live on a tree that could no longer support life.
“We met here.” Slowly, McCree looked up from the tree to meet Hanzo’s gaze, who in turn diverted it and looked at the horizon.
“This was where you came to greet us when we arrived,” Jesse continued, not caring about Hanzo’s lack of eye contact, “You were standin’ right here.. under the tree, though.”
Hanzo nodded, letting go of the bag and letting it rest on the ground. “Someone felled the tree earlier this year,” He muttered, his own hand resting on the trunk, “If I ever find out who, they won’t get to do such things again.”
It’s just a tree, Jesse wanted to say, but held his tongue. Perhaps it held some sort of cultural significance, or maybe it was special to Hanzo for personal reasons. Either way, McCree had already made up his mind not to ask about it. There was little reason to. Instead, he simply watched as Hanzo pulled a blanket from his bag, spreading it over the hilltop and sitting on it, leaning his back against the fallen tree. He said nothing at all to McCree, not even giving him an invite to sit down, but he didn’t appear to be in a sour mood.
Regardless of how Hanzo was feeling, McCree hoisted himself up onto the tree trunk, sliding his legs over and facing the same direction that Hanzo was, which was at the slowly-setting sun. Jesse had never really witnessed a sunset in Japan before. While it didn’t seem to be all that different from the countless ones he’d seen everywhere else, the overall mood was different. It wasn’t because he was watching it with someone; countless times had he taken someone with him to watch a sunset. It usually put his guest in a mood, and that’s usually why he’d done so. However, that wasn’t really the case here. Just watching Hanzo pull a bottle of sake out of his bag only made the atmosphere more somber, and only furthered McCree’s resolve to keep himself quiet. The assassin busied himself with sipping right out of the bottle, and McCree simply tucked one leg up to his chest, resting his arm on his knee, pretending like he didn’t see a damn thing.
The soft blends of purples, pinks, and oranges on the horizon seemed to brighten Jesse’s mood a bit, but not by much. Despite the state of their friendship, or lack thereof, it was honestly painful to watch Hanzo behaving in such a manner. Given, McCree had his own issues, not to mention the mental attacks he suffered from hearing things like explosions, but never once had he turned to any sort of substances to mellow himself out. From the looks of it, Hanzo was an alcoholic.
It nearly made his heart hurt to think about it.
McCree wondered if perhaps he himself was a bit jaded. Despite traveling everywhere and meeting old Overwatch members, he’d never really considered the toll that the organization had taken on everyone else. He’d only ever really thought about himself. Maybe the reason that Mei-Ling hadn’t spoken much about Overwatch was because she didn’t want to think about it. Maybe Hanzo had been through something worse than Jesse had been, and couldn’t deal with it in any other way. Just that thought alone caused McCree’s hand press against his chest, over his heart, passing it off as adjusting his serape in case Hanzo was watching, which he was not.
Glancing up, Jesse stared at Hanzo, who seemed focused on staring ahead of him at the sunset. “Just fixing my serape; calm down there partner.”
Hanzo remained silent, and for a moment, motionless. But the minute that he raised the bottle to his lips again, McCree sighed, sliding off the trunk and onto the blanket, beside the other. “You might wanna slow down on that stuff there,” he urged gently, keeping his eyes fixed on the horizon.
Hanzo very nearly glared at him from the corner of his eye, taking another sip as if to spite the outlaw. “I do not remember asking you for guidance on what I do with my life.”
Watching the sun slowly sink into the mountains was pretty, but Jesse was considerably distracted by Hanzo’s behavior, and he knew that Hanzo was well-aware of his subtle spying. Neither of them commented on the matter, however. Once Hanzo seemed to finish the bottle, McCree felt a bit better about things, but watching the assassin put it back into the bag and pull out another, he knew that he couldn’t keep quiet about it anymore.
“Hanzo Shimada, you have a problem.”
“Tell me something that I do not know.”
Again, they sat in silence. The sun slowly shifted from glowing orange to a dull red, becoming little more than a rounded sliver on the horizon, and Hanzo had nearly finished half of the second bottle of sake. At this point, he looked like he had that night in the bar, and McCree was left to wonder if Hanzo had consumed more than only the one bottle that he’d seen him polish off that night. “Give me some,” Jesse demanded, holding his hand out for the bottle. Surprisingly, Hanzo handed it to him, his arm going limp in his lap after. McCree sat the bottle beside him, not even tasting it, and received no protest from Hanzo whatsoever. Sneaking a glance at the other, Hanzo’s gaze was loosely fixated on the last sliver of the sun, his eyes slightly glassy and tinged with red. It hurt to look at him in such a state.
“Do you wanna talk about it?”
Hanzo slowly turned to look over at him, his upper lip curled slightly in a loose snarl, and then looked away. “No,” he replied after a moment, now taking his turn to fidget by pressing his fingertips together, “There is nothing to discuss.”
“I think that there is, Hanzo.” McCree shifted his seated position, drawing his gaze from the purple horizon to face his old teammate. “And if you ask me, it seems to be a pretty damn serious problem.”
“Well I didn’t ask you,” Hanzo growled, “And it’s none of your concern.”
“It becomes my concern when someone that I’ve known for a damn good amount of time is tangled up in substance abuse.”
Hanzo seemed to recoil slightly at McCree’s words, his eyebrows knitting together as the corners of his lips turned downward. “You would not understand what I have been through.”
Without even thinking, McCree rested his hand on Hanzo’s bare shoulder, a muted contrast against the inked skin. “You don’t have to go through it alone, you know. If you wanna talk about it, I’ll listen to ya. Honest.” He really did mean it, too. They might not be friends, but Hanzo was a human being, and one who had been through hell and back. McCree wouldn’t consider himself a person if he chose to let Hanzo suffer silently; it wasn’t right.
“I fear that it will be the same things that you’ve heard a thousand times by a thousand people,” Hanzo said after a minute, as if trying to subdue his own hardships.
“Maybe, but that don’t make ‘em any less valid, Shimada.”
Hanzo turned away, staring at his hands nestled in his lap. “Have you ever killed a member of your own family?”
“.. can’t say that I have,” McCree replied slowly, his attention hooked, and not in a good way.
“Then.. do you know what it’s like to hear bullets whistle past your ears? Feeling molten lead burrow inside your skin? The sudden extraction of air from your lungs when you fall, landing on your back, and unable to move?”
Jesse nodded slowly, not looking over at Hanzo, to give him some privacy, if any. “I do.”
“Imagine that, then. Except imagine it happening every second of the day, and you can’t do anything about it, because it’s all in your head. Your body aches with the memories of what has passed, and you can almost taste blood in your mouth when you sleep at night.”
Some of what Hanzo spoke of rang true for McCree, but the other’s constant torment of mental trauma sounded like a nightmare. Slowly, he began to understand the assassin’s thought process, and it was terrifying.
“And when you think that you can finally move past that,” Hanzo continued, his fingers curling into loose fists, “You.. I.. am forced to remember that I killed my brother. I can see it, constantly. When I lay in bed at night, trying to sleep, or even when I just close my eyes to blink, I see.. his body, lying there, blood everywh-”
Hanzo’s voice cut off abruptly, and after daring to glance over at him, McCree witnessed the eldest Shimada biting into a knuckle, shoulders shaking silently, eyes wide open, as if to save himself from seeing that which he spoke of. It was horrific to think about. McCree had heard thready stories of what had happened between the two brothers, but he had never heard about it from either one of them direct. Hearing it from Hanzo only served to make it more chilling, and Jesse could feel his skin grow cold just from replaying Hanzo’s words inside his head. At this point, he was unsure of what to do. There was nothing that he could say that would help the situation any, but it felt wrong just to sit here and do nothing. Hesitantly, McCree rested his hand on Hanzo’s shoulder again, his fingers curling over the front, giving a gentle squeeze.
That was all it took.
Hanzo seemed to lurch around towards Jesse, quite literally falling against the other, against McCree’s chest. He made no sound, but his large shoulders continued to shake as he clung to the outlaw. McCree tried to comprehend what had just happened, but decided that it wasn’t worth his time. Both his arms gently wrapped around Hanzo, rubbing small circles against his back, despite the hard tremors that shook the assassin’s body.
“I got you, Hanzo. Everything is gonna be alright.”
Even if things weren’t going to be alright, McCree could only hope that they were comforting enough to soothe Hanzo, even if it was only a little bit. A single, dry sob escaped Hanzo’s throat a moment later, and he went silent again, completely vulnerable in Jesse McCree’s arms, trusting him to keep him safe. Perhaps it was the alcohol that led to his spontaneous actions, or perhaps he had simply cracked under everything that he held inside of him. Perhaps it was both. Perhaps it was none. Regardless of purpose and cause, McCree had no intention of letting go of Hanzo Shimada. Even as the minutes turned to hours, the sunset now long gone and the sky crusted with diamonds against a dark azure backdrop, McCree refused to loosen his hold on Hanzo.
It didn’t take him long to realise that Hanzo had passed out, still in his arms. They couldn’t go home like this. Even if he could manage to wake Hanzo, the Shimada would be too drunk to get himself back home, and Jesse knew that. Swearing under his breath, McCree pushed the blanket forward with his boots, scooting it out from underneath them until he could pull it over their bodies. He didn’t care about the dirt. Unable to cover them completely, Jesse deftly removed his serape, only to put it back on, except covering both himself and Hanzo with it.
Shifting his position a little, McCree nestled Hanzo’s body between his legs, letting the man rest comfortably against his chest, and allowing the serape to be less restricting. He pulled the blanket up just a little bit more, not at all bothered by the awkward situation, and after tilting the brim of his hat downward to cover his face, Jesse slowly drifted off to sleep as well, Hanzo still secure in his arms. Not letting go.
Chapter 4: To Reclaim The Lost
His neck hurt. That was the first real sensation that McCree could feel. The second was that his entire body was as stiff as a board and he couldn’t much move. Then came the dampness, and the chilly air around him.
Slowly, McCree began to realise that his arms were still wrapped around the other’s body, his hands resting lightly on Hanzo’s waist. Memories of the night before began bubbling gently inside his brain, and the outlaw very nearly let go of Hanzo at just thinking about it. Glancing down, under the brim of his hat, he noted that Hanzo was still sleeping, and rather soundly at that. The assassin’s breathing was steady and even, and he almost looked content. There was no way that Jesse could get up now, even though he was becoming slowly away of a cramp in his left leg. Very carefully, he bent his leg for comfort, and even more carefully pulled Hanzo closer to him so that he could pull up the dew-covered blanket. The serape covering them was still positioned how he’d set it last night, draped over McCree’s shoulders and covering Hanzo’s upper body.
There was something almost perfect about this moment, but Jesse couldn’t put his finger on it. For starters, his mind was now working overtime just processing the events of last night, remembering all of the traumatic things that Hanzo was experiencing. He was grateful that it wasn’t happening to himself as well. Surprisingly, McCree didn’t mind at all their extremely close proximity, and actually found himself enjoying it. Despite his gruff exterior, Jesse was a soft, gentle man at heart, and there was always this tiny little needle that would prick him terribly if he were to ever let someone else suffer while he stood by and did nothing. Hanzo wouldn’t have done any of this if he hadn’t felt like he could trust Jesse with it, especially with his personal space, considering what he was going through. Furthermore, McCree considered himself an open man when it came to partners, and gender had never been an issue with him, so it wasn’t like he was panicking about having another man sleeping against his chest.
He slowly moved his right hand up, adjusting the serape for a moment before gently brushing the hair out of Hanzo’s face with his fingertips. The assassin barely responded, still sleeping, and McCree took that as the okay to reposition himself just a little bit. His left hand moved up a bit, resting against Hanzo’s stomach, his arm tucked securely around the other. Meanwhile, his right hand was happily smoothing Hanzo’s hair, which amused Jesse greatly. With his glove off, he was able to feel how smooth his hair was, and after letting Hanzo’s head rest gently onto his collar, McCree occupied himself with letting his fingers continually brush against the other’s hair. It was like how he might treat a lover after a night spent together, as tender as he could possibly manage, and while they certainly weren’t lovers at all, there was no doubt that Hanzo needed someone to care for him a little, if not a lot. It’s not like he would mind.
Time slowly passed about as they sat there, and judging by the growing brightness of the area around them, McCree figured they’d been here for an hour or so after he woke up. Still, he was more than content to sit here and play with Hanzo’s hair; it was honestly relaxing. The faint semblance of a smile would briefly touch Hanzo’s lips from time to time, and it never escaped Jesse's eyes. Even if he would be chastised for what he was doing, just that smile made all of this worth it.
He was instantly aware of when Hanzo began to wake. The sharp inhale, fluttering of his eyelids, and stirring of his body made Jesse's heart skip a beat, completely clueless as to how Hanzo was going to react to this situation. McCree watched as Hanzo’s hands slowly moved up towards his chest, and then one down to his stomach, where his fingers glanced over McCree’s mechanical arm. Hanzo’s body immediately stiffened, as if either terrified or bracing himself for a fight, but Jesse didn't react in kind.
“Easy there, Hanzo; it's just me.”
Hanzo’s head jerked to look up at McCree, his umber eyes wide before slowly softening as he took in the outlaw’s facial features, confirming that it really was him.
“McCree.” Hanzo’s eyes squeezed shut, a hand pressing against his forehead. He exhaled slowly, his breath ending in a light groan, fingers pressing against his temples.
Jesse glanced down at him, not even realising that he once again brushed the hair out of Hanzo’s face with his fingertips. “You might be a little hungover there, partner.”
He wasn’t prepared for how quickly Hanzo’s hand gripped his own, nearly yanking it away from his head, and then staring at it for a moment as if he couldn’t figure out what it was for a moment. McCree remained silent, letting Hanzo take in things at his own pace. No rush. The eldest Shimada’s thumb rubbed over his palm, trying to contemplate the situation, but it seems that his headache was worse than his desire to figure out McCree’s intentions. Closing his eyes again, Hanzo let go of Jesse’s hand, letting his head fall back against the outlaw’s shoulder. “I am a disgrace.”
“A disgrace?” McCree scoffed at the notion, shaking his head slightly, “Naw, you ain’t a disgrace. Just had a little bit more alcohol than what was good for ya.”
“A disgrace,” Hanzo repeated, now sitting up and stretching his legs out. It took him a moment to brace his body and he attempted to stand, which took him another moment or two. The usually-graceful ninja was now completely unsteady on his feet, struggling to balance himself. McCree was quick to get back on his feet, despite his sore knees, and was prepared to help steady the other before Hanzo waved him off.
“I don’t need your help,” he said rather coldly, turning away from Jesse to press his hands against the tree trunk. Chest heaving, Hanzo’s fingers dug into the drying bark, one hand pressed against his forehead as if he thought it might alleviate his headache. “How long.. were we sleeping like that?” The question was directed at McCree, but Hanzo refused to look at him.
The outlaw shrugged, throwing the serape around his shoulders comfortably. “Ever since you passed out last night, after our conversation.”
Hanzo’s eyebrows furrowed in confusion, still not looking over at McCree. “All.. night?”
“That’s right.” McCree removed his hat, setting it on the tree trunk only to run both hands through his long hair, combing it out with his fingers. He kept an eye on the assassin, whose expression kept changing from confusion to disbelief.
“Then..” Hanzo slowly turned his head to the side, looking up at McCree, locking their eyes together. “Why would you do such a thing? For someone you do not know and do not care for?”
After tying his hair into a loose ponytail, Jesse placed his hat back upon his head, not letting Hanzo break their fragile eye contact. “I won’t pretend that I know you, Hanzo,” he stated, crossing his arms in front of his chest, “But what you told me last night, about what you’re going through, was more than enough to make me care.”
Hanzo didn’t reply, only shook his head slightly before taking a deep breath. “I trust you will tell no one of.. this situation.”
“Not if you don’t want me to.”
“I do not.”
McCree saw very little of Hanzo for the next few days. He couldn’t find the assassin at the bar, and he didn’t dare to set foot anywhere near the Shimada estate. Just having seen the number of security officers surrounding the place told him that it would be a suicide mission to try getting in. Hanzo didn’t even reply to McCree’s pings on the Overwatch communicator. He felt terrible. Maybe if he’d just let Hanzo alone, or hadn’t allowed himself to get so damn touchy-feely with him. McCree was mentally kicking himself just thinking about it. Of course, he had the option to just leave; Angela was visiting the Overwatch base and had kindly invited him to meet up with her and see some of the new recruits, but for some reason, he had declined her offer. He wasn’t ready to leave Hanamura just yet, not with Hanzo like this.
His legs dangled off the edge of the bed as he stared up at the ceiling, heels gently thumping against the cheap box springs. The communicator in his hand beeped to signal its low power, and McCree didn’t even bother to get up for it. Sitting up ever so slightly, he tossed the communicator towards the window, letting it land in the tiny patch of sunlight. It beeped again, telling Jesse that it was being solar charged. It wasn’t like he was making use of it; there wasn’t any rush to charge the damn thing.
Slowly, he rolled off the bed, stumbling tiredly towards the bathroom. Just looking in the mirror was horrific; his eyes were dark and lackluster, and didn’t carry the usual vibrant glint that they usually did. He was exhausted. For the past three nights, he had gotten up every couple of hours, just to see if Hanzo would have messaged him. He was worried. So worried. He didn’t even know why he was worried, but he was. Hanzo had shared a piece of himself with Jesse, and now he had to treat that piece as gentle as possible. But it was hard to do that, especially with Hanzo avoiding him. It’s why he hadn’t gone back to the Overwatch base. He couldn’t leave like this.
Jesse’s hands gripped the edges of the sink, hunched over the basin for a moment or two before turning on the water, just watching it stream from the faucet and down the drain for awhile. The cold water was splashed across his face with his right hand, his fingers dragging across his skin as he looked at himself in the mirror again. He couldn’t keep doing this. He had to sleep at some point. He would do that; just a small nap would be nice.
The communicator chirped.
Signaling a message.
McCree nearly fell on his face as he lurched his body forward from the bathroom towards the window. His fingers curled around the communicator, activating the interface. The message was from Hanzo, just as he had been hoping. He opened the message, which revealed to be nothing but a set of coordinates. After sending Hanzo a hasty reply, Jesse all but abandoned his plans for a nap in lieu of shoving his feet into his boots and slinging his serape across his shoulders.
Regardless of his excitement, he was still quite a bit exhausted, and it showed in his pace en route to the location that Hanzo had given him. In reality, it only took him about fifteen minutes to realise that the coordinates were just giving him the location that they had been a few nights ago, where the fallen tree was. McCree shoved the locator back into his pocket, no longer needing its guidance.
Hanzo was waiting for him, or at the very least, just waiting there. He was sitting on the tree trunk, staring off into the distance where the sun would be setting, and to McCree’s relief, his hands were empty. Slowly, Jesse circled the tree, and gave a little wave to Hanzo, who didn’t seem to respond other than a slight flicker of his eyes in the outlaw’s direction, but not much else.
“Mind if I sit?” Jesse asked, nodding towards the tree trunk.
The assassin still made no verbal reply, but gave a faint semblance of a nod, his eyes closing.
McCree sat down next to Hanzo, folding his hands in his lap, and said nothing at all. He was a man who knew when silence was appropriate, and that was right now. Hanzo seemed to appreciate it, as shown by his hunched shoulders slowly loosening over time, and his body seeming to relax as the minutes ticked by. The outlaw watched out of the corner of his eye as Hanzo’s thumbs pressed together in his lap, and while he desperately wanted to speak, he held his tongue, wanting Hanzo to make the first move.
The minutes turned to hours, just the two of them sitting side by side on the fallen tree, watching the first touches of orange beginning to streak the horizon. Another sunset. The air was warm, slightly breezy, the wind gently brushing over their skin from time to time. McCree found himself relaxing as well, and combined with the lack of movement on his part, just watching the skies, it only made his tiredness worse. He let his eyes close after a while, but kept himself awake.
“Thank you,” Hanzo said at length.
McCree opened his eyes, blinking tiredly before looking over at Hanzo, raising an eyebrow at him. “I don’t know what for, but you’re welcome regardless.”
Turning his head down a little, Hanzo resumed staring at his own lap, his fingertips tapping into his palm, perhaps out of nervousness. “I was not expecting a friend out of you. A decent man with good character I’ve known you to be, but it was far from me to have expected that you would care about the plights of someone that you hardly know.”
Jesse shook his head, a smile touching his lips. “How well I know ya doesn’t really matter, Hanzo. You needed to talk to someone, I was here to listen.” He shifted his position, now turning his body to face the other. “I still am here to listen too, if ya need it.”
Hanzo seemed to nearly disbelieve everything that McCree was saying, as proven by how he shook his own head, refusing. “You..” he started, and then stopped, pausing only for a moment before he leaned forward, pressing his lips against Jesse’s in the form of an awkward kiss. It was sloppy, almost desperate, and it was obvious that Hanzo had literally no idea what he was doing, but that didn’t stop McCree from reciprocating. He slowed the pace of the kiss, showing Hanzo how, cupping his jaw carefully, thumbs brushing his cheeks. Gently, he urged Hanzo’s lips to part, relaxing him. Hanzo responded amicably, softly moaning against McCree's lips as the outlaw pulled the cloth from the assassin’s hair, untying it, and then pushing his fingers through the soft, silvery strands. Jesse softly nipped at Hanzo's lower lip, whispering the other's name against their teeth until he suddenly tasted the sake lingering on Hanzo's tongue.
