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For Hanzo, it began when his arm twitched.

Later, much later, he would liken the sensation to a hypnagogic jerk. In that future time he will have to explain to the person next to him that a hypnagogic jerk was when your body twitches right as you’re falling asleep and wakes you back up. Oh, the other person will say, that is the worst. They always get this weird falling-feeling in the pit of their stomach when that happens. Is that normal? But before Hanzo could reply a third party will shoot at them.

But that was later. A much more exciting later.

Hanzo’s beginning was more of a quiet moment, one spent reading in the common room with a cup of tea. He normally avoided the area, but since all of the louder members of Overwatch were off on a mission together Hanzo decided it was a good time to work on that book Mei had lent him. He had settled in to the often-fought over loveseat and was just about to get to what Mei had sworn was ‘the good part’ when his arm twitched hard enough to smack right into the armrest.

“Hanzo? You okay, love?” Said Lena, who was kneeling next to the coffee table.

“Your arm alright, mate?” Said Junkrat, who was sitting across from Lena.

(It had been a shock to Hanzo to discover that, despite all evidence to the contrary, Junkrat and Lena both fell into the ‘quiet’ category of Overwatch’. At least they both knew when one should stop talking, unlike someone else Hanzo could name.)

“It’s nothing.” Hanzo said as he rubbed his left arm. The odd sensation had already faded, and something far more pressing took his attention. He finally noticed the tower of still-wrapped candy bars between Junkrat and Tracer on the coffee table. They must have emptied out the much-abused candy machine, or had risked life and limb by delving into Winston’s hidden candy stash that everyone knew about. Hanzo asked the obvious question by taking off his reading glasses and using them to silently point at the tower.

“We’re playing Candy Bar Jenga!” Lena said, as if that explained everything.

“You keep whatever you can pull out.” Junkrat gave Hanzo a jagged smile. “You want in?”

Hanzo was able to pull out two candy bars before Lena toppled the tower. Which was fine, he only required two. By then the muscle spasm had been forgotten, tucked away in an odd corner of his mind until it would be dragged out during the far more exciting future. Before the tower of candy could be rebuilt a melodious tone went off above them.

“Agent Hanzo Shimada, your presence is required in the meeting room.”

“Ooo, someone’s in trouble.” Junkrat sang as he quickly pocketed his winnings, and a few extra bars to go along with it. “Finally snap and string up that cowboy of yours?”

“Jamie!” Lena said, and punctuated it with a jab under the coffee table.

“Perhaps they wish for my help in uncovering your treasure, Junkrat.” Hanzo replied. It was worth it for the look of pure panic that spread across Junkrat’s face.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about!” Junkrat said, “Also how the hell do you know about-”

“Agent Hanzo Shimada, your presence is required in the meeting room, immediately.”

“Immediately? That can’t be good.” Lena muttered.

“Athena, inform them I’ll be there at once.” Hanzo stood to leave, only to pause at the door. “Also Lena, Junkrat pocketed three Lion Bars.”

“You cheeky bastard! Those are my fav! Give them back!” Lena’s cry echoed into the hallway as Hanzo slipped out of the room. Underhanded, but Junkrat had struck first.

***

Something was wrong. Hanzo felt it as soon as he walked into the meeting room. No one was talking. No one was really looking at each other, either. He took the scene all in at once: Lucio, headphones off, frowning. Hana, spinning her cell in her hands, not playing on it. Genji, leaning against the back wall, mask still on. Morrison, standing at the head of the table, mask off. Finally Mei, her coat still on and looking like if she was going to cry at any second. Everyone from the mission that morning, minus one.

“Where is Jesse?” Hanzo snapped. That got a look from Hana, but he ignored it.

“McCree is with Angela.” Jack started. “He’s being observed-”

“Observed? What happened? Is he injured? What-”

“Calm down, Hanzo!” Said Lucio as he lifted a hand up. “Jesse’s okay!”

Hanzo hadn’t realized there was a knot in his stomach until Lucio’s words made it untwist. “If that’s so then why is he with Angela?”

Lucio lowered his hand. “He’s just, um…”

“There was an incident.” Mei said, quietly. “A strange one.”

“That’s one way of putting it.” Hana said.

Jack said. “And we need your opinion on what happened.”

Hanzo glanced over at Genji, who replied with an unhelpful shrug. “Of course,” Hanzo said, “I will assist anyway I can. What happened?”

Jack nodded towards Hana. “D.Va, play your recording.”

Hana plastered a sickeningly sweet smile on her face. “But No-Longer-Commander-Morrison! I was strictly forbidden to record during battles anymore, and there is no way I would ever, ever-”

“Athena, play today’s MEKA recording starting from five minutes before the incident.”

“Loading!”

“Traitor.” Hana muttered as she glared at the screen on the far wall.

Athena’s logo vanished and was replaced by what Hanzo assumed was Hana’s view from her MEKA: The glass shield covered in a head’s up displaying showing more information than he could follow. He could just make out the reflecting of Hana’s face among the maps and numbers going by. She was frowning, but in an odd distant way. Not at the run down cityscape in front of her. Past Hana began to speak.

***

“I just don’t know what it means!” Hana sighed, “It’s been driving me crazy, you know?”

Hana had sat her MEKA down on the edge of the roof, giving her a good view of the alley below. Not that she was paying attention to it. She totally would be if the stupid gang they were trying to hunt down actually showed up. But no, they were probably off robbing banks or something far more interesting than looking at a pile of soggy cardboard boxes.

“Now what did the message say, exactly?” Came Genji’s voice over the communication line.

With a click of a button said message popped up on the screen. The words were in spanish but Hana translated them effortlessly. “It says ‘gg ez lol. U r going to RetCon in October right?? I will be wearing a purple hoodie with my gamertag icon on it.  See you there??? heart emoji heart emoji heart emoji’. Heart emojis! What does that mean?”

“Whoa whoa, gg ez lol?” Lucio’s said over the line. “Is this the person that’s been beating all your high scores? Skull icon lady?”

“First off, she had been beating me, but I’m in the lead again!” Hana frowned. “But yeah, it’s her. Normally she’s not so, so, friendly sounding? Totally never used emojis before.”

“That convention always has a lot of old school arcade games set up.” Said Genji. “Perhaps she’s planning on challenging you?”

“Or she’s trying to ask you out!” Mei’s voice cut in and was followed by a flurry of her giggles.

“Yeah I guess it could-” Hana paused. “Wait, what ?”

“That does sound like nerd flirting to me.” Jesse said as he joined in. “Beating you in a bunch of video games and following it up with hearts? Seems like something a shut-in would do.”

“Have you seen any pictures of her?” Genji asked.

“No! No. All I know is that they identify as female, speak Spanish, and their icon is a skull but it’s like a cute skull? The nose is an upside down heart? Pretty cute for a skull I guess.” Hana paused, only to be greeted with silence. A silence that did not last.

“Hana has a cru-ush.” Mei sang.

“Do not.” Hana muttered, trying to ignore the fact that her face was heating up. “I don’t even know what they look like. Or how old they are. Or anything about them besides the fact they also got that ‘Feed Your Waifu a Slice of Cake’ achievement that only like point-zero-one-percent of all Steam users have!”

“Lord child, you have it bad.” Jesse said.

“If you are all done gossiping about D.Va’s love life,” Jack said, stressing each word. “We need to find this gang before they move again. McCree, check the warehouse near you. D.Va, cover him. Lucio and Mei you’re with me. Genji, keep to the rooftops.”

There was a flurry of ‘Yes sir’ and ‘Yeah Dad’ over the communication line as Hana stood her MEKA back up. She pressed a button and the words ‘Private Communication Line Open’ flashed on her screen.

“Thanks Gramps.” Hana said quietly into her mic, which got a hearty chuckle in return.

“No problem.” Replied Jack, “But if you ever bring anyone home I get to meet them first.”

Hana briefly thought about making Jack promise that he wouldn’t bring his plasma rifle to said meeting (later, much later, she would regret not doing so), but shouting in the distance cut the thought off. Shouting with gunfire, which was then topped off by Jesse running through the alley right under Hana, plowing straight through the soggy cardboard boxes and out of her sight. There was a small beat before a fleet of motorcycles followed after him, screaming and guns a blazing.

“Found the gang need backup HANA NEED BACKUP!” Jesse screamed over the communication line.

“ON IT!” Hana let out a war cry as she jumped off the ledge of the building, fell three stories, and-

***

The images on the screen jumbled, images of the fight obscured by static and screams.

“So.” Hanzo said under his breath. “A cute skull?”

“Don’t you start.” Hana hissed right as the video became clear once again.

***

“-JESSE! Jesse! Are you there?!” Hana screamed as the remains of a motorcycle crunched under the MEKA’s feet. “Repeat, are you there?! Damn it! LUCIO!”

“Still getting a reading on his biometrics, but he’s not looking so great!” Lucio said over the communicator.

“D.Va! Get him out of there!” Said Jack, which got a growl from Hana.

“What the hell do you think I’m doing?!” Hana shouted over the sound of her boost engines. She kicked off the wall, almost flying around the corner. “I didn’t realize you were going senile YOU FREAKING OLD ASS-”

Blue.

That was the only way Hana could describe it. She turned the corner, and everything was just blue. Shining blue light that flooded every part of her being. Hana only had a fraction of a second to comprehend the sudden lack of, well, everything before the crash hit her. An explosion of noise that she felt as much as she heard, causing the MEKA to stop in its tracks.

The Blue moved . It lifted off the ground to reveal what was left of the motorcycle gang. Which wasn’t much outside of mangled metal and stains on the asphalt. On the other side of the massacre was Jesse, leaning back against the alley’s dead end. He was staring up at the sky above him, his eyes wide with an emotion Hana couldn’t place. So she looked up, too.

One of Hanzo’s dragons was in the air, lazily doing loops as if it didn’t have a care in the world.

“Um.” Hana cleared her throat. “Is everyone else seeing this? Genji? Is this one of your things or-”

“I did it.” Jesse’s voice weakly came over the communicator. “I, I summoned it. My arm got all crackly like Hanzo’s does and everything. I have no idea how I did that and oh God it’s looking at me. The dragon is looking at me. Genji what the fuck am I supposed to do now? Genji?”

Jesse’s question was answered by the sound of Genji laughing. A gasping, breathy laugh that was punctuated by the same words over and over again.

“I knew it! I knew it I knew it I knew it I knew it-”

***

“-And Genji wouldn’t tell us what he ‘knew’.” Jack said as the video shut off. “Or how McCree summoned the dragons in the first place.”

“That,” Genji said from his dark corner, “Is for my brother to explain.”

Hanzo shot Genji a look, but all he was greeted with was his brother’s blank mask. He took a deep, calming breath and did his best to ignore the eyes of everyone else on him. “The Shimada Dragons have been protecting our family for generations. McCree is a close friend to Genji and I, thus the Dragons must consider him family and therefore close enough to protect. I'm sure my brother finds it hilarious to be related to a cowboy. That's all.”

That seemed to break the odd tension in the room. Everyone relaxed. Well, Jack didn’t. But Hanzo was almost certain the man couldn’t relax. Hanzo cleared his throat. “If there’s nothing else you need from me-”

“You’re in love with Jesse.” Genji said, in Japanese. A language clearly no one else in the room understood, since all it got was a brief glance from the others and nothing more.

“That will be all, Hanzo.” Jack replied.

“You’re in love with Jesse! Jesse!” Genji’s shoulders were shaking now, obviously from trying to hold a laugh in. “My best friend! I can’t believe it! Does he know? He totally doesn’t know. There’s no way he knows! You love Jesse!”

“I will go check up on McCree. Summoning the Dragons takes a lot of energy, moreso if this is the first time it’s happened.” Hanzo said to the room in general, and not his brother. He gave a short bow to Jack before he left, doing his best to ignore Genji’s words.

“My brother-in-law is going to be a cowboy! This is amazing!”

Chapter Text

For Jesse McCree, it began with the thought ‘It’s a dragon’.

If Jesse hadn’t been so distracted he would have realized this wasn’t the first time he had thought that. In fact, him being shocked about dragons was a common occurrence in his life. And each time it always signaled the beginning of a new chapter:

Seeing Genji summon his dragon in battle for the first time and realizing there was more to the world than what he knew.

Catching a brief glance of a scarred over tattoo on Genji’s hip as Angela patched the poor kid up.

Hanzo’s twin dragons chasing after their prey over the unlit rooftops of Hanamura.

Sitting next to Hanzo at a ramen stand and seeing the details of the archer’s tattoo, right down to the scales.

Jesse, a far less distracted and thoughtful Jesse, may have even realized how all of these important chapters of his life were connected to the Shimada brothers. How important Genji and Hanzo were to him. His friendship with the two of them had affected Jesse in ways he couldn’t begin to fathom. Said realization certainly would have made the next few months a lot easier. But those were the thoughts that only showed up around one in the morning after too many beers. Not in an alley surrounded by dead gang members and a God Damn Dragon flying above him.

Movement on the other side of the alley briefly brought Jesse back to Earth. Hana was there in her now-stained MEKA, also staring up at the dragon above. She pointed the MEKA’s arm up at it as if it were her own.

“Um.” Hana cleared her throat. “Is everyone else seeing this? Genji? Is this one of your things or-”

“I did it. I, I summoned it. My arm got all crackly like Hanzo’s does and everything.” Jesse looked back up at the dragon, who had settled into a lazy circle right above his head. “I have no idea how I did that and oh God it’s looking at me. The dragon is looking at me. Genji what the fuck am I supposed to do now? Genji?”

Genji said something, but Jesse didn’t hear him. His attention was taken by the dragon, Fucking God Damn Dragon, staring at Jesse with those glowing white eyes and teeth and it was getting closer oh God it was getting closer! His good arm hung useless at his side, numb and crackling with blue light. Jesse raised his metal arm enough in hopes of blocking his face and neck only for nothing to happen. No pain, no light, not even a rush of wind that always came with Hanzo’s dragons.

Jesse lowered his arm. The Holy Fucking Shit a God Damn Dragon was coiled on the pavement all happy and content. It was still looking at Jesse, but less like a hungry monster and more like a puppy waiting patiently for its owner to throw the ball. He would have found it cute if the beast didn’t block Jesse from the only way out of the alley. Behind the shimmering huge monster he could barely make out Hana, now out of the MEKA and clearly taking pictures with her phone.

“Howdy?” Jesse said, pressing against the back alley hard enough he could feel each individual brick. “You uh, did Hanzo send you?”

The Dragon did not respond. Now that he thought about it Jesse wasn't sure if it could talk. But it wasn't going away in the shower of sparkling lights like Hanzo’s dragons normally did. It remained still and-purring? Jesse was pretty sure it was purring.

“So which one are you?” Jesse continued. “Udon? Soba?”

The Dragon stuck it's tongue out in response.

“Soba.” Jesse nodded to himself. “Just my luck. You can go now. Shoo. Go. Can't get out of the alley with you in the way. You make a better window than a door, sweetheart. Get a moseying along? You have no idea what I’m saying. Startin’ to wish my Japanese didn’t get all rusty. Jaa ne?”

Soba still wasn’t moving, but now Jesse could see the rest of his teammates through the dragon’s spun glass-like body. Jack, bless his heart, was pointing his plasma rifle right at Soba’s back. The rest of the young’uns were clearly still trying to take a selfie with the dragon. Jesse raised his one working arm and jumped a little in hope of being noticed.

“Hey! HEY! Can you guys hear me?! I’m-”

Before Jesse could get out another word Soba leaned forward and gave Jesse’s hand a friendly lick.

***

“-That’s when, according to Lucio’s report, ‘McCree screamed really, really really loud, passed out, and fell into a pile of garbage’. The dragon then vanished and it was really cool and sparkly you totally should have seen it. Hana tried to get a picture but wasn’t fast enough, sorry.” Angela flicked the tablet screen with her thumb. “And despite not having the proper clearance Hana somehow managed to comment that ‘Jesse totally screamed like a little baby I recorded it all if you or bird mom want to see it later’.”

Fareeha, who was standing on the opposite side of Jesse’s bed, fought down a snicker. “I’ll be sure to get a copy from her.”

“Thanks sis. You always know how to warm my heart right up.” Jesse muttered. He wasn’t sure how he got from the alley to the infirmary, but he had a feeling it was a good thing he couldn’t remember any of it. By the time he woke up Angela was already done fussing and Fareeha was midway through one of her ‘if you get yourself killed I’ll kill you’ speeches. Now he could sit back, relax, and enjoy the normal cocktail of painkillers that came along with bed rest.

“Someone’s gotta keep my big brother in line.” Fareeha said with a tired smile. Jesse had to admit to himself it was nice seeing Fareeha like this. Relaxed, smiling, acting like the little girl he knew so long ago. The only people who got to see this part of Fareeha and live was himself and Angela. A true honor. “Look how much trouble you got in without me! Lost an arm, blamed for train hijacking, now you’re summoning dragons!”

“So it seems.” Angela moved her from from her tablet to Jesse. “Are you sure you summoned it?”

“Sugar, it’s like I told you.” Jesse tried to move his arm to gesture, but all he got was another jolt of pain. He made a note to double check that whole painkiller cocktail thing. “I aimed my gun, my shooting arm got all blue and tingly, Soba came out instead of bullets, all of the gang members were dead. Next thing I know I’m staring at the ceiling and my arm’s wrapped up. Why is my arm all bandaged? And how come I’m still in pain?”

That was bit of an understatement. Jesse’s arm was less bandaged and more wrapped up like a mummy all of the way from his shoulder to his wrist. Under the wrappings his skin was tingling. And not in the good way either. He tried to move his arm again only for Angela to take his hand and gently press it back against the bed.

“While you were out I spoke with Genji-”

Fareeha snorted. Angela kept going.

“-And Hanzo about what happened. Although both of them were hazy on the exact ritual on how to deal with the after effects of one's first dragon summoning they both agreed the limb that was used needs to taken care of  ‘to prevent extensive damage’. And no painkillers.”

Jesse groaned but cut himself short. “Hang on. Prevent extensive damage? What sort of damage?”

Angela looked away. “I’m sure the exact details were exaggerated over time, but both of them were able to recall a story of a Great-Great-Grandfather whose skin sloughed off. I decided to take precautions just in case.”

“There is no way Genji used the word sloughed.” Fareeha said.

“I am not repeating how Genji told the story.”

“So my skin might fall off and it’s going to hurt the entire time. Great. Lovely.” Jesse sank back into the foam pillow. He took a deep breath and went down his arm. Shoulder? Hurts. Elbow? Hurts a lot. Wrist? Doesn’t hurt so much. Knuckles? Oh God that hurt mental note do not move his knuckles again. Fingers seemed to be okay. He looked back up at Angela. “Can I drink?”

“No.” Said Angela.

“Smoke?”

“You shouldn’t be smoking at all.” Said Angela, not for the first time.

“What about-”

“Jesse.” Angela glared down at her patient. “A dragon came out of your arm. I don’t know what this means. The Shimada brothers don’t know how you even did it. And I really, really want to know the reasoning behind this just in case it happens again.”

That got Jesse to stop fiddling with his fingers. “Hanzo doesn’t know?”

“Or Genji.” Angela shook her head. “Which means I have to figure this out on my own. And I won’t be able to do that if you’re drunk, smoking, and eating deep fried peanut butter bacon sandwiches.”

Fareeha frowned down at Jesse. “You didn’t.”

“I did and it was delicious.” Jesse forced a smile to cover the odd pit in his stomach. Hanzo didn’t know. No. That couldn’t be right. The bastard was probably just doing his distant-asshole thing again. This might require a more delicate touch. “Say Angela, do you think you can ask Hanzo to come visit little old me or-what are you smirking at?”

“Nothing.” Fareeha said, obviously biting back a grin. “I’ll go fetch Hanzo so you can have a nice private chat together.”

Jesse narrowed his eyes. “Why are you saying his name like that?”

No reason.”

“You said that weird!”

Nuh-uh.” Fareeha was fulling grinning now. “You must be imagining it, big bro.”

“I’ll speak with Hanzo.” Angela said firmly “Jesse, get some rest. Fareeha, stop picking on the wounded. At least wait until Jesse is feeling better before you teasing him about his love life.”

“Thanks, darlin'.” Jesse said as he closed his eyes. It wasn’t until well after both women left before his brain caught onto what Angela had said.

***

Exhaustion had won over pain in the end. Jesse slept, but it was a fragile thing that would break every time someone walked a little too close to his bed. The pain would return then, seeping in through the skin of his right arm and sink all of the way down to his bones. He had felt worse pain in his life, but this was different from the various gunshots and stabs he had come across. This he could feel in his marrow. But the pain never increased, and he would slip under the waves once more.

Time passed, how much he didn't know. Jesse gave up on his struggle to stay awake for more than a few seconds at a time. His body would get up when it was damn well ready to. So he drifted in and out as various teammates fluttered around him. Sometimes alone, sometimes in pairs, but Jesse would slip away before he could even say hello.

There was Jack and Ana, standing at the foot of the bed whispering to each other-

Then it was Hana leaning against the wall, fiddling with her phone but not really paying attention to it-

Genji tugging at the bandages on Jesse's arm, only to get his hand smacked by Angela-

Now it was Lucio arguing with Angela and did he just say the word mixtape-

Mei nervously folding a piece of paper in her hands, Zarya on the other side of the bed focused on the various machines Jesse was plugged into-

Fareeha playing with a paper snowflake, her face betraying how worried she was-

Junkrat who wasn’t there to see him, but was getting his fresh burns treated-

Hanzo sitting in a chair by his bed, reading one of those God awful romance novels that Mei loves so much-

Hanzo. Jesse fought the heavy weight of sleep threatening to pull him back down. The rest of the infirmary was empty save for the two of them. Jesse must have made some sort of noise because one second Hanzo was focused on the book and the next he was sitting on the edge of the bed. After removing his reading glasses, and carefully putting them aside, Hanzo lifted Jesse's bandaged hand and held it within his own. Funny, Jesse thought, it didn’t hurt when Hanzo touched it. Instead of pain he felt only the slightest bit of pressure as Hanzo’s fingers traced a circle around Jesse’s palm. He wouldn’t talk first. He never did.

“Don’t suppose this was you lookin’ out for me?”

“No.” Hanzo said, the word striking Jesse somewhere at the bottom of his stomach.

“Course not. That would have made this a lot easier.” Jesse sighed as Hanzo moved from his palm to his fingers, taking care to stretch out each one. “It was Soba. I think. Can you tell them apart?”

“Soba’s left horn is cracked.” Hanzo said as he rolled Jesse’s fingers between his own. "You know that."

Jesse had no idea what Hanzo was doing but he sure as hell wasn’t going to stop him. In his mind he saw the dragon tearing through the gang as if they were paper. “Yeah. There was a chip. That’s. Great. So is this a normal thing or am I just that lucky?”

That got a slight smile from Hanzo. “If there is one thing I have learned after all of these years is that you, Jesse, are a man of infinite luck.”

“Don’t really feel like it.”

“I did not say it was all good luck.” Hanzo turned his attention to Jesse’s wrist, kneading hard enough that Jesse was sure it would leave a bruise. Assuming his skin didn’t fall off.

“You know Hanzo, sometimes I miss the days when you didn’t talk so much-AH!” Jesse winched as Hanzo’s thumb pressed into the crook of his elbow. “That hurts!”

“Shame.” Hanzo said. The smile hadn’t gone away. “Did Soba speak to you?”

That got Jesse to pause. “Er, no? Don’t think so. There was a lot of screaming going on, anyway. Not sure if it spoke and I just didn’t hear it. I was sort of distracted by this giant flying dragon. And the whole ‘I think my arm is going to fall off’ thing. By the way, you’re a miracle worker with those hands. Have I proposed to you yet?”

The smile faded. “Not recently.”

“Then the second I’m allowed out of this bed I’ll drop to one knee and do it all proper-likeowowowyou’re doin’ that on purpose!”

“Of course I am.” Hanzo leaned his weight into Jesse. Jesse only have a brief moment to register Hanzo’s warmth, his eyes, how he had one hand braced against the bed and the other pressed into Jesse’s shoulder.

“Hanzo,” Jesse started only to be silenced by Hanzo’s curt voice.

“This will hurt.”

Bastard always did manage to ruin the mood.

To Jesse’s credit he was able to bite back the scream as his shoulder made a sickening crunch. The noise was a little too much like a drumstick being ripped off a Thanksgiving turkey for Jesse’s liking. But the stabbing pain vanished as soon as Hanzo pulled away. Jesse clenched his hand. Flexed his wrist. Lifted his arm up. Nothing. “Damn, Hanzo. Angela could learn a thing or two from you.”

“It wouldn’t have been so bad if she didn’t bandage it up in the first place.” Hanzo said. “I told her to leave it as is.”

“Really? ‘Cause apparently Genji said something about my skin peelin’ right off-”

Hanzo clicked his tongue. “And there is the answer. She must not listen to Genji so closely when it comes to family stories. Still. I would not remove them for the time being.”

“Yeah, she’d probably just wrap them back on twice as tight.” Jesse reached forward and gently squeezed Hanzo’s wrist. “Thanks, Hanzo. For this.”

“I was simply make sure your arm-”

“I meant the dragon thing. Even if you didn’t do it on purpose.”

Hanzo slowly pulled away from Jesse and stood up. The topic was closed, the conversation over. Jesse had seen Hanzo end a conversation this way many times, and this time he was too tired to fight it. But instead of slipping away silently, as he always did, Hanzo tossed something onto Jesse’s chest. A candy bar.

“You’ll need to get your energy back.” Hanzo said quietly. “Eat it before Angela catches you.”

“Aww, shucks Hanzo! A kitkat! You even got my favorite.” Jesse sat up and, as best as he could with one arm, ripped open the wrapping with his teeth and took a bite. He got three bites in before he realized that Hanzo was staring at him with a slightly mortified expression. “What?”

“You’re supposed to-” Hanzo made a breaking apart motion with his hands only to sigh and shake his head. “Barbaric.”

“Don’t make me take back that proposal!” Jesse playfully shouted at Hanzo’s retreating back before incorrectly shoving the rest of the candy bar in his mouth.

Chapter Text

For Satya, it began when she made the horrible mistake of sleeping in.

She only had herself to blame for the circumstances surrounding this life-changing disaster. Normally Satya’s day was planned down to the minute, as per Vishkar regulations. And for the past six months since Satya was assigned to Overwatch she had been able to stick with her old schedule. But last night the unthinkable happened. She stayed up late. Which meant, for the first time in years, she had slept in.

A normal day would have began at exactly a quarter to five in the morning. That way she had time to do her morning rituals hours before the first rays of dawn awoke the sleeping base. She stretched, showered, dried, dressed, applied makeup and even sent off her daily check-on email with Vishkar all before the clock struck six. This was the pattern she had always followed with precise movement, never changing a step. The familiar motions grounded her when nothing else could.

But not that morning. That morning she rolled out of bed at eight, barely figured out how to get clothes on, and was shuffling to the kitchen with the goal of a strong cup of tea in mind. Her thoughts were still muddled with last night’s work: an improved teleporter. What she had was fine for close range missions but they needed something better. Bigger. Then Junkrat just had to suggest a teleporter that could somehow teleport itself and she had spent most of last night trying to explain how that was impossible to him instead of probably working. And then Torbjorn sided with Junkrat and that just lead to more arguments and-

Satya shook the thoughts from her head. Tea first. Being angry at teammates later.

It wasn’t that she didn’t like her fellow teammates, temporary as they were. They were very polite and understanding of her being there (temporarily). Almost all of them were. Most of them. All except one. Lucio. It was Lucio. But despite the vocal disagreements they had in the past she and Lucio had come to what could best described as a very courteous truce. As long as they were on the same side Satya could ignore his criminal charges. Temporarily.

Thankfully the kitchen was mostly empty by the time she shuffled in. Most of Overwatch could fall under ‘woke up hours before dawn’ and ‘woke up sometime after lunch’. The few stragglers within were the third category of ‘probably haven’t gone to sleep yet’. Satya wasn’t sure Hana, whose phone Lucio was looking at, actually did sleep. It was fine, they were distracted. All Satya had to do was grab a cup of tea and-

“Satya! Over here! You got to see this!”

And get noticed by Hana, who was waving as if Satya couldn’t see her from twenty feet away. Too late did the thought of escape flash through Satya’s mind. Hana had already crossed the kitchen with her phone outstretched. No, no, this was fine. Easily handled. All she had to do was make a comment about whatever video game Hana had recorded the night before and she could still slip out. She took the phone and glanced down at the screen long enough to form a comment about getting a high score or some nonsense.

“That’s-” Satya paused. “That’s one of Hanzo’s dragons.”

“Yes!” Hana pointed at the screen. Her voice burst out with the wild manic energy of one who has attempted to replace sleep with caffeine. “McCree summoned it during the mission yesterday! I know you’ve been interested in Hanzo and Genji’s dragons before so I thought you’d want to see this! It was crazy! There I was all pow pow bam bam zap zap then I turned the corner and WHOOSH there was one of Hanzo’s dragons but I was all Hanzo is on the other side of the world the heck but then McCree said he did it and the dragon landed and Genji said its name was Soba SOBA Soba oh my God it was sooo cute I took pictures you can see them if you swipe left but then Jesse started screaming and it vanished and Satya are you okay?”

Satya flicked her thumb across the screen, bringing up photos of Hana and Lucio trying to pose with the dragon. “He screamed and then it vanished? Or did it vanish and he screamed?”

“Um.” Hana’s enthusiasm vanished almost instantly. Her body wobbled as a sign of how long she had gone without sleep. “He screamed, no, the dragon, no no, it happened at the same time. I think?  Lucio?”

Lucio, who seemed slightly annoyed to be dragged into a conversation involving Satya, shrugged. “Yeah it was pretty much simultaneous. Which sucks, ‘cause Genji had climbed the wall so he could get a better shot of the dragon.”

Satya flicked all of the way to the end. To Genji’s credit he had taken a photo of the dragon’s profile, with a slightly blurry McCree right on the edge of the frame. The dragon looked...different. Satya had seen Hanzo’s dragons, although never this close, but the puppy-like creature in the photo looked far different than the deadly beasts she had witnessed before. It was even sticking its tongue out. This dragon was…

“Oddly adorable?” Satya said. It must have been the correct comment, because Hana nodded.

“Isn’t it? I wanted to pet it but Genji said that the dragons are deadly to everyone save for the summoner’s most trusted allies and like, I want to think that me and Jesse are that close but what if this still falls under what Hanzo thinks but I mean Hanzo’s never been mean to me or anything and when I was sick he actually made me miso soup and it was really good and is everything blurry in here or is it just me?”

Lucio sighed as he slipped his arm under Hana’s. “That’s the downswing I warned you about. Let’s get you to the couch before you pass out.”

“I’m not sleepy.” Hana said in a way that was more yawn than word. “I’m fine, I just need another energy drink. Or coffee. Wait! What if I make coffee using an energy drink?”

“Sleep time.” Lucio said as he dragged Hana away.

“Then I could brew tea in it!” Hana shouted before the two of them walked out of the kitchen together.

Well. Satya had to admit that despite, hmm, everything, Lucio was skilled at keeping Hana alive. She turned her attention back to the phone. Hana’s phone. She’ll have to go return this to Hana now, great.

“Wasn’t going to get much done today anyway.” Satya said to herself. She began to slip the phone into her pocket only to pause. Before the phone locked itself Satya swiftly emailed herself the video and photos of the dragon. There was an odd buzz at the back of her mind. Like when her fingers came across a stray hair and she couldn’t focus on anything until she plucked it out.

Something was wrong, and she could not continue until it was fixed.

Also she needed to return Hana her phone. It was only polite.

***

Play. Watch. Rewind.

Satya had ended up on the massive common room couch next to the passed out Hana. She had carefully replaced the young woman’s cell phone, doing her best not to disturb the blanket Lucio had draped around Hana. He had even been nice enough to leave Hana a water bottle for when she woke up. Hana slept on, not knowing about the kindness of her teammates. Maybe she counted on it. Maybe to her it was as expected as the sunrise.

Play. Watch. Rewind.

She wasn’t sure how long she had been on the couch. There were no planned missions that day, so people flitted through the common room as they pleased. Every now and then someone would ask her about Hana and Satya would respond by pointing at the video game console next to the TV. That usually answered their questions. Roadhog even left Hana a pile of cookies by the water bottle.

Play. Watch. Rewind.

Mei was there too. She was watching a soap opera in a language Satya didn’t know. By the window was Hanzo and Genji, chatting quietly in Japanese about something or other. Satya gave up trying to read the brothers long ago. Hanzo’s expressions were hard to understand beyond ‘angry’ and ‘really angry’. And Genji, well, even though he normally had his mask off outside of battle he was still hard to understand. He smiled too much. Satya did not trust people who smiled all of the time.

Play. Watch. Rewind.

Satya watched the silent video of the dragon flying through the air again. And again. It didn’t move like her hard light constructs. It didn’t look like her hard light constructs either. This dragon was a solid thing that looked like glass and moved like water. But the light, the nothing which became something, it was too close to hard light to not be related. That’s what she had been telling herself since she first saw Hanzo’s dragons in action. And if it was close then it could be studied. Duplicated.

Play. Watch. Rewind.

She would keep watching the video until she understood.

“Oi! Love! Delivery for ya!”

Or until Lena dangled a granola bar in front of her face. Either-or. Said bar was dropped into Satya’s lap and Lena was just there sitting between her and Hana. Satya would never, ever get used to those little time skips that happened around the woman.

“Thank you, Lena.” Satya said as she shuffled over in an attempt to stop any physical contact between the two of them. Lena was a good teammate, but she was...huggy. Very huggy. Pre-battle hugs were a thing when she was around. And post-battle. Lena hugged a lot. A lot.

“Don’t thank me, it’s from Jamie.” Lena leaned back against the overstuffed cushions. “He wanted to make sure you ate something today. Said that you sometimes forget when you get into one of your ‘weird moods’, his words not mine.”

Satya finally lowered her phone to look at Lena properly. “Jamie?”

“Junkrat.” Lena explained.

“Junkrat.” Satya muttered to herself. She kept forgetting he had a name. A normal name, no less. “I will make sure to thank him when I see him next.” She unwrapped the bar and managed to take a bite before she noticed that Lena was looking at her. Staring at her. Smiling. Why did everyone smile so much here?

“Sooo,” Lena began, “You and Jamie, huh?”

“What about Jamie and I?” Satya took another bite and swallowed. She hadn’t noticed how hungry she had become.

“Well, it’s just that I’ve noticed you spend a lot of time together and-”

Play. Watch. Rewind.

“-went a whole three days without exploding anything-”

Play. Watch. Rewind.

“-Winston totally noticed because he keeps putting you two together on missions-”

Play. Watch. Rewind.

“What are you watching? Is that the dragon video Hana’s been showing everyone?” Before Satya could respond Lena leaned over dangerously into her personal space. Satya could feel her skin crawl. “I knew it! Don’t blame ya love, I think I watched it a dozen times myself. I never realized they’re just so, so cute! Maybe they’re only cute when Jesse calls them?”

“Has Jesse summoned one before?” Satya quickly finished the rest of the bar.

Lena shook her head. She then glanced over her shoulder at the brothers, who were arguing about something or other, and lowered her voice. “Genji always said that only Shimadas can summon the dragons. So I’m thinking that maybe Hanzo and Jesse are a little closer than they let on.”

“How?” Satya asked. The question seemed to take Lena aback.

“Um. Probably because they’re always on missions together? Although they did know each other from way back-”

“What, no,” Satya shook her head and lowered her own voice. “I meant how are the dragons made into being in the first place? I was thinking some sort of hard light creation device, but it moves all wrong. I also thought it was some sort of visual hallucination but the video disproves that theory. Nanomachines? I can't figure it out.”

“Oh.” Lena cocked her head. “I just figured it was magic.”

Satya didn’t move. She simply stared at Lena’s smiling face. A noise from behind them both pulled her eyes back to the window where Hanzo stood alone. It was open now, and Genji was missing. She would have been shocked, but even she had noticed Genji’s habit of using the doors as little as possible. Mei looked embarrassed, and Hana was still dead to the world. No one else seemed to notice Lena’s comment. No one seemed to have cared. Satya took a deep breath and picked up the untouched water bottle.

“Can you please deliver this to Junkrat for me? I doubt he’s had anything to drink lately.” Satya said as she handed the bottle over to Lena. “If it’s not too much of a bother.”

“Oh, oh no problem at all!” Lena stood up. Which was to say she was sitting and then she was standing with nothing in-between. “I’ll be sure to pass your thanks along. Wink.”

Lena topped her actually saying the word wink with a wink before she vanished in a blur of blue light. Hana stirred, muttered something about achievements, and fell back asleep. Hanzo had left the room with Mei chasing after him. Satya was finally alone once more.

Play. Watch.

Swipe. Swipe. Swipe.

There.

She could see it now, past the glowing blue dragon, right on the edge of the frame. The little piece of information that had been right out of reach. What had been bothering her.

There were people in Overwatch who were hard to read. People who, no matter how much she got to know them, she could never really tell what they were feeling or what they really thought. However there were people who Satya could read like a book. Junkrat, for example. Hana. Zarya. And, of course, Jesse McCree. Jesse McCree wore his emotions on his sleeve and didn’t care who knew. Even slightly blurred by the dragon Satya could understand what he felt loud and clear.

Jesse McCree was terrified.

Chapter Text

Six months since the Recall and it still pained Hanzo to look at Genji’s face. Seeing every scar he inflicted on his brother. Every scrap of synthetic skin that had to be implanted because there was nothing left. The tinge of green under the skin that should have been pink. Implanted synthetic hair that was close, but not exactly how Genji's hair used to lay. His chin, his teeth, his tongue, all replaced. All of it was evidence of what he had done to his brother. The first time he saw Genji’s face in full it nearly destroyed him. The only reason he did not break completely was Genji’s smile.

There was the beaming smile that appeared whenever he spoke of his master. The quiet distant smile when Angela was patching his wounds. The triumphant smile whenever he beat Hana in a video game. His smile while laughing at an old memory with Jesse. A smile to him, the one who broken Genji in the first place. Genji could smile. He could laugh, tell stories, make fun and sing horribly off-key. Genji was alive. Broken, remade, alive, whole. Yes, it hurt to look at his brother’s face. But the pain was nothing compared to the feeling of having his brother stand by Hanzo's side once more.

Not that any of this stopped Hanzo from wanting to punch his brother in the face at that particular moment.

“How are you going to tell him?” Genji asked as he followed Hanzo into the common room. He hadn’t said a word all morning during their training. Bastard waited until there were other people around for this, just to annoy him.

Hanzo took stock of the room. Hana on the couch, passed out. Mei watching something on her tablet, distracted. Lena sitting next to Satya, chatting away. Satya staring at her phone, clearly ignoring Lena. At least Genji had the decency to pick an audience that didn’t understand Japanese. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“It’ll have to be-”

Hanzo hissed at Genji, and in return Genji rolled his eyes and lowered his voice. “It’ll have to be super romantic. Maybe a picnic under the stars? You, Jesse, a blanket on the beach with no one else around?”

“We are not having this conversation.” Hanzo whispered back.

“Hmm, someone might see you on the security feed. Don’t want that to happen. Has to be private. Invite him to your room for a drink?”

“Stop talking.”

“No, you two do that all of the time. He’ll just get the wrong idea.” Genji frowned. “There’s a small cafe in the nearby town. But you’re terrible around strangers so that’s a no-go.”

“Genji-” Hanzo caught himself, “Wait. What do you mean I’m terrible around strangers?”

“If you’re not planning on killing them or ordering them around you clam right up.” There was that smile again. Still the same despite the scars. “And since the whole point of this is for you to tell Jesse that you love him that’s the last thing we need!”

“First off. I am not terrible around strangers-”

“You only spoke to me and Jesse the first month you were here-”

“Second, my relationship with McCree is none of your business.”

“Now he’s McCree! His heart would break if he heard you, brother. And he’s my best friend, of course he’s my business.”

Hanzo narrowed his eyes. “If you have told a single soul-”

“I’ve told no one. As far as everyone is concerned the dragon protected him because of whatever nonsense you said at the meeting.”

“No one? Not even Zenyatta?”

“I promise. Your undying love of the cowboy is safe with me.” Genji leaned against the large window overlooking the little opening that had been dubbed Bastion’s garden. He let out a small laugh. “What’s the phrase Jesse always says? Speak of the devil?”

“And you shall see his horns.” Hanzo finished. Down below, walking among the flowers and vegetables, was the man himself. Jesse wore the frazzled look of someone who had finally escaped Angela’s clutches. Hanzo pressed his fingers into his left palm hard enough to sting.

Jesse’s looked up at the window. He smiled and waved at the brothers. The two events were unrelated.

Genji snorted as Hanzo gave a small wave back. “You’re both adorable.”

“Shut up.” Hanzo said. But he was smiling as he said it.

“You will have to tell him. Life is too unpredictable not to.” Genji was silent for a whole second before his voice picked up again. “But I need to stress that however you do it you should not be subtle about it at all. Jesse is a good friend but he is terrible at picking up on things. Do you know how long it took him to realize Ana and Reinhardt were together? And he only realized when he walked in on them!”

Hanzo looked over at his brother. Smiling. Alive. Whole. “And how will you confess your feelings to Zenyatta?”

