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four days

Chapter Text

“I have an embarrassin’ favor to ask of you,” Jesse says.

Hanzo stares at him expectantly, a single brow arched. “And what is that?” he asks.

“Y’see, my family might currently be under the impression that I’m bringin’ home a date for a few days next week. And, the thing is, I don’t really have one. So, I’m currently S-O-L and would really, really appreciate it if you came home with me for a few days and, uh. Pretended. To be my boyfriend.”

He stares down at his plate and jabs a fry into the enormous puddle of ketchup gathered in the center of it. If only the fry could be his hypothetical four-day boyfriend, he thinks; it would save him an enormous amount of embarrassment. It would be tastier, too.

The other man looks amused, to say the least. Goddamnit, Jesse thinks. Could he at least look a bit less smug?

“Why me?” Hanzo asks, picking at the edge of the salad in front of him with his fork. “You could ask Lena, perhaps?”

Jesse makes a face. “Too young.”

“Doctor Ziegler?”

“She’s like a sister to me.”


“Too nice to be with someone like me, and my family’d know it.”

Hanzo stares at him, deadpan. “And what does that make me?” he asks stonily.

“A good fit?” Jesse offers sheepishly. “‘Sides. My family knows that I, y’know. Bat for the other team. Prefer my groceries delivered ‘round back. Horse of a different color.”

“I understand,” Hanzo says. “That being said, there are plenty of other men here.”

“Look. You ‘n I have gotten pretty close since you came here,” he says. “You’re a great man, Hanzo. I trust you with my life on the battlefield, and you’ve never failed t’ take care of it. I’d feel more comfortable takin’ you home than I would with the others.” Jesse doesn’t mention the fact that, in the time they have gotten to know each other as both comrades and individuals, he has slowly begun to feel a bit more than usual for the man. But that’s just a tiny detail; nothing he needs to relay.

He gives the archer his best beggar’s eyes, hands clasped pleadingly before him. “Please. I’m up shit’s creek right now. My mother will personally fly out here and wrap her hands around my neck if I don’t bring someone back; she’s been waitin’ so long for me to say I’m finally with someone, I just snapped and made a real big fuckin’ mess of things. ‘S just four days, quick ‘n easy. We just gotta lie our way through everythin’, then a few weeks later, when we’re far, far away from her, I’ll call and say things didn’t work out.”

Hanzo picks at his salad contemplatively for a few minutes, deep in thought.

Finally, the golden words come from his mouth.

“I will do it.”

- -

A Cessna from Gibraltar to Sevilla, a flight from Sevilla to JFK, a hypertrain from JFK to Santa Fe, and a taxi later, a travel-weary, jetlagged Jesse and Hanzo stand at the gate that leads to the old McCree family farmhouse. Thank God they packed light, Jesse thinks. Hauling more around wouldn’t have been an enjoyable task. He eyes the three stuffed duffel bags between them -- one devoted entirely to their weapons and gear, should the need arise, the other two carrying simple clothing and other travel necessities.

Jesse looks up at the familiar ranch sign that heralds the path leading to the house. Held up by two wooden poles, a rusted, black metal horse is caught in a frozen gallop beneath letters that read McCree Ranch. He’s genuinely surprised that the sign is still standing, considering it’s three generations of McCrees old and there isn’t any real ranch to speak of anymore.

They follow the dirt trail that winds down a ways to the farmhouse, sweat trickling down their skin as the heat of the New Mexico summer sun beats down unforgivingly. Scrub brush tickles their ankles, clouds of dirt tumble by with the hot wind, and lizards scurry over hot rocks and the cracked ground. It feels like home.

Jesse can see Hanzo tug at the fabric of his clothing, obviously stifled by the heat despite the fact that half his chest is, as usual, bared to the world, unrestrained by the hot bindings of being fully clothed.

“Almost there,” Jesse says. He can see the farmhouse just down the path, slowly becoming larger and larger the more they walk.

Hanzo dips his head in acknowledgement. “This property all belongs to your family?” he asks.

“Yeah. When my Pa’s grandmother came over from Ireland, they settled here and bought the land. Started a farm. Used t’be pretty big, too -- but nobody’s much for traditional farmin’ nowadays, what with all the technology we’ve got to make the whole process faster. It’s been family land for years, though. Hard to leave ‘n move elsewhere.”

“I see,” Hanzo replies. The archer opens his mouth to say something else, but his words are cut short by a long, shrill cry of Jesse!

Nina and Sofía wave at him, matching grins gleaming, hands cupped around their mouths as they shout at him. The twins look the same as ever, their long, black hair hanging in their faces, dark eyes complementing dark skin and lips reddened by matte gloss. Everything about them is the identical -- faces, makeup, even the placements of the several piercings in their ears. Jesse thanks whatever deity is up there watching over him that they at least have it in them to wear different clothes; he’s mistaken one for the other far too often, despite the fact that they’ve been in his life for eighteen years, now.

Saoirse stands behind them, a girl of just sixteen, her shy gaze fixated on Hanzo. She’s grown a bit since Jesse last saw her, he thinks. Her wild brown curls now reach the bottom of her chin and frame her face. More freckles spatter the bridge of her nose and both rosy cheeks, a testament to time spent under the hot New Mexico sun. She’s the spitting image of their father in days gone by.

Lastly, behind all three of his younger sisters, is his Mamá. A warm smile tugs her lips upwards, and Jesse feels a pang in his chest, a burst of happiness and love and home. Even nearing her sixties in age, Mamá is beautiful; thick, black hair tumbles down her shoulders, and the small, Celtic knot necklace Pa gave her years ago gleams silver in the hollow of her throat. She wipes her hands on the hem of her dress, dusting flour from her fingertips.

Jesse puts a guiding hand at the small of Hanzo’s back -- a light touch, just enough to acknowledge to his family that yes, they are together, and are totally comfortable with gestures such as these even though he is extremely sure that he has never touched the other man for this long in the entire span of their acquaintanceship. Hanzo doesn’t flinch, surprisingly. He allows the hand on his back to press into him, a warm, guiding force.

“Oh my God, Jess!” Nina cries out, unable to restrain herself any longer from running up to wrap her arms around him. Sofía does the same, and then everyone is hugging him in a tangle of limbs and long hair and happiness. Hanzo stands stoically beside them until Mamá drags him into the hug, babbling about how happy she is that her Jesse has finally found himself someone good and how she’s excited that he has come all the way out to New Mexico to visit them. Jesse notes the surprised look on Hanzo’s face and chuckles; obviously, the man has never experienced a good, old-fashioned McCree Family Greeting before.

After a good, long hug (that Jesse senses is incredibly uncomfortable for Hanzo, judging by the look on the other man’s face), they break apart and the his family stands back to examine both he and his new (fake) partner.

“Welcome back, mijo. It is good to see you.”

Mamá’s voice is warm with tenderness and affection. Jesse smiles -- it’s been nearly a year since he last heard those words from her mouth.

“Is this the one?” she continues, gesturing toward Hanzo.

Jesse nods. “He’s, uh. Y’know.”

“I am his partner,” Hanzo steps in, smoothing over Jesse’s stumbling words. He snakes an arm around Jesse’s waist, fingers resting lightly on his hip in a display of affection that would make their ‘relationship’ obvious to the women. Huh, Jesse thinks. He’s really takin’ this seriously.

Mamá is pleased; she steps forward and rests a hand against one of Hanzo’s cheeks, pressing her lips to the opposite one in a fleeting kiss of welcome. “I am glad that you are in my son’s life. It has been a long time since he has had someone to make him as happy as you do. You should have heard him on the phone -- he was so excited!”

“Mamá,” Jesse gripes, tipping the brim of his hat down in embarrassment. He curses internally; his mother has a habit of over-exaggerating things. It’s not that he wasn’t excited -- excited to see her and the girls again, sure. Excited to bring Hanzo along? Maybe a bit, he thought. They’d become comfortable friends in the months since the archer had been drawn into the Overwatch fold.

Hanzo’s eyes flit momentarily to Jesse’s face in surprise. He looks back at Mamá and dips his head. “Yes,” he replies, and is that a smile on Hanzo’s face? Jesse wonders. “He is a very special man. Both to me, and to our companions. I am glad he is in my life, as well.”

If they hadn’t been in a fake relationship, Jesse might have actually thought Hanzo’s words were genuine. He looks behind Mamá and catches Saoirse staring at them, a fleeting smile dancing upon her lips.

“Well, it is certainly nice to meet the one making Jesse so happy,” Mamá replies. “I am Daniela, though you may call me Dani. Or Mamá, as the children do.”

“Children?” Hanzo says, mouth curved in a smooth silver-tongued smile. “I thought you were their sister.”

“Oh, you flatterer,” Mamá huffs and waves a hand dismissively. Jesse can tell she is pleased, judging by the flush that rises to her cheeks. He hadn’t pegged Hanzo for such a smooth-talker -- the man sure knew the way to his mother’s heart, and had already loosed an arrow straight toward it.

“I like him already,” Nina says. “Can we keep him?”

“We don’t even know his name yet, mija. Give him time.”

Hanzo removes his hand from Jesse’s hip, clasping both together and bowing at the waist. “I am Hanzo. It is a pleasure.”

Jesse feels the warm spot where the other man’s hand was and presses his lips together in a thin line as he feels a small pang of an unidentifiable emotion in his chest. The hand was nice, he thinks; he could get used to little gestures like that. His musing thoughts are put on pause when Sofía scoffs at him, an accusatory finger pointed in his direction.

“Eugh. You really need to shave, sasquatch. You weren’t this hairy last time you came home,” Sofía says. Jesse snorts and leans down to plant a kiss on one of her cheeks, scruff brushing her skin. “Gross!” his little sister yelps, and she wipes the area with a palm in mock disgust, unable to stifle the giggle that escapes her lips.

“Your beard does need a trim,” Mamá says. She cups Jesse’s face between her hands and examines him, thumbs brushing his bristly whiskers. “And you smell like smoke. I thought I told you to stop it with that?”

“Aw, Mamá,” he huffs sullenly.

“No, no, no. Smoking is bad for you -- and, I bet this one does not like it,” she chides, pointing a finger at Hanzo. “What do you think of my son’s filthy habit, hm?”

Hanzo wrinkles his nose, looking at Jesse sideways. “He smells like a walking ashtray,” he simply replies.

Jesse’s goes slack-jawed, one hand set to a hip as he turns to face Hanzo. “‘Scuse me?” he says, a laugh bubbling inside him. Hanzo raises a pointed brow. He’s smirking. The bastard is smirking. “I gotta deal with you always walkin’ around wearin’ that outfit like you’re straight from some kind’a half-naked Hunger Games, and you can’t handle a little smoke?”

“‘A little smoke’ is an understatement. And my outfit is a traditional garment -- unlike the questionable ensemble you prefer to wear.”

“How am I supposed to focus when we’re in the middle of battle and that chest o’ yours is starin’ me right in the face?” Jesse huffs. “And my clothes ain’t got nothin’ to do with this, anyway.”

“He has a point, though,” Nina says.

“Your fashion taste is pretty awful,” Sofía adds.

The nail in his proverbial coffin comes when quiet, little Saoirse pipes up and states, “Your hat is ridiculous.”

Jesse clutches a hand over the left side of his chest, face twisted in mock pain. “My own family and my darlin’, gangin’ up on me. I can’t believe this. Betrayal, ‘s what it is. Y’can’t crucify your own sibling like this.” He swears he sees Mamá and Hanzo roll their eyes in tandem. Nobody bothers to deign him with a response.

“Come, come,” Mamá says, allowing Jesse to keep the last shreds of his dignity by changing the subject. “You two must be tired from all of your travelling. The guest room is all made up -- go, unpack, rest for a bit. I will call when dinner is ready. ”

She walks to the front door of the house, hand resting on the doorknob. From behind it, Jesse can hear a faint scritch, scritch, scritch of something against the wood.

“Before you go, though, someone has been waiting to see you.” She opens the door, and quick as lightning, a bundle of fur bolts out.

“Cash!” Jesse cries. The dog comes bounding toward him at top speed, paws throwing up lumps of dirt and tongue lolling from the side of his mouth. Jesse bends down, arms spread wide and a stupid grin on his face; Cash is still the same, if a bit more on the elderly side, now -- a mutt of a dog with a marbled grey and tan and white coat that speaks to his Aussie side, with the inquisitive eyes and floppy ears of a Border Collie. A bright red bandana is tied around the dog’s neck, as always, marked with swirls of white-and-black paisley. His stumpy tail wags back-and-forth incessantly as he showers Jesse’s face with sloppy kisses, slobber leaving wet trails on the man’s dark skin.

Jesse runs his fingers through Cash’s fur, scritching behind the dog’s ears happily. “Hey, boy,” he says, a deep, happy laugh escaping from his lips. He glances at Hanzo, who is staring at him, completely deadpan.

“Come meet ‘im,” he says, beckoning the archer over; Hanzo’s jaw flexes as he grits his teeth, obviously wary of the dog. “He’s all bark ‘n no bite. Promise.” Jesse shoves Cash off him and points to Hanzo. “Go on, boy! New friend!”

Obviously excited by the prospect of this new friend, Cash trots over to Hanzo with a big dog-grin, tongue hanging lazily from his mouth -- and promptly shoves his snout into the archer’s crotch. Hanzo reels back, brows knit and a look of obvious disgust on his face; Jesse can’t help the shit-eating grin that dances upon his lips and the laughter that rumbles deep in his chest. For every step Hanzo takes away from the dog in a futile attempt to escape, Cash takes two more, barking happily at the man.

“Sorry, sorry,” Jesse says, thumbing a tear of laughter from the corner of his eye. “Should’a warned you. That’s how he likes to say ‘hello.’”

Hanzo draws a deep breath and gently pats the dog’s head (though it looks to Jesse more like he’s trying to shove Cash’s nose away from his goods). The girls are laughing and so is Mamá; there’s even a bare hint of a smile on Hanzo’s face, the light mood infectious. He’s missed this, Jesse thinks. Overwatch is a family to him, as well -- a family of misfits all shoved together like puzzle pieces that shouldn’t fit. He loves them, bless their hearts, and he misses all of the others when they’re apart. But being back in Santa Fe, back with his mother, his sisters, his overly-friendly dog, it all reminds him of all the good times he’s spent here. Memories of when he grew up, before getting involved with anything Deadlock-related; memories of reconciling with his parents, grateful that they allowed him back into their lives and were willing to let him help raise his sisters; and, he thinks, new memories that have yet to be made. Bringing Hanzo back here feels like a crossing of both families, the two finally becoming one. Somehow, it feels right.

And so, Jesse falls into the familiar rhythm of being home once more.

- -

He remembers Mamá, hands on her hips, face stained by sweat and grease from a long day of work at the garage. Her thick brows were knit in disappointment; Jesse thought she looked like an angered wild animal with its teeth bared and hackles raised as she yelled at him. Beside her, Pa stood, brawny arms crossed tightly over his chest. He was the calm to Mamá’s storm, still as a statue while she raged on. But Jesse could sense his frustration. He saw it in his father’s steeled gaze, his messy brown hair and disheveled beard, the dark bags under his eyes that attested to sleepless nights. It was not the first time Jesse had seen his parents in this state, angry and anxious, waiting for him to show his face once more.