“Easy there,” he murmured, breaking their kiss, his hands pressed against Hanzo's shoulders and pushing him gently away, “We can't be doing this right now, Hanzo.”
The eldest Shimada looked confused, his dark eyes blinking a few times before he opened his mouth to speak. “I was.. I mean, I thought that I should show you how much I appreciate what you did for me.”
Laughing softly, McCree shook his head, adjusting the brim of his hat from having been crushed against Hanzo's face. “There's no need to thank me, Hanzo. But I think that you're doing.. this, for the wrong reasons.” He cleared his throat, giving himself a moment to breathe, taking a deep breath before continuing. “And besides, you've been drinking. Your head ain't in the right place, and I ain't gonna do nothin’ like this with someone who's inebriated.”
Hanzo opened his mouth to protest, but McCree held up a hand, cutting him off. “Don't even start with me. It would be mighty disrespectful of me to take advantage of you while you're like this, alright? I ain't about that.”
After a moment or two, Hanzo dropped his gaze, nodding in defeat. He muttered something about an apology, but McCree reassured him that it was not necessary.
There was something about the way that the burnt orange glow of the sunset touched Hanzo's skin. It warmed his paler complexion, harmonizing with its faint reflection in his silver hair, and for a moment, McCree would have sworn without hesitation that he wanted to kiss the man again. Truth be told, he didn't know anything about Hanzo's sexuality, but he knew his own, and there wasn't a doubt in his mind that he had a problem with kissing Hanzo Shimada, except for now, since he was intoxicated. A tiny piece of him hoped that Hanzo would want to pick this back up, after the alcohol was out of his system, but he wasn't about to hold out hope for it. It had been a long time since he had last kissed anyone, and he rather missed the feeling. He was getting old, and it would occasionally pain him to remember that he had no one to grow old with. It was beyond ludicrous to think that he would have something together with Hanzo, but McCree hoped just a little that maybe it might help soften the loneliness, even if just for a short while.
“I don't want to stay out here again,” Hanzo said suddenly, breaking into McCree's stray thoughts, “I want to go home if I am to sleep.”
Slowly catching on, Jesse nodded, hopping off the tree trunk and waiting for Hanzo to do the same. The other slowly followed suit, idly standing next to McCree for a moment before beginning his walk home, and Jesse followed him. Neither of them spoke while they walked, and that was okay with Jesse. He knew that Hanzo was a man who preferred silence above all else, and despite being a talkative person himself, it was easy for him to keep quiet when he was around Hanzo. He just didn’t mind as much in his company.
The feeling of Hanzo’s fingers brushing against his own was surprising initially, but McCree couldn’t help himself when he slipped his fingers in between Hanzo’s, locking them together gently. The silence between them was still maintained, but they continued to walk side by side, fingers entwined.
McCree almost dared to let himself enjoy the moment. Almost.
The estate was still flanked with security guards, and McCree almost felt scared to enter it. Hanzo’s head was held high, entering the front gates without so much as blinking, and McCree silently followed him, keeping rather close. He wasn’t sure how Hanzo had managed to claim the estate for himself, but he also wasn’t about to ask.
It was almost eerie to be back here, as opposed to years past when this place was deserted, and wars were fought within the walls that he now humbly walked between. There was no trace of the bloodshed that had once happened here; the interior of Hanzo’s home perfect, pristine. He was almost in awe. His memories almost seemed like a distant dream, just standing here once again only made everything feel surreal. Hanzo watched him with a curious eye for a moment, before nudging McCree’s arm.
After taking a moment to figure out what Hanzo meant, Jesse removed his boots, letting them sit by the entrance, but Hanzo still wouldn’t let him pass. The assassin silently pointed to a row of slippers lined up past the entrance, and while McCree wasn’t one to wear socks and slippers at the same time, he put them on anyway. Hanzo seemed satisfied at this, motioning for McCree to follow him again as he moved through the main hall of the estate.
For all of the destruction that had happened here, if Jesse hadn’t been here himself to witness it, he wouldn’t have believed that this place had once been nothing but blood, splinters, and smoke. Whoever had taken care of this place had renovated it perfectly. Following Hanzo and seeing more of his home only served to bring back a few flashbacks that he never wanted to see again, and he could only imagine what being here was doing to Hanzo. Why did Hanzo even live here? McCree idly wondered if he had taken down Genji within these walls. He hoped that wasn’t the case.
He fought another small wave of sleepiness as he followed Hanzo into what seemed to be his bedroom, and he’d be lying if he said that the bed didn’t look mighty tempting to sleep in. He’d been mostly awake for the past 48 hours, only having slept for maybe 10 of those hours, if that.
Hanzo turned around, looking mighty nervous as he slowly looked up from the floor to meet McCree’s eyes. “I understand your position from earlier, and you have all of my respects. I apologise for being so bold; it was rather unlike me.”
Then it had been the alcohol after all. McCree could feel his heart sinking, even though he had deliberately forced himself not to hold out hope for anything like that. It just wasn’t in the cards. Besides, Hanzo deserved better than someone like himself. “No need to-”
“Let me finish,” Hanzo interjected, holding up a hand, and McCree shut his mouth. “While it might be wise to refrain from such.. activity, I would like to ask a favour of you.”
“And what might that be?”
Hanzo looked up at him, his eyes unblinking. “I would like to ask if you would stay here with me for the night. I do not think that I would fare well for another night alone.”
His voice was unwavering and steady, and McCree already knew that Hanzo wasn’t drunk while saying this. Nodding his head, Jesse agreed to Hanzo’s request. “I can do that for you.”
The look on Hanzo’s face seemed to flood with relief, his eyes gently closing as he exhaled. It was as if he had been expecting the outlaw to refuse; that alone tugged at McCree’s heartstrings more than anything else that had happened over the past few hours. Hanzo really needed someone here with him, and Jesse felt incredibly touched that Hanzo was trusting him to be the one to do so. McCree had never really considered himself as a person that someone would turn to for emotional support, but as he’d been saying from the beginning, he’d be damned if he just chose to walk away and leave Hanzo behind. That was something that he couldn’t do, and it was also something that he knew that he didn’t want to do. Despite his conflicted feelings, he did care about Hanzo, and he fully intended to do what he could for his former teammate, no matter the cost. He owed Hanzo that much; not for a past debt that did not exist, but because Hanzo was a person. He deserved to be cared for.
He watched as Hanzo slowly began removing his robe, casting quick, occasional glances at McCree, as if nervous. Jesse picked up the cue and unwound his serape from his shoulders, trying not to look over at Hanzo but it was just so damn tempting. McCree knew that Hanzo wasn’t without muscle, but he hadn’t expected the archer to be so built. He watched with attentive eyes as Hanzo’s broad, scarred shoulders rolled out of the robe, untying it from his waist. Without a doubt, McCree knew that Hanzo could probably pick him up and throw him through the wall, and that was both a terrifying and exciting thought. Just looking at Hanzo’s biceps almost made him drool. He had to get it together.
McCree’s fingers fumbled nervously behind him as he tried to unlock the clasping mechanisms of his armor, completely distracted by the gorgeous man standing three feet away from him. He had it bad already. He watched as Hanzo turned around to face him, now even more so distracted by the man’s defined chest. A small smile touched Hanzo’s lips, and he walked over to McCree. “You seem to be having a bit of trouble.”
He remained silent as Hanzo walked behind him, feeling the assassin’s fingers gently moving his hands back down to his sides. “Let me,” he heard Hanzo murmur, hearing the gentle hiss as his chestpiece was unlocked without a moment’s delay. McCree’s eyes widened as he felt Hanzo’s hands wrap around him, helping to remove the armor from his chest. Jesse let him; it would be rude to suddenly push Hanzo away. He removed his button-up shirt as Hanzo walked away, leaving him with just an undershirt. His belt, chaps, jeans, and socks were discarded also, leaving McCree wearing nothing but his black tank top and undershorts, which is what he would feel most comfortable sleeping in. Hanzo watched him with a curious eye, but said nothing, and McCree just shrugged off the feeling. His prosthetic arm was more noticeable with his clothing gone, the chrome finish reflecting the warm tones of his bare skin. Flexing his steely fingers, McCree glanced around the room, wondering where Hanzo was going to stick him.
“You want me on the floor or what?”
Hanzo looked like McCree had just insulted him, and shook his head. “You are absurd.” After putting out all the lights except for the candle beside the bed, Hanzo rolled back the blanket, nimbly climbing into it and then motioned to McCree. “I thought.. you might want to share. It’s more comfortable than the floor.”
Of course, McCree’s instinct was to ask Hanzo if he was sure, but there was a piece of him that felt like it would be redundant, like talking to a child. He wasn’t about to do that to Hanzo, especially in a situation like this. Taking a deep breath, he walked over to the bed, only hesitating for a moment before he crawled into it, pushing his legs under the blanket. He wasn’t prepared for feeling Hanzo’s knuckles pressing against his hand for a moment before slowly curling his fingers in between his own, holding on tight.
The candle was blown out, and McCree stared up at the darkened ceiling, trying to keep his breathing under control. Idly, his thumb rubbed against Hanzo’s, which rewarded him with a gentle hand squeeze, but no words from the other. And try as he might to enjoy this moment between them, McCree had been mostly awake for the past several days without true rest, and it didn’t take him very long to fall asleep.
Despite being deep inside a dream state that had been much-needed over the past few days, McCree was well-trained to be completely aware of his body’s surroundings. He had to be. And yet there was the constant pinprick of the feeling that something wasn’t right. Jesse cracked open one eye, finding himself still in Hanzo’s bed. Reaching over with one arm, searching for Hanzo, his heart nearly went cold as he discovered that the rest of the bed was empty. Hanzo was no longer there.
He slowly sat up, blinking rapidly as his subconscious was dragged from the dreamscape back to reality, while his body felt like it was moving underwater. His head felt like a rock. The room was still dark, so McCree assumed that he had only slept for a few hours. Sluggishly, he rotated his body, pressing his toes against the cold wood floor and standing up, feeling like more of an old man than he had in quite some time. The slightly-ajar door was slid open silently, taking McCree back into the hallway. It was also dark here. The only source of light was the faint glow of what Jesse assumed to be moonlight, coming from the opposite end of the hallway. He followed it, only to find another paper door that he slid open, leading him to an open balcony.. and Hanzo.
The archer was sitting on the floor, his knees drawn up to his chest and his head nestled between them. Hanzo’s fingers tightly gripped his unbound hair, and his entire body was shaking. McCree dropped to both knees, reaching out an arm towards Hanzo without really thinking about it. He hadn’t expected Hanzo to smack his hand away, and certainly hadn’t been prepared for the venomous “Get away from me” that the other spat out. Doing his best not to recoil at Hanzo’s words, McCree sat down on the floor, his back leaning against the cold metal rods that made up the balcony’s railing. At this point, Jesse was fully prepared to deal with whatever was to come of this situation. Something was going to happen, and it most likely wasn’t going to be anything good, but he wasn’t deterred. Hanzo needed help, and he was here this time.
“Are the attacks happening again?” McCree asked softly after a moment, folding his hands into his lap. The silence from Hanzo told McCree that he was probably correct. Glancing down, he noted the glass bottle between Hanzo’s feet, the clear sake nearly gone.
“Hanzo..” he whispered, very slowly scooting over towards the other, still keeping a respectful distance between them, but wanting Hanzo to know that he was right there. “Hanzo, you should really try to talk about this.”
“There is nothing left to discuss,” Hanzo replied immediately, his voice muffled, fingers tightening in his silvery hair.
It was at that moment that McCree knew he would never get anywhere like this. Both he and Hanzo were stubborn old men, and it was high time that he took matters into his own hands. Literally.
He scooted forward again, gently but firmly taking ahold of Hanzo’s hands into his own, curling his fingers around the other’s. Hanzo made no attempt to free himself from McCree’s grip, but kept his forehead resting on the tops of his knees. Jesse moved forward just a bit more, sitting directly across from Hanzo, the tips of his toes touching Hanzo’s metal feet. “How long are you going to run away from this?”
“You think.. I’m running..?” Hanzo murmured, sounding like he was choking on the words even as he spoke them. Slowly, he raised his head, looking up at McCree, and for a moment, the outlaw didn’t even recognise him.
Hanzo’s face was red and swollen, as were his eyes, as if he had been previously in tears. In the moonlight, McCree noted the dried streaks of tears on Hanzo’s cheeks, and that way that the archer’s lip trembled made Jesse aware that he might just do so again.
“You know nothing of what has happened!!” Hanzo suddenly shouted, nearly scaring McCree half to death. He yanked his hands from Jesse’s gentle hold, one of them grabbing the sake bottle and holding it in his fist. Those brown eyes glared at McCree as if Hanzo intended to murder him, and for a few moments, the outlaw honestly didn’t know if he should stay or flee.
“You.. You weren’t there!! You cannot possibly understand what has happened, what I went through, what I AM going through!!” Groaning aloud, as if in pain, Hanzo swung the bottle downward, smashing it against the balcony floor, shattering the glass. McCree’s body stiffened as he watched shards of glass explode from the clear splash of alcohol, but he made no attempt to move, not until he noticed Hanzo twisting the neck of the bottle in his fingers, pointing the broken end at himself, like a weapon. Lurching his body forward, McCree grabbed Hanzo’s wrist with one hand, the other prying the bottle away, with Hanzo offering no resistance.
After setting the glass bottle carefully aside, and away from Hanzo, McCree gently gripped the archer’s arms, around his elbows, feeling the man shaking something fierce underneath his fingers. This was seriously not good. “Hanzo, please..” McCree said softly, his words halting as Hanzo slowly looked up at him, watching fresh tears slowly spill from the other’s eyes, unblinking. Hanzo’s shoulders began heaving, his teeth grinding tightly together, fists clenched so tightly McCree feared Hanzo might split his own knuckles.
“It’s alright, Hanzo.”
The scream that tore past Hanzo’s throat stabbed through Jesse’s ears, clenching his heart and suffocating it mercilessly. McCree leaned forward, quickly wrapping both arms around Hanzo’s body, pulling him close, holding him fiercely. Hanzo screamed again, only to have it end with a spasm of sobbing that wracked his body without relief, and Hanzo cried aloud without shame. McCree continued to hold him close, his fingers gently smoothing Hanzo’s hair, whispering small, hushing sounds close to his ear, but letting him cry. Both of Hanzo’s arms wrapped around McCree’s, holding onto him tightly as if he feared that the outlaw might disappear. As if he was afraid of being left alone. Just thinking about Hanzo being by himself with the broken bottle was a horrific thought, and made McCree’s blood run cold, and he didn’t think that he could have held onto Hanzo any tighter than he was, but he managed it somehow.
Bending his head down, McCree pressed his lips to the top of Hanzo’s head, delivering the softest of kisses, his lips whispering a prayer as he did so. At this point, there was no longer any semblance of wanting to turn back, to go home. This was where he was needed to be. He had to stay. For Hanzo.
The minutes slowly crawled to over an hour as Hanzo continued to weep, and gradually, he began to relax. McCree didn’t realise how much Hanzo had been holding himself together these last few days. He could only imagine how much the other was hurting right now. Hanzo’s head slowly leaned over, pressing against McCree’s chest, over his heart. Listening to his heartbeat.
“I was.. not even thirty years of age.. when they found me..” Hanzo says a few moments later, his words broken by small, involuntary gasps for air.
McCree was a little surprised by Hanzo’s decision to speak, but he didn’t show it in any way. “Who found you?
Hanzo’s fingers gently trace the ribbed material of McCree’s undershirt, his eyes slowly closing a moment later. “The Shimada clan.”
Many thanks to Katya from the Discord Server for this heart-wrenching artwork!!
The next chapter will be entirely from Hanzo's POV. It will contain nothing but graphic depictions of violence, as well as gore, which will include excessive blood. If you do not want to read a chapter with such things, please wait until chapter 7, where it will be briefly summarized for you.
Chapter 6: Only A Shimada
If you are easily triggered by blood, gore, broken bones, and general torture, which does end in dismemberment, please do not read this chapter. It will be briefly and concisely summarized in the next chapter. Stay safe.
“Your clan?” McCree asked, confused.
Hanzo nodded, eyes remaining closed. “After I.. I killed Genji, I left my clan, and my home. But it was never part of the elders’ plan to allow me to leave quietly.”
“So.. why did you leave?”
“Because..” Hanzo paused, curling tighter against McCree’s chest, “I could no longer bear the thought of what I had done. I had to get away.”
He remembered it well, and it was one of the few things he wished he could forget. Having forsaken his entire empire and leaving with only his bow, Hanzo hadn’t quite thought out his escape very well. All he knew was that he had to leave the estate, to leave Genji’s body on the floor in a pool of congealing blood. At first it had seemed like a dream, like he thought that Genji would simply get up. But he never did. The crushing reality of his brother’s death by his own hand was what caused Hanzo to flee. Perhaps if he ran far enough, he might be able to forget what happened.
“But they did not intend to allow me to leave without repercussion.”
When the Shimada agents had located him, Hanzo knew that they did not intend to kill him. Every single person on their secret security force were trained assassins, and if his death had been their objective, he would have been taken out quickly before he would have even noticed their presence. And while he had put up a good fight, he had only but so many arrows, and he was outnumbered eight to one. Even after his bow had been taken from him, tossed aside, and shattered, Hanzo still possessed his hands and feet, and he was no stranger to martial arts, both offensive and defensive. But despite cracking a few jaws and breaking several ribs, he was still outnumbered by a group of men who matched his level of skill, and Hanzo was unable to keep up.
First came the traditional gloating, the degradation. Insults. Details of what he had done to Genji. They were not meant to break him; they were said for posterity and the satisfaction of the speaker. The once-proud heir of the Shimada empire was reduced to a kneeling captive at their feet, and they did not intend to let him ignore that fact.
Despite his quiet preparations for what he knew was to follow, Hanzo had not been anywhere close to brace himself for the physical torture that followed their simple words.
It started out menial, with punches to his face and back that were easily ignored. He hadn’t been expecting the sudden hand to the back of his head, gripping his hair and shoving him forward. The moment Hanzo’s face slammed against the floor, he saw stars in front of his eyes, tasting that sickening numb feeling in his mouth before the taste of his own blood overwhelmed his tongue. An elbow to his cheek, suppressing the urge to cry out.
“A pity that your brother won’t be here to save you.”
Fingers suddenly gripped Hanzo’s hair tightly, jerking his head backward, his body nearly snapping. A strip of black cloth was pressed against his eyes, blinding him as it was tied tightly behind his head. The knuckles that struck Hanzo behind the ear were now unexpected, and he cried out with both shock and pain. Sharp cries escaped his throat with each new hit that assaulted his body, completely unable to brace himself for any of it, as he no longer knew where it came from, nor when. The sounds of the thunder cracking outside only toyed mercilessly with his senses, giving him reason to panic when it was only nature to fear.
The fingers around his neck were sudden and swift, a mighty thumb pressing mercilessly against his throat. A dry cough became lodged in Hanzo’s throat, hearing the captain’s wicked laugh through his ringing ears. Out of nowhere a fist struck against the side of his face, and despite the numbness overtaking his head, Hanzo knew that his jaw was now fractured. The muffled, gurgling moan that penetrated the room as Hanzo felt his consciousness fading only brought about laughter from the team of men surrounding him, and his throat was released. Hanzo nearly vomited as his body lurched forward, trying to breathe in between painful coughing fits, but it wasn’t enough. The kick to back of his skull nearly caused him to pass out, as well as the second time that his face was slammed against the wooden floor by someone that he could not see.
Polished black boots were all Hanzo could vaguely hear as he laid on his side, not even trying to brace himself for impact as he heard one of them move suddenly towards him. It was almost like hearing it in slow motion, but was powerless to do anything. He felt a crunch inside his body as the steel-toed boot connected with his ribs, and Hanzo was unable to keep his scream contained. Laughter erupted; fuel for the agents that sought to harm him. Hanzo’s body curled in on itself as two more of the agents joined in, relentlessly kicking him without pause, but all that Hanzo could think about was that this was only the beginning. They hadn’t even rolled up their sleeves yet.
Time seemed to stand still as everything unfolded. It seemed to happen all at once, despite being dragged out purposefully. They were here to take their time at Hanzo’s expense, as it was their objective. But despite that, the concept of linear time seemed to have slipped out of Hanzo’s fingers, now being forced to live in a world where time was no longer a concept, and everything his body was enduring was his entire reality. Even the one agent sitting on his chest, crushing his broken ribs, and repeatedly striking his face made Hanzo feel like time was not even passing by. He actually was grateful when he began to feel himself slip into unconsciousness, hoping to avoid some of this endless torture.
Yet that was not to be.