Genji’s smile slipped. “How-”

The sound of his own name caught Hanzo’s attention. Too late did he realize his mistake of looking to see who had said it. One moment his eyes were on the couch, and the next a warm fall breeze informed him of Genji’s escape. He turned back to the now opened window. Genji was down in the garden with Jesse, already wearing the other man’s cowboy hat. Jesse raised his bandaged hand up at Hanzo and did that little finger-gun-shoot he always did.

Warmth fluttered in Hanzo’s chest. The two events were related.

“Um, Hanzo?”

Mei’s voice brought Hanzo back. She had moved over to him, and was nervously playing with her tablet. Guilty. Worried. Hanzo spoke soft and clear. “Good morning, Mei. I’m afraid I’m not done with the book you lent me-”

“I know Japanese.”

Hanzo’s stomach dropped. That explained the guilty look. “Since when?”

“I only know a little!” Mei squeaked out. “A few words. Here and there. Just enough for ordering food, asking where the bathroom is, and um, to vaguely follow what you and Genji were talking about?”

There was a brief flash of blue, signaling Lena’s departure. Satya was still staring at her phone. Hana was still fast asleep.

Mei took a deep breath. “Do you want to talk about it?”

“No.”

“Do you need to talk about it?”

Hanzo’s shoulders fell. “Yes.”

He didn’t pull away as Mei lightly touched his elbow. “Let’s go discuss this over tea. And I promise I won’t jump out a window.”

That got a small chuckle from Hanzo. He knew he liked Mei for a reason.

***

Mei filled the silence between them as they walked with light chatter. The K-drama she had been watching, what book Hanzo should read next if he liked the current book, what he should read if he didn’t like the book, and so on. There was also a brief discussion over what Mei had declared ‘the good part’. She refused to say if the butler and his lord would wind up happily ever after, but knowing Mei it was fifty-fifty if the book ended in a wedding or everyone dying. As they rounded the corner a booming voice almost knocked both of them right over.

“Ah! My little snowbell!”  Zarya stood outside of Mei’s room, one hand on the door panel and the other holding a gym bag. “I was just looking for you!”

“Hello Zar-Ah!” Mei let out a happy gasp as Zarya easily picked her up with one arm to give her a kiss. “Mm! Gym?”

“Of course! I have a record to keep up!” Zarya put Mei down so she could point at Hanzo. “And you! Have you decided to take me up on my offer?”

“No.” Hanzo said. “Mei and I are here for tea.”

 Yes!” Mei said, grabbing onto the lie with dear life, “I want Hanzo to try up that new blend I just had shipped in.”

“Shame!” Despite Hanzo doing everything ready to prepare, he was slightly thrown off balance by Zarya’s playful shoulder-punch. “Give me three weeks and you’ll be able to crush a brick into dust between your thighs! You will not regret it!”

Hanzo isn’t sure what Mei then said in Chinese, but it got a giggle out of Zarya and made the woman pull back.

“I shall see you at lunch, my little snowbell.” Zarya leaned down for a kiss from Mei before heading off.

Hanzo cleared his throat loud enough to shake Mei from her happy stupor.

“Sorry.” Mei said, still pink around the edges. “It’s just. Wow. Anyway! I wasn’t lying about the new tea blend. Take a seat while I get everything ready, okay?”

Mei’s room was just as cramped as the last time Hanzo had been in there. In theory the personal quarters were more than enough for any of them, but Mei hand managed to pack it full with everything from books, to maps, and enough spare parts to make a small army of Snowballs if needed. The giant cheaply made stuffed penguin on the bed was new, though. Mei caught his expression and shrugged.

“Zarya won it for me.” Mei explained, but went no further. If there was more to the story then it wasn’t for his ears. With that said Mei busied herself with the electric kettle and a tea tin. Being the only person in the whole base who knew how to brew a decent cup of tea Hanzo let her work.

Hanzo sat down in the small area of flooring that wasn’t covered in stacks a books, almost knocking over Mei’s ukulele as he did. He did not know that she had a ukulele. His mental image of Mei serenading Zarya with said instrument was interrupted by Mei sitting down across from Hanzo. She placed two cups between them, picked up her own cup, and took a long sip before speaking.

“So um, is this, um, thing, is it why Jesse can summon your dragons now?”

Hanzo picked up his own cup. “It is.”

Mei lit up. She didn’t even try to hide it. “I knew it! Oh goodness that’s great news!”

“Is it?” Hanzo asked.

“Well yes! Besides being happy for you in general of course. It’s just, just,” Mei looked down at her cup. “After Jesse passed out we were all so worried. The falling into garbage part was super funny, don’t get me wrong! But then he wouldn’t stop crying and shouting on the helicopter and, and…somehow it’s not so bad knowing all of that happened because of love.”

Hanzo nodded to himself. He didn’t have too many memories from when the dragons first came to him. There was nothing but flashes of his mother brushing his hair, and the pain. Not the actual pain itself, just the idea that he was in pain. Genji had been lucky in a way. He was so young when the dragon came to him they gave him enough painkillers to sleep through the roughest part, despite tradition. “The pain will be gone by tomorrow, if it hasn’t faded already. He will be fine.”

Mei took another long sip before she spoke again. She was obviously picking her words carefully. Another plus for her. “When did you know? That you loved him?”

Hanzo closed his eyes. “Last Poker Night.”

***

They didn’t play poker on Poker Night. Poker had been long outlawed back in the old days of Overwatch. Along with almost all other card games, board games, arm wrestling matches, dares involving hot sauce, discussions about the best pizza toppings, and anything that would involve a weapon being pulled out followed by the words ‘Check this out!’. That last one being almost one hundred percent because of Jesse McCree. Because of these unfair, yet completely necessary, rules to keep everyone alive they played something a little different on Poker Night.

“Howdy Hanzo! Not playing Magic with the rest of them?” Jesse tipped his hat as Hanzo walked over. He was in a corner of the common room that had the much abused loveseat and a cooler set up. On the floor was a line of painter’s tape where the words ‘NO COWBOYS BEYOND THIS POINT’ written in Angela’s neat block writing with a handy arrow pointing out to the rest of the room. Hanzo wasn’t sure what Jesse had done to get banned from playing Magic the Gathering with the rest of Overwatch, but the fact that no one knew the tale was slightly worrying. And that Jesse himself refused to speak of it only made the itch worse.

“I’ve had enough of the game for a lifetime.” Hanzo took his normal seat next to Jesse. Not close enough to touch, but close enough that Jesse had to move his arm behind Hanzo to make room.

Jesse gestured with his undoubtedly terrible lukewarm beer. “Really? You used to play?”

Hanzo snorted in response. “Genji did. First Pokemon, then Yu-Gi-Oh, and finally Magic. He would make me decks and beg me to play against him. I would humor him, but I was never as into it as he was. Is.”

“Aww,” Jesse cooed, “That’s so sweet. It’s funny you know, I keep thinking I got the two of you all figured out. But then a story like that pops up and shakes the whole image up. I can almost imagine the two of you playin’ all nice together back then. Bet you were both as cute as buttons.”

He decided not to tell Jesse how most of their matches ended with dragons summoned and at one point a trip to the hospital for the both of them. Let the cowboy have his fantasy of the Shimada brothers playing together peacefully. Hanzo reached over to the cooler to grab a bottle of swill for himself only to stop when he caught Jesse looking at him. There was a sad smile on Jesse's lips that Hanzo had only seen once before.

“I’m glad you’re here, Hanzo.” Jesse said, his voice unusually soft. “With Overwatch. With us. With me.”

Hanzo settled back against the cushions enough that the back of his neck rested against Jesse’s arm. A silent response. He was glad to be there, too. With no other words spoken the two men settled into a comfortable silence as they let the chatter of the room flow around them. Hanzo let his attention drift to Genji and Angela’s table and not how his thigh had somehow gotten pressed against Jesse’s.

“-And I play Angel of Glory’s Rise, which will reanimate all the humans in my graveyard. Oh, and because I have Cathedral Sanctifier I will gain three hit points.” Angela made a note on her notepad about the increased life and placed the card down on the table between her and Genji’s carefully laid out armies. The second she pulled her hand back Genji was already on the move.

“Right! I’m going to play-” Genji was close, so close to playing his next card before Angela cleared her throat.

“My turn isn’t done, Genji.” Angela sweetly smiled back. “Ahem. The Angel is exiled by my Fiend Hunter.”

“Okay now-”

“Now,” Angela stressed, “I will sacrifice all of my human cards, save for the Angel and Fiend Hunter, with my Cartel Aristocrat. That gives me a one-one Spirit from my Doomed Traveler.” She picked up a glass counter and placed it next to her Doomed Traveler card. “With that done I will sacrifice my Fiend Hunter-”

“Yes! Good. I will play-”

“Which brings my Angel of Glory’s Rise back into play. That reanimates the humans in my graveyard, and that will be another three hit points from Cathedral Sanctifier.” Angel was grinning now, her eyes shining with the light of someone enjoying the misery of another a little too much.

Genji’s far more literal lights dimmed. “This is to get back at me from last month’s win, isn’t it?”

“My turn isn’t done yet, Genji.” Angela said as she picked up a handful of counters off to the side. Genji groaned and slid down in his chair as she went for a second, much larger handful.

“Told ya she’d get back at you, Genji! Never piss off a doctor! They’ll keep you alive just so they can get revenge!” Jesse laughed hard enough that Hanzo actually felt the vibrations. Hanzo enjoyed Jesse’s laugh. There was something so natural about it, so easily shared and always returned in kind. It was, Hanzo reflected, one of the many things he loved about Jesse.

And there it was.

A thought as powerful as his own Dragons and twice as deadly.

He loved Jesse.

***

Hanzo finally looked up from his now cold tea, only to meet Mei’s wide eyes. He honestly wouldn’t have been shocked to see hearts in them. He shifted uneasily under her love struck gaze. “I didn’t think it was romantic enough for your tastes.”

“Oh, Hanzo!” Mei finally let out the breath she was holding. “It’s, oh gosh it’s, it’s wonderful! So what happened? Did you tell Jesse? He obviously feels the same way about you! Have you kissed him yet? You better not hold out on me, Hanzo.”

“It is,” Hanzo tapped his finger against the ceramic cup. “Not that easy.”

“No? But that part about him being happy because you were there with him-”

Hanzo shot Mei a look that killed her question dead in its tracks. He liked Mei. Hanzo would go far enough to perhaps even consider her a friend. But what lay between him and Jesse was to stay that way. That was their chasm to cross. If it ever came to that.

Mei bit her lip in thought. “How do Udon and Soba feel about this? Soba did look really happy after he helped Jesse out! Oh, is this a one time thing? Or can Jesse borrow Soba whenever he wants? Also was Genji telling the truth when he said the dragons really like getting scritched behind the horns? I never got a chance to ask if he was kidding or not.”

These questions Hanzo could answer. “Yes they enjoy being scratched, but only by people they trust. I haven’t had a chance to speak with Soba yet, but he always had a weak spot for ‘Our Cowboy’ as he calls Jesse. And you are incorrect on one account, Mei. Observe.”

“Oh?” She said, leaning in closer.

Hanzo outstretched his left hand to allow a faint blue light to rise from his arm. Unlike in battle this light did not come out with a roar, but as a soft trickle of a stream that landed on Mei’s floor. She laughed as the light solidified into the form of Hanzo’s dragon. A small, adorable dragon that was more like a ferret than anything that appeared on the battlefield. Mei scratched behind its horns to confirm that Genji was telling the truth.

“Hi there! Are you Udon or-” Mei frowned. “Wait. Where’s the other one?”

“Soba is with Jesse.” Hanzo watched as Udon tried its best to tie itself into a knot.  A far more difficult trick now that its twin was gone. “He did not borrow my dragon, Mei. It now belongs to him.”

Chapter Text

No one was exactly sure where Torbjorn had picked Bastion up. When asked he would shrug and vaguely say something about it following him home. The machine had weapons, and a lot of them, but Winston never sent it off on any missions. Instead he kept it around the base as ‘added defense’. Jesse suspected that ‘added defense’ really meant ‘groundskeeper’. He had laughed it off at first, but once Bastion’s garden bloomed he had to admit the robot was pretty damn good at its job.

“Gettin’ ready for the last harvest, Bastion?”

The extremely dangerous, large robot dropped the hose in its hands and let out a happy series of beeps. Jesse couldn’t understand a word it said but he still was able to prepare himself in time for Bastion’s slightly-bone crushing hug. Jesse could only feel his organs squeeze a little too tight, which meant Bastion was better at hugging than Reinhardt at least. Bastion let go only to let out a stream of worried-sounding beeps.

“Yeah yeah,” Jesse said with a smile. “I’m still in one piece. You just worry about those pretty flowers of yours. Speakin’ of which I think those sunflowers are getting a might over-watered.”

Bastion twisted it’s torso around and let out a far more panicked beep before stomping back over to save the flowers. There was something oddly poetic about watching an honest-to-God killing machine tending a garden. Jesse watched the robot in silence, enjoying the sunlight on his skin after being trapped in the infirmary for most of yesterday. Angela didn’t want to let Jesse go so soon but there wasn’t exactly anything wrong with him. The pain was gone, he wasn’t hurt, and the longer he stayed in bed the longer he was more likely to start singing A Hundred Bottles of Beer On the Wall. So Angela sent him off with a hug and a suggestion to keep the wrappings on a little longer. Just in case.

A loud beep from Bastion caught Jesse’s attention. The robot was looking up at one of the windows overlooking the little garden. Jesse turned to see what had caught Bastion’s attention and honestly wasn’t too shocked to see Genji and Hanzo at the window. Now there was a sight even better than Bastion with his plants. Jesse gave a small wave at the brothers. Hanzo waved back. His arm tingled right around the wrist.

Jesse shook out his right arm. The pain was gone, but it still felt weird. Sort of like he slept on it all night without the numbness. He wondered if Hanzo would be willing to massage it again. He began to wonder about other ways Hanzo could-no. No. Jesse stopped that thought right there. No use going down that path. He fumbled for his slightly crushed pack of cigarettes, blessedly passed over by Angela’s snooping. With only a slight bit of fumbling Jesse was able to get a cigarette out and was on the search for where the hell his lighter went when he realized the cigarette was suddenly gone.

Also the whole pack was gone.

And his hat.

“Genji.” Jesse said, turning around fast in hopes of catching the ninja. All he got was a flash of green lights and a chuckle for his troubles. “Weren’t you just up there a second ago?”

“I was!” Genji laughed. He laughed a lot more these days. “Windows can be opened, cowboy.”

Jesse looked up and confirmed that yes, the common room window was now open with a slightly exasperated Hanzo peering out. He lifted his arm and gave Hanzo the good old finger guns, and was shocked to get a smile back. Looks like Genji wasn’t the only one who developed a sense of humor in the years apart. He watched as Hanzo turned away, and may have stood there longer than he cared to admit before the force of Genji jumping onto his back nearly knocked him over. That’s right, he hadn’t gotten his ‘didn’t die’ hug from his favorite cyborg yet.

Jesse laughed as he regained his balance, grabbing onto Genji’s legs to help shift the weight. “Don’t suppose I’m getting my smokes back?”

“You said you were quitting.” Genji said, his voice coming from slightly behind Jesse’s neck.

“I said I was cutting back.” Jesse walked through the garden, being careful to step around the still-growing pumpkins while dealing with the extra weight hanging off him. Thank God whatever Genji was made of was light. “I haven’t had a smoke since before the mission and, I don’t know about you, but I think I’ve earned one. I took care of the gang after all.”

“Soba took care of the gang.”  Genji adjusted his arms across Jesse’s chest. “Be sure to thank him.”

Jesse ignored the twist in his stomach. “About that. Hanzo mentioned something about being able to talk to the dragons?”

“And knowing my brother he didn’t actually explain how or why.”

“Nope.”

Genji let out a sigh that was tinged with the sound of running fans. “Yes, you can talk to Soba. You should talk to Soba. Communication with the dragons is of the utmost importance. The better the connection between you and the dragon the more he can assist you in combat. Maybe even save your life one day.”

“Gonna guess this is going to be one of those ‘hours of meditation’ things and not a ‘grab a beer and talk it out’ thing?” Jesse stepped up onto the edge of a raised flowerbed, his feet paying more attention to where he was going than the rest of him. “What happens if I don’t?”

“No idea.” Genji admitted. “I always made sure to keep on my dragon’s good side. Scratch her behind the horns, tell her how nice her scales look, really turn on the charm. Just be sure to thank lil' Soba and let him know he's doing a good job.”

Jesse stepped off the raised flowerbed. Be nice to tooth-filled dragon of utter destruction. He could live with that. And he was pretty sure that meditation was just a fancy way of taking a nap. Totally could do this. Nothing to worry about. “Is my skin really going to fall off?”

He felt Genji’s arms move enough to perform a half-hearted shrug. “Mom and Dad were always vague about that. The version I got had a ‘so be sure to eat your vegetables’ lesson tagged on at the end. I’d keep those bandages on for now. I remember my leg getting...ugly.”

“Thanks Genji, you always know how to soothe my nerves.” Jesse did his best to look over his shoulder, but all he could see of Genji was the brim of his stolen hat. “Am I gonna have to worry about Soba showing up in it’s tiny snake-ferret-noodle dragon shape?”

Genji tightened his hold around Jesse as he let out another laugh. “Noodle dragon! Never say that to my brother’s face. No. You should totally say that to my brother’s face. He’ll love it. This totally isn’t a trap.”

“And that’s why Gabe never sent you on missions that involved lying. So do I gotta check my boots in the morning for dragons or no? Because I remember seeing your dragon all over the damn place back in the day.”

Genji’s giggling stopped. “Really? I know she would wander off back then, but I thought she stayed out of trouble?”

Jesse shifted his grip on Genji’s legs. “Guess it depends on your definition of trouble. Damned thing was always in the infirmary whenever I was there. Either napping on a windowsill, or being fed by Angela, or being scratched by Angela, hell sometimes taking a nap on Angela's lap-Genji?”

Jesse stopped. He had been holding Genji’s legs and suddenly he wasn’t. The arms and heating-pad-like-warmth on his back was gone too. “What in the Sam Hill has gotten into him?” He muttered as he went over the last few things said. Genji terrible at lying, dragon in boots, Angela being all sweet and cozy with oh, oh. Oh. Jesse knew exactly what this was. Even after all of these years some things never changed.

“You gotta tell her sometime, Genji!” Jesse shouted as he looked around the garden. There was nothing but flowers and the sound of Bastion’s beep-singing echoing off the walls. “And give me my damn hat back!”

 ***

Jesse, free of cyborg and hat, made his way back to his room. There were a few more ‘you’re alive’ hugs from Lena, Zarya, Lucio, and then Lena again. He even got a shoulder-pat from Jack, which was as close as the man ever got to a hug. As glad as he was to know his teammates cared he also really, really wanted to sleep on a bed that didn’t smell faintly of cleaning agents.

Of course, sleep being the fickle mistress she was the second he laid down sleep became an impossibly. Even the siren call of a midday nap had vanished the second his head hit the pillow. He was exhausted inside-out but he couldn’t sleep. Then the itching started. His whole right arm itched. Scratching over the bandages didn’t work. Trying to pry up the bandages up enough to slip a finger in only lead to him wondering when was the last time he had eaten a vegetable. Did baked potatoes count? Baked potatoes probably didn’t count.

Jesse paced around the room. Too sleepy to do anything useful, too itchy to sleep. Too early for a drink even for him. On his third rotation around the rug he noticed that his hat on the dresser. On the fourth go-around he went to check his various hiding spots to find all of his cigarettes gone, replaced by patches and those damned chalky pills from Angela. After an imagined mental battle between him and Genji (He lost after Genji cut his head off) Jesse popped one of the damned pills and tried to ignore the fact that it did make the craving for a cigarette go away.

Still itching.

Meditation. Genji said something about meditation. Maybe that would help? That or setting his arm on fire. He shouldn’t set his arm on fire, Angela would kill him. Meditation, Jesse figured, was probably easy. Totally something he could handle. Jesse sat down on his bed, ignoring the way his knees cracked as he tucked his legs in all criss-cross-apple-sauce style. Right. Close eyes, breathe slowly, and...not think.

Jesse woke up three hours later to a crick in his neck and knocking at his bedroom door. A rhythmic, practiced knocking that didn’t sound natural at all. There was only one person he knew that knocked like that. After a brief struggle to put his pants back on Jesse opened the door to immediate disappointment.

“Howdy Satya.” He said, flashing her a charming smile anyway. “What brings you to my humble abode?”

He still wasn’t sure what to think about Satya. She was all edges and sharp corners without the charm a dangerous weapon would have. But despite the lack of social skills and the confusing allegiance to Evil Corp her heart was into helping people. That was enough to get her on Jesse’s good side. And hell, anyone that could get Junkrat to bathe was a worthy teammate in his eyes. All of that said it didn’t stop Jesse from feeling a bit worried to see her standing outside his bedroom wearing a lab coat.

“McCree.” Satya said, only briefly glancing up from the tablet in her hands. “I want to talk to you about your-”

“JESSE!”

There was a blur of pink followed by Hana slamming straight into Jesse. He stumbled back into his room laughing while trying not to fall over from the force of Hana’s friendship. After a few words in Korean muttered under her breath Hana pulled away enough that he could see that she was wearing a lab coat, too. Somehow that worried Jesse even more.

“You um, you two here to do some sort of science?” Jesse said, putting a little room between him and Satya.

“As I was saying,” Satya grabbed onto Hana’s sleeve to pull her back. “I wish to speak with you about what happened last mission.”

Jesse let go of the breath he was holding. “This is about the dragon-thing, ain’t it?”

“Indeed.” Satya turned her tablet around. On it was a still of the totally-not-allowed video Hana took of the mission. Satya had paused it right as Soba was flying down to meet him. “I have been trying to study the Shimada ‘dragons’ since my arrival. Although both Hanzo and Genji have declined being studied you did once say, in reference to possible future testing, and I quote-” Satya turned the tablet back around and tapped on the screen. “Whatever turns you on, darling.”

That got a snicker from Hana. Jesse stuck his thumb out at her. “So why is Hana here?”

“She is to assist me by recording this session.” Satya said. “In exchange I’m allowing her to keep the lab coat.”

“Isn’t it awesome?” Hana posed with one hand on her hip and the other pointed in the air. “SCIENCE!”

Satya took a long, calming breath before she spoke again. “I was hoping if you wouldn’t mind answering some questions about what happened.”

Hana nudged Satya hard in the side.

“With your permission.” Satya added.

Jesse went to tilt up a hat that wasn’t there, only for his bandaged arm to awkwardly fall back to his side. “Sure thing! I’m always happy to give my time and blood for the sake of science. That being said, I don’t actually have to give blood do I? I hate needles.”

“You’re covered in tattoos.” Hana said as she pointed at one of the larger offenders on Jesse’s chest.

“I was blackout drunk for each and every one of them.”

“I will not require blood samples. But please, take a seat. Hana, please begin recording.”

Jesse sat down on his bed, suddenly becoming self-aware of every physical flaw as Hana held up her camera. This was weird. Not as weird as the last few days, but ‘being recorded by two younger female teammates in lab coats while only wearing jeans’ was still pretty damn weird. He scratched over the bandages that wrapped over his chest. “You ain’t streaming this, are you Hana?”

“No, but if you want we can totally do a ‘Cowboy Tattoos’ video for my channel later!” Hana brought her camera closer to Jesse’s stomach. “What’s a Ritalin Kitten and why does it involve a cow skull on fire?”

“One, it’s an old punk-country-folk-metal band. Two, it’s supposed to be Ritalin Kiddies. And three, I ain’t sure if the flaming cow skull goes with them or not. Might have been two separate tattoos at some point. And before you ask that’s a dolphin below it.”

“That does not look like a dolphin.” Hana said.

Satya cleared her throat almost loud enough for Jesse to feel the vibration. “If you would please. Hana. Jesse.” She tapped her tablet’s screen. “I have your current medical records here-”

“Now how did you get those-” Jesse started only for Satya to plow over the words.

“And there’s nothing out of the ordinary as far as I can see. Angela’s examination post-battle shows no major changes from your last exam save for a few extra pounds. Whatever caused the incident in battle must not be physical, or was done in such a way that it is undetectable with...basic…” Satya’s voice trailed off.

Jesse waited for Satya to continue, but whatever caught her attention had a firm hold. He glanced at Hana, who had her phone focused on a barbed-wire wrapped heart between his shoulder-blades. “Satya? You alright there?”

“How did you lose your arm?” Satya looked up from the tablet. “On your medical record it’s simply listed as ‘unknown’.”

“Bear bit it off.” Jesse said, not missing a beat. Behind him he could hear Hana giggle.

Satya moved her steady gaze to Jesse. “No.” She finally responded.

“Fell off after I sneezed really hard.”

“You are lying.” Satya lowered her tablet.

“I’m not. I lost my arm in a poker game with Santa.”

“This information should be on your medical records.” Satya frowned. “I don’t understand why you’re acting this way.”

“I’m just sore ‘cause I lost my arm after sticking it out the school bus window.”

“Jesse!” Hana gave him a light smack in the bandaged shoulder. He felt his skin ripple. “Be nice to Satya.”

“Don’t see why it’s important anyway.” Jesse grumbled. “Ain’t this about the arm I still got?”

“Yes. Yes it is.” Satya breathed deeply again. “But I insist you speak with Angela about getting these records straightened out right away.”

“Pfft, Angela knows all about my tragic roller coaster accident.”

Jesse was almost certain that Satya was going to hit him with her tablet when, thankfully, a shrill scream from Hana saved his hide. He turned around to see a stunned Hana holding a chunk of peeled skin. Like from a bad sunburn, but almost the size of his thumb. She looked from Jesse to Satya, slightly stunned.

“I thought it was the bandage!” Hana let out another yelp and dropped the patch of skin. “I thought it was starting to come loose so I gave it a tug and ugh oh god that was gross eww I kind of want to peel more off is that weird?”

“Hana! Don’t peel off Jesse’s skin with your bare hands!” Satya flexed her robotic arm and, in a flash of light, a pair of tweezers appeared. “Use these.”

“Don’t I get any say in this?” Jesse said as he scratched the bandages over his chest. “First off, peeling off dead skin is one of the greatest pleasures in life-”

“-so gross-” Muttered Hana.

“-And second, both Angela and Genji told me to keep these on for now to keep my skin from fallin’ off. So how about we get on with those questions you have and I really don’t like the way you’re looking at me, Satya.”

Satya was looking at him. She was staring at his shoulder to be exact. Before Jesse could stop her she grabbed onto his arm, forced him to turn his back to her, and pulled off one of of the looser bandages. Jesse felt only the tiniest bit of pressure as she peeled off another chunk of dead skin.

Hana gasped. Satya frowned.

“Uh.” Jesse did his best to try to look at both women. “Is everything okay?”

“No.” Satya said, glaring at Jesse’s shoulder as if it had personally wronged her. “No it is not.”

“Your skin's all discolored.” Hana said. “Grey. Red. Greyish-red?”

The bandages came off. All three of them ended up in Jesse’s small bathroom, peeling and pulling the dead skin off of his chest and arm. With the first few pulls Jesse was able to convince himself that the skin underneath was simply still red and raw from healing. But then a large yank from Hana revealed a swirling storm cloud and it was all over. After that it was the yellow bolts of lightening, followed by a twisting red snake-like body of scales.  It was Jesse who tugged the last of the dead skin off of his wrist, revealing the dragon’s face.

It even had Soba’s defining crack on its left horn.

Jesse twisted his arm around to get a better look at near perfect copy of Hanzo’s tattoo which now covered his remaining arm. Red where there was blue, mirrored from left arm to right arm, but it was Hanzo’s tattoo. He looked over at the two rather stunned women and finally broke the silence between them.

“Well, fuck.”

Chapter Text

For Genji, beginnings and endings were one and the same.

In the past it had been so easy, so very easy, to break his life into “Before The Fight” and “After The Fight”. He had considered everything before to be his life, and everything after to be his curse for being too hard to kill. The young playboy was dead. A soulless machine was born. Life and death, beginning and an end, two ends of an extreme that never met.

Until he met Zenyatta.

Genji learned-Genji accepted-that those divides were only in his mind. That the Genji who dyed his hair green to piss off his family was the same man who asked Angela if he could customize the lights on his new body. Despite all that happened he was still himself. His past and his present were one continuous story, not two parallel lines never destined to meet. He had died, he had lived, he had been broken, he was now whole.

But if you were to clarify that you meant when ‘that whole mess with Jesse and Hanzo began’, Genji would grin and say “That’s easy! That started right after I kicked my brother’s ass!”

What Genji wouldn’t mention was how exhausted he was after their...fight? Reunion? Reconciliation? No, fight. A fight that drained him both body and soul. He spent the journey to Gibraltar going over every second of his and Hanzo’s battle. Every word, every moment, every expression, it haunted him. Genji silently analyzed everything in hopes of finding a single hint that his brother would make the right choice.

Zenyatta did not pry. That made it worse.

The reunion at Gibraltar was a welcome distraction. Genji had been one of the first to arrive, right on the heels of Lena. Winston was there of course, with Torbjorn and Reinhardt with his near-fatal slaps on the back. Others would be there soon, Winston had explained. McCree and Angela were due tomorrow. Winston then rambled off some more names, some Genji recognized (Wasn’t he a musician?) and some he did not (Was he supposed to know the name of a Russian weight lifter?). After a whole lot of Lena-hugs Genji and Zenyatta were able to slip away to one of the private quarters.

It was there, far away from distractions and interruptions, when Zenyatta tilted his head ever-so-slightly and asked.

“Did he listen?”

Genji removed his mask and, knowing there was no way he could hide the tremble in his voice, answered.

“I don’t know.”

***

That had been a week ago. With Jesse and Angela's arrival everyone was busy getting the Watchpoint back up and running in time for the new recruits. Which meant Angela was the only person actually working (since there was no way they weren’t going to get horrifically injured soon) while everyone else was doing their best to avoid any real responsibilities. Who knows when they would get a chance to relax again, after all. Which was Genji’s excuse to why he was “meditating” instead of helping Jesse take stock of the ammunition.

Well, he started out meditating. He totally meant to. That was the plan.

But then Zenyatta’s orbs began lazily circling them in the air, their chimes soothing Genji’s still-frayed nerves. Before Genji knew it he was fully pressed against his Master’s side, his cheek pressed against the warmth of Zenyatta’s shoulder. The only other sound Genji could hear was Zenyatta’s innerworkings purring away deep within the ominic’s body. Deep down he knew that being this snuggly with his Master probably wasn’t appropriate. But the Monastery was far away, and there wasn’t exactly anyone around to judge him. A fact Genji was thankful for. Because here, with Zenyatta, he was truly at peace.

Doki Doki Itadakimasu -”

And then Genji’s cellphone went off because of course it did. Genji ignored Zenyatta’s chuckling as he wildly searched for his phone, hopefully before the love struck anime character’s song reached the second verse. He finally found it under a plant covered table and had half a mind to toss it out the window until he saw who was calling. Lena.

“Lena? What happened?” Genji answered, one hand already on the windowsill.

“Genji!” Lena’s voice rushed in from the other end. “Genji! The newbies are here and there’s a small fire but it’s contained and can you bring us some bevs?”

Genji removed his hand from the windowsill. “Lena? Is your chronal accelerator okay?”

“What? Yes! Yes. Pretty sure. Let me check.” Lena went silent. Genji seized the moment to return to Zenyatta’s side with the cell placed between them on speakerphone. In the background of the call Genji could make out laughter.

“I’m back!” Lena’s voice returned. “Time is in the right order, I just got a little ahead of myself. What I was trying to say is that the new arrivals are here. All of them. They all sort of showed up at once? On the same transport? Mei, MEI! Mei’s here isn’t that lovely, Mei said that a fight almost broke out between Lucio and the bird from Vishkar but then Zarya, she’s the weight lifter and good Lord she can pick me up anyday she was able to get that all sorted out and oh my God Genji GENJI Mei got Zarya’s phone number already I had no idea she was such a faster worker-”

“Lena.” Genji stressed her name. “Deep breathes.”

“Sorry! Sorry! Cor, I’m glad to have you here Genji. I’d trip over myself several times by now if I was by myself! OH and that streamer girl is here and you know at first I wasn’t sure why Winston asked her to come along but the big lug didn’t mention that she has this huge battle-robot-armor thing and it sounds like she’s already friends with Lucio so that just made things even worse with wosshername and-”

“You said something about a fire?” Zenyatta asked.

“Oh? Oh! Ello Zenyatta! Didn’t know you were there too! I thought you showed up...later? Before? Focus, Lena. Focus. The fire! There is a fire but it’s no big deal, honest! One of the Junkers is a demolitions expert and he was showing off his skills and long story short a bit of the beach caught on fire. But since it’s pretty much contained in a small crater I thought it’d be nice to have a beach party! We could sit around the bonfire, maybe work out this whole not-fighting-each-other thing, and maybe-”

“Have a few drinks?” Genji said as the last piece clicked into place.

“Exactly!” Lena said. “Then maybe you could help me show everyone around?”

Genji sighed. So much for hiding out today. He picked his cellphone back up. “Fine. But I better not end up on fire. Again.”

“Great! Let me get everyone’s drink orders!” There was short burst of static on the other end of the line. “Back! Lucio and Hana just want soda. Mei is having whatever Zarya is having, but Zarya is having whatever Mei is having so good luck with that. The Junkers just said ‘yes’ so that’s four mystery drinks. The archer fellow wants sake and Satya wants water. Her name is Satya it turns out-”

Genji’s fingers clenched around Zenyatta’s arm. “The archer fellow?” He said, his words soft and unsteady.

“Didn’t catch his name. He seemed to have stayed out of the almost-fight on the transport. Looks pretty bad ass. Pretty cool tattoo too-Genji? Genji? Are you there?”

Zenyatta picked the cell up from where Genji had dropped it on his mad scramble out the window. “Hello Lena, Genji will be there shortly.”

“Oh! Ello Zenyatta! Everything alright?”

“I believe everything is fine.” Zenyatta watched as Genji climbed back into the room, grabbed his mask off the floor, and jumped back out the window. “Sadly, I do not think your drink orders will be fulfilled.”

***

Hanzo was there. Hanzo was at Overwatch. Hanzo had made his choice.

Hanzo was still doing his silent-moody act.

After what Lena would later describe as ‘the most touching awkward sibling hug she ever saw’ Genji took it upon himself to introduce Hanzo to the team and show him around. Which ended up mostly being Hanzo not saying a single damn word while Genji did his best to act cool and collected. Never before had he been so thankful for his mask to hide behind. Because his brother was there and was joining his side and wouldn’t fucking talk God damn it-

“Twenty-eight.” Hanzo finally said, cutting Genji off mid-explanation as they headed down one of Gibraltar's walkways together.

“Huh?” Genji said, and he knew he sounded like an idiot when he did.

“That is the twenty-eighth time you have mentioned Doctor Angela Ziegler.” Hanzo said, the hint of a smirk on his face. “More than anyone else you’ve spoken about, outside of your Master.”

“Angela, Dr. Ziegler, is a very important member of Overwatch.” Genji replies. He almost added on that she was the reason he was still alive. But he holds his tongue, knowing now was not the time. “We are all lucky to have her.”

“Hmm.” Said Hanzo, in that too familiar way that made him start to doubt this whole ‘make peace with his brother’ thing. The sound was too damned knowing, and far too smug than it had any right to be. Genji was about to press for a reason when the sound of voices from the other side of the walkway preempted the third Shimada brother battle.

“McCree, the pills are one hundred percent effective for curbing cigarette cravings-”

“Angela, darlin’, those things taste like stale pez without all the flavor-”

What was it that McCree said about the devil? There was Jesse and Angela, both in full gear, no doubt coming from combat practice.

“You shall see for yourself, Hanzo.” Genji’s lights flashed as he ran ahead. He could feel his dragon curl around his leg, waiting and eager to leap off to properly greet Angela and Jesse. Almost on cue Angela turned to meet Genji. If there was anything he missed in the years away from Overwatch it was Angela’s smile. That sad, yet caring smile which made his heart flutter in ways Genji couldn’t think possible. Genji stopped short of Angela and forced himself not to embrace her right then and there. “Angela! Jesse! This is-”

Everything happened at once.

Angela, her fingers clenched around her caduceus staff tight-

Hanzo, bow fully drawn with an arrow pointed straight at Jesse’s chest-

Jesse, his gun already pointed straight at Hanzo’s head-

And Genji, stunned with the sudden realization that the world was far smaller than he ever thought.

They were frozen together in that strange tableau, no movement save for the wind across the walkway. Genji was too far from Hanzo to stop him, and he knew from experience he was no match for Jesse’s trigger finger. Through his visor Genji met Angela’s eyes and he knew she was thinking the same thing. Maybe if he deflected Hanzo’s arrow, or if Angela could distract Jesse all four of them could get out of this alive. He went to move only for the roar of his dragon in the back of his mind to stop him in his tracks.

Hanzo moved first. He did not fire. Instead his shoulders shook ever-so-slightly as he let out a loud, bellowing laugh that would have put Reinhardt to shame.  “Jesse!”

Jesse followed suit, his gun holstered sometime while Genji was still scrambling with the idea of his brother laughing like that about anything. He was laughing just as hard, and with a few wide steps closed the distance between him and the other man. “Hanzo! You son of a bitch! Come here!”

Because life was not strange enough at that very second Hanzo responded by putting down his weapon and greeting Jesse with a hearty hug. A hug. Hanzo just hugged Jesse. Voluntarily. Hanzo knew Jesse. Jesse was hugging Hanzo back and just picked up Hanzo and Genji really, really wished Zenyatta was there if only to confirm that this was all real and happening.

“Jesse!” Hanzo pulled himself away once Jesse put him down, but kept a hand on Jesse’s good arm. “What are you doing here? You said you were going to America to fight that old gang of yours.”

“I did! Had a hell of a time, too! I’ll tell you all about it once I have an evening or two to spare. But then I got the recall notice and-” Jesse grabbed onto Hanzo’s shoulders. “Tell me you’re here ‘cause you wanna join Overwatch!”

“I am here for my brother.” Hanzo managed to say that with a straight face, but his smile soon returned. “But now I doubt any organization that would have you as a member.”

“You wound me, Hanzo. Straight to my heart, as always.” Jesse laughed as he moved to have an arm around Hanzo’s shoulders. “Have you been given the tour? We got a shooting range, an outdoor obstacle course that’s mostly used for paintball, and I’ve found at least three of Winston’s hidden candy stashes if you want to help me get a start on those.”

“I think Genji was showing him around.” Angela said, which was nice because Genji wasn’t sure if he could talk anymore.

“Eh? Genji-Oh! Howdy Genji!” Jesse tipped his hat, as if noticing for the first time that Genji was there. “Why didn’t you say your brother was joinin' us? I would have been there with the welcome party!”

“You know my brother,” Genji said. Finally. Jesse was still touching Hanzo. What did that mean?

“Jesse assisted me in hunting down stray Yakuza members years ago.” Hanzo said, clearly okay with being touched by Jesse. It was getting weirder by the minute.

“We made a hell of a team back then.” Jesse said fondly. “Let me tell you Genji, when I was out west a day didn’t go by where I didn’t miss your brother covering my back. Overwatch is lucky to have you, Hanzo. We’re lucky to have you. I’m-”

“Wait.” Angela said. “When did this happen?”

“Right after I quit Blackwatch, but before, well, before. Must have been six, seven years ago? I was in Japan what, little over two years? Funny story, there was this noodle stand that got robbed and Hanzo you’re giving me your scary face what did I do?”

Hanzo was, in fact, giving Jesse his scary face. “This is how you knew Genji. From Overwatch.”

“Well!” Jesse said, looking a bit panicked. “Before you start yelling at me I want to point out you never asked me how I knew your brother-”

“You knew my brother was alive -”

Is alive.” Genji helpfully pointed out.

A-hem ,” Angela said, her own interruption smothering whatever was brewing between the three men with the force only a doctor could handle. “Perhaps we should all continue this conversation elsewhere? Politely? Without weapons nearby?”

Jesse and Hanzo glanced at each other. Hanzo with his feathers still ruffled. Jesse with that ‘deer in the headlights’ look. He was going to owe Genji for this.

“I hear they’re having a welcoming party down at the beach. There’s a bonfire and everything.” Genji said. When no one moved he sighed and tried one last thing. “With alcohol.”

***

Two drinks was all it took for Jesse and Hanzo to be laughing together again. They were sitting dangerously close to the bonfire, speaking in a weird combination of Spanish and Japanese that Genji couldn’t follow. What words he could pick up on seemed to be ones of remembrance. Memories that only existed between the two of them.

A hand on Genji’s shoulder snapped him out of his spying attempt. He looked up from his own seat only to see Angela smiling down at him. “I’m guessing this was a shock to you, too?”

Genji nodded, not sure what else to say.

Angela sat down next to Genji with an unopened beer bottle in her hands. “For the record,” She began, “I don’t approve of this. The overindulgence of alcohol, the mind boggling amount of soda Hana and Lucio are drinking, and I’m pretty sure we shouldn’t be breathing in the fumes from this fire.”

“But?” Genji said, his attention fully on the angel next to him.

“But,” Angela continued, “It is nice seeing everyone together like this. Laughing. Smiling. Having fun.”

“Just like the old days?”

Angela went silent at those words. “No. Not like the old days.”