“You scared us half to death, mijo!” Mamá shouted. “Three days, you’ve been gone! Three days this time! No note, not even a call -- nothing! You leave us like this, and for what? To go riding around on a motorcycle, with a bunch of criminals and gangsters?”

“Mamá --” Jesse started, feeling anger rise within him. He was quickly cut off by his mother’s cry of, “I’m talking, now! Do not interrupt me.”

She took a step toward him, and he held his ground. But Jesse remembers that he couldn’t even bring himself to look in her eyes. Instead, he turned his burning gaze to the tiles of the floor, staring at the grout between them frustratedly.

“Your father hasn’t slept since you left, and neither have I -- do you know that? We’ve worked our whole lives to give you everything, and here you are, throwing it all away! Do you think this gang will give you even half as much as we do?”

“At least they don’t treat me like a child,” Jesse spat. “I’m fifteen, now. I’m not some little fuckin’ kid anymore.” He looked up and caught the flash of pain in his mother’s eyes.

“Then maybe you should act like it,” Mamá hissed. “What do you think these men will give you? Money? Power? They are criminals, Jesse -- and that is what you will become if you join their gang. I did not give you that gun for you to treat it this way. Like trash. I did not teach you to shoot it so you could use it to become an outlaw. A murderer. No son of mine would do that.”

Peacekeeper suddenly felt like a leaded weight in the back pocket of his jeans. His mother’s words rang in his ears; this was not the life he wanted, living in a shitty, old farmhouse and watching his parents live paycheck-to-paycheck, always struggling through life. He wanted more than this. More than Santa Fe. More than a family that didn’t understand him and a bleak existence. Thrill and infamy were within his grasp, a way to truly make something of his life. His mother and father would never understand.

“Then maybe I don’t wanna be your damn son.” he said, voice utterly calm. Without looking at either of his parents’ faces, he shouldered his pack and walked out the door, revolver heavy in his pocket. He would not look back, Jesse told himself. That life was behind him.

- -

He’s startled from the memory by the sound of the bathroom door squeaking open.

A cloud of warm steam lazily curls from behind Hanzo, who stands beneath the doorframe. Jesse quietly chokes, breath caught in his throat, and he’s pretty sure his eyes must be bugging out of his head. Hanzo is clad is nothing, save for the towel that is dangerously low on his waist, the edges of which are held together by nothing more than his fist. His salt-and-pepper hair hangs damp around his face and shoulders, and mellow droplets of water slowly drip from his locks and trickle down the dragon that curls around the other man’s arm. Jesse’s eyes trace the V of Hanzo’s waist, gaze flitting over the dark trail of hair that starts below the other man’s bellybutton and disappears tauntingly beneath the towel. God, he thinks -- he would kill for that towel to drop right now.

He realizes how long he’s been staring when Hanzo makes a tch sound and gives him a pointed glance before moving to rummage through his duffel bag for a set of clothing.

“I seem to recall annoyance on your part earlier about how I am always half-unclothed,” Hanzo says airily.

“Well, I gotta say, I’m used to that,” Jesse replies. “This don’t seem right. I feel like I’m not s’posed t’see the other half of your chest.”

“You should accustom yourself to it, then, if we are to be together like this for three more days.”

Jesse flaps a hand dismissively. “I know, I know. ‘S just weird, is all.”

“Nothing between us can be ‘weird’ if we are to convince your family of our relationship. That is what you still want, is it not?”

“Yeah,” he replies, “yeah, it is. Listen, you don’t gotta be all touchy-feely if it makes you uncomfortable, or anythin’. I’m sure they’ll believe us well enough if we’re just, y’know. Together.”

Hanzo’s eyebrow quirks. “It does not make me uncomfortable; it seems to me that you are uncomfortable with it. Your mother and sisters are keen. I am sure they will be able to see through all that we do if we do not devote ourselves wholly to it.”

“S’pose you’re right,” Jesse mumbles. “I just didn’t want this to mess up our friendship, or somethin’.”

He receives a derisive snort in reply. “I would not be here if it were not for our friendship, Jesse. Do not worry.”

- -

Dinner is, as always in the McCree household, a noisy affair.

Nina and Sofía rush around the table, chattering to one another as they put down place settings and hotpads on the dinner table. Hanzo seems to watch them with interest, Jesse notes.

Mamá and Saoirse lay the dishes upon the table -- they’ve made Jesse’s favorite, carne tampiqueña, and he’s excited to eat a meal cooked by his family for the first time in a long while.

Once everyone is seated and the typical pre-meal prayer has been said, they dig in like a pack of hungry hyenas. Conversation is amicable, at first -- simple questions about how life has been, where Hanzo is from, what his family is like; Hanzo answers some and glosses over others.

“Okay, woah,” Nina finally says, holding a hand up in a ‘stop’ motion. “Pump the brakes. I’ve been wondering -- Is this real?”

She pokes Hanzo’s tattooed bicep with a single manicured nail, prodding the dragon’s scaled belly that curls around his arm. For a moment Jesse if terrified that the dragons might suddenly decide they’d like to pop out of Hanzo’s arm and bite off Nina’s invading finger. He’s seen enough shit happen in battle to know that he should be exceedingly wary of them. But, he realizes -- there’s no glowing. No telltale growl, no weird Shimada voodoo. Just Hanzo, looking mildly uncomfortable as Nina jabs at his tattoo.

“Yes, it is real,” Hanzo murmurs in reply. He fixes Nina with his trademark thousand-yard stare, a gaze that Jesse has seen make even some of their hardiest comrades (Reinhardt) uneasy. Nina doesn’t flinch; she simply quirks one brow and snaps her gum nonchalantly at Hanzo, nodding approvingly.

“Damn, Jess. Where’d you find this one?”

“No cursing in this house,” Mamá scolds, and Nina simply purses her lips in reply.

Jesse scratches the back of his head sheepishly, feeling a bit of secondhand embarrassment at his sister’s antics. “He works with me,” he replies to Nina, who shoots him a look of surprise.

“Like. With Overwatch?”

Hanzo’s head whips around, staring at Jesse with slightly parted lips, his entire face reading seriously?

“They know what I do, sweetcheeks,” Jesse mutters to the other man. “Gotta be honest with ‘em.”

“It’s not like we’d tell anyone, anyway,” Sofía huffs, arms crossed over her chest. “Overwatch got shut down when we were kids. We know you guys are totally illegal now. We don’t want to, like, accidentally indict our big brother, so don’t worry.”

Hanzo dips his head in quiet understanding -- though, from the corner-eyed stare Jesse’s getting, he suspects a call to Winston will be made later that night and he will be sat down for a long talk about compromising security and keeping secrets when they return to home base.

“So, how did you two come to truly know each other?”

The question inevitably comes from Mamá, who Jesse knows has been chomping at the bit to ask it. She’s a romantic at heart, and given the amount she’s pestered him over the years to finally settle down with someone, he knows she is excited to hear all of the juicy details of their relationship. Or, he thinks, the lack thereof.

“Well, like I said, we work together,” Jesse begins. “His brother actually worked with Overwatch for a long while, and came back when the rest of us did. Extremely long story short, Hanzo ended up joinin’ the crew, too.”

“We were sent on many missions together, over the span of several months. Living in the same area within a relatively small base of operations brought us closer, as well.” Hanzo, once more, smoothly picks up where Jesse leaves off. “One mission in particular, I remember well. We were in Egypt, outnumbered by enemy forces. He was injured by one of them -- a gunshot, to the abdomen. I remember.. How do you say it in English? Seeing red?”

Jesse frowns. This isn’t some made-up meet-cute story, he thinks. He remembers this mission distinctly; his hand ghosts over the pink starburst scar that now mars his stomach, a memory of the day.

“Thankfully, the rest of our team managed to provide us with aid, and we escaped,” Hanzo continued. “Narrowly. I was frightened; wounds are common in battle, and never before had I felt this way when he had gotten injured. I contemplated my feelings for a long time and realized how much I truly felt for him. He had become more than just a friend to me.”

Mamá’s hands are on her cheeks, and she coos at the story. “Mijo,” she says to Jesse, “you have truly found yourself a wonderful man.”

From the corner of his eye, Jesse looks at Hanzo confusedly, wondering how much of the story had been true; the other man does not meet his eyes, instead staring at his plate of food and poking at the meat with the tines of his fork.

Later, as he and Hanzo stand side-by-side at the sink and wash the dishes from dinner, shoulders just barely brushing, Jesse thinks about what a terrible idea this was. Conflicting feelings and odd, new desires rage within him; he wonders if he will be able to spend three more days in this new state of closeness with the man he has secretly pined for for so long.

Chapter Text

4:02 A.M.

The blue numbers glow at him in the darkness of the room, a blinding light that invades Jesse’s squinted eyes. Fuck, is his first thought. His body’s inner clock hasn’t quite adjusted to being back in the states -- it must be around noon back in Gibraltar. A deep sigh escapes his lips, and he has a mind to go and make himself a cup of coffee and a nice pile of pancakes for the girls, when the second thought crosses his mind: the hell is that?

He feels a warmth on the back of his neck and the brush of a beard against the skin there; Hanzo, he realizes. The archer’s arms are curled around Jesse’s stomach, palms pressed flat to his abdomen, warm and incredibly comfortable. He’s slotted against Jesse’s back. The sharpshooter is amazed by how perfectly he seems to fit there -- as well as the unexpected fact that Hanzo is a sleep-cuddler. He crooks his head to the side and looks at Hanzo’s sleeping face from the corner of his eye; the other man’s hair is down, bangs soft upon his cheeks, dark locks curling around his chin and falling messily down his back. He looks so peaceful like this, Jesse thinks. Unguarded. Free. It feels incredibly intimate to see Hanzo in such a vulnerable position.

In his sleep, Hanzo moves suddenly, body shifting. Jesse’s attention is brought to the leg that’s slid between both of his own, upper thigh dangerously near his goods. He resists the urge to groan, afraid it might wake the other man up because, he realizes -- with no small amount of embarrassment -- he’s hard. It takes everything in him to not slide a hand into his boxers and do away with it; he is not about to jerk off with Hanzo wrapped around him like some kind of pitched-tent-inducing octopus. Instead, he attempts to relax himself and picture the worst things he possibly can. Abuela in her underwear. Dead fish on a hot day. Reinhardt doing anything remotely sexual.

He feels Hanzo move again; this time, he realizes, the other man is waking up. Jesse screws his eyes shut and pretends to be asleep, hoping to save face and not have to endure an awkward conversation about sleeping space and morning wood. He lies there, as still as possible, breathing slowed, and feels Hanzo slowly unravel his arms and slide his leg out from between Jesse’s.

Just when he thinks Hanzo is about to move away completely, a hand brushes against his cheek. It’s light, and tentative, as if the other man feels that he shouldn’t be touching him, but does anyway. A thumb breezes along his jaw, the flat pad of it brushing Jesse’s beard. The touch stops just below his bottom lip. Jesse’s breath quietly catches in his throat; he resists the urge to lean into the other man’s hand, prompt more.

When Hanzo withdraws his hand and sits on the edge of the bed, mattress sinking beneath his weight, Jesse finally lets his held breath slip quietly out. He doesn’t move, doesn’t give any indication that he could have possibly been awake; a thousand thoughts race through his mind, the greatest of which is what the fuck was that? Clearly, either Hanzo is taking his role incredibly seriously, even when others aren’t watching -- or, it was something else. Jesse doesn’t let himself think about something else, doesn’t allow his fleeting hopes to be thought of as any more than just fleeting. He quashes whatever desires that oddly private moment brought to the surface once more and reminds himself that Hanzo is just here out of a sense of friendship and duty. Whatever feelings Jesse has will subside in time, he prays.

The door to the bathroom squeaks open, then closed. The sounds of the lightswitch being flipped and the sink running meet Jesse’s ears. He seizes his moment and quietly rolls off the bed, pulling an old Dixie Chicks t-shirt out of his ransacked duffel bag, tugging it over his head and stumbling out of the room as silently as possible.

He pads softly through the house, taking in the new and the old. Several photo frames that had not been there when he last visited now line the shelves -- pictures of Nina and Sofía at their high school graduation just a few months ago, smiling in blue caps and gowns with matching golden cords and stoles of academic honor draped over their shoulders. A new one of Mamá grinning, a birthday cake set before her. He stops when he sees the most recent picture taken of their entire family, over a year ago, now: the twins standing to one side with their hands raised in peace signs, Saoirse sitting upon his shoulders, her arms and head resting on his hat, and Mamá in the middle of everyone, a bright smile upon her face. He feels a warm wave of happiness wash over him.

Cash wakes up when Jesse passes the dog’s bed, and he can hear the clack, clack, clack of nails on the tile floor.

“Hey, old boy,” Jesse murmurs. He leans down and scratches Cash’s ears, receiving a soft boof noise in return. The dog follows him as he makes his way to the kitchen and flicks on one of the lights. Given how noisy his family is at any given time, it feels serene to be here, in the hub of the house, before all hell breaks loose for the day. The kitchen, like the entire house, is a mixture of time periods -- it’s gotten upgrades over the years, but still retains its basic structure from decades ago. The room looks odd, now, upgraded tech mixed with bright floral deco-tile and wood from the late 1970s. He notices a brand-new fridge has been put in; it must have cost a fortune, Jesse thinks, given the small amount of money his mother makes working at the garage in town.

He sets a pot of coffee on and rubs the sleep from his eyes, puttering around the kitchen opening cabinets and drawers. Jesse is happy to find that there’s a near-full box of Bisquick, a carton with a few eggs left, some butter, and a fresh gallon of milk in the fridge. Pulling a few measuring cups and a bowl from various cabinets, he sets about mixing pancake batter, quietly humming an old Blake Shelton song to himself.

“It seems a bit early to be making breakfast already.”

Hanzo’s voice breaks the peaceful silence. Jesse looks up from the bowl of half-mixed batter, gaze drifting from the number on the microwave that read 4:28 to the archer. Hanzo looks like he’s just rolled out of bed; which, Jesse thinks, he more or less has. His sleep-mussed hair is pulled back in a low ponytail, dark wisps of hair and flyaways framing his face. A too-tight t-shirt that was no doubt borrowed from Lúcio for the express purpose of this trip, judging by the little cartoon frog on the front, hugs his chest and strains over biceps built by archery, and matching dark sweatpants bunch at his ankles. Jesse’s amazed; he’s never seen the other man in anything but his traditional clothing, let alone an outfit so domestic.

“Yeah,” Jesse says after a moment, spoon in hand, slowly spinning the batter. “Guess it is. Jetlag woke me up, though. Can’t get back to sleep once I’m awake. Figured I should do.. somethin’, I s’pose.”

Hanzo nods in understanding. “I am the same way,” he says, simply. “Sleep often escapes me.”

Jesse leaves the pancake batter alone and moves to the coffee pot. He glances at Hanzo and asks, “Coffee?” The other man nods, walking barefooted into the kitchen and leaning against the counter with arms folded across his chest. Jesse fills a mug emblazoned with “#1 Dad!” in bright, bold lettering and hands it to the other man, who accepts it gratefully.

“How’d y’sleep? For however long you did, I s’pose,” Jesse asks slyly. He takes a long sip of his own coffee, staring at Hanzo through sleep-lidded eyes.