A small bottle was shoved under his nose, the chemicals wafting through his nostrils, and Hanzo nearly screamed as he felt adrenaline surging through his veins, amplifying the pain of every injury that his body had already sustained. Hanzo’s legs snapped outward, blindly landing a solid kick to one of the agent’s gut, causing him to reel backwards, and that was all he had time to do before he felt the rope being quickly wound about his wrists and ankles. Groaning aloud, he attempted to roll his way free, but there was little to resist at this point. Hanzo’s body was already in a weakened state, despite the drug, and there was little reason to fight them anymore.
The captain seemed to know immediately when Hanzo accepted his fate, kneeling down by the heir that he had once sworn to protect. His fingers grabbed Hanzo’s chin, peering into his face. He said nothing, only smiled, and then tightened his grip as he held Hanzo’s head in place as his other hand concussed solidly against the archer’s temple.
The drug again.
He was on his knees, hunched over, his hands bound behind his back. Before Hanzo could begin to assess himself, his body did it for him. His skin felt as if it were melting right off his bones, and his insides were akin to molten rock. Everything ached, everything screamed at him. Even just drawing in a breath made Hanzo aware of his shattered ribs grinding against each other, feeling the shards of bone piercing through his flesh with every subtle move of his chest. He hoped that they would not penetrate his lungs.. and yet, at the same time, he subconsciously hoped that they would.
It was horrific, being unable to understand what was going on, merely because Hanzo could no longer think. Every thought process was terminated by the raw, agonizing pain of his abused body screaming inside his head. There was no part of him that didn’t hurt, or that did not feel broken or sticky with clotted blood. The thoughts of the men around the room, his once-relevant escape plans to break free of the ropes were now gone from his mind, swallowed by the constant tidal waves of torment stemming from his wounds.
The sudden, searing pain across his exposed back forced Hanzo to scream, not knowing what it was, nor where it came from, and the very notion of it all set his body into overdrive. The once-proud heir was reduced to a shaking pile of agony on the floor, tears soaking through the blindfold and spilling down his cheeks. Hanzo could feel them intermingling with the congealed blood on his face, his lips, dripping down onto his bared chest and slowly trailing towards his stomach. He felt the pain again, sharp, swift. A switch. Possibly from a tree. A tree branch. Hanzo could feel hot blood running down his back, quickly soaking into his pants, and he sank his teeth into his lip as the next blow hit, though he couldn’t stop his cries. He could feel his own blood spurt into his mouth from his now-mangled lips, tasting the copper on his tongue, and nearly vomiting at the aftertaste of raw fear that lingered in the back of his throat.
As the branch continued to mercilessly lay open Hanzo’s back, his screams slowly reduced to weaker cries, and then to faint whispers. Behind the blindfold, his eyes closed, rolling back into his head, letting himself fall into the inky arms of unconsciousness.
Hanzo's eyes shot open, his chest heaving as the waves of pain began overtaking his body once more, and then slowly becoming aware of what was going on. He was lying face-up, eyes wide open but still unable to see. Still blindfolded. Two hands were framing his head, as if holding him in place. There were hands gripping his arms, holding them outstretched, above his head, and his legs, too, were being stretched out straight. For a moment he feared that they intended to dismember him, but the thoughts were quickly drowned out in pathetic attempts of self-reassurance that was unmistakable on his face.
The sound of a blade being unsheathed penetrated Hanzo’s ears far more than the muddled, echoed laughter that reverberated throughout the room, and despite his efforts, he could feel his chest start to swell. Hyperventilation was possibly imminent. He had to hold himself together.
Over somewhere near his left, he listened as heavy boots occupied what little mindspace that Hanzo had left remaining, and the sounds of someone flourishing the naked blade in their hand nearly broke Hanzo’s mind with his thoughts beginning to explode like gunpowder. Repeatedly, his body tensed up, over and over again, his nerves beyond overdrive, trying to anticipate the blade against his skin.
“A shame that you had to throw everything away,” The captain’s voice rang in his eardrums, “Think of everything you could have been.. if you had only allowed yourself to stand on your own.. two.. feet.”
With the last word spoken, Hanzo had no initial reaction for what happened next. A sharp, cracking pain was felt in his lower body. His leg. Left leg. His knee. What was left of it. The scream that tore through his lips echoed dully throughout the room, bouncing off the agents that flanked Hanzo, the blood-spattered paper walls. He didn’t stop screaming. Again, and again. Again. The person holding his left leg purposely bent it, causing Hanzo to scream the word “STOP” without even intending to. He felt as if he might pass out, and he prayed to his ancestors that he might, but the bottle under his nose refused to let his prayers be heeded. Loud, broken sobbing escaped his throat, while his seizing body only served to ensure that he would feel that pain for as long as he was conscious. He could literally feel the shards of bone floating where his kneecap used to be, and if it weren’t for the drug affecting his body, he would be vomiting on the floor. Never before in his life had he felt something so painfully nauseating.
When the kashira struck his right kneecap, Hanzo felt as if he might raze the house to the ground with his screams. Not even his body being turned around to face the floor did anything for him; his body was feeling an incomprehensible amount of pain, and Hanzo could not focus on anything else other than that.
“But since you seemed intent on running away.. perhaps we will just take that which carries you.”
“PLEASE!!” Hanzo heard himself scream, almost completely unaware that he was even doing so. “Please, I beg of you!! End this!!”
“Oh, Hanzo..” He could hear the laughter mounting in the room amidst his feverish weeping, and he closed his eyes. Bracing himself for what was to come. “If you insist.”
The blade landed behind Hanzo’s knees on both legs, the folded metal becoming lodged amidst muscle tissue and bone. He couldn’t even make a single sound. Hanzo’s mouth was open wide in a silent scream, body shaking violently in the hands of his captors, both tears and blood alike still streaming from his chin onto the floor beneath him. As the blade was withdrawn, despite the chemicals affecting his system, Hanzo vomited on the floor under his body, the taste of blood mingling with stomach acid and burning his shredded lips. A loud groan penetrated the room shortly after as Hanzo was now becoming aware of the sickening sensation of blood bubbling from behind his knees, hearing it spill thickly onto the floor.
The second strike from the blade didn’t even hit where the first strike had landed, and even while screaming, Hanzo knew that it had been completely intentional. He threw up again as his fingers dug into his palms, feeling his own blood beginning to seep under his fingernails. The sword was yanked away, and Hanzo began to weep once more, having lost all control of his actions and unable to hold himself together.
With the next few strikes that followed, Hanzo was horrifically aware of the haphazard cutting patterns into his legs, and he knew that he was going to lose them. They were simply doing this repetitive part for fun, completely at his expense. Hanzo’s body was long-since limp in the agents’ hands, his swollen, bleeding lips moving ever so slightly as each weak puff of air from his lungs became a single word in a prayer of mercy.
He was not prepared to feel his left leg drop to the floor, as if the agent had let go, and felt his entire body spasm violently as he realised that it was his mangled kneecap against the blood-soaked boards. His leg was gone. Removed at the knee.
With one final swing of the sword, Hanzo’s right leg followed suit, dismembered, and his arms were then released. Hanzo’s body collapsed onto the floor, soaking himself as he laid in puddles of his own blood and vomit. The feeling of his warm blood seeping into everything that he was became the only thing he could focus on before his eyes rolled back up into his head. He never smelled the chemicals again.
“So.. they found you, and they took your.. your legs.” The words lodged in McCree’s throat, not even beginning to comprehend how Hanzo had told him all of this. He felt Hanzo curl tightly against him, as if he were trying to disappear, or to hide from the world. McCree’s arms remained securely wrapped around him, not going to let go even if God himself descended from the heavens. Hanzo’s body was trembling violently, and it was all he could do to not just start crying himself. Jesse had been in many a terrible situation, some so graphic that he would become nauseated just remembering them, but it had never been anything close to what Hanzo had told him about. What was worse was that it happened to Hanzo. He didn’t witness it. He had lived it. He survived.
McCree swallowed the lump in his throat. “What happened.. after that?”
“I do not remember.”
That was all Hanzo said, and McCree wasn’t going to urge him to say anything else. He could only imagine what Hanzo must be pushing through just to speak a few words, much less tell him all that he had endured. McCree could feel Hanzo’s body weighing heavily against his chest, and wondered what it must be like for Hanzo to have finally been able to tell someone about those things. How long had he been holding that in? Jesse could only assume for years. If McCree was the first one to hear about it, then Hanzo had been keeping everything inside for over twenty years. It was no wonder he had had such a violent emotional attack. It was no wonder that he drank the way he did. Just glancing down at Hanzo’s legs now led to a wave of sympathy, which he knew that the other wouldn’t appreciate, but it wasn’t like he was going to say anything about it to begin with. Jesse had lost his arm due to a skirmish, but he couldn’t have imagined losing his legs the way Hanzo had. It was nauseating to think about. He decided to stop thinking about it.
Loosely crossing his legs in front of Hanzo’s body, McCree carefully wrapped his arms around the other once more, reaffirming his hold. With his right hand pressed against Hanzo’s back, and his left resting gently atop his head, he held Hanzo close. In his arms, Hanzo wept freely, not sobbing as much as he was simply crying. The weight of atrocities past were finally off his shoulders, and they now rested on Jesse’s, and he’d be lying if he said that they weren’t a heavy burden to carry. But Hanzo had bore them for far too long, and Jesse wouldn’t hesitate to carry them if it meant that Hanzo would have time to heal. He needed it. Sorely.
And McCree intended to do just that.
Blinking, McCree looked down, his fingers instinctively smoothing the archer’s hair. “No, Hanzo. There’s nothin’ you have to apologize for. Not a damn thing.”
He could feel Hanzo’s body become deadweight in his arms, his cheek pressed against McCree’s chest, arms limp at his sides. But just glancing down, he noticed Hanzo struggling to keep his eyes open, tears still spilling down his cheeks.
"It's alright, Hanzo," McCree said softly, "You’ve been through a lot to handle all of that." He gently brushed his metallic fingers across Hanzo’s hair, smoothing it into place. "I’ll be here to watch over you; that’s a promise."
"You’re not what?"
Hanzo closed his eyes, sinking completely into McCree’s protective hold. "Weak."
Jesse held him close, slowly tightening his arms around Hanzo, but not enough to smother him. "No, Hanzo. Not weak at all."
McCree continued his gentle, comforting motions, keeping his fingers brushing against Hanzo’s unbound hair, his other hand slowly rubbing the archer’s back. It wasn’t unlike him to show this sort of affection to someone; McCree was as softhearted as anyone, and he dearly loved to lavish care and affections on anyone that he held dear to his heart, but this was different. Hanzo was different. They weren’t lovers of any sort. Hell, they weren’t really even friends. But there was something about Hanzo that tugged at Jesse’s heartstrings, and with everything that he’d learned about the other over the past few days, especially tonight, it awakened McCree’s deepest protective instincts. While there wasn’t anything physical to protect Hanzo from, in theory, he was more than willing to protect Hanzo from himself, from his thoughts. Just remembering the way Hanzo had held that bottle in his hand gave McCree the chills, trying not to wonder what Hanzo might have done with it had he not taken it away.
In all reality, there was no way that he could even begin to fathom that which was Hanzo Shimada. Every previous opinion and idle thought that he’d ever formed about Hanzo now had to be tossed out, discarded. He once thought Hanzo was an overly-proud, emotionless man, incapable of empathy or care. It was the opposite. No one that McCree knew of had ever taken the time to understand Hanzo, while they would have silently grumped over the fact that Hanzo would distance himself. Now he knew why. McCree wondered if Genji knew of anything that had happened, but knowing Hanzo and his relationship to his brother, it was likely that he would never have spoken to Genji about it, and Jesse wasn’t going to tell Genji either. That was Hanzo’s story to tell; McCree was just going to carry it for him until he no longer had to.
Hanzo was quiet now. Judging by the archer’s steady, even breathing, McCree knew that Hanzo had fallen asleep. He needed it. Regardless, the cold night air gusting over their bodies was no help at all, and Jesse knew that they couldn’t stay out there on the balcony. He waited a few moments before moving, slowly unfolding his legs from around Hanzo before tucking his arms underneath the archer’s body. One arm under Hanzo’s knees, the other under his arms, and McCree slowly, carefully rose to his feet, lifting Hanzo off the floor, into his arms.
McCree was no stranger to carrying people; he’d done so more times than he could remember on the battlefield. However, there was something to be said about carrying Hanzo like this. Hanzo had just told McCree pieces of his past that, if Jesse was any sort of dishonorable man, could use to completely ruin Hanzo. Hanzo had opened himself up, which now left him raw and vulnerable. Hanzo trusted McCree. Perhaps McCree was all Hanzo had left.
Placing one foot in front of the other, Jesse carried Hanzo back into the bedroom, taking care not to wake him by awkwardly bumping into walls at the sudden blindness by walking into the pitch-black hallways. He was rather meticulous the way he put Hanzo back into the bed, making sure that the blankets and everything else were just so. He fussed endlessly. McCree didn’t hesitate to get back into bed himself, still incredibly tired. Before he closed his eyes, he turned his head to look over in Hanzo’s direction, bit his lip, and then whispered a profanity or two before scooting closer to the sleeping archer. Again, so carefully, Jesse hooked his arms underneath Hanzo’s body, pulling Hanzo up ever so gently so that his upper body was resting against the outlaw’s chest. He felt Hanzo’s fingers gently curl against his ribs, smiling as he brushed the silvery hair back from the other’s face.
“I’ve got you, Hanzo.”
He didn’t much like rice, but it was the only thing that Hanzo had in his kitchen that he knew he couldn’t mess up too badly. It was late in the afternoon, and Hanzo was still asleep in bed, and while Jesse didn’t want to leave, his stomach was suffering from his poor eating habits. Aside from the rice, Hanzo had a nice selection of vegetables, but Jesse wasn’t one to eat horse food. He also wasn’t one much for fish, either. So he ate rice. It was sticky, overcooked, and had too much salt in it, but he ate it anyway. At least he knew how to use chopsticks.
Sitting on the countertop, legs dangling, heels occasionally thumping gently against the cabinets below, McCree looked like the poster child for contentment, but he was anything but content. If anything, he was worried sick about Hanzo. Jesse shoveled another clump of rice into his mouth, chewing it more than was necessary, his mind occupied with loose ideas about how to proceed with whatever he might call the situation that he was currently in. For starters, he couldn’t leave. He didn’t even want to go back to his hotel to get a fresh change of clothes. What if Hanzo woke up while he was gone and wondered why Jesse had abandoned him? Worse, what if he tried to harm himself again? Just that thought alone made McCree put down the bowl and head back towards the bedroom, wanting to check on Hanzo, just to be safe.
Sliding open the paper door revealed Hanzo to be awake. He was lying face-up in bed, one hand lying atop his belly, the other at his side. His eyes slid over to look at Jesse, and then flicked back up towards the ceiling. He said nothing.
“Hey..” McCree said quietly, taking a few steps into the bedroom, “How are you feeling?”
Hanzo didn’t speak, but rather kept looking up at the ceiling for a few moments. Jesse watched as he shut his eyes tightly, as if in pain, and then became alarmed at the tears that began leaking from behind Hanzo’s closed eyes.
“Whoa, whoa.. hey..” He quickly pattered forward, kneeling down by the bed, placing both arms on top of the mattress. “Hanzo.. are you alright?” It was a stupid question. Of course Hanzo wasn’t alright. McCree’s question was rewarded with justified silence, and he deserved that.
“Are you hungry, by any chance? I made some rice. It’s not real good, but I’d make a new batch, if ya want it.”
Again, Hanzo made no reply, only continuing to lay there in the bed, eyes closed, tears spilling against his will. Under normal circumstances, McCree probably would have felt awkward and uncomfortable, but as it stood, he only wanted to help, no matter what he had to do.
“If you need anything, anything at all, I’m gonna be here, alright? I ain’t goin’ anywhere.”
This time he anticipated no response from Hanzo, and was correct in doing so. It didn’t anger McCree in the slightest; rather, it only made him all the more concerned. Hanzo was hardly holding onto anything at this point, and it was now his job to make sure that he would do anything within his power to make sure that Hanzo would be alright. It wasn’t a matter of feeling like he owed Hanzo something. This was a matter of him caring about Hanzo. He didn’t really understand why, but he did. Perhaps it was the biggest pain in his ass that he’d come across in awhile, but he’d be damned if he just left.
And so he petitioned Hanzo’s security staff for assistance. It took him nearly an hour of pleading and rather colourful language to get them to agree to send someone to his hotel to get his things. Having clean clothes to change into was nice, but Jesse decided to shower first.
The shower was a bit odd, quite different than what Jesse was used to. There was a tub, and then off to the side, a wide wooden bench of sorts to sit on, with the shower above it. It was rather awkward to get used to, but the water was so hot and inviting that Jesse ended up not caring all that much after about five minutes in. Drying off afterwards only led him to realise that the agents hadn’t brought him back his hairbrush. For someone with hair past his shoulder blades, McCree was quite put out at this notion. It was rather difficult to comb it all out with his fingers, so he opted to let it hang loose, spilling in front of and behind his shoulders in a damp, lightly-tangled mess. It would dry on its own over time. He’d deal with it then.
Hanzo was still lying in bed when McCree peeked into the bedroom, his towel hanging loosely around his shoulders to soak up the water that clung to the ends of his hair. He gripped the ends of the towel in both hands, walking into the bedroom before giving Hanzo a shy little wave. The same one as he always did. “How are ya feelin’ over there?”
As he expected, Hanzo still said nothing. He was no longer crying, but his reddened cheeks and swollen eyes told McCree that he had been doing so earlier. McCree stopped a few steps in, scrunching his toes against the hardwood floor for a moment before clearing his throat. “Do ya want some company? I won’t intrude if ya don’t.”
If McCree hadn’t trained himself for years to never miss even the slightest of details, he wouldn’t have noticed the incredibly subtle nod from Hanzo. The archer had barely moved at all, but McCree had seen it. “Thank you kindly,” he said with a smile, reaffirming his grip on the towel. “Mind if I sit with ya? It’s okay if you don’t want me to.” This time Hanzo shook his head, a bit more noticeable than before, and McCree took a seat on the floor. He began rubbing the towel through his hair again, trying to appear casual.
“I talked to some of your staff. Real jovial people, they are. They brought me some of my stuff from the hotel, ‘cause I planned on stickin’ around here for awhile. If that’s okay, I mean.” He had figured it would be. Hanzo would be a fool to refuse. And judging by the very gentle nod of the archer’s head, Jesse had his proverbial green light.
“Mighty kind of ya, I’ll say,” He said cheerily, now trying to drag his fingers through his long hair once again, making a shoddy attempt to comb out the wet tangles, “I had a look around your estate earlier. It’s just as beautiful as I remembered it from years ago.”
He watched as Hanzo flicked his eyes back up at the ceiling, closing them only seconds later. At this point, McCree knew that Hanzo probably wasn't going to speak to him at all, but he didn't mind that so much. He could do enough talking for the both of them if he had to. Anything to keep Hanzo's mind from wandering back into the realms of the undesirable.
If there was anything Jesse McCree was good at doing, it was talking. He loved to talk. He could ramble on about nothing in particular for hours on end and still have more to say when all was said and done. And so he just talked to Hanzo. He told Hanzo about how he used to ride the rails. About traditional pistol duels he had been in, and won. He talked about his first horse. Even though Hanzo never said anything, Jesse would catch the archer glancing in his direction from time to time when he would take a few moments to catch his breath. So he rambled on, keeping his topics to lighthearted and neutral things, not wanting to bring Hanzo down.
As the hours ticked by, McCree slowly began to realise that it was well-past suppertime. He patted his stomach, feeling it rumble slightly, and it entered his head that even though he had eaten rice earlier that day, Hanzo hadn’t eaten anything. He felt awful. Just asking Hanzo what if wanted to eat rewarded him with silence, and Jesse knew that he wouldn’t be able to get Hanzo to tell him WHAT he wanted to eat, either.
He excused himself to the kitchen, searching through the pantry for something that Hanzo might want to eat. There was no way in hell that he was going to make rice again. Jesse idly wondered when the last time Hanzo had eaten had been. The sake Hanzo had consumed last night probably attributed to why the archer had remained in bed all day, but it seemed a bit more than that. It was almost as if Hanzo had told Jesse everything that weighed him down, and now his body couldn’t handle the release. It wasn’t a comforting thought to think about. Jesse set a pot on the stove while he continued to ponder what had happened last night, shivering slightly as he remembered how Hanzo had shouted at him. The glint in his eyes. The broken glass. It had been just a taste of a nightmare, and he now bore the nightmare that Hanzo lived every day. Truly, none of this was what McCree had been expecting from what he’d intended as a quick visit to Hanamura, but it didn’t mean that he wasn’t intent on staying. He was.
Miso soup. Or at the very least, miso broth. Jesse didn’t know what Hanzo would want to eat, and he sure as hell didn’t feel like trying to cook something and mess that up as well, so broth was the way to go. Besides, if Hanzo really hadn’t been eating, something gentle on his stomach would be best. Probably a good idea for someone who had been drinking all night, anyway. He ladled a generous amount into a porcelain bowl, found a flat-bottomed spoon, and put them onto the tray that he found in one of the cupboards. A cloth napkin and a glass of water were added as well, and Jesse made his way back to the bedroom.
As expected, Hanzo was still lying there. Staring at the ceiling. It was concerning.
“I brought you something for supper, and you’re going to eat it.”
Hanzo remained silent, closing his eyes instead of acknowledging Jesse.
McCree shook his head, setting the tray on the bedside table before climbing onto the bed. “I’m sorry, that wasn’t a friendly suggestion. That was me tellin’ you that you’re gonna eat. Now you gotta sit up.”
Of course, Hanzo made no move to do as Jesse said, so he did it for him. Sliding an arm underneath Hanzo’s upper body, McCree hoisted him up, letting his back lean against the wall, propped up nicely. He made sure to keep the blankets pulled up over Hanzo’s legs, and then sat on the bed next to the archer, holding the tray in his lap. At this point, Jesse wasn’t even going to hand the tray over to Hanzo; it was a lost cause, and he knew it. He dipped the spoon into the broth, pulling it out and watching it steam for a minute before blowing on it, as if he were about to feed a child. He might as well be at this point.
Leaning forward, he held the spoon over towards Hanzo, noting the clear look of disdain on his face. He felt bad, knowing that this felt like he was babying Hanzo, but he couldn’t just let the man starve to death. He couldn’t even help himself at this point.
“Look, Hanzo,” Jesse began, lowering the spoon just a little bit, “I know things are rough right now. You don’t gotta talk to me or nothin’, but I really, really think that you should eat something. You’re just gonna wither away if you don’t, and I’m not about to let that happen to ya.”
Hanzo slowly looked over at him, eyes blinking a few times as if he were trying to hold back tears. He remained silent, but he did nod just a little. It was okay.
Smiling just a bit, Jesse offered the spoon back up, closer to Hanzo’s lips, who leaned forward just enough to quietly slurp the broth up. It dribbled down his chin, trailing down his neck, and McCree was glad that he’d brought the napkin as he patted it against Hanzo’s skin. From there on out, he held the napkin under Hanzo’s chin as he fed him spoonfuls of the broth, catching the spills. While Hanzo didn’t seem overly-enthusiastic about eating, he was eating, and Jesse was beyond grateful that he was doing even that much. If Hanzo had refused to eat, Jesse probably would have propped his mouth open with chopsticks and would have forced him to eat. It was nice that he didn’t have to worry about that, although the thought was mildly funny to keep.
He was relieved when the last spoonful of soup had been eaten. Honestly, he hadn’t expected Hanzo to eat more than just a little bit at first, but the archer must have been seriously hungry. Still holding the napkin under Hanzo’s chin, Jesse carefully held the glass of water to his lips, still cautious. Hanzo sipped the water greedily, Jesse straining to catch the rivulets that spilled from around the edges of the cup, not quite making it into Hanzo’s mouth properly. He didn’t mind.
This entire exchange between them had been silent, since McCree couldn’t really think of anything to say that wouldn’t sound condescending or infantilizing in hindsight, so he simply didn’t speak. Hanzo seemed grateful for this, judging by the way his eyes seemed to soften as he looked at Jesse. He still didn’t speak, but McCree was now beginning to look for the small details of communication that Hanzo would deliver in lieu of words. He didn’t need to speak at all. Jesse would just make sure to give Hanzo as much attention and care as he needed, and would watch for the small signs in the meantime.
Sorry it's so short ; -;
Next chapter will be better, probably. Things have been hard.
Chapter 8: Defined By Mountains Moving
Despite how McCree wished he could say that things at the Shimada estate were going well, he’d just be lying through his teeth if he said so. Four days had passed since Hanzo’s episode on the balcony, and things were not going as well as he had hoped they would. The cheesy montage of a healing process that had initially passed through his head had been little more than a sick excuse of a joke, and Hanzo was unfortunately at the center of it. There was nothing that he could do, nothing. The most he had been able to do was get Hanzo to eat, and even then, the archer refused to let anything other than soup, rice, and water into his mouth. Jesse was at a dead end. It was scary not knowing what to do in a situation like this. If he played his cards wrong now, after all that had happened, he was going to lose Hanzo. That could not be allowed to happen.
In his desperation, he used his communicator to contact Angela, who was still at the Overwatch base. It was comforting to hear her voice. He could hear the age in her tone, but she was still the same snappy, lovely woman that he’d met years ago. He pretty much poured his entire heart out to her, which was mostly what was happening to Hanzo, not so much himself. Naturally, she was concerned, especially with how little Hanzo was eating and sleeping.
“And he won’t eat anything else?”
“Believe me, I’ve tried,” Jesse said, pinching the bridge of his nose, “And it ain’t because I’m a bad cook or nothin’ I swear; the man just refuses to eat anything substantial. I can hear his stomach makin’ noises like it’s a thunderstorm in Kansas, but he refuses to let me feed him anything else.”
He could hear Angela exhale slowly, mostly likely wracking her brains to think of something. “When was the last time he had a shower?”
“He had a what?”
“A shower, McCree. A bath. When was the last time he was able to get cleaned up?”
Angela’s words echoed dully in McCree’s head, almost having to sit down as he thought about the fact that not once over these past few days had Hanzo not gotten out of bed to bathe. It made him feel immensely guilty, since he himself took a shower every damn day and left Hanzo there by himself. It was goddamned inhumane.
“.. he ain’t.”
“Well there you have it, you big idiot,” Angela retorted, and McCree could have sworn that he heard papers flying around in the background through the communicator, “Get that poor man out of bed. Draw him a bath, don’t make him stand to shower. His muscles will atrophy at this point if you keep treating him like a handicapped person. Shame on you, Jesse McCree.”
Physically recoiling, McCree gripped the communicator in his fist as he rose to his feet, stomping off towards the bathroom. “For your information, Doc, I ain’t no caretaker. I don’t know what the hellfuck I’m doin’ here. I’m just tryin’ my best and since it ain’t good enough, I called ya. I don’t need no lecture when I know I’m already doin’ shit wrong, a’ight?”
“Alright, fair enough. But you should be trying to do more than you are.”
“And why the hell do you think I called ya? That’s what I’m tryin’ to say, Angie.” His accent always came out at its worst when Jesse was under stress. It was sometimes downright embarrassing, but he wasn’t one to mind. Stepping into the bathroom, he began filling the tub with water, idly looking around for something like salts to put into it.
Another sigh from Angela. “If you need any more help, you can always call me.”
“If I need help, I’ll call ya, but if I was lookin’ for free criticisms, I would'a just called Reyes.” In the cabinet near the sink, McCree found a glass container of bath salts, which he sprinkled liberally into the running water. “Ya sound like you’re about to hang up on me.”
“I actually must, unfortunately,” Angela responded, leaving McCree to roll his eyes, “Lena, Winston, and Hana and I are about to embark on a short trip with some of these newer recruits. They’re a bit of a handful, but Hana and Lena seem to love their company.”
McCree sat on the edge of the tub, toying with the container in his hand, and trying not to sigh into the communicator. “Sounds like a real good time out there.”
Angela giggled softly, making Jesse smile just a little bit. “I wish you could have come.. but what you’re doing is more important than being here for the fun. I’m glad you’re there for Hanzo, Jesse; I really am.”
“Do you know..” McCree paused, licking his lips for a moment before continuing. “Do you know where Genji might happen to be?”
“Last I heard from Winston, he and Zenyatta journeyed back to Nepal together about four months ago. Neither of them have answered their communicators, so I can either assume that they’re too busy, or they just ignore them so that they can meditate or whatever it is that they do.”
“Chin up, McCree,” she continued, and Jesse could hear laughing in the background, the voices belonging to people that he’d never met before. “Just get that poor man into a bath. He needs it.”
“Yeah, I will.”
After a quick goodbye, McCree just stared at the communicator in his hands, the sounds of the running water barely registering in his head. Even knowing it was futile, he began searching through the list of Overwatch members in the pre-established list, to send a message. Bringing up the holographic interface, he began to type out a message, only to hesitate, staring at it. After a moment, he just held down the backspace key, feeling the energy of the 3D button bending under his finger. A written message was just so.. informal.
He brought up the voice communicator, electing to just send a verbal message instead of just trying to ping away. But as he opened his mouth to speak, McCree found himself without a word to his name left to say. There was nothing that he could say to Genji right now that could even cover what was happening here. Jesse felt his throat click as he swallowed, resorting to biting his lip before he severed the communication link. Clenching the device tightly in his fist, Jesse swore out loud, hearing his tones being lost in the sounds of the water splashing into the tub. It smelled nice, at least.
Shutting the water off, McCree tossed the communicator over towards the sink, not even caring that it fell into the bowl. It was dry. It would be fine.
Hanzo was still in bed, same as he’d been all damn week. His back was resting against the wall, hands in his lap, staring at nothing in particular. It was almost like watching a corpse that still somehow drew breath. Jesse took a deep breath, crossing the threshold and over towards the bed.
“I drew you a bath. You need to get out of bed, Hanzo.”
The archer, as expected, did not respond, but the slight tick of his eyebrow told McCree that he wasn’t interested. Typical. Jesse shoved his hands against the blanket, pulling it off Hanzo’s body, revealing his prosthetic legs. He’d forgotten about those.
Chewing his lip, Jesse sat on the edge of the bed, turning his body to face Hanzo’s. “Look partner, you’re just wastin’ yourself away by lyin’ here, and I can’t let you be doin’ that no more. At least not today. I done made you a nice bath and you’re gonna get in it and you’ll feel a helluva lot better.”
Slowly, he rested a hand atop Hanzo’s right leg, the coldness of the carbon steel chilling his fingers. Hanzo visibly flinched. “Is it okay if these get submerged in water?” His own arm, though waterproof, didn’t do well when held under water completely for elongated periods of time. Hanzo’s gentle head shake told him that his legs were no different.
“Will you allow me to remove them?”
The sudden flash of anger across Hanzo’s eyes caused McCree to lift his hand from the archer’s leg, resting it in his own lap. He knew how it felt; he was broken, too. Having a bullet shatter his elbow after its ripple effect through his forearm and down to his fingers hadn’t allowed for much recovery. There hadn’t even been an attempt to do so. He’d just lost the arm and that was that. His fingers idly brushed against the polished steel surface, metallic fingers flexing in response. There was no feeling in the arm, no sensory receptors. He couldn’t have afforded that fancy shit then, and he was too old to care about it now. And while it was very rare for him to really notice the fact that he was handicapped in this way, it had to be different for Hanzo. McCree could go about his life fairly easily without his arm, but Hanzo wasn’t the same. Without his legs, he became immobile. He would lose his means of freedom. Confined. Like he was now. It nearly broke McCree’s heart just trying to comprehend it.
Perhaps that was what prompted his next actions, for if you were to ask him about it later, he couldn't offer you a single answer.
The archer’s eyes shifted over to look at McCree as the outlaw’s fingers moved up his own arm, past his elbow, touching the edges of the metal prosthetic. Jesse bit his lip, hesitating for a moment before activating the unlocking mechanism, hearing the soft hiss as the seal loosened around his skin. The lights in his arm flickered for a moment, and then went completely dark as he gripped the arm in his other hand, again pausing for a moment before pulling it off.
Hanzo stared at him, as if in awe, his eyes locked on the stump that was concealed under the arm that McCree now held in his hand. Jesse watched as Hanzo swallowed hard a few times his right hand slowly inching over towards the outlaw. The archer’s hand trembled as he lifted it, moving it towards McCree’s arm before stopping, fingers curling in a quick withdraw. He glanced over at Jesse, his lips silent but his eyes speaking everything all at once. Quickly understanding, but hesitantly deciding, McCree gave a slow, careful nod, closing his eyes. He didn’t want to see this.
Now blinded, he had no idea what was happening. The feeling of Hanzo’s fingertips pressing against his skin sent electric surges through his body, shuddering just a little bit. He could feel Hanzo retract, but he slowly came back, this time a bit more confident. Hanzo’s thumb hesitantly slid down his arm, sliding under the folded skin under the stump that Jesse loathed so damn much. Rubbing it. Caressing, even.
Never before had Jesse allowed anyone to touch his arm like this. Never. He’d never even considered it. Only a very select few people had seem him without the prosthetic; no one had ever been able to get their fingers close enough to touch it. Why now. Why Hanzo. Why Hanzo Shimada. Why. He couldn’t understand it, and the emotions that encompassed the situation threatened to capsize the sinking vessel that was Jesse McCree’s willpower. His fingers dug mercilessly into the plated arm that he held in his grip, arm nearly shaking as he forced his head to clear itself, or at least he attempted.
Hanzo’s fingers gently slipped under his arm, as if he were holding someone’s hand, gently squeezing the scarred stump as his thumb rubbed along the edge. It felt like the archer was.. fascinated with the idea that McCree was like this. They had something more in common than they thought, perhaps. Of course, it was always obvious that they both had missing limbs, but until the pieces were removed, it was always easy to forget.
At least it was for McCree.
He could feel his chest tightening as he tried to keep his breathing steady, and despite his eyes still being forcefully closed, he could feel tears building up. Hanzo probably had no idea that his idle curiosity was causing McCree overwhelming amounts of emotional agony that he had never foreseen coming, but the way that his fingers gently rubbed the skin silently told McCree that perhaps he was trying to understand.
The thought alone threatened to break him, and break him, it did.
The sob that caught itself in the back of his throat was the final straw, and Jesse McCree’s body leaned forward, doubling over, his arm pressing into Hanzo’s hand with his movement as his forehead pressed against the sheets. Inside his head, a war waged within, most of the fighting resulting from his own self-berating. What was even happening? Never in all of his sixty-eight years had something like this ever happened to him. Crying was one thing, but sobbing over the arm that he’d been missing for over half his life was something else entirely. And what was worse is that he was supposed to be the strong one here. Hanzo was the one who was suffering and needed comfort. Hanzo was the one who needed someone to help him get out of bed and help him recover what shred of humanity he might have left to his name.
And yet McCree was the one lying hunched over, his entire body shaking under the weight of the world that he carried on his aging shoulders.
Hesitant fingers curled around his arm once more, and then joined by Hanzo’s other hand, holding onto Jesse’s arm as if he were the only thing that anchored Hanzo to what was left of the world. But despite what McCree wanted to focus on, the only thing that occupied his head were his own sobs that filled his ears and threatened to make him deaf from his own violent emotional distress.
Never had this happened before.
The fingers in his hair gave him pause, if only for a moment, flinching underneath the gentle touch by instinct. Hanzo made no move to stroke or smooth his hair, but was rather more content to let his hand rest there, fingertips just barely pushed through the soft, greying strands.
“I feel.. that I have been a terrible host once again,” he heard Hanzo say, his voice low and crumbly. “You have given me everything that you have to give, and yet I’ve given you nothing in return.”
McCree wanted to reply, but he knew that if he opened his mouth, the sobs would drown out any word that would touch his lips and only make things worse. Hanzo seemed to understand.
Hanzo’s fingers slowly rubbed underneath his stump; gently, almost lovingly. “You are a man who has always served others. I know about the things you’ve done in the past; your file at Overwatch was quite.. extensive.”
He knew it was. And it didn’t surprise him none that Hanzo had read it already.
“But.. for all that you’ve done for people, with your guns and your code of conduct, you’ve given me a lot more with just your words and your actions.”
The archer’s fingertips slipped through his hair, stroking the strands all the way down to his back.
“There is no honor in robbing a man of all he has to offer and then scorning him under the pretense of an excuse that serves no purpose to anyone.”
Hanzo’s words, though simple, nearly threatened to make Jesse’s tears begin anew, feeling the crushing weight from his chest just melting away, like snow. There was a slight pang inside his chest as he felt Hanzo’s hands withdraw, only to then freeze as he heard a faint metallic clack. And again. The unmistakable hiss of air rushing into a previously-sealed prosthetic limb. He kept his head down, though, forehead pressed against the bed, despite his stupid tears having soaked into the sheets.
“I have been selfish. Blinded, even.”
As Hanzo spoke, Jesse could hear him removing the locking mechanism from one leg, and then the other.
“I never once thought about how you might feel; I focused on only myself.”
The sound of carbon steel clicking against itself reached Jesse’s ears amidst the archer’s simple words, and he could only assume that Hanzo had removed both prosthetics, putting them together to set them aside. He still didn’t look up.
Hanzo paused for a moment, hesitating before speaking one final time. “You are in pain, too.”
And he was.
McCree would never outright admit something like that, not to anyone. Hell, not even to himself. Perhaps that was a good bit of the reasoning behind why he was laying on the bed like this. Hanzo drank to suppress traumatic memories; McCree bit his tongue to keep everyone from finding out how he felt. It was almost funny, finding out that he had more in common with Hanzo Shimada than he would ever have thought. Perhaps it wasn’t the best set of traits to share, but at least they had a deep sense of mutual understanding between the both of them. It was a start.
But there was something to be said about the silence that hung between them, only broken by the muffled sobs that pressed into the pale blue sheets as McCree tried to regain control of himself. He could feel Hanzo’s fingers press through his hair once again, just contentedly smoothing the soft strands, like he had done for Hanzo only a few nights before.
“You carry the weight of a thousand men on your shoulders,” Hanzo whispered, “Has no one ever carried yourself?
McCree made no reply this time, just trying to focus on one thing at a time, which was evening his breathing, and even that wasn’t going quite so well. He did, however, shake his head, as much as he could with his forehead pressed against the bed, as it were.
Hanzo huffed, his fingers curling in Jesse’s long hair momentarily. “Then they do not deserve you.”
Sniffling, Jesse slowly sat up, rubbing the back of his forearm across his face before brushing his tears away. With everything that had happened lately, he couldn’t find it within himself to feel shame for weeping. It was just a thing that had happened; nothing would change that.
In his own way, the archer had apologised, and while McCree was prepared to tell him that it wasn’t needed, Hanzo’s eyes carried the smile that the rest of his face could not make. That was all Jesse needed to see.
“Come on then,” Hanzo nodded, pushing himself up with his knuckles pressed against the bed, “I do not wish to bathe in cold water.”
Cracking a small smile, Jesse took a deep breath, though shaky, and slid off the bed. Hanzo scooted over towards him, using his arms to lift his lower body from the bed to push himself forward. Carefully, McCree slid his good arm underneath Hanzo’s thighs, letting the archer’s upper body rest against what was left of his arm. It may not be a full arm, but there was still muscle left in it, and Jesse carried the man with no struggle down the hall, into the bathroom.
The water was still warm, even a bit steamy as well. The salts gave it a translucent, almost milky appearance, but Hanzo didn’t seem to mind. Jesse sat the archer on the edge of the tub, only mildly entertaining the thought of dropping him in there with his clothes still on. The kyudo-gi was slowly slipped off Hanzo’s shoulders, pooling neatly around his seated form until Jesse gathered it up. No sense in getting it wet. His pants, too, were taken by McCree after Hanzo removed them, folding them up nicely for him to wear after.
Luckily for McCree, he was able to avoid the awkward situation of getting Hanzo into the tub altogether, seeing as how the archer all but heaved himself in. Water smacked the sides of the tub in miniature tidal waves, out of the tub and splashing onto the cold tiled floor. Again, Jesse paid it no mind, and he was prepared to leave the bathroom when a hand gripped his own, dripping with warm water.
Those sharp, umber eyes threatened to chip away at Jesse McCree’s very foundations. He looked into them for longer than was probably necessary, but Hanzo never broke their gaze. One man to the other, eyes locked, fingers curled together. Jesse could feel his chest swelling.
“Alright then, I’ll be right here.”
For the first time in a long while, Hanzo smiled like he hadn't before.
Thank you so much to Minghii for re-creating probably the most heartbreaking thing I've ever written. Beautiful artwork!!
Chapter 9: Oh Simple Thing
Perhaps it wasn’t the turnaround he had initially hoped for, but McCree wasn’t going to say that he wasn’t pleased with how things were going. Hanzo still spent time in bed, but his frustrating periods of silence were now few and far between. The bedroom was now little more than a central hub for the two of them, where Jesse would bring Hanzo his meals, sit and chat, and occasionally nap. The outlaw had decided to occupy one of the empty bedrooms within the estate, allowing Hanzo to have his needed space, and the archer seemed to appreciate it, even though he never ever said so out loud. And while Jesse preferred to sleep in that bedroom, there were a few instances when he would fall asleep in the corner chair in the room, the sunlight from the window warming his body. He was too old for this.
Hanzo didn’t do a lot in terms of activity, but there wasn’t much that McCree would ask of him, as it were. Instead of lying in bed and staring at the ceiling, Hanzo spent a lot of his time reading. There were books stacked on the floor, on the bedside table, and scattered all over the bed, even while he slept. McCree wasn’t sure if he was actually reading them, or was just trying to distract himself. Regardless of his intentions, Jesse was just glad that Hanzo was at least doing something with his time. And if Hanzo wasn’t reading, he was meditating or sleeping. There were times when he would sit and stare at the ceiling, but it wasn’t anywhere near as frequent as it used to be. Sometimes it was jarring to think about the Hanzo on the balcony compared to the Hanzo wrapped up in a blanket with a cup of tea in one hand and a book in the other; the difference between the two was damn near day and night.
At least Hanzo was now able to get himself to the washroom to bathe; Jesse could now avoid that situation altogether.
As such, Jesse found fewer reasons to contact Genji as the days passed, feeling like everything was slowly settling into a mellow yet contentful routine. He would wake up in the morning, shower, make breakfast, and the rest of the day would be up to Hanzo. If Hanzo decided that he wanted to read, it was usually a sure sign that Jesse would spend a lot of time in the room with him, tucked up in the chair, not doing much of anything. All of Hanzo’s books were in Japanese, so there wasn’t much McCree could do about that, but if there was something he found that he liked doing, it was just sitting and watching. He loved details, always had, and always would. Things like the way the sunlight filtered through the paper walls, or illuminated the small imperfections in the wooden floor. He liked how just the corners of the pale blue sheets would just barely touch the floor, or how the blankets bundled up around Hanzo when he was sitting up and reading. The slight reflection of the Japanese characters reflected in Hanzo’s reading glasses, the faint wisps of vapor rising from his teacup, and the way his fingers would carefully turn each page. Nothing missed Jesse’s sight, and it was almost hard to realise how much time he spent watching Hanzo alone, memorizing the little things that might go unnoticed by anyone else.
At this point, he had bypassed the “I could get used to this” phase, and had moved onto feeling like this was going to be his every day for the rest of his life.
He didn’t mind.
“You’re doing it again.”
McCree blinked. “Doing what?”
“You are watching me.”
Blinking again, McCree let his eyes come into focus, realising that he was indeed looking at Hanzo. “Sorry ‘bout that. Guess I was dozin’ off a bit.”
“You are an old man, McCree,” Hanzo chided, the faintest semblance of a smile hidden behind his lips.
“Ah-yup, and so are you.”
It was hard not to notice the other’s aging. What Hanzo lacked in wrinkles, he made up with silvery-white hair, slumped shoulders, and a tired, nearly-defeated look on his face. Despite how well Hanzo was doing in terms of wellness, it still bothered Jesse that the archer was almost constantly worn down, even though he didn’t do much. Depression, Jesse knew, was harder than a gunfight to live with, because it was a constant mental battle to fight, and feel like you are losing no matter what you do. But to combine that with his PTSD, plus the fact that Hanzo was an alcoholic, McCree couldn’t even begin to imagine what was going on inside Hanzo’s mind. Still, it was comforting to think about the fact that Hanzo hadn’t touched a drop of sake since that night on the balcony. He would grumble, mutter under his breath about how he wanted just a sip, but he was a strong man. Jesse could still easily see how it was affecting him, though. Going cold turkey on an addiction was never a good idea, but he was pleasantly surprised by how well Hanzo was doing with himself, all things considered.
“Are you even listening to me, McCree?” Hanzo’s low voice cut into his muddled thoughts, nearly startling the outlaw out of his wits.
Rubbing his eyes, Jesse uncrossed his legs, leaning forward in the chair. “I’m sorry, Hanzo. I must be more out of it than I thought.”
Hanzo rolled his eyes in response, slowly swinging his legs out of bed and standing up. The blanket fell from his shoulders, revealing his bare shoulders. Jesse would be lying if he said that he grew tired of seeing them. The archer stretched, pulling his arms behind his head, huffing as he did so.
“As I was saying, and as you were disregarding, I want to go out.”
“Yes, you know. Outside. Where things are.”
Pulling his serape off his lap, McCree stood up as well, leaning down to touch his toes, which grew harder as the years ticked by. “Well where are you thinking of? I mean, I’m fine with getting out for awhile; might do both of us some good.”
Hanzo opened his wardrobe, pushing his arms through the rows of clothing. “There is a festival in Hanamura this evening, the Tanabata . We always observe it on the seventh of July, respectively.”
“It’s July already?” Jesse said half to himself, his mind racing as he did some mental calculating. He’d been here for nearly an entire month now, which was a stark contrast to his intended weekend visit. “Well, sounds like a plan to me. You sure you’re up for it?”
Glancing over at McCree, Hanzo offered him a frown, then returned his attention back to his clothing. “I would not have said anything were I not confident in myself.”
McCree made a move to pull his serape over his head, but was stopped by a firm “No” from Hanzo.
“Well what do you-”
The clothing thrown at him stopped him cold, catching it against his chest before pulling it away to look at it. “What on earth is this, Hanzo?”
“It is a yukata, and you are going to wear it.”
He looked over the smoky blue outfit, at first not really minding it until he noticed that it was all one long piece. “Hanzo, this is a goddamn dress, and I ain’t gonna wear it.”
Rolling his eyes again, Hanzo threw him another outfit, which wasn’t a dress, but instead sported a loose shirt and pair of shorts.
“Well shit, I ain’t wearin’ this either. It’ll look dumb with my boots.”
“Ancestors, you’re not wearing those boots. We wear sandals to festivals, and you are no exception. Now you can either wear the yukata or the jinbei and I do not care if you do not like it.”
At this point, the outlaw felt that he was fighting a losing battle. It was either the dress or the shorts. He chose the shorts. As he changed, he noticed Hanzo choosing a deep grey yukata, and watched in fascination as the archer folded and tucked the material around his body with practiced skill, transforming what looked like a blanket into a robe of sorts. McCree stuffed his arms into the shirt while watching as Hanzo tied his own belt, letting the knot sit comfortably at his right hip. He looked very traditional, and overall regal as all get out. Regardless, it was a bit strange to see both of Hanzo’s arms inside sleeves; he’d gotten so used to seeing the dragon tattoo that it was incredibly strange to not be able to see them at a moment’s glance.
Still, McCree couldn’t help but stare.
He sat on the bed, fumbling with the ribbons that tied the shirt closed, only to have Hanzo scoff at his attempts. “Let me,” he said, kneeling down in front of McCree, his fingers deftly securing the shirt around Jesse’s torso.
“Thanks,” the outlaw muttered, “You’d think I could put on a damn shirt by myself at this point, but nah. Y’all gotta make it difficult for me.”
Lips cracked in a grin, Hanzo's hands moved up to the back of his head, his fingers swiftly untying the silken scarf that bound his hair. Holding the ribbon in his hands, he ignored the silvery hair that swept his cheeks, choosing to focus on climbing back up onto the bed, sitting behind the outlaw. His hands began pulling back Jesse’s long hair, smoothing the strands with one hand, the other holding them in his fist. Gently, though.
"What in tarnation are you up to now?" Jesse quipped, not wanting to admit that he really rather liked Hanzo's hands running through his hair.
"Silence is the language I prefer to speak," the archer replied, a soft laugh underlying his gentle voice. McCree rolled his eyes, though smiling himself, at this point all but used to their standard silent points of conversation.
Hanzo's hands were no stranger to hair, and Jesse could feel him taking great care even as he was quickly sweeping up his massive mane.
He could feel Hanzo winding it around the hair gripped in his fist, and desperately wished that he could see what Hanzo was doing. "That's your scarf.."
"Yes. It is."
The archer let go, and McCree could feel his hair tied up at the nape of his neck, secure in the broad ribbon. Hanzo's hand rested on his shoulder, the other on his prosthetic arm. "And it is now yours." His fingers slid down the polished metal, the tips of his fingers gently resting in Jesse’s palm, but only for a moment. “You look like a barbarian with your hair flying around like that. I’m only trying to help.”
McCree couldn’t help but laugh aloud, turning his head to look up at Hanzo, whose chin was resting on his shoulder. “And what of your hair, then?”
Hanzo shrugged, removing himself from McCree and sliding off the bed. “I will find another scarf to use. Do not worry about it.”
He did worry about it. McCree’s fingers gently touched the ends of the silk scarf, which was resting over his right shoulder. The edges were frayed, and a bit torn in places, but it was clean and pressed. Hanzo clearly cared a great deal for this scarf, or else he would not have preserved it so well. And for him to have just given it to McCree without so much as batting an eye, Jesse almost felt awestruck by the sentimental magnitude of the gift that he had been given. The scarf was special to Hanzo, and McCree wanted to give him something just as precious to him, but he couldn’t think of anything that he had to offer. As he glanced around, his eyes rested on his faded red serape, and before he could fight himself, he had made up his mind to save himself the trouble.
Pulling the pocketknife from his pants on the floor, Jesse bit his lip, closing his eyes for a brief second before pushing the tip of the blade into the serape. The knife pierced through the worn fabric easily, and he had no trouble with cutting a long strip from the edge of the garment. It pained him to purposefully ruin it, but he wouldn’t forgive himself if he didn’t do so.
The archer turned around, holding a black scarf in one hand, and a royal blue one in the other. His eyes were quick to notice the long strip of fabric in McCree’s hand, and with knowing where it had come from, there was no sense in refusing it. Hanzo’s fingers curled around the fabric, his knuckles resting in McCree’s palm for just a moment, before sweeping his silvery hair up with a practiced hand, tying the material around it. The contrast of the red and orange fabric against Hanzo’s dark grey yukata was actually quite nice. Incredibly nice.
Reaching forward with his left hand, McCree gently took the end of the serape ribbon in his fingers, walking behind Hanzo to admire his handiwork. “It's nice on you, y’know.”
Hanzo’s eyes did not follow him, but Jesse heard the gentle laugh pressed behind the archer’s lips. It was all he needed to hear.
Hanamura was covered in lights and colourful ribbons like it was the streets of Dorado itself. Paper lanterns hung themselves from every imaginable place while coloured flags and silk scarves were tied to lamp posts, shop fronts, and even tree branches. But what really surprised McCree were the people itself. The streets of the city were choked with happy people of all ages, as well as numerous Omnics. The girls wore colourful yukata and pretty hair decorations, while the men seemed to stay on the darker, one-note colours of clothing, like Hanzo and McCree were. While Jesse got a few odd glances from passersby, he seemed to blend in, for the most part. His taller form and darker skin was all that made him stand out in the crowd, and for a moment, Jesse McCree felt like he belonged here.
He didn’t notice Hanzo’s arm looping through his own until he felt it tug down just a little, Hanzo’s hand resting on his prosthetic forearm. His other arm folded across his chest, left hand holding onto his own arm, securing himself. “We should not be separated,” he said, giving a brief nod, but not looking at Jesse.
“You’re right, we shouldn’t. That would just be a darn shame.” McCree had to resist the urge to bring his right hand around and lay it on top of Hanzo’s. That would just be inappropriate. Hanzo was just doing this to make sure that they would stay together. Or that he would be able to keep up with Jesse’s long strides. Or just to have someone to lean on in case he became tired. That was all.
It was almost surreal to be here at the festival. Or at the very least, just here with Hanzo. Every few moments he would glance down at Hanzo, as if to make sure that he was still there, despite the fact that the archer was still holding onto his arm. Still, he couldn’t deny that the soft smile that never left Hanzo’s lips was more beautiful than any other could boast of, the light in his eyes brighter than any paper lantern.
They walked together like that.
Hanzo kept his arm in Jesse’s, not looking at the outlaw as much as he did everything else, and McCree was almost enamored by it. It was almost like he wasn’t even seeing the same person. This.. this Hanzo, he was smiling. The edges of his teeth glimmered behind lightly-parted lips, his eyes reflecting the light of the lanterns and the gentle glow of the Omnics’ sensor lights. If Jesse didn’t know any better, he would have deemed everything about Hanzo over the past month as nothing but a nightmare. Hell, even their time at Overwatch was nothing like this. He could feel Hanzo’s fingers gently tightening around his arm as they respectfully skirted past an Omnic couple, nodding politely.
Hanamura is always so beautiful on this day,” He heard Hanzo murmur, his low voice the only thing that Jesse would allow himself to hear, “I’d almost forgotten.. last year, I did not attend. I was home..”
He stopped, looking away from McCree’s general direction. Ashamed. Jesse couldn’t help but give into his earlier desires, gently resting his hand atop Hanzo’s. The archer made no visible notice, but the subtle blush of his cheeks under the warm lantern light was all that McCree wanted.
It was just a small gesture, the tiniest movement, yet Jesse McCree felt like it was the world and then some.
“I grow tired,” he heard Hanzo say, immediately pulled out of his warm thoughts and turning his attention to the other.
“Would you like me to take you back to-”
“No. I would just like to sit.”
It doesn’t take Jesse long to find a bench, which is surprisingly void of people. Hanzo sits down heavily, letting go of McCree’s arm. His face is drawn, almost haggard, but there was no denying that he wasn’t still wanting to be here. Hanzo apologises. He’s sorry for wanting to rest.
“Now hold up there, that’s no reason to say you’re sorry.”
McCree turns around, looking over the crowded festival, and for a moment he’s glad that Hanzo now has a moment to breathe and to collect himself. He watched as a group of girls passed by, eating some sort of colourful sugar molded to a stick. It gives him an idea.
“Y’know, I’m kinda tired of eatin’ rice. How about I get us something to eat here? Everything smells damn good; might do you some good to put a lil somethin’ in that belly of yours.”
Hanzo started to frown but either he was too tired or he just doesn’t want to do so. “I suppose.. I could try.”
“Excellent,” Jesse smirks, looking over his shoulder at the archer on the bench. “You’ll be fine here for a moment?”
The fresh glare from Hanzo told him that he would be.
He had to stop treating Hanzo like a helpless child.
Inhaling a sharp breath, McCree braved the crowd like he would an assault of the sea, gently but firmly moving his way through the throngs of happy people. For a moment, he almost felt lost, alone. Without Hanzo. Hanzo. Standing on tiptoe, Jesse glanced back at the bench, instantly noting the tired, worn-out look on the archer’s face, his shoulders slumped. He was no longer the prideful, stony assassin that he’d once known. It pained him.
It pained him even more to accept the fact that he had been prideful and stony to hide everything that he’d told Jesse over the past while, and that was a hard burden to bear, let alone to swallow. It rested heavily in McCree’s belly, like a stone in the ocean, yet it burned like a coal that refused to blink its last. There was just some sort of feeling that he got deep in his chest and would mercilessly dig icy fingers into his belly whenever he so much as thought of Hanzo.
He hated it.
He loved it.
Words could not describe.
The paper boat felt warm against his fingers as he took it from the vendor, having pocketed his change while immersed in thought nonetheless. In all reality, he’d only purchased the takoyaki because they translated to octopus balls. And because he was still a child at heart, the name of the food just made him giggle something terrible. It was either that, or the durian pudding. He was old, but he sure as hell wasn’t grown up. Hanzo seemed to know exactly why McCree had bought them, but he didn’t say anything about it. Jesse was just glad that he was eating.
It looked nice, his serape in Hanzo’s hair, blowing about with the gusty wind. It pained him just a little bit to remember that he’d literally mutilated the one article of clothing that he cared about the most, but had it been for anyone else, it may never have happened. Jesse’s fingers idly touched the frayed ends of the scarf in his own hair, hoping that Hanzo wasn’t looking, and yet hoping that he might be.
“We should leave,” Hanzo said after a moment, his eyes flicking upwards towards the night sky.
Jesse blinked, looking up as well. “I don’t-” He started, and then stopped, instantly noting the stars all but veiled by the curling wisps of grey clouds. The wind only howled of their presence, threatening to unleash that which they contained within their bellies, the tears of the heavens themselves.
He’d not seen a storm in Japan, but with the way that everyone at the festival seemed to be intently clearing out towards shelter, perhaps it was a wise idea. McCree didn’t want to follow the crowd and have Hanzo be confined to a small space surrounded by crowds of people. He had to take Hanzo home.
Without thinking, he laced his fingers in with Hanzo’s, who didn’t even hesitate to copy his actions. The wind was now bearing down rather harshly, causing Hanzo’s yukata to flap around his body like sheets on a clothesline in Nebraska. He could see the tops of the Shimada estate in the distance, taking care to walk at a pace that Hanzo could keep up with but one that was far from casual. Looking back at the archer, Jesse became suddenly worried at the raw fear that he could see pooling in Hanzo’s eyes, as if the storm itself was a nightmare to him.
The flash of lightning illuminated every flaw, every wrinkle, every trace of fear that was etched into Hanzo’s features, and the crack of thunder had Hanzo yanking his hand from Jesse’s grip, both hands covering his ears. McCree hadn’t been prepared for this, but he had seen many a soldier in his day brought to their knees by a storm. The sounds, the flashes. It would trigger something inside their heads, and they were at the mercy of no one but themselves. Briefly, sickeningly, he remembered the chance detail of Hanzo’s memory, where he lost his legs. There had been thunder. Hanzo was hearing it all over again.
He had to get him home.
Jesse’s arm wrapping behind Hanzo’s back seemed to help ground him; the archer rose to his feet and walked as quickly as he could manage in his yukata, taking small but fast steps.
“We’re almost there,” Jesse said aloud, stepping through the main gate of the grounds. To the right they hurried; McCree could have walked it blindfolded.
Just outside of the door to the main hall he paused, never having expected Hanzo to call him by his first name. It made his skin feel warm, his stomach light. The rain began to fall, and it fell hard and fast, and it was unnoticed by McCree except for the fact that it was the most wonderful thing in the world. The water splashed against Hanzo’s pale skin, slicking his silvery hair to his face, the rest to his back, and his dark eyes were all that Jesse could see as Hanzo’s grip tightened around his hand. Locked. Locked. Locked in place. A flash of lightning, a flash of fear, the wait between the worlds unseen was none the less longer the more they stood there, the sky above them roaring in contempt as it unleashed the fury upon the two men that stood there, in the courtyard, as still and silent as the stones that laid the foundation itself.
A flash of lightning, a flash of hesitancy.
His name again. It echoed in his ears louder than any crack of thunder could ever dream of, and his heart pounded with the intensity of the lightning that would mercilessly blaze above their heads. He would wish that his name from Hanzo's lips would be the only thing that he would hear for the rest of his life, but the rainwater dripping from his lips was what caused his words to spill onto the ground, splashing at his feet. There was naught to be said, but there was everything to hear.
A flash of lightning, a flash of clarity.
Never once in his life had a moment felt so real.
Hanzo’s hand behind his neck felt like a molten core in the icy pool that was his belly, feeling every single movement as clearly as he would see the clouds on a summer day. Eyes unblinking, Hanzo stepped closer, the rain soaking his skin, his yukata, the serape that held his hair. It dripped from his eyelashes like dewdrops on grass in the early hours of the morning. There was no looking away. There was only looking into them.
The lips that spoke his name were brushed against his own, feeling his name whispered against the dripping skin.
A flash of lightning, a flash of conviction.
There was no turning back.
His arm fiercely wrapped around Hanzo’s shoulders, his other holding his cheek. Kissing. Whispering. Their names tumbled from their lips as fast as their kisses were delivered. Quick. Breathless.
A flash of lightning. Oh simple thing.
The thunder that cracked did not even deter the two as they stood there, in the falling rain, locked. Locked. Locked in place. Hanzo’s tongue touched his lips, and Jesse responded in kind. The rainwater added a touch of its own, making everything as wet and frigid as they had once been years ago.
Again, looking back in his mind, Jesse unknotted the serape, pushing his hand through Hanzo’s soaked hair, pulling him, willing him closer. He was. There was no space between them. Locked. Together. Whole.
His own name on his lips was like the sweetest honey, and Hanzo’s breath on his skin was the balm on his aching, needy soul. He cried out inwardly, his heart aching so much for this moment, and now that it was here, in his grasp, his fingers, his arms, his entire body threatened to crack as the sky was so.
He could feel the archer responding in kind, untying the scarf that bound his hair, feeling it plaster against his back as Hanzo pushed both hands through it, softly whimpering his name on his tongue. There was nothing, nothing at all, nothing in the entire world that would have ever prepared Jesse for this moment, and he wasn’t sure that he would have wanted to be.
A flash of lightning.
The roll of thunder.
The sound of his own name in his ears as he held the other so tightly, so fiercely, never letting go. Never letting go. This moment would last forever, even if it had to stop. Everything that had become of them in their lives had led up to this moment, this here, this now, this rain and lightning, this kiss between them on the steps of the place where their blood had once been spilled.
Even as their bodies slowly pulled apart, the moment marred by the cold that caused Hanzo to tremble, it continued on in Jesse’s heart as he helped Hanzo inside.
The deep grey yukata was dropped onto the bedroom floor, Hanzo’s deep, silvery hair a pleasant contrast against the deep blue dragon that raged across his skin.
Hanzo’s hands on his shoulders, slowly peeling away the jinbei that he wore. The ribbons, they were undone. Jesse made no movement to assist; his hands were both rested on Hanzo’s cheeks, holding him as he continued to kiss him as he had only moments prior. There was nothing else. Even feeling his clothing slip onto the floor at his feet did not threaten to shake him.
This moment was as real as anything that had ever happened to him.
Even as the door was closed, candle blown out, both of their damp, naked bodies together in the bed, under the sheets, it was the kiss that lingered in Jesse’s memory. Nothing they did in the dark, nothing that he felt, not even the way that Hanzo cried aloud his name would remain the way that his lover’s lips felt on his own. That would be the fire in his belly even as he slept, exhausted. Hanzo in his arms. Asleep. Warm, damp from sweat.
Nothing would ever take that.
Click the link to read the smut that took place: [here]
A huge thanks to Akirata from the Discord Server for making this beautiful artwork of the scarf and serape exchange!!
Another thank you to Squibbyart, who created the scene in the rain!!
And another big thank you to Sushiwestern, who drew McCree and Hanzo at the Tanbata festival!!
Chapter 10: Like Pencil To Paper
I told myself that domesticity wouldn't be a thing in this fic well oops.
Jesse’s eyelids twitched gently as he slowly brought himself out of his sleeping state, blinking a few times at the mild brightness of the room. He appreciated Hanzo’s room having curtains on the windows, but the summer breeze blew them gently around, letting patches of sunlight press upon the room at random, including his own face.
Flicking his eyes downward, he could feel his heart flutter as he saw Hanzo still in his arms, head on his chest, still asleep. He’d never tied his hair back from last night after Jesse had removed the scarf, so it was splayed prettily across Jesse’s skin. Gently, he pushed his metal fingertips through the silvery strands, grinning at how messily it had dried from being rainsoaked. Hanzo’s left arm snaked over Jesse’s belly in response, curling under his waist.
“Mornin’ there, darlin’,” McCree said as softly as he could manage, still softly playing with Hanzo’s hair.
Against his chest, he could feel Hanzo’s lips curl into a smile, the archer’s exhaled breath warm on his skin. “And a good morning to you, Jesse.”
Hanzo’s fingers gently trailed along his waist, brushing against his ribs before resting atop his chest. They pushed idly through the soft patches of greying chest hair, which Hanzo didn’t seem to mind, and Jesse just enjoyed watching him do so.
“Sleep okay?” He asked, smoothing Hanzo’s hair with the palm of his metallic hand.
“Better.. than I have in a very long time.”
Jesse let his head rest against the pillow, staring up at the ceiling before closing his eyes again. “Then we’ll just have to make sure we do that again.”
“I hope you are not joking.”
He really kind of had been.
Eyes open wide, McCree glanced down at Hanzo before staring at the ceiling again, his hand frozen atop the archer’s head. “Well.. I mean.. I was, but-”
“So it was all just a joke to you, then. That is nice to know.”
A pool of ice settled in Jesse’s belly as Hanzo peeled himself off the outlaw, sitting up and stretching his limbs. As much as he would have enjoyed observing those rich muscles or that nice butt, he couldn’t ignore the main situation. “Hanzo, I didn’t mean-”
“You will not make a fool of me, Jesse McCree. I know when I am being played.”
Rendered completely speechless, McCree was left to sputter, trying to think of something, anything that he could say that would null everything that was happening.
The lips touching his own more than silenced him, Hanzo having crawled overtop his blanketed body. There wasn’t much Jesse could do to stop himself from gently curling his fingers around Hanzo’s biceps, pulling him closer, returning the kiss with everything that he was.
“I like the way your face is red when you are flustered.”
Hanzo’s dark eyes peered into his, the corners of his mouth stretched back in the form of a wide smile as his forehead pressed against Jesse’s.
Blinking, Jesse took a moment to process what had just happened, and then let out a sharp laugh. “You.. you done joshed me, Hanzo. I’m mighty offended.”
Tossing his head back, Hanzo laughed, laughed. A rich, coarse sound that reminded Jesse of an old piano that was rarely played, but still made beautiful music. It slowly dawned on him that he had never truly heard Hanzo laugh like this in all of the years they had known each other, and that only made it all the more special.
Gently, the backs of his fingers brushed against Hanzo’s cheek before fanning out, cupping the archer’s face, fingers behind his ear, under that sculpted jaw. Hanzo curled his fingers around Jesse’s palm, not pulling the hand away, merely holding it. His mouth twitched as if he were torn between smiling and speaking, and the way that the sunlight reflected off his eyes would rival that of every sunset that Jesse McCree had ever seen in his entire lifetime.
This was as real as the day before, and he was having a hard time believing it. He was here, in Hanzo’s bed, with the aforementioned archer, completely naked, sitting on his blanket-covered thighs while keeping Jesse’s hand pressed to his cheek.
This was as real as the day before, yet he couldn’t stop thinking that it was just a dream.
He laid his head back on the pillow, Hanzo smiling gently as he watched him.
“Well then. What are you wanting to do today?” He asked Hanzo the same question every morning, but this time it was different. Very different.
Leaning back on Jesse’s legs, Hanzo began sweeping his hair back with one hand, holding the strip of serape in the other. “That all depends,” he replied, expertly wrapping the fabric around his hair.
Oh, he could just watch that man for hours. Jesse resisted the urge to drag his fingers across Hanzo’s chest, nearly drooling. It was almost pathetic. “Depends on what?”
“My eyes, Jesse. They are up here.” Hanzo touched the tip of Jesse’s nose with a finger, getting his attention before moving his finger up to his eyes. He was smiling. McCree smiled in response. “It depends..” Hanzo continued, tying the fabric off, “On whether or not we can get this place cleaned up.”
Eyes flicking to the side, Jesse now took notice of the stacks of books and piles of clothing scattered around the room, easily forgotten when he wasn’t actively looking at them. “I don’t think that’ll take long.”
Hanzo shook his head, nimbly hopping off the bed and standing there long enough for Jesse to stare at his behind. “More than just this room, McCree.” He began dressing himself, this time in his traditional hakama and kyudo-gi, which Jesse had grown rather fond of over the years. He adored the yukata, and how elegant and regal it made Hanzo look, but at the end of the day, nostalgia won him over. The embroidered right sleeve of his kyudo-gi only brought back memories of years past; the somber yukata would bring memories of the night before.
“Well, if you say so.”
Jesse swung his legs off the bed, taking half the coverlet with them. He glanced around the floor, looking for his clothes, and not finding them where he’d left them last night. Slowly, he turned around, giving Hanzo all but a Deadeye as he glared.
“They are being washed,” Hanzo said, not even looking at Jesse, “You may wear something of mine.”
“God dammit Hanzo, I don’t wanna wear your pillowcases. I want my damn pants.”
The pillow that whacked his face caught him off guard, followed by a pair of black hakama. “You complain too much. You can either strip this pillow and wear the pillowcase as you say, or you can wear hakama and kyudo-gi. It is not the end of the world.”
Jesse threw the pillow back at Hanzo, who caught it with one hand, letting it fall back on the bed. “Fine,” he grumbled, “I’ll wear the damn balloon pants.”
He was so glad that Morrison wasn’t there.
They were actually a lot more comfortable than he initially thought they’d be. While Hanzo’s were tailored to tuck into his prosthetics, Jesse’s hung loose and swished pleasantly around his ankles. They weren’t so bad.. but he wouldn’t tell Hanzo that. The archer had to help him tie the hakama at the waist, as well as his obi. Jesse didn’t understand how any of it worked; he’d prefer to tie them like shoelaces, but the very mention of it seemed to offend Hanzo to the highest extent. Jesse resigned himself to a full day of not going to the bathroom.
“Where do these go?”
Hanzo turned around, looking at Jesse who stood there with a stack of books in his arms.
“Those.. I need that one with the orange cover. The rest..”
“Back on the floor, too?” Jesse asked, handing Hanzo the book he asked for.
The archer chewed his lower lip, looking at the stack of books that was already occupying the floor near the chair in the corner. “I will have to acquire another book shelf,” he muttered, sliding the book in between two others, “I have a bad habit of buying books without thinking about where they will go.”
Jesse gently sat the stack of books on the floor next to the first pile, rubbing the back of his neck after doing so. “You mentioned a broom earlier?”
“Down the hall. There is a small closet. It is in there.”
Jesse turned on his heel, nearly tripping over the hem of the hakama as he did so, heading down the hall. It felt strange. Not the notion of getting a broom, but more or less the gentle notion of domesticity that was happening here this afternoon. Here they were, cleaning the house, like they had been living together for years. It was even stranger still to think about it when Hanzo had been bedridden for days and suffered from a mental breakdown only last week. The difference was like night and day, but he wasn’t complaining about it. He glanced back down the hallway before he opened the closet door, trying to wipe the stupid grin off his face.
He was past the point of needing to get used to it; he wanted to keep repeating it.
Hanzo was not in the room when he returned. The bookshelf was neatly lined with books from end to end, but Hanzo was no longer there.
As he opened his mouth to call for Hanzo, McCree paused at the sound of clinking glass. Down the hall, the other direction. He followed the sound, curious until he realised that it was coming from the balcony. Hanzo was kneeling there, carefully picking up the remaining shards from the sake bottle that he’d broken. He didn’t look at Jesse, nor even acknowledge him, only continued to stack the glass pieces in the palm of his hand.
Jesse curled his fingers around the stack of glass, feeling the ends prick into his skin but ignoring it. Hanzo let him take them, and he placed them gently in the dust pan that he’d set on the balcony floor.
“Are you okay?”
Hanzo didn’t answer him right away, only rested his hands atop his thighs, staring off into the distance for a moment or two. Jesse silently swept the rest of the broken glass into the dust pan, letting Hanzo have his silence.
“I do not know.”
He glanced over at Hanzo, who was still resting with his legs underneath him, sitting on his calves, hands pressed to his knees.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
And that was okay.
They sat there for a few moments, enjoying the silence until Hanzo walked back inside, taking the pan of broken glass with him. Jesse followed him into the kitchen, watching the archer dump the shards into the trash can. Hanzo washed his hands in the sink, and then began rummaging through the cabinets, getting out a pan and setting it on the stovetop.
“You are terrible at making rice.”
Oh. That. Jesse ran a hand through his hair awkwardly, watching Hanzo busy himself. “Do you want me to help?”
“You can get the rice so that I can cook it.”
The sack of rice in question was in the pantry, and Jesse wasted no time in getting a large cup of it. He went to dump it into the pan before Hanzo literally slapped his hand, causing a few grains to spill onto the floor.
“Now what in tarnation was that for?”
“What do you think you are doing?”
“I was going to help you cook rice??” Jesse sputtered, offering the cup to Hanzo, who snatched it out of his hand.
“You did not even wash it.”
Jesse blinked, looking terribly confused. “Wash.. rice?”
At this point, Hanzo looked like McCree had just defiled the graves of his ancestors. “Yes.. you wash it. You rid it of the starch and everything that builds up on the.. never mind.”
Into a mesh strainer the rice went, and Hanzo silently shoved it in the sink.
While McCree didn’t completely understand why he had to wash the rice, the end result was a lot better than all of his attempts over the past week. It was pleasantly sticky, clumped nicely, and Hanzo had actually used seasoning in it, not just salt. Jesse now felt embarrassed to have served him anything else.
They sat in the courtyard, where there was now some assorted furniture, as opposed to the empty, bleak look it used to have years ago. Sitting in a chair, in the sunlight, a bowl of rice in his lap and good company at his side, McCree felt all but like a retired man at this point. Hanzo didn’t say much, only focused on eating his meal and staring off into space. Jesse didn’t mind. It was a good day so far.
McCree poked a chopstick into the bowl, chasing around the remaining few sticky rice grains that stuck to the sides. “Do you mind me being here?”
Hanzo didn’t look over at him, but McCree noticed the subtle twitch in his jaw. “Why would you ask a question like that?”
“Because the last thing I want is to be steppin’ on your toes. Just lookin’ at you on the balcony just awhile ago made me wonder if me bein’ here is okay.”
If Hanzo didn’t want him to be here, it would fairly break his damn heart, but far be it from him to make Hanzo uncomfortable. He didn’t want that. Despite what he repeatedly told himself, he cared too much about Hanzo, and it was probably going to kill him someday.
“If I did not want you here, I would make that very clear.” The sunlight filtered through the sakura trees, casting frivolous patterns of sun and shadow on Hanzo’s skin. “Perhaps I am not the best with words.. but I do want you here. I wish.. that you might stay.”
“For how long?” Jesse’s heart felt like it might beat right out of his chest.
“Only you can answer that.”
Despite their intimacy the night before, Hanzo showed no signs of wanting to share the bed again tonight, so Jesse slept in his own little room without saying a word. As much as he would have liked to have asked, he didn’t want to make Hanzo feel pressured into anything. Hanzo’s well-being was more important than anything else that would happen here. Even as he tunneled himself under the blankets, his thoughts were about how Hanzo was doing. Not much else. He’d be lying if he said that he didn’t want to entertain other thoughts, but those weren’t important. He slowly drifted off to sleep, fingers brushing the empty side of the bed.
Yet sleep was not one to grace him.
Whatever he was dreaming, not that he would be able to recall it later, was slowly ripped away from him as time dragged on. The smell of gunpowder reached his nostrils, and he knew right then and there that he had to wake. But as it is in nightmares, you can never seem to tear yourself away.
He never knew his enemy in his dreams, but all he knew was that he was scared. Not for himself, but for the people behind him. There were always people.
And he could never save them all.
The screams of the crowd behind him as they fell always pierced through his ears, bringing him to his knees, the smoke from his gun clouding his eyes. And he would never survive that. His worst nightmare: failure to protect. And he could never wake; he was forever cursed to hear them scream until every last one of them was dead on the ground. The bullet in his skull would be that which would wake him.
He woke up on the floor. Something warm was pressed against his face. Touching it with shaking fingers, he felt it to be a human hand. Hanzo. The archer was leaning overtop his body, and even in the darkness of the room, Jesse could see tears striking Hanzo’s face, reflected by the faint glimmer of moonlight that filtered through the curtains.
“Jesse.. are you..”
Rolling over onto his side, just barely gripping Hanzo’s wrists in his hands, Jesse curled up, not ever having wanted Hanzo to see him in such a state. The word “sorry” spilled from his lips several times, unable to keep himself from doing so. He didn’t even resist when Hanzo pulled him up from the floor, holding Jesse gently in his arms, as if he wasn’t sure what he was supposed to be doing.
It was rare that McCree would have that particular nightmare; the last time he’d experienced it had been well over a year ago. But when it came around, it would shake him to his very core, causing his body to become cold, and had once driven him to the point of suicide just to rid himself of the thoughts of it. Still, the subtle warmth of Hanzo's skin under his fingertips seemed to ground him as well as anything, even though it wasn't much. It felt like his body was still threatening to snap as he leaned forward, hunched over, the top of his head pressed against the archer’s chest. His lungs ached and begged for air as short gasps robbed them of all they had, his breath hot as it bloomed over his face, pushed off Hanzo's skin as he sobbed openly.
He could not control a single part of his body.
Jesse's hands released their fragile grip on Hanzo's arms, falling limply at his sides, knuckles dragging along the floor. There would be bruises, he knew.
The sudden sensation of arms snaking around his body penetrated his aching head, taking a moment to realise that Hanzo was drawing him in close. Tight. Fast. One of the archer’s hands pressed against the side of his head, the other finding his own, fingers lacing without hesitation.
“I have you, Jesse,” he heard Hanzo murmur, his voice low, a balm on his heart. “You are safe here. I will not allow harm to befall you. You are safe. I promise.”
It was repetitive, but hearing the same phrases over and over helped to soothe the gunshots in his head, the bullets ghosting into his flesh. The screams that he couldn't save.
The kiss pressed against his forehead was soft and gentle, and Jesse was unprepared for how Hanzo gathered him up, just barely his body off the floor. He couldn’t even hold onto the archer as he stood up, and so Jesse just let his arms dangle uselessly. Hanzo slowly pulled Jesse back over to the bed, not even letting go of him when he set him down. Carefully, Hanzo kept Jesse in his arms, letting the outlaw rest his head atop his inked chest, both of his arms wrapped around McCree’s upper body, keeping him close.
“I know you may not want to sleep,” Hanzo whispered, his lips brushing against McCree’s forehead, “But I am here. I will drive off that which hunts you in your sleep. You have my word.”
Jesse’s left hand curled up to his own shoulder, his metallic fingers curling under Hanzo’s, gently lacing their fingers together.
They slept together like that, soundless. Plagued by nothing. Just sleep.
Chapter 11: Thousand
“Is it possible for home to be a person and not a place?”
― Stephanie Perkins
Also don't mind my fanmade lore. I'm getting old and I can't care.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Perhaps it was the sudden friendship. Perhaps it was their unique compatibility. Perhaps it wasn’t even anything particularly special. But whatever it was, there was something stuck between Hanzo and McCree that kept the two joined at the hip. From sunrise to sunset, they were never without the other. It wasn’t even in a particularly romantic sense -- they just preferred the other’s company. Still, it was hard to mistake the way they held hands as they walked around the castle grounds as anything but romantic. Hanzo always felt some sort of warm sensation in his belly as he’d slip his fingers into McCree’s palm as they would walk the grounds of the estate.
“Exercise,” McCree had said a few days ago, “It’s good for ya. I think ya need it.”
“You do not exercise,” Hanzo had replied.
“I will if it means you will.”
And so they walked together, every day. Sometimes twice. In the evening, after they had eaten supper, they would just walk around outside, still in the estate grounds. Sometimes they would talk. Sometimes they would be completely silent. No matter which, it always felt right.
While Hanzo wouldn’t really consider himself in a relationship just yet, though he was heavily contemplating it, he wondered why it felt so strange. There was either something very odd about McCree, or all of his past relationships had just been very odd themselves. Perhaps it was the fact that his father had all but set up an arranged marriage for him. While Hanabi had been very sweet and had a genuine interest in Hanzo, and perhaps he did for her as well, it hadn’t felt special to him. It was the same story with Shi, the man that he dated after leaving his clan. Hanzo and Shi spent nearly two years together, almost like how he and McCree were doing now. Just living together, spending time. Yet when Shi declared his desire to leave after Hanzo followed Genji to Overwatch, he had mourned for a few days, and then there was nothing. No more feelings, nothing left to want from Shi. It was as if the man had never existed. That scared Hanzo. At that point in his life, there was nothing left to live for, except for the faint shred of interest he had in Genji. There had even been a piece of him that had hoped that Genji would have killed him on the balcony that night, and Shi had never entered his head. Not once.
Yet for some reason, Jesse was always on his mind. When he woke up, when he bathed, even when he would sit in his room and try to read, the damn cowboy was shooting sparks inside his head. It both bothered and pacified him. Even when he would want his space, Hanzo knew that all he had to do was call Jesse by name and he would come running. It wasn’t out of something like pity or pampering; if anything, Hanzo felt like it was something akin to devotion. Love, perhaps. He didn’t want to entertain the latter. That was something that he knew he was far from being equipped to handle. In the span of a month, everything that he had been for over forty years had come crashing down like the tide, and never would he have foreseen that happening. All things considered, Hanzo felt like he had done a good job of keeping himself together. His drinking dependency started almost four years ago, and perhaps that’s what started to chip away at his foundations. Then again, perhaps not. Maybe those foundations had already cracked, and he was just letting sake erode away at it until he had burst like a dam.
Jesse had been there. He had been there every time. Hanzo had never asked him to be, but he had been anyway. While he preferred to keep his feelings hidden away, for some reason, he never once regretted showing himself to McCree. And as he’d seen that one night before his bath, and just a few days ago in Jesse’s bedroom, Hanzo was slowly coming to terms with the fact that he wasn’t the only one who had demons from his past haunting him. The smile that Jesse wore on his face was little more than a charming mask meant to hide the tears and the screams that he would constantly deny himself. Hanzo would be lying if he said that fact didn’t bother him.
Sometimes it worried him that, despite how he’d always considered himself standoffish or even aloof, all of that seemed to change just for Jesse. He didn’t understand why, nor did he care, but there was always that one piece of him that made him want to do something. He wasn’t the best at talking or showing affection, and he never had been, but just the simple act of being the one to take Jesse’s hand as they walked seemed to set his heart aflutter and would always put a smile on McCree’s face that seemed different than the rest.
But it still never answered his inward queries of why McCree. What was it that made him feel like he did? After all these years, Hanzo had all but given up on expressing affectionate feelings and everything related. And yet, he was sixty-nine years old, and momentarily feeling like the boy he had been at thirteen and wanted to give flowers to the servant girl who worked in the estate. Hanzo bit his lip as he remembered his father removing her from the grounds once he found out about it.
It was a bit strange to think about how the castle functioned then, as compared to now. Even stranger still was the fact that it was now in his possession, after all these years. Even though Overwatch had helped him secure the premises, it was still odd to think about it. Odd, and painful.
He remembered the entire conglomerate of security and staff, all lined up in a neat row. The servants, Hanzo and Genji merely dismissed. They were basically prisoners in the castle; they deserved to be able to leave. But the security staff. The secret service. They were the ones who would not be allowed to leave.
He had felt Genji’s eyes on him as he had paced back and forth in front of his row of prisoners, but his brother had made no move to speak nor act. It all rested on his shoulders, as it always had. A heavy burden to bear for one so weary.
Yet none of the men tied up on their knees interested him, save one. The man with the pale scar on his upper lip. The scar did not matter, but the voice did.
“I remember you.”
The man snorted tossing his head back in a form of bravado that neither Hanzo nor Genji had bought into. “I would hope that you do; I see you got new legs after all.”
Just the voice had made Hanzo’s legs threaten to collapse at the knees, feeling as if his prosthetics would shatter at the very sound of his words. His tongue may as well hold the blade that took his legs from him; he would never forget that voice. It had taunted him inside his head for years; now he was the one who would deliver justice. Redemption.
“Tell me something,” the man had continued, his eyes glinting in the candlelight that illuminated the room, “Do you still remember that night, Hanzo? Do you remember how you were beneath me, how my blade felt behind your knees? Your blood spilling all over the floor? Or even just how I cracked those kneecaps of yours like eggshells?”
Hanzo had seen Genji visibly flinching from the corner of his eye, and even just that simple movement had been enough to spur him into action. The way his fingers closed around the captain’s throat was swift and deadly, unlike how he had been all those years ago, when he was sloppy and brash.
“So that’s how it’s going to be, heh? You’ll just kill me. It won’t bring back your legs, Shimada Prince. It won’t bring back your brother, either.”
The sound of his knuckles connecting with the captain’s jaw had echoed in his head for the rest of that night. The aura of calmness and regality that he’d held were completely gone, his fist striking the man in the face again, and again. Again. He didn’t even notice the hot blood that had soaked his fist, his arm, splattered on his face. The only thing he was aware of was the veil of red that obscured his vision, feeling the dragons inside his head hissing, roaring. They surged down his arm, devouring that whom he held tight, and yet he had continued his punches. Again. Again.
The gentle hand on his shoulder had given him pause. Genji.
“Hanzo.. he is no longer alive. You need not waste yourself on a dead man.”
He almost didn’t recognise the man he held in his hands. His body, ravaged by the dragons. His face, nearly ran raw by Hanzo. Almost shocked at his own actions, he had dropped the captain, the sound of his corpse hitting the floor threatening to give him nightmares.
Perhaps not nightmares, but haunting memories -- memories that ceased to pulse through his head as he felt warm fingers sliding over his own, glancing up from his reverie to see Jesse sitting on the bed in front of him. He only needed to look down to see how tightly he was gripping his book; all knuckles were white, his hands shaking. McCree’s fingers gently squeezed his fists, looking into his eyes, a look of concern traced over the reassuring smile on his face.
And yet he said nothing. He always seemed to know when silence was all that Hanzo would want. The archer felt his fingers relaxing under Jesse’s gentle hold, enough to allow the outlaw to tangle their fingers together
Removing one of his hands from McCree’s, Hanzo removed his reading glasses, only so he could lean forward and give Jesse what was most likely the softest and most gentle kiss that he could ever remember giving.
He loved the way his heart would pound in his chest when they kissed. He loved the way that McCree’s teeth would just barely nibble his lower lip, pulling him in. He loved the way that their fingers would tighten together without even saying a word. He loved.
“I, ah..” he paused for a moment, nearly tongue-tied just looking at the other man, “I need to go to the store, the one down the street. Just for groceries. Would you care to join me?”
McCree pursed his lips, half-closing one eye, and Hanzo knew that he was only pretending to think about it. “Are ya gonna make me wear your pillowcases again?”
“Then hell no. You’re free to go by yourself.” Jesse tried to sound serious, but the smile on his lips was impossible to hide.
Hanzo just accepted the fact that Jesse wanted to wear his stupid cowboy clothes for the rest of his life. That was fine, but he would never be seen in public with him dressed like that. They were endearing, but ancestors, they were gaudy.
Still, he wouldn’t lie when he said that he felt.. lonely. Today was the first occasion that he actually spent time away from Jesse since the outlaw had practically moved in with him. It felt strange to glance to his right or left and not see Jesse readily there. He’d gotten so used to McCree’s constant presence that now being without it felt less than normal, and he didn’t really like it. He compared it to losing his blanket in the middle of the night: he could still sleep without it, but it just felt better to have it with him.
Perhaps, if he felt this way, it was good that they be able to spend time apart. Yet he couldn’t help but wonder what Jesse was up to. He’d better not be in the kitchen. Just yesterday he’d caught the cowboy in there, covered in flour, yet had some surprisingly delicious cookies in the oven. Still, Hanzo didn’t much care for messes, and he made Jesse clean up the entire kitchen before letting him leave. They sat on the floor afterwards, the plate of warm cookies between them, and they shared the pitcher of milk from the refrigerator. Of course they could have used the table, but where would the fun have been in that? They’d just leaned against the cabinets, eating cookies, and idly chatting every so often. Most of the time between them, it was that safe, comforting silence. Hanzo knew that Jesse loved to talk, but just thinking about the periods of silence he would grant Hanzo every single day was enough to make his stomach feel warm with both appreciation and guilt.
Hefting a sack of rice into the small basket, Hanzo attempted to keep walking, but the weight pulling down on his arm gave him pause. He stared at the basket as if it were a foe with a weapon drawn, and perhaps in a way, it was. If this had been several years ago, he wouldn’t have had a problem. But here he was, sixty-nine years old, nearly seventy, and his muscles weren’t what they used to be. It was almost humiliating as he opted for a pushcart, feeling like every pair of eyes in the store were on him as he placed the rice into it. No one was watching him, but it did feel like it. He tried to put the notion out of his head.
He was getting old.
Hanzo pushed the cart around the corner, into the produce area. Ginger, he needed some of that. He knew that Jesse didn’t particularly care for vegetables, but he also didn’t care about Jesse’s dislike for them. They were healthy food, and he would prepare them until he could no longer do so. Perhaps Jesse wouldn’t mind ginger. He idly wondered what Jesse would want instead.
Just cooking with McCree was nice. The outlaw didn’t know much about cooking rice, or really anything that Hanzo ate in general, but he would tell tales of cheeseburgers (the kinds with cheese that stuck to the plate), large pots of chili over an open fire in the great outdoors, and he never tired of talking about steak and potatoes.
Knotting the plastic bag with the ginger root in it, Hanzo pushed on forward, coming to a stop a few feet away. He eyed the bags of potatoes lined up, and silently cursed himself as he picked one up and set it inside the cart. Hanzo didn’t really care for potatoes, not that he’d eaten much of them, but he’d be lying to himself if he said that he didn’t want to make Jesse happy, even if it was just by doing something small like buying ingredients for his American meals. Such a simple thing, but it made his heart swell just a little while trying to picture Jesse’s reaction to it when he would arrive home.
In addition to his regular staple of vegetables and fish, Hanzo indulged in some steak, ground beef, cheese, and hamburger buns. He didn’t know what went into chili, and he wasn’t about to message Jesse to ask. This was a surprise; asking him questions would ruin that. Things like lettuce and tomato usually went on cheeseburgers, so he had to backtrack to the produce section again to grab those.
He still felt like all eyes were on him, even though just a quick glance behind him would only reveal one of his security staff watching him. No one else. Given, he’d like to go shopping by himself, but it was easier to just not argue with his staff and allow them to do their job.
Even just walking home with his staff carrying the groceries made him feel stupid. He wanted to carry them, but they just strained his aging muscles and made them sore. It was pathetic. He mustn't let McCree find out about it.
Jesse wasn’t in the kitchen when he arrived home. It was good that he wasn’t, but Hanzo was mildly curious as to his whereabouts. He called out for the cowboy while he busied himself putting away the groceries, but Jesse never came. Perhaps he is showering, Hanzo said to himself, he didn’t take one this morning as he usually does.
A quick walk down the hall revealed no Jesse McCree in the bathroom at all. He wasn’t in his room, nor was he in Hanzo’s. The archer felt himself begin to inwardly panic, now fervently opening every door in his general vicinity, looking for Jesse.
As he opened his mouth to call for him again, a loud banging sound kept his words in his throat. Raising an eyebrow, Hanzo slowly followed the sound. If his agents weren’t forcing him into hiding, then it probably wasn’t the sound of a weapon. Jesse was up to something, and he was going to find out.
Stepping outside to the back garden, Hanzo simply stood there on the wooden walkway, staring.
Jesse was sitting on the ground, surrounded by a stack of neatly-cut lumber that Hanzo hadn’t seen before until now, and he was hammering something together. Taking a few steps further, he noted that Jesse was building what looked like.. a bookshelf. Hanzo’s thoughts drifted back to a few days ago when he remembered idly speaking about needing to buy a new one for his newer books, and now Jesse was making him one by hand. His hand gently pressed against his chest, over his heart, just watching the other work. McCree didn’t seem to notice Hanzo’s presence, and he just continued to hammer away contentedly.
As much as Hanzo would have liked to stay and watch, he felt that perhaps this was a present for him, and he didn’t want to spoil it by letting McCree know that he was there.
He stepped back inside, closing the paper door, and just stood there for a few moments, fingers still pressed to his chest. His body felt warm and fuzzy, kind of like how he felt when he felt himself slipping into an afternoon nap. It had been a very long time since he had been given a gift of any sort, and here was Jesse, literally building him something with his own two hands. He hadn’t asked for it -- hell, he’d barely even mentioned it to begin with. But just thinking about it made Hanzo really aware of how much Jesse really paid attention to the smallest details. A bookshelf was such a menial thing to have mentioned, and hadn’t even been a conversational piece, but Jesse had heard it. So at some point, he had been able to arrange for lumber to be brought here, as well as tools, and he’d been waiting for the opportunity for Hanzo to leave so that he could work on his project.
That touched him.
He walked back into the kitchen in a mild daze, a smile pasted onto his face and sticking there, no matter what he did. The bamboo cutting board was dragged out from the cabinet, as well as the sack of potatoes that he’d bought earlier. He wouldn’t make Jesse cook for himself; that was just too crass to think about now. The potatoes were carefully dumped into the sink, and Hanzo busied himself scrubbing each and every one of them, ridding them of dirt and the occasional budding eye. He wasn’t a stranger to cooking potatoes; he just didn’t particularly care how they paired with his staple diet. But since he was going to stay in this kitchen until he could make a steak and potatoes meal proper, he might as well go all out. It was for Jesse, anyway. All for Jesse. Hanzo even went so far as to set a bowl of water on the counter, which he tossed the sliced potatoes into so as to prevent them from oxidizing. He wouldn’t dare cook potatoes with brown edges, never.
The knife sliced cleanly through each potato, every single time just barely missing Hanzo’s fingers, curved inward to prevent losing his fingertips. Slice and toss, slice and toss. He actually didn’t realise how far one potato would take him until he noticed the staggering amount of potato slices sitting in the bowl of water. Now he felt stupid.
The slices were patted dry and laid neatly on a pan, all lined up in a perfect, orderly fashion. As far as he knew, Americans liked to season everything with just salt and pepper, so after brushing the potatoes with a bit more oil, Hanzo scattered salt flakes and crushed peppercorn overtop them, deciding to not flip them over afterwards. He put the tray in the oven, even though he had forgotten to preheat it, but he didn’t care. Potatoes always took a long time to cook, anyway. In the meantime, he would tackle the steak.
He could hear Jesse hammering away as he set the pan on the stovetop, and he smiled to himself as he paused for a moment just to listen to it. His heart started fluttering again, and his right hand pressed over it as if by instinct. He loved that.
Just a tiny amount of oil was drizzled into the pan, since Hanzo knew it wouldn’t take much when he was dealing with this massive amount of steak. While the pan heated, he set to work trimming the thick fat from around the edges, but leaving the rest. While he wasn’t one to eat steak all that much, he knew that’s where a lot of the flavour came from, and Jesse would probably make fun of him if he served the cowboy dry, flavourless steak. That just wouldn’t do. He could call it payback for the salty, overcooked rice that Jesse served him, but he hadn’t known better. Jesse ate potatoes and hot dogs like Americans did. It wasn’t surprising that he couldn’t cook rice. He shouldn’t make fun of him, but he did -- just on the inside.
The steak sizzled loudly the moment he laid it into the pan, but it didn’t go up in smoke like he had seen some people do it. That was good; he hadn’t burned the oil. Hanzo’s fingers touched the heating dial for the stovetop, bringing down the heat just a slight bit, and he let the steak just sit there. Salt, pepper, and nothing else. It both frustrated and intrigued him to not season it further, and while he wanted to experiment with his own herbs and spices, Hanzo had to keep reminding himself that this meal was for Jesse. He could try out something new later on. Right now, this had to be as American as he could manage. He should have bought soda while he was at the store. Jesse probably would have liked that. Or beer.
Frowning, Hanzo called for one of his staff, just to send them back to the store for both beverages. He couldn’t be seen as forgetful. There was no way that he would have Jesse eat steak and potatoes with a cup of tea. The mere thought made him chuckle out loud, and he pressed his fist to his face to keep the sound level to a minimum. Yet he continued smiling. He couldn’t help that. He smiled as he carefully turned the steak over in the pan. He smiled as he checked on the potatoes in the oven. He smiled as he set the table for the two of them. It was like some sort of disease, this smiling; he couldn’t seem to make it stop.
He didn’t mind.
Even after both steaks were finished, the potatoes were still slightly undercooked, and Hanzo decided to take the meal one step further. The butter that he’d used to glaze the steaks with was picked up, the remainder of it dropped into the hot pan. Using a wooden spoon, Hanzo pushed the melted butter around the pan, scraping up the drippings stuck to the bottom, only to dump it all into a strainer, which removed all of the little pieces. He dumped that, as well as all of the rendered fat that he’d drained earlier, into a smaller sauce pot, heated it up, and added a simple slurry to the mix. He wasn’t the best expert on making gravy of any sort, but he at least knew how to do it. Hanzo wasn’t sure if Jesse liked gravy with his steak and potatoes, but if he did, it would be here. And if he didn’t, then it’s not like he’d lost out on anything.
The potatoes were pulled out of the oven, and after gently poking at a few with a fork, Hanzo deemed them fully cooked. Carefully, he lifted them off the pan and onto a plate, making sure not to break them apart. They were then placed on the table, which was set neatly but tastefully. There was a glass vase with freshly-cut azaleas, given to him by Jesse. Given, they came right from Hanzo’s own garden, but the gesture in itself was sweet. The soft, pinkish-red colour of the blossoms added a dynamic to the otherwise boring cherrywood table and white china plates. The American food made it look very.. strange. Hanzo wasn't used to such nonsense.
He heard the back garden door slide open, and then the familiar sound of Jesse's boots walking down the hallway, away from the dining hall. Hanzo peeked his head outside, only to notice the cowboy walk into the bathroom, not bothering to close the door behind him. The sound of the sink running made Hanzo feel slightly better, and his prosthetics were silent on the floor as he followed Jesse.
McCree was hunched over the sink, washing his hands, but he noticed the archer the moment he walked in, and the smile on his face made Hanzo feel warm all over.
“Hey there,” Jesse greeted him, “when did you get back?”
“Only a little while ago.”
He noticed the momentary look of panic that crossed McCree’s handsome features, and Hanzo felt bad about it.
“I did not know where you were when I arrived home, so I made supper instead.”
“Oh.” Jesse seemed relieved to hear it, and while Hanzo wasn't the lying sort of person, he could make an exception in this case.
Pulling the towel from the rack, McCree dried his hands off. “So what’d ya make? No wait, lemme guess: rice.”
Hanzo watched as Jesse hung up the towel, resisting the urge to hold his hand as they walked back to the dining room together. It was really rather odd, finally coming to terms with how much they held hands, since he wasn’t able to tell until they weren’t actually doing it. They held hands so often that Hanzo never really had to think about it much anymore. It wasn’t even anything really romantic or anything like that; he felt that it was more of a comfort thing, something that would silently say “I’m with you.”
The look on Jesse’s face when he saw the table was all Hanzo really wanted. His eyes went wide, jaw almost dropping to the floor, and he simply just stood there and stared for a moment. Hanzo cast him a sly smile and gently elbowed the cowboy in the ribs, jarring him just a bit.
“You.. you actually made steak an’ potatoes..?” Jesse sounded absolutely dumbfounded, and Hanzo was pleased.
“No, you are just seeing things.”
Hanzo pulled out a chair for Jesse, who sat in it while not taking his eyes off the table. The steaks were there, one on each of their plates, and the potatoes were still neatly stacked, ready to be scooped up. His staff had done their job and there were glass bottles of Coca-Cola and some American brand of beer, ice cold, waiting to be opened and consumed. The sodas were pricey; it’s why he never indulged, not to mention the fact that he hated the taste. It was a bit of an extravagant splurging, but not to Hanzo. Nothing was too expensive when it came to Jesse. He could stand to lose a few hundred credits for some soda just for one night.
As he had hoped, Jesse was quite happily beside himself. The man had never looked more at home than he did when he was digging into a steak with a giant knife and then slathering gravy on top of it before stabbing it onto his fork with a bite of potatoes. Hanzo had no idea he could fit so much food into his mouth all at once. It was both fascinating and mildly alarming.
“Tastes like it do back in th’ states,” Jesse mused, twisting off the cap from his second bottle of soda, “Kinda brings back memories.”
Hanzo lazily chased a potato around with his fork, not looking at the other for a moment. “It tastes like home?”
His words caused Jesse to stop for a moment, his thumb rubbing over the bottle, staring at it thoughtfully. The silence seemed to drag on for a lot longer than it did, and Hanzo worried that he had said something that he shouldn’t have.
“No, not like home.” Jesse took another sip of soda, and neither of the men looked at each other. “I’ve done been goin’ just about everywhere. Haven’t really ever picked a place to sit down and call mine.” He set down the bottle of soda. Hanzo still didn’t look up.
“But.. as they say, ‘home is where the heart is’,” Jesse continued, his voice dropping an octave or two, “I’d say you’re as close to home as I’ve got.”
His words echoed dully in Hanzo’s head, and his skin felt like it was burning, but not in a painful sort of way. His heart did that same odd fluttering that it had done earlier, and he forced his hand to remain on the table instead of clutching at his yukata as if he were dying. He just may very well be.
“You..” He couldn’t really say anything else. What could he say to that?
The silence, again. Only this time it pained him both gently and fiercely, because behind his lips laid a thousand words that threatened to breach, yet they were halted by nothing other than his own discouragement. He couldn’t say anything. There was nothing that he could say that would be able to convey how he felt. Jesse could do it so effortlessly, and yet for the man who had lived a thousand years, he was brought to his proverbial knees.
Jesse’s voice gently nudged him from his thoughts. Looking up, Hanzo’s gaze was met with that soft smile that he’d grown so fond of, those eyes that charmed him anew each time he’d see them. Holding out his hand, Jesse offered it to Hanzo, palm upturned.
No more words. Nothing to say. The silence. Their unspoken language.
Not even hesitating, Hanzo slipped his fingers into Jesse’s palm, feeling the warmth of the other’s fingers curling around his own. Jesse made no more attempts to speak, and neither did Hanzo. They sat like that, doing as they did every single day, and just enjoyed each other. It was all that Hanzo found himself wanting anymore.
He just wished he could tell Jesse that.
I fear that I killed my beta reader.
He’d had better mornings.
Hanzo almost resented the fact that he had grown up with servants to cook his meals, because now he had little to do but sit here and sulk over not knowing how to make pancakes. McCree talked about them often, and Hanzo found it harder and harder to ignore the little pinprick inside his chest that made him want to make the things that he spoke of. It was even harder nowadays to ignore such things, ever since McCree had given Hanzo the bookshelf. He’d made a big deal out of it, even going so far as to tell Hanzo to close his eyes while he led the archer outside.
“I do not know what you are intending to do to me,” Hanzo had said, but he’d had a fair idea of why the cowboy was doing this.”
“Nothin’ yet, sweetheart,” Jesse had laughed, his metal fingers pressing lightly against Hanzo’s arm, gently guiding him down into the open garden.
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“Whatever you want, darlin’.”
Hanzo had simply swallowed his next words, rubbing his arm where McCree’s fingers had been. He ignored the warm butterflies in his belly, keeping his eyes closed, and just listening to those heavy footsteps prance in front of him for a moment before Jesse had said “Alright, open them eyes.”
And he couldn’t really describe the swell of feelings that pooled in his chest when he saw the bookshelf. He’d already known about it, but it was another thing to see it finished, and to see Jesse standing next to it, a smile stretching his face, proud of himself.
He didn’t have to stack his books on the floor anymore.
Pushing the memories out of his head, Hanzo sat down in the kitchen chair, completely exasperated, and already feeling like he wanted to go back to bed. The kitchen counter was a mess, spattered with runny pancake batter, and the floor had flour on it. With the sink already full of dishes, Hanzo didn’t feel like washing those to make room for more to wash; just thinking about it made him feel exhausted. He felt exhausted on the daily as it was, but when it came to a process of having to go from point A to point B so that he could get to point C, things just seemed to feel like they were overwhelming for him.
Jesse had tried to reassure him when Hanzo had briefly mentioned it, and said that it was just his depression making him feel that way, but Hanzo refused to accept that. He would just sit here and convince himself that he was just being lazy so that he would have an excuse to be angry at himself for it.
The toaster on the counter jarred him from his wallowing, and Hanzo felt like he had to mentally prepare himself just to get up from the table. He tossed the toast onto a clean plate before slowly ambling over to the refrigerator, pulling out a jar of strawberry preserves. Hanzo wasn’t exactly a fan of such things, but Jesse had insisted on having it in the house, and it hadn’t taken the archer very long to find out how delicious it was. Just thinking about putting some on his toast made him feel better. Toast and tea; the perfect cure for a bad morning..
.. if he could only open the jar.
It was a new jar, bought just yesterday. Hanzo huffed as he repositioned his fingers around the metal lid, gripping it tightly as he tried to twist it off. “Kuso,” he swore under his breath, making one last effort to get the lid off before he completely gave up. It felt like his fingers were stiff, and it made it hard to grip the lid like he wanted.
Sitting back down in the chair, Hanzo slumped over the table, resting his forehead atop his inked forearm, and resumed feeling badly about himself until he heard Jesse walk into the kitchen.
“You makin’ toast, or-”
The chair next to him was pulled out, and Hanzo heard Jesse sit down in it, creaking slightly under his weight. “What happened?”
Hanzo grunted, flicking the jar of jam with two fingers, not even bothering to look up. He heard McCree make a small sound of acknowledgement, before then hearing the jar slide across the table, only to have his metal fingers clink against the glass. The sharp pop from the lid twisting off only made Hanzo feel even worse, but he didn’t comment on it.
“My hands do not seem to want to work,” he muttered after a moment, “and my fingers hurt from exertion. It does not feel right.”
“Nothin’ to be ashamed of, Hanzo.” Jesse’s voice was soft and gentle, and made it hard for Hanzo to continue his self-loathing. “I mean, we’re gettin’ old, yeah? If I didn’t have this hunk of metal with fingers, I doubt I could do half the shit I can now.”
It didn’t make him feel any better, but Hanzo decided to stuff it away so that he wouldn’t drag Jesse down with him.
“You deserve better than this,” he wanted to say, but chose to swallow it with a sip of tea and pretend that he was perfectly fine.
Jesse stood up from the table, his bare feet padding quietly on the floor as he walked over to the counter. “Looks like pancakes,” he commented, not sounding condescending or rude. Just a statement.
“An attempt,” Hanzo corrected sourly, “I fear that I do not know exactly how to make them. I am sorry.”
Hanzo heard dishes being dumped in the sink, and Jesse began to hum a little bit. “Ain’t nothin’ to apologise for. Pancakes ain’t easy unless you know what you’re doin’ and all.”
“I wanted to make them for you.”
“How ‘bout we make ‘em together?”
It seemed like a better plan in the long run.
He watched carefully as Jesse measured out flour, baking powder, even salt, as well as the rest of the ingredients and mixed it all in under five minutes. Hanzo figured that this wasn’t Jesse’s first time making pancakes. He kept a close eye on what McCree did, so that he might be able to duplicate the process at a later date.
Silently fetching a plate from the cabinet, Hanzo watched as Jesse began stacking the pancakes, every single one looking deliciously fluffy and perfectly golden. Someday he might be able to do that. He carried the plate over to the table while McCree busied himself with putting the bowl and spatula into the sink. After setting the table, Hanzo took his seat, waiting for Jesse to sit down before helping himself to breakfast.
“So what’s the plan for today?” Jesse asked as he began cutting into his pancakes with a fork.
Hanzo simply stared at his own plate, not touching his stack yet. “I don’t know.”
McCree shrugged pleasantly, washing down a bite of pancakes with a sip of milk. “We can make it up as we go. No big deal.”
The archer stared pointedly at McCree, briefly noting the way his shirt was being dampened by the ends of his long hair. Jesse obviously hadn’t dried it. That meant he had come looking for Hanzo right after getting out of the bathroom.
Jesse McCree had a strange way of pacifying Hanzo Shimada without even saying a word.
Even doing the dishes, which had initially seemed overwhelming, didn’t even feel much like a chore when he did them with Jesse. The cowboy would wash each piece, and hand them to Hanzo, who would dry them.
Hanzo kept brooding as he wiped the damp towel over the plate in his hands, wondering how on earth Jesse managed to keep himself together when Hanzo clearly knew that he wasn’t doing alright, either. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair and he didn’t like it.
To save himself from spiraling downward even further, Hanzo decided to adopt one of Jesse’s common actions, and he simply started to watch him. His eyes were still trained to notice little details; it was just ignored more often than not these days.
Jesse’s shirt was still damp on his back and shoulders; the tips of his hair dark, and sticking together. The sunlight softly illuminating the kitchen highlighted the wrinkles around the corners of his eyes, and made bright the silvery strands of hair in his beard. His hands were weathered and his right one scarred, yet he handled Hanzo’s dishes with utmost care. The prosthetic was careful not to snap the edges of the plate he held; the metal fingers being gentle as if he were holding eggshells. The plate passed from the prosthetic to his right hand, Hanzo noting the scarred knuckles, the calloused palms. Strong hands, he thought to himself.
He silently accepted the plate from Jesse, not even looking at it while he rubbed the towel over it. He only had eyes for the man standing next to him, and it made his stomach feel as warm as the pancakes.
And as Jesse looked over at him for a moment, noticing Hanzo staring, he simply smiled at the archer.
Hanzo felt as if his knees might collapse, if he had any to speak of.
Not even taking the time to question his actions, Hanzo placed his hand on Jesse’s forearm, fingers gently sliding down to push the plate from his hands back into the dishwater. Jesse immediately let it slide from his fingers, Hanzo noting the way he briefly sucked in his breath. Left hand raised, Hanzo gently pressed his thumb to McCree’s cheek, feeling the soft, aging skin as he brushed it across, feeling Jesse’s warm, damp fingers curl over the back of his hand, into his palm.
The metallic fingers slipped into Hanzo’s other hand, flesh and carbon entwining Hanzo barely took notice, for those rich, brown eyes that were locked with his own captivated everything that he was.
“Jesse..” he whispered.
Jesse smiled as he said it, as if Hanzo’s name was a word that he loved to say.
The archer’s left hand gently cupped Jesse’s cheek, and he was surprised by how McCree all but pushed into it, as if he were yearning for that kind of physical touch. Jesse’s hand pressed against the back of his own, keeping Hanzo’s hand right where it was, cradling his face so.
He stopped, unable to continue. His stomach felt like it was going to explode, and his heart pounded mercilessly in his throat. Those eyes, the way that Jesse looked at him made him feel as if he would simply melt onto the floor beneath his feet. It both captivated and terrified him. He could feel his lips trembling, and he sunk his teeth into them to steady himself. McCree did not urge him to continue, only offered the softest of smiles as he gently exhaled. Waiting.
You, you, you you youyouyouyou, his mind raced, Hanzo feeling like his heart might just burst free from his body. “.. I think we should go for a walk this evening.”
He felt as if he might cry as he forced the words from his mouth, betraying every single warm feeling in his body to deliver something harsh and cold. Yet Jesse’s smile remained the same, his fingers still gently holding onto Hanzo’s.
“I’d like that,” he readily replied, those brown eyes twinkling, a touch of mirth in his tone. He wasn’t angry. He wasn’t upset.
Hanzo felt like he did not deserve this man in any regard. I cannot tell him. He would not understand.
“McCree.” His voice sounded cold, almost informal. Hanzo pursed his lips, taking a deeper breath than he had a moment ago. “.. Jesse.”
His eyes closed, unable to look up. He knew his cheeks were stained red, burning with the fury of the butterflies in his stomach. “I want..”
Why was this so hard? Why was he so incapable of just saying a few words? Hanzo’s teeth clenched together, trying to keep his hands from forming into fists at the infuriating feeling of being verbally useless.
“I want you to stay here with me, in Hanamura. I do not wish for you to return to America. I want you to remain here, with me.. I need you. And I think..” Hanzo paused for a moment, his eyes squeezing shut even tighter than they had been.
“I think I am in love with you.”
His own reflection met his eyes when he opened them, and Hanzo felt like giving up. He could barely speak to a mirror; there was no way he would be able to tell Jesse this. It was just like a repeat of what had happened after breakfast; his fear always won the fight with his heart. He was too old to be confessing some odd feelings as if he were a boy again. Here he was, nearly seventy, and completely head over heels for this mad American. What was he thinking? Clearly he wasn’t doing very much thinking to begin with.
None of this must ever reach Jesse’s ears.
Hanzo’s head turned towards the door as it opened, Jesse walking in while pulling his faded serape over his shoulders.
“Why are you wearing that?” Hanzo quipped, sounding a little more bitter than he intended.
“Jus’ in case it gets cold out,” Jesse replied good-naturedly, “These old bones ain’t what they used to be.”
Hanzo muttered to himself grumpily as pushed his arm through the previously-folded sleeve of his kyudo-gi, hating to admit that Jesse was probably right about the temperature.
They still held hands as they walked. It had once started as a continual awkward brushing of knuckles as they walked together; now it was almost as natural as breathing. When they walked side by side, they would simply reach for each other’s fingers. It didn’t matter which side; Hanzo would readily curl his fingers into McCree’s steely palm like it was no different from his good one.
As always, silence was the language that they spoke. If Hanzo was ever being quiet, Jesse would respect it, and remain silent as well. Hanzo couldn’t really think of any time where Jesse had tried to force him to speak, or had made him feel pressured into making conversation. Jesse’s relationship with him was symbiotic and fluid, and Hanzo would catch himself pondering more often than not why McCree still stayed here and put up with him.
Jesse’s boots thudded gently on the worn pathway, creating a soft but steady tempo, one that Hanzo found himself subconsciously timing his own footsteps with. It was an easy gateway to settling his emotions down, simply being able to focus. Right foot, left foot, right foot, left.
The bench at the end of the castle property was where they would sometimes stop to take a break; there used to be nothing here, but as Hanzo found his aging body tiring on occasion, he had a bench placed here. They didn’t always sit down; some days were better than others. However, today, Jesse was the one who sat first, and Hanzo silently followed suit. Jesse slowly removed his hat, rubbing his thumbs against the faded brim. Hanzo watched him from the corner of his eye, heart quickening just a bit. He is going to talk about something, he thought, it’s probably going to be something bad. He felt like fidgeting, but the archer kept his hands to himself, trying to focus on something, anything; anything than the silence that he once loved but now felt like was suffocating him.
“I got a message this mornin’ from Angela,” McCree said after a moment, not looking at Hanzo, “She was askin’ me about returning to Gibraltar to help with a new wave of recruits.”
“Did she?” Hanzo replied, feigning interest as he felt his stomach knot itself a thousand times and over again, “Why now?”
Jesse flipped the hat in his hands, not really looking at it, but rather using it as a grounding point. “Seems some of the kids are pretty good with guns. She thought it might be good for ‘em if I came down and showed off a few tricks of mine.”
It felt like a nightmare. Already, Hanzo could see Jesse packing up his few belongings and leaving Hanamura. He probably wouldn’t come back; who would want to? Hanzo inhaled deeply through his nose, holding in the breath for a moment before slowly exhaling. “So when will you be leaving, then?”
“Leaving?” Jesse looked up from the hat in his hands, but still didn’t look towards Hanzo. He stared off at the horizon for a few minutes, and every single passing second made Hanzo feel even worse for speaking.
The silence again. What had been a balm for the archer now felt like melted wax seeping into his skin. At this point, he would give anything to hear Jesse say something.
Jesse took a deep breath. “I told her I wouldn’t be going.”
Eyes unblinking, Hanzo tried to comprehend the words that McCree had just spoken. “Not.. leaving..” he repeated slowly, as if saying them himself might help.
“Yeah. Not leaving.”
Despite wanting to stay on the safe side, Hanzo couldn’t help himself from pressing further. “Why?”
It was just a single word, yet it held his life’s weight in gold. It was just a single word, yet it carried everything that Hanzo felt yet could never say. Such a simple word, a simple thing.
“Here is where I want to be.”
Butterflies now threatened to make Hanzo’s insides explode. He didn’t know what to say. Even if he did, he was sure that his mouth would still remain proverbially sewn shut with the raw shock that flooded his veins. Jesse McCree, the vigilante who had spent his life doing what he believed was the right thing to do.. surely would not abandon such a mantra now, after all these years. Yet he had a hard time believing that staying here was what Jesse would want.
“I do not think that you should sway your decision because of me.”
He slowly slid his eyes over in McCree’s direction, biting his tongue as Jesse’s eyes met his own.
“I meant that you should not let me influence-”
“I didn’t,” Jesse interrupted, waving Hanzo off, “I made the decision. It was mine, and I-”
“Stop, just stop. Stop talking.”
McCree instantly ceased to speak, and Hanzo buried his face in his hands. He was doing it again. Forcing that silence. It hurt him to see how Jesse readily complied with it.
Hanzo stood up, turning around to face McCree, who hesitated to look back at him only for a moment. “You should not want to stay here,” the archer stated flatly, feeling like he might vomit on the ground but it was too late to turn back now, “I have been a deplorable host. I treated you badly when you arrived here. I was willing to let you sacrifice your time and waste your efforts on a living corpse. I oftentimes force you into periods of silence, when the one thing that I can recall most about our past was the sound of your voice when you would talk to the members of Overwatch. You love to speak, and tell stories, and I am robbing you of that.”
Jesse bit his lower lip, his eyes lowering to the ground, but he said nothing.
“Not to mention that you have been giving up opportunities to leave this place,” Hanzo continued, worried that his voice might crack, “And I don’t know why you stay. How can you live under the same roof with the man who once all but murdered his brother, who is one of your best friends? How can you condone that? Why would you dare?”
His voice did break on that final word, marred previously by a short pause before finishing. Jesse noticed -- his head lifted instantly the moment he heard it.
Mouth in a tight line, Jesse set his hat on the bench before rising up, drawing himself up to his full height. He towered a little bit more over Hanzo now than he had years ago.
“You wanna know why I’m stayin’ here, archer?” Jesse said, his brown eyes searing right into Hanzo’s and rendering the man mute, “I’m stayin’ here because there’s a hell of a lot more to you and to all of this than you see. You just.. you’re stuck in the past, Hanzo. That’s all you can think about!!” McCree’s arms stretched outward, emphasizing his words. “Everything that you do is dictated by what you’ve done, and you don’t even notice it.”
“How dare you..” Hanzo blinked twice, crossing his arms and boring his gaze right back into Jesse’s.
“How dare I? How about how dare you instead?” Jesse ground the heel of his hand against his forehead, his voice dropping an octave or two. “I thought that someone like you might at least understand that I don’t care much about the past. If I did, I might be two feet under right about now.”
Hanzo looked down at the ground, swallowing heavily at the thought.
“Furthermore,” Jesse pressed on, “I don’t know what I’ve ever done to make you think that I care about the things you’ve done. You done treated me bad early on; who cares? You ain’t treatin’ me bad now, so why dwell on it? You want some peace and quiet? So do I; that’s why I’ve been flying all over the damn globe just trying to find it.” Jesse’s hands reached forward, both of them gently gripping Hanzo’s shoulders. “You ever stop to think that maybe the reason I’ve stayed here so damn long was for you ? Because I want to be here for you? With you? It’s been just you an’ me, Hanzo. That’s all I’ve been wanting after bein’ here for awhile.”
His words mollified Hanzo somewhat, who closed his eyes and felt very small under Jesse’s hands.
“Genji is safe and sound in Nepal with Zenyatta. He’s alive and he’s okay. He recovered fine all those years ago. I wouldn’t have gotten to meet him if he hadn’t come to Overwatch. And I guess..” Jesse’s fingers gently traced along Hanzo’s jaw before the archer all but pressed his cheek into McCree’s hand. “.. I would never have met you if you hadn’t decided to join, too.”
Hanzo felt as if he might dissolve into the stone beneath their feet, his essence seeping into the cracks between the rocks and disappearing from the universe. His head whirled with emotions that he couldn’t begin to understand, his heart pounded with all of the words that he had spoken to the mirror this morning, and his stomach knotted itself with disbelief and denial.
The smile that he loved so much gently spread across McCree’s face, who looked like he might cry. “Hanzo.. did you ever stop to think that maybe the reason I didn’t want to leave was because you’re what I want? More than anything else that’s out there?”
Biting his own lip, Hanzo leaned forward, letting Jesse’s arms enfold him as he pressed against the other’s chest. He smelled like coffee and aftershave, and he smelled like home. Home.
“I didn’t want you to go,” he whispered.
“I didn’t want to go.”
“I wanted you to stay.”
“And I want to stay.” Jesse’s steel fingers pressed against the back of his head, holding him close.
There were no other words to be spoken. Hanzo simply stood there, his emotions laid bare for all to see, and Jesse held them as close as he did Hanzo. He felt Jesse’s cheek rest atop his head, and Hanzo slowly wrapped his arms behind the cowboy’s chest. Held tight. Held close.
This fic is coming to a close, as I'm sure you're aware. The next/final chapter will be more or less an epilogue, so stick around for that, if you want.
Autumn came faster than Jesse would have expected. He and Hanzo would spend hours in the back garden watching the leaves fall from the trees, their fingers loosely entwined between the two of them. They would still steadily maintain Hanzo’s preferred silence, but the archer seemed to be trying to make allowances for Jesse’s love of chatter. While it seemed to be mostly Jesse doing the talking, he knew that Hanzo was listening, which was more than he could ask for. Sometimes Hanzo would make small talk or verbally acknowledge one or two of Jesse’s opinions from time to time, the Shimada heir seemed to be lost in thought more often that not. Jesse understood. The dull glaze that coated Hanzo’s umber eyes was never lost on him, and if Hanzo didn’t want to talk about it, they wouldn’t talk about it. It was a thready status quo, but it seemed to do both of the older men well.
A surprise arrived in October when the newer members of Overwatch, accompanied by Angela and Winston, along with Hana and Lena, all decided to drop in, unannounced, to Shimada Castle. Not much used to entertaining large amounts of company, it caused Hanzo some distress, but McCree was there to smooth things over for everyone involved. Per Hanzo’s request, any training that McCree gave to the new recruits was done outside of the estate, where Hanzo wouldn’t have to hear any of the gunshots. He was too old to think about getting back into the proverbial fray, especially when his hand muscles were still weak, and his arms no longer able to effectively fire his Storm Bow. He made no mention of it to Jesse, but he knew that the cowboy knew more than he let on. Still, their pact of silence was what saved Hanzo his sanity -- there would be things that he would carry to his grave simply because he lacked the mental capacity to talk about them. Jesse understood.
They had still slept in separate rooms for a little while following the day that Jesse had informed Hanzo of his invitation back to Overwatch. Never once had he pressured Hanzo into any other sleeping arrangements, but after that day, Hanzo had found it difficult to sleep alone. Jesse hadn’t wanted to sleep alone since the day he had arrived at the estate. The outlaw was moved into the master bedroom, and Hanzo arranged for all of Jesse’s possessions to be moved from storage at Gibraltar to Hanamura, because Jesse reassured him that he wasn’t going anywhere. Here to stay.
Jesse eventually learned how to cook food for Hanzo, and Hanzo became more skilled at cooking meals for Jesse. They would swap cuisines every few days or so, Hanzo not wanting to admit that he was developing a fondness for bread pudding and barbecued chicken.
Despite the major change of pace and the proverbial flip-flopping of his home, Hanzo didn’t find himself minding much, if at all. Smiles came easier to him, he found that he could laugh without worrying about who would hear it. Jesse was good for the soul, as it were. The two were hardly separated; always joined at the hand, or sometimes Hanzo’s arm looped through Jesse’s to keep them together.
When the next year rolled around, Hanzo was the one to take Jesse to the Tanabata festival, and while Jesse was passing it off as his interpretation of their anniversary, he hadn’t been prepared for Hanzo to drop to one knee and propose.
He said yes, in case you were wondering. You probably weren’t, though.
They married in the spring, with the sakura trees beginning to bloom. Genji and Zenyatta both traveled to Hanamura for the wedding, and McCree was both surprised and delighted to see both of them wearing suits over their metal casings. The way that the two held hands just like Hanzo and McCree did only made everything better. Everyone was happy. They all got their happy endings.
Of course, it would be a lie to say that it was all perfect. Hanzo still suffered from anxiety and PTSD, and still struggled with his alcohol addiction. McCree would never be free from his nightmares. Yet it didn’t matter as much as it could have, since they were both constantly there for one another. It made things a little easier. Lessened the pain. Numbed the self-loathing and guilt that had once followed.
Not perfect, no. Just good.
A simple thing.
I want to thank every single one of my readers for having accompanied me on this journey of a fanfic. You guys saw me at my weekly updates, and then saw me go downhill and moved into sparse updates that happened every few months. You all supported me through my depression and encouraged me when I needed it the most. This fic would not have ended if it weren’t for all of you guys here to cheer me on.
As much as I would have liked to have finished this a long time ago, it’s better late than never. And as a special surprise, I have created a sequel-but-not-really to this work of fiction. It’s not legitimately a sequel, but something from this story that you can now progress to read. I listened to feedback from readers, as well as indulging my own fantasies, and created a smut scene from this fiction, taken from the “fade to black” scene at the end of chapter nine, after their kiss in the rain. There was a lot left to the imagination, but now I’ve put the proverbial pencil to the likewise proverbial paper and have created something solid. I’m publishing it as its own fiction, as I had no plans to include smut in this one, because I wanted people to read it for the story, and not for the smut. I will include a link to it at the end of chapter nine for those who want to find it, as well as including it here in this epilogue. I’m simply just keeping smut out of this, for those readers who just want fluff, or do not enjoy reading smut, and can keep it aside for people who just want smut. I’m trying to be inclusive.
I hope you all will enjoy it; I had fun writing it. I had fun writing all of this, overall. This fic kickstarted me into writing for the Overwatch fandom, and I don’t plan to stop now.
Thank you to everyone who has ever read this; I did this for you, and I did this for August.
*sends smooches to everyone!!*
Smut chapter link: [here]
Footer image courtesy of August.