Genji nodded again. Around them the rest of the newly formed team was chatting, exchanging stories, bonding in their own way. Zenyatta had been cornered by an eager Lena. Mei and Zarya had gone off ‘for a walk’ in a move that would have made his younger self proud. Many were captured by one of Reinhardt’s stories, and a few had wandered off to be alone. And there front and center were Jesse and Hanzo, acting as if no time had passed at all. Genji held out his arm so Angela could open her bottle on his wrist. She did so, and then clinked the bottle against Genji’s forearm. No time had passed between them at all.

“You’re right,” Genji said as his eyes followed where the fire drifted up into the night sky. “This time will be better.”

 

Chapter Text

The mission objectives were clear: Recon on a potential Talon outpost. If it is Talon and they have an opening then get in, get whatever information they can, and get out. Do not engage the enemy if possible. Stay safe. Come back in one piece. Of course, the mission went completely off the rails as soon as it began. But not in the normal way.

“Well loves, I think we can confirm that this was a Talon base,” Lena said as she stepped into the bloodstained hallway. There was no noise besides her footsteps and the hum of the lights above.

“Was,” echoed Jesse as he walked in behind her, his boots crunching on the sand-covered hallway. Hanzo stayed at Jesse’s back, as always, not quite willing to relax. The air still smelled of blood and gunpowder. Whatever battle had happened had been recent. He glanced over his shoulder and saw Angela examining one of the larger blood puddles. “What in the Seven Hells happened here?”

“It appears we are not Talon’s only enemies,” Hanzo said, shouldering his bow.

“Bloody hell, we actually missed a battle for once!” Lena whistled. “I wonder who it was. And if they won.”

“Anything outside, Zarya?” Jesse said, his hand pressed against his communicator. Hanzo did not look at the strip of flesh between Jesse’s glove and sleeve. He also did not feel a slight thrill at the red ink that now covered Jesse’s arm. Hanzo was a professional, and not distracted by such things on a battlefield. Not that this was much of one.

Zarya’s voice crackled over the communication line. “Negative. All visible cameras have been destroyed. There are air and land vehicles but none are functional.”

“In my professional opinion,” Torbjorn spoke up over the communication line, “These engines are fucked sideways.”

“Doesn’t sound like anyone left that way,” Jesse said, shifting his arm back under his serape. Hanzo did notice that Jesse was wearing it so it covered his right arm instead of his left. He didn’t know how to feel about that.

“Assuming either side has left at all,” Hanzo replied. “Dr. Ziegler?”

The sound of her proper title brought Angela out of her haze. “I haven’t picked up any lifesigns outside of the six of us, human or Omnic.”

“Doesn’t mean there ain’t creepy crawlies waitin’ for us,” Jesse said with a nod towards Lena, who then vanished in a flash of blue. A plume of the sand kicked up where she had been.

No, Hanzo thought, not sand. Too fine. Almost like a powder, or maybe-

“Dust.” Jesse said, completing Hanzo’s thought. “Lot of it.”

Jesse looked at Angela.

Angela did not look at Jesse.

Hanzo was suddenly struck with the crushing sensation one got while being the third wheel. He had experienced it many times before in his youth, usually while being forced to chaperone Genji and his friends. That feeling of you and them. An anthologist watching instead of being part of the culture. Hanzo reached for Jesse’s wrist out of habit, but was interrupted by another flash of blue. Lena was back and looked a bit...frazzled?

“Building’s clear. But-” Lena took a deep breath. “You guys need to see this.”

Lena lead the four of them into a large, open room that might have been a meeting area. There were chairs strewn about covered in bullet holes, but no bodies. Blood, and what Hanzo could best describe as ‘chunks’, but no bodies. “They have taken their dead,” he said, soft enough for only Jesse to hear.

“Talon doesn’t care about the dead,” Jesse muttered in return.

“Whoever attacked them might have,” Angela said, stepping over what was left of someone’s arm. It was mostly just elbow at that point.

“Or,” Jesse said, a little too loud, “They disposed of them a different way.”

Hanzo narrowed his eyes. “What do you-”

Lena flickered and was suddenly in the middle of the room. Without a word she outstretched her arms and pointed at the far walls with finger guns. Hanzo’s eyes followed their path and noted the large spray of bullet holes on each wall. She kicked her legs and spun, twirled, kicking up a cloud of dust as she moved. Her arms twirled with her, matching the trails of bullets along the walls. Lena stopped almost as soon as she began, finishing off the odd moves by crossing her arms in front of her chest.

“Reaper,” said Lena, Jesse, and Angela at once.

Hanzo knew of Reaper. He had never met the phantom on the battlefield, but he knew of its work. He had seen the fresh scars Jesse bore from his battles with Reaper. He knew that the name Reaper was almost never spoken out loud at the base. Hushed whispers at most between the old guard of Overwatch. The thing was connected to Overwatch’s past, but he never could piece anything together beyond that. A shadow that had followed them, a sin brought to life. And Jesse-

This time Hanzo was able to grasp his hand around Jesse’s wrist. He felt the cowboy relax under his touch. The dragons were stirring. Alerted. Worried.

Jesse adjusted his cowboy hat, more for the dramatic pause than anything else. When he spoke his voice was clear of the nerves that Hanzo felt. “Whatever poor soul that attacked Talon ain’t with us anymore.”

The communicator crackled to life. “They could have-” Zarya began to say, only to get cut off by Angela.

“We should split up. If Talon was in a rush to get out then they might have left something behind. Lena and I will take the top floor. Zarya and Torbjorn, you have the ground floor. Jesse and Hanzo, you two take the basement. Look for any computers that are still working, or anything that Athena might be able to scan. We cannot waste this opportunity.”

“And keep an eye out for anything labeled ‘Project Arachne!” Lena said before zipping away, Angela chasing behind her. Only when the dust settle did Jesse speak again.

“Hanzo? You’re still holding my wrist.”

Hanzo glanced up at Jesse. “Should I let go?”

Jesse shook his head. “I’m good.”

***

Hanzo did eventually let go of Jesse’s wrist, but only because the cowboy insisted on a rock-paper-scissors match to see who opened the door to the basement. With Jesse in the lead they entered the basement only to discover it was a server room. A very, very big server room. Rows upon rows of black towers stretched as far as he could see, each connected to the other with thick braids of wires. He was secretly impressed by how organized it all was. Hanzo had made the mistake of going into Athena’s server room once and was still shocked he made it out with his life.

Talon’s server room was far less deadly. It was also devoid of any signs of battle. No blood, no dust, not a single wire disturbed or out of place. All that was in the basement besides the humming servers was him, Jesse, and the dragon-sized elephant in the room wedged between them. Hanzo silently debated various ways of bringing it up (stating the obvious, insulting Jesse, pushing him against one of the servers and closing the chasm by force) but settled for a less direct route.

“You’re wearing your serape wrong.”

Jesse snapped back from wherever his thoughts had lead him. “Ain’t no wrong way to wear a serape, Hanzo.” He flashed Hanzo a smile, but his eyes were still distant. “You just sort of, well, throw it on. You know how it is.”

Hanzo knew that was a lie. Every part of Jesse’s look was carefully constructed, right down to the scruffy beard. Countless memories of Jesse making sure his serape looked ‘just right’ before going out on a mission floated up. And the less said about the cowboy’s other outfits the better. But instead of going down this path Hanzo chose to try the far more direct route.

“You hate the tattoo.”

Not a question. A statement.

Jesse stopped in his tracks. His shoulders fell in a sign of defeat. “Aww hell, Hanzo. It ain’t like that.”

“You’re hiding it.” Hanzo said to Jesse’s back. He was thankful of the years of training that kept his voice steady as the rest of him rotted on the inside. “You’re ashamed.”

That got Jesse to turn around. “Ashamed? Hanzo, I’m not, it’s not-” Jesse pulled his sleeve up, revealing more of his skin. His arm was now smooth and hairless, devoid of all of the scars and sun damage that covered the rest of his body. “Hanzo, that ain’t true. I’ve never been ashamed of anything in my life and I’m not going to start now. And you of all people should know that, if there’s one thing I’ve never been ashamed of, it’s my tattoos.”

Hanzo felt his insides untwist ever-so-slightly. “As I am painfully aware.”

“You know,” Jesse weakly smiled. “I lost some of my favorite tattoos thanks to this.”

“You will simply have to live without your flying horseshoe and cracked skull.”

“I liked that skull.” Jesse muttered.

“It looked like it was done with a ballpoint pen.” Hanzo waved vaguely at Jesse’s side. “At least your semi-decent cactus flower was most likely spared.”

“I have a cactus flower tattoo?” Jesse turned, as if trying to see said tattoo through his clothes. Suddenly his arm jerked and he let out a hiss.

Hanzo went from amused to panicked as he reached out for Jesse’s arm. But before he could get close Jesse moved away.

“Don’t worry, I’m fine. It just, it just feels weird. Like throwing up rice but under my skin.”

And like that the secret emotional roller coaster was brought to a screeching halt by something Jesse said making no sense. A common theme in their friendship. “Your arm feels like what?”

Jesse waved said arm, “Remember when we were hunting down those smugglers in Kyoto together? And then we went out for sushi to celebrate and I got sick ‘cause it was bad or somethin’ and I spent the rest of the night throwing up-”

“You were sick because you ate more than three times the capacity of a human stomach-” Hanzo said, clearly ignored.

“-well that lovely ‘rice going up instead of down’ feeling is the only way to describe what my arm is going through. But not like in a bad way? Not in a good way, either.”

“That,” Hanzo said carefully, “Is Soba trying to communicate with you.”

Jesse flexed his hand. “Really?”

“Really.”

“Don’t the dragons speak-speak to you?”

“They do.” Hanzo poked Jesse’s tattoo. He felt his own tingle in response. “Because I know how to listen. No doubt Soba is tired from screaming himself hoarse to be heard over your own inner ramblings. Give me your arm.”

“Uh.” Jesse looked around the still-empty server room. “This isn’t really the place-”

Hanzo snapped his fingers and, without another word, Jesse held out his arm. He carefully removed Jesse’s glove and tucked it away before expecting the brand new tattoo with his fingertips. He traced the lines of the dragon’s body, the swirls of the storm clouds, the jagged geometric lightning strikes, even pressed his thumb down hard on the crack on Soba’s horn. The skin felt all wrong. Too smooth, too untouched compared to the rest of Jesse. Maybe that’s why he had covered it?

He wouldn’t have hid it away if he knew what it meant, said a silent voice that sounded suspiciously like Udon’s.

Hanzo didn’t reply. Instead he let his fingers move under Jesse’s sleeve and followed the tattoo up to the shoulder. Despite the strange skin Jesse’s arm was how Hanzo remembered it, unnaturally warm with hard muscles hidden under a layer of softness that only increased with age.

He would proudly display this proof of your love for the whole world to see, continued Udon in the back of his head.

Hanzo dug his fingers into Jesse’s shoulder, teasing a gasp from Jesse’s lips as he worked the muscle. He was standing too close to Jesse, he could feel it. Jesse’s metal hand was on Hanzo’s hip, his head on Hanzo’s shoulder, his breath on Hanzo’s neck as he muttered a string of words that was certainly against their old agreement. They were too close. Far too close and Hanzo couldn’t bring himself to move away. Jesse was too warm, too tempting, all Hanzo had to do was close the gap-

If you’re going to mate with my new master can you at least turn off that beep boop music first, chimed in Soba. It’s really annoying, he added.

“Beep boop music?” Hanzo repeated.

“Buttercup, we can listen to whatever you-GAH!” Jesse jerked his shoulder back in response to Hanzo’s hard pinch. “What was that for?!”

“That,” Hanzo said as he pulled away, “Was your second warning. The next pet name will result in an arrow through your neck.”

“Aw hell, I was kinda hoping the first one didn’t count.” Jesse rubbed his shoulder. “Hang on. Shouldn’t this have been the third strike? Cause the first was under the sakuras, and the second-”

“Soba heard something.” Hanzo said, ending that line of thought. “Beep boop music, as he describes it.”

“I don’t hear any...no, no, I do. What in tarnation is that?” Jesse looked up at the tiled ceiling right above their heads.

Hanzo followed his gaze and noticed that one of the tiles was opened just a crack. They looked at each other, and with a silent nod Hanzo used his Storm Bow to nudge the loose tile over. The music Soba had described came pouring out from between the hidden wires and air ducts. He knew that melody. Hanzo touched his communicator, not noticing that it was already on.

“We found something in the basement ceiling.” Hanzo paused, listening. “And it’s playing the theme to Lavender Town.”

***

Despite all evidence to the contrary it was in fact possible to fit all of Overwatch into the mission briefing room. It had taken a few tries and Satya breaking out her tablet but they all managed to fit in there. The trick was figuring out who was comfy on sitting on who. Ana was on Reinhardt’s shoulders, Roadhog had Junkrat, Zarya was holding Mei as if it was nothing and Bastion was able to carry Hana, Lucio, Genji and Zenyatta on his back and arms. Hanzo was secretly glad that he and Jesse were the few who actually got real chairs to sit on.

Crammed in front of the holo-projector on the wall was Angela and Winston, who was doing his best to take up as little space as possible. Angela seemed to be completely untouched by the lack of room situation and was reading off the mission notes as if there was nothing ridiculous about any of this.

“After studying the,” Angela paused, “the remains found at the Talon base I can say that the battle happened somewhere between two to three hours prior to our arrival. There are no obvious signs of escape. The attack was swift, brutal, and most likely caught Talon completely unaware. All of this being said I honestly can’t tell who was the victor. Both sides may have wiped each other out. The only thing I can confirm is that the Talon Agent Reaper was there, thanks to the lack of bodies.”

Hanzo’s eyes darted across the other agents. Nothing from the newer agents, but the old guard was another story. Worry from Reinhardt and Torbjorn. Ana was staring at Jack. Jack was staring at Angela. Angela’s face was blank. Lena was fidgeting. Mei looked sad. Winston looked ill. Genji was scratching at an itch he couldn’t actually have, and Jesse’s gaze was completely focused on an odd stain on the ceiling. But not a single one of them said a thing.

“Perhaps Reaper was killed as well?” Zarya said, her voice already faltering by the end of her sentence.

“You cannot kill what is already dead,” Ana said, her one eye still focused on Jack. He didn’t seem to notice.

Angela cleared her throat as loud as she could. “Unfortunately by the time we arrived all of the servers had been wiped clean, and any files either taken or destroyed. The only clue we have to the identity of the attackers is the laptop found by Hanzo and Jesse. Even then there’s not a lot to go on. All that’s on the laptop was a word file tilted Overwatch.”

The screen behind her changed to a picture of the laptop, and next to it a screenshot of the opened document. All that was in it was a single sentence written in Spanish.

“Camarón que se duerme se lo lleva la corriente.” Jesse read out loud. “The shrimp that sleeps gets carried by the tide. Or to put it more simply, you snooze you lose.”

“They knew we were going to be there?” Lucio asked, adjusting his grip on Bastion.

“We may be compromised.” Fareeha said from her spot next to Jesse.

“Or it was a lucky guess?” Junkrat shrugged. “Talon, Overwatch, you guys do sort of go hand-in-hand.”

“You are part of the team as well, Jamison,” said Zenyatta, who had given up and was simply floating above Bastion.

“Me, Roadie and Satya are independent contractors, tin can! Ain’t that right Satya?”

“Didn’t Hanzo and Jesse recover something else?” Satya asked, her eyes fixed on the screen.

“Sort of.” Winston held up what looked for all the world to be a grey plastic brick. “This was found a few feet away from the laptop. I’ve scanned it several times but I can’t find any tracking or listening devices at all. I suspect it was dropped on accident by whoever was hiding up there.”

Hana let out a half-gasp half-hiss of glee. “That’s an original Game Boy! Oh my God does it work tell me it works OH MY GOD is that Pokemon Blue can I have it please oh please dibs dibs dibs!”

Winston coughed. “Well, actually Hanzo asked-”

“Hana may have it,” Hanzo said, and regretted his words the second Hana let out an inhuman screech of what he assumed was joy.

“Thank you thank you thank you Hanzo for best Dad!” Hana climbed down Bastion and leaned across Lena to grab at the Game Boy. She flicked it on, and after a cheery bwu-BING her smile vanished. “Aw, it’s in Spanish!”

“Don’t worry sweetie, I’ll give you some lessons so you can catch your pokeymans,” Jesse said as he flashed a grin at Hanzo. Bastard knew that made Hanzo twitch just as hard as Hana did.

Winston cleared his throat in a way that was nowhere as loud or commanding as Angela’s. “Antique video game systems aside, Fareeha has a point. There is a chance our communication lines may be compromised. Until Athena and I know for sure there isn’t an issue on our end all missions are canceled. I want everyone to focus on training until I give the all clear.”

What followed next happened in every team meeting Hanzo had been a part of. It was a subtle action, one he wasn’t sure anyone else in the room was aware of. It happened every time Winston made an announcement in his professional leader voice. All eyes in the room would shift off of the gorilla and onto Jack. Jack would nod, he always did, and then everyone would look back at Winston and give a general murmur of agreement. If Jack wasn’t there then they would look at Ana. And if Ana wasn’t there then they would look at Jesse. Hanzo wondered if Jesse even noticed.

Winston dismissed the lot of them with a wave of his hand, which lead straight into the challenge of getting everyone out of the debriefing room. Hanzo managed to squeeze out in the wake left behind by Zarya, who was still holding onto the oddly quiet Mei. He waited by the door until Jesse stumbled out (slightly squished from attempting to leave the same time as Reinhardt) and grabbed onto the man’s serape.

Jesse looked down at the sudden point of contact. “You want somethin’, Hanzo?”

Hanzo didn’t answer. Instead he began pulling Jesse down the hall, not caring about the looks they were getting. Jesse, however,  clearly did.

“Um? Hanzo? Hanzo, Hanzo you can let go, Hanzo? Hanzoooooo, Hanzo where are we going? Han-ZO!” The last whine of Jesse’s turned into a shout as Hanzo shoved him into the first unlocked door they passed. An unused supply closet. It would have to do. Hanzo stepped in after Jesse and locked the door behind him. Jesse opened his mouth, but Hanzo cut him off with a hard glare.

“I have had enough of this,” Hanzo said as he jabbed Jesse in the chest with his finger.

“Enough of what?” Jesse asked, already uneasily glancing at the door.

“All of this!” Another jab for good measure. “Our security systems may be compromised and Winston barely bats an eye! A base full of dead Talon agents killed hardly an hour before we get there! A message left for us, a message teasing us, left for no reason but to let us know that they knew we were coming! We have an enemy, McCree, an enemy that is against Talon but is also against us! And you! You and Angela and all of the old guard is hiding something from the rest of us! I demand you tell me what you know and why are you smiling at me?”

Jesse was, in fact, smiling at Hanzo. It was a sad, distant smile that spoke of how tired Jesse must have been. He sighed, but in a soft way. “Us. You keep saying us.”

Hanzo frowned. “Yes. Us.”

“Just nice to hear ya admit to being part of the family, that’s all.” Jesse rubbed his eyes and nodded to himself. “You’re right. You’re right about all of that. Everything about this mission has been rotten.The short time frame, the laptop, an army vanishing into thin air, it’s too damn complicated! Too many unknowns and what-ifs. I don’t like a lick of it, but I’m not sure where even to start unraveling this mess. Not sure who I can even talk to about it. ‘Cept you, of course. Don’t suppose you have any ideas?”

“I know where to start,” Hanzo said quietly. “But I need your help.”

“Thank God. Don’t know what I’d do without you, Hanzo.” Jesse’s smile returned in full. Shame Hanzo was going to ruin it. “What’s the plan?”

“Tell me about Reaper. Everything,” Hanzo watched Jesse’s adam’s apple bob, and before Jesse could speak he landed the finishing blow. “Please.”

That did it. Jesse deflated, his shoulders slouched low. Yet at the same time there was a spark of resolve in his eyes. “Alright. I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you everything I know. But not here. And I’m sure as hell not doing this sober.”

 

Chapter Text

Satya’s earliest memories were of the behavioral therapists at Vishkar. Dimly lit rooms filled with carpeted pieces of furniture and educational toys that no child would actually play with. It was in these rooms they taught her to behave like a ‘proper’ future architect and no doubt star employee of the company. Those fuzzy memories were filled with soft spoken adults teaching her to look at people when she talked, or how to stop making that soft humming noise when she was thinking, or the dozen of other ways that would help her pass as normal. By the time she was ten the therapists had declared her ‘close enough’ and sent her off for training. The important thing was that she looked fine, after all. Everything else could be swept under the rug as a quirk.

(The hum returned her third week of working at Overwatch. She politely asked her teammates to point it out if it was bothering them, but no one ever did. Two months in she caught herself talking far too long about the history of hard light technology to Fareeha. She tried to apologize, but Fareeha laughed and said that Satya was the most interesting conversationalist she’s ever met. It took her nearly the whole six months to realize that she was no longer exhausted at the end of the day from social interactions. She would probably have to be re-trained before she returned to Vishkar.)

Still, she wished that the therapists had tried a little bit harder to beat the whole ‘obsessive thought’ thing out of her system. Because no matter how hard she was trying to focus on her work there was still that little voice in the back of her head repeating the same phrases over and over.

-how did the tattoo appear how does summoning the dragons work how did McCree lose his arm how did the tattoo appear how did McCree lose his arm how did he summon Hanzo’s dragon how do the dragons even work how did McCree lose his arm how-

“Oi, Satya, you’re doing that humming thing again.”

Junkrat’s voice didn’t snap Satya out of it, but him nudging her did. She blinked, aware once more of the workshop and her neat little slice in the chaos. She was also painfully aware that she’ll have to hose Junkrat down again soon. How turning the hose on him became her job she’ll never know. “Oh. Sorry.”

“No worries! I know you get all worked up about it. Figure I’d give you a nudge while I was on this side of the blast wall.” Junkrat waved vaguely at the makeshift cinder block wall that stood between his area and everything else. “Want some coffee?”

“Yes. No. Which coffee machine?”

Junkrat pointed at the table in the far corner of the room. On it was a small machine that Torbjorn swore was a coffee maker that made what he double-swore was coffee. It was not coffee. Coffee should not blurble. “You’re not going to drink it, are you?”

“Nah, strictly gonna be used for getting rust off. Don’t you worry about me.”

I wasn’t, Satya thought, but instead asked one of the many questions on her mind. “Do you know how McCree lost his arm?”

Junkrat didn’t even blink. As much as she hated to admit it, Satya was thankful for his what could be nicely described as non-lateral thinking. “Always figured he lost it the same way I lost mine,” he said as he waved his robot hand.

Satya watched Junkrat as he poured the sizzling black liquid into a metal cup. “How did-”

“I was showin’ someone how I lost my leg.”

Satya opened her mouth, closed it, and opened it once more. “Explosion?”

“Blew right off! You shoulda seen it fly!” Junkrat let out that nervous laugh he always did when his head was stuck in the past. Satya had caught onto some of his ‘quirks’ too. Sometimes, usually while Junkrat was testing out his latest batch of explosions, she would muse over what Junkrat would have been like if Vishkar got their hands on him as a kid. Probably would have been in charge of a major branch by now. But he would still giggle, she decided, the same way she still hummed.

“So how’d you lose yours?”

Satya flexed her own robotic hand. “It was surgically removed by Vishkar during my training. Since my prosthetic has everything I need for my job it is far more efficient than carrying tools.” She looked up from her hand to see that Junkrat had moved back over to her, and was trying to hold the hissing metal cup as far away from his body as possible.

Junkrat was silent a moment before he spoke again. “That’s pretty fucked up.”

With that said Junkrat headed back to the other side of the blast wall with the cup of coffee. There. Now she could focus on her work again. Satya turned her tablet back on, determined to work out this whole long distance teleportation thing out. Since Winston had declared that all missions were temporarily on hold she could take her time in working this out. And not think of anything else.

Like magic.

Magic.

Jesse told her it was magic. The worst part was he believed it, too. After he was done cursing Jesse just started laughing about how ‘this is what he got for messin’ with dragons’. And Hana! Hana accepted that explanation too! ‘Way weirder stuff has happened here, Satya’. As if there was anything normal about rapid tissue decay, non-medical rapid healing, and a tattoo appearing between the new and old flesh! It was even a perfect replica of Hanzo’s! There had to be an explanation! She didn’t even want to get started on the dragons.

On the edge of her hearing she caught the telltale bwu-boop of Junkrat’s communicator going off. A common occurrence. Roadhog called Junkrat at least once a day, and the air would become filled with half of a conversation filled with snippets like ‘uh huh’ and ‘yeah’ and ‘course we got free will, mate, don’t know what you’re going on about’, This time there was only a string of curses on Junkrat’s end followed by him scrambling over the blast wall to Satya’s side.

“Satya! We gotta run!”

Satya swiftly stood up with her gun already in her hand. “Are we under attack?”

“Worse!” Junkrat hit the floor and rolled onto his feet. “Brigitte’s here!”

Satya froze. Brigitte. Brigitte was...nice.

Brigitte was honestly curious about your day. The only thing she loved more than asking questions was hearing everything you had to say. She would remember every detail of every story you told her, and when you were done talking she always had a related story. Usually an adventure she and Reinhardt went on together, but sometimes they would delve into the mundane. Oh you worked for Vishkar? Why she has a third cousin twice removed that works for them! Do you know so-and-so? And by a cruel twist of fate you did happen to work with so-and-so a few years ago and Brigitte would laugh and say isn’t that funny? What a small world!  Then you would laugh, because you were taught to do that to appear normal. Brigitte was normal. Brigitte was nice .

“Shit!” Satya dropped her gun and grabbed her tablet instead. “We have to get out of here.”

“Roadhog said she's already trapped Hana and is heading this way!”

“Main staircase is out. Freight Elevator is too risky, we’d be cornered on the roof-” Satya paused as her eyes fell onto Torbjorn’s station. Poor guy wasn’t going to get any work done anytime soon. “Torbjorn was going to work on Roadhog’s hook today, correct?”

“Uh, yeah?” Junkrat said as he followed Satya’s gaze. “Roadie said it needed to be sharpened. Why?”

Satya took a deep breath, knowing full well she was going to regret what would happen next. “I have an idea.”

***

“Alright Satya. Million dollars.”

“Million dollars.” Satya repeated, her attention fully on the chain between her hands.

“It’s a lot of money.”

“Indeed it is, Junkrat.”

“Million dollars, but every time you make one of your turrets you got to name them.”

That got Satya to look higher up the dangling chain at Junkrat, who was grinning like a loon. As always. “You’re assuming I don’t.”

“Not like, turret-mark-eighty-seven-point-five or whatever, a real name. Oh! And you love them like your own kid. You get all emotionally attached and everything! If you put them down and walk off all you worry about is how lil’ Satya Jr is doing and if any mean old bad guys have shot her.”

Satya kept her eyes on Junkrat as her foot moved to the next link down the chain. “So when my turrets get destroyed, as they tend to do-”

“Breaks your heart!” Junkrat dangled off the chain with one hand, seemingly unaware of the deadly drop below them. “After every battle you cry your eyes out over the loss of your babies!”

Satya shifted ever-so-slightly, making sure her tablet was still safely tucked under her arm. “What if my turrets aren’t destroyed?”

“Hmm,” Junkrat shimmed down the chain next to Satya, his expression thoughtful. “Then they gain sentience and start talking in silly voices. And they dance. Like a lot.”

“Dance.” Satya moved her foot down to the next chain. “Well choreographed?”

“Nah, it’s a right old mess. Lil’ turrets bumping into each other, top hats crushed underfoot, can’t keep to a rhythm to save their lives.”

“Might be worth it just to annoy Lucio.”

Junkrat didn’t bother to fight down his snicker. “Ain’t nice, Satya. But what do you say? Gonna take the million?”

“Please don’t take the money, Satya.” Said Fareeha. It took Satya a second to realize that it was, in fact, Fareeha who said it. The woman was leaning out of an open window next to them and seemed to be stuck between amusement and confusion.

“I wasn’t,” Satya said as she did her best not to look directly at Fareeha. “It would be too much of an emotional burden to the team to deal with my crying.”

“Oh?” Amusement won Fareeha over. “Here I was imagining the base getting overrun by tiny sentient turrets!” She laughed, and Satya suddenly became painfully focused on the way Fareeha’s shoulders rolled back when she did.

Junkrat thankfully picked up where Satya’s brain had failed. “Hey, could you move over so we can squeeze in?”

“About that,” Fareeha leaned out the window a little more and twisted around to get a better view of the situation. “What are you two doing?”

Satya followed Fareeha’s gaze up to where Roadhog’s hook was firmly hanging from an open window built into the rock face above. Her eyes traveled down the length of chain to Satya and Junkrat, both hanging on for dear life over the deadly drop into the unforgiving sea. Fareeha suddenly snapped her fingers in realization. “Brigitte.”

“Could you please let us in?” Satya said as she finally found her voice. A wave of relief washed over her as the other woman backed away enough for both her and Junkrat to scramble into what turned out to be the gym.

Well, it wasn’t much of a gym if Zarya’s complaining was anything to go by. Just some free weights, a few abused punching bags, and more gym mats than anyone could ever use in a lifetime piled on the corner. Ana was currently taking a nap on Mount Mats from the looks of it. Satya turned to Fareeha only for her brain to flood her mind with details like ‘sweat soaked tank top’, ‘low riding pants’, and why was Fareeha smiling at her like that what did it mean-

“Whoops.” Junkrat said as he pulled Roadhog’s hook in through the window and dropped it on the mat next to him. “What’s the name that little ledge thing that’s like hanging out of the window?”

“The windowsill?” Satya said, secretly thankful. “What about it?”

“It might have fallen into the ocean. We don’t really need one of those for the workshop, right?”

Satya sighed. “I will add it to the expense report. But we must find a place to lay low until Brigitte gets absorbed into a project. Which may take an hour or two.”

“Aw man! I have explosions to make! And explosions to test out! It’s, uh, it’s pretty much just explosions,” Junkrat let out a nervous giggle, “And you got some fancy teleporters to test out or somethin’ just as brainy! We can’t sit here all day!”

“You can if you go meditate with Zenyatta.” Fareeha pointed over to a cracked open door against the opposite wall. “He’s camped out in there with somebody. Not Genji, so don’t worry about walking in on anything...weird.”

“Hmm. It is unlikely that Brigitte would attempt to seek out inner peace.” Satya said.

“Stuck in a room with the omnic?” Junkrat said in a way that suggested he would have spit after saying the last word if he was in less proper company.

“Or you can stay here and spar with me!” Fareeha feigned a punch at Junkrat, who responded by letting out a short yelp and hiding behind Satya. “What about you, Satya? Care for a little one-on-one?”

Fareeha smiled. She winked. Her words were light, so unlike the serious warrior Satya knew from the battlefield. Fareeha was sending out a message and Satya had no idea if she was interpreting it right. Fareeha’s smile faltered, and Satya realized she was taking too long to answer.

“Meditation will do you some good, Junkrat.” Satya said, more or less pushing the man towards the open door. She could think about the odd look in Fareeha’s eyes later.

***

In a turn of a events that did not shock Satya in the slightest, the side room was mostly filled with gym mats. Why were there so many gym mats? She did know that in the old days Overwatch was far larger than what it was now. The sheer amount of unused space in the base attested to that. But the sheer number of plastic covered foam mats was downright baffling. Another mystery to solve when she had less pressing things on her mind.

(The answer would turn out to be a simple one: An extra zero on a spreadsheet that went unquestioned during Overwatch’s decline. Satya wished that all mysteries were that easy to answer, even if they did turn out to be that dumb.)

In the small space not taken up by gym supplies stood Zenyatta, speaking with Jack Morrison of all people. Satya almost never saw Jack around the base outside of pre and post mission briefings. Yet there he was in comfy clothes and his red tinted glasses, looking downright normal. Well. Normal for a grandfather with no taste in fashion. As soon as she and the less-willing Junkrat stepped into the room Jack stopped mid-word and snapped his head towards them. Another expression she couldn’t read.

“Zenyatta.” Jack said with a nod to the omnic before heading towards the door. “Vaswani. Fawkes.”  He paused long enough to also nod at Satya and Junkrat before walking out of the room and slamming the door shut.

“Fawkes?” Asked Satya.

“Vaswani?” Asked Junkrat.

“Vaswani.” Said Satya as she offered her hand.

“Fawkes.” Replied Junkrat as he shook it.

“I am pleased that the two of you have finally been properly introduced.” Zenyatta said, not even bothering to hide the amusement in his voice. “I am Tekhartha Zenyatta. A pleasure to make your acquaintance.”

The odd knot that had been in Satya’s stomach all day untwisted. She liked Zenyatta. Easy to read. Always said what he thought. And the fact that Junkrat could never ruffle the omnic’s feathers only amused her even more.

“Can it, bolt-bag.” Junkrat said as he took a seat on one of the smaller piles of gym mats. “We ain’t here to be friendly, we’re just hiding out from Brigitte.”

“I understand,” Zenyatta said, “She can be...overwhelming. The two of you may stay here until the danger has passed. You may join me in meditation if you wish.”

“That would be lovely, Zenyatta.” Satya said before Junkrat could say no.

“Feh. Some of us have better things to do.” Junkrat leaned back against a stack of the ever-present mats before looking up at Satya. “Can I have your tablet? I wanna play Bunny Bubble Pop.”

Satya tossed Junkrat her tablet before joining Zenyatta in the center of the room. The soft hum which came from the omnic was almost enough to drown out the sound of electronic bubbles popping. After a brief examination of the mats Satya created her normal hard light chair and took a seat. She had meditated with Zenyatta before and knew the drill.

Close your eyes. How did the tattoo appear. Breathe in through your nose, how did McCree lose his arm hold, why did Fareeha look at her that way, breathe out through your mouth. What are the dragons, Repeat. How do they work, Relax. How did the tattoo appear, Let go.

The sound of metallic tapping brought Satya back. She opened her eyes only to see Zenyatta floating in front of her, his orbs lazily floating around the two of them. He was holding up his hand palm forward and put one finger down. Then another. Three? Two. One-

A loud snore came from the largest pile of gym mats. Junkrat was curled up in a ball, the tablet left at his side. Zenyatta let out a happy little musical hum of delight. “It seems Junkrat has found his own way to peace today. Perhaps now you can say what is on your mind?”

Before Satya could even debate over if she should tell Zenyatta the truth or not, an orb closest to her flashed a bright golden light and dropped into her hands. She ran a thumb across the carvings on its surface, thankful that she had something to stare at instead of the omnic. “It’s nothing major, really-”

Zenyatta let out a light, airy chuckle. “Nothing major is exactly the type of thing I enjoy assisting with. After all, it is the little things that make life worth living. They are also the same things that can wear down on us, like the wind against rocks.”

Satya rolled the orb from one hand to the other. She could hear a deep clink-clunk from inside. “Magic isn’t real.”

“It isn’t?” Zenyatta asked. “Then how am I, and my orbs, floating?”

“A series of magnets which make up an advanced hover propulsion.” Satya said, the words already lined up in her head.

Zenyatta hummed again. “And biotic fields? They can fix both flesh and metal. That must be magic.”

Clink-clunk. Clink-clunk. “Carbon-based nanomachines that act like stem cell reproduction on an advanced level.”

“Your teleporters?”

Satya gripped the orb tight with her robotic hand. “Where are you going with this? All of those things can be explained. What I’ve seen, what I saw-”

“Has yet to be explained.” Zenyatta said, his voice soft. “Your soul is one that craves order and logic. Chaos, disorder, they affect you more deeply than anyone else here. The very idea of magic being real is enough to shift your inner balance. So let us use another way to describe it. You did not witness magic. You witnessed something which has yet to be explained.”

“That doesn’t,” Satya took a deep breath, “I don’t know how to explain it. I don’t know where to even begin. There’s too many questions. Too many mysteries.”

“Then how about you start with the one easiest to solve? Once you begin unraveling, the other pieces may fall into place.”

How do the dragons work how did McCree summon the dragon how did McCree get the tattoo how-

“Do you know how McCree lost his arm?” Satya said, already knowing the answer.

“I’m afraid I do not.” Zenyatta held up a finger, “But I can tell you that Genji was very surprised to see Jesse with a cybernetic arm at their reunion. The rest of the old members over Overwatch were rather shocked, too. Not Angela, but they arrived in the transport together. Does that help?”

Satya barely noticed the orb float out of her hand to rejoin its brethren circling around them. Jesse lost his arm after he left Overwatch. All of the old guard were shocked to see it, save for one. Three since she didn’t know how Jack would have reacted. It wasn’t much but it did narrow things down a bit. She finally looked up at Zenyatta and smiled. “It does. Thank you.”

“Now, I was hoping if you could answer a question of mine.” Zenyatta said, “If it’s not too much of an issue.”

“Of course. What is-”

Gold.

All Satya could see, feel, think, comprehend, was gold. Gold light gold warmth golden sunlight pure gold simply gold. It took her eyes a moment to focus in the bright, yet not harsh, light that was radiating off of Zenyatta. Golden arms had appeared from nothing, each pulsing with quiet energy. One of the hands reached out to Satya, and she took it without hesitation. It felt like a normal omnic hand, but had the same spun-glass look of the Shimada dragons. She turned the hand around in her own, tracing the segments of metal that should not exist.

“If magic isn’t real,” Zenyatta asked, “then what is this?”

“I don’t know.” Satya tore her eyes off of the hand and smiled at Zenyatta instead. “Not yet.”

 

Chapter Text

For all of the advantages that came with having a small, close knit team there was the issue of chores. Back in Overwatch’s glory days they had outside help to do all of the cooking, cleaning, and dozens of other tasks that keep a group that size going. But with less than two dozen heroes under one roof, and barely a budget to speak of, it was up to them to keep everything neat and tidy. Although some chores were rotated there were a few who stuck with their expertise. Reinhardt was a hell of a cook. Mei dusted every Sunday without even being asked. Satya cleaned the dishes well enough you could actually eat off them (an improvement from when Torbjorn was in charge) and Bastion of course had grounds maintenance. Jesse? Jesse did the laundry.

Jesse always did the laundry. From taking over for his Mom when she got too sick to do it herself, to wowing his associates in Deadlock with his skills at getting bloodstains out, hell, when things got too stressful in Blackwatch he’d more often than not end up folding towels until his bones stopped shaking. So when Winston suggested a chore wheel Jesse called permanent dibs on laundry duty while everyone else squabbled over taking out the trash.

And the nice thing about being the only one on laundry duty is the knowledge that no one else would ever wander into the laundry room out of fear of being dragged into folding sheets. Making it the only place in the entire outpost that Jesse knew he could get some privacy. Maybe that’s why it felt a little odd when Hanzo walked in behind him. As if the man was bumping into a personal bubble that Jesse could of sworn he didn’t have. But Jesse sure as hell wasn’t going to talk about Blackwatch anywhere else on base. And it wasn’t like he’d never drank in the laundry room before.

Jesse took yet another swig from Hanzo’s flask. An act that was almost second nature to him now. They were sitting on the concrete floor together, huddled against one of the larger washers. His recollection of how they ended up there was hazy at best. The second they left the closet together Jesse began to talk. A lot of it Hanzo already knew, of course. Jesse had spent the first month of their partnership back in Japan filling in the long boring nights with stories of his past with Blackwatch. This time, however, he didn’t have to edit out all of the parts that featured Genji.

(There were stories about Genji back then Jesse would never tell Hanzo. How Genji would push himself until he literally began falling apart. How after a battle they would find Genji still chopping away at the bodies of their enemies, screaming until his vocal units blew out. Nor would Jesse ever tell how once a year, right around the beginning of May he would always find Genji completely catatonic, and would stay with the broken man until he snapped out of it. Those stories he would never share.)

Hanzo remained silent through Jesse’s story, save for the occasional grunt or chuckle when past Jesse did anything stupid. The flask was about half-empty by the time Jesse reached the part Hanzo had been there for: seeing the news about the Swiss Explosion that signaled the end of Jesse’s vacation.

“But you didn’t go back,” Hanzo finally said, the flask in his hands. Jesse had no idea how that even happened.

“Thought about it,” Jesse said as he leaned his head back against the vibrating machine. “When things got dicey in America I almost did. But then I’d sober up and realize it was pointless. Ain’t no such thing as closure. Now I’m starting to suspect even if I did look through all of the ruins I wouldn’t have found a body.”

Hanzo took a swig from his flask before he spoke. He was always a stickler for dramatic pauses. “You suspect that your mentor didn’t die in the explosion. That he’s-”

“Still alive. Yeah,” Jesse gulped. The words have been dancing around in his head for months now. A thought, a ridiculous thought that wouldn’t go away. Most of the time he could push it back into the pile with all of the other impossible ideas (usually involving owning a horse ranch with Hanzo. Who was there to do all the boring business money stuff while Jesse played with the horses. He had the fantasy completely planned out). But now the words were scratching at the inside of his cheeks. He couldn’t keep them in any longer. “Reaper is Gabriel Reyes. It’s him.”

“How can you be so sure?”

Jesse waved his arm in the air and wished he hadn’t. It was doing that funny pouring-sand-into-a-balloon-animal sensation he still couldn’t figure out how to describe. “Lots of little things. The way he fights, the way he moves, the whole one-use shotgun thing, the way he,” Jesse rubbed his eyes. “The way he always focuses on Jack in battle. It’s him. But. But I don’t think it’s him him. I think Talon found a way to prop up his corpse and make it dance. That’s why he, it, whatever keeps trying to kill Jack. The brain is probably still firing off whatever he was feeling right before the end.”

“And the rest of the old guard? What do they think?” Hanzo said, acting as if everything Jesse had just said didn’t sound crazy.

Jesse’s thoughts went back to the meeting. Angela as cool as a cucumber. Jack hiding behind his mask. Ana not even bothering to hide the fact that she was staring right at Jack. “They know. No one’s gonna say it out loud but they’re thinking the same thing. No one wants to say it out loud ‘cause then we gotta say all the other questions like ‘how do we stop him’ or ‘can we even stop him’ or…”

Hanzo offered Jesse the flask again. He took it, but didn’t bother to open it. The container already felt much lighter than it had before. Jesse took a deep breath to help finish the thought. “Can Talon do that to any of us? I mean. It’s bad enough I might be the one that has to put a bullet between Reyes’ eyes. Don’t think I could live with myself if I had to, to-”

“Put down one of our teammates?” Hanzo offered.

“Or you.”

The words fell out heavier than Jesse planned. He briefly considered following them up with some sort of joke or crass comment, but nothing came of that. Instead he swished the flask in a slightly exaggerated fashion. “You know, I thought you said you were giving up drinking.”

Hanzo’s blank expression finally allowed a smile. The rest of his body followed as he leaned ever-so-slightly against Jesse’s arm. “I said I was cutting back.”

Jesse snorted and went to finish of the last of the plum wine. If he thought hard enough he could rationalize it as helping Hanzo out. He did sort of owe Hanzo for...whatever happened in the basement. Jury was still out on if it was good or bad. They had gotten too close, it had been too risky, and Jesse was pretty damn sure Hanzo had left the communicator on if Lena’s smirk was anything to go by. The worst part was he wanted it to happen again. He wanted Hanzo to press into his arm hard enough to leave a bruise. He wanted to feel the archer’s body against his, to build a super comfy nest with some shiny things oh man like the belt buckle that thing is the best Udon do you think he’ll let me keep it-

“The FUCK was that?!” Jesse jolted out of his warm daze, pushing Hanzo off of his side as he did.

“The dragons chatter to themselves sometimes.” Hanzo murmured before returning to his spot against Jesse. “Ignore them.”

“Ignore-” Jesse tried to move, but Hanzo was practically dead weight. “You want me to ignore them ?”

“I have told Soba time and time again that you will not part with a single belt buckle. He simply does not listen.”

A feeling that Jesse could only think of as ‘trying to fit too many hot dogs into a single Tupperware container’ throbbed through his right arm. Not a throb. Movement. Moving under his skin. Jesse forced himself onto his feet, not really caring about how Hanzo almost fell right over without a cowboy to lean on. He shook his arm hard and he couldn’t see it move but his brain was telling him there was something slithering, clawing, digging into the spaces between the muscles and bones. “No no no oh HELL no-”

“Jesse,” Hanzo stood up, the only hint of his drinking being a slight sway in his step, “give me your-”

“No!” Jesse pulled his arm back out of Hanzo’s reach. “Look, it was fun givin’ little Soba a ride for a bit. Damn glad he was there to bail me out with that gang. Hell! Even got the best damn tattoo of my life out of it. But I’m tired of feeling this thing under my skin and I sure as hell don’t want it poking around my brain. So do whatever magic you need to and get it out of me!”

Hanzo went still. His eyes were downcast, more interested in a stain on the floor than Jesse’s face. “I cannot.”

“Look, if it’s some weird ritual thing I’ll do whatever it takes-”

“I cannot,” Hanzo said, stronger this time, “because once given, the dragons of my clan cannot be returned.”

The washer machine next to them stopped vibrating. All Jesse could hear was the sound of his own heart beating in his ears, and a sharp hiss in the back of his mind. His metal fingers wrapped around his still twitching wrist. “What do you mean-”

“Soba is yours, Jesse.” Hanzo said as he finally looked up. His eyes were cold, and his voice sharp around the edges. “He is your guardian spirit. He will protect you from harm and destroy your enemies. And when your time comes he will usher you into the other world and beyond. You are not ‘letting him ride for a bit’.  Soba is now part of your soul. He is a part of you.”

“Bullshit.” Jesse took another step back only to hit the concrete brick wall. “That can’t be, that can’t, Hanzo don’t fuck around with me on this, I’m not, don’t tell me I don’t even get a say in any of this? Don’t I get a damned choice?! Maybe you could have asked me if I want to lose my arm to your family dragon parasite a-”

Jesse didn't even see Hanzo move. One moment he was standing still, and the next he had his hand clamped around Jesse's neck. Jesse’s head slammed back against the wall hard enough for black spots to burst in his vision.

“You-”Hanzo bared his teeth as his words flowed out in a deep growl. “You did not lose anything. You gained one of my dragons. You now have an ally that will protect your life and has given you a power that you cannot begin to comprehend! Do not pout like a petulant child over this grand honor! And never refer to Soba as a parasite ever again !”

Jesse was only vaguely aware of the world by the time Hanzo let go of his throat. The rush of air to his lungs brought with it words that would not stop repeating, even long after Hanzo had walked out the door.

He fucked up.

***

Jesse wasn’t too sure how long he had been laying on the laundry room floor, but it probably wasn’t long enough. If he was going to wallow properly then he needed to be there for least another hour. Then, after driving himself crazy going over every single detail of the last conversation he had with Hanzo, he would pop over to the infirmary to see if any of his brains were leaking out. Maybe get yelled at by Angela some to really top off his day.

Sorry.

Of course he was sorry. He was a damned idiot for saying any of that to Hanzo. Just because he couldn’t handle a dragon...soul...thing...didn’t mean he had to say those things. He should have bit his tongue and dealt with it. Or bother Genji about. Or literally anything that wasn’t roundhouse kicking a gift horse in the mouth.

I’m sorry.

That’s what he needed to do. Just bite the damn bullet and apologize to Hanzo. Sorry for saying those things, sorry for hurting you, sorry for pretty much every stupid thing he’s ever done. He’d get right on that as soon as the room stopped spinning every time he tried to sit back up. For the best. Experience told him that he had to wait for Hanzo to calm down first if he didn’t want an arrow in his neck.

I’m really sorry, McCree-san.

Jesse frowned. That was his inner voice, but he sure as hell never called himself by that before. It reminded him of how Hanzo used to say it. He glanced around the laundry room to make sure he was alone before risking saying something out loud. “Soba?”

I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry-

“Hey! Hey!” Jesse held up his right arm. He felt as if it was slightly less crazy to talk to the tattoo than the voice in his head. “Soba, it’s okay. You didn’t do anything wrong. I’m the idiot who can’t keep his trap shut.”

My fault. It’s all my fault. My fault my fault I shouldn’t have I shouldn’t have-

Jesse rubbed his arm in what he hoped was a calming manner. How the hell did Hanzo do it? He was always too distracted by the man himself to pay attention to his movements. “Shhh. It’s alright, honey. Ain’t nothing for you to apologize about. You were just being a good little dragon and obeying your old boss’s orders. God knows I’ve done the same in the past.”

Do you hate me?

“What? Aww hell, Soba. You know I don’t.” Jesse chuckled. “I’m just an old cowpoke trying to deal with a world he’s not used to. You and Udon are the best lil’ noodle dragons a fella could ask for. But don’t tell Genji’s dragon that.”

Do you hate Shimada-san?

Jesse’s metal fingers stopped against his wrist. “Soba-”

Do you love Shimada-san?

“You’re the one in my head. Can’t you tell?”

Soba didn’t say anything to that. Well, Soba didn’t inner-thought back. Jesse dropped his arms back down onto his chest and let out a deep, defeated sigh. “I’ve hitched my wagon to Hanzo, alright? Made the mistake of rollin’ out of town once and I ain’t gonna do that ever again.”

No response. Jesse waited a moment before he tried to get up, only to be slammed back onto the ground by a sudden weight on his chest. He looked down at himself only to be greeted by the shining eyes of Soba. A now very red Soba, almost as long as boa constrictor. Somehow Jesse wasn’t too shocked. Soba’s tail was still firmly wrapped around Jesse’s arm, but the mass of its body was sitting right on top of his chest.

YOU LOVE HIM!

Jesse felt his stomach lurch as Soba’s face got dangerously close. “S-Soba? Could you-”

You love him you love Shimada-san you LOVE HIM I have to tell Udon-

“What? No!” Jesse let out a grunt as he struggled to sit up. “No one said anything about love or romance or any other talk that will result in be becoming Hanzo’s personal pin cushion! And no tellin’ Udon or anyone else, ya hear?”

A few notes rattled around in the back of Jesse’s head, and he realized that Soba was humming. Jesse never realized that a spirit dragon could look so damn smug. Then he remembered this was Hanzo’s dragon. He should have expected it, really. With a deep breath to steady his nerves Jesse lightly scratched behind Soba’s horns.

“I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings, okay? I won’t do it ever again, and I’ll do you and Hanzo right for it.  Just tell me how."

Honor us, respect us, love us. Soba tilted its head. Scritches are good too.

Jesse gave the dragon a look. "Wait, does the scritches part include Hanzo?"

No. Yes. Maybe?

"I'll give it a shot next time he ain't cross at me. Now I think I need some ice on this lump before I try any fancy talking. But before that you gotta go back...inside me, I guess?”

Sobra gave Jesse’s cheek a playful lick, which Jesse took pride in the fact that he didn’t scream and pass out from that like last time, and vanished in a puff of sparkling red lights. Jesse waited for the last of the them to fade before he got back up on shaky legs. Right. Find Hanzo. Apologize to Hanzo. Dodge any arrows shot his way. Might get through this with the same amount of limbs as he went in. Jesse made it three steps towards the door before he felt his phone vibrate. It was kind of nice feeling something vaguely normal for once. He fished his phone out and shook it awake. One text, from Angela. A photo.

Sorta blurry. Held at a weird angle. That was the floor to the infirmary, he knew those tiles anywhere. That pinkish-white thing might have been an arm, or leg, with some sort of red fabric or liquid or-blood. It was blood. Jesse’s phone buzzed again as the picture was followed up with a text.

need help come to infirmary right away don’t tell Genji

The phone buzzed again. A single word this time.

dragon

Chapter Text

For Angela, it was hard to pin down the exact moment when she first met Genji. Saying that they met when she found him in Hanamura didn’t seem right. She had been part of a recon mission that had gone wrong (did they ever go right, she would ponder) and was doing the unfortunate task of weeding out the dead from the dying. It was part of her job that she never really liked to talk about. See who was still alive enough to be dragged to the proper authorities. And if they were on their way out, well, then she could grant them an ounce of mercy in making their passing painless.

Her equipment had picked up a dying heartbeat a few streets over from the main battle, no doubt a gang member had tried to run. Angela touched down in front of what she vaguely recognized as the Shimada Castle’s front gates. The entire estate had battened down, no doubt from the fighting outside of its walls. There, right in front of the man door, was what little remained of the dying man.

Angela knelt down next to...him, she assumed, and went over his injuries with a detached eye. Burns. Limbs that ended in blackened stumps. Lacerations--deep lacerations which cut at bone and exposed quivering organs to the night air. Less blood than expected. Lower jaw gone. Just. Gone. But it was his eyes that made Angela’s heart freeze.

His eyes were still focused. He was still awake. Aware.

“Don’t be scared.” Angela said, hoping her Japanese was good enough to be understood. “You will not face death alone.”

Angela removed a syringe from her medical pack and, with skilled hands, injected it in the man’s throat. His eyes thankfully closed as she removed the needle. Death would be swift. Death would be painless. And true to her word she would sit there and monitor his last heart beat as he faded away. Jack understood why she was always the last to arrive at the pick up point. What sort of Valkyrie would she be if she didn’t perform every part of her job? She looked down at her equipment’s monitor and waited for the man’s end.

At five minutes she was honestly surprised it was taking so long. At ten she began to worry that she injected him with the wrong thing. At fifteen she turned her communicator back on.

“Jack? I’m going to need an evac from in front of the Shimada Castle. And tell home base to get surgery ready for-” Angela glanced down at the still-living man. “Everything?”

***

He wouldn’t die.

The patient, (Green Dragon, as Angela called him, out of what was left of the tattoo that ran down his right hip and thigh) wouldn’t die. He should have died. There were many, many reasons why he should have died. Blood loss, organ failure, brain hemorrhaging, the fatal amount of morphine in his system, the list went on and on. Yet G. Dragon continued to live right through the intensive surgery to remove all of the decayed or burnt tissue. He lived despite having to wait for Jack’s approval for what Angela could only describe as ‘enough cybernetics to make him no longer legally human’. Now Angela sat in her office, waiting to see if G. Dragon would live through having almost 78% of his body replaced by said cybernetics.

He would, of course. She was starting to suspect he’d live even if she shot him right between the eyes.

“Bad Angela. No weird murder thoughts,” Angela whispered to herself as she stared up at the screen over her desk. She was tracking G. Dragon’s vitals, which were amazingly stable considering he no longer had a proper digestive system. Most of the respiratory system had to be replaced as well. He still had his heart, if that meant anything. Behind her the office door let out a musical beep as it opened, and the smell of herbal tea floated in.

“Good evening, Ana,” Angela said without turning around. “Morning. Evening. You’re here to yell at me for not being asleep.”

“Nonsense.” Ana walked up to the desk and set down a tray carrying two cups of tea. “I’m here to force you into bed. There is a difference.”

Angela smiled up at the older woman. “I’m not a kid anymore.”

“More nonsense. Everyone in Overwatch is a kid. Most of them are mine.” Ana pulled up a chair and sat down next to Angela. “Except Reinhardt of course. And Jack. But only because there is no way I would ever want Jack to be one of my children.”

That got a snort from Angela. She picked up one of the cups only to pause before it reached her lips.

“It’s not drugged,” said Ana, perhaps a little too fast.

“Uh huh,” replied Angela, her arm still frozen in place.

“I can take a sip of it if I must.”

“Unless you’re immune.”

“That’s not how it works and you know it.”

Angela playfully narrowed her eyes. “That sounds like something someone immune to her own draughts would say.”

Ana sighed as she picked up her own cup. “Would you like to talk about what’s bothering you, or should we skip straight to the ‘I drugged my own cup because I knew you would want to switch unless you planned on me thinking of that’ part?”

Angela lowered her cup. There was no use hiding anything from Ana. She learned that lesson a long time ago. “My patient didn’t die.”

“The poor young man from Japan?” Ana looked up at the vitals. Steady as always. “I’m surprised there was anything left to save.”

“Barely,” Angela admitted, “I’ve put in the request for replacement arms, legs, and some facial reconstruction surgery which includes a brand new jaw and nose. Maybe see if the budget can include synthetic hair. Considering the costs of everything else it should be a drop in the bucket.”

She could feel Ana’s eyes on her, but Angela didn’t bother to look. Instead she watched G. Dragon’s heartbeat move across the screen.

“You’re worried,” Ana said.

“They’re going to turn him into a weapon.” Angela was surprised at how weak her own voice came out. “I tried, I tried so hard to convince myself Overwatch is doing this out of the goodness of their own heart but I, I can’t. They’re going to take him as soon as he can hold a gun and hand him over to Reyes. He, the patient, he was aware, Ana. When I found him. He was looking at me with such clear eyes and he refuses to die on me and I if can’t save him from Blackwatch I don’t know-”

“Angela.” Ana squeezed Angela’s shoulder. “Deep breathes. You haven’t lost this patient yet.”

Angela did as she was told. When she spoke next her voice was closer to normal. “There’s more. He won’t die, Ana. He should have died at least a dozen times in the operating room. He won’t die and I don’t know why and it scares me.”

“I’m sure it’s just magic.”

The twist in Angel’s stomach vanished completely. “Magic.”

“Magic.” Ana pointed up at the screen with her cup. “Do you have a better explanation for that?”

“No?”

“Then it’s most likely magic,” Ana shrugged. “I just hope the young man is willing to pay the price when the time comes. But I’m sure he’ll be alright. He has a guardian angel, after all.”

Angela finally turned to look at Ana. Ana was smiling and sipping at her tea as if she had been remarking on the weather. “Magic.”

“Drink your tea, dear.”

Angela picked up her own cup of tea. It smelled of flowers and strawberries. Maybe this was all some sort of hallucination from staying up for almost two days straight. She took large sip, letting the warmth of the liquid spread through her body. Part of Ana’s insane ramblings suddenly tugged at her mind. “He’ll have to pay the price?”

“Everyone does, in the end.” Ana’s voice sounded distant. In fact, she sort of looked distant. Hazy. Angela was only dimly aware of the blackness hovering around the edge of her vision. She was far, far more focused on the fact that God damn it Ana did drug the tea that bi-

***

Angela was in the operating room. G. Dragon was there on the operating table, right where Angela had left him. His chest was opened up to expose what little was left of his internal organs. But it was wrong, everything was wrong. Angela had already done this. She’d already removed everything that was damaged and replaced what she could. Also she didn’t usually wear her battle outfit into surgery. Yet she was wearing it, wings and all.

The other weird thing was the literal green dragon laying on the patient’s exposed heart.

Angela walked closer and, yes, that was a dragon. An eastern dragon that looked as if it was made of spun green glass. It was wrapped around the patient’s heart and in that instant Angela understood this what was keeping the man alive. A small dragon no larger than a ferret. It was so small, so tired, so hungry. It looked up at Angela and let out a small, exhausted mewl. Words formed in her mind, right behind her eyes.

Tired. Hungry.

Paying the price for its master.

Wouldn’t last much longer.

Along with the words came pain, sorrow, anger, and an understanding that vanished the second Angela would opened her eyes. Angela reached out and lightly scratched the dragon’s head. In that moment she understood how the little dragon felt. And, more importantly, she understood how she could help.

A scalpel appeared in her hand as if it had been there the whole time. Maybe it had. She didn’t question its appearance. Angela didn’t even question why she knew it would cut through flesh and bone with ease. With one fluid motion she cut off her left pinkie finger as if it were made of clay. She picked up the removed digit, noting that it wasn’t even bleeding, and held it out.

The little green dragon devoured her finger greedily, thankful for Angela’s sacrifice.

***

Angela’s left pinkie finger was still attached when she woke up.

***

G. Dragon woke up a week after the last of his cybernetics were attached. Angela had been there along with a half-dozen other doctors to explain what had happened. She wasn’t sure what she had expected. Crying? Screaming? Cursing? An escape attempt? But the young man just sort of nodded and didn’t say anything.

Mental trauma, one of the other doctors explained. Too much at once. It may take him time to recover. He may not ever recover. Best to keep hidden away in a private room until he was given a clean bill of health. Or, Angela thought, until Overwatch’s patience ran out. But she held her tongue and tried not to think about the constant stream of doctors that went in and out of G. Dragon’s room for the next few months. She would visit him too, but never got anything beside a blank stare while she chatted and checked his vitals.

Angela went back every day, even if only to smile and say hello.

***

Randomly her left pinkie would go numb. A few shakes and feeling would return.

***

“Hey Angela, do you still play that nerdy card game?”

Angela looked up from her tablet, honestly a little surprised to see Jesse in the infirmary. Back in the day he would be there all of the time, but with age and experience came less and less broken bones. A shame, seeing the cowboy would always make her day a little brighter. And it was always fun to nag him about the smoking habit he was trying to keep a secret from his boss.

“Jesse,” Angela said carefully, “you know it’s called Magic: The Gathering. You used to play it all of the time. Because you, Jesse McCree, are a nerd. A nerd who plays nerdy card games.”

“Shhh! Keep your voice down!” Jesse said as he glanced around the infirmary. “Don’t want that getting out! Last thing I need is my brand new underlings not taking me seriously.”

“Really?” Angela crossed her arms. “So you don’t want people to know that you used to run Dungeons and Dragons games for us? I’m sure your minions would love to hear about the adventures of Mercy the Witch and Fareeha the Paladin of Justice.”

“Angela-”

“What about when we all went to that retro game convention and ended up getting our asses kicked by Reinhardt in Guitar Hero? I know I still have that recording of you playing Mad Dog McCree somewhere on my phone.”

“Sweetheart, you’re killing me-”

“And don’t think I don’t know about your sub-hidden folder of old Doctor Who episodes ranked by how hot you found each Doctor-”

“Darling, for the love of all that’s holy leave me with some pride!”

Angela took a long, good look at Jesse, making sure to linger extra long on the cowboy hat, before she replied. “Yes, Jesse. I still play ‘that nerdy card game’. Why?”

Jesse brightened up. “Can I borrow some of your cards? Turns out Genji used to play it back in the day and I figure it’d be a good way to pass the time. I’ll go easy on him since he’s the new guy, of course! Gotta let ‘em get cocky so I can convince him to put money on the line.”

“And there’s the outlaw we all know and love.” Angela smiled, “My card binder is in my private quarters, but once my shift is over I can grab it for you. If you can find a few more people who are interested we might be able to get a tournament going.”

“Nah, I figure this can be a hush-hush me and Genji thing. He’s gotta be going stir crazy, stuck in that cramped hospital room of his. Ain’t humane that’s what. Maybe I could dig up a tablet to sneak in so he can at least watch some movies while he’s not getting poked and prodded. He seemed interested in cowboy stuff! I have been meaning to go on a movie marathon-”

Angela let Jesse’s ramblings roll over her as she tried to focus on her work. There was no use in telling Jesse she was busy. And it was sort of nice to listen to him go on about his silly cowboy stuff. Thank God for Reyes, or else he’d be wearing a full cowboy outfit into battle. Spurs and everything! The mental image was almost enough to distract her from the key phrase in what Jesse said. Almost.

“Cramped hospital room?” Angela said as her head jerked up. “There’s no one named Genji in the private rooms.”

“Uh, yeah there is?” Jesse vaguely thumbed in the direction of said rooms. “Japanese guy? The one with all of the cybernetics? Weren’t you the one who worked on him? Why are you staring at me like that? Did Ana draw something on my face after she knocked me out?”

“How do you know his name is Genji?”

“Because he told me? I mean, my Japanese is a little rusty but I know he said his name was Genji.”

“He talked to you,” Angela stated.

“Yeah?” Jesse shrugged. “Reyes kept going on about some cyborg and I figured might as well go be all friendly like and say hi. Had to wait till the doctors cleared out before I broke in but let me tell you I’m glad I did! Poor fella was just sittin’ there staring off at nothing! So I introduced myself, he introduced himself, and he made a comment about me taking off my belt buckle and now that I think about it he might have been hitting on me. Damn hard to tell sometimes-hey!”

Jesse dodged in time to avoid Angela as she barreled past him towards the private rooms. The few nurses that got in her way weren’t as lucky, but she did make a mental note to apologize later as she reached G. Dragon’s--Genji’s door. Angela didn’t even bother to knock before heading in.

And there he was. Sitting on his bed, more machine than man, looking absolutely bored out of his mind. But the second he noticed Angela he smiled and threw up a peace sign.

“Yo."

***

That still wasn’t the moment when she met Genji. Closer, but not there yet. Because the Genji back then wasn’t...whole. There would be times when he acted like how Angela imagined he did before. The smile, wisecracks, irresponsibly using his ninja abilities to mess with his team mates. But then Genji would be dropped off at the infirmary with dead eyes and half of his body broken for reasons unknown. One time he showed up with his arm ripped open, wires exposed, and unable to look Angela in the eye. After that she went out of her way to spend time with him off the clock. Let him know he wasn’t alone.

Which is why she was spending her downtime working on yet another Magic deck instead of doing something productive like sleeping. She flipped through her card binder, wondering where she put her Tundra Wolves. Genji had utterly destroyed her last game which meant it was time to reconfigure her deck. Just because Genji was recovering from trauma she could barely begin to comprehend didn’t mean she was going to let him keep up that winning streak. With her free hand she blindly searched for the bowl of grapes that she left on her bedside table. Reading glasses, book, fuzzy snake, ah, there’s the bowl-

Angela looked up from her card binder. The green dragon from her dreams was eating her grapes. It lifted its head, juice dripping out of its fruit-stuffed mouth. It was staring at her. Angela stared back. Her left pinkie twitched. The dragon swallowed.

“Dragons eat grapes?” Angela finally said to break the silence. She expected the creature to run or even vanish, but instead it hopped onto the bed next to her. Now that the dragon was closer Angela could see that it was...broken. There was really no other way to describe it. Instead of ending in a tail the glass body trailed off into cracks and odd ridges of light. The poor thing was even missing a back leg.

The dragon chirped at her. She blinked, and it was still there.

“You’re, um, Genji’s dragon, right?” Angela said as it moved closer to her hand. “From the dream. You were keeping him alive. You’re real. Oh my God you’re real. That was real. Like in a weird dream way because I still have my finger but still. Ana was right. Magic is real magic is real oh God oh God dragons are real I can’t let Reinhardt know we will never hear the end of this-”

The dragon licked her pinkie.

Thank you.

She wasn’t sure why those words popped into her mind just then. But she couldn’t help but shake the feeling they weren’t her’s. The dragon nuzzled the pinkie before moving on to nuzzling and licking Angela’s hand. A nervous laugh escaped Angela’s lips as she scratched the dragon’s sides.

“Look at you,” She said as she moved her scratches behind the dragon’s horns, “you’re just a pretty little magical kitty! Does Genji know you’re here? Does Genji know that you’re, um, corporeal?”

The dragon answered by rolling onto its back to expose its fluffy belly. Tragically before its wish for a tummy rub was granted there was a rapid knocking at Angela’s bedroom window. Angela finally looked away from the dragon to confirm the green glow on the other side of the blinds.

“Come in, Genji! It’s open!”

The window opened silently, and Genji slipped into her bedroom. At once Angela knew something was wrong. In the short time she had known Genji the man had never missed a chance to come into a room (usually through the window) with a dramatic flourish. A few needless spins, a dramatic pose, a few moves if there were new recruits around, that sort of thing. To see him land on her old woven rug with his head hung low made Angela’s stomach drop. She stood up off of her bed, but Genji cut her off before she could say anything.

“You’re the one who has been blocking me from joining Blackwatch.” Genji’s voice was heavy, his visor’s normal light dim.

Angela didn’t even flinch. She rolled her shoulders back and stood tall. For a brief moment she wondered who spilled the beans. Most likely the cowboy who said things like ‘spilled the beans’. “I am.”

Genji lifted his head. “Why?”

Because Blackwatch destroys people, she wanted to say. It chewed them up until they were paste and spat them back out. No one became a part of Blackwatch without destroying a little bit of themselves. There was Jesse, of course, but Jesse was a fluke. An oddity. Blackwatch wouldn’t care if Genji pushed himself to the brink of self destruction. As long as he took down a few targets with him they’d be fine with that. Reyes might even encourage it.

“One,” Angela said instead, “I wouldn’t trust Blackwatch’s clinical staff to bandage a scraped knee, much less properly fix your skin-to-synthetic-to-cybernetic connections. Two, Overwatch needs your skills way more than Blackwatch does. And three,” she moved closer to Genji, barely out of arms reach, “I wouldn’t be able to watch over you.”

After what seemed to be an eternity Genji reached up to remove his faceplate. Angela knew for a fact that she was the only person outside of the reconstructive surgeon who had seen Genji’s face. But even then he almost never looked directly at her. So she was caught off guard when he actually met her eyes. “Angela…”

Oh, Angela thought as Genji took her hand.

Oh no, Angela also thought as he smiled.

His robotic hand was warm. His smile was lovely. His broken, damaged smile.

“Are dragons supposed to eat grapes?”

Angela hadn’t realized that Genji had moved closer until he stopped mid-step. Somewhere off in the far distance she heard his visor clank against the floor. Genji’s smile was gone and was replaced with what could best be described mild shock. He moved his lips a few times before he found his voice again.

“Dragons,” Genji repeated.

“Green dragon? Looks like glass?”

“You...can see her?”

“Yes.” Angela pointed back at her bedside table. “Your dragon was eating my grapes. I wanted to make sure it wasn’t like a dog-thing and they can’t eat them. But now that sounds weird when I say it out loud-”

Her worrying was cut off by Genji letting out an almost childish giggle. He grinned at her, and the flutter in her stomach only got worse. “I’m sorry, it’s just,” a laugh escaped this time, “where is she? I told her not to bother anyone on the base. Not after Ana mistook her for a rat in the cupboard.”

A musical chirp came from under Angela’s pillow. A streak of green light darted out from under it and swiftly climbed up Genji’s body. The light solidified in the shape of the dragon, wrapped around Genji’s shoulders like a purring scarf. He scratched the little dragon under the chin. “Have you been bothering Angela? The good doctor needs her rest.”

The dragon responded with another chirp as it nuzzled Genji’s cheek.

“So,” Angela said, “those stories I keep hearing about a dragon on the battlefield are true?”

“Only some of them.” Genji’s smile only got wider. “She rides the blade of my sword, cutting into my enemies as if they were paper. She also tends to wiggle her way into odd places if I don’t keep a close enough eye on her. Oh! Don’t worry, you can pet her. She only harms those who dare oppose me.”

Angela reached up and lightly scratched the dragon’s fluffy head, right behind the horns. The dragon seemed to like it. “She’s beautiful.”

“She is.” Genji’s smile flickered. “She used to be whole. Like me.”

A dangerous topic. Angela grabbed for the first thought that popped into her head. “Does she have a name?”

“Eh?” Genji said, violently jerked back from the edge. “Oh. Yes. But um, you have to keep in mind that she came to me when I was very young. Much younger than my,” Genji paused, “Than normal. At the time I had learned a few English words from my caretaker that I apparently could not stop repeating and-”

“And?”

Genji let out a sigh of utter defeat. “Egg.”

Angela’s fingers froze. “Egg.”

“Yes.” Genji cleared his throat with a static hiss. “My dragon’s name is Egg. Egg, this is Angela. Angela, this is Egg. You are not allowed to laugh.”

“I’m not laughing,” Angela said, trying her best not to laugh. Oh God, she could totally picture it even. Lil’ Genji with an ancient dragon and saying the word egg over and over okay she was laughing. Angela clutched at her sides as the laughter poured out of her. She kept trying to apologize to Genji, but every word came out as a hiccup.

“You are lucky you’re a dear friend,” Genji said, unable to hide his own smile. “Or I would consider that an insult towards my dragon.”

“Egg!” Angela covered her mouth to fight down a snort. “That’s just, so, so-”

“Childish?” Genji asked.

“It’s so you ,” Angela said, the giggles finally defeated.

“And that I will consider a compliment.” Genji held his hand out, allowing Egg to run down his arm and jump onto Angela’s. As Egg ran up to her own shoulder the words returned, not quite her’s but not alien, either.

Thank you wonderful woman lovely woman his smile is back thank you thank you he’s laughing thank you-

Angela twisted her head around to try to follow Egg as it moved around her shoulders, her neck, down her back, back onto Genji but the back end was still on her hip-

“Is Egg getting longer?” Angela tried to follow the dragon but it kept dodging and now it was long enough to easily wrap around Genji’s back if not longer.

Genji chuckled. “The dragons can change their shape and size at will. You should see her in combat! Big enough to fill the-”

Too late did Angela realize what was happening. Too late to react as the dragon finished its final loop around and squeezed Angel and Genji together as tight as it could. Which, for a spirit dragon, was pretty tight. Angela could only guess what outcome Egg was trying to reach. Personally she suspected Egg attempting to be a proper wingwoman for her master.

What actually happened went as follows: Angela stumbled into Genji. Genji, completely caught off guard, ended up slamming his forehead against Angela’s. Angela was stunned by the sudden jolt of pain and went slack against Genji. Genji, still reeling from the headbutt, had just enough sense to grab onto Angela before they both fell onto the floor in a tangled mess of limbs and dragon. Angela was the first to move, and even then it was just to bop Egg on the nose.

“Bad Egg. No grapes.”

 ***

In the end, Angela couldn’t keep Genji out of Gabe’s grasp forever. She tried. She struggled, she argued, she wrapped her patient and dear friend in as much red tape as she could. But in the end Commander Reyes went over her head and snatched Genji from the strike team. From Overwatch. From her.

“Another late night, Dr. Ziegler?”

Angela jerked her head up a little too fast in an attempt to hide that she was nodding off. The fear of being caught sleeping on the job vanished the second that she saw it was only Moira. Who, praise God and every one of his angels, was holding two cups of coffee. Angela waved a hand over at the empty chair by her desk. “Please tell me at least one of those is for me.”

“Of course. You’re the only other person here who appreciates my efforts.” Moira handed Angela a mug and took the seat. “But I am legally required to state that you should not drink more than sixteen ounces of my coffee at once due to the caffeine content or at all if you are nursing, pregnant, or have a heart condition.”

Angela chuckled. Moria didn’t. Thankfully Moira broke the awkward moment by leaning over to look at Angela’s computer screen. Subtle, the woman was not. “Is there something wrong with Genji’s latest upgrades?”

“Hmm? Oh, oh no.” Angela scooted her chair over in an attempt to get out of Moira’s bubble. “I’m just looking them over in case he needs anything adjusted after he returns to base. Whenever that is.”

“I see.” Moira set down her own mug in order to steepled her fingers. Angela suspected that Moira practiced that same motion in front of her bathroom mirror every morning. “You know, Dr. Ziegler, I do have a few questions about Genji if you have a moment.”

Angela took a large swig of her coffee. It tasted like cheap creamer and far too much sugar. Perfect. “The leg blades weren’t part of my original cybernetic designs. Or the glowing eyes. That was all Commander Reyes.”

Moira tapped her fingers together. “I have one question considering Genji. How did you do it?”

“All of my notes are--”

“Available on Athena’s systems, yes, I’ve already read through them all. Twice.” Moira leaned forward in her chair. “But none of them, Dr. Ziegler, explain how you did it. How you saved Genji’s life.”

Angela’s fingers tightened around her cup. “If you’ve read through my notes, twice, then you should be well versed in my work in biotic healing and the application of self-decaying nanites when used with modern medical technology.”

Moria frowned. “And none of that explains why Genji didn’t suffer massive organ failure from what he went through. Now I’m not a medical doctor--”

“No, you’re not.”

Angela lifted her head to meet Moira’s gaze. She could see Moira picking her next words silently, never the one to let someone else have the last word. Angela also saw a soft green glow coming from Moira’s back. Before the other woman could return the jab she interrupted with, “Do you know when Commander Reyes will be back from his mission?”

Moira made a face, obviously annoyed whatever line she had ready went unused. “He refused to say, but McCree slipped it would be done by tonight. Any time now, I suppose. Why?”

The glow went over Moira’s shoulder and slipped down her arm onto her lap. There it formed into the far more familiar shape of Egg, still bright green despite her owner’s shift to the unofficial Blackwatch colors. Moria did not see Egg. Most people couldn’t. Which meant Angela had to do her best not to stare down at the very distracting dragon. “Jesse’s been avoiding his yearly exam,” Angela lied. “I was hoping to catch him while his guard was down.”

Angela tried not to look directly at Egg as the dragon sniffed the air. Moira, meanwhile, sighed and lifted her mug off the table. “I do not understand how McCree is still alive. Why, the other day in the cafeteria I caught him trying to convince the omnic chef to make chicken fried bacon! And then dip that in choco--”

With a cat-like pounce Egg jumped up high enough to slam her head straight into Moira’s coffee. Although she herself went unseen the large splash was hard to miss. Luckily the extra weight of Egg was enough to pull the mug out of Moira’s hand and onto her lap. Hopefully that would be enough to distract Moira. And if the cursing was anything to go by, it was.

“Here, hold still, let me,” Angela did her best to mop up the spilled coffee with a handful of tissues. “There we go!”

“I can’t believe, my new coat and everything, did anything get on your notes?” Moira stood and picked up her empty mug off the floor. “Let me go fetch one of the Cleanbots. I will be right back.”

“Look out for the feral ones!” Angela called out after Moria as she walked out of the office. She waited until the door closed before she scooped up the vibrating Egg into her hands. “Bad Egg. No drinking out of people’s coffee without permission. And I’m pretty sure you shouldn’t be drinking coffee anyway!”

Egg licked Angela’s palm, sending a crackle of energy at the touch. Master is home. Master misses you. I missed you.

“Oh Egg.” Angela kissed Egg on the nose, not minding the shock that followed. “I missed you too.”

And Master?

Angela smiled. “And Genji. I missed him a lot. Now, how about we go see your Master before he turns in for the night?”

Egg chirped and ran up Angela’s arms, settling around her neck like a tightly wound scarf. Angela didn’t mind at all. It was nice to have a piece of Genji still around, in a way.

***

Angela often saw Egg around the base after that. Sometimes the little dragon was swatting at shiny things, sometimes trying to steal food when no one was looking, but most often she would find Egg curled up in the infirmary, taking a nap in a warm beam of sunlight. Angela would always lightly scratch the dragon whenever she walked past the snoozing Egg. Even if it got a few odd looks from the other doctors.

She figured out quickly that no one else on the base could see Egg outside of her and Genji. Well, they sure as hell saw Egg whenever she was brought out in combat. But the wiggly ferret-like shape was invisible to everyone else. There was one time she stumbled upon Ana’s Secret Nap Spot (an old storage shed that was hidden from view) only to find the dragon curled up on the older woman’s lap. Angela could only smile at the sight and make a note to ask Ana about it later.

Angela never got the chance.

***

Overwatch died in slivers.

Angela was never sure what started the organization’s slow, painful death. Gerald’s death? Ana’s? Reinhardt’s forced retirement? Was it the day when Jesse stopped by the infirmary to give Angela a bone-crushing hug before a mission, only to vanish the next day? What was the cause and what were the symptoms? She would think about those last few years in the time between Overwatch’s death and rebirth, wondering if there was anything she could have done. If there was any way to save Jack and Reyes from their fates. But at the time she was too busy doing her job. And the job of several doctors who had abandoned ship already.

“All readings are clear! Genji, you’re good to go.”

Angela glanced up from the medical equipment at Genji. He was outfitted with what he had called ‘a badass suit of ninja armor’ for his next mission. And, if she was being honest, that was the best way to describe it. She wasn’t sure who was the main designer, although she had her suspicions, but they made sure to include enough lights on it to please Genji’s aesthetics. Right on cue Genji looked up with her with shining eyes.

“Can the lights be-”

“Way ahead of you.” Angela tapped a button on her tablet and the lights on Genji’s armor went from white to his preferred shade of neon green. “But you should be able to adjust them yourself.”

“Nah, it’s perfect! You know me so well, Angela!” Genji said as he slipped off the examination table. With a dramatic flourish he put his visor back on and struck the best awesome-ninja pose he could. “How do I look?”

“Like you’re going to fight an army of ninjas who are all wearing the exact same outfit,” Angela stood up from her own chair, “Which I’m going to assume is what you’re facing next mission since Overwatch gave you this upgrade. What’s on the agenda?”

Genji dropped the dramatic pose. His shoulders slouched, his body turned slightly away. Egg, who had been playing with a blown-up rubber glove on the desk, wasn’t there anymore.

Bad news. Angela could feel it.

“Nepal,” Genji said, his voice tinged with static thanks to the visor. “There have been terrorist threats against the Shambali monks that reside there. I am being sent with a team to ensure their safety.”

A normal mission. Angela remained silent, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

“I,” the static in Genji’s voice grew, “I will not be coming back.”

There it was.

“Genji?” Angela held up her hand, but couldn’t bring herself to reach for Genji. “What do you mean?”

“Angela. Look around us. Overwatch is dying. The world hates us, the UN is breathing down our necks, every day we lose more and more people, it’s over. It’s only a matter of time before we’re shut down for good. And I don’t want to be here when the last straw breaks. I’m going on this mission, I’ll protect the monks or whatever, but after that I’m…” Genji trailed off. She wondered if he even knew how to finish that sentence.

Angela let her hand drop back to her side. “Why are you telling me this?”

“One, unlike Jesse I’m not an asshole.” That got a small smile from Angela. Genji continued. “And two, I, we, Egg and I were wondering if you-”

“No.”

The word stopped Genji cold. Angela almost wished she didn’t say it. Almost. “I didn’t say-”

“You want me to leave with you.”

Genji nodded. She wished he didn’t have his visor on.

“I can’t.” Angela shook her head. “I can’t leave Overwatch, Genji.”

“Angela,” Genji’s voice grew stronger, “Didn’t you hear me? Overwatch is-”

“It isn’t dead. Not yet.” Angela leaned back against the examination table. “As long as there’s a single agent remaining I can’t leave. None of the doctors that remain have knowledge of biotic technology like I do. Most of them wouldn’t even be able to run the machines we use! I have to stay here, Genji. I’m sorry.”

Genji let out a small, pained noise that was almost a chuckle. “You will make sure that Overwatch doesn’t face death alone?”

“What sort of Valkyrie would I be if I didn’t?”

Another laugh from Genji. This time a little more honest. “Did I ever tell you about what I was thinking when I first saw you?”

“I didn’t know you remembered any of that,” Angela admitted.

“I remember enough.” Genji reached out to touch Angela’s cheek. His hand was as warm as it ever was. “I remember seeing a literal angel coming to escort me to the next life. Glowing wings, sad eyes, a soft voice letting me know my pain would be over soon. But despite all of that there was only one thing in my mind.”

“Yes?”

“Wow, that lady is really tall.”

Angela stared at Genji. She wasn’t sure where to even start with that. Even the obvious statement that they’re the same height seemed wrong. Laugh? Cry? None of it seemed right in that moment between her and Genji. There were so many things she wanted to say, but in the end she settled for hugging him as hard as she could. She felt his body go stiff under her touch before he slowly hugged her back, his arms not used to the action.

***

Genji left for the monastery the next day.

He didn’t come back.

***

Once, during the years apart, Angela caught a glimpse of Genji. Some news channel was running a fluff piece about the Shambali monks and their mission. She was only half paying attention to the television until a certain shade of neon green caught her eye.

There, in the back of a group of monks, was Genji. He was standing close to one of the monks, his head tipped back in a clear sign of laughter. His hand was on the monk’s shoulder. Close. Laughing behind his visor. Angela could have sworn the omnic looked downright amused. The omnic returned the light touch and Angela’s stomach sunk to the floor.

A second later the news channel cut to the weather, and Genji was gone.

***

“Jesse. Nathaniel. McCree.”

Angela had to admit that she did enjoy watching Jesse squirm a little under her glare. Their reunion on the transport ship to Gibraltar had, briefly, been a happy one. He had blossomed into a full cowboy during their years apart, from the hat all of the way down to honest-to-God spurs on his boots. But before she could hear how he was doing (and maybe explain that whole huge bounty thing to her) something caught her eye. Now he was sitting across from her, looking very much like a guilty child.

“Sweetheart,” Jesse said, worry leeching into his voice. “I can explain everything. See, I had hitched a lift on a train and-”

“I don’t care about your train robbery, Jesse,” Angela said as she chose to ignore him muttering something about being framed, “you know damn well what I’m angry about.”

“I had a feeling.” Jesse tilted his hat down, “Look, I feel rotten for not telling you about Ana. But she made me promise not to tell a soul about it! And I’m a man of my word. If you want you can take it up with her, she should be arriving with Fareeha sometime this week.”

“No, not that. That can be discussed later. I want to know what the HELL did you do to your arm?!”

“No idea what you’re talking about, darling.”

Angela pointed at Jesse’s robotic arm. One that he did not have when they parted. He looked down at it, as if he was seeing it for the first time.

“Oh, yeah, that’s right. Funny story about that.” Jesse cleared his throat, “I was at this poker tournament, me against this gang of tough hombres all aiming to get a jackpot big enough to buy a whole horse ranch-”

“Jesse.”

“We had decided to play the most dangerous game of all: high stakes strip poker. And all of us were already down to our birthday suits-”

“Jesse.”

“And then one of the fellas, this monster of a man with three gold teeth and nothin’ else in his head says ‘I got an idea!’ and pulled out this butcher’s knife-”

“Jesse!” Angela shot another well-honed glare Jesse’s way. He flinched, as if hit. “Look, if you don’t want me to tell anyone I won’t. You can tell everyone else whatever silly cowboy story you want to tell. But tell me, Jesse. I’m your doctor. An old friend. Your sister. Don’t lie to me. Please.”

For a moment all that could be heard was the rumbling of the transports engines. Jesse fiddled with his hat, clearly deep in thought, before he told Angela how he lost his arm.

By the time he finished his story they had touched down at the base. It took Angela a second to register that the transport had landed. Before the doors could open she reached over and squeezed Jesse’s remaining hand.

“So what should I tell people? Deadly strip poker tournament?” Angela asked.

“Eh, you can tell whatever story you want, sugar.” Jesse said as his smile finally returned. “Maybe tell people something boring, like it was a car accident. But how about we pick this up later? I do think I hear time itself being torn at the-”

There was a flash of blue, and before Jesse could get another word out Angela found herself being tackled by Lena. God, she missed Lena’s hugs. She just didn’t realize how much until Lena was hugging her tight enough to leave a bruise. Then Lena got to yell at Jesse about his arm (“Firecracker accident.”, he explained) and it was as if they had never been apart.

Winston was waiting for them at the hanger (“Shark fight.”), along with Reinhardt (“Dragon bit it off.”), Torbjorn (“Stuck my hand in a blender that was still on and it just sort of kept going.”) and a young woman Angela was gobsmacked to find out was Brigitte (“Hay baler.”). After roughly thirty seconds of conversation with Brigitte Angela quickly scanned the area to see if there was a means to escape. Out of the corner of her eye she saw a flash of light.

Neon green light.

“Winston?” Angela said, seizing a gap in Brigitte’s tirade. “Has anyone else shown up?”

“Hmm? Oh! Oh yes!” Winston grinned, “Genji arrived just yesterday with his omnic friend.”

Omnic friend. Genji laughing, touching the omnic’s shoulder. The heavy weight in her stomach. There was another flash of light and Angela followed.

“Aww hell, Winston!” Jesse said as he gave the massive gorilla a punch in the arm. “Why didn’t you say so? We’ve been yappin’ on without him! Let’s go find him and then find something to drink! I bet you anything Torbjorn’s old moonshine stash is still hidden somewhere! What do you say Angela-Angela? Where’d she go?”

***

The trail had lead Angela inside the base, into a part that had been untouched for years. Time had left a thick layer of grime and dust on every surface. The only hint of anyone being there of late were the footprints cutting their way through the dust. These were the living quarters for the higher ups once upon a time. Considering there were so few of them now she wouldn’t be shocked if this was going to be their rooms.

The green light had vanished, but Angela had only walked a few steps down the hall before she picked up the next lead. Humming. The off-key humming often done by those too focused on whatever they were doing to pay attention to the melody. She tried to walk silently, but the humming stopped and the closest door opened.

“Master? Are you back? I’m almost done mop-”

Genji stepped into the hallway, holding said mop in his hands. His armor was duller than the last time Angela had seen him. His face, not hidden behind his visor, had a few new scars that didn’t heal right. But it was him. Shining lights at all. His eyes met Angela’s, and the mop dropped right out of his hands. Then, before a single word could be said, he pounced.

“ANGELA!” Genji laughed as he rushed to Angela only to pick her up in a tight hug. This one, unlike the others, she didn’t mind the force behind it. Genji laughed again as he spun the both of them around.

“Genji!” Angela grabbed onto him tight, only slightly out of fear of being dropped.

“Angela! You’re here!” Genji did put her back down, if only so he could back away to grin at her. “I mean I knew you were coming but I didn’t know it would be so soon! Forgive me for not being there to greet you!”

“It’s fine,” Angela said as she got her bearings back. “Egg came out to greet me.”

As if summoned there was another flash of green light, followed by Egg appearing on Angela’s shoulders. She greeted the dragon with a small kiss on its cheek, and reached up to scratch it’s-

“Tail?” Angela blinked. Egg had a tail. The dragon chirped and jumped over to Genji’s shoulders. Yes, the dragon was clearly whole. Not a single crack or jagged piece of light. It even had its missing back leg. “How…?”

“My Master,” Genji said, his smile growing warm. “Zenyatta. He has helped me find peace within myself. And as a result Egg is back to her old self again. Isn’t that right, Egg?”

Egg purred as she nuzzled Genji’s cheek. It was only then did Angela realize what else was different with Genji. He held his whole body differently. There was no tension in his shoulders, no fidgeting with his fingers. His smile was a natural one and his voice was light as a feather. But none of that hit harder than the fact that Genji had removed his visor to greet this Zenyatta. Later she would find out he never had it on in the first place.

Broken, remade, alive, whole.

“Angela? You still in there? Don’t tell me I’ve stunned you with my amazing charm and good looks!” Genji grinned as he offered Angela his hand, “Come on, I want to hear everything my dear Valkyrie’s been up to! I have some tea back in my room if you want some. No idea what it tastes like, but it’s nice and hot. What do you say?”

Angela could only nod and take Genji’s hand into her own. There was so much she had to say, needed to ask, but all of it could wait a little longer. Because she knew, deep in her heart, she had finally met Genji.

Chapter Text

All things in life are temporary. Hanzo knew this well. The changing of the seasons, the slow decay of all things, the fragility of life itself. He knew how a life so carefully built up could bleed out within seconds. In a way he found comfort in the fact. The flow of time would bring with it the end of the Shimada clan. Then, when all traces of the Shimada were gone from the world Hanzo would vanish as well. Time would move on, and all would be forgotten.

But then a cowboy showed up.

The cowboy. Jesse McCree. A force of nature that rolled in and ruined all of Hanzo’s carefully laid out plans. There were days when Hanzo wondered if he should have left McCree in the gutter where he found him. But there were also days where Hanzo honestly didn’t know how he lived without the cowboy in his life. Jesse fought back the demons in his mind. He was always ready with a joke or story that filled the darkest parts of the night. Always willing to listen, too. He was there when Hanzo needed him. And when they were in the thick of it Jesse would be at Hanzo’s side with his gun drawn and a smile on his face. A friend Hanzo didn’t deserve.

“So Hanzo!  I was thinking of tonkatsu for dinner tonight!” Jesse McCree shouted over the gunfire.

Hanzo did not remember exactly how they got in that position, or who was even shooting at them. All of that sort of blurred together over time. The important part was that he and Jesse were huddled together behind a dumpster, both low on arrows and bullets. So an average day in Japan for them.

“Tonkatsu is too fatty.” Hanzo said, risking a glance at their attackers. They had just enough ammo to take them out, assuming they could make every hit. Correction. Assuming Jesse could make every hit. All he had to do was figure out the exact spot he had to fire his bow in order to kill as many of the attackers as possible.

Jesse let out an annoyed huff as he reloaded his gun. “Well what do you want?”

“Ramen.”

“You always want ramen. Men can’t live off noodles alone.”

Hanzo paused in his calculations. “You once ate nothing but melon pan for a week straight.”

“And I would have eaten it for at least a month if someone didn’t cut me off.” Jesse slapped the chamber of his gun closed. “How many are left?”

In a single fluid motion Hanzo aimed, fired an arrow, and watched it as it bounced off the wall and vanished over their heads. There was a soft ‘thump’, and the sound of a body hitting the ground. “Six.”

“Thank ya kindly, Hanzo.” Jesse tipped his hat before he stood up. The gleam in his eye was back. The very literal red gleam. He stepped out from behind the cover and the world went still.

Hanzo was not ashamed to admit that he always looked forward to Jesse’s Deadeye. To the rest of the world it merely seemed that Jesse was doing the impossible. But Hanzo, thanks to the dragons, could experience it as Jesse did. The taste of the dry air, the hot desert wind, the way Hanzo’s heart skipped a beat when Jesse hissed out that terrible catchphrase-

“It’s high noon.”

-he almost never heard Jesse say it since the dragons always roared in his ears when it happened. Demanding, begging, craving everything Hanzo denied himself-

Jesse fired six times in that space between seconds. As each bullet hit its mark time returned to its normal flow and all six opponents hit the ground.

Hanzo stepped out from behind the cover to stand at Jesse’s side. “You will teach me how to do that.”

“I told you before, Hanzo.” Jesse let out a soft groan as he rubbed his eye. “It’s a strictly parent to child thing. Unless you’re okay with getting adopted by me.”

“I thought you were going to marry me?” Hanzo asks, his voice light and teasing. The dragons had gone silent once more. Good. They had been far too active since Jesse’s arrival.

“Oh yeah, I keep forgetting to do that.” Jesse walked over to the freshly cooling bodies and gave the closest one a nudge with his foot. “What was my reason for the last proposal?”

“You had the cold and I made you miso soup.”

“And I’ll love you to my dyin’ day, Hanzo.” Jesse patted the body down, pulled a wallet out from its pocket, and let out a low whistle. “Looks like these guys were smart enough to ask for half up front. Sushi?”

Hanzo shouldered his bow and smiled warmly at his partner. A friend he didn’t deserve. His cowboy.

“Sushi it is.”

***

Hanzo wasn’t sure when it exactly happened, but somehow the tiny hole-in-the-wall Sakura Sushi had become their regular place to go to celebrate. The sushi was decent, the sake drinkable, but most importantly the owner didn’t mind if he and Jesse showed up with bloodstains on their clothes. In fact Hanzo was pretty sure the owner was crushing hard on Jesse. Which Jesse used to his advantage to get a slightly better grade of sake than they were normally given.

“Thank ya kindly, darlin’.” Jesse said, his voice dripping with that Western charm so many people ate right up. The owner responded with a sweet, blushing smile before slipping into the back to give them some privacy. Once again they were literally the only people in the restaurant. Which was good, considering more people might not have fit in there. Jesse tended to take up the entire space.

“Are you finished?” Hanzo muttered, already pouring himself a second shot of sake. He didn’t really remember drinking the first one.

“Just seeing if I can score us some free grub.” Jesse’s voice returned to its normal, still charming but not as forced in tone. “How’s the sake?”

“Good.” Hanzo downed the shot in one go. He wasn’t thinking about Jesse’s terrible flirting skills. Or how smug Jesse looked about it. He might have spent far longer stewing if Jesse didn’t nudge him right out of it.

“What’s wrong, Hanzo? Dragons fussing up a storm tonight? Nibbling on parts of you that they really shouldn’t?”

Hanzo began to, once again, explain the dragons to Jesse when a glint of shiny metal caught his attention. He grabbed at Jesse’s prosthetic and dragged it out from under his serape. There, bright against the dull metal of the prosthetic, was a large skull that took up the entire forearm. “What. Is. This?”

Jesse let out a slightly guilty mewl. “Now before you say anything I want to point out you’re the one who suggested I decorate my arm in the first place.”

“I was thinking something less,” Hanzo made a face at the gleaming skull, “tacky.”

“Tacky!” Jesse pressed his free hand against his heart. “You wound me, Hanzo!”

“This makes you look like gang member with too much spending money.”

“Well technically-”

“I was expecting a design more organic,” Hanzo said as he traced a finger around the offending skull. “Flowers. A branch of cherry blossoms. Swimming koi. Anything that does not match the various scribbled on tattoos that cover your body.”

“I could get a dragon to match your’s.” Jesse said, unaware of what those simple words did to Hanzo. He felt his dragons slither under his skin unseen.

Hanzo forced himself to sound more like his grumbly self. “And here I thought you did not care for my dragons.”

“Eh, the little scamps have grown on me.” Jesse smiled, “Maybe we could both get matching dragon designs on our prosthetics! I’ll get it on my arm, and you can get a dragon running...down your...right leg.”

The words shriveled and died the second they left Jesse’s mouth. Hanzo tried not to dwell on them.

(Genji was so proud of his tattoo. As soon as the weather turned warm he would find any excuse to show off his legs to the world. Hanzo lost count of the times he yelled at Genji for wearing shorts short enough to cause a scene. But try as he might half the year the green dragon tattoo that ran down Genji’s leg was exposed for all to see. Green trailing down to black burnt stumps still smoking there was barely any blood why wasn’t there any blood-)

“What’s shiokara? Looks pretty damn good to me.”

And like that Hanzo was dragged back to the present, the smell of burning flesh nothing more than a distant memory. Jesse was staring at an old faded menu behind the sushi bar with a determined glint in his eyes.

“It’s raw squid combined with salted squid guts. I am told it has a bitter, yet salty taste.” Hanzo said as he tried to keep his hand steady around his sake cup. “I would not recommend eating it.”

Jesse narrowed his eyes. “I’m gonna eat it.”

“Do not eat it.”

“Bet I can eat more shiokara than you.”

Hanzo stared at Jesse. There was that damn charming smile again. The one that almost never worked on Hanzo. Almost.

“You’re on.”

***

One of the cruelest parts of life was how the worst days started out the same as the good ones. And to really rub it in Hanzo would have gladly labeled that day as a good one. Their enemies killed, stomach full of good food (which shockingly included the shiokara), and a warm buzz from the sake he and McCree had split over dinner. They were walking back to their hideout shoulder-to-shoulder, taking the long way through the nearby park. Too early for the drunks to interrupt their time together, too late to worry about stumbling across necking teenagers. Just them and the cicadas in the distance.

“-her mom was furious!” Jesse laughed at the old memory, “but the way I see it, if Fareeha wanted to learn how to fire a gun then why not make sure she was taught by the best?”

“So why did you teach her?” Hanzo said, slightly leaning against Jesse’s arm for support.

“I just said-hey!” Jesse laughed and playfully shoved Hanzo, “Asshole!”

Hanzo laughed, his prosthetic legs thankfully keeping him balanced despite the rest of his body being more inclined to lay on the ground. No, he could do this. Just a little longer until they get back home. The hideout. Not home, their hide out. The one-room apartment barely big enough for the both of them to lie low in when things got too hot. Not home, never home.

“Hanzo? You got that sad look on your face again.” Jesse moved his arm around Hanzo’s shoulders. “Let’s get you to home to bed.”

Hanzo replied with a small grumble as Jesse steered him out of the park and back to the main roads. The sounds and lights of the city were far, far away to Hanzo at that moment. Instead his thoughts were once more on what he experienced earlier that day. Was Jesse’s home really like that? The hot wind? The bright sun scorching all that it touched? To Hanzo the desert Jesse grew up in might as well have been another planet. One day he would like to see it, Hanzo thought as he and Jesse turned onto main street.

Was everyone ‘out west’ like Jesse, Hanzo thought as Jesse stopped them both dead in their tracts.

Was there anyone else like Jesse, Hanzo thought as he finally noticed the look on Jesse’s face. Shock. Despair. Like if all of the warmth had been sucked right out of the man. Hanzo turned and finally saw what had caught Jesse’s eye. There, on a screen that took up most of the building across the way, was a news broadcast focused on the smoking remains of a large building. Even in Hanzo’s slightly drunken state he could make out the large Overwatch symbol in the rubble.

“Jesse?” Hanzo said, almost instantly regretting that he had spoken in the first place. He was trying his best to follow the fast moving ticker at the bottom of the screen. Explosion at Overwatch Headquarters. Terrorists suspected. Hundreds injured but only two confirmed casualties. One name Hanzo only knew in passing. But the other? The other he knew well. His mind scrambled to think of something, anything to say, but Jesse was the one who broke the silence.

“It’s over.”

***

Jesse stayed in Japan for one more week after that.

Hanzo was honestly surprised that he lasted that long. He had half expected Jesse to be gone in the morning. But Jesse lingered, either glued to a screen or whatever article he could get his hands on. Three days he did nothing but watch or read. In that time Hanzo was finally able to put faces to the names Jesse had mentioned countless times before. Angela, Fareeha, Reinhardt, Lena, Jack...and Reyes. Leader of Blackwatch. The only father Jesse knew. Dead. Dead and disgraced.

“Bullshit,” Jesse choked out on the fourth night, between heaving sobs. “He never would have done that! Never, never…”

“You believe him to be innocent?” Hanzo whispered back, one arm around Jesse’s shoulders, giving the man what little support he could offer.

Jesse didn’t respond to that. He didn’t talk much in those days. He slept, he read, he watched, but he almost never spoke. That worried Hanzo more than anything else. Until those dark days he never realized how much he depended on Jesse to fill the silent parts of the night. He struggled to fill the cowboy’s place, but what could be said?

Overwatch was dead. Not officially, but it was only a matter of time before it was shut down for good. Which meant Jesse didn’t have to worry about hiding out from Blackwatch anymore. He didn’t have to stay.

On the fifth day Hanzo noticed that Jesse had switched from reading articles on the explosion to ones about the rise in gang activity in America. The south and southwest, to be exact.

“Reyes kept them in check,” Jesse said between bites of his riceball. “Not officially. Gangs were beneath Overwatch and Blackwatch. But if we just so happened to be in the area and if the mission happened to go by known gang hideouts…” He trailed off, not bothering to wipe the few grains of rice stuck to his beard. “Guess Reyes really was the only one who kept them in check. The only one that cared.”

Jesse went silent again on the sixth day. That night, Hanzo’s dreams were interrupted by the sensation of fingers running through his hair. A hand on his cheek. Mummered words he couldn’t understand. He drifted there, not willing to see if this was real or part of the dream. In the morning he found Jesse with their shared tablet, sitting in a way that Hanzo couldn’t see the screen. Hanzo noticed that the little things Jesse kept around the hideout were gone. That the emergency bug out bag Jesse kept was now by the door. But Hanzo didn’t comment on it. Not a single word was said that day by either man.

And then, right as the sky began to turn red, Jesse McCree was gone.

***

Hanzo found him like five minutes later.

Because, despite being a trained secret agent, Jesse never could give up the chance to be dramatic. His cowboy hat, boots, and serape were enough to attest to that. So instead of simply sneaking out undetected like a good spy Hanzo found him standing on the roof of the building, staring out at the setting sun. Hanzo stepped up onto the ledge to stand at Jesse’s side.

Far below them ran the train tracks that had been the background noise of their shared life for the past two years. Also the reason why the rent was so damn cheap. On cue a train roared past, causing the wind to blow through the serape and gold ribbon alike. As the sound of the train died in the distance Jesse spoke. He was always the first to speak.

“Deadlock gang’s back.” Jesse’s hat was tilted down, covering his eyes. “Knocked over a bank yesterday. Five dead, eight injured. Cops aren’t going to do jack shit about it. They never did.”

Hanzo nodded. “You plan to stop them?”

There was that smile again. Charming. Melted Hanzo right down to the core. “Justice ain’t going to dispense itself.”

“A fool’s errand,” Hanzo said.

“Never stopped me before,” Jesse replied.

“You might die.”

“Better than an innocent dying ‘cause I didn’t go.”

Another train passed by. Wind and sound, neither strong enough to cover Hanzo’s heart pounding in his chest. Before he could say another word Jesse finally met his gaze, his eyes red and face blotchy. In that moment, in that space between seconds Hanzo was struck by a sudden realization that if Jesse asked him to go he would go. Hanzo would drop his search for honor, his quest for redemption, he would abandon Japan to the wrath of the Shimada clan if only Jesse asked.

And, in that very same moment, Hanzo also realized that if he asked Jesse would stay. He knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesse would try to forget that the Deadlock gang ever existed and would remain by Hanzo’s side. Jesse wouldn’t even think twice about leaving the red deserts and scorching suns behind.  Perhaps he would even replace that skull on his arm. Perhaps he would carry a copy of Hanzo’s tattoo one day. All Hanzo had to do was ask.

Which was why he did not.

“Try not to get any more terrible tattoos while you’re there,” Hanzo said instead.

Jesse’s expression flickered from surprised, to sad, finally landing on his natural smile. “Are you kidding? I haven’t gotten any new ink since we met! The first thing I’m going to do in America is get blackout drunk and wake up with a flying horseshoe somewhere on me!”

Jesse laughed, Hanzo laughed, they laughed together in the light of the fading sun, leaving them with a softer silence than the one that haunted them before.

“I’m going to miss you,” Jesse said, a step closer to Hanzo.

“And I, you,” Hanzo said, as he too shortened the distance between.

Bridge the gap, cross the chasm, swim the endless ocean that kept them apart.

Jesse reached out first, letting his fingers trail down Hanzo’s jaw, tilting up Hanzo’s chin ever-so-slightly with his touch. Hanzo noticed the red gleam in Jesse’s eye and, as the hot breeze went by, felt the world slow down around them. They were between the seconds. A place only Jesse knew how to reach. That only Hanzo was welcomed in.

Jesse leaned down and brushed his rough lips against Hanzo’s cheek.

Another second. Another eternity.

“Sayonara, darlin’.”

Hanzo saw only a flash of red as Jesse stepped off the edge of the building and landed perfectly on the roof of a passing train with a roll. He only caught the briefest glimpse of Jesse hanging on to the moving vehicle, metal arm gleaming, serape flapping wild in the wind, before it too was gone.

Chapter Text

If you allowed him, Zenyatta could go on for hours about the concept of beginnings and endings. He’s done it before, much to the amusement (and dread) of many of his previous students. But Zenyatta also knew there was a time and place for such thoughts. Sometimes one had to be direct to get a lesson across. So the answer to ‘when did this begin’ would get a very straightforward answer: “When I met Genji.”

His memory of their first meeting was one of his most precious ones, backed up and encrypted in the highest resolution possible. Zenyatta could recall every detail of that morning. His sensors picking up the still warm early fall air, the sound of the prayer wheels spinning, and the ‘elephant jumping into an Olympic swimming pool’ size wave of discord that shocked him right out of his meditations.

Zenyatta jerked his head up only to see rows of his fellow monks still in silent meditation. He may have chalked it up to an odd glitch in his system but no, he felt it. He could still feel it! A dull ache that radiated from outside in. Taking care not to disturb anyone else Zenyatta made his way out of the grand hall, his footsteps falling without sound on the stone floor.

Was someone attacking? Going to attack? No, this wasn’t danger. Waves in a pond, not the absence of water. Not that it eased Zenyatta’s mind too much. There had been threats against the monastery and the nearby village. Ones serious enough that Mondatta had asked for assistance from Overwatch, just in case. They were due to arrive soon, weren’t they? A new thought struck him. Perhaps the discord-

“You felt it as well.”

Zenyatta turned around, slightly annoyed that Mondatta had snuck up on him. Again. As he always did. Not that Zenyatta was going to let Mondatta know that. “I feel it still,” he did admit, “but since no one is screaming, and nothing is on fire, I assume we are in no immediate danger?”

Mondatta answered by gesturing out the open archway beside them. Outside in the courtyard stood six people who could clearly be classified as Not Monks. Five of them wore blue uniforms that almost matched. Not mercenaries, yet the word soldier didn’t fit as well. There was clearly nothing holding the six of them together outside of the fact that they were all vaguely standing close to one another. One of the group, a man dressed in what could only be described as a battle lab coat, walked up to the two omnics.

“H-Hello,” The man said, his smile at odds with the fact he looked vaguely ill, “I am Agent Kwakkenbos, the team leader. You must be Mondatta. It’s an honor to meet you, sir. Overwatch sent us to blah blah blah unimportant information not worth bothering to remember.”

“Blah blah blah.” Mondatta replied, the words forgotten but the vague sense of importance remaining in Zenyatta’s memory banks. Just because he had taken care to remember that morning didn’t mean he recorded all of it.

“Blah blah more words droning into white noise for awhile,” is what Agent Kwakkenbos didn’t say as he handed Mondatta a tablet with a large Overwatch symbol printed on the back. Frankly it was a miracle that Zenyatta even noticed anyone else was there.

Because at that moment Zenyatta was focused solely on the source of the discord. A human, an omnic, a source of pain hidden behind chrome armor and neon lights. The figure stood slightly away from the others and seemed to be the only one actually paying mind to their surroundings. Zenyatta watched as the figure flicked its wrist, causing blades to roll out onto his fingers. Then with that same fluid motion the blades rolled back into its arm.

Oh, thought Zenyatta.

The figure looked over its shoulder, it's green visor meeting Zenyatta’s gaze.

Oh , thought Zenyatta again.

“-we can get started!” Agent Kwakkenbos said, clapping his hands together hard enough for Zenyatta to actually note what he was saying.

“Of course,” Mondatta said with a slight glance Zenyatta’s way, “Brother Sage will be out shortly to show you the grounds.”

“I’ll go tell the, er, I will inform the rest of the team.” Agent Kwakkenbos said before he headed back to the other agents, leaving Mondatta and Zenyatta alone once more.

“No,” Mondatta said.

“I didn’t say anything,” Zenyatta replied.

“There is no need, because I already know what you’re thinking.” Mondatta pointed straight at the figure that had stolen Zenyatta’s attention. “Don’t do it.”

Zenyatta’s inner fans hummed, perhaps a little too happily. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“I am simply voicing my opinion to the universe. And my opinion is that what you’re thinking is a terrible idea that you should not follow through.”

“And I am sure the universe is pleased to hear it,” Zenyatta said, the humming in his chest only getting worse. “What did you say that Overwatch agent’s name was…?”

“I did not.” Mondatta seemed to be willing to let the sentence hang there by itself, but finally gave in. He tapped the screen of the tablet twice before speaking in a lower tone. “That would be Agent Shimada. Human. According to this he is an expert with a blade.There is also something written here about ‘awesome ninja skills’ but I am not sure what that exactly entails.”

Out from the monastery came one of the newer monks, almost stumbling over its own feet to greet the Overwatch agents. Zenyatta couldn’t hear what was being said, but if Brother Sage’s exaggerated arm motions were anything to go by it was a rather enthusiastic greeting. At one point Brother Sage actually grabbed Agent Kwakkenbos’s hand, causing a titter from the other agents. Save one. There, on the very edge of being, Zenyatta felt another wave of discord flow from Agent Shimada.

Mondatta let out a sound akin to an exasperated sigh. “Help us all, he’s even your type.”

***

The Overwatch agents mostly kept to themselves the first week. Zenyatta would catch glimpses of them now and then, usually with Brother Sage hanging off of Agent Kwakkenbos’ arm. The one agent Zenyatta didn’t see was Agent Shimada. He could still feel him, but now it was less like a wave and more akin to slowly rising flood waters. Although that made meditation far easier for Zenyatta, it did make it impossible to figure out where exactly Agent Shimada was hiding.

Not that Zenyatta was trying to find him.

Or happen to run into him.

Certainly not.

Then one night, right as Zenyatta began powering down, he felt something fuzzy graze his shoulder. This wasn’t too unusual. After all, an open temple filled with heat producing omnics tended to result in animals wandering in during the colder months (Zenyatta was always happy to tell the story of the time a wild yak decided to camp out in Mondatta’s private chambers for the winter). But as nice as the company was he did want to make sure the animal was safe and sound before powering down fully.

Zenyatta forced himself out of sleep mode. There, curled up on his lap, was a dragon. A translucent, glowing green dragon that was making a soft chirping noise. In the span of half a second Zenyatta realized three things: One, dragons were real. That was important. Two, dragons made little chirp-chirp noises. Also very important. Three, he had absolutely no idea what one should do when a wild dragon entered your house. Birds, yes. Wild animals, yes. Yaks, he was a near expert. Dragons were new.

Taking care not to disturb the creature too much he scooped it up. Despite looking like blown glass it was warm and fuzzy to his various sensors. He noted the jagged broken glass at the end of its body instead of a tail and the deep cracks surrounding the stump. Was the dragon hurt? It didn’t look or act if it was in pain. In fact it looked extremely happy nuzzled up in his hands. Zenyatta laid it back down on his lap, unsure what to do.

The dragon rolled onto its back and wiggled it’s four, no, three legs.

“I don’t suppose I am dreaming, am I?” With nothing else to go on Zenyatta lightly scratched the dragon’s stomach. He should go find it a blanket. Maybe some warm milk. After he scratched its tummy a little more, of course. The chirping noise it made was too cute to resist.  The little dragon went into a full wiggle-dance as Zenyatta scratched. “No, I suspect I am awake. How fascinating! Do you have a name, little one?”

Egg.

Zenyatta wasn’t sure why he just thought the word egg.

“Egg?” He repeated, and the dragon lifted its head up enough to lick Zenyatta’s wrist. “Egg it is. I am honored to meet you, Egg. I must say, dragons do not normally come to visit us. Are you here to rest? To stay for the winter? To,” Zenyatta paused for a second, “join us?”

Egg rolled back onto its three legs and bowed its head.

It said nothing, but Zenyatta understood .

Pain. Unspeakable burning pain. Betrayal. Love burning into cinders until there was nothing almost nothing it hurt it hurt so much everything hurt she had to keep him alive it was her duty her existence she kept him alive but she couldn’t stop the pain everything hurt the Angel helped but she is gone it still hurt he still hurt everything hurts .

Zenyatta then realized the fourth, and most important fact about the dragon. She needed his help. He allowed his orbs to activate and circle around his body. Their light was faint, but he could see Egg relax under the golden glow. She curled into a tight knot on his lap and seemingly fell asleep. He wasn’t sure if it was what the dragon needed, but it was a start. Zenyatta watched the little dragon slumber until he too fell asleep.

***

The dragon was gone in the morning.

Zenyatta might have waved it all off as a very realistic dream if the dragon didn’t return the next night. Egg would appear, demand tummy rubs, fill Zenyatta’s head with those same thoughts of pain, and then fall asleep on his lap. She did the same the night after that. And the next. And the next. There were nights where Egg said nothing at all, but over the weeks that followed Zenyatta was able to put a few things together.

Egg had two older brothers. They were from a spirit realm that she would only ever describe as ‘really boring’. One brother was wise, strong, brave and powerful. The other was named Soba. They were their masters’ protectors and weapons. She cracked when her brothers were turned against her. She broke to keep her own master alive. The only reason she herself lived was thanks to the sacrifice of a literal angel. The one thing she never spoke directly about was her master. Instead she would let out the most adorable yawn he had ever witnessed and fall right asleep if asked.

Zenyatta wished there was more he could do.

***

Zenyatta realized there was a way he could help.

***

It was on the first real chilly day of fall when Zenyatta decided to put his plan into action. Of course, it so happened to be the first night that little dragon was late. Maybe the dragon found someone in the monastery who gave better tummy rubs (Mondatta, he thought to himself). In the end Zenyatta decided to power down until he felt the familiar warmth of the dragon nuzzling him awake. Instead he was brought out of his sleep mode by the sensation of a blade pressed against his neck.

“What are you doing with my dragon?”

Zenyatta was impressed. He did not sense Agent Shimada enter his room. He wasn’t even aware there was anyone else in the room until he felt the blade press against his neck. Zenyatta tilted his head ever-so-slightly to look at the intruder. Chrome and neon lights the same color as the dragon. Zenyatta watched as Agent Shimada’s chest rose and fell, the only hint that there was a human under the armor.

“She comes to me for tummy rubs,” Zenyatta replied.

Agent Shimada did not lower the blade. In fact, he could see the man’s visible muscles tighten. “Bullshit.”

“Why not ask her yourself, Agent Shimada? I assume she speaks to you the same as me.”

That got the tip of the blade dug in right between a neck sensor and one of his larger covered wires. Not enough to damage, but enough for one of his minor alerts to go off. Zenyatta had no doubts that all Agent Shimada had to do was flick his wrist to disconnect his head from the rest of his body.

Agent Shimada instead hesitated. “She talks to you? About what?”

“That is between my student and I.”

That got Agent Shimada to move the blade away from Zenyatta’s neck. “Your what?”

“I have yet to offer her officially, but I believe it would help Egg immensely. In fact I was planning on asking her tonight. There are many who seek our guidance like her: hurt, troubled, unable to cope. Through our teachings I am certain Egg will be able to find peace through balance. Just because she is a mythical beast doesn’t mean she can’t follow our ways.”

Agent Shimada finally sheathed his sword. “Egg can’t become a monk.”

“Seeking enlightenment and becoming one of us are two very separate things.”

“Egg can’t do that either!” Agent Shimada waved his hand. “She’s busy doing, doing, doing dragon stuff! Immortal spirit dragon stuff!”

“I believe this is between Egg and I.”

“You can’t-” Agent Shimada let out a swift stream of Japanese that Zenyatta’s translator struggled to keep up with before he switched back, “Egg is a part of me. She is attached to my soul. That’s like saying you want to teach my arm!”

“Only if your arm was willing to listen.”

You -”

Agent Shimada’s frustrated growl was rudely cut off by his leg suddenly glowing bright green. The green light twisted around his leg only to run up his hip, his chest, over his shoulder, only to race down Agent Shimada’s arm and jump off onto Zenyatta’s lap. There the light formed into the proper dragon Zenyatta knew. Egg licked Zenyatta’s hand and one word echoed loud and clear within him.

YES!

“Well,” Zenyatta hummed happily, ignoring the now translated string of curses from Agent Shimada, “I believe that answers the question.”

***

“Master? I think we’re being followed.”

Zenyatta paused mid-step. He had been taking a stroll with his small group of students around the monastery. He didn’t see why they had to be cooped up with the other monks. And despite his ability to float (handy in combat and sneaking around after curfew) he did enjoy the act of walking. The late fall weather was unusually warm, the sky was clear, and various defense systems Overwatch put up were armed and ready in case of attackers. And unlike some people (Mondatta) he preferred to walk as he lectured. He lowered his foot and turned to Brother Sage.

“You think, or you know?”

The three apertures on Brother Sage’s faceplate opened all of the way. “I am sure. They’ve been trailing us since we stepped outside. At first I thought it was C-Agent Kwakkenbos but he cannot climb a sheer wall like that. Not without great difficulty. Should we alert the Overwatch agents?”

Zenyatta glanced down at the dragon at his feet. Considering none of his students commented on a glowing see-through dragon among them he assumed they could not see her. Egg nuzzled Zenyatta’s leg, wrapping her body around it. No words, but the feeling of safety. Protection. Worry.

“There is no need.” Zenyatta said, “Just a curious bystander. But you know Brother Sage, you should invite Agent Kwakkenbos to join us. Perhaps ask the next time you sneak off to see him?”

The loud buzz of Sage’s internal cooling was enough to distract the other monks from thinking about any other possible spies. Zenyatta did, however, start talking louder. Just in case anyone was trying to listen in.

***

Mondatta could see Egg.

That didn’t mean Mondatta ever acknowledged Egg. He would pull his sleeves out of the dragon’s reach, or step around Egg, but he was determined not to talk about the fact that there was a dragon hanging around Zenyatta. At that moment Mondatta was clearly trying to ignore Egg’s attempt at forming a shoulder-to-shoulder bridge between the two omnics as they walked together.

“I see your newest student is quite taken with you. I’m sure you’re pleased.”

So when Mondatta said that it took Zenyatta a moment to process what he was trying to say.

“Agent Shimada is not my student.”

“Considering how closely he follows you while you teach? How he hangs onto your every word? Your lectures strike him twice as hard as any of your other students. I have seen him react despite how hard he tries to hide behind that mask. It has been a long time since I’ve witnessed anyone so devoted. He is your student, even if it hasn’t been said by either of you.”

Zenyatta turned his head to stare at Mondatta. Mondatta replied with a soft chuckle.

“He was hanging outside of my private quarter’s windows when you were teaching by the well yesterday. Almost fell off the wall when you spoke of forgiveness. Maybe speak to him about it when he’s not several stories off of the ground? I do not wish to explain to Overwatch that they lost an agent from self-realization.”

Mondatta suddenly jerked his shoulder away. Not because Egg tried to lick his cheek. Of course not.

***

Winter arrived suddenly, warm one day and freezing the next. With it came a problem none of the monks had considered before: their human Overwatch guests. Normally the cold months were welcomed with the frosted air allowing their processors to run far better than in the hot months. But now the lack of heating in the large stone temple was bit of a problem.

“Not too hot, is it?”

Egg chirped at Zenyatta before wrapping her body around the piping hot cup of tea. She rested her head on one of her coils so she could lazily lap it up. Zenyatta was certain Egg didn’t actually need to eat or drink, but she did seem to enjoy the act. And a few dried fruits here and there was a small sacrifice to keep his student happy.

Zenyatta sat down on the mat across from Egg and her tea, “What was it you wished to speak about tonight?”

Egg paused in her lapping long enough to look up at Zenyatta and pain it burned it hurt it hurt it hurt it burned it hurt it -

“Shh, it’s alright.” Zenyatta lightly stroked the dragon’s back, “You are safe here.”

The dragon let out a soft sigh, and the words faded from Zenyatta’s mind. He could still feel the ache in his chest from the shared words. He continued to pet Egg as he spoke.

“Your suffering is caused by the anger that consumes you. For holding onto anger is the same as holding onto a red hot iron. I do not know of the cause of your anger, but I do know as long as the anger remains you will not be able to heal. Your anger will lock out all those who love you, and turn away their kindness and care. You must let go of your anger, and to do that you must turn within.”

Egg let out a slightly confused sounding chirp.

“Anger, such as you experience, has its roots in denying one's own emotions. Sadness, loneliness, fear, disappointment, hurt, betrayal, all must be experienced and explored. Through meditation one can examine these emotions without being burned by their anger. Only then can they can let go and be free. Do you understand?”

Egg thought for a moment before shaking her head. Zenyatta chuckled.

“Don’t worry, we have all night to discuss this. A very, very cold long night that anyone would be downright foolish to be outside in. Certainly not a night I would spend hanging off the side of a monastery while attempting to spy on one of the monks. Perhaps anyone doing such a thing would prefer to spy inside with a hot cup of tea?

Silence. Zenyatta looked directly at his open window and sighed.

“A hot cup of tea and a heated blanket?”

From outside there was an ever-so-slight sound of metal scraping against stone.

“A hot cup of tea, a heated blanket, and you may leave as soon as Egg falls asleep.”

Zenyatta did his best to ignore the very obvious sounds of someone slipping into the room behind him. Which was followed by the sounds of someone taking the already warmed blanket and vanishing into a nice dark corner with it. With that taken care of Zenyatta refreshed Egg’s tea, poured a second cup, and placed it behind him.

A pause. Zenyatta glanced over his shoulder. The cup of tea was gone.

“Now.” Zenyatta said as he turned his attention back on the small dragon. “Where did we leave off? Ah, yes. I believe it’s time to teach you how to meditate.”

***

The attack happened the night of the first real snowstorm.

In hindsight it was obvious. The monastery and the nearby village were completely cut off from the world thanks to the weather. All the anti-omnic forces had to do was swoop in, take out what little defense the monks had, and the whole area would be dust by morning. It was a shame no one in the anti-omnic task force counted on the monks having back-up.

“The monastery is secure!” Agent Kwakkenbos waved his hand, causing a half dozen holographic screens to hang in the air in front of him. “I repeat, the monastery is secure! All sentries up and running! Keiy! What’s the situation down in the village?”

One of the holographic screens crackled. “Keiy reporting in. Nima and I are holding the perimeter.”

“These omnic hating fuck-faces think they can outrun bullets, it’s hilarious!” blinked a different screen.

“That’s,” Agent Kwakkenbos cleared his throat, “Great, Nima. Lu’lu and Yasmir? Are the villagers okay?”

Another screen crackled. “There are wounded but no fatalities. We are tending to them right now.”

“That’s great Yasmir. Keep me updated.”

The screen next to that one flickered. “Tell Ciro his boyfriend is here!”

Agent Kwakkenbos sighed. “Brother Sage is-”

“CIRO!” A new screen popped up among the others. “Light of my life, my warm sunshine, my fresh spring day scented with newly blossomed honeysuckles-”

“Sage? How on Earth are you-”

“We gave him a communicator,” said Lu’lu. “Also recruitment papers because we’re totally bringing him home. Seriously Ciro, slap a ring on this one.”

“Not the time, Lu’lu.” Agent Kwakkenbos tapped one of the blank screens. “Genji? Have you secured the southern pass to the monastery?”

Silence.

“Genji?” Agent Kwakkenbos tapped at the one remaining dark screen. “Genji! Report in! Report!”

“Agent Kwakkenbos?”

Agent Kwakkenbos let out an undignified yelp at the sound of Zenyatta’s voice before he spun around to face the omnic. “Brother Zenyatta! Shouldn’t you be with the other monks-wait, is everything okay? Has there been a breach?”

“I assure you that the monastery is safe. I simply wish to offer my assistance in defending those who cannot fight for themselves.”

Agent Kwakkenbos considered Zenyatta’s words for only a second before bringing up a map on the hologram screens floating in front of him. “Genji, Agent Shimada, went to go scout out the southern pass by himself but has yet to report in. If you could go check on what’s happening and report back that would be great but please, please be careful.”

“Do not worry. I am not as frail as you might think. I daresay that the anti-omnic forces may be in for a surprise.”

Agent Kwakkenbos turned back to his screens and sighed.  “They’re not the one you have to look out for.”

***

Zenyatta’s sensors picked up the smell of blood long before he found what little remained of the anti-omnic forces. The wind howled around him as Zenyatta stepped around the fast cooling bodies. One glance at the numerous slashes on the dead told Zenyatta all he needed to know. They had fought back. They had suffered. They eventually died. He followed the trail of blood down into the pass, slowly picking up another sound among the wind: a deep, animalistic howl that echoed across the mountains.

The path ended the same time as the scream trailed off into a sickening squelch of metal against meat. That’s where Zenyatta found Agent Shimada, slicing into something which could not be described as human anymore. There was a man pressed against the sheer cliff wall with wide eyes and crying in a language Zenyatta didn’t need to translate to understand the meaning. With a final slash that hit more stone than flesh Agent Shimada turned his attention to the remaining man.

Agent Shimada let out a howl louder than the winds, lept towards the man-

-and was hit right between the shoulders by one of Zenyatta’s orbs. He fell to his knees only to turn to his attacker. He let out a sound that was more anger than words.

Genji .” Zenyatta let his orbs float around him as the one that struck returned to his hand. “Lower your blade.”

Genji did not. He raised his blade towards Zenyatta, his breath ragged, the lights on his armor burning brightly. Only then did Zenyatta notice the same green glow spread across the sword.

“He has surrendered,” Zenyatta continued. “Lower your blade, or I will lower it for you.”

After months of watching the ninja out of the corner of his vision Zenyatta was ready for the attack. Genji struck only for his sword to slam into an orb in its path. Zenyatta jumped back as strike after strike was blocked by his orbs, chips of metal flying off from sword’s slices. With every miss Genji let another howl, his stance slipping and his blows growing weak. Finally Genji stumbled back into the sheer cliff wall and lifted his blade high and screamed.

RYŪJIN NO KEN O K uh?” Whatever Genji had been counting on didn’t happen, causing his very impressive sounding scream to trail off. Whatever rage that had been fueling Genji seemed to wane in his confusion. He also didn’t notice Zenyatta’s orb until it struck him right in the visor. Genji stumbled, fell, and crumpled onto the snow covered ground with barely a whisper.

“Forgive me.” Zenyatta said as he knelt down next to the prone Genji. He found Genji’s communicator easily and, with a little fiddling, turned it back on.

“Genji!” Agent Kwakkenbos’ voice came over the line, “Are you there?”

“This is Zenyatta. Agent Shimada is-” Zenyatta touched Genji’s neck, thankful to find a pulse. “Unconscious. There is a member of the anti-omnic taskforce here who has surrendered and, oh, he’s passed out as well.”

“Noted. Any other survivors?”

Survivors. Zenyatta felt the word weigh heavy in his chest. Agent Kwakkenbos knew exactly what was on this side of the conversation. “I am afraid not.”

“Understood. We will do a patrol of the blah blah blah,” said Agent Kwakkenbos, no longer important in Zenyatta’s memory. Because it was then that the green glow around Genji’s sword had unwrapped itself from the blade and shifted back into a more familiar shape. Egg nuzzled Genji’s cheek, her soft words of apology barely on the edge of Zenyatta’s hearing.

***

There were no casualties within the village or monastery proper. That being said there were plenty of injuries that needed tending to. After Zenyatta escorted the remaining anti-omnic solider back to the Overwatch Agents (with the knocked out Genji slung across his back) he joined the other monks in tending the injured. While most only needed bandages and a hot cup of tea, those who required more were brought to the makeshift hospital set up in the village's meeting hall.

In the early hours of the morning Zenyatta found himself walking among the rows of sleeping humans and omnics in the meeting hall’s main room. His orbs spun over his head in an attempt to give the wounded a slight bit of tranquility as they slept. He was thankful he could find enough peace within himself to share it with others. Try as he might his mind was determined to play the previous day’s events in his mind on loop. To make matters worse the same questions would repeat in his mind: What if Overwatch hadn’t been there? What if there’s another attack? What if they can’t protect the village what if what if-

Zenyatta clasped his hands together and mimicked taking a deep breath. An action that, logically, he knew shouldn’t relax him. But it was how Mondatta taught him to curb his anxiety, so he pretended to breathe deeply until his processors slowed down. As peace spread through his body once more the orbs around his head brightened and spun a little faster. He turned to leave, only to be stopped by a voice he didn’t recognize.

“Zenny? You okay?”

The source of the voice came from a sleeping mat away from the others. There, sitting up with only a thin threadbare blanket across his lap for modesty, was a man Zenyatta knew he had never seen before. Because if Zenyatta had seen him before he might have walked right off the side of the mountain. The man was, well, he was having a hard time trying to think of words that wouldn’t just cause him to go down a path of flowery descriptions, like ‘a beautiful woven tapestry of flesh and metal which transcends all known art’. Not that he would ever say such a thing out loud.

(He would. Three times in fact. The first being to Mondatta, who would laugh and tease Zenyatta about his crush. The second would be to Angela, who would stare blankly at the monk before taking it as a compliment about her own skills. The third would be Genji himself. But that would be later, much later, when Genji’s smile was as expected and welcomed as the dawn.)

Zenyatta got a hold of himself enough to notice the tattoo on the man’s leg. Or at least what was left. Between the patches of synthetic flesh and above where the cybernetic prosthetic began was what remained of a colorful dragon tattoo. And if Zenyatta hadn’t recognized the dragon he sure would have recognized that exact shade of green. “Agent Shimada?”

“Yo.” Agent Shimada threw up a peace sign. “Don’t worry, I’m not, I’m not. I’m just not. Keiy hit me with like two tranq darts so I’m not doing anything. Shouldn’t be doing anything. I’ve been doing too much. Sorry. About before. I do that sometimes. You’re lucky, last time Reinhardt had to hold me down. I miss him. Am I still talking?”

“I am impressed you are able to speak at all.” Zenyatta walked over and knelt next to Agent Shimada’s mat. Off to the side he noted the pile of what looked to be Agent Shimada’s outer armor. Which, until that moment, he didn’t know could be removed. “Are you normally able to shake off tranquilizers?”

Agent Shimada wobbled a bit. “Yeah. The stuff they use now is garbage. Ana, now Ana’s darts would knock you on your ass and you’ll wake up feeling amazing an hour later! Course she took her recipe down with her. Took Overwatch with her, too. Why are you talking to me?”

“Because this is the most you’ve ever spoken since your arrival, Agent Shimada. I am eager to hear what you wish to say,” Zenyatta said.

“Genji. Call me Genji. It sounded nice when you said it.”

“Genji?”

“See? Reaaal nice.” Genji let out a broken, hollow laugh, “It’s a shame, you know? That we didn’t meet before, you know, back when I was me. Because you are totally my type. I like my men delicate, my women curvy, everyone not in those two groups on a case-by-case basis, and my omnics strong enough to kick my ass. And you, Zenny, kicked my ass. I would take you out dancing but I don’t think I can move my legs. Do I still have legs?”

Genji had great legs. Zenyatta did not say that. “You do, but if you cannot feel your legs then there may be something wrong with the connectors. May I?”

Genji responded by moving his tattooed leg onto Zenyatta’s lap. As distracting as it was he could see a few wires sticking out of a panel on Genji’s calf. Zenyatta briefly wondered why no one noticed it, only to realize that no one had probably gotten this close to Genji since their return. He worked on the simple repair in silence until Genji spoke.

“Hey? Zenny? Can I ask you a weird question?”

“Of course,” Zenyatta replied as he snapped a wire back into place.

“Do I exist?”

Zenyatta looked up from his repairs. But before he could answer the words poured out of Genji, languages mixing as his voice trembled.

“Because I don’t think I do. I don’t feel like I exist. Like I’m not here. You’re real and the mountain is real and Egg is real and Overwatch is real but I’m not real. Just a hole where there should be someone. Something. Nothing feels right. Pain isn’t pain and pleasure isn’t pleasure and everything is just dull and grey and not there . I don’t know if…”

Genji flexed his wrist, causing the ninja stars from before to pop out. He spun them around from hand to wrist until he found his voice again. “Maybe I never existed. Maybe all of my memories from before are fake. My family, my home, my friends, my lovers, maybe none of it was ever real. Maybe I’m just some weird science experiment. Maybe I never was fully human before. I was just created as this, this thing. I don’t know. I don’t know and I’m scared and please say something please .”

Zenyatta did not speak right away. Instead he reached up and plucked one of his orbs out of orbit, choosing one that had a large chunk missing from Genji’s attack. He held it out to Genji who, after flicking his ninja stars away, took it. “You say I am real, correct?”

Genji nodded.

“Then let this be proof that you are real. For this shows your actions have a lasting effect. You are as connected to the universe as I.”

Genji ran his thumb over the deep cut. “I don’t feel like it.”

“But you are! And I can and will vouch for your existence whenever you need reminding. If you ever doubt yourself again, please remember that.”

“Why…” Genji looked up at Zenyatta. His eyes were more focused. “Why do you care?”

Zenyatta hummed in response. “You said before, ‘back when I was me’, as if your current self was not the real you.”

“I’m not.”

“Then may I ask: who are you?”

“I...don’t know?” Genji finally admitted. “Why? Why does it matter?”

Zenyatta closed the panel on Genji’s leg. “When you first arrived here I was overwhelmed by a feeling of discord. Your soul was crying to find harmony once again. Your dragon, your protector, I believe she sought me not to ease her own pain, but to help you. After these months speaking with Egg I am certain that I can help you regain your balance and find who you really are. You have been broken, yes. But you can be remade. You are alive, you can become whole.”

“If I become your student?”

“If you allow me to become your teacher.”

Genji rolled the orb in his hands, filling the meeting hall with a faint clink-clunk noise. “You know that once these tranqs wear off I’ll be a total dickhole again, right Master?”

Zenyatta could not physically smile, but he knew his voice would express it for him. “We shall face that truth in the morning, my student.”

***

The transport ship from Overwatch arrived with the end of the snowstorm. The few remaining anti-omnic task force members were lead away in handcuffs followed by most of the agents. The only one who lingered was Agent Kwakkenbos, who was speaking with Mondatta over the transport’s engines. Zenyatta watched from a distance in silence until he felt a tug on his pants. He didn’t have to turn around to know who did that.

“Are you ready to leave, Brother Sage?”

Sage stepped around in front of Zenyatta. The apertures of his lens were almost closed completely. “No, Master.”

“Indeed?” Zenyatta asked.

Sage fiddled with his makeshift cord belt. “I’m not finished with my training. I shouldn’t be leaving so soon.”

“You’re right,” Zenyatta held up his hand to preemptively cut off Sage’s next outburst, “You are not finished your studies. However, there is nothing to keep you from continuing them elsewhere. And I daresay Overwatch needs you. Agent Kwakkenbos needs you.”

“Ahhh.” Sage’s lens brightened, “Yes! Yes. There’s that. Um. I think he really likes me?”

“You think, or you know?”

“I...know,” Sage said. “And I really like him too.”

Zenyatta lightly squeezed his student’s shoulder. “Walk in harmony, Brother Sage.”

In a surprising show of restraint Sage replied with only a bow before rushing off down the path to meet Agent Kwakkenbos. Then, in a not-at-all-surprising show of affection Sage greeted Agent Kwakkenbos with a hug that actually knocked the poor man off his feet. As the two tried to untangle themselves Mondatta looked over in Zenyatta’s direction in a way that implied this was all Zenyatta’s fault. Then, curiously, Mondatta tilted his head, confused.

Zenyatta felt Egg land on his shoulder before he heard the slight movement behind him. Their training had only been going on for hardly a week and he was already starting to pick up on the sounds Genji made despite the man’s ‘years of ninja training’. And it was amusing to call out to Genji before he made himself known. “Having second thoughts about staying?”

There was a slight huff behind Zenyatta before Genji moved to his side. “Hardly.”

Zenyatta hummed.

“Fine. Fourth and fifth thoughts,” Genji finally admitted. “Sixth too. It’s not that I don’t doubt your claims-”

Zenyatta hummed a little louder.

“-Okay I totally doubt your crazy monk claims about finding inner peace and balance and whatever else you told me when I was blasted on tranq darts and couldn’t see straight but somehow still totally made sense in the morning.”

“...but?” Zenyatta asked as he grasped onto the unsaid word.

“But,” Genji continued, “there is evidence that maybe you monks aren’t all that crazy.”

Genji lifted his hand up, and in response Egg jumped off and landed on his arm. Zenyatta watched as she wrapped around once, twice, secure and chirping in pure happiness. He reached over to scratch the dragon’s side only to freeze. Zenyatta lightly moved Genji’s arm around just so he could make sure.

“She has four legs,” Zenyatta said.

“I didn’t know she could heal,” Genji said, his voice quiet behind his visor. Zenyatta could not see it at that moment, but he could imagine how the man must have look. Scared? Worried? No, none of that. Because when Genji spoke there was a tone in his voice Zenyatta knew well. One that he heard in all of his students eventually. Hope. Genji turned to Zenyatta, and Zenyatta knew he was smiling.

“Perhaps I can too.”

Chapter Text

Winston announced the next mission over dinner that night. The mission was to scout out an old abandoned Talon safe house in Rio de Janeiro. Nothing about the mission would be typed up or spoken about over communication lines until they got there in person. Even though he and Athena couldn’t find anything in their systems it was to be better safe than sorry.

Hanzo heard none of this.

Because as Winston went over the list of agents for the mission and the finer details, Hanzo was trying to eat. Even after Winston and all of the others left Hanzo stayed there so he could eat. There was nothing but plum wine in his stomach, and if he didn’t eat something on top of it he’d only feel worse. He had to eat. Pick up the chopsticks and eat. Eat. This is Udon, I am telling you, Hanzo, to eat. You’re not listening to me.

Hanzo did not hear that either.

All Hanzo could hear was a single word echoing in his head.

Parasite.

A parasite. Jesse considered Soba, his Soba, a parasite. Parasite. At least when Hanzo first left the laundry room his anger was enough to keep him going. But after what must have been the worst training session of his life all that was left within him was the sound of Jesse hissing that word out in disgust. His whole body felt heavy, useless, a weight with nothing inside. Even Udon’s nagging sounded as if it was coming from down the hall.

Parasite. Jesse didn’t understand. Maybe he didn’t want to understand. It would be worthless to explain to him. Completely useless to tell him anything about the dragons, or their powers, or why the tattoo was even on Jesse in the first place. Jesse thought Soba was a parasite. He hated Soba. He probably hated Hanzo too. All because he was too much of a coward to look into Jesse’s eyes and say-

WHAT DID MCCREE DO?!

Hanzo was shaken out of his depressive spiral by Zarya slapping her hand on the table right in front of his now-cold dinner. Before Hanzo could remember how to talk she continued, slamming her hand against the table to punctuate her words. “You are moping! You only mope when McCree has done something astronomically idiotic, even for him! Where is he hiding?! I will gladly crush his bones if you are too weak to do it yourself!”

“Zarya!” And there was Mei, one hand on Zarya’s arm to keep the other woman at bay. “Please don’t crush Jesse’s bones!”

Hanzo looked at Mei. “Thank-”

“If Hanzo wants to maim Jesse he can do it himself.” Mei moved her hand over to Hanzo’s shoulder. “But if you need to talk about it we’re here for you.”

Hanzo pulled his shoulder away. “I don’t-”

Zarya leaned forward to poke Hanzo in the chest. “No! Now is not the time to talk! We cannot hide in the shadows about this! An example must be made! Let all those who dare make Hanzo sad suffer our wrath!”

Mei sat down in the chair next to Hanzo’s and took his hand. She squeezed just hard enough so he couldn’t pull away. “If Jesse’s being a jerk then, then screw him! He doesn’t deserve a great guy like you!”

“Agreed!” Zarya said. “There are plenty of men out there who will treat you right! You would love my cousin Vanya! Makes Reinhardt look like a blushing schoolboy and hairy as a bear! Also detests country music so already an improvement!”

“Zarya!” Mei hissed, which got a shrug from the other woman.

“What? They would make a cute couple! What do you say, Hanzo? Hanzo?”

Hanzo wanted to tell them that he was actually fine. That despite the numerous amounts of evidence against it that there was nothing wrong. They could go away and leave him alone. But the second he parted his lips all that came out was a choked cry. He curled in on himself, trying to shield the two women from his tears. All that got him was a hug from Mei. Which only made the crying worse.

“Jes-Jes-ess-” Hanzo tried to speak but every sound brought out another sob.

“Shh, it’s okay,” Mei said as she pressed her cheek against the top of Hanzo’s head. “Let it all out.”

“No one else is here,” Zarya said, oddly subdued. “Shout all you want. Then we go get revenge against that asshole cowboy.”

“Jess-” Hanzo’s voice hitched as he forced the words out, “Jesse is not an asshole! It’s-it’s my fault. It’s all my fault. He ha-hates me and Udon he hates us he hates Soba he hates me and it’s, it’s, all my fault…” His voice trailed off as the tears took over once more. Whatever tact that had been beaten into him youth vanished as he fully buried himself against Mei, no longer trying to hold himself together. It didn’t really matter.

Jesse hated Soba.

Jesse hated him.

Parasite .

Somewhere, far away with the rest of the world, Hanzo was dimly aware of Zarya rubbing his back and Mei’s comforting words. He was thankful for the contact. He was thankful for them.

***

Hanzo was not shocked that Mei and Zarya’s bathroom was mostly decorated with adorable penguin-themed accessories. He was doing his best to stare at a happy penguin toothbrush holder and not his own reflection in the mirror. The penguin was wearing a hula skirt and a coconut bra. Still better than his own face. Hanzo splashed another handful of water against his face before blindly reaching for a towel.

“Here.” Mei handed him a towel which was covered in a snowflake pattern. If there was one thing he admired about Mei it was her dedication to a theme.

“Thank you,” Hanzo said as he wiped his face and damp bangs. He wasn’t sure when he lost his ribbon, but he knew either Mei or Zarya would have picked it up.

“You should put your hair down more often. It looks good on you,” Mei said.

That got Hanzo to risk a glance at the mirror. Blotchy skin. Red eyes. Hair that annoyingly curled at the tips. Hanzo looked away from the mirror and instead focused on wetting one end of the towel with cold water.  “It’s too much of a hassle to care for.”

“Jesse doesn’t hate you,” Mei blurted out. She covered her mouth in shock, but it was too late.

“You don’t know that,” Hanzo said before pressing the cold towel against his eyes.

“No, I do. I, look. I only met Jesse once in the old days. Blackwatch and climate scientists really don’t mingle that much, but he was there on some sort of mission. I remember Dr. Marron, she was the lead analyst, she almost fell out of her wheelchair laughing because here was this cowpoke in a cowboy hat and everything in the middle of the Antarctic dressed as if he was going to rope him some doggies or something. And, well, I was sort of rude to him. Extremely rude, actually.”

Hanzo snorted. “You? Rude?”

“I totally was.” Mei leaned against the counter, pushing a few dozen hair brushes out of the way. “I mean here was this shady group showing up and stomping around ruining all of my research! And here was this kid-Jesse was younger than me at the time-running around not telling us about what they were doing because it was ‘top secret’. Then one day he knocked over a set of my samples, and I, I lost it. I screamed and screamed and I might have thrown something at him now that I think about it. Yeah. I did. But he had ruined months of work and I just lost at it at him! Then before he could say another word I stomped off and, well, cried a lot. Like a lot. By the time I left my room he and the rest of Blackwatch had left. I didn’t seen him again after that until the Recall. Talk about the last person I expected to see again! But there he was, even more of a cowboy than the last time I saw him. And the second he saw me he walked up, smiled, and...apologized.”

Hanzo pulled the towel away from his face. “Did he?”

Mei nodded. “Even after all those years, he still felt bad for ruining my research. He even said he was more than willing to be my lab rat if I needed one to make up for it. Which worked out great because I did needed a new test subject for my Endothermic Blaster upgrades and, well, the point is Jesse really is a sweetheart. He really does care about people, even people he barely knows! There’s no way he hates you, Hanzo! You could probably shoot him in the back and he’d still forgive you.”

Hanzo did not reply right away. Instead he traced one of the embroidered snowflakes on the edge of the towel with his thumb. Mei leaned over in an attempt to make eye contact.

“You wanna talk about what happened?”

Hanzo wiped his face with the dry end of the towel. The nothingness inside him was gone, yes. But it was replaced with an ache that went straight to the bone. “He asked if I could removed his ‘dragon parasite’.”

“What?! Jesse said-wait.” Mei’s face scrunched up, “Have you even told him why he has the tattoo?”

Hanzo winced, which got a soft sigh from Mei.

“Oh, Hanzo.” Mei took his hand once more. This time he didn’t try to fight it. “You have to tell him.”

“He does not feel the same way,” Hanzo said to the towel in his other hand.

“First off, you don’t know that. So stop that thought right there. Second, if he doesn’t...well...then at least he’ll know why he has Soba. And hey! If he does turn out to be a total asshole after you tell him how you feel then Zarya will knock his teeth out. How does that sound?”

Hanzo was cut off by someone knocking at the bathroom door hard enough for it to almost break its hinges. So Zarya. It was Zarya. Confirmed by Zarya speaking from the other side. “Hanzo! Satya is here to speak with you! Should I tell her to scram? Politely of course!”

“Satya?” Mei whispered as she let go of Hanzo’s hand.

“I, yes, that’s right, I asked for her help the other day.” Of course she would pick that moment to show up. Hanzo looked at himself in the mirror. His eyes were a little puffy, but he could pass for someone who didn’t just have a full breakdown in the cafeteria. Before he could move Mei ducked behind him and began tying up his hair with his normal silk ribbon. He flashed Mei a small smile in the mirror. “I will be right out.”

“Are you going to be okay?” Mei said as she gave the ribbon a small tug.

Hanzo took a deep breath. “I will be.”

***

If Satya noticed anything off about Hanzo’s appearance she didn’t mention it. The woman was all business, a fact Hanzo was very thankful for. He liked Satya. She reminded him of the women who would join his family’s organization. Beautiful, calm, and would slit your throat without a moment’s hesitation. If she had been born Japanese he probably would have been arranged to marry her.

“I apologize for interrupting,” Satya said as they walked to the workshop, “but I wanted to get this done before I leave for tomorrow’s mission.”

“It is no trouble at all,” Hanzo replied. “In fact, I must thank you for this. I haven’t had my prosthetics properly checked in years.”

“Then I will be sure to be thorough.” Satya paused outside of the workshop, one hand resting on the door. “But I must warn you, the workshop always gets a bit...chaotic before a mission.”

Before Hanzo could even reply the workshop door opened and he was hit by what could only be described as a wall of noise. Inside was even worse: minor explosions from behind Junkrat’s safety wall. Brigitte hammering Reinhardt’s armor off to the side. Lena spinning around in a chair while half-talking half-shouting at a slightly worried looking Winston and an amused Emily. Even the largest screen on the wall was playing Hana’s current video game stream (guest starring Cool Green Cyber Ninja Genji, Hanzo noted). The only part that wasn’t loud or on fire was Satya’s area.

Hanzo took a seat on the stool next to Satya’s chair and, with a little awkward shuffling, got his left leg up on her desk. The feeling of her opening his ankle up was not unpleasant, but far from enjoyable. As Satya poked and prodded his insides with a screwdriver Hanzo let his attention wander in an attempt to ignore the invasive feeling. Part of her surgeon-like skills thankfully including being able to avoid hitting his inner-sensors. A static spark of blue light in the corner of Hanzo’s eyes caught his attention. He turned his head just in time to see Lena’s chair slow to a stop.

“I’m telling you, I’m fine!” Lena said with a pout towards the gorilla. “Nothing to worry about Winston, I swear!”

Winston shook his head as he fiddled with an electronic device in his hands. “No, you’re not, Lena. Athena recorded half a dozen time skips this week alone. We’re going to have to adjust your chronal accelerator again.”

“Ugh, that’s the worst! I feel like my head’s full of static for days! Are you sure we have to do this? Maybe I just need to drink more water or something?”

Emily, wearing her official Overwatch lab coat (along with the official Overwatch shirt, sweats, and boots. As far as Hanzo could tell she was the only person who wore all of the old Overwatch gear that took up most of the Watchpoint’s storage), leaned Lena’s chair back so she could look down at her girlfriend. “Lena, what did we have for dinner last night?”

Lena playfully rolled her eyes. “Tacos, luv! Cept Hana, she had some sort of vegetarian burrito.”

“Uh huh. And the day before that?”

“Reinhardt made enough spaghetti to feed several armies.”

Emily narrowed her eyes. “And the day before that?”

“Duh, that was the wedding reception!”

That got Winston to look up from the device in his hands. “The what?”

At once Lena’s entire body flickered blue. When the flickering stopped she was frowning. “Bollocks, that hasn’t happened yet, has it?”

“Sorry sweetie.” Emily did top off the bad news with a kiss. “Don’t worry, I’ll be here to hold your hand. Shall I start prepping the machines, Winston?”

“Yes, yes but-” Winston glanced around the room before leaning closer to Lena, “Whose wedding?”

Lena’s smile returned. “Now now, you know the rules! No peeking! Remember what happened back in the old days when Jesse convinced me to try to win the lottery?”

“No? I don’t-” Winston grabbed the side of his head, “Ow ow ow okay I’m assuming this sudden headache is related?”

“Damn right it is.” Lena massaged her temples. “Never mess with time travel.  All you get is a nasty migraine for your troubles.”

Emily smiled, “Or in my case a wonderful girlfriend. And an occasional headache. Totally worth it if you ask-”

“Hanzo? Do you know if these are proprietary parts? I don’t see them in my database.”

Hanzo turned his head away from Emily and Lena’s kiss (and the knot in his chest) to look at Satya. She was staring down at her tablet with a frown on her lips. “I believe so. Is that an issue?”

“Not at all, I can replicate the parts after scanning them. It will just take longer. But let me double-check my notes, these screw heads look familiar to me.” Satya went back to tapping at her tablet, muttering under her breath. Hanzo couldn’t catch what she said over the sudden burst of noise from Hana’s live stream.

“-and be sure to tune in to my charity stream on the sixteenth! I’ll be joined by all of my Overwatch buddies as we play retro games voted by you, my fans! And to get every warmed up we’re here with my pal, my buddy, my favorite ninja, Genji!”

“Yo!” Genji, in full armor and mask, gave a peace sign to the camera. “Genji is with you!”

“Genji is here to offer his video game mastery,” Hana did air quotes around those last three words, “for today’s stream. Remember! Highest donation gets to pick what game we’re going to play! What would you say are your areas of expertise, Genji?”

“I was once a legend in the Hanamura arcade scene. Fighters, shooters, even crane games! No one could stand up to GNG!” Genji did a trademark ‘cool ninja pose’ for the camera. “But now I mostly play farming games. Very relaxing.”

Hana was semi-successful at fighting down a snort. “You heard it, folks! Get your donations in! Let’s see, we have twenty-five dollars for Double Dragon, fifty for Stardew Valley X, and-wow! Five hundred dollars for…” Hana trailed off as she squinted at her phone. “Luigi’s Mansion?”

That got Genji to snap right out of his cool ninja pose. “Wait, what?”

“Five hundred dollars pledged for Luigi’s Mansion from,” Hana narrowed eyes, “Haigha?”

“Haigha? Oooh, that’s skull icon lady, right?” Genji shook out his right leg before taking a seat next to Hana. “She’s a big Nintendo fan?”

Hana frowned. “Not really? Then again I never know what she’s up to. Maybe she just really wants you to play as Mario’s green loser little brother for some reason?”

Both of them went silent before Genji’s head snapped up. “MOTHERFU-”

A soft noise of triumph from Satya grabbed Hanzo’s attention again. “I do have the parts in my system! I knew I had scanned them before.” She flexed her wrist and, with a flash of light, a perfect replica of the oddly shaped screw appeared in her hand. “I’ve must have worked on something made by the same company.”

“I doubt it,” Hanzo said, doing his best to ignore the sensation of Satya unscrewing a part of his body. “My prosthetics were created by an old family friend who doesn’t do work for the general public. Only for us. Unless you had dealings in the past with my family?”

Satya shook her head. “Vishkar couldn’t get near Hanamura. Shame, I always wanted to see the cherry-oh. Here it is. These blueprints are from when I fixed...McCree’s arm?”

Hanzo leaned to the side enough to see the holographic screens. There, true to Satya’s word, were schematics of Jesse’s arm. He noted that among the many notes Satya had made over the diagram she drew a bird over where the skull was. At least someone else on the base had good taste. “When did Jesse damage his arm?”

“I didn’t get the exact details. Something involving the illegal arm wrestling club we’re not allowed to talk about.” Satya glanced over at Hanzo and surprised him with a slight smile. “I did not realize that McCree counted as ‘family’ to you. Did you know him before he lost his arm?”

“Briefly.”

“Cor! Did he ever show you any of his old gun tricks?” asked Lena who was sitting on Satya’s desk as if she hadn’t been there a second ago. Across the room Winston and Emily were still staring at the now-empty desk chair that once contained the pilot. “Don’t get me wrong, I love the bugger like my own brother! But I sure do miss his old acrobatics, you know? He used to do crazy stuff back in the day!”

“Please get off my desk.” Satya said, unheard.

“You should have seen it!” In a blink Lena went from sitting to standing on Satya’s desk, now with one of the woman’s screwdrivers in her hands. “He would go all hey Howdy Partner! Reach for the sky while I mosey these doggies along!”

“I said, get off my -”

Satya’s demand went unheeded as Lena performed what Hanzo could only assume was one of Jesse’s old tricks. And if Jesse was anything like how Lena performed Hanzo was a bit sad that he never saw it for himself. She spun the screwdriver around, tossing it behind her back only to spin, grab the screwdriver in mid-air, and with a dramatic flourish end with the screwdriver pointed straight at Emily. “Bang!”

Emily pressed her hand against her forehead before swooning into Winston’s arms. “Oh! The masked cowgirl got me!”

“You ain’t wrong little lady! How about we rope up some sweet tea and go on down to a barn dance?” Lena winked at Emily before looking over her shoulder back at Hanzo. “You might want to remember that line to use on Jesse some-Hanzo? You okay?”

Once again, Hanzo found himself not really listening to what Lena or anyone else was saying. Even the chaos of the workshop seemed a thousand miles away. Because as he stared at the screwdriver in Lena’s left hand he realized something very important. Something, he knew, deep down, that he should have realized a lot sooner.

“I’m an idiot.”

Hanzo never found out if anyone had heard him, because as soon as the words left his lips, Junkrat chose the same moment to shout across the workshop.

“OI! Hanzo! Your scaly pigeon’s on the coffee machine!”

It took Hanzo a second to parse together what the hell Junkrat just said. And even after he got all of the words down he still wasn’t sure what the junker was even talking about. Hanzo twisted himself around to look at the coffee machine in the corner of the room (The one that had DO NOT USE scrawled on it in both Satya and Junkrat’s handwriting). There was Junkrat, holding a cup of hissing liquid which was in no way coffee. And there, on the coffee machine, was Udon.

At once everyone in the room stopped what they were doing to look at the the coffee machine as well. No, Hanzo realized, they were looking at Udon. They could all see Udon.

Udon stuck his tongue out at them in return.

“HANZO!” There was a flash of blue light and suddenly Lena was there at the coffee machine, letting out an inhuman high-pitched squeal. “Hanzo you arse! Why didn’t you say your dragons could make themselves all small and cute?! Look at this lil’ weenie dragon! Oh my God look at it’s little faaaaaace! Can I touch it? I want to touch it! Emily! Take a picture of me with Hanzo’s dragon!”

“Don’t-” Hanzo started, only to freeze when Lena picked up Udon and posed for Emily’s shot.

“Dragon.” Satya pointed straight at Udon, but kept her eyes on Hanzo. “Is that your dragon? Since when is it small and, and friendly?”

Hanzo shrugged. That seemed to be the wrong answer.

“You said the Shimada dragons were too dangerous to get near,” Satya said as she scrambled for her tablet. “Do they normally act this way? Is it because Jesse has one of your dragons now? Can I study it once Lena is done with her photo-opt? Is it dangerous?” She narrowed her eyes. “Aren’t they deadly?”

Hanzo watched as the other agents in the room descended upon Udon for pictures and scratches. He would catch a glimpse of his dragon between the the arms of his teammates, purring loud enough that Hanzo could hear him from across the room. Udon was happy. Adored. Smothered in scritches and kisses. Meanwhile Soba was attached to a man who considered the dragon a parasite. But, Hanzo thought, he could fix that.

“They are,” Hanzo said with a faint smile on his lips, “But not to family.”

***

“Udon, hold still.”

Hanzo wiped his sleeve against Udon’s face to get the last of the lipstick off. Their escape from the workshop had been tricky to say the least. Satya wanted to run a few dozen scans on his legs, and the rest of the team didn’t want to pull themselves away from Udon. But the second he could Hanzo ran with Udon in his arms and was currently attempting to clean the dragon up. Because there was no way he was allowing the dragon within him still mussed up like that.

“You are a mess,” Hanzo grumbled as he removed a smudge from Udon’s horn. “No more photo ops.”

I like Lena’s mate, Udon said as he wiggled in Hanzo’s hands, we should spend more time with her. Perhaps taking more photos?

“I will do no such thing.”

She called me majestic!

“She called the stack of pancakes Reinhardt made for breakfast majestic.”

You did not complain about breakfast while you were watching Jesse lick the syrup off of his fingers.

Hanzo responded by silently looking Udon over once more time before pressing the dragon back into his arm. His dragon slipped under his skin with a sensation that Jesse once described as ‘a painless root canal done with one of those water-tube things’. The memory was enough to spurn Hanzo on, and also distracting enough that he didn’t see the large green dragon tail blocking the hallway until he ran into it.

After Hanzo regained his footing he took a step back to confirm that, yes, Egg’s tail was blocking his way. It was rare to see Egg at her full size. She prefered to remain small, only growing large enough to follow Genji’s blade in combat. So seeing the spun-glass green body in his way was a bit unusual. Hanzo stood on his tip-toes in an attempt to see where the front half of Egg, and his brother, was.

The back half of Egg was pouring out of the open entrance to Angela’s office. Ah. That explained everything. Genji was showing off, as always, and clearly forgot the important rule of never summoning a dragon in a room too small to fit it. Hanzo scaled over Egg’s body (giving her a pat as he went) and was about to crawl through the small opening of the office to speak to his brother when Angela’s voice stopped him.

“I guess I’m...envious. Of what you have.”

To Hanzo’s surprise it wasn’t Genji who replied. Instead it was Zenyatta’s soft laughter that rang out from inside the office.

“I’m sorry,” Zenyatta said, “I shouldn’t have, but it’s funny, considering that I’ve always been jealous of you”

Hanzo slid silently to the ground. Through Egg’s glass-like body he could see Angela and Zenyatta, sitting back-to-back on the floor. He quickly flattened himself against the wall before he could be spotted as well.

“Jealous?” Mercy replied, “Of me?”

“You must understand. When I traveled with Genji he would often speak of his past. Every time we saw children at play he would tell me stories of growing up with his brother. During our more exciting moments he would talk about his old Overwatch teammates and the adventures they went on. But whenever he was overcome with the beauty of the world he would only talk of you. If only Angela could see this sunset. Angela would love this beach. I wish Angela was here to watch the snowfall with us. You are the one he wants to share life with. Not I.”

“Zenyatta, you know that isn’t true. Genji’s, he’s just...hang on a second.”

Hanzo strained to hear what sounded like shuffling, a quiet ‘excuse me, Egg’ and a drawer being opened and closed. He risked another peek through Egg’s body and was able to see Angela handing Zenyatta two rather old fashioned folders before sitting back down, this time face to face.

“These are…?” Zenyatta asked as he opened the first folder.

“Genji’s medical records. The first one is from the old Overwatch days. As you can see besides the, well, the obvious issues, everything is blank. We didn’t learn his last name until Jesse actually went out and hunted down all the information he could find on Genji. I still don’t know how the hell Reyes was able to get that photo of Genji for the reconstruction surgery.” Angela tapped the other folder, “This is his current file.”

Zenyatta moved over to the second one. “Filled to the brim, I see. Including his family's medical history. This is a remarkable show of how much Genji has grown, but I don’t see-”

“Turn the last page over.”

Zenyatta did so. The lights on his head flashed once before going dim. “Oh. I’m, I’m listed as his next of kin. But Hanzo-”

“I know. But he wanted it to be you. I believe his words were ‘I already trust Zenyatta with my mind, heart and soul. I can trust him to take care of this shell when the time comes’.” Angela took Zenyatta’s hand, and even though Egg’s body Hanzo could see that she was smiling. “You’re more than his teacher, Zenyatta.”

“And you are more than his doctor.” Zenyatta closed the folders and put them aside. He entwined his metal fingers around Angela's own. “What happens next, however, is up to Genji.”

“You’re right. Hmm. So do you know how to get rid of Egg?”

“I was hoping you knew, considering…”

Hanzo stepped away from the wall as Zenyatta and Angela’s conversation moved into one about spacial logistics. Once again he considered crawling in to offer his help. But he could feel Udon moving under his skin frantically, eager to be released once more. And he did not wish to do it so close to Egg, just in case Udon decided to become full sized as well. With one last glance back at Egg’s wagging tail Hanzo set out to continue his search for Jesse.

***

Hanzo would never ceased to be amazed by how well a six-foot-one cowboy could hide despite all evidence to the contrary. Maybe it was a side effect of Jesse’s years in Blackwatch, but the man could vanish whenever he wanted to. After checking Jesse’s normal haunts (his personal quarters, Bastion’s garden, that one storage room where the secret chess club meets) Hanzo ended up back in the laundry room. All that was there was Hanzo’s empty flask on the floor and the lingering memories of their...fight? Disagreement? Argument? No, fight. After Hanzo slammed Jesse into the wall it had clearly become a fight.

“Another thing to apologize for,” Hanzo said as he gave his empty flask on the floor a nudge.

He started it, said Udon, who was sitting on top of the vibrating washing machine. Thankfully not full sized, but large enough to be spilling out of the laundry basket he was in.

“No,” Hanzo waved his hand vaguely in the air, “this, all of this, is my fault. And as soon as I find Jesse I can begin fixing my mistakes.”

By finally mating with him?

Hanzo glared up at Udon.

Because that really should have happened as soon as he received Soba. Or when you were reunited after the recall. Or when he left us. Or that one Christmas Eve back in Kyoto-

“You did not speak this much when Soba was still with me.” Hanzo rubbed his eyes. He was exhausted, inside-out. Between the alcohol, the outburst, the crying and the noise there was barely anything left keeping him going. As much as he wanted to give up and go to bed he had to see this through. Find Jesse, apologize, tell him everything, sleep for three days straight. The trick was the ‘find Jesse’ part.

“Think, Hanzo, think.” With a sigh Hanzo held up his hand and made a gun with his fingers. “My name is Jesse McCree,” he said in the best cowboy-voice he could muster, “and I’m a middle-aged man who dresses up like a cowboy. I drink too much, smoke too much, and once ate an entire tuna casserole in one sitting.”

Udon silently gagged in the back of Hanzo’s mind. Hanzo continued, “I’m probably feeling terrible, wherever I am. I am not where a group of people would be because I hate crowds, even though I’d never admit it. But at the same time I’m not alone because I’d just get sadder. All of the agents going on the mission tomorrow are already asleep so I wouldn’t be with any of them. I also didn’t eat dinner so I’m probably hiding somewhere stuffing my face with-”

Hanzo’s head jerked up the same time Udon’s did. He knew exactly where Jesse was hiding.

***

“I was wondering when you were going to show up.” Hana covered her mouth to fight back a yawn. The young woman was clearly on the downswing of her latest caffeine binge. She was also wearing Jesse’s serape like a cape. “Don’t worry, he fell asleep like an hour ago. Come on in.”

Hana stepped back into her dark bedroom and Hanzo followed. Although this was his first time in there, he had seen half of her personal quarters countless times during her live streams. What he didn’t realize was the professional set-up she had for it. There were lights, cameras, and enough computer equipment to rival Winston’s personal lab. She waved vaguely at it all. “Some of my old Hollywood buddies hooked me up. Gotta be professional about these things, you know?”

“I see.” Hanzo did not know, but he nodded anyway. That was the left side of the room. On the right side, right out of camera view, was a far more normal bedroom set up. And there on Hana’s bed was Jesse. He had at least enough sense to kick his boots off but it appeared that he had simply laid down and passed out. Jesse hadn’t even bothered to move most of the stuffed animals off of the bed.

“I tried waking him up,” Hana said as she sat down in front of the television set that was on the ‘personal’ side of the room. “Didn’t work. The both of you can crash here if you want. As long as you two keep it kid-friendly.”

Hanzo sat down on the edge of the bed. Jesse didn’t stir. He lightly shook Jesse’s shoulder. Nothing. He shook Jesse’s shoulder even harder. That got a snore from the other man. Hanzo sighed. Well, at least he knew where Jesse was. And considering how Jesse slept he wasn’t going to be going anywhere anytime soon. “I apologize for him taking up your bed.”

“Eh, I wasn’t planning on sleeping anyway,” Hana shrugged before she reached over to turn on her video game system. “And the cheap-booze-stale-smoke smell reminds me of the old barracks. It’s kind of nice.”

Hanzo tore his eyes off of sleeping beauty and back to Hana. “I forgot you were in the army.”

“Everyone does,” Hana said as she picked up the controller. Light flooded over her as the game started. It was an old game, one Hanzo vaguely recognized from Genji’s youth. He recalled Genji being annoyed that he couldn’t marry everyone at once in the farming game. Hanzo watched Hana’s avatar pull up weeds before she broke the silence.

“Jesse loves you,” Hana said as her eyes remained on the screen. “You realize that, right?”

Hanzo traced his fingers down Jesse’s tattooed arm. It still felt too soft, too new. He pressed down against the skin enough to feel Soba twisting deep within. Another thing he should have told Jesse about. “We are old friends.”

“Pfft. That’s not what I mean and you know it. I mean love , love. He wants to kiss you. On the mouth.” Hana helpfully pointed at her own lips.

“He told you that?” Hanzo asked, not looking up from the sleeping Jesse.

“It’s kinda obvious to everyone who has a pulse. And our teammates who don’t have a pulse. And the dragon tattoo means you love him back so just kiss him already.” Hana looked away from her screen to meet Hanzo’s stare. “Genji told me about the dragons and what that whole tattoo-thing means.”

Hanzo growled under his breath. “It was not his place-”

“Relax! I was the one who was bothering him about it. We were trying to figure out if he adopted me if I would get my own dragon.”

That got Hanzo to pause. “Only if he accepted you fully as his daughter and potential heir to the Shimada empire. So most likely no.”

“Aww, I was going to name it Myeon.” Hana turned her attention back to her game.

Likewise Hanzo returned to the task of how he was going to get Jesse out of there. Carrying Jesse was an option, but not one Hanzo wished to pursue. He had been forced to carry Jesse as a dead weight a few times before and it was not something he wished to experience again. Then again, Hana did give her blessings to stay the night. And the bed was large enough for the two of them. Hanzo’s eyes fell onto an amazingly large bean bag on the professional side of the room.

“I can move Jesse over to that,” he nodded at the bean bag chair, “if you want your bed back.”

Hana fought back another yawn. “I told you, it’s cool. I can’t sleep anyway.”

“If you are having problems sleeping Angela can prescribe-” Hanzo’s words were stopped by a glare from Hana. The young woman took a deep breath and nodded at her bedside table. Only then did Hanzo notice the large collection of pill bottles on it.

“I take enough medicine, thank you,” Hana muttered as she resumed her game. “And sleeping pills just make it worse.”

Hanzo glanced around the room, wondering what else he missed. Besides the pill bottles the only things around were empty cans of soda and energy drinks. A few of them, he noted, had little teabag tags poking out from the openings. He waited until Hana was engrossed with wooing one of the video game characters before he glanced at the pill bottles. Antidepressants. Anti-anxiety medication. She had been in the army. Hanzo quietly realized that it wasn’t that Hana couldn’t sleep. No. She couldn’t sleep.

Hanzo sat down next to Hana, watching her avatar sow turnips seeds before he spoke. “I get them too. Nightmares.”

Hana’s avatar stopped moving. Hanzo continued.

“They are of my brother. Not how he is now, or how he used to be, but of what I did to him. It doesn’t matter that Genji is alive and happy. In my dreams he is impaled on my blade and begging for a quick death. In some dreams I give it to him. In others I watch him die. Slowly and painfully, with the taste of blood in my mouth. I do not have them often as I used, but I have them. I will have them the rest of my life.”

Hanzo felt Hana’s arm press against his own. Her video game avatar waved at the screen.

“Angela adjusted my own medication to help with the nightmares. And, as much as I hate to admit it, speaking with Zenyatta helped as well. You do not have to do either. No one can force you. But the option is there, Hana.”

Hana’s arm pulled away. Hanzo half expected her to go back to playing her game, but instead Hana’s voice came out in a thin stream of words.

“Gears. Gears and meat. Screaming. Gears and meat and screaming.” Hana wiped her eyes on the edge of the serape. “There’s more but, but that’s all I ever remember. And you know what? I taste blood too, Hanzo. I taste it too.”

Hanzo, unsure of what else to say, squeezed Hana’s shoulder.

With an annoyed beep Hana’s farmer avatar fell asleep in the middle of the farmland. The screen turned black save for an annoyed looking nurse character in the middle, clearly angry about the farmer’s sleeping patterns. As the game returned to the farmer’s house Hana pressed the controller in Hanzo’s hands.

“The O-button picks up and uses items, the X-button cancels and drops items. Triangle opens up the inventory and square brings up the map.”

Hanzo stared down at the controller in his hands. “What-”

“Don’t plant any more seeds, okay? The season’s almost over.” Hana shifted the serape off her shoulders and wrapped it around her body instead. “Go on, you’ll love it. It’s totally your jam.”

“If you say so,” Hanzo said as he turned his attention to the game. By the time he figured out how to leave the little farm house Hana had gone quiet. Sometime after watering the crops Hana’s body went slack against Hanzo’s arm. By the time Hanzo had fed and milked the cows (saving a bottle for that cute ranch hand he spotted earlier) Hana was snoring against him, fast asleep.

Be-woop

Hanzo jumped slightly at the sound. Was that the game’s attempt at a sheep baaing?

Be-woop

That time the noise was followed by a picture of an envelope at the top of the screen. One of Hana’s fans must have messaged her. Hanzo saved the game (Hana would never forgive him if he didn’t) and went to close down the system.

Be-woop

The envelope again. After a few random clicks on the far-too-complicated dashboard Hanzo found where the messages actually were. Three new ones, each from a user with a purple skull icon. Hanzo glanced at the still-sleeping Hana before opening the first. It was in Spanish, combined with some sort of writing that he was far too old to understand. The next was more straightforward with just the name ‘D.Va’ and a whole bunch of question marks. The third, however, was completely different:

‘Are you still having trouble sleeping? My Papa drinks chamomile when he has nightmares. Maybe can help you too? Take care of yourself. The world would be boring without you, Hana.’

Hanzo read the message over before slowly typing out a simple reply that Hana was asleep, this was a friend, and not to worry. Hardly a second went after he send the message before he got a response back.

‘Ah ha! Thank you! I am glad Hana has such a good friend like you!’ followed by a chicken emoji. An internet thing, Hanzo guessed. There were no more messages, so he turned off the game system. It took a little effort to pick Hana up and carry her over to the large bean bag chair on the professional side. Hanzo tried his best to remove Jesse’s serape, but even fast asleep Hana refused to let go. In the end he draped another blanket over her and hoped Jesse could live without. Which brought him to the next issue. Jesse.

Jesse was exactly where Hanzo had left him, curled up on Hana’s bed and drooling on one of her prized pachimaris. The thought of dragging Jesse out crossed Hanzo’s mind again but was quickly dismissed. Leaving and returning in the morning was also an option. But Hanzo found himself sitting on the edge of the bed once more, watching the cowboy sleep.

I’m sorry, Hanzo wanted to say.

I love you, he also wanted to say.

You’re a damn idiot, is something Hanzo said a lot, but he also felt as if he should say it again anyway.

Instead he brushed his fingers through Jesse’s messy hair. His fingers seemingly moved on their own, trailing down to Jesse’s chin and scratching at his beard. Jesse didn’t stir, but Hanzo liked to think the ever-so-slight smile on Jesse’s lips was because of him. A foolish thought, but a nice one.

“Sleep well,” Hanzo did say before he leaned down and lightly kissed Jesse on the cheek.

“Nzzrt?” Jesse replied, almost giving Hanzo a heart attack. Hanzo pulled back just in time as Jesse’s eyes opened. “Hanzo? Is everything okay?” Jesse slurred, clearly still half-asleep.

Hanzo nodded. “Everything is fine. Go back to sleep.”

“S’okay,” Jesse mumbled into the pillow.

Hanzo went to stand only to find Jesse’s arm wrapped around his waist. He tried to pull away. Jesse pulled back harder. “Jesse-”

“Stay.”

The word was soft, gentle, barely made it past Jesse’s lips. But it was enough for Hanzo. He laid down on the bed next to Jesse without a sound. There was a little bit of awkward fumbling, an arm moved here and a leg propped up there, but the two of them did manage to fit. And if Hanzo had to use Jesse’s chest as a pillow then so be it. He closed his eyes and allowed the weight of the day to settle into his bones. Somewhere between where his body ended and Jesse’s began he could feel the dragons twist around each other, united once more.

 

Chapter Text

“Alright Angela, I’m gonna pull on the count of three.”

Jesse had thought of at least a half-dozen reasons behind Angela’s texts in the short, panicked run between the laundry room and the infirmary. Most of them ranged from ‘Angela slipped, got hurt, and the phone sent a weird auto-correct’ to the mental image of Angela being eaten by Egg. So by the time he reached his destination Jesse was pretty sure he was prepared for what was going on.

“One-”

He had not been anywhere close to prepared.

“Two, uh, you sure you don’t want me to go get Genji-”

Jesse Nathaniel McCree!

“Fine fine fine THREE!”

Jesse dug his nails into the loose flap of skin on Angela’s thigh and pulled. The skin did not rip off cleanly. Instead the rip traveled down Angela’s leg and peeled off in a long, bloody strip. Angela’s scream was muffled by her biting down on the rim of Jesse’s hat, but there was no hiding the jolt of pain that went through her body. The strip of flesh was unceremoniously dropped into what Jesse had dubbed ‘the skin bucket’ next to the bed.

“Only one more strip to pull off.” Jesse said as he brushed Angela’s hair back. “One more. You need me to stop? Take a breather?”

Angela shook her head. She sunk her teeth into Jesse’s hat as if her life depended on it.

“Alright darlin’, hang on. One, two, three-!”

Jesse grabbed onto the last skin tag on Angel’s leg and pulled with all of his might. Thankfully this one came off a lot easier than the others. He tossed the last strip into the skin bucket and turned his attention to the next problem. Angela’s leg, now free of the drooping skin, was still covered in drying blood. But that wasn’t really the main issue. No, that would be the fresh dragon tattoo under said bloodstains.

“Want me to clean that up for you?” Jesse said as he glanced down at Angela’s leg. There was no hiding it. There was now a tattoo of an eastern dragon wrapped around Angela’s left leg all of the way from thigh to foot. Jesse had seen fractures of that tattoo before. But that had been mirrored, and done in green ink instead of the deep gold of Angela’s dragon.

Angela sat up. Her body still shook from the pain. “No, I’m, I’m,” She shook her head, “just help me to the bathroom.”

Jesse nodded and, taking care not to touch Angela’s leg, helped her to the attached bathroom. She didn’t talk as as they went, nor when Jesse helped her onto the plastic stool in the shower. Which was really annoying because now Jesse had nothing to block out high-pitched screeching in his own head.

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE-

Soba had started the noise the second Jesse burst into the infirmary and found Angela on the floor, clutching her bleeding leg and cursing up a storm. Jesse managed to calm the dragon down enough to get basic instructions on how to help her, at least. After a quick glance to make sure Angela was fine in the shower Jesse stepped out of the bathroom and sighed.

“She gonna be okay, Soba?”

-EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE-

“Soba.”

-EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!

“Soba!”

Whoops, sorry, said Soba from somewhere behind Jesse’s eyes. It’s just so wonderful! Egg is going to be so happy! Genji will be super happy!

“Yeah yeah.” Jesse rubbed his right arm, taking care to rub extra-hard on Soba’s cracked horn. “Feel like telling me why Angela’s tattoo went tits up like that? My skin wasn’t that...fresh. Bloody.”

Oh, that’s easy! She must have been taking painkillers for it. You’re not supposed to take painkillers while the tattoo is forming. Something about having to suffer for art? Udon probably knows. OH! We have to go tell Udon! He’ll be super happy too! And maybe Hanzo! Unless my old master is too busy being still angry at you. But oh this is so great Angela is one of the family now I’m so happy!

Jesse gave his tattoo a look. “What do you mean one of the-”

He was cut off by the bathroom door opening back up. Angela stepped out slightly damp with a towel wrapped around her body. She looked a little more lively, but Jesse knew that expression on her face anywhere. She was thinking. Probably thinking too much. Angela stood there a moment before she spoke. “Tell me you have some cigarettes on you, Jesse.”

“Nope.” Jesse shrugged, “Genji stole them all and replaced them with those chalk-pills.”

“Your flask?”

“Genji replaced every stashed away bottle at the Watchpoint with a leaflet about alcoholism. Including Torbjorn’s moonshine.”

Angela frowned. “Hanzo’s flask?”

“Sorry darlin’, I’m fresh out of unhealthy coping mechanisms. And accordin’ to Soba painkillers are the reason we had to rip live skin off your leg instead of dead flakes like my arm. So that’s right out.”

Angela wobbled over and sat down on the nearest bed. Her eyes were glued to the fresh tattoo on her leg. “I summoned Egg at the Talon base after we all split up. Lena was busy fiddling with some sort of vault and I walked off on my own. There was a noise, I saw, I saw something bone white in the shadows and suddenly Egg was just there! She was there but she vanished right before Lena caught up with me. My leg started aching on the flight home and...and…”

“What was in the shadows?” Jesse said, perhaps a bit too sharp.

“An owl.” Angela rubbed her eyes. “Just a barn owl. Poor thing became Egg’s lunch.”

Jesse sat down on the bed and placed a hand on her shoulder. “Well sis, welcome to the mysterious dragon tattoo club. I’m thinking we could meet up once a week over in the old com tower. It’ll just me you, me, the brothers, and Reinhardt. He’s probably got a dragon tattoo on him somewhere.”

That got a snort from Angela. Good. “And we’ll exchange dragon tips and tricks?”

“I already got some lined up for you!” Jesse counted them off on his fingers, “They like getting the tattoo rubbed. Calms them down. Don’t know what that’s all about. Two, you can bribe them with fruit and shiny objects. But be careful, because they also like to steal fruit and shiny objects. And three, if they start getting too loud just start thinking about old theme songs and they’ll shut up. Bet lil’ Egg is already chatting up a storm in that head of yours.”

Angela frowned. “No? Not really?”

“Huh. What about your leg? Does it feel like someone is blowing up an inner tube inside of another, larger inner tube filled with uncooked rice?”

“It’s really sore, but I would say no on the inner tube thing.” Angela rubbed her thigh. “Hurts like a bitch, as a certain cowboy would say.”

Jesse chuckled. He watched as Angela tried to rub life back into her leg. “So is there any reason why you didn’t want me to tell Genji? You worried about him?”

“It’s not him I’m worried about.” Angela said, her voice unsteady.

“Then who-”

A sharp knocking cut Jesse off. He twisted around on the bed to see who he had to potentially explain a bucket full of skin to. There, standing in the infirmary’s doorway, was Zenyatta. He walked in lightly, his metal feet barely touching the floor. He held one arm behind his back while the other was still on the door. “I hope I am not interrupting?” Zenyatta said, clearly aware that he was.

“Howdy Zenyatta,” Jesse said as he tipped an imaginary hat to the omnic. A second too late he realized that he never wiped the blood off them. “We’re kinda in the middle of something here. Something private.”

“Ah, yes, I was told,” Zenyatta said.

That got Angela to turn around. “Told?”

Zenyatta removed his arm out from behind his back. Egg was wrapped around it tight. “I was meditating with my dear student here when she felt what happened. I thought you would need some time to adjust, but Egg insisted that we speak with you right away.”

Egg leapt off of Zenyatta’s arm, dashed across to the bed, and climbed up onto Angela’s lap. Jesse couldn’t exactly hear Egg’s words, but he could almost feel them. Happiness. Love. Belonging. Family. They were pouring off the green dragon as she nuzzled Angela’s leg.

“Zenyatta,” Angela said, “I’m, we, I think we need to talk.”

“Indeed we do. But our conversation will not be as dire as you think, Angela.”

Before Jesse could ask what the hell was going on, Zenyatta reached down and pulled up one of his pant legs. At first Jesse wondered what the hell the omnic was doing. Then Jesse realized he’d never actually seen Zenyatta without his pants. Ever. He was almost a little disappointed to see that Zenyatta had a normal omnic leg. No, that wasn’t right. There was something etched over the various parts and pistons. A design that wrapped around Zenyatta’s leg right down to his ankle.

A mirror imagine of Genji’s tattoo. Dark silver instead of green.

Egg let out a happy chirp. Happiness.  Love. Family. Belonging.

“I uh,” Jesse stood up. He wasn’t sure if either Angela or Zenyatta noticed. “Think I’ll be moseying along. You two can just figure this whole mess out.”

He more or less ran out of the infirmary, doing his best to not listen to whatever Zenyatta and Angela were saying to each other. That conversation wasn’t for his ears. Jesse pulled out his phone to glance at the time. Genji should be out of his and Hana’s stream by now. Maybe he should go warn him and, no, no. He promised Angela. And this was totally all on Genji. God knew exactly how Genji got into this mess but Jesse didn’t want to get any more into it. He flicked over to his phone’s messages trying not to feel too bad when he saw there were none from Hanzo.

Hanzo. By now Hanzo had to have cooled down. He needed to find Hanzo, apologize, and probably say a few things that’ll get an arrow through his neck. Jesse started to put his phone away before he noticed that there were a lot of messages from Hana. More than usual. And his phone alarm had gone off while he was helping Angela out. Cold dread settled into his bones as Jesse realized what happened.

He missed target practice with Hana and Ana.

Jesse ran, already knowing his punishment would be swift and brutal. And he knew exactly what his old teacher had in mind.

***

“Oh. My. God. How old is he in this one?”

“Seventeen, hardly a week after Gabe dragged him in.”

Jesse found Hana and Ana in the common room, already huddled over Ana’s near antique tablet.  Hana was wiping tears from her eyes while Ana glowed with the pride only an old woman could carry. It was too late.

“Tell me it ain’t the one in the sweatpants,” Jesse said, already lowering his hat in defeat.

“They barely fit you!” Hana covered her mouth to fight down a snort. “You’re just so, so adorable! You could have worn one of my suits with room to spare! And that hair! Those spots! Don’t gang members know how to wash their faces?”

“Those were from all the piercings I had to take out.” Jesse sat down on the couch next to Hana and tried to snatch the tablet away. He failed, of course.

“He was absolutely covered in piercings.” Ana said, “most of them were badly infected, anyway. They had to go before your face turned green and fell off.”

“That wouldn’t have happened,” Jesse said, not sounding so sure.

“I can’t get over this.” Hana flickered her thumb across the tablet’s surface. Jesse tried to lean back to get a better look at the screen, but Hana kept twisting away. “You’re so tiny!”

“He grew up like a shoot as soon as we got some proper nutrition in him.” Ana sipped at her tea, “I bet if you go through the pictures fast enough you can see it happen in real time.”

Hana did so, her eyes now glued to the tablet. “Whoooaaa.”

Ana took the moment to place her cup onto the coffee table and switch effortlessly to Spanish. “Now then, what did the eldest Shimada do to you and must I kill him for it?”

Jesse glanced at Hana, who shrugged. “My Spanish sucks. Have your little secret conversation,” she said with a dismissive wave towards them both.

With a sigh Jesse switched to Spanish as well, “I’m the idiot that should be shot.”

“I know that, Jesse, but I also want to know what he did. You never miss practice unless something has gone wrong. And the light only leaves your eyes when he takes it from you.”

“That’s not true,” Jesse muttered.

“You were bad enough after the two of you broke up the first time,” Ana reached over and took Jesse’s hands within her own. “Tell me what’s wrong.”

Another glance at Hana. She was taking pictures of the tablet with her phone. He could worry about that later. “It’s Soba. Not that there’s anything wrong with Soba! Or Hanzo. I just, I don’t know, I wish this wasn’t sprung on me? Maybe some sort of warning before giant blue dragon shows up out of nowhere? I can only handle seeing them full-sized on a good day anyway. Seeing Soba up close like that and, and I told you we weren’t dating back in Japan.”

“You just lived in an apartment together, spent all of your time together, and then drank yourself into a stupor for five years after the parting.”

“For the love of-” Jesse rubbed his face. Somewhere, deep down, he felt the last bit of denial in him snap. “Fine! He’s my everything! I want to share every moment of my life by his side! I love Hanzo! I love him. I love him so much. And from that smartass smirk on your face you’re going to suggest something super obvious like ‘well then go tell him that’.”

“Oh no,” Ana pulled her hands away, “I was going to advise you to brace yourself.”

“What-”

For the second time that day Jesse heard a high-pitched shriek. This one, however, was from outside his head. He had only a second to prepare himself as Hana more-or-less tackled him from behind. Luckily since they were still on the couch Jesse didn’t have far to fall and soft pillows to land on.

“You do love Hanzo!” Hana squealed as she hugged Jesse tight. “I knew it!”

“What-how-you said-”

“Pfft, I’ve played enough dating sims to know what a love confession in every language sounds like! And you were saying Hanzo’s name over and over. Kind of a giveaway.”

“Hana-”

“Jesse, relax!” Hana let go of Jesse and sat back. “I’m just super happy, okay? Like, you and Hanzo are some of my most favorite people here in Overwatch!”

“Everyone is your favorite,” Ana said, picking up her cup for another sip.

“That doesn’t mean anyone is less my favorite. And I’m just so freakin’ pumped for the two of you! You haven’t told him yet, right? It’ll have to be super romantic! Hanzo is so into that, I’ve seen the books Mei lends him. Wait, do you know for a fact that he doesn’t know? Cause aren’t you guys like dragon-married?”

Jesse froze. He could feel Soba freeze too, somewhere between where the bone in his arm met muscle. “We’re what now?”

“Your tattoo?” Hana pointed directly at it, just in case Jesse had somehow forgot, “Genji said it meant you were married?”

Jesse looked down at said tattoo. For the first time in weeks he couldn’t feel Soba moving inside him. He rubbed his own arm, his metal thumb pressed down on the image of Soba’s cracked horn. Deep breath. That’s what Zenyatta kept telling him to do in order to keep calm, right? “What exactly did Genji say?”

“Genji said having a dragon tattoo means you’re a Shimada. And that means either through birth, adoption, or marriage, right?”

Jesse let out the breath he was holding. “Or it could be I’m like part of the family, darlin.”

“Uh huh.” Hana narrowed her eyes, “You don’t seem thrilled at the idea of being married to Hanzo. Did you do something really, really st-”

“I’m still married to Reinhardt.”

Jesse and Hana looked over at Ana. The older woman was staring down at the tea with one wide eye. He cleared his throat. “Pardon?”

“I’m still married to Reinhardt.” Ana’s head shot up, “When I arrived with Fareeha all of those years ago, after my divorce, we married so he would become her legal guardian if anything were to happened to me. Then when she turned eighteen we would annul the marriage. But now that I think about it, with everything going on, we never-”

Ana didn’t as much move as she flowed in one graceful leap from the arm chair to the common room’s large window. She opened the glass wide and leaned out into the night air. “REINHARDT! MY LOVE! WE ARE STILL MARRIED!”

From below in the gardens Reinhardt’s voice bellowed out, “ANA! THAT IS WONDERFUL NEWS!”

Ana leapt from the open window, and Jesse found himself chasing after her more out of habit than actual worry. He stopped himself right on the ledge just in time to see Reinhardt carry Ana off into the night, both of them laughing as they went. Down in the garden Bastion and Roadhog looked up from what looked to be a tea party to stare up at Jesse and Hana.

Jesse shrugged back in response. That seemed to be enough for both Bastion and Roadhog, who went back to their tea.

“That was weird, right?” Hana said as she closed the window back up.

“Eh, not considerin’ the pair.” Jesse adjusted his hat, “Okay, might be a little weird.”

They stood at the window like that, watching Roadhog pour a cup of what probably wasn’t tea for Bastion, until Hana lightly nudged Jesse in the side.

“Didn’t see you at dinner,” she said, “need something to eat?” Before Jesse could respond Hana nudged him again. “I got instant noodles in my room.”

Jesse nodded. Putting something in his stomach might get it to stop twisting around. “Sounds like just the thing, sugar.”

***

The noodles filled Jesse’s stomach, which was all he really needed at that moment. They ate them together in the silence of Hana’s room. Jesse had no idea how she could live like that, with a professional studio right next to her bed. He let his eyes wander from signed movie poster to signed poster on the wall. The largest being the poster to Hana’s own movie (he’s really gotta see that one of these days) signed by Hana herself. It was also signed by almost everyone else in Overwatch as part of an agreed on shared joke. Jesse’s barely-literate chicken scratch signature was right next to Hanzo’s far more artistic one.

The dragon tattoo meant family. Birth, adoption, marriage. The rage in Hanzo’s eyes when he choke-slammed Jesse against the wall.

Parasite. He called Soba a parasite.

“You’re going to toss your noodles up if you keep thinking that hard,” Hana said as she opened up a second instant noodle package. She took a bite straight from the dried-noodle-bar. “Muwh-mp-” she followed it up with a swig of soda, “sorry, did you want more?”

“Nah, I’m fine,” Jesse replied. “And I ain’t thinking.”

“Uh huh.”

“I’m just wishing you had something else to drink that wasn’t neon green.”

“Sure thing, cowboy.” Hana quickly finished her noodle-bar (God that made Jesse’s teeth hurt thinking about it). “I got some video games to catch up on. You can crash here and watch if you want.”

Jesse smiled. “As long as you ain’t streaming.”

“Nah, I feel like farming tonight. I’m in the middle of creating an Aged Ancient Fruit Wine empire, and the barmaid isn’t going to marry herself. But I am going to need your hat so I can become one with my rancher.”

Jesse didn’t even question Hana’s logic. He dropped his hat off on her head and even topped it off with his serape. That alone seemed to motive Hana to jump straight into her game. With one eye on what Hana was playing Jesse removed his shoes, laid down on her bed, removed the weird onion-octopus poking him in the rib, and let out a deep sigh.

Parasite. The tattoo being a symbol of family. Love. Parasite.

Lord, he fucked up.

The weight of the day laid too heavy on his chest. Tomorrow. He’d fix this mess tomorrow. He blinked and Hana was still playing her game, but with more soda cans in arm’s reach. A blink, and Hana was talking to someone at the door. Blink, the room was dark. He closed his eyes. Rough lips pressed against his cheek and whispered in his ear. Maybe it was all part of the same dream. Sure as hell beat his normal ones.

***

Jesse wasn’t sure if he actually woke up at first. Everything still seemed part of a dream: the strange bedroom bathed in grey predawn light. The heavy weight on his chest. Hot breath on his neck, a metal leg scraping against his own, the sudden realization that yes he was in fact awake and Hanzo was sleeping in his arms.

It wouldn’t have been the first time he and Hanzo woke up like this. Back in Japan there had been many missions that ended up with the two of them sleeping in very odd small, cramped spaces. The first time Hanzo had cursed Jesse’s existence until he passed out. And frankly Jesse had cursed Hanzo just as much during that damned mission. But this wasn’t like that time, forced together at an awkward angle and still unsure about the whole ‘not killing each other’ thing.

Hanzo, present Hanzo, was what could only describe as ‘a snuggle octopus’. The man was absolutely wrapped around Jesse. Legs entwined, hands under Jesse’s shirt, bodies so close together they felt joined. Hanzo’s hand moved across his bare skin only to rest on the small of Jesse’s back. He waited until he felt Hanzo’s fingers teasingly slip into the back of his jeans before Jesse tried to pull himself away.

“Hanzo,” Jesse whispered, knowing that Hana was likely somewhere asleep in the room.

Hanzo made a noise that was half-growl half-whimper, followed by him pressing against Jesse once more.

“Wakey wakey eggs and bakey.”

That got Hanzo to stir. Slowly, every movement taking effort, Hanzo lifted his head from Jesse’s chest. “You always say that, yet you never cook breakfast.”

Jesse smiled down at the sleepy archer. “Ain’t my fault Reinhardt took over the kitchen before I got here.”

Hanzo huffed and, with a little wiggling, managed to rearrange himself so his head was also on the pillow. Jesse could barely make out Hanzo’s features in the darkness: shining eyes, his strong jaw, hair spilled out. Everything Jesse wanted to say may have poured out at once if he could see him clearly. Jesse did risk a smile, just in case Hanzo could see it.

“So. Who goes first?”

Hanzo stifled a yawn. “Shoot for it?”

Both men raised their non-pinned arms. One, two, three-Hanzo threw paper. Jesse had rock.

“Right, me first.” Jesse let his arm drop back down. If it happened to land on Hanzo’s hip then so be it. “I’m sorry, Hanzo. I fucked up real bad yesterday. I’ve fucked up a lot of things but boy did I fuck up yesterday.”

“Mmm-hmm,” Hanzo hummed in agreement.

“I treated you and Soba like right garbage. You gave me this, this gift and I was too damned blind to realize how important it was. Got myself all scared and worked up instead of just talking to you about it. Soba ain’t a parasite. He’s a blessing, a gift, and I’m a Goddamn idiot. I’m sorry for saying those things. And I’m sorry for offending you. I’ll treat you and Soba right till my dyin’ day, I promise.”

He could hear Hanzo take a deep breath, and felt another wave of hot breath on his skin. “Thank you, Jesse. I forgive you.”

“Good. Now go on and hold up your half of the bargain.”

Hanzo moved his own free hand onto Jesse’s chest. He felt Hanzo’s fingers tugging on his shirt’s buttons. A simple motion that almost made Jesse’s heart stop. “I haven’t been honest with you. Not about the tattoos. Or the dragons. I withheld the truth because I was afraid that you, you would hate me for it.”

“Never!” Jesse said a shade too loud. He bit the word back and tried again, “Never.”

“I was still afraid.” Hanzo moved his hand to Jesse’s tattooed arm. Jesse felt a spark between their skin, but the dragons remained dormant. “You are precious to me, Jesse. To lose you would be to lose part of myself. Our first parting was a mistake I do not wish to make again.”

Jesse searched for Hanzo’s hand in the darkness, grabbing onto it tight once he found it. “So. Hanzo. What’s the truth about the tattoos?”

The room went silent once more. Somewhere, either across the room or a thousand miles away, Hana snored. Jesse was afraid Hanzo had fallen asleep as well until he finally spoke. His words were soft, but each one backed with power and meaning.

“The tattoo, Jesse, marks that you are mine.”

Hana let out another loud snore. She topped it off by kicking her legs and rolling out of the giant bean bag chair, followed by a short but violent crash as her body slammed into the nearest pile of soda cans. A curse, a snore, and Hana went still.

Jesse didn’t notice any of it. His world was Hanzo. As it always was.

But before Jesse could rub enough braincells together to move, to react, to do anything, Hanzo sat up and left his world far colder. Now that his eyes had adjusted to the dim light Jesse could make out Hanzo’s expression. Smiling. He was smiling. Hanzo held out his hand to Jesse, said something and, after Jesse clearly didn’t respond the correct way, said it again.

“I never taught you how to summon Soba. We should fix that.”

***

After a long, winding path spent dodging agents getting ready for that morning’s mission, Hanzo and Jesse ended up at a small beach at the bottom of the cliffs. Jesse was thankful that Hanzo had chosen one easily reached and not the normal ‘scale down a sheer cliff’ beaches he preferred. He had only tried following Hanzo to one of those beaches once. Once.

(Jesse later argued that the fall hadn’t been that bad, and he did land on something soft. The issue was the soft thing was Hanzo. Angela banned them both from ‘doing anything dumber than normal’ for two weeks after that.)

The first real light of dawn had begun to bleed into the horizon by the time they reached the water’s edge. Jesse could see Hanzo now, hair barely contained in his ponytail and still wearing the same clothes from yesterday. Not that Jesse was in any better condition. Neither man had spoken on their short journey. Neither man had also let go of each other’s hand. The second Jesse accepted his outstretched hand Hanzo entwined their fingers together. It felt...right. Dragon tattoo against dragon tattoo. Jesse almost whimpered when Hanzo finally let go.

“Long ago, according to my father’s tales, one of my ancestors helped a great and powerful dragon spirit in its time of need. As thanks the dragon swore that its children would protect my ancestor’s children for as long as the two lines continued. I do not know if this is the truth, as a lot of knowledge about the dragons died with my father. But I know this: they are as real as you or I. As long as we breathe they shall be our companions. When our time is done they will escort us to whatever lies beyond. And they will do the same for those we,” Hanzo finally broke eye contact with the ocean’s waves to face Jesse, “for those we love.”

“Han-” Jesse’s attempt to close the gap between them-to let the rush of words sitting in his chest out, to do anything-was cut off by Hanzo firmly planting a hand on his chest. A crackle of blue energy running down Hanzo’s arm was enough to get Jesse to contain himself once more. The message was clear: not yet.

“Normally a dragon would be shared between,” Hanzo struggled for a second, “partners. Twin dragons are rare, the last being in my family almost a hundred years ago. I had wondered what would happen if I ever found anyone, not that I ever thought of such foolish things before I met you-”

“Oh Hanzo-”

That got another poke from Hanzo, still not yet, “But I honestly didn’t think you would be given one permanently.”

“Well, Soba and me do go back aways,” Jesse said with a tilt of his hat. That got an eyeroll from Hanzo.

“No matter the cause it is clear that Soba is yours now. And I have been greatly remiss in teaching you how to summon him. Give me your hand.”

“It’s already yours, dar-”

Hanzo grabbed Jesse’s hand, perhaps squeezing it a little too tight, and outstretched both of their arms towards the ocean. The blue light crackled across Hanzo’s arm once more and Jesse could almost feel the dragon within. His arm, on the other hand, felt like a dead shark crammed into a bowling ball. Jesse looked down at Hanzo only to see the man was already smiling back. Hanzo’s hand moved down from Jesse’s hand to his wrist. Not yet, not yet.

“Focus.” Hanzo said, his eyes still on Jesse. “There is a dragon within you. Wild and powerful, but not uncontrollable. Soba is waiting for your command. You must chose a word, a gesture, or a phrase, something to let Soba know that it is time to strike against your enemies. Think, and let Soba know. But think carefully, such a thing should not be chosen lightly.”

Jesse closed his eyes.

He knew.

Soba knew.

And, by the sigh he let out, Hanzo also knew.

With a smile on his lips Jesse formed a gun with his outstretched hand and gave the command.

Bang .”

Jesse only saw the red light on his arm for a second before he felt the rush of wind blow past, no, through him. The light was everywhere and he could feel it. Jesse could feel Soba’s rush of emotions as the dragon shot out over the water, full sized in all of his majesty. The fear that always came with being so close to the dragons in this form had been smothered by the overwhelming joy that flowed through Jesse and Soba alike. So staggering was the sensation Jesse hadn’t heard Hanzo speak until a second gust of wind blew past as Udon joined his brother in the sky. There the dragons danced together, red and blue lights glittering upon the waves, reunited once more.

“Well?” Hanzo finally said, “how does your arm feel now, cowboy?”

Jesse flexed his tattooed arm. It didn’t feel like any sort of rotting marine animal in a too tight space anymore. But it didn’t feel what Jesse may have once described as normal. It felt, it felt…

“It feels like when I saw you again, after the Recall.” Jesse turned his attention away from the dragons and back to the far more important, and obviously confused, Hanzo. “I’d spent the past five years of my life trying to pretend there wasn’t anything wrong. Like trying to ignore a festering wound. I thought the Recall would be a nice distraction at least. But there you were. The last man I expected to ever cross paths with again. Almost didn’t recognize you with those fancy piercings and new haircut. But then you drew your bow and everything clicked into place. And I mean everything. It was that very moment I realized I wasn’t complete without you. You make me whole.” Jesse rested his metal hand on the back of Hanzo’s neck and smiled. “That’s what my arm feels like.”

Hanzo didn’t respond right away. And not with words. He rose up to meet Jesse, finally crossing the gap that separated them for so long. The dragons still soared high above over them, twisting and turning with the breeze. But nothing the dragons could offer was as magnificent, or as important, as Hanzo and Jesse’s first kiss.

The dragons really didn’t hold a candle to the second, longer, lingering kiss.

Frankly by the time Hanzo had knocked Jesse back onto the beach they had forgotten about the dragons altogether.  

Chapter Text

Satya was not looking at Fareeha.

Satya was looking at the holograph floating in the air displaying their mission. If Fareeha just happened to be in her line of sight then so be it. And if the light from the holographic displays were dancing on Fareeha’s skin in a rather distracting manner then there was nothing Satya could do about that. Satya did wish that Junkrat would stop nudging her in the ribs every time Fareeha looked her way.

“-unfortunately we do not know the exact location of the old Talon base in Rio. However,” Fareeha said as she pointed at the highlighted location on the floating map. “We have narrowed it down to this area.”

“On my home turf?” Lucio said as he leaned against the table, “No way!”

“Right on the edge of the,” Satya cleared her throat, “temporarily halted Vishkar development.”

“Permanently stopped,” Lucio replied.

“For now.”

“And I would like to remind everyone,” Fareeha said stressing each word, “That there will be no bickering on this mission for any reason. Yes, Genji?”

Genji lowered his hand. “What about if certain people in this party still owe me money?”

That got Lucio to relax. “Never, Green Ninja! I’m still pretty sure you cheated at Dance Dance. No one’s that good at Paranoia!”

Fareeha sighed. “Anyone else?”

“Yes!” Reinhardt said at his normal volume, which meant Satya still jumped from the sound. “I mean no disrespect to our superiors-”

“We have bosses?” Junkrat asked, honestly confused.

“-But I question why our demolitions expert was brought along a mission that requires stealth.”

“Oi! That’s,” Junkrat frowned, “that’s a good point. How come I’m here?”

“One of life’s great mysteries,” said Genji with a solemn nod.

Fareeha’s shoulders rolled back in that far-too-distracting way again. “The area we will be searching is currently on police lockdown. Junkrat is here to distract the police by being Junkrat. Since Roadhog is currently indisposed with his promise to help Bastion with his harvest, Reinhardt will be providing backup.”

“Roadhog is a good man!” Reinhardt said as he placed a hand on Fareeha’s shoulder, “And I am proud to go on a mission led by my daughter.”

Fareeha lit up at those words. “Thanks, Dad.”

“Reinhardt is Fareeha’s dad?” Whispered Lucio.

“Explains her height, I guess.” Replied Junkrat.

“And the rest of us?” Genji said perhaps a little louder than normal.

That snapped Fareeha out of it. Her smile vanished as she reverted back to mission mode. “Genji, you will be with me up on the rooftops. Satya, you’re with Lucio.”

A choked cry from both Satya and Lucio was cut off by Fareeha raising her hand. “Listen. Lucio, Satya, I trust both of you with my life. You are both friends, companions, soldiers and heroes in my eyes. And I know you can both overcome your differences to work together. I believe in this. I believe in both of you.” Fareeha looked directly at Satya and smiled. “Okay?”

“I’ll be on my best behavior,” Lucio said with a sigh. “Peace, Satya?”

“Guh,” said Satya.

Lucio nudged Satya’s arm. “You okay in there?”

“Whoops, looks like Satya’s gotta be reset.” Junkrat nudged her even harder. “Hey Satya! Hardlight! Dragons! Technology! That one shade of blue you really like!”

Satya blinked once and turned to Junkrat. “What?”

“See? Works every time! Keep that in mind while you’re down there, frogboy.”

Fareeha turned off the hologram projection. “I think that’s enough for now. We will go over the exact details of the mission once we are closer to the target. Satya? If I could speak with you a moment? Up by the controls?”

“Bwu?” Satya said. Sort of. She opened her mouth and a noise came out. She may have continued speaking nonsense if Genji hadn’t nudged her in the side and made it worse by giving her a thumbs up. There was that feeling again, as if everyone else was reading from a different script. Her eyes searched for Junkrat only to find him off to the side whispering with Lucio. She didn’t know how to feel about that.

Junkrat caught Satya’s eye and gave her a thumbs-up, too.

She was missing something. Satya hated it when she missed something so obvious to everyone else. With a returned thumbs-up to Junkrat (was that the proper response?) Satya climbed the stairs up to the navigation deck where Fareeha stood alone. There was no need to panic. Fareeha most likely wanted to talk to her about the mission. Yes. The mission.

“You wanted to speak with me?” Satya said as she walked right up to Fareeha. Focus. Try to figure this mystery out.

“Yes! Yes.” Was Satya reading her wrong or did Fareeha look...nervous? “Yes. I wanted to personally thank you for coming along with this mission. I know that your ties with Vishkar-”

The other woman’s words drifted to the background as Satya did her best to appear to be making eye contact. Normally she would look at the other person’s nose to do such a thing, but she couldn’t pull her eyes away from Fareeha’s tattoo. Thoughts like ‘that must have hurt’ and ‘why doesn’t she tattoo the other eye’ floated aimlessly through Satya’s head. It was almost enough to drown out the still lingering intrusive thoughts from before.

-how did McCree lose his arm how do the dragons work magic can’t be real it can’t no remember Zenyatta’s words focus on what can be solved focus how did he lose that arm-

“-Saturday night?”

Satya froze. A direct question. “I’m sorry?”

Fareeha’s smile from before returned. “Would you like to accompany me to dinner Saturday night? There’s a bar in the town near the base that has great food. Unless you aren’t interested, which is fine, I don’t want to pressure-”

“Dinnerwouldbelovely.” Satya said, all as one word.

“Great!” Fareeha glowed, and not just from navigation console’s lights. “I’ll come to your room around six Saturday and then we can head into town, okay?”

“Soundsgreat.” Was Satya even the one saying these words? Were they words?

“You don’t have to wear anything fancy, unless you want to, you always dress so nice, I mean really nice and-” Fareeha’s odd ramble ended as her head snapped to attention. “JUNKRAT PUT THAT DOWN RIGHT NOW!”

“I WASN’T DOING NOTHING!” Junkrat shouted back as he dropped the oxygen tank in his hands back into the wall unit.

Fareeha let out an exasperated sigh before she lowered her face closer to Satya’s. “No offense, but I do not understand your friendship with that Junker.”

“Nor do I.” Satya said as she gave Junkrat a thumbs up. She was pretty sure that was the right move.

***

Rio was exactly how Satya remembered it: loud, poorly laid out, and with Lucio bothering her the entire time. The temptation to shoot at Lucio (just like in the old days) faded as they entered the silent neighborhood which held the Talon base. Maybe. More of a hunch if the mission debriefing was anything to go by.

Satya didn’t have any problems reading Lucio’s expression. He looked at the empty storefronts and apartments the same way one may look at a dying animal. The feeling that she should say something rose in her chest as they walked together in silence.

‘Vishkar would have fixed all of this’ was the truth, but not what needed to be said.

‘We need to focus on the mission’ was also true, but wouldn’t really help.

‘I’m sorry’ was right at the tip of Satya’s tongue but she couldn’t get it out.  

‘Do you think those distant explosions are Junkrat’ was just a silly question because of course those distant explosions were being caused by Junkrat.

Instead she went for what she hoped was a safe topic and picked up from the last time they spoke. “Do you think they’re still talking?”

That got a snort from Lucio. “Shall we see?”

Satya reached up and turned her communicator back on the same time Lucio reached for his. There was a brief crackle, followed by Fareeha’s voice.

“-asked Egg?”

“I did!” Came Genji’s voice, still shaky from before, “She just laughed and told me I had to figure it out for myself.”

“I thought Shimadas could control the dragons,” Fareeha said in a sisterly sing-song voice.

“I wish. Never should have let her study under my Master. But seriously! What am I supposed to do? Just go up to both of them and ask if I can see their legs-”

Both Satya and Lucio turned off their communicators. “Still talking,” Satya noted.

“You think they’re going to notice they’re on the main line anytime soon?” Lucio asked.

“I thought Genji would have run out of steam by now. It’s been almost an hour.”

“Genji’s got no chill,” Lucio shrugged. “Weird considering he always hangs out with Zenyatta. And might be in love with him? I kinda got lost on that whole conversation. Glad I don’t have to worry about stuff like that,” he added quietly to himself, yet still loud enough for Satya to hear. She almost questioned him about it before a thought sprung up in her mind.

“Did Genji say that Zenyatta taught his dragon?”

“Yeah?” Lucio motioned vaguely in the air with his hand. “Egg meditates with Zenyatta all of the time. She curls herself up in this big knot and everything, it’s adorable! Course there was this one time she started asking me monk-like questions about existence and stuff. That got kind of weird. Has Egg ever talked to you?”

“I...wasn’t aware that the dragons could talk,” Satya admitted.

“Well have you tried talking to them?”

Satya stopped, her feet falling heavy onto the sidewalk. “What?”

“You’ve been asking people about the dragons and how they work, right?” Lucio stopped skating right in front of Satya, “You should try asking them! Egg talks non-stop if Genji doesn’t stop her. I mean it’s this weird you can feel it in the back of your skull talk but it counts. And I’m sure now that Soba’s hitched a lift on Jesse he’ll be a lot more social. Then again I heard that Udon made a real show in the lab, wish I was able to see that myself-”

“I took pictures of Udon,” Satya said, phone in her outstretched prosthetic hand, “from that day. If you want to see them.”

Satya had many, many pictures of Udon from Hanzo’s lab visit. After she had pried the small dragon from Lena’s hands she had taken as many as she could. She may have even stretched out the various diagnostic runs on Hanzo’s prosthetics just so she could spend more time studying Udon. But after almost an hour all she got was that the clearly impossible dragon enjoyed tummy rubs. And shiny objects. Udon had been entranced by her hard light creations. In fact her phone’s background was now Udon in a fierce battle with a little hard light bird.

Lucio went to grab Satya’s phone only to pull away. “You’re not, you’re not studying the dragons for Vishkar, are you?”

The answer came out before Satya could even consider lying. “No.”

Satya paused. She wasn’t, was she? Did she ever? Perhaps at first, but the idea of informing Vishkar about the dragons seemed...wrong. In a way she couldn’t exactly explain. The realization was quickly followed by the far more alarming realization that she hadn’t sent an email update to Vishkar in weeks. Not since Hana shoved the video of Soba and the terrified Jesse into her face. Yet she saw the doubt on Lucio’s face.

“Magic isn’t real.” Satya said, every word landing heavy. “Therefore, the dragons should not exist. But they do. I want to find out why.”

Lucio wrinkled his nose in a plain show of confusion. “Uh. It is?”

“Is what?”

“Real. Magic is real. How do you think I heal people?”

Satya felt her stomach drop. “Oh no. Not you too.”

Lucio smiled. Satya remembered that part clearly. Lucio smiled, and started to laugh. Was he going to say something? Was she? That part she couldn’t remember. Everything had been a blur after her prosthetic hand and phone shattered in front of her eyes; the sound of the shots ringing in her ears. There were more shots, Lucio screaming, and the very sudden sensation of her body hitting the pavement. For a brief second she thought it was from getting shot again but no, he had pushed the two of them down. She picked herself up enough to see the blood-too much blood-streaming from his legs. Another shot, this time hitting his sound amplifier on the ground next to them. Satya grabbed Lucio and prepared for the worse.

Nothing. No more shots.

Satya didn’t question it. With one arm around Lucio she grabbed his destroyed sound amplifier and dragged him behind the first bit of cover she could find. Behind an abandoned bus wasn’t exactly ideal, but it was something between them and whoever had been shooting. Satya allowed herself a brief moment of panic (they were shot they were cornered they were going to die) before she took a deep breath and focused on assessing the situation instead.

Lucio had been shot, twice, once in each leg. She had been shot, once, right through the palm of her prosthetic hand. His sound amplifier had been shot as well but was still blinking and making weird noises. Her prosthetic was very much inactive. Her communicator, however, still worked.

“Come in! Anyone!” Satya shouted as the line buzzed to life, “We are down, repeat Lucio and I are down-”

“Satya!” Fareeha’s voice came in with a burst of static, “What happened?! Where are you? Are you hurt? Where’s Lucio?”

“Sniper. Lucio has been shot in the legs and I was hit in the arm. We have taken refuge behind a bus, and our attacker has ceased shooting but is most likely still trained on us-”

“...wasn’t trying to kill us.” Lucio groaned as he forced himself to sit up. He was also half-leaning half-grabbing onto Satya’s side, but she could forgive him for that.

“What was that?” Fareeha said over the line.

“They didn’t shoot to kill.” Satya said, the pieces in her mind fitting together. “Shit! Do not come for us! This is a trap! They’re trying to lure the rest of you here! Repeat, do not-”

“Fuck that!” Came in Junkrat’s voice, “Give me five minutes and I’ll blow that entire street up!”

“A noble cause, my dear Junkrat, but you must contain yourself!” Reinhardt said loud enough for the static to come back, “We must get our companions out first!”

“I said don’t come for-”

“Satya!” Fareeha’s voice cut Satya off, “We’re getting both of you out of there. I know you’re not a medic but see if you can help Lucio in any way-”

“Already on it!” Lucio said, already fiddling with his leg bracers. He let out a humorless laugh, “Whoever did this is one hell of a shot.”

“Widowmaker,” Genji finally came in. “It has to be her. No one else could make a shot like that.”

Both Reinhardt and Fareeha cleared their throats.

Genji sighed, “No one working for Talon. Happy?”

“Not until we get our people out of danger,” Fareeha replied.

“I got an idea!” said Junkrat. “But I’m gonna need time to prepare. Satya, is there any way you can keep that spider busy for a tick?”

“Busy?” Satya looked over to Lucio, who was...singing? Fine. She had weird coping mechanisms too. At least the bleeding was slowing down. “How am I supposed to keep her busy without getting shot?”

“You’re the genius! You figure that out! Just keep yourself from getting filled with lead before I get there!”

“How am I-” Satya’s eyes moved down to the still blinking sound amplifier by her feet. “I got an idea. Keep me inform me the second you are ready, Junkrat. Over and out.”

Satya snapped open a panel on her arm to reveal a thankfully untouched small set of emergency tools. She worked quickly, doing her best to ignore the communication chatter and Lucio’s constant stream of ‘what are you doing’ and ‘hey that’s mine’ and ‘I’m not going to bleed to death by the way in case you were worried’. Instead she focused on the task at hand.

Open the leg and skates to get at the internal batteries. Use wires from her arm to connect to sound amplifier. Drop amplifier because she forgot about the whole non-working hand thing. Awkwardly hold amplifier with knees while plugging the wires back in. Decrease sound wave amplification to non-damaging levels. Wonder if Lucio even knew that was an option. Smack sound amplifier until the lights stop flickering.

“Junkrat,” Satya said loud enough to interrupt the chatter, “status update.”

“Five minutes!” Junkrat said between pants, clearly running, “Got your location locked down! Keep her distracted!”

“On it.” Satya took a deep, calming breath before she raised the sound amplifier to her lips. With a knot in her stomach and Lucio staring at her she spoke, her voice now loud enough to be heard by the sniper across the street.

“Widowmaker! I have a question for you!”

Was it Satya’s imagination or did she hear a woman’s laugh? She tightened her grip around the handle and continued.

“You get a million dollars, but your gun makes a different animal noise every time you shoot.”

Satya cringed.

Lucio hissed, “What the hell was that?!”

“I panicked!” Satya whispered back.

“What sort of animal noise?”

Satya almost didn’t hear Widowmaker shouting from across the street. She exchanged a brief, panicked look with Lucio before raising the amplifier back to her lips. “Like a sheep going baa-baa, or a cow going moo!”

A pause. “Realistic or like how you’re saying it?”

“Realistic!”

“Why is this working?” Lucio whispered, which got a shrug from Satya.

“Do I get to pick the animal?” Shouted Widowmaker once again.

“No, it’s random. It might be a tiger roaring, or it may be a cat upset it’s getting a bath.”

“What about extinct animals?” Lucio said, loud enough for the amplifier to pick up his voice.

“I want my rifle to sound like a Tyrannosaurus Rex!”

“Three minutes!” Junkrat said over the line, “and I think she’s going to take the million!”

“You don’t get to choose the sound!” Satya licked her lips, “And it will be twice as loud as your normal gunshot.”

“That wasn’t part of the deal!” Widowmaker cried back. Satya could almost pinpoint exactly where her voice was coming from. Sixth floor, dead-center.

“You could get something really cool!” Lucio leaned closer to speak into the amplifier. “Like a mighty dragon! Or a rooster going all cock-a-doodle-do!”

There was that almost-laugh noise from Widowmaker. As if the woman wasn’t sure what a laugh even sounded like. “Sounds like something McCree would enjoy.”

“Two minutes! Right down the block!” Said Junkrat over the communicator.

“Wait.” Satya lifted the amplifier up and away from Lucio’s reach, “Wait! You know Jesse?”

Another not-really-laugh from Widowmaker. “In another life! What does it matter?”

“Satya,” Lucio dropped his voice low, “You’re not-”

“Do you know how Jesse lost his arm?” Satya asked before she could stop herself.

“Feh!” Widowmaker spat the word out, “Knowing that fool? He must have bitten off more than he could chew. As always.”

Lucio, still obviously in pain, leaned over Satya so he could speak into the amplifier, “I gotta ask, did he always have that belt buckle?”

“Lucio!” Satya said as she pushed him back.

“What? I want to ask dumb questions too!”

“Yes! No. No. No he did not. Did he? Maybe. Did…” Widowmaker’s voice trailed off, her mumbling barely reaching Satya’s ears.

“Guys! We’re in position!” Junkrat said, his voice now having an odd echo to it, “Look to your left!”

Satya did so and yes, there, right down the block was Junkrat and Reinhardt, clearly both out of sight of Widowmaker. Junkrat even jumped and waved. “I see you,” Satya confirmed, “Are you ready?”

Junkrat stopped jumping. “Er, no. We’re gonna need one last big distraction. Something that’d totally keep her attention on you. But just for a second! Then we’re gonna swoop in and get both of you out of there!”

“And Fareeha shall quite literally swoop in!” Reinhardt helpfully added.

“Come on Satya, tell me you got something in that brain of yours!” Junkrat said. Satya could have sworn there was an odd edge to his voice.

“Do you?” Lucio smiled at her, despite the blood and pain.

Satya nodded. “I do. Going radio silent. Wait for the signal.”

Funny. The nerves and panic from before was gone. There was only a calm now, the type she only felt while meditating with Zenyatta. She picked her broken phone off the ground and pressed it into Lucio’s hands. “Give this to Winston. He should be able to remove any undamaged data. I would prefer if it was sent to Vishkar, but I understand if Overwatch would rather keep it.”

Lucio’s smile vanished. “Wait, wait, wait. What are you-hey!”

Satya stood up, her body still shielded by the bulk of the bus. “Lucio, I need you to give Junkrat the go-ahead the second I’m out of cover.”

“Satya, you’re not-” Lucio tried to stand only for his legs to give out under him, “Satya, don’t you dare-!”

“Junkrat needs a distraction.” Satya held up the amplifier. “I’m giving him one.”

Satya, ignoring Lucio’s last shout, stepped out from behind the bus with the amplifier drawn and pointed up to the sixth floor. She could see Widowmaker, blue and purple against the building’s dull grey, and she could see rifle pointed straight at her.

Widowmaker never answered her question about the animal noises, Satya thought as she pulled the trigger.

Fareeha had asked her out on a date, Satya also realized the very second Widowmaker took the shot.

She felt the force of the bullet this time, pain exploding on the side of her face. The pain, the noise, the blossoming pain ripped through the high-pitched whine which had become the world as she fell back onto the concrete. Yet through it all, right before her body hit the ground, Satya saw possibly the last thing she expected: Junkrat’s RIP Tire soaring through the air, landing in front of Widowmaker.

Satya found some small comfort in the fact that Widowmaker clearly hadn’t expected it either, right before everything went black.

***

Her visor was broken.

Satya did not remember coming to. There had been ground, and voices, but none of that seemed to be there. She had been floating somewhere, somewhere with music, before sight of her visor smashed on the ground brought her back. Her lips moved in a desperate attempt to inform said voices about her visor.

“Shh, it’s okay Satya, help’s on the way.”

Someone was holding her hand. Her real one. A face came into focus. She almost didn’t recognize it at first. Luckily the tattoo was a giveaway. Satya tried talking again in hopes that maybe Fareeha could do something about her visor.

“You’re okay! You’re okay.” Fareeha said, cupping Satya’s cheek. Shouldn’t that hurt? Satya just felt sort of numb all over. “It’s okay. I’m here.”

“Fa...ree...” Satya took a deep breath (tried, her chest felt so tight), and forced the word out. “Fareeha? Lucio…”

“Lucio’s okay too,” Fareeha said. “We’re all okay. Well. Not Widowmaker. But we’re okay! Transport’s almost here, we’ll be home before you know it. Angela will have you patched up in no time.”

Tears. Satya was sure of it now. Fareeha had been crying. Satya tried to reach up to touch Fareeha, but her arm refused to move.  “You asked me out.”

That got a laugh from Fareeha. “Yeah, I did. Lucio said your head might be mixed up a little. Do you remember what happened?”

Satya closed her eyes. Widowmaker. Animal noises. Junkrat needed a distraction. Lucio yelling, screaming at her to stop. The empty streets of Rio. Widowmaker’s laugh. Her hand exploding. Her phone. The pain. Blue and purple painted red with fire. A dumb question.

An answer.

Her eyes snapped open. The world was in focus once more. Now she could see the smoke rising up to into the blue mid-morning sky. She could hear Lucio and Junkrat arguing about something. If she strained hard enough she may have even heard the transport coming in. Fareeha must have sensed something, because she tightened her hold on Satya’s hand.

“Satya? What is it?”

Satya met Fareeha's worried gaze. “I know how Jesse lost his arm.”

 

Chapter Text

If there was one thing Jesse was used to, it was endings. His life had been nothing but endings, from him losing his Mom to being torn away from Deadlock and the only other family he ever knew. And as much as he loved Blackwatch he knew it would end one day, too. Everything did. It was just a part of life. That didn’t mean it hurt any less when it happened. But this time, this time was different. Losing his mother had been a shock. Getting dragged from Deadlock Gorge sure as hell wasn’t part of his plans. But leaving Blackwatch? He had been planning his departure for months.

Jesse wasn’t sure when exactly the urge to leave Blackwatch sprung up inside him. There was no one mission that went wrong, no argument with Gabe that pushed him over the edge. It was a quiet discontent that grew with every passing day. A rock in his shoe that he couldn’t shake. But Jesse knew he couldn’t just get up and leave without Gabe dragging his ass back. So he bid his time acting the part of the perfect agent until the exact moment he could act.

That moment arrived in the form of a phone call from Fareeha at four in the morning. Jesse, who had only just fallen asleep, managed to wrangle his phone from under the bed (how had it gotten there, anyway) and raised it to his face. Half-convinced he was just dreaming Jesse answered the call.

“Sis, I love ya, but timezones-”

“Mother has been shot.”

Jesse’s eyes snapped open. He wasn’t dreaming. “What-”

“Jesse. Don’t.” He could hear Fareeha sharply inhale on the other side, “Don’t say anything. I don’t want Athena to over hear what I’m about to say. Or anyone else. Understand?”

He didn’t respond to that. It must have been the correct response, because Fareeha continued.

“Mother was shot by Talon’s new sniper. She’s stable, but, but the doctors already said they won’t be able to save her eye. She was shot through her scope! Right in the eye! Just like she always said! Right in her fucking eye! Fuck! FUCK!” The curse was followed by more curses, most in languages Jesse didn’t know. He didn’t say anything, and instead waited for Fareeha to get it out of her system.

“Fucking fuck.” Fareeha sighed the last curse. “Listen, there’s more. Mother, she, she spoke to me before they put her under for surgery. She’s not going back to Overwatch. She’s, fucking hell Jesse, she wants to fake her death. Said it’s better if Talon thinks she’s dead. I tried to convince her to tell Morrison and Reyes but she won’t listen to me! What the hell does she want me to do? Plan a funeral? Let all of her friends mourn her? What about Dad? Reinhardt? Torbjorn? I can’t, I can’t-”

More cursing. Jesse buried his face into his pillow to keep himself from talking.

“-I can. I have to. I will. Listen. The reason I called, the reason I’m telling you any of this, is because Mother wanted to pass a message along to you. I don’t understand it so I’m going to guess it’s some sort of secret Blackwatch code? Jesse? You still there? You can answer me now.”

“I’m here for you, sis.” Jesse pressed the phone against his ear as hard as he could, as if he was afraid a single word would slip past him if he didn’t.

“She wanted me to tell you,” Fareeha took a deep breath, “shit or get off the pot.”

***

Jesse didn’t leave right away. He waited until after the fruitless search, the funeral, the mourning, until life at Overwatch returned to some sort of mockery of normality. After the funeral he didn’t really see either Gabe or Jack around. A fact he was honestly thankful for. Jesse waited until almost three months later when he was given a solo undercover mission. He packed his bags, stopped long enough to say his goodbyes (a hug for Angela, Brigitte and Fareeha, a firm handshake with Genji, and a bone-crushing smack on the back from Reinhardt. He only told Reinhardt about what he was doing. He never could lie to the man), and left for his mission.

Agent McCree, I cannot track your location. Please respond .”

And like a good agent Jesse had in fact completed the mission. He also then systematically went through all the items in his possession and removed every tracker that had been placed on him ‘for his own safety’. He found five in all, including the one he had to dig out from under his skin. Each tracker was now attached to five different cars and trucks heading in different directions. It was probably why Athena had contacted him.

“Mornin’ Athena!” Jesse sang into his communicator. There wasn’t anyone else in the airport bathroom that early in the morning, so it wasn’t like he had to be stealthy. “It is morning right? Eh, close enough. How you doing, sweetheart?”

I cannot read your vitals, and according to my systems you are currently in New Mexico, Alberta, California, Utah and Maine. Agent McCree what is your status?

Jesse let out a low whistle, “I’m in California and Maine? Bet that’s some sort of record.”

“Agent McCree-”

“Hold your horses, darling! I’m fine, I swear. Don’t you worry your pretty little computer brain about Old Man McCree! Mission was a success and I sent over all of the details. But uh, say Athena, can you do me a big favor?”

“Of course. How may I assist you?”

Jesse looked at his reflection dead in the eyes. Shit or get off the pot.

“Can you tell Gabe that I quit?”

“I’m sorry?”

“I quit. Been great workin’ for Blackwatch, best years of my life, very thankful for everything Gabe’s done for me, but it’s time for me to walk into that sunset all cowboy-like. Tell him that for me, will ya?”

Agent McCree, I do not-

“Please, Athena.”

There was a short crinkle of static from Athena. Her own version of a sigh. “I will inform Commander Reyes of your decision. Please take care, Mr. McCree.”

“You too, angel. Keep an eye on them for me.”

With that Jesse plucked the communicator from his ear, dropped it onto the tiled floor, and crushed it under the heel of his boot. He gave it a few more solid stomps just in case Athena was bluffing about not knowing where he was. When the device was nothing more than shards of plastic and metal Jesse finally looked back up at his reflection.

Jesse McCree. Thirty-two years old. Nothing to his name but a hat and a gun.

Ex-Deadlock. Ex-Blackwatch.

Free.

Jesse McCree, experiencing true freedom for the first time in his life, screamed. A hoarse, animal-like scream mixed with parts anger, terror, and joy. He didn’t care if anyone heard him, Jesse just needed everything to. Get. Out. When his voice began to fail he punched the counter to let pain take over for his throat. Only as the last ebb of emotion faded did the dying scream change into a laugh.

Free. He was free. For the first time in his life there was no boss, no gang, nothing telling him what to do or how to live or-no. There was one last thing he had to do before he buried the past for good. One last promise to fulfill. One last mission. After all-

“Justice ain’t going to dispense itself.” Jesse tipped his hat to his reflection and strolled out of the bathroom. If he got any stares on the way to the tarmac he didn’t notice. His mind was already on the next step of his mission like a good Blackwatch agent. The most important step of all: He needed someone way, way smarter than him.

***

“You got a lot of nerve walking into Los Muertos territory, cowboy. Don’t you know how dangerous it can be for rival gangs?”

Jesse noted that there was a lot wrong with that sentence. For one, the ‘Los Muertos’ territory the young woman was talking about was a table in a brightly lit McDonald’s, right next to the play area. Second, the young woman did not extrude an air of danger. She was a neon-covered disaster with a mohawk and a fetish for purple/green color schemes. Not exactly someone Jesse felt afraid of. He decided to actually say the third problem out loud.

“I ain’t in a gang anymore, Kerrigan. Haven’t been for years.”

Her name wasn’t really Kerrigan. Nor was it Onyxia, Andariel, Valeera, or any of the dozens of other names she’d went by in the past. Jesse also wasn’t sure where Gabe had originally found her. Hell, all he really knew about the young woman is that she was one of the best hackers in the world and had been more than happy to help Blackwatch for, her words, ‘shits and giggles.’ She was also willing to meet up with him for the small price of two boxes of fifty-piece nuggets, four large fries, and a milkshake. Cheaper than most Blackwatch informants, and she was also willing to share the grub.

“The only difference between Blackwatch and a street gang is their budget. Then again,” Kerrigan grinned as she dipped a few fries into said milkshake, “a little bird told me you’re not part of Blackwatch anymore, either.”

Jesse went for another nugget. “Is that so?”

“A little bird also told me that your old man is hunting your spur-wearing ass down.”

That got Jesse to pause mid-chew. He swallowed. “You’re not-”

“Relax!” Kerrigan said before taking a moment to devour her milkshake covered fries, “I’m not going to rat you out. At least not yet. Mmm, I’ll give you a week head start. But might point him in the wrong direction if I’m feeling generous.”

“Thanks Kerrigan, you’re a saint in neon clothing.” Jesse went to dunk one of the chicken nuggets into her milkshake, only for Kerrigan to swat his hand away.

"So what do you need from me, cowboy? Better be interesting, or I'll only give you five days."

Jesse took quick stock of the McDonald's. One bored worker behind the register, staring off into space. Another worker in front of the fryer whistling a jaunty tune. A mother playing with her phone on the other side of the play area. And a small child gnawing on a plastic ball from the ball pit. He was pretty damn sure none of them were interested in what he had to say

"I need information on an old coworker of mine. Stuff a normal background check wouldn't exactly pick up."

That seemed to pique Kerrigan's interest. "Now that's what I'm talking about! Who is it? Dr. Ziegler? Strike-Commander Morrison? Is it the giant talking Gorilla from the moon?" She leaned in closer. "Tell me it's the giant talking Gorilla from the moon."

"It ain't Winston." Jesse tried to ignore how disappointed Kerrigan looked. "I need everything you got on Genji. You know, the cy-"

"Yeah yeah the cyborg," Kerrigan sighed. "You're lucky, Gabe already had me do a full report ages ago."

She raised her hand (the one not holding fries) and points of light formed on the tips of her fingers. In a flash dozens upon dozens of holographic pictures hung in the air between them. Jesse wasn't sure what he was looking at first. It was like a puzzle he couldn’t quite piece together at first. There was skin, metal, limbs, even yet more skin-

"Gah!" Jesse covered his eyes, "Everything you got on him besides the dick pics!"

"You didn’t say what information you needed! And almost all of the pictures of him out there are nudes. But fine, I’ll put those away. Baby." Kerrigan waved her hand and most of the pictures vanished. "By the way, if you ever see a Japanese leaked sex video your pal is either on the screen or holding the camera."

"I really didn't need to know what Genji's dick looks like. Used to look like?" Jesse risked a peek. The photos that remained were far more tame and family friendly. There, right in the middle, was Genji. Not the Genji Jesse knew but the Genji that once was. A young man with bright green hair, killer eyebrows, and a charming smile. All of the other photos were of Genji with other happy people in various locations around Japan. Laughing, playing, living a life that was torn from him limb by limb.

"Genji Shimada," Kerrigan said. "Youngest of two, seemingly unconnected to the Shimada clan's dealings, legal or otherwise. Known for being an honorless bastard more than happy to drink, snort, and fuck the family fortune away. Killed three years ago on May fifth in a motorcycle accident, just a few weeks after his old man died. According to the reports he had been drinking, the weather was bad, etc etc. Complete bullshit of course. The family elders saw an opportunity to get rid of a troublemaker before his Papa’s body was even cold."

“So it was the family elders that did him in?”

The photos floating in the air vanished. Kerrigan’s face was unreadable. Never a good sign. “Why do you care, cowboy?”

Lacking a proper cigarette, Jesse instead tried his best at a dramatic pause via slowly chewing a chicken nugget. It really didn’t work, but he rolled with it. “There’s a wrong out there that needs to be righted. Might as well be the one who does it. And it’s not like I don’t have blood on my hands already.”

Her smile returned. “Revenge?”

“Justice.”

Kerrigan leaned back. “No, it wasn’t the elders. Not directly. But that information is going to cost you.”

Jesse sighed. Well. He’s come this far. “Fine. How much you want?”

“Seriously? I don’t want money, cowboy. Money is nothing!” Kerrigan picked up her phone and tapped the screen a few times. “I just deposited five thousand dollars into your so-called secret bank account. I can double it, triple it, take it all away or invest it. Who cares? It’s numbers! Boring numbers that control an even more boring world. No, what I want is information. Information that only you have. What do you say? Genji’s killer for what I need?”

“Did,” Jesse glanced at the back of her phone, “did you really just give me five thousand dollars?”

“Don’t change the subject. Do we have a deal or not?”

“I wasn’t born yesterday, Kerrigan. I ain’t agreeing to a damn thing without knowing all the terms first. What do you want from me?”

Kerrigan laid her hands on the table, took a deep breath, and stared right into Jesse’s eyes. “What’s your name?”

Jesse blinked. He quickly recovered with his most charming smile and a tip of the hat. “Why darlin’, I’m Jesse McCree-”

“Bullshit!” Kerrigan slammed her hand on the table loud enough that the worker behind the counter actually looked their way. “Unless you sprung fully-formed out of the ground at age fourteen your name is not Jesse McCree! Jesse McCree does not exist! You do not exist! I want your name, your real date of birth, everything!”

Jesse kept his gaze steady with hers, his smile never fading. “I’ll give you my date of birth and my real home town.”

“And your first name.”

“Middle initial.”

“Deal.” Kerrigan offered her hand, which Jesse shook. Well, half-shook. He didn’t want to damage any of the wires coming off it. The second he let go she held her hand up, and this time only a single holographic picture hung in the air. It was of two young men, standing shoulder-to-shoulder. Jesse recognized Genji from the other pictures, but not the other man. While Genji was smiling the other man looked pissed to even be there. Kerrigan pointed at the unknown figure in the picture.

“This is the only known photo of Hanzo Shimada. Eldest son, almost no information on him anywhere besides his love of archery and the general knowledge that he would take over the family one day.”

“Genji has a brother?” Jesse muttered, mostly to himself.  

“Had. Hanzo was going to take over, until his untimely death shortly after Genji’s. Car accident. Real nasty one too. Fire, shrapnel, rumor has it that the only parts of him that weren’t smashed to hamburger were his legs, and only because they were shorn clear off during the wreck. Right at the knees!” Kerrigan made a chopping motion to punctuate the point.

“And I take it you’re telling me this for a reason?”

Kerrigan snapped her fingers and another screen popped up. This time of a video with the grainy overlay that all security footage had in common. The camera was facing a large wooden wall with a carved dragon symbol on it, but it was off-kilter enough to show a good portion of the street. What he assumed to have been a wall opened to reveal it was in fact a very impractical door. Only then did he noticed that the date in the corner read May fifth, three years prior, right around midnight.

“Is this-” Jesse started only to be shushed by Kerrigan.

A lone figure exited out of the massive doorway. It took Jesse a second to recognize it as Genji’s brother Hanzo. His long black hair was wild, and his skin almost bone white against his dark clothes. He was holding something in his arms that Jesse at first thought was a skinned animal. But even through the night Jesse could make out that same pointy green hair and the hilt of a sword. Hanzo moved through a bright stream of light-

green hair red deep red quivering silver sword stained red dripping down through the back down the blade it moved it twitched the mouth was gone there was nothing nothing but red wide eyes black charred skin green red too much red

-only to step down into the street. With the light to his back Hanzo and what remained of Genji were nothing more than silhouettes to Jesse. Hanzo stood there in the empty street, Genji clenched to his chest, unmoving. Really not moving. Jesse glanced at the time stamp just to make sure the video didn't freeze. Finally, movement arrived in the form of three old men (who were more fancy clothes than skin) walking out of the doorway.

Unlike Hanzo, Jesse could see these men clearly in the light. They looked to him happy as three pigs wallowing in top-grade mud. The shortest of the three was talking, but since the video had no audio Jesse had to guess at what they were going on about. Whatever it was, Hanzo’s lack of a reply seemed to piss off the one talking. His wrinkled face contorted as he went from talking, to shouting, and then straight to screaming. Hanzo still didn’t stir.

As if on cue one the largest of the old men grabbed onto Hanzo’s hair to yank him back. The sudden jolt caused Hanzo to drop what little remained of his brother onto the cobblestone street and topple over into the light. Jesse had been wrong. Hanzo hadn’t been wearing dark clothes. They were just stained. Soaked. His expression still hidden behind his messed up hair.

The short man continued his unheard rant as Hanzo slowly picked himself back up. However Hanzo was going to react-speak, strike, grovel-he was cut off by the man slapping Hanzo hard enough that Jesse winced. Then topped it off by pointing at Genji, and then back to Hanzo. He may have been silent, but the message was clear.

 Both men, the short and tall, turned and walked back through the doorway, leaving Hanzo with the third old man. This one, the one that hadn’t spoken or acted, pulled the sword out of Genji and handed it back to Hanzo. He topped it off with a fond pat on the back of the hand before following the other two inside.

The video stopped on the image of Hanzo standing with his head down, staring at the sword in his hand. Jesse forced himself to unclench his jaw to speak. “Explains why Genji never talked about his family. You said Hanzo died?”

“According to official reports. But we both know how accurate those are.”

Jesse stared through the paused video at Kerrigan. “You think he’s still alive?”

“I don’t have any solid proof, but right around the time Hanzo ‘died’ a new assassin-for-hire popped up in Japan. He’s been spotted sulking around Hanamura, too. No definite proof that the assassin’s our dead brother, but there’s three clues pointing that way. No one has been able to get a clear photo of him, just like Hanzo, so there’s clue one. Kills his victims with a bow-and-arrow, so there’s two.”

“And three?”

Kerrigan waved her hand, causing the screens to vanish once more. “He’s missing both his legs, right below the knee.”

Jesse licked his lips. There was a dull ache in his stomach, and he knew it wasn’t because of his poor food choices. Hanzo was the reason Genji wasn’t fully human anymore. Why once a year Genji would go catatonic. Why Genji would slash into his victims, screaming, until they were paste. Why Genji tear at his own cybernetics in tears. Hanzo was the reason, and the bastard was still alive. Still out there killing.

But-

“Look at those eyes,” Kerrigan said with a grin. “You’re going to go kill him.”

“I’m gonna do right by a good friend,” Jesse replied.

“Sure sure, and if you have fun doing it I promise won’t tell a soul. Now it’s time for your end of the-” Kerrigan paused as her hand reached into the chicken nugget box. There was a brief flurry of panicked searching, ending with her tipping both boxes upside-down. She glared across the table at Jesse with the look of a woman betrayed by someone. “You ate all the nuggets ?!”

And like that Jesse’s charming smile returned. “Reckon’d I did. Must have lost track while we were yappin’. Sorry about that, darling.”

Kerrigan narrowed her eyes. “Just because of that you’re only getting a three day head start.”

***

Genji only spoke of home once, right after it was discovered that Torbjorn’s moonshine could get him drunk. Even then all Genji could get out was ‘The trees were pretty.’ That was it. Four simple words to describe the city Genji spent his old life in. As Jesse walked the streets of Hanamura he did have to admit they were nice.

They were the pride of the city, his cab driver had boasted when he arrived.

He should come back during Golden Week to see the peak of their beauty, explained a cute waitress on his second day there.

People from the world over come during Golden Week to see the cherry blossoms, said a rather drunk businessman on the fourth day.

Of course, the trees within the Shimada castle bloomed all year round, said the old woman after six days in Japan.

 “The Shimada Castle?” Jesse asked in that clueless-dumb-American-who-doesn’t-know-better way. For that he got a pat on the arm and a ‘never you mind’ from the old woman.

Try as he might no one seemed to be willing to talk to the charming Big American Cowboy about the Shimada Castle. Finding the place had been easy. The castle was nestled right in the middle of Hanamura with the rest of the city clutching onto its massive walls. Yet at the same time it was painfully obvious how everyone avoided the sprawling building. The old woman Jesse befriended had been the first person to even acknowledged that it existed.

A jaunt around the compound confirmed that the front door was the only way in or out. And there was no way he was making it up those walls with his bare hands. After his first go-round he tried to avoid the place as much as possible to avoid attention from anyone inside. That, and to keep himself from lingering where Genji almost bled out. He tried not to think about the video. He really did.  

A week passed, then another, and slowly the Big American Cowboy became part of the scenery. Jesse would help the old woman with her chores, chat with that same waitress at lunch, and drink with that same businessman every night. His cover story involved a sudden small fortune from striking oil and a long dream vacation to Japan. One look at his hat and spurs was enough for people to accept the story without question.

(There was a small grain of truth about the money. Kerrigan did, in fact, slipped an alarmingly large amount of money into his secret bank account. She also donated a few thousand dollars in his name to an old dog sanctuary. Jesse would never understand that woman as long as he lived.)

By the end of the month Jesse found himself alone at the bar, completely stumped. His own research had come to a dead end. He had been able to verify that the assassin Kerrigan mentioned did exist. And that he had been seen poking around Hanamura. How to find or contact said assassin was still very much a mystery. Which in Jesse’s opinion made him a pretty terrible assassin. Or a very rich one.

“Hey! American Cowboy!”

Jesse looked up from his drink. Shouhei, his businessman drinking buddy, was heading towards the bar. He was an okay guy, but most importantly Shouhei loved to gossip. If someone’s cousin was sneaking off with someone’s husband while the wife was shacking up with that nice omnic working at the grocer then Shouhei knew about it. Jesse readied himself for the latest round of gossip only to notice that, this time, there was a very large man walking with Shouhei.

“Cowboy!” shouted Shouhei again, obviously already a few drinks in. “This is my cousin, Rokurou! Rokurou, this is Callahan-san, the American I was telling you about.”

“Howdy partner,” Jesse said, drawing out every syllable. Rokurou had a solid foot and a hundred pounds worth of muscle on Shouhei, but lacked any of the fashion sense of the other man. They made an interesting pair to say the least.

“Fuck, he really is a cowboy,” Rokurou whispered with a note of awe in his voice. “Thought you were shitting me!”

“We’re celebrating tonight!” Shouhei managed to climb up onto the bar stool next to Jesse. “The family’s favorite deadbeat finally got a job!”

“Asshole,” Rokurou said with a touch of fondness in his voice.

Jesse tipped his hat to Rokurou. “Glad to hear it! Anything good?”

“Bastard won’t give me the details,” Shouhei said, cutting his cousin off.

“Top secret! Hush-hush! Gotta keep my lips sealed!” Rokurou replied as he grabbed a seat as well. “But not secret enough to celebrate! What do you say? Want to join us?”

“Only if you two don’t mind being drunk under the table,” Jesse nodded at the bartender to bring another round of drinks. Rokurou looked like the sort to know not-so-legit people. And the type also more than happy to talk.

Rokurou laughed, holding onto the bar for support. “It’s gonna take more than a few drinks to defeat me!”

It took a total of three beers and a shared bottle of whiskey to drink both men under the table. Well, Shouhei was down for the count. Rokurou was barely holding on, a rambling stream of words coming out of his mouth being the only thing keeping him awake. Jesse watched as the man wavered, mostly to make sure he didn’t slam his head into the bar.

“Gonna show them all, you know? They think I’m just some new guy! Some dumb new guy that’s only good at punching. But I’m better than that. I’m better than all of those smug rich bastards in their fancy suits. You know why?”

“Nope,” Jesse said as he tore the corner off his bar napkin.

Rokurou tapped the side of his head. “Cause I’m smart. Smartest bastard in that whole damn place! They just don’t know it yet, but they’ll see. I’m going to show all of them at the castle what I’m made of.” He lowered his voice and brought his head right up to Jesse’s, “I’m gonna take down Besra this year.”

Jesse’s first reaction was to ask who or what was Besra. But he had caught onto the passing mention of ‘castle’. Instead he nodded, as if he knew exactly what this drunk low-ranking yakuza thug was talking about. “What’s your plan?”

Rokurou grinned. Clearly he had been waiting for someone to ask him that. “Got it all planned out. Gonna wait until he shows up for his yearly visit, right? Let him do this thing of taking out the cameras, knocking everyone else out, whatever weird shit he does in the temple, all of that. Then when he’s on his way out over the front door-Wham! He’ll never see it coming!”

Jesse nodded along, “Sounds like a solid plan to me. Bet that Bessy-ra won’t know what hit ‘em.”

That got a hard, long laugh from Rokurou. He downed the rest of the bottle before grinning from ear-to-ear. “Just you wait, cowboy! After next Children’s Day I’ll be the one buying drinks! And you better invite over all of your American friends!”

“Will do, partner.” Jesse finally took a sip from his previously untouched glass. “Will do.”

***

Somehow Jesse wasn’t shocked to find out that Children’s Day was on May fifth.

***

He contacted Kerrigan once in the weeks between the night at the bar and the beginning of May. Jesse planned to ask her about Gabe, even if it meant giving up his real first initial, but he chickened out at the last second. Instead he asked a question he already partially knew the answer to thanks to Google.

“Besra?” Kerrigan said, clicking her tongue in thought. “It’s a type of bird. Predator. Eats small rodents and smaller birds. Why?”

Jesse debated with himself as he stared out of his hotel window. In the end he decided it was better to get back in the hacker’s good graces. “Heard some yakuza whisperin’ about a fellah going by the name Besra. Wondered if you had anything on him. Or if he could be that assassin friend of ours.”

Another click from Kerrigan. “Doesn’t match anything in my notes. Could be what Mr. