Three days of work, it takes him. At least.
To be fair, being grounded at Hanamura for at least a week with the strike team made it easier to make the meal and yet-
To prepare the broth, to marinade the pork, to put it all together and serve it to the rest of the team takes him three days.
Genji knows that he's taken many things for granted since he-
But he's never realised how much planning and care it takes to prepare a bowl of the heartiest shoyu ramen the servants at the Shimada clan when all he could remember was scarfing it down time and time again after a long day of training
Or whenever he had wanted really.
(The perks of being a Shimada.)
He is standing in the middle of the pastes and spices isle in the small market close to Rikimaru when Zenyatta finds him.
He's made himself harder to spot in the crowd, less conspicuous around the residents and civilians by donning borrowed clothes that had been left in the former safehouse that Doctor Ziegler had deemed safe for them to settle in for a good while.
(Genji knows he's more than thankful for Doctor Ziegler- no, Angela, she likes to be called Angela.)
Genji tugs at the drawstring of his hoodie as the omnic floats closer to him and his cart full of vegetables and meat, and he hears the rustling of the worn fleece against his armour, his skin, and his mind thinks he feels it. The fabric is soft. Well-worn, yet it smells unfamiliar. But it does the job and people in the small, cramped market don’t look at him twice. Just another young man in a hoodie buying some food for dinner for all intents and purposes.
(Concealed weapons notwithstanding.)
“I thought I would find you here,” Zenyatta speaks, and Genji can hear his name sit right on the omnic’s tongue, deliberately left out. There are ears everywhere, they know as much.
“You must know me so well if you thought that this was where I’d be,” he replies. Finally picking out a larger packet of kombu, enough for their team attempting to lay low in a safehouse a few clicks from the heart of Hanamura. He tosses the kombu into his cart and it rattles against the bottles of dry sake and mirin he’s taken off the shelves earlier. Genji looks back towards the omnic trailing behind him, seeing Zenyatta’s face passing over the shelves and shelves of perishables as he starts to push the cart into the next isle.
Soon enough, his cart is filled with all the ingredients he requires-
(Meat he’ll get from the butcher next door from the butcher that the servants had always gone to, and Genji thinks for a moment that maybe he can drop the name of the head servant in the palace to get the best cut for a good price.
Genji’s been dead to the Shimada for years-
And he’s made sure that the head servant Ka-san and her family left the castle before Overwatch’s first raids on the Shimada. It was the least he could do-)
They move to the butcher next door for the cut of pork shoulder and cuts of poultry and Zenyatta is thankfully more than happy to help him carry the groceries, balancing the bag filled with bottles of condiments in his lap as he floats along behind Genji.
It is not until after he’s bought the meat, and the butcher, an old man with a growing cataract in his left eye and a scar across his right brow, remembers Ka-san from the palace fondly- that Genji receives a great price for the quality of meat that he’s received. He bows gratefully to the old man and is thankful that Zenyatta, who also gestures his thanks is only given an appraising look before they are waved out of the shop for closing time.
They walk in comfortable silence back to the safehouse, in the outer streets of Hanamura where the houses start to meet the foothills of the mount. Zenyatta then voices a question to him. Genji turns to see him looking up at the sky where the clouds have become orange streaks against the deepening heliotrope and he notices how the omnic’s hands are delicately curled around the bottles of sake and mirin, and the plastic bag that carries them gently sways in the breeze.
“Are you going to make dinner for everyone, Genji?”
“Yes, but-” Genji looks ahead, to the safehouse and sees the silhouettes of his comrades moving around the upper level of the unit, it was a miracle that all of them had managed to fit. “Looking at Ka-san’s recipe, I do not think it will be ready until another couple of days and I want to do this right, sensei.”
Zenyatta hums, and Genji recognizes his quiet chuckle. As they approach the safehouse, he starts to smell tobacco smoke, which means that McCree has, respectfully, been smoking his cigars outside the unit. Ash on the ground marks the spot of wall the cowboy had been leaning on as he blew puffs of smoke into the chilling air, and for a moment, Genji can imagine him looking at the sunset as they do now.
He hears laughter coming from inside; Tracer and Hana, laughing at a joke made by Lucio, Angela talking to Winston and Fareeha about new developments, Torbjorn bursting into a guffaw as he hears Reinhardt’s shouts for a rematch with Zarya-
McCree’s spurs tinkling as he walks on the upper floors and Mei humming as she types away at her personal input device in the kitchen-
He thinks of this family they have, their ragtag bunch of ex-heroes-
He wants to cook them a good meal.
He tries to cook them a good meal.
Genji is at least grateful that he can follow instructions well. Ka-san’s faded handwriting on the old piece of paper he’s kept tells him everything that he needs to know about his favourite shoyu ramen recipe.
Unfortunately, he cannot taste it.
He’s received a good amount of support from his team mates at least, with Tracer and Hana frequently swinging past the rather small kitchen with fervour and excitement to ask him if the ramen’s ready yet. Lucio ducks his head in to tell him that it all smells so good and that he’s more than happy to help wash up any dishes he’s used, to which Genji just thanks him for. Angela checks in with him occasionally, pride in her voice as she breathes in the smell of the stock he prepares, and sees the neatly chopped vegetables on the worn timber board off to the side of the sink. She gives him a smile and a pat on the back as she leaves with her two mugs of coffee, Genji can only assume is for Fareeha.
He’d ask them to taste the stock for him to see if it had been seasoned perfectly but none of them had tasted Ka-san’s cooking before-
It is quiet in the small kitchen, his second night of preparation of the dish, as he stirs the more of the dashi soy sauce into the simmering pork stock, and it has been hours since he started letting the pork shoulder simmer in the marinade. He is close to finishing for the night.
Everyone has retired for the evening, and he can see Zenyatta on the balcony in repose in his meditation.
The scent of the stock wafting about the small kitchen and the rest of the unit is enough the bring back faded images of long days of training in Genji’s mind, when he was younger and where he would end his day sitting at his father’s left hand, Hanzo across him looking tired from a day for meetings with the clan elders but happy for the bowl of shoyu ramen in front of him, and all of them eating as a family away from responsibility and duty only if for a meal-
He is alone until-
He hears the small creak of the kitchen sink’s old tap but he need not look over his shoulder to see who it was rinsing their small cup. He sinks his free hand further inside his borrowed hoodie as Hanzo walks soundlessly over to the stove, visibly inhaling the scent of the stock and looking at the tied pork shoulder that he lets simmer in the pot.
Hanzo doesn’t look at him but he moves to find a duck spoon within one of the drawers close by to taste the soup. He finds himself holding a breath had he as he watches Hanzo dip the spoon into the simmering broth and sip a taste of it appraisingly.
Genji scoffs in disbelief as Hanzo moves to grab the rest of the dashi and adding it in with the rest of the stock, knocking aside Genji’s arm so that he can stir it in more smoothly.
“When did you get Ka-san’s recipe?” Hanzo asks him, his tone contemplative as he tastes more of the stock and nods, satisfied.
Genji is struck by a sudden pang of envy that his brother can taste the stock and eat the marinated pork that took him days to make, that he can eat the finished meal. That he can eat it with the others-
“Before the first raids,” he answers, freeing his hand from its worn pocket as he reaches to turn the stove off. Tomorrow he can serve it to the others-
And to Hanzo.
(Hanzo has always managed to get a bit of soup on his chin when he eagerly drinks the remaining from the bowl- Genji laughs and gives him hell for it and their father smiles at them, eyes crinkling, from behind his cup of tea-)
Hanzo breathes. “After then.”
After I left.
Genji’s hands still and watches the steam rise for the pot, the pieces of chicken wing and smaller slices of carrot and ginger stilling in the stock’s surface he removes it from the heat. Hanzo moves to let him take the pork from the pot and leans against the counter instead, arms crossed as he quietly watches him move around the kitchen, straining the stock of the solids within the mixture, disposing of the overly softened vegetables and chicken after.
As Genji turns to store the strained stock and pork shoulder in the refrigerator to chill until the next day, he is surprised to hear Hanzo behind him starting to clean up. Quietly putting the used bowls and knives in the sink, sleeves rolled up to get his hands in the soapy water with a sponge.
They work in silence, letting Hanzo wash the utensils of the safehouse as he dries them and puts them back in their respective drawers and cupboards. The night chill starts to affect Hanzo, Genji can see by the way goosebumps rise on the flesh of Hanzo’s shoulder, barely visible against the dragon’s ink-
It is late.
Even Zenyatta has disappeared from his perch on the balcony, Genji notes. He’s looking forward to curling up in warmth with the omnic after all this work is done-
“Why cook, brother?” Hanzo asks him, after the last knife and ladle has been put away and the kitchen is spotless.
“These people are-” Genji sighs and turns away, heading up the stairs with his hands shoved back into the pockets of the hoodie. He will be keeping it after they leave this place. “They are family, Hanzo. They deserve as much. I think they deserve to return home to a good meal at the end of the day.”
He doesn’t turn around to see the remorse in Hanzo’s eyes but he stops rising up the stairs and puts a tired smile to his voice.
“You can have a double helping, brother, don’t worry. I’m sure you miss the ramen just as much as I do.”
He retires to his room, not without missing the small exhale of relief that Hanzo gives.
Dinner the next evening is something the team had greatly anticipated.
But it was also chaos.
It was impossible to fit everyone in the small kitchen, and Genji, with Zenyatta’s help, took instead to preparing the ramen with the noodles in the hot broth and generous slices of the pork in each of the mismatched bowls in two rows of six. Twelve bowls for twelve organics.
He thinks to himself that their happiness for eating a home cooked meal is worth more than the pang he feels in his chest as he sets out each serving. He finishes garnishing each bowl with sprinkles of scallions atop each steaming bowl, and puts a slivers of nori sheets half submerged in soup.
Zenyatta carefully balances each bowl and passes them on to Tracer, who runs all over the place to pass them further down the line. He’s grateful that the soup isn’t spilt on anyone.
And just like that, the ramen disappears much quicker than it takes to even prepare it.
He hears McCree huffing about a second serving but he is glad, so glad that everyone is happy for the good meal. He overhears Mei telling Hana and Lucio about how she’d like to cook Sichuan pork for them soon, Lucio piping up that he’s more than happy to help her prepare the dish as long as he’d get her help preparing a dessert called brigadeiro after. He smirks behind his mask as he hears of Zarya and Torbjorn speaking in their quiet surprise, that even he- half a man and the other a machine, was even able to prepare a heart-warming meal of this calibre.
Genji thinks that Ka-san would be proud of him. He hopes the old woman is well wherever she’s fled.
He later finds himself ushered out of the kitchen by his team mates, Fareeha and Lucio more than happy to take everyone’s empty bowls to wash and dry them whilst Tracer and Hana race about the small kitchen packing away the cutlery in a lively way that Genji knows would make Ka-san faint.
Angela and Winston thank him for the meal as he passes through the house, and he catches Reinhardt’s eye, letting out a quiet laugh as the giant of a man gives him a thumbs up whilst enjoying the last slurps of his meal. Genji finds himself laughing harder when Zenyatta, who floats next to the giant, is on the receiving end of a hearty clap on the back that the knight gives him.
He finds McCree outside, an unlit cigar in between his lips and an untouched bowl of his cooking—
“Said that he’d be back soon,” he hears McCree say quietly, patting the empty seat on the other side of the untouched bowl, and Genji’s lips thin behind his mask, grateful at least that McCree cannot see the small amount of disapproval that he finds he cannot hide from his face. He takes a seat, giving a small sigh and turning away from the bowl of ramen, seeing the broth starting to cluster in grease at the edges of the bowl in the cold.
Someone has, McCree perhaps, at least covered the meal in cling wrap, but it is clear that Hanzo had not been as excited for the familiar meal as Genji thought. He wilts at the prospect.
“Nice of you to do that, Genji,” McCree turns to him, his metal hand wrapping his worn, red serape tighter across his shoulders as he nods his head towards the bowl in between them. Genji can see the steam underneath the cling wrap starting to obscure the contents of the soup. “Haven’t had a meal like that since- shit. Come to think of it, don’t think I’ve ever had a meal like that before.”
Genji finds himself laughing. “The privilege is all mine, McCree.”
“I’ve got the feeling I have to dig up my abuela’s recipe for torta de huevos if we’re going to make this a regular thing,” McCree mutters, rolling his cigar in between his lips as he leans back, crossing his arms. “Can’t say I can cook as well as you though. I’m damn sure abuela had all the recipes in her head too.”
Genji shakes his head, a chuckle escaping him. “I don’t think that this will involve swapping over like watch duty, McCree. That was not my intention when I was cooking.”
A shrug escapes the cowboy’s shoulders but the silence between them is comfortable, amiable. “Hanzo told me as much, said that family deserves something nice to come home to.”
Genji crosses his legs and leans further into his seat, and he cannot hide the defeat his voice when he turns to McCree. “Has he gone someplace else to eat?”
McCree turns to him and gives a quiet laugh. “No idea where he went but he said he can’t eat the ramen yet, said it was missing something.”
Genji huffs and leans back, fists clenched inside the pockets of the borrowed hoodie he’s yet to take off. “You would think that he could have told me that while I was making it.”
He turns his head slightly, seeing a knowing smirk on McCree’s lips. He could ask further, get it out of the cowboy, but he did not want to seem petty. He instead looks away, the chill of the night finally giving rise and he sees the breath that escapes McCree’s lips as the other man exhales.
He looks around the street where the unit’s situated and he sees a flash of metal at the end, underneath a blinking streetlight. He hears familiar light footsteps treading on the old asphalt. McCree chuckles at the sight of Hanzo approaching, and Genji scoffs despite himself.
“About damn time.”
“My apologies, I was caught up,” Hanzo replies, somewhat breathlessly, setting his bow down and removing his quiver, laying it at their feet in care. McCree moves aside for him to let him sit in between them but Genji’s disappointment abates at the sight of the small smirk his brother has playing at the corner of his lips when he looks at McCree.
(Genji thinks of that this is truly his family now-)
He looks away from them but he is surprised to see his Hanzo take out something wrapped in the Shimada cloth from his packs-
“Is that sake, Hanzo?” Genji laughs at the sight of the familiar green bottle as Hanzo uncorks it and takes a good swig. He passes it to McCree who nips at the alcohol but Genji can tell that he’s not used to the taste by the way the man flinches as he swallows. “I can’t believe you.”
Hanzo looks at him knowingly as he removes the cling wrap from the bowl of now cold ramen and Genji exhales, reaching to take the bowl at the smallest gesture that his brother makes towards him. He readily channels heat through his hands, steam releasing from his pistons and joinery escapes through the most frayed patches of fabric in the hoodie he wears and soon enough the grease that’s collected on the surface of the broth melts into back into the smoothest stock, and steam rises again from bowl; a warm meal. McCree whistles on Hanzo’s other side as rises from his seat.
“That’s mighty handy in these parts,” the cowboy says as he sets down the bottle of sake next to Hanzo and he tips his hat at them both. “Don’t stay out too late.”
Genji looks askance as McCree lays his left hand on Hanzo’s shoulder in farewell before he returns inside the unit. It is quiet between them, save for the tinkling that comes from the chopsticks beating against the worn bowl’s edges as Hanzo eats the ramen in the way that Genji remembers so fondly. Hanzo sets the bowl down in his lap as he uncorks the green bottle beside him and takes another drink of the sake.
“One cannot have a good meal without good drink but it seems that they do not guard the alcohol there like they used to,” Hanzo sneers as he leans against the unit’s wall, hands cradling the bowl to warm his fingers.
“And as usual, you would be the one to complain about security,” Genji says, a smile in his voice to which Hanzo just shakes his head, but the way his brother continues to eat gives him hope. He knocks his knee against Hanzo’s tentatively in jest-
And Hanzo knocks back, in a way that both of them didn’t think they would relive despite everything that has happened.
(“Thank you for the meal, Genji.”
“Any time, Hanzo.”)