“Peacefully,” is all Hanzo says in reply. Damn, Jesse thinks -- no luck in the secrets department today.

The archer quickly drains the rest of his coffee and refills the mug, shoulder brushing Jesse’s as he does so. “Your family is interesting,” he says, grabbing the small sugar shaker from where it rests beside the coffeemaker. “I did not expect your siblings to be so young.”

“Yeah,” Jesse replies, running a hand through his messy bedhead. “Parents kind’a.. gave up on me when I joined the Gang and never looked back. Moved on with their lives.”

The other man quirks an eyebrow. “And yet here you are.”

“Took a lot’a talkin’ and time, but I came back ‘n fixed my relationship with ‘em,” Jesse says. “Didn’t want to live the rest of my life without my family, and I wanted to be there for my sisters. Watch ‘em grow up. Everyone needs a good big brother, right?”

In lieu of replying, Hanzo simply cast a withering look his way. “Oh, right,” the sharpshooter stumbled, mentally cringing at what he’d just said. “I forgot that, uh. There’s you, ‘n there’s Genji, and..”

“Stop while you are ahead, McCree.”

“Yea-p, that would be for the best. Sorry.”

“It is fine. As much as I wished, in the past, for a relationship with my brother similar to the one shared by you and your sisters, it simply was not to be. We drifted too far apart at too early of an age; I have accepted that fact.”

Jesse frowns. “I can’t imagine not bein’ close to those three little rascals. Seems sad, havin’ to grow up like you did. Nobody deserves that.”

“Perhaps I did deserve it. I wonder, sometimes -- if we had been closer, maybe he would not have strayed so far from what our family wanted for us.”

Hanzo sets his mug aside, staring at Jesse -- except he’s not. He stares just past him, eyes unfocused, world-weary. Just for a moment, Jesse sees an unguarded side of Hanzo, wistful and tired of the ghosts that haunt his past.

The archer sighs, gaze flitting to the abandoned bowl of pancake batter. “It would be a waste to not make something of it,” he says, leaving the subject of their respective families behind. “I suppose we can cook something for your family when they wake.”

“That sounds like a mighty fine idea.”

- -

Despite the summer Santa Fe heat, Jesse felt cold.

He shouldered the duffel bag that contained everything he owned -- clothes, some food, a few odd knick-knacks. Peacekeeper was safe in its holster on his thigh; it didn’t feel right, bringing the gun his mother had given him back here. Despite the fact that this was his home, it did not feel that way anymore. He knew he was an outcast here, after the way he’d left his parents.

Jesse steeled himself and shook his head. He hadn’t come to dwell on the past. He was here to make amends, to plead forgiveness from his parents and begin to establish some semblance of a relationship with them once more. If they decided to throw him out after he was done groveling -- hell, he wouldn’t blame ‘em. They had every right to do so. Joining up with the Deadlock Gang and casting aside those who loved him.. It was an irredeemably asshole-ish thing to do.

The thought of Ana and bright-eyed, little Fareeha kept him from turning tail and fleeing back to Overwatch.

“You are still young,” Ana had said, fierce eyes staring at him. “You have time to mend your bond with them. It is impossible for you to understand how they must feel, as parents in that position. Their only son left them. Disgraced them.” He didn’t meet that dangerous, burning gaze; shame curled within his chest at the thought of the way he had left things with his parents.

She had continued, thumb and forefinger grabbing his chin, forcing him to look at her. “Go to them. Do not let this fester longer than it already has. Believe me -- they still love you.”
So, he went. Back to Santa Fe, back to the life he’d left behind. Back to the little, old farmhouse on the outskirts of the city that had haunted his dreams for the past several years.

Jesse hesitated for just a moment before rapping his knuckles on the front door. He heard a pair of heavy footsteps draw nearer and nearer, and fought the instinct to flee. The door was opened, and he was met with the big frame of his Pa -- his beard was scruffier, his hair was longer, but it was the same man Jesse had left behind when he was just fifteen.

He swallowed his anxiety. “Howdy, Pa,” he said, offering a weak smile.

His father’s voice was like a fresh sigh of relief. “Jesse,” the big man murmured, and wrapped his arms around his son, squeezing him tight to his chest. “Jesse, oh, Jesse. I never thought I’d see you again, boy.”

“Pa,” Jesse replied weakly. He felt his duffel bag slip from his grip; for the first time in years, he broke down. He let hot tears of relief spill over his cheeks, leaving wet stains in the plaid of his father’s shirt as he buried his face into it, arms wrapped around the figure that embraced him. His voice broke as he whispered, “I’m home.”

They stood there like that for several moments, rocking back and forth and letting happiness consume them both.

When they broke apart, Jesse wiped at his eyes while his father cupped his hands around his mouth and cried out, “Dani!”

Jesse could hear the creaking stairs as Mamá walked down them. “What, what?” she replied, her words followed by the yawn of one who had been awake for far too long. When he finally saw her, Jesse could feel tears once more welling up in his eyes. She had two babies strapped to her, front and back, with heads of thick black hair and dark skin just like their mother, little matching dresses swaddling them. Clearly, believing their only son to be gone forever, his parents had moved on. New children. An attempt at some semblance of a new life. Jesse could not blame them.

Twins, he thought. I’m a brother, now.

He realized Ana was right to chide him and send him back home to reconcile with his parents. He’d missed the feeling of being among true family; no matter what happened now, Jesse thought, he wanted to be there for his family -- including these two little twins. He wanted to be in their lives.

When Mamá saw him, she stopped dead in her tracks. She looked as if she’d seen a ghost.

Jesse,” she exhaled. Years of pain and anger and distance were pushed to the side, forgotten for just this one moment of happiness. They do still love me, he thought, mind drifting to Ana’s words. They do.

- -

Hanzo makes a mean omelette.

By the time the girls wake up, they’ve gone through three pots of coffee, Jesse has an outrageously large platter of pancakes made (with chocolate chips, just the way he knows his little sisters like them), the fresh oranges they had found in the bottom drawer of the fridge are juiced, and they’ve made their way through four episodes of LOST reruns on the quiet, old television set in the family room. Hanzo is whipping out perfect little omelettes of varying ingredients with the expertise of a chef. Jesse is impressed -- he can even flip the omelette in the pan without dicking it up and ending everything in a massive, egg-y mess on the floor (something he had quite a bit of experience in).

Saoirse is the first down the stairs, droopy-eyed and yawning, wearing an oversized tee with a Lucheng Interstellar logo on it and pyjama pants dotted with tiny cats. Her hair is in complete disarray -- Jesse has to hold back a laugh, seeing how similar she looks to him whenever he first wakes up.

“Mornin’, sunshine,” Jesse drawls. He ruffles Saoirse’s hair and she scrunches her nose at him, curling her fingers into a fist and giving him a light knock to the stomach. He doubles over in exaggerated, fake pain and winks at her, earning a giggle from the girl.

Saoirse’s eyes widen when she sees the exorbitant amount of food piled up on the kitchen island. “Guess I won’t be havin’ Cocoa Puffs for breakfast this morning,” she says quietly, turning a bright grin on the two men beside her. “Were you expecting an army to waltz in here?”

Jesse snorts. “Isn’t four hungry women the equivalent?”

“I could not persuade him to stop baking,” Hanzo says drily.

“Well, what if they wanted leftovers tomorrow mornin’? Or some extra for when we leave? Y’know, they don’t get to have my cookin’ that often.”

“A good thing, considering the amount of sugar in those pancakes.”

Jesse puts his hands to his hips, affronted. He couldn’t believe Hanzo had just insulted his pancakes. “There’s nothin’ wrong with a bit of sweet in your breakfast.”

“‘A bit’ is an understatement.”

Saoirse laughs, shovelling food onto a plate and glancing between them with a bemused look on her face. “You two sound like an old couple,” she says.

Jesse rolls his eyes and reaches over, plucking a pancake from Saoirse’s plate and taking a bite out of it, much to her chagrin.

“S’pose we are pretty old,” he mumbles around a mouthful of food.

“Talking with your mouth full is impolite,” Hanzo scolds.

“Yes, honey,” Jesse says. He rests his hands on Hanzo’s hips and smiles down at the other man, mouth still full of pancake. Hanzo snorts and presses his palm against Jesse’s chest, pushing him lightly away.

“Disgusting,” he says, shaking his head. Saoirse giggles at them, pouring syrup on her plate and mumbling something about cute. Two sets of footsteps coming down the stairs herald the arrival of the twins, followed by another set that can only be Mamá.

“You guys made all this?” Nina asks as she enters the kitchen and beholds the food. Hanzo nods, and she laughs out, “no shit!”

“Language!” Mamá barks. Surprise is written all over her face, as well; clearly, she had been expecting to be the one making breakfast this morning.

“Try one of the omelettes Hanzo made!” Saoirse says around a mouthful of egg, bacon, and cheese. “Unbelievable.”

“Where’d you learn to cook like that?” Jesse mutters to the archer, who lifts a shoulder in a shrugging response.

“I grew up in a house, just as you did,” he says. “Despite the fact that my family employed chefs, I learned to cook for myself.”

“Employed chefs, huh? I’m guessin’ you never had Fruity Pebbles ‘n frozen toaster waffles for breakfast, then. Probably got to eat, like, caviar or some shit every mornin’.”

Hanzo chuckles. “Not quite caviar, though the meals were much better than the processed, sugar-filled concoctions you Americans call breakfast foods.”

“You can’t badmouth toaster waffles. A few Eggos on a plate ‘n some Mrs. Butterworth’s to dip ‘em in -- boy, you’re set for the morning.”

“I stand by my previous statement -- too much sugar.”

Jesse rolls his eyes and gives up, realizing the futility of arguing with someone who was obviously brought up in a much richer family than his. He simply leans back against the kitchen counter next to Hanzo and fondly watches his family bicker and eat.

- -

They pass the day lazily, recovering from their long trip and spending time catching up with the girls and swapping stories. The awning over the porch swing provides perfect, cool shade for them to escape the Santa Fe heat in while still enjoying the summer day. Jesse is surprised when Hanzo leans against him, engrossed in Mamá’s old story about her childhood in Chiapas. He wraps an arm around the archer and they sit like that, comfortably pressed against one another, listening to a tale of dreams and youth and the vibrance of México.

- -

“You’ve never had a s’more.” The question comes out more as a statement of disbelief. Jesse crosses his arms and stares down at Hanzo, who shakes his head slowly.

The fire enclosed in the pit before them crackles peacefully in the nighttime dark, illuminating the faces of all that sit around it. It’s a makeshift bonfire, the best they could do -- six folding plastic chairs are placed in a ring around it, occupied by the six of them. It’s a beautiful night, Jesse thinks. Stars spatter the night sky above them, studding the sky in bright pinpoints of light. In the distance he can hear the shrill yips of coyotes, accompanied by the song of the crickets hiding out in the low brush that populates the desert surrounding them.

“I am not entirely sure what a s’more is. I vaguely know the concept,” Hanzo admits.

“It’s -- listen, s’mores’re delicious. I can’t describe ‘em. We’re gonna make this things right with you.”

He rummages in the paper bag he’d brought outside for this express purpose, pulling out the several boxes of graham crackers, bags of marshmallows, and chocolate bars he’d had Nina go down to the store and get. Sure, he may have gone a bit overboard. But Jesse was serious when it came to s’mores -- go big or go home, he always thought.

Hanzo looks skeptical, to say the least. “You combine all of these?”

“Well, yeah. You gotta roast the marshmallow, then it’ll be all gooey inside ‘n you can slap it on the graham crackers with some chocolate,” Jesse replies.

“It tastes the best if you totally burn the marshmallow,” Nina asserts.

“No it don’t. You jus’ like settin’ things on fire.”

“Do not! It makes the marshmallow crispier and gives it an extra layer of flavor, Jess. We’ve been over this.”

“Uh-huh. Then why d’ya never eat half the marshmallows you burn? Y’just pawn ‘em off to Sofía half the time.”

Nina opens her mouth to reply, but Mamá flaps her hand, interrupting the both of them. “¡Basta!,” she says, tsking at them. “Stop fighting in front of our guest, you two.”

Jesse mumbles fine, fine and rips the plastic of one marshmallow bag open with his teeth. He widens the hole with his hand and sets it on the edge of the firepit, following suit with a box of graham crackers and one of the chocolate bars. Finally, he pulls a packet of thin metal skewers from the paper bag. “Take one, pass it on,” he says as he grabs one out and pawns the packet off to Nina.

“So,” he says, turning in his chair to face Hanzo. “First, y’gotta take a marshmallow ‘n just --” he skewers the object in question and waves it in front of the other man’s face “-- stick it on. Like this.”

Hanzo takes a skewer and a marshmallow and follows suit, fingers leaving deep indents in the white fluff of his marshmallow.

“Gotta treat ‘er gently. Like a lover.”

The other man stares at him, exasperated. “It is a marshmallow.”

With a sigh of futility, Jesse shakes his head. “Y’just don’t understand, I guess. Well, next you just hold it over the fire ‘til it’s a nice ‘n toasty brown.”

“Or until it’s black!” Nina pipes up.

“Don’t you go tryin’ to teach him that. He ain’t gonna ruin his s’more like you do,” Jesse barks back.

Six marshmallows soon hover over the crackling fire, slowly turning golden-brown in the flames. It’s a familiar routine to Jesse -- many late nights have been spent around this old firepit, talking and laughing for hours on end until eyes begin to droop with tiredness and yawns escape the mouths of all. He looks over at Mamá, who is talking in fast-paced Spanish with the twins while managing to keep an eye on her skewer, to Saoirse, slumped in her plastic chair with her feet up on the edge of the pit as she stares contentedly off at the distant desert mountains set aglow with the moon’s silvered light.

He looks at Hanzo, staring down at his skewer and roasting the marshmallow carefully, with the same amount of precision and focus he might use to fire an arrow in battle. It’s oddly amusing and endearing.

Jesse pulls his own marshmallow from the fire once it’s a perfect color. “After you’re done,” he says, catching Hanzo’s attention once more and grabbing a pair of graham cracker squares from their box, “y’just get some of these, put a little bit of chocolate on one side, the mallow on the other, a-a-a-and..” He trails off, doing his best to squash the whole thing together without getting his fingers too sticky. The end result is a mildly lopsided s’more, melted marshmallow leaking out one side and coating the edge of his hand, warm and gooey against his skin. “There we go. All done.”

The archer snorts, watching Jesse try to take a bite of his s’more. “How can you even fit that in your mouth?” he asks.

“Darlin’,” Jesse drawls, “I can fit anythin’ in my mouth.”

Hanzo gives him a withering glance, catching the innuendo made not-so-subtle by Jesse’s eyebrow waggle. Jesse is able to bite the s’more in half, a mess of sweet sugar sticking to his beard and mouth. As he moves to wipe it off, he notices Hanzo cover his mouth with one hand; but, he can’t hide the smile that reaches his eyes. Jesse notices it. A warm sensation spreads through his stomach.

“Is this right?” Hanzo says after a moment, holding up his creation. The whole thing is slightly squashed, top graham cracker broken in half, white mallow fluff squeezed out both sides.

“I told you to be gentle with it,” Jesse says, chuckling. Hanzo huffs at him, staring at his sad-looking s’more.

“It would not stay together,” Hanzo replies indignantly. “I thought that if I perhaps pressed down hard enough..”

“Well, now you done abused it. S’okay, though. Still tastes the same, even if it ain’t lookin’ too pretty at the moment.” He finished off his own treat, and mumbled around a mouthful of graham cracker and chocolate and marshmallow, “Goh on ab try some!”

Hanzo nibbles at the edge, tentative, as if he’s not sure what to think of it. Jesse has to admit - the idea of smashing together so many odd ingredients to create one big, messy lump of sugar must seem incredibly strange to someone who did not grow up with s’mores as a staple of outdoor nights and holiday bar-b-ques, the prevailing fireside dessert. Apparently deciding that it is to his liking, Hanzo takes a bigger bite of his s’more. Everything squeezes out the sides, coating his hands and scruff in sticky marshmallow.

“Mm!” Hanzo grunts, mouth full and face surprised. He eats the rest of it in two bites and frustratedly sucks on the tips of his fingers in an attempt to clean them.

Jesse laughs, grinning brightly at the sight. “You’re gonna need to wash your hands,” he says. “Was it good, though?”

The other man presses his lips together in consideration; after a moment, he nods slowly. “It was not what I expected, but it tasted sweet. I liked it.”

“Good,” Jesse breathes out. Oddly, he wants Hanzo to approve of everything -- his family, his home, his customs. It means a great deal to him that the archer is willing to try all of these new things, come to this new place, be thrown into the thunderstorm that is his family, all for him. For the sake of their friendship. He crosses his arms over his chest, studying Hanzo fondly through half-lidded eyes as the other man skewers another marshmallow.

A small bit of melted marshmallow stuck to Hanzo’s nose catches Jesse’s gaze. “Hey, you, uh,” he says, nodding at Hanzo and pointing to his nose. The other man frowns and wipes at the bridge of his nose. He looks at his fingers and sees nothing.

“No, no,” Jesse trails off. He leans forward until they are face-to-face and brings up a hand, gently wiping the spot on Hanzo’s nose with the pad of his thumb. He can feel Hanzo’s steady eyes on him, his body still. The noise around him seems to fade to static in the background -- the sounds of his sisters and mother talking, the crackling of the fire, the chirping crickets and howling coyotes become muted. All he can focus on is the sound of Hanzo’s breathing, and the feeling of his own hitched in his throat.

Jesse lets the rest of his palm come up to cup Hanzo’s cheek, thumb brushing a trail down -- down his Cupid’s bow, down his mouth, just barely tugging at the other man’s bottom lip. Hanzo’s lips part slightly; he feels the archer’s breath as he exhales, warm on the pad of his thumb. Slowly, he moves his hand and lets it rest at the back of Hanzo’s neck. He sees something flash in Hanzo’s eyes -- permission to continue, perhaps. Or something deeper. More feral.

This is just an act, Jesse reminds himself. He leans in, warm breath mingling with Hanzo’s.

It’s all pretend, he thinks as their lips press together: slow, languid.

He don’t like you the way you like him, when Hanzo deepens the kiss, fingers bunching in the material of Jesse’s plaid shirt.

He never will.

Jesse lets himself go, lets himself have this one moment, even if it is pretend, an elaborate charade built on the back of a split-second white lie. He lets his mouth move against Hanzo’s, the sugar on their lips mingling. He lets Hanzo’s hand slide up his shirt, palm pressed flat against his stomach, fingers warm and sticky. He lets a tongue dart between his lips, demanding, the taste of chocolate lingering upon it. He lets.

“Ew, no PDA,” Nina drawls. The present comes rushing back to Jesse; he reels away, sitting back in his chair, fingers curled in the material of his jeans and gaze completely averted from Hanzo’s. Everyone is staring, he realizes.

“Old people kissing. Gr-oss. Shield your eyes, Saoirse, you’re too young to see this,” Sofía adds, holding a hand in jokingly front of her younger sister’s eyes.

Jesse scratches the back of his head, face still flushed. “Yeah, yeah. I get it. We’re old,” he says. “Some day you girls’ll understand.”

Mamá nods. “,” she says, looking from daughter to daughter. “I can only hope that you three will find someone who will kiss you like that.”

He feels a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. Someone who will kiss you like that, Jesse thinks. Like what? Like they’re pretending to be something they aren’t?

Jesus, Mary, ‘n Joseph, he sighs mentally, hazarding a glance in Hanzo’s direction; the archer is staring at the fire, absentmindedly tapping his fingers on one thigh. He really turned up the heat on that one.

“Listen,” Jesse sighs, “I’m real tired, ‘n I’m sure Hanzo is, too. Y’know how jetlag can be. Why don’t we turn in for the night?” He adds a yawn after his words for effect.

Mamá nods and turns the gas knob on the firepit down until the flames are just a flicker. “Yes, yes,” she agrees. “That sounds like a good idea.”

He looks over to Hanzo again; once more, his gaze is not met.

- -

When's the wedding?”

She’s always been an overexcited woman, Jesse thinks; it’s one of the things he loves most about her. She was excited when he lost his first tooth, excited when he finished eighth grade, excited when he finally came home after joining Overwatch. It stands to reason that she would be excited about something like his alleged relationship with Hanzo.

Her hands clasp one of his between them. The kitchen is quiet, with the girls upstairs and Hanzo washing up in the guest room. It’s peaceful -- just the two of them. He remembers nights like these after Pa died, Saoirse put to sleep in her crib and the twins tucked into their beds, he and Mamá lingering at the downstairs table.

Aw, Mamá… We're only boyfriends,” Jesse replies quickly, Spanish he doesn't often use nowadays, Gabe gone and home a distance away, rolling off his tongue.

You seem happy when you look at him,” she says quietly, “and think he is not looking back.

His mouth opens, but he cannot reply; she is right, Jesse thinks. His face burns, mind wandering to the kiss they had shared. This is just an act. It’s all pretend. He don’t like you the way you like him.

He never will.

Sweet dreams,” Mamá murmurs, “mijo.

- -

He lingers in the family room, sitting on the couch with Cash’s head in his lap. “This was a bad idea, boy,” he mutters to the dog, who whines sympathetically. “A bad, bad idea.”

Chapter Text

The feel of a wet mouth against Jesse’s cheek wakes him up. Mm, Hanzo. Quit that, he thinks groggily, mind fogged by sleep. He cracks his eyes open a sliver, expecting to see the archer before him; instead, he sees Cash’s furry face, tongue lolling from his mouth as he licks Jesse awake.

“Ugh,” Jesse yelps, shoving the dog off his chest. “Don’t you go shittin’ all over my dreams like that, boy.”

“What dreams?”

Hanzo stands before him, two mugs of steaming coffee in his hands. He’s wearing another too-tight shirt, emblazoned with Hana’s pink bunny MEKA logo on it; the hem of it rides entirely too far up, and Jesse is one-hundred-percent sure that Hanzo is just wearing Lúcio’s clothes to fuck with him at this point. God, he thinks, does the man own any casual clothes that fit him?

The caffeinated aroma floods Jesse’s nose and he puts aside the thoughts of Hanzo’s sinful choice of attire -- he perks up, mood considerably brightening. Sweet, sweet coffee.

“Nothin’,” he quickly dismisses the subject, accepting the warm mug that Hanzo hands him and taking a long sip to wake himself up. “Christ on a crutch, my head hurts.”

“Perhaps it is because you fell asleep on the couch,” Hanzo offers. He has a single prim brow raised, obviously expecting to be told why Jesse had slept on the couch in the first place.

“Oh,” Jesse mutters, wiping coffee from his lips with the back of a hand. “That’ll do it, I s’pose. Sat in here for a bit with Cash, ‘n I guess I just.. fell asleep by mistake. Sorry ‘bout that.” He knows how weak the excuse is; Hanzo seems to know, too, face reading that’s the best you could come up with?

Last night gnaws at him. The memory of Hanzo’s lips, the taste of chocolate sweet in his mouth. Hands confidently slipping under his flannel, fingers ghosting over his stomach and sending shivers up his spine. A moment that felt real, genuine. Until he remembered it was all a simple show put on for his family.

He’s the architect of his own personal hell right now, Jesse thinks.

“I enjoyed last night,” Hanzo murmurs. He sits down beside Jesse on the couch, cushions dipping beneath his weight. “I never had such moments with my family. The relationship you have with your sisters, with your mother..” he trails off, sipping from his cup as if taking a moment to recompose his thoughts. “It is something I wish I could have had with my own kin.”

Jesse purses his lips. He doesn’t know what to say; what can he say, to a man who nearly killed his own brother?

“I can’t imagine what you’ve gone through,” he settles on.

“You do not want to.”

“If it’s any consolation,” Jesse offers, “my family loves you. Pretty sure Mamá wants to adopt you as her own son.”

Hanzo lets out a small huff of laughter. “I am sure she is expecting me to become her son-in-law soon enough.”

The sharpshooter cards his fingers through his sleep-mussed hair, sighing heavily. “That she does,” he assents. “It’ll feel shitty when I give her that call in a few weeks’ time ‘n tell her that things didn’t work out between us. Too bad I had to run my goddamn mouth and get us into this mess in the first place.”

“Perhaps you do not have to tell her about things ending between us.”

“What’re you sayin’?” Jesse asks, skeptical. Hanzo’s face is unreadable -- why’s he suggestin’ this? he thinks.

“I am simply suggesting you allow her to believe that we are still together. There is no harm in it, after all.”

“And when she next expects me t’come home with you?”

A shrug. “Bring me, then. I have enjoyed my time here; it has been a much-needed break from Overwatch,” Hanzo says. “It is a simple charade. I am sure we can maintain it.”

Oh, Jesse thinks, that would not be good for his poor heart.

“Naw,” he says with a shake of his head. “I couldn’t ask you to do that. ‘Sides, Mamá will get over it. Her heart might be a little broken for a few weeks, but she won’t mourn forever.”

“And if I were to tell you that I enjoy doing this?”

Sure, you do, Jesse thinks. Because it’s all fake for you. Easy to pretend to be somethin’ you’re not.

“No,” he mutters in reply. “It just ain’t a good idea.”

Wasn’t a good idea in the first goddamned place.

- -

“No feast for breakfast this morning?” Mamá asks when she comes down the stairs. Jesse feels a bit guilty -- he’s only here for a few days. The least he could’ve done was made something.

“Naw,” he replies, fingers scratching sheepishly at the back of his neck. “Sorry ‘bout that. I just woke up.”

“Mm,” she hums and grabs a box of Cheerios from the pantry. “Did you two have a long night?”

Jesse hears the lilt in her voice. “Mamá,” he huffs, exasperated.

“What?” she counters. “Am I not allowed to talk to my son about certain details of his relationship? I did have to conceive you, Jesse McCree.”

“Christ, Mamá. I don’t wanna think about you and Pa doin’ that. It’s too weird.”

Hanzo moves to stand beside him, a warm hand placed at the small of Jesse’s back. “We were both very tired last night,” he murmurs. “We fell asleep quickly.”

There’s a bullet of an awkward conversation dodged, Jesse thinks, silently thanking Hanzo for saving face. He hears the pounding of more feet on the stairs, and the twins and Saoirse meander into the kitchen, hair messy and eyes tired with sleep.

“Mornin’,” Jesse chirps, receiving a symphony of yawns and sleepy groans in return. Nina rubs at her eyes and frowns, head on a swivel as she looks around the kitchen.

“Where’re my pancakes?” she asks, arms crossed over her chest. “Dang, Jess. I was really counting on you.”

“What, am I just everyone’s personal chef when I come home?”

The four women stare at him, deadpan. “Uh, yeah,” Sofía says. “You know we love your cooking.”

“And poor Mamá needs a break from doing everything around this house,” Nina adds.

“Cook yourself up some damn oatmeal,” Jesse huffs. “I ain’t your personal servant.”

“Aw, Jess,” Sofía whines. “Please?”

“I will cook,” Hanzo interjects, “since he is being so thickheaded.”

“Wh-” Jesse spins around to face Hanzo, mouth hanging open. “Babe, you’re s’posed to take my side on this. You can’t go givin’ in to these little food gremlins.”

Hanzo lifts himself up on the tips of his toes and presses a kiss to Jesse’s cheek. “It is the right thing to do,” he murmurs. Jesse feels a twinge in the pit of his stomach, the delicate flutter of his face heating up. A hand absentmindedly drifts to his cheek, thumb brushing where Hanzo had kissed him, the ghost of the other man’s lips still lingering.

“I’m pretty sure Mamá is ready to propose to Hanzo for you if you don’t get around to it soon,” Nina drawls, a shit-eating grin on her face. Jesse looks over to Mamá, who beams at how domestic their affection seems to be.

“More cookin’, less talkin’,” he mumbles, shoving his hands in the pockets of his jeans.


Soon, they’re all crowded around the kitchen table, plates piled with spiced eggs and perfect, golden-brown toast, all courtesy of Hanzo. It’s a simple breakfast, warm and delicious. The girls mumble thank yous and so goods around mouths full of runny yolk and bread. Jesse smiles; they’ve really taken a shine to Hanzo, he thinks. A part of him wishes he could do as Hanzo suggested, and simply continue under the pretense that they are truly in a relationship. Bad idea, he reminds himself.

“So,” Jesse says, running a piece of egg through the salsa on his plate. “It’s s’posed to be mighty hot today. I was thinkin’ we could head up to the river for a bit.”

“That sounds perfect!” Nina exclaims, and Sofia bobs her head up and down in agreement.

“The truck cannot hold everyone,” Mamá replies. She taps a finger on her chin thoughtfully. “Though, I suppose if the two of you would not mind lying low in the back..”

“‘Course we can,” Jesse replies, grin broad on his lips. “Right?”

Hanzo offers a shrug. “It is not an issue.”

Mamá nods. “Then we will go. It’s been a bit since we last went to the river.”

“I have homework to do for summer school, though,” Saoirse murmurs. Jesse ruffles her hair fondly, replying, “Bring it to the river. ‘S a nice place to settle down ‘n get some work done.”

She huffs and picks Jesse’s hand from the top of her head with careful fingers. Obviously, she isn’t pleased that she’ll be working while the others play. “Listen, you can do it,” he offers.


- -

Mamá’s truck is her everything -- it’s easily the most expensive thing their family owns, and she treats it as such. It’s been her pet project for years: an old, white, 1977 Ford F250. The thing is practically a relic, now, Jesse thinks. Working on-and-off on it during her free time at the garage in town, Mamá has managed to turn it into something useable, despite how old the thing is. Gutting and replacing all of its insides, updating the tech to something a bit more modern, and refreshing the outside with a new coat of paint have done wonders for the car -- vintage, but driveable.

The girls bundle up into the truck while he and Hanzo spread thick blankets over the flatbed of the truck and lie down side-by-side upon them, hidden from the prying eyes. Jesse crosses his arms behind his head and closes his eyes, reveling in the feeling of hot desert wind rushing by them, the sun warm on his face, the smell of summer and sagebrush and gasoline mingling together. Above them, the blue sky yawns on, lazy clouds wisping across it.

He cracks an eye open and peeks at Hanzo. The other man is stilled, peaceful, eyes closed and a contented look on his face -- and still wearing that godforsaken tee shirt, Jesse notes exasperatedly. He’s gonna be the death of me, the sharpshooter idly thinks.

- -

It’s an hour’s drive from Santa Fe to their little secret spot on the bank of the Rio Chama, just west of the Abiquiu Reservoir. Mamá drives the pickup off-road, drifting through the brush and the sparse trees until they reach a small, shady copse of junipers bunched together on the riverbed. Upon the hill, blanketflowers and beargrass wave leisurely in the faint breeze, giving way to reeds and mud close to the bank of the river. Everything is just as he remembers -- the sturdy rope tied to a tree branch that arcs over the water, the initials and words etched into the bark of a big, old sycamore in the midst of the copse (J.M. ‘46, his first time visiting the river; J.M. + C.F. 4EVER -- Cassidy Fischer, he remembers idly, they’d dated for less than a month; N.M. & S.M., the twins; THE BETTER S.M. was, of course, Saoirse).

Mamá parks the truck at the top of the hill and spread blankets on the ground, feeling the crunch of sun-baked grass and weeds beneath the fabric as they settle everything.

When Jesse glances up from the spread blanket, he notices Hanzo standing on the riverbank, bent at the waist, testing the water’s temperature with a curious hand. With a devious grin, Jesse realizes the moment of opportunity he has here. He glances over at the twins, who wear matching smirks on their faces -- they see it, too.

He creeps up behind the archer, footfalls soft on the grass-covered slope in his best attempt to be quiet. Just as he is right behind Hanzo, he can’t help a little snort of laughter; the other man’s head whips around, but it’s too late. Unceremoniously, Jesse uses a good amount of strength to shove Hanzo, fully-clothed, into the river. He cries out just before hitting the water face-first -- Jesse guffaws and his laugh is echoed by the twins, who sat on the flatbed of the truck and watched the whole scene play out. The great Hanzo Shimada, laid low.

When Hanzo doesn’t immediately rise to the surface and start yelling exasperatedly as Jesse expects him to, the sharpshooter begins to worry. Aw, hell he thinks -- maybe Hanzo can’t swim? It’s certainly a possibility, though Jesse doubts it. Perhaps he hit his head on a rock beneath the surface?

That worries him.

He stands where the archer had previously stood, bent over, eyes scanning the water for some sort of sign. All he can see is a small trickle of bubbles, ripples spreading steadily outwards in tiny circles as they pop on the surface.

“Hanzo?” he asks. Can the other man even hear him?

Suddenly, the water parts and a pair of arms reach up, wrapping around Jesse’s neck and pulling him into the river. When he opens his eyes, water is all around him; Hanzo floats in front of him as the bubbles clear, arms still wrapped around Jesse’s neck, pressing their bodies together. He wears an incredibly a smug look on his face.

Jesse’s feet ghost over the water-smoothed stones that line the bottom of the river. Beneath the water is another world -- one where time feels slowed and noises are muted, currents drifting lazily above them, the sun filtering through and creating starbursts of golden light that dance upon bodies. He looks at Hanzo, floating across from him with his breath held in puffed cheeks, dark hair floating and swirling around his head like a storm. Jesse smiles at the archer, a burst of laughter pushing air from his lungs and floating to the surface in a burst of bubbles; he receives an amused brow-raise in return, the edges of Hanzo’s lips tugging upward in a ghost of a smile. To freeze this moment, Jesse thinks, would be perfect. A sliver of time, the world around them forgotten as they hide beneath the waves of the river. A minute, even less, that he can selfishly keep for himself.

Hanzo lets out his breath in a storm of bubbles; like a dragon, Jesse thinks. They both push off the river floor and swim upwards, breaking the waves and taking gasps of air.

“That was just cheatin’,” Jesse says as he shakes the water from his hair like a dog. “Makin’ me think you’d drowned, or somethin’.”

“An eye for an eye,” Hanzo replies.

“More like a pile o’ wet clothes for a pile o’ wet clothes.”

“If you had not pushed me in, we would not be in this position.”

“I was just havin’ a bit o’ fun!” Jesse grumbles defensively. He reaches for his hat, floating in the water beside him. In lieu of reply, a wave of water is splashed in his face by Hanzo. The other man immediately grabs the hat, ducks under the water, and pushes off the river’s bottom with his feet, swimming away to avoid retaliation.

“Hey!” the sharpshooter barks. “Get back here!” He swims after Hanzo, but his heavy flannel-and-jeans combination weighs him down. Ahead in the water, he can see Hanzo shimmying out of his own heavy shirt and pants, leaving him in just his briefs -- one, two, both are thrown ashore into a sopping pile on the riverbank, followed by his shoes. All right, Jesse thinks. Two can play at this game.

He frees himself of his own clothes and tosses them up on the grass, followed by his shoes. Jesse swims downriver, a mess of splashing and water spraying everywhere; ahead of him, Hanzo cuts gracefully through the water like a lithe river otter.

“I ain’t gonna win like this,” he huffs to himself. An alternative method, Jesse decides, is the only way he can catch up.

He swims to the bank and climbs out of the river; dripping water everywhere, he breaks out into a run, mud and grass soft beneath his toes. The other man starts swimming faster, fingers tight around the brim of the soggy, old cowboy hat.

Gotcha, Jesse thinks. He sees a curve in the river and runs to meet it, before Hanzo can pass it. With a great leap, he cannonballs into the river; the crash is resounding. Water sloshes everywhere around him, the river’s flowing disturbed by his leap. With no small bit of smugness, Jesse realizes that he managed to give Hanzo the full-facial treatment -- the massive wave of water resulting from his jump completely soaked the archer’s face.

“I’ll take that back, darlin’,” Jesse drawls. His fingers close around the hat’s brim and Hanzo reluctantly lets it go.

When the wet hat is firmly on his head once more, he hears Hanzo snort. “You look ridiculous,” the archer says.

Jesse ducks his mouth below the river and surfaces, spitting a stream of water straight into Hanzo’s face. “And you look like a drowned dog,” he replies.

“Me? A drowned dog?” Hanzo airily replies. “With all of the hair on your body, I am surprised anyone can tell the difference between you and a mutt.”

The smug look the other man gives him makes Jesse chuckle, earning him another wave of water aimed directly at his face. Together, they wade out of the river and pull themselves up the riverbank to crash on the grass there, side-by-side.

Hanzo rolls over onto his stomach, head lying upon crossed arms. “How does your arm fare in the water?” he asks, glancing curiously at Jesse’s prosthetic.

“‘S all right. I’ve got a hydrophobic spray I use on it when I know I’m gonna be out ‘n about anythin’ wet.”

“I see,” the other man murmurs. The archer reaches a hand out, touching the cool metal of the fake hand, a finger tracing along the skull design wrought into it. He watches Hanzo, damp hair sticking to his face and shoulders, the sunlight filtering through the trees and playing on the tattoo that consumes his arm, his half-lidded eyes and thoughtful face. Goddamn, Jesse thinks. He’s beautiful.

He shakes the thought from his head -- don’t be an idiot, Jesse McCree. Quit doin’ this to yourself.

“I think the girls packed lunch,” he says, voice breaking the silence and putting the thoughts from his mind. He nods downriver at the pickup. “Want to go see what they brought?”

Hanzo dips his head in agreement; they meander down the riverbank, picking up wet piles of clothing and shoes along the way and hanging them off the side of the truck’s bed when they finally reach it.

“Don’t get my books wet,” Saoirse mutters when Jesse wrings his hair out onto the grass and settles onto the blanket beside her.

“I know, I know,” he replies. “What’re you workin’ so hard on, anyway?”

“Geometry homework.” Her brow creases in frustration, pencil scritching a dark mark on the graph paper spread upon her book. “I don’t understand how to do proofs. Nina and Sofía won’t help me, either. And Mamá doesn’t remember how to do them.”

“Look, I’m going to art school,” Nina says. “I’m probably the least qualified person here to help you. I pretty much slept through that class.”

“Besides -- if you don’t learn how to do them on your own, you’ll never really know,” Sofía adds. “Just read the textbook. It’s not that hard.”

“You’re going to be an engineer. You at least should be able to help me,” Saoirse mumbles.

Hanzo raises himself to his knees, sitting just across from Saoirse. “Let me see?” he asks quietly, extending a hand for both the textbook and paper. She gives both to him gladly, hands folded in her lap, careful eyes watching him as he scrutinizes the problems.

“You can do this stuff?” Jesse asks, mildly amazed; as soon as he’d dropped out of high school and run away from home, any knowledge of math had pretty much flown from his mind.

“Mm,” Hanzo hums. He scratches a few notes in the margins of Saoirse’s paper, idly biting the pencil eraser as his mind works. “It is simple geometry, after all.”

Jesse gives a low whistle of approval. Best leave ‘em to it, then, he thinks; he grabs a cold root beer and one of the peanut butter sandwiches the girls packed and hops up on the bed of the truck, feet dangling off, eating and watching the others relax.


The afternoon stretches on slowly. Jesse sits peacefully on the flatbed and watches the river bubble and flow, the tall grass dance in the breeze, the sun quietly creep across the sky. He sees Mamá sleep stretched out in her chair like a lazy cat in the sun -- well-deserved rest for one who works so hard. The twins, sitting on a stone down by the riverbed, idly talking together and dipping their feet into the cool water. Hanzo actively gesturing to Saoirse’s textbook, explaining things to the young girl who wears the smile of someone finally understanding what they’ve tried to hard to. As time crawls on, he notices the textbook has been set aside and Saoirse seems to be talking quietly to Hanzo, who nods every so often in understanding and murmurs back. Wonder what they’re talkin’ bout.

“Hey, you two!” Nina calls from the riverbank, waving an arm. He and Hanzo look up at them expectantly; she cups her hands around her mouth and yells, “We need you for a game!”

“The hell kind’a game could they need us for?” Jesse asks, sharing a glance with Hanzo. The archer shrugs.

“Let us see,” he says.

The twins put on their best puppy-dog eyes when Jesse and Hanzo reach them, hands clasped together in pleading. “Will you guys play chicken with us?”

“Absolutely not,” Jesse says staunchly.

One game Jess, that’s all we’re asking.” Sofía huffs.

“What is chicken?” Hanzo asks curiously.

“You don’t wanna go down this road,” Jesse warns him.

“Y’know -- chicken. You sit on someone’s shoulders and fight it out with someone who’s sitting on another person’s shoulders? The winner is the one who doesn’t tip over and fall into the water?” Nina replies.

“It sounds violent,” the archer says. He glances at Jesse lips pursed. “And fun.”

“Fine,” Jesse gives in, throwing his hands up in exasperation. “But when someone gets hurt, I won’t be sayin’ ‘I told you so’.”


Three games of Chicken all won by the infallible Nina-Hanzo combo, they collapse on the bank of the river, dripping wet once more and laughing together. The twins wrap towels around themselves and flash the two men bright smiles of thanks, feet squelching in the mud as they run off to eat lunch. Jesse rolls over onto his back and settles a hand on his stomach comfortably, staring up at the small spots of sun shining through the canopy of leaves above them.

“Can’t believe we gotta leave tomorrow,” he murmurs thoughtfully. From the corner of his eye he sees Hanzo prop his chin up on the palm of one hand, elbow dug into the grass.

“My family was nothing like this,” Hanzo replies after a moment of thought. “They were cold. My father, in particular, cared only for his business and grooming me to take over his position. It was all I knew. In time, I turned that same coldness on Genji. Our relationship may never truly resemble that which you share with your sisters; still, I feel more inclined to at least attempt to build something similar between he and I, now. After spending time here.”

Years of unaddressed bitterness and longing underly Hanzo’s words. A childhood spent in an unwelcoming home with parents more concerned about their future than that of their child’s. A brother he could never truly relate to, flitting about like a lazy sparrow. The heavy weights of duty and responsibility tied to his ankles, weighing him down as he drowned in the waters of his life.

“I know Genji still loves you,” is all Jesse can offer. The paths they walked to end up here have their similarities, but he cannot truly relate to what Hanzo dealt with in the days of his youth, the conditions that led him to strike out as he did against his brother and, eventually, his clan.

“Perhaps. But.. I am thankful for the time I have spent here, amongst your family. They have been incredibly accepting.”

Jesse nods. “They really do like you, y’know? Think you’re the best thing since sliced bread.”

“Excuse me?”

“It’s.. a metaphor,” he waves a hand dismissively. Jesse rolls over onto his side with a groan. “Welp,” he mutters, “only got one day left o’ this. Then it’s back to Overwatch, and we don’t gotta pretend no more. Thank you for comin’ with me and puttin’ up with the girls, ‘n everything. Means a lot.”

“Of course,” Hanzo murmurs in reply. His words seem like an echo, eyes glassed-over in thought; head resting upon his arms, he scrutinizes the grass before him as if he does not dare to look up. “One day left.”

- -

“Whew,” Jesse huffs, eyes widening at the label on the bottle. “This shit bites!”

“Language,” Mamá barks. He can see the grin spread wide on her face. “And yes, it does. I bought it especially for you.”

“One-fifty proof? Christ, should’a just bought some rubbin’ alcohol and had me drink that.”

He hums along to the faint tune of an old song playing from the twins’ staticky stereo set up on the coffee table. Hanzo sits beside him on the couch, interestedly reading the label on a bottle of hard cider. Across from them, the girls and Mamá recline in their own armchairs -- Mamá with a bottle of beer in one hand, his sisters with dismal glasses of water. He can tell from the pouty look on Nina’s face that they’re not happy with this; Jesse knows how often the twins snuck out to parties during high school. Being denied alcohol isn’t something they’ve become accustomed to in recent times.

“This looks interesting,” Hanzo murmurs.

“Tastes like someone poured vodka into a bottle o’ Martinelli’s. Try it.”

He grips the neck of the bottle and tilts it up, taking a considerably-sized gulp. “Mm,” Hanzo hums approvingly. “I like it.”

Mamá finishes off the dregs of her beer and sets the bottle aside, putting her hands down on her thighs with a determination Jesse instantly recognizes. Uh oh, he thinks. Here it comes.

“So,” she says, smiling sweetly at the both of them, “do you two ever dance?”

Jesse stares down at the bottle of tequila in his hands, and decides he’s not drunk enough for this conversation. He raises the bottle to his lips and takes a long sip; Hanzo does the same with his cider, having apparently decided the same thing.

“No,” Jesse coughs out, wiping sour tequila from his lips and wincing at the sting as it lingers in his throat. “We do not, Mamá.”

She huffs indignantly in reply. “Your father and I used to dance all the time. It is central to any good relationship -- you must be in sync with your partner. In tune to all of their movements.”

“Aw, don’t go gettin’ all poetic about dancin’, now. It’s just some silly movin’ is all.”

“There is nothing silly about dancing,” Mamá replies. “When I grew up, I learned dances of all sorts. Clearly, I have not taught my son well enough.”

“You know I got two left feet, anyway. I can hardly dance.”

“I will teach you. Just a few moments -- do this for me, mijo. You will have to dance at your wedding, after all!”

Mamá,” he groans.

“Up, up! And you, too,” she chirps and gently takes Hanzo’s forearm. He nods and stands -- after taking the bottle of tequila from Jesse’s hands and taking several considerably large gulps from it.

“Christ almighty, darlin’ -- that’s gotta be at least four shots. You’re madder ‘n a march hare.”

Hanzo pulls his lips from the bottle, an expression of disgust furrowing his face as he swallows the last bit of tequila down. A guh noise escapes his mouth and he quickly swaps the tequila for his cider, taking a sip of something sweeter to wash the bite down.

“I am ready to dance, now,” he says with an air of finality, eliciting a giggle from the girls and a soft smile from Mamá.

“You’re gonna be ‘bout ready to puke your guts in a half hour, too,” Jesse snorts.

Hanzo narrows his eyes. “I can handle my alcohol.”

“That stuff may as well be Everclear,” Jesse replies. “It’ll knock anyone down a peg or two.”

“Hm,” the archer says, sniffing indignantly. “We shall see.”

Mamá fiddles with the stereo, changing the song to something old-timey and slow, with a country twang and a deep, drawling voice; good, old-fashioned Rascal Flatts.

“Now,” she says, moving to place a hand at each of their backs and press them together. “You must put your arm here --” Jesse’s left arm is moved to Hanzo’s waist, “and you put yours here --” Hanzo’s right arm comes up to rest on his shoulder. She instructs them to hold out their remaining hands and lace their fingers together. Jesse can feel Hanzo’s chest against his as the other man slowly breathes. He looks down and realizes, with some amusement, that the archer’s head barely reaches his nose.

“This dance is the simplest a couple can possibly learn,” Mamá continues. “Mijo -- as you take a step back, Hanzo shall take a step forward. It is as if he is pursuing you, feet always following yours in time. Two steps back, two steps right, he fills in the space your feet have just left. Try it.”

They were the vaguest directions she could have possibly given, but he supposes he's watched enough movies where the characters did this dance to replicate it, somehow. Over Hanzo’s shoulder, he catches a glance of Nina, phone up and ready to record whatever mess they're going to make of this; he pulls a face and her finger quickly touch the screen, no doubt taking an incredibly ugly, zoomed-in picture of him to use as blackmail later.

He looks back to Hanzo and, tentatively, takes a single step back. The archer gracefully fills in the spot his feet had just left. He takes another, confidently this time. Step back, step back, step right, step right -- each time, Hanzo meets him perfectly, ease and elegance guiding his feet. Jesse focuses on the feel of Hanzo’s fingers laced with his, the heavy hand on his shoulder, the hard muscle beneath his fingers that wrap around the archer’s waist. The moment seems perfect, until a foot lands on his, and their dance stutters. A soft laugh escapes Hanzo’s lips.

“Feelin’ the tequila, yet?” Jesse asks amusedly.

Hanzo snorts, bumping his forehead against Jesse’s shoulder, eyes closed. “A bit.” He can feel the edges of the other man’s mouth quirk up. “Even your clothing smells like ash,” he murmurs, mouth muffled by the material of Jesse’s flannel.

“Bad habit, I know.”

He takes another step, and Hanzo stumbles once more. Another snort of laughter. Jesse can’t help the grin on his face, the deep chuckle that builds in his chest. Over Hanzo’s head he sees Mamá, sitting in her chair by the radio, a fond smile on her face.

Their dancing devolves into a gentle swaying to the soft music crooning from the radio, Hanzo’s head on Jesse’s shoulder and face burrowed into the red-and-black checkered plaid of his shirt, Jesse’s cheek leaning softly upon the other man’s head. He smells like summer, Jesse thinks; the scents of sagebrush and dry grass and buckwheat mingle together, lingering aromas of the riverbank. Beside them, Mamá and Saoirse clasp hands and move softly to the music in a peaceful mother-daughter dance.

He would feel content to be like this forever, Jesse thinks.

With a wide-mouthed yawn, Nina announces that it’s late, she has a television show to watch, and she’s going to bed. Sofía echoes her statement and together they pad upstairs, tired feet heavy against the creaking wooden steps. Mamá looks down at Saoirse and murmurs that she should be heading off to bed soon, as well. Jesse knows the girl would normally protest, but she looks dead-tired from being out in the sun all day. He glances at the kitchen clock -- 12:03. It’s late.

“Go on, mija,” Mamá says. “Off to bed. I will see you in the morning.”

Saoirse mumbles good night and gives them each a hug in turn; to Jesse’s surprise, she even wraps her arms around Hanzo’s waist. The archer pats her back fondly.

“I will be going to bed, as well,” Mamá states once Saoirse has made her way up the stairs after the twins. “Good night, boys. Do not stay up too late.” She follows her words with a wink and a Cheshire grin, kissing each of their cheeks and meandering off to her bedroom.

The only noise comes from the faint country music still playing quietly from the radio. Jesse crashes on the couch, arms spread wide and head tilted over the back of it. “Well, I’m all tuckered out from today. How ‘bout you?”

Hanzo stands before him, pressing their legs together. His face hovers in front of Jesse’s, a smirk dancing upon his lips. Nimbly, the other man plants one knee on either side of him, settling down in Jesse’s lap. Flushed cheeks, hazy eyes; he’s drunk, Jesse thinks. Much drunker than he should be.

“Hm,” Hanzo hums, bumping their noses together. His breath is hot on Jesse’s face. It reeks of cheap tequila and hard cider. “I have never noticed how brown your eyes are, cowboy. They look like coffee.” A giggle-laugh. “Or shit.”

He’s real far gone, Jesse thinks sullenly.

Lips hover just over his teasingly; he feels the scratch of Hanzo’s scruff on his skin. The archer stares at him, eyes half-lidded. Jesse freezes -- hands slide beneath his shirt, toying with the waistband of his pants. There’s a press of lips together for a fleeting moment. Then, his bottom lip is sucked between Hanzo’s teeth, a tongue swiping along it. Hips rock against him in time; he can feel the flex of Hanzo’s thighs beside his, the other man grinding down like he’s giving a lapdance.

I can’t do this, his mind whispers, against the flow of thoughts that say god, yes I can.

“Stop,” Jesse growls, placing a firm palm flat against Hanzo’s chest. The archer reels back, confusion piercing through the haze of alcohol. “Stop it. They ain’t here. You don’t gotta pretend right now.”

“What?” Hanzo asks. His brow furrows.

“I said they ain’t here now. They’re all gone to bed. You don’t gotta be all… up on me like this with nobody around. It’s all pretend, remember? For show? ‘Sides, you’re drunk as a skunk right now.”

“For show,” the archer echoes. His face hardens, impassive; whatever emotion previously flitted through his taciturn façade is no more. Once again, he is Hanzo Shimada, stoic and dutiful warrior. Not the real Hanzo he’s come to know over the past few days.”Yes, of course. I am sorry.”

He gracefully climbs off Jesse and stands before him. “Perhaps it is for the best,” he murmurs, “if I sleep on this couch tonight, and you in the guest bedroom. We leave tomorrow, after all -- there is no use extending this charade longer than we have to.”

“I --” Jesse stops short of finishing his thought: I don’t want you to. “Yeah,” he says instead. “Yeah, that’s prob’ly best. Gotta wind everything down.”

Hanzo does not reply. He simply stares at Jesse, stone-faced.

“Well,” Jesse breathes, rising from the couch. “I.. s’pose I’ll head off to bed, then. G’night, Hanzo.”

“Good night, McCree,” the archer replies stiffly.

Chapter Text

Beside him, the sheets are cold. Jesse wakes to a dark room, curled in the blankets on one half of the queen-sized mattress. There are no arms wrapped around him this morning, nor does the sight of Hanzo standing bleary-eyed and messy-haired with steaming cups of coffee greet him. He smooths a hand over the empty side of the bed, fingers lingering where Hanzo should be. Memories of last night seep back to him like water filling up shit’s creek. You goddamn idiot, Jesse thinks, pressing the heels of his palms to his face with a groan.

Rubbing the sleep from his eyes with the back of a hand, Jesse pulls an old, dark tee from his duffel bag and snags a pair of sweatpants, tugging them on tiredly. With one last glance at the empty, unmade bed, he quietly closes the door to the guest room behind himself and pads across the wooden floor in sock-clad feet.

The couch in the family room is empty, a small dip in the cushions the only indicator that Hanzo had even slept the night there; the wool blanket Jesse had given him is folded neatly over the back of the couch, a small pillow resting upon it. His stomach sinks, face tight with disappointment. Hanzo himself is nowhere to be found.

Guess he’s avoidin’ me, Jesse thinks. He can understand, after the disaster that was last night; the way he’d more or less told the other man to fuck right off. It’s for the best, he reminds himself. Nip it in the bud. Keep from giving into this act, indulging in something that will disappear within a day’s time. Jesse rakes a hand through his hair, curling his fingers tight in the dark locks and sighing heavily. “Fuckin’ bud, sure,” he growls to himself, voice low. Laced with regret. “More like a goddamn field of flowers, now.”

He creaks open the hall closet and picks a pair of old running sneakers, batting off the soft sheen of dust that has settled since he last used them. Jesse slips his feet into them, ties the laces, and wanders around the kitchen, pulling open drawers and cabinets and squatting to look under the fridge until he finally happens upon a stray black hair tie, forgotten on the floor by one of the girls; he cards a hand through his hair, pulling it away from his face and tying it in a low ‘tail.

Soft light peeks through the paned windows, filtering past wispy curtains and dappling the ground in pale colors. A spared glance at the oven clock reads 6:02 A.M. Jesse can feel his body groan in protest, limbs heavy with weariness and a lack of sleep, head still foggy and aching from the tequila last night. There’s too much on his mind to go back to bed, slip under the covers and block out the world for a few more hours.

So, he runs.

He creaks open the front door and lets Cash follow him loyally out of the house. Ahead of him is empty desert freckled by occasional sagebrush, red bluffs and mountains in the distance. Jesse breaks out into a sprint, not caring where he goes, if he follows any particular path. He simply runs.

Jesse ignores the pounding in his head, his overworked muscles screaming at him to stop and the sweat that drips down his face and beard and pools at the neck of his dark shirt. He tunes the world out and focuses on the pumping of his blood, each heavy breath he takes, the burning that blossoms in his chest, the pound of his feet against the ground. Anything but last night. Anything but Hanzo.

Cash dogs his heels and enthusiastically barks in a way Jesse takes to mean faster, faster, faster. He speeds up his pace, a pale cloud of desert dirt curling through the air as it follows his every heavy step, rivulets of perspiration trickling down his body and falling to the ground, small, dark marks like tear stains on the ground. His lungs burn as he breathes - in, out. This is just an act. In, out. It’s all pretend. In, out. He don’t like you the way you like him. In, out. Jesse stops dead in his tracks and doubles over, sweaty hands scrabbling at his knees, chest heaving. The familiar thoughts that plague him every time he catches himself wanting repeat in his mind. He never will.

“Fuck it,” he huffs. Jesse strips his shirt off and dabs the sweat from his face with it, breath still coming in quick, overworked gasps. He drops down to the ground, limbs splayed out like a sweaty starfish, shirt balled up behind his head in some semblance of comfort. The sky stretches above him, clouds running up and down like waves in the sand, dyed a mixture of vibrant oranges and blues and pinks as the sleepy desert slowly awakens. The mountains before him are dark against the backdrop, their edges outlined a vibrant orange like flickering embers as the sun’s rays peek over them. The beauty of Santa Fe never fails to amaze him; if only he could share this moment with Hanzo, Jesse thinks.

Cash pads over to him and bumps his wet nose against Jesse’s cheek, tongue darting out to lick all over his sweaty face. Jesse slings an arm around the dog’s torso and gently wrestles him to the ground, a small grin flitting across his lips. “Least I got you here, boy,” he murmurs. Cash swipes his tongue over Jesse’s mouth in reply and the sharpshooter cringes and rubs the heel of his palm over his lips to get the dogspit off. He’s seen Cash lick his own ass enough times to be disgusted.

Despite attempts to put the man from his head, Jesse lets his mind drift to Hanzo, contemplating the mess he’s made of things. What was and wasn’t real about last night? he wonders. Everything felt so vibrant and warm - Hanzo pressed against him as they danced, tequila and cider mingling in his breath, his hips as he ground down on Jesse’s lap. God, those hips. Was it fake? Did he imagine the eagerness written across Hanzo’s face as the archer’s fingers toyed with the waistband of his jeans? Or was the other man toeing the line between just enough and too much in his devotion to this tandem scheme, intending to leave Jesse both metaphorically and physically blue-balled when they get back to Gibraltar and the ruse is finally up? A part of his mind wanders - what if it was real? he lets himself think fleetingly.

Jesse groans and digs the heels of his palms into his eyes, wondering when he became such a goddamn idiot in love.

Metal fingers dig in the pocket of his sweatpants, and he stutters a curse under his breath when he remembers the cigarillos and lighter on his bedside table. Christ, he thinks, I could use a smoke right ‘bout now. Heaving a sigh, he simply lies on the ground, arm draped over a lazing Cash, head tilted toward the mountains as he watches the sun slowly rise.

- -

When he finally returns home, sweat-soaked and covered in dirt and dog slobber, the girls and Hanzo are already crowded around the kitchen island eating breakfast.

“Where have you been?” Mamá asks, a single brow arched.

“God, I can smell you all the way over here,” Nina is quick to add. She scrunches her nose and makes a disgusted face, fanning a hand in the air exaggeratedly.

“Put your shirt back on, weirdo. Nobody needs to see your hairy chest,” Sofía chirps.

Jesse lets out a snort of laughter and rolls his eyes at the girls. He pulls out a chair, joining them at the table. “Quit bein’ dramatic, you two,” he huffs and meets Mamá’s questioning gaze. “Decided to go out for a run this mornin’.”

“You? Exercising?” Nina says. “This is a new development.”

“Christ on a crutch, I can’t even run without bein’ harped on in this house.”

The twins giggle at his exasperated tone, and Nina flashes a fond grin at him. “You know I’m joking, Jess.”

Mamá prods him with a finger. “At least you are finally getting rid of this,” she says as she gestures to the small bit of flab on his stomach.

“Aw, Mamá,” he whines. She chuckles and waves a hand dismissively, instead nodding to the spread of food on the table.

“Eat! Lo siento, we did not know when you would be home so we began without you. But look at all of this!”

Jesse’s a bit amazed by the spread - there’s a pile of french toast, a plate loaded with eggs, some toast, and a good amount of chopped fruit. Whatever Mamá had in the pantry and fridge had been put to good use in making everything.

He lets out a low whistle and nods. “Looks damn good.”

“You truly found yourself a perfect man. Can you believe it? He made all of this for us!” Mamá says. By the way she’s looking at Hanzo, Jesse’s half convinced she’d marry the archer if she could. He glances up at the other man, brow half-raised; Hanzo doesn’t meet his gaze. He stares past Jesse’s shoulder, a tight smile on his lips, nodding curtly in acceptance of Mamá’s praise.

“It is the least I could do to repay you for your kindness and hospitality,” he says.

“Well,” Jesse replies, “you sure do know how to win Mamá’s heart.” He offers a halfhearted smile to the other man, hoping he might be thrown a bone; something, anything. Hanzo doesn’t even look at him, instead simply nodding and staring pointedly at the plate of french toast as if it is his fake boyfriend. Probably would make a better one at this point, Jesse thinks. He catches Saoirse’s keen eyes flitting back and forth between he and Hanzo, something knowing in her gaze.

Breakfast is a stiff affair. He makes light conversation and banters back-and-forth with his sisters as always, but he’s hyper-aware of Hanzo beside him, more reserved than he’s been in days. There are no fleeting glances, no comfortable hands on shoulders or waists. Jesse does his best to maintain the seeming normalcy of their routine but it becomes increasingly difficult; he feels Hanzo flinch when their shoulders brush, eyes fixed upon his plate. He doesn’t dare meet Jesse’s eyes. This Ice King treatment he’s receiving from the Hanzo is unbearable, Jesse thinks.

Matters worsen when they are side-by-side doing the dishes after breakfast. Hanzo silently scrubs plates and pans with a brillo pad while Jesse dries them. He rubs the tines of a fork with the pad of his thumb thoughtfully, lips pursed. Perhaps waving the metaphorical white flag and trying to find some peace might be the right course of action, Jesse decides; he cocks his head toward the archer and murmurs, “Listen. ‘Bout last night, I’m sor--”

“Do not apologize. My actions were foolish, and the alcohol clouded my judgement. I apologize for making you uncomfortable,” Hanzo’s sharp words cut him off. He scrubs vigorously at a plate, face impassive.

“You don’t need’a apologize. I shouldn’t’ve been such an ass about it.”

Hanzo snorts. “You were within your rights to react as you did. I took this charade too far.”

Charade, huh? Jesse thinks. His stomach sinks, fears confirmed.

He opens his mouth to reply, but Hanzo cuts him off once more. “When is our train scheduled to leave?”

“Uhh. Later tonight, I think we gotta get to the station around ten or so ‘n it leaves at ten-thirty. Plane takes off from JFK next mornin’.”

“Perfect,” the archer murmurs. “I have missed having my own quarters.”

The word echoes in Jesse’s mind. Perfect -- Hanzo seems eager to leave, he thinks. Perfect.

- -

There were special places in Santa Fe that Jesse loved, hidden away from the prying eyes of other people. Places where time seemed to stand still; no matter how many years passed, they always looked the same when he returned. Places for him.

The mountains had always been his favorite. A short drive from the old farmhouse took him up into the lazy brown peaks of the Sangre de Cristo range, where he could sit in peace and gaze down at the sleeping desert. His life’s story could be seen from the top of those peaks -- Mamá loved to take the whole family on simple day trips to the mountains, ending the whole affair in a commemorative picture.

Jesse knew that somewhere, tucked away in a dusty house closet, was an album of memories: silly pictures of himself as a child, bright-eyed and grinning wide with his parents standing on either side of him as they all posed for the timer-set camera. Him with missing front teeth, with the messy hair and the scraped elbows and knees of a young boy who spent his time roughhousing with friends and playing games of cops and robbers. Pictures of Mamá making bunny ears behind his head and ones where Pa piggybacks him, their flashing smiles matching. The phases of his life -- braces, patchy hair on his face when he was fourteen, him staring sullenly at the camera with arms crossed over his chest only weeks before he left for Deadlock. And a gap, several years’ worth of pictures he would never be able to make up.

He spent his last day in the mountains with Mamá. Just the two of them. She parked the pickup at the top of a high peak and spread blankets over the flatbed and they sat together, side-by-side, drinking cold beers from the cooler and reminiscing about the past. Jesse thought, not for the first time, about how much he would give to have those few years back, if only for memories of peaceful moments like this. A few more years with Pa, before he passed on. Time passed too quickly.

Mamá sipped her beer and rubbed a thumb along the side of it, leaving a smudged trail on the sweating bottle. “What is it like, working with Overwatch again?” she murmured.

“Different,” he replied. “Same faces, but everyone’s older. Some of ‘em are missin’, ‘n there’re a few new recruits, too. Don’t feel quite right, yet.”

“New recruits?”

“Yeah, yeah.” Jesse tapped his nails thoughtfully against the side of his beer and listened to the soft plink, plink sound they made. “We got this kid workin’ with us, now. A musician, ‘n a freedom fighter. But damn, if he ain’t the nicest person I’ve ever met. He’s a real hero, that one.”

He took a sip from his bottle and leaned an arm against the edge of the truck’s bed, thoughts of Overwatch drifting through his head. “An’ there’s another new one. Just joined up, guess he’s Genji’s brother or somethin’ -- I told you ‘bout Genji, didn’t I?”

“Mm,” Mamá hummed and tapped her chin in thought. “The name is familiar, yes.”

Jesse nodded. “Well, this guy, he ain’t too similar to Genji. Don’t think he much likes me, either,” he continued. “I’ll haf’ta work on that, ‘cause I don’t want to be on his bad side -- the man’s a demon in a fight. He can shoot damn near anything with that bow’a his. A real spitfire.” Jesse pursed his lips and let out a low whistle of appreciation, head shaking in disbelief. “Never seen nothin’ like it.”

“It sounds to me like you have quite a bit of admiration for this man.”

“Hm,” he murmured. Jesse could picture Hanzo in his mind -- all corded muscle and lithe movements, arms built by years of archery, tattoo coiling up his skin. Taciturn. Newly joined, not quite ready to open up to any of them; in time, with any hope, he would. “Guess I really do. There’s somethin’ ‘bout him.”

Jesse sipped beer through pursed lips and thought about dragons, swirling and raging like a blue storm. “He’s a wild one.”

- -

Mamá doesn’t tell them where they’re going, but Jesse sees her packing the camera in the pickup alongside a cooler full of beer and sodas and food. He knows -- there is only one place reserved for firsts and lasts like these. He thinks about the last time he visited the mountains with her and smiles reservedly. She seems far too excited to be bringing Hanzo to “their mountain,” chattering away about all of the beautiful things he’ll be able to see from the very top of it, how nothing can quite match the beauty of the midday desert. The archer nods softly and listens carefully.

Once more, the entire family is buzzing as they climb into the pickup. He and Hanzo are side-by-side in the back; Jesse stares up at the sky, hand comfortably settled on his stomach. Hanzo turns away and curls on one side, arm cushioning his head, facing the edge of the truck. Despite how short the drive is, it feels like an eternity, eyes fixed on the archer’s stiff back. Things could be worse, Jesse thinks to himself. He could’a picked up ‘n left altogether. At least he’s still here.

They pull up to the peak when the sun is at its highest point, summer heat beating down upon them relentlessly. Jesse can feel sweat already trickling down the back of his neck and curses the fact that he even bothered taking a shower after his run, given how hot it is out.

The twins and Saoirse scramble up into the back of the pickup beside he and Hanzo, sitting on the truck’s sides with feet dangling down onto the flatbed. Mamá lugs the cooler around the back of the car and Jesse helps her pull it in until it sits in the midst of them all. She takes a seat next to him, brushing a stray, dark curl behind one ear. Jesse can hear the rustle of plastic as she sets something behind her back, out of his sight.

“So,” Mamá chirps, clapping her hands together, “since it is your last day here, we got something together for you.”

“Aw, you didn’t hafta,” Jesse says. “Takin’ us up here’s nice enough, anyway.”

“This family goes all out, always,” Nina says. “You should know that by now, since you’re, like, fifty.”

“Thirty-eight,” Jesse murmurs sullenly.

“Whatever. Still close enough to the Paleolithic era.”

“Well, what does that make Mamá?” he huffs.

“A beautiful and timeless young woman,” Mamá cuts in. “Never question a lady’s age.”

The twins giggle and Jesse shakes his head, sighing exaggeratedly and grabbing a beer from the cooler. He offers one to Hanzo, who waves it away with a hand. He hears the rustle of plastic once more and looks up to see Mamá smiling at the two of them, hands mischievously behind her back.

“The girls and I went down to the panaderia earlier and got your favorite,” she says, thrusting the bag forward. Jesse’s eyes widen, and he feels like a child once more -- the bag is filled with conchas, food coloring tinting the sugar on top of the bread rolls, making them look like vivid, patterned candies.

She shakes the bag at it and nods as if to say go on; Jesse happily does so, grabbing one and thumbing the bread. “Damn, haven’t had one’a these in a while,” he says.

Hanzo peers at the concha questioningly. “What is it?”

“It’s, like.. sweet bread and sugar,” Saoirse pipes up. “Try one!” She deftly snags one from the bag in Jesse’s hand and offers it to the archer, who carefully takes the treat and turns it around in examination.

“We have something like this,” he murmurs thoughtfully, “in Japan. Melonpan.

“World’s small, ain’t it?” Jesse muses and tears off a piece of the concha hungrily. The sugar on top crumbles from the bread into the palm of his hand as he fumbles with it. Even falling apart, it still tastes delicious, candied sweetness and soft bread mingling in familiar flavors. He eats his bread and watches Hanzo carefully pick apart his own, popping small bits at a time into his mouth as if he’s savoring the entire thing. Once they’ve both gotten theirs, the girls dart and each take a concha for themselves.

“Thought y’all said you got ‘em for us,” Jesse teases.

“We did,” Sofía mumbles, mouth full. “And you’re eating yours.”

“I hid some more at home for you,” Mamá whispers in his ear, winking at him. He presses his lips in a thin smile; she’s always prepared, he thinks.

When he glances up, Hanzo meets his gaze. It’s the first time the archer has legitimately looked at him all day, he realizes. They stare at each other in silence for a moment, until Jesse decides to be chickenshit and looks away. He can’t take the impassiveness -- he knows Hanzo. The other man isn’t like this; Jesse feels like a goddamn piece of shit for making him feel like he’d done something wrong.

He sips his beer and idly chats with his family, falling into a comfortable, old routine and doing his best to smile and nod along. Nina tells him all about getting into art school and what she wants to study there and Sofía attempts to one-up her with talk of her upcoming freshman year at CalTech. Jesse offhandedly mentions the fact that it’ll be the first time the twins are separated from each other and they frown; obviously, he thinks, it’s a touchy subject.

Stolen glances at Hanzo reveal the archer deep in a conversation with Saoirse. Jesse attempts to listen to whatever they’re saying but Mamá and the twins talk too loudly and excitedly for him to make out much of anything. He notices a good amount of exasperated eye-rolling and head shaking on his younger sister’s part.

Time crawls on unbearably slow. He downs several beers, sneaking sips to the twins every so often and eating the snacks Mamá packed in the cooler. He lets his legs hang from the edge of the truck and looks down from the mountaintop at the land below -- the small houses, bushes that look like ants, the browns and greys and muddy greens of the desert landscape. Jesse wipes sweat from his face and neck and makes small talk with Mamá. The entire time, he is hyperaware of Hanzo and Saoirse, no doubt talking shit about his stupidity. God, Jesse thinks, I deserve it.

As the afternoon sun begins its downward descent, Mamá crows at everyone to gather around for a picture. Another memory to go in their photo album -- this time, she insists, with a future family member. Jesse rubs his temples and resists the urge to aw, Mamá her for the third or ninth time that day and simply lets himself be herded to the edge of the peak for the photo. She presses Hanzo up beside him and Jesse tentatively wraps a hand around the archer’s shoulders. Hanzo doesn’t flinch this time, but Jesse can feel him stiffen, like a reminder -- this is temporary. The twins crowd in on either side of he and Hanzo enthusiastically and Saoirse stands on her tip-toes, head barely peeking over his shoulder as she throws a pair of bunny ears above his head and gives the camera a soft, close-lipped smile.

“Everyone ready?” Mamá calls, and a face of smiles answer her. “Three -- two --”

The camera flash goes off and Jesse can feel himself blink simultaneously. Aw, damnit.
“Good, good,” Mamá says. She slings the camera strap over one shoulder and flashes a thumbs up at them. Hanzo wastes no time breaking apart and putting some distance between the two of them, to Jesse’s dismay.

With a shake of his head, Jesse climbs back into the truck bed, grabs another beer, and thinks about Gibraltar.

- -

“You’re a real idiot, y’know that?”

Saoirse sits on the porch railing beside him, brown curls bouncing around her chin as her leg swing back and forth idly. He leans beside her with a cigarillo hanging from his mouth and watches smoke drift lazily into the afternoon air from between his pursed lips.

“Mm,” he hums and nods his head solemnly. “Yeah. S’pose I am.”

The acrid smoke makes her wrinkle her nose. She nudges his shoulder softly with an elbow. “And you’re gonna give me secondhand lung cancer.”

“Sorry,” he says, heaving a sigh. Jesse flicks the cigarillo to the ground and stubs it out with the toe of his boot. “Force of habit. Felt like I needed one.”

“What, too stressed?”

“Somethin’ like that.”

She eyes him knowingly. “You wouldn’t be stressed if you’d stop being so stupid, Jess. Open your eyes.”

He rolls them, instead. “And what, pray tell,” Jesse huffs, leaning one arm against the railing and giving her a nettled look, “could you possibly know about what’s goin’ on?”

“I know that the porch light’s on, but nobody’s home up here,” she replies, following her words with a flick to his forehead. “And anyone with two damn eyes can see that somethin’s going on with you ‘n Hanzo. He talked to me earlier, y’know?”

“Yeah, I saw,” Jesse says. “You two were over there gossipin’ like a pair’a schoolgirls.”

“He’s a good guy. Surprisingly funny, too.” Saoirse cocks her head to the side, pressing her lips together in a thin line as she considers Jesse. “He was asking me about you.”

That got Jesse’s interest. “What’d he say?” he asks.

“My lips are sealed,” she says, pantomiming a zipper across her mouth. “But if you two are having relationship issues, you need to work them out. All day you’ve been dancin’ around each other like a pair of fools. I’m pretty sure I’ve watched enough Bachelorette to know that not talking to each other is only going to lead to disaster.”

“You don’t know half of what’s goin’ on, girl.”

She rolls her eyes. “I don’t need to know what’s going on to see you two’re acting real funny. Look, go man up and talk to him. Stop being a fuckin’ dumbshit.”

“Now, when’d my baby sister get a dirty mouth?” Jesse chides.

“I grew up with you, y’big idiot. You say worse things all the time.” Saoirse gives him a good-natured shove and grins, legs swinging back and forth. She presses both palms against the porch railing and leans back, staring out at the desert. “I don’t like seeing my big brother all mope-y. I know you two leave later today, but you’ve still got time to sort things out.”

“I dunno, Saoirse,” he murmurs. “I think he’s real done with me, right now.”

“Well, damn, Jess -- you can’t just think. You won’t know exactly what he’s feeling until you talk to him. Christ, I swear you men are so thick sometimes.”

“You really think it’s a good idea?” Jesse replies skeptically. He wants to settle things, sure -- but he doesn’t want to risk further straining the friendship he has with Hanzo. Besides, the archer didn’t seem like he much wanted to talk about last night when Jesse had brought it up earlier.

Yes, I do. God, how many times to I need to say it? Go and talk to him. I know he wants to talk to you,” Saoirse groans.

“I -- all right, all right. I’ll go. But, if this goes badly, I know who to blame.”

- -

Jesse toes out of his boots and quietly opens the door to the guest bedroom. Pale afternoon sunlight streams through the slats in the window shutters, shining on the carpet in soft lines and illuminating idly drifting dust. He sees Hanzo sitting crosslegged on the ground, carefully folding a tee shirt in his lap, freshly-washed hair tied back in a short braid.

“Hey,” Jesse murmurs, closing the door with a soft click behind himself. “D’ya got a minute to talk?”

Hanzo pauses for a moment in his folding and makes a quiet noise of assent, but doesn’t bother to turn around and face him. All right, Jesse thinks. This is how it’s gonna be.

The corner of the bed dips under his weight as Jesse sits down upon it, old springs groaning beneath him. He shoves his hands into his pockets and stares at Hanzo’s back, watching the other man continue his laundry, eyes fixed upon the hardened muscles flexing and working beneath the tight shirt the archer wears. Jesse worries his lower lip nervously -- the tension between them is palpable. A part of him wants to be chickenshit and run away, never address any of this and simply deal with the fallout and whatever it means for their friendship. But a greater part of him knows this is the right thing to do. Christ, Jesse thinks, am I really ‘bout to tell him?

“Listen,” he begins, taking a deep breath through his nose in an attempt to assuage his nerves. “I got somethin’ I been needin’ to tell you. An’ if you hate me for it, then, hell, I wouldn’t blame you.”

“What is it?” Hanzo replies curtly, as if Jesse is bothering him, like his laundry takes precedence over this conversation.

“It’s -- y’know, it’s about last night. I wasn’t bein’ totally truthful when I pushed you away. I said I was sorry for bein’ an ass, and I still am. But, truth is, I just couldn’t take it. You gettin’ all up on me like that, even if you were drunk.”

Hanzo visibly tenses, setting a folded shirt aside. “Did I not tell you that the matter is forgotten? It was my fault for being a fool. You needn't continue apologizing.”

“That ain’t it!” Jesse huffs. He clenches his fingers in the material of his jeans and grits his teeth, silently wishing he were better with words. The archer sits stiffly across from him, and Jesse sourly thinks, he don’t even care enough to turn around. “Look, Hanzo. I know I can be a bit thickheaded sometimes, and I ain’t been sure about many things in my life. But, damnit, I’m sure about this one thing. And --” he breaks off, words fumbling in his mind.

Jesse can feel the pent-up emotions that have gathered within him over the past several several days all gather at once: anger at his own stupidity, frustration with Hanzo, a desire for something more, fear for the state of their friendship and the other man’s reaction to his confession, irritation because, “Goddamnit, Hanzo, would you just turn around?

He hears the thud of feet pounding against the floor and suddenly hands are at his collar, yanking him bodily up from his seat on the bed. Hanzo white-knuckles Jesse’s shirt with both hands -- anger knits his brows and furrows his face, and the archer’s lips are drawn downward, teeth bared like a wild animal. The archer’s grip tugs Jesse downward so their faces are dangerously close. Nearly touching.

Turn around?” he hisses, following the words with an irritated tug on Jesse’s shirt. “Why? So that I can stare at you and listen to you tell me more about how you ‘couldn’t take it’?”

“Wait, I --”

“No,” the archer cuts him off, a single syllable uttered through clenched teeth. He looks like a coiled-up rattler, tensed and ready to strike. “You cannot take back what has already been said, nor can you soften the blow of your words. This entire time we have been here, you put on this.. charade for your family. It may not have meant anything to you,” Hanzo growls, fingers tightening in the material of Jesse’s shirt, “but it meant something to me.”

Jesse lets out the breath that’s caught in his throat and stares down into dark, challenging eyes. The hands gripping his shirt do not loosen -- Hanzo gazes at him, jaw working, waiting for an answer.

“I, uh,” the sharpshooter stutters for lack of anything better to say, mind working a mile a minute to process what he’s just heard. It meant something to him, repeats over and over in his head, words searing themselves into him. It meant something. “Fuck, I’m an idiot.”

Hanzo’s fingers loosen and he unclenches his fists, palms pressing flat against Jesse’s chest. “That is not what I had expected to hear, but it is true nonetheless.”

Jesse scrubs a hand down his face and chuckles wryly. “Well,” he mutters, “it’s ‘bout the only thing I can think of at the moment. Because, darlin’, you would not believe how much the past few days have meant to me. I just.. I thought they didn’t mean anythin’ to you, so I was afraid’a makin’ you uncomfortable or ruining what we already got.”

The archer sucks in a breath and presses his lips together, letting silence fill the air for a moment. “It seems,” he finally murmurs, “that we have both been fools.”

“Sounds about right.”

“Though you, perhaps, have been more foolish than I. Did you ever consider why I accepted your offer to pose as a couple for your family?”

“..’Cause you’re a good friend?” Jesse offers sheepishly.

Hanzo snorts. “I thought it might be the perfect chance to learn more about you, your life. That, possibly, we might grow closer, and I could perhaps find the right moment to inform you of my feelings.” He cards a hand exasperatedly through the front of his hair, pushing stray locks back. “Obviously, my plan did not go quite as intended.”

“You ain’t shittin’ me?” Jesse gapes.

“No, I am not shitting you.”

“Christ on a crutch, I must be the densest man alive. This whole time, it was all genuine?”

“Yes. However, after your reaction to my advances last night, I simply assumed that I had made you uneasy, and that all of this truly was just a show.”

“Guess that’s why you’ve been blockin’ me out all day, huh?” Jesse muses. “I still can’t believe this.”

“Perhaps this will help you believe,” the archer murmurs. He curls a hand behind Jesse’s neck and tilts the sharpshooter’s head down, pressing their lips together in a chaste kiss. Jesse leans into the other man’s mouth and savors the moment -- genuine, hidden away in this room. Just the two of them. No more charade, no more fake; four days of pretending to pretend and finally, finally, he has this.

Jesse bunches his fingers in Hanzo’s shirt and deepens the kiss, a short moan working its way out of his throat at the feeling of the archer’s hands tangling in his hair, gripping the back of his head tightly and nipping at his lips. Hanzo kisses like he shoots -- gracefully, but with an unbridled fury behind his movements. Every motion seems as if it has been carefully calculated to make Jesse’s cock harder.

“God,” he breaks the kiss and breathes out, staring down at Hanzo through half-lidded eyes. “You don’t know how long I wanted t’do that for.”

“I can see,” Hanzo replies. His lips quirk up in a mischievous grin and he palms Jesse’s cock through his pants, eliciting a groan from the sharpshooter.

“Mm,” Jesse hums, fingers tightening in the dark material of Hanzo’s clothing. “And these goddamned shirts -- were they all part’a your plan?”

“I have no idea what you are talking about,” the archer says airily, palms flat against Jesse’s chest and walking him back to the bed. “I simply borrowed a few shirts from Lúcio. Whether or not they fit correctly was entirely out of my control.”


Jesse feels the backs of his knees hit the bed and lets Hanzo press him down upon the mattress, straddling his hips. The mattress creaks as Jesse surges up, pressing their lips together passionately once more. He lets his eyes stutter closed and enjoys the feeling of their mouths moving languidly against one another, Hanzo’s tongue sliding along his bottom lip and lazily exploring his mouth, the scratch of their beards and the thumb that rubs across his cheekbone.

When Jesse opens his eyes, the dresser in the room catches his gaze. God, no.

“Wait. Gimme a second,” Jesse huffs. Hanzo pulls back, lips pursed and face deadpan.

“What,” the archer drawls, “could possibly be important at the moment?”

Jesse scrabbles at the bedsheets and pulls himself up, facing the large dresser to the right of the bed. He loves the pictures that sit on top of it -- lacquered wood frames that hold memories of his childhood, of the girls, photos of Mamá and Pa on different wedding anniversaries. He loves them, but not right now. Quickly, Jesse flips all of the frames down, covering frozen eyes and faces that seem to be staring at him. He turns his attention to the bookshelf that is pressed against the other wall of their temporary room and grabs stylized decorative crosses and icons of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe that sit upon the shelves. Jesse pulls open one of the dresser drawers and stuffs them all in there, to be replaced at a later date when he’s not about to engage in sinful acts. “Forgive me, Mamá,” he whispers solemnly.

When he turns around, a shit-eating grin is spread wide on Hanzo’s face. “Are you finished putting away all of the pictures and religious items?” he asks, brows quirked.

Jesse rubs the back of his head sheepishly. “Felt creepy. Like they were watchin’ me, and God was gettin’ ready to smite me from above for likin’ dick.”

He earns a snort of laughter from the other man, who beckons him back to the bed. Jesse obliges, meeting him at the edge; arms wrap around his neck and he’s turned around, back pressing into the mattress, Hanzo hovering over him with lurid hunger in his eyes. “Well,” the archer murmurs, leaning down to mouth a kiss below Jesse’s jaw, “if that is settled, we can finally cont--”

“Wait. One more thing, darlin’,” the sharpshooter cuts him off. Hanzo sits back on his heels, annoyance written all over his face.

What could it possibly be now?”

“Can you just..” Jesse flaps a hand in a vague gesture, “take that off?”

He stares at the grey shirt Hanzo wears, bearing a bright green and oddly realistic frog with the words “I DO IT FROGGY STYLE” in bold text beneath. The beady eyes seem to stare back at him knowingly, like the amphibian was in on Hanzo’s plan to seduce him with tight clothing all along.

Hanzo mutters a string of what Jesse can only assume are Japanese curses, whipping off the shirt and throwing it annoyedly to the ground. “Are you satisfied, now? Or must I remove my pants, as well?”

“Well,” Jesse says, scratching his chin with an idle finger. “S’pose it would be nice. But I’d rather to that myself.”

The archer huffs a small laugh and rolls his eyes. “Sometimes I wonder what attracted me to you.”

“My rugged good looks? Southern charm? Maybe it was my expertise in handling guns -- and other things.” He waggles his eyebrows.

“If you do not stop fooling around,” Hanzo mutters, “you will not be handling any ‘other things’ tonight.”

“Awright, awright,” Jesse drawls, lazy grin upon his lips. “So impatient.”

He reaches up and tugs the tie from Hanzo’s hair, admiring the way it softly falls down his shoulders and frames his face. Jesse cards his flesh hand through the black locks, pushing the archer’s bangs from his face; he tightens his fingers in Hanzo’s hair and brings him down, pressing their lips together.

Hanzo’s hands grip at his waist, fingers tight on Jesse’s hips, thumbs pressing bruises into his hipbones as he deepens the kiss, a feral want coursing through his veins. Jesse can feel fingertips slowly lowering, toying with the waistband of his pants, and he breaks the kiss.

“Let me get ‘em off,” he breathes out, fumbling with the button. Hanzo bats his hands away and thumbs Jesse’s jeans open with ease, unzipping them and helping him shimmy out before unceremoniously tossing the pants to rest beside his forgotten Froggy Style shirt on the floor. A hand slides down, palming his cock through his boxers. Jesse leans his head back against the mattress, screwing his eyes shut and letting out a moan. “Keep doin’ that,” he mutters. “Feels real good.”

Hanzo smirks and moves his hand, sliding it up to grip at Jesse’s waist. He presses a trail of kisses and nips down the sharpshooter’s chest and stomach, stopping to slip Jesse’s boxers wholly off and grip his cock with a careful hand.

“I can do better than just that,” Hanzo murmurs; Jesse cracks one eye open and can’t believe the fact that Hanzo Shimada is here, finally, and has his mouth around his cock.

The Lord works in mysterious ways, he thinks.

- -

Later, they lie together, Hanzo curled up against him, Jesse’s arms wrapped around the archer. He feels calloused fingers sleepily trace the starburst scar on his stomach, rubbing over the faded, pink edges of a wound that had, upon a time, nearly claimed his life.

“Was that story true? ‘Bout Egypt, you realizin’ how you felt?” Jesse says, voice low.

Hanzo is silent for a moment, fingers continuing to trace circles around the scar. “Yes,” he finally replies. “That day, I remember sitting beside you in the transport ship, watching as Angela dug a bullet from your stomach and muttered to herself about how the wound could have claimed your life. And I.. felt scared. Then, I realized why I had such feelings.”

“Huh,” Jesse says. “Y’know, I think there was always somethin’ about you. I never knew what it was, but I always felt we shared somethin’, and it drew me to you.”

Hanzo doesn’t reply, simply pressing a kiss to Jesse’s jaw instead. He whispers something inaudible, and the sharpshooter’s brows knit. “What was that?” he asks.

Te amo.” The words are murmured into his ear, soft and light, three syllables of incredible meaning. Jesse cups Hanzo’s cheek with a hand, fingers brushing the archer’s hair from his face.

“Where’d you learn that?” he whispers.

“Your youngest sister. She is quite intuitive for her age,” Hanzo replies.

Jesse hmms and kisses Hanzo, the words repeating in his mind. Te amo, te amo, te amo.

- -

“Do you have to leave already, Jess?” Nina whines, hands on her hips. Jesse heaves a sigh and drops his duffel bag on the porch, walking over to wrap her up in a bear hug. The girl laughs and bats at his shoulder and he squeezes tighter, lifting her into the air.

“Yeah, I gotta go. Duty calls ‘n all that,” he says, setting her back on the ground. Sofía steps up and slings her arms around his neck, pressing a kiss to Jesse’s cheek.

“We’re gonna miss you,” she says. “You need to come back and visit more often. Stop being such a stranger.”

“I’ll try, I’ll try!” he laughs. “It’s hard to find time in my schedule. Too busy saving the world.” Jesse can practically feel Hanzo’s eyes rolling in their sockets beside him.

“Even heroes can find time to visit their families,” Mamá chides. She looks down as she smooths her hands over her dress, attempting to compose herself; Jesse can tell that she’s sad he is leaving. She hates goodbyes -- he knows. He cups her cheeks in his hands and smiles down at her.

“I’ll come visit more. I promise, Mamá. You all are always first in my heart.”

“And what does that make me?” Hanzo deadpans.

“Second. Though, if you can cook somethin’ tastier than Mamá’s tampiqueña, you might be able to snag first place.”

The girls laugh, and he even gets a soft snort out of Hanzo; Jesse feels a pang of sadness in his chest. I’ll miss bein’ home, he thinks. He bends down and wraps his arms around Cash’s neck, giving the dog a tight squeeze and earning himself a veritable dog version of a wet willy. “Seeya around, boy,” he says.

When he straightens up, Saoirse stands before him, arms outstretched. “Best for last!” she chirps, standing on her tip-toes and hugging his neck with both arms.

“I’ll miss you, Jess,” she murmurs, cheek pressed to his skin.

“I’m gonna miss you, too, kiddo,” he replies, squeezing her tight. “Thanks for all’a your help.”

“Anything to help you stop being such an idiot,” Saoirse laughs.

They part, and Jesse grabs his duffel bag once more, slinging it over one shoulder. “Guess we should be headin’ off,” he says, reluctant. “Don’t much want to go, but we got a train t’ catch.”

“Thank you for your hospitality,” Hanzo says, bowing low to the girls. Mamá smiles and presses a hand to the archer’s cheek, kissing the other one.

“You are welcome back here any time. And thank you,” she says, “for making Jesse so happy. I have never seen him love someone like this. What you two have is pure -- cherish that.”

“You’re so sappy, Mamá,” Jesse butts in, a smile upon his lips. He turns to Hanzo, jerking his head toward the gate where their taxi awaits them. “Ready to go?”

The archer nods, and Jesse leans down and presses a smiling kiss to the other man’s cheek. He listens to the music of crickets chirping their night song and coyotes howling in the distance under the moon that casts a silver glow upon the desert. They wave goodbye to a barking Cash, to Mamá, to Nina and Sofía and little Saoirse. To family. To home.

Back to my new home, Jesse idly thinks. He casts a glance at Hanzo walking beside him, a peaceful and genuinely happy look on his face. And my new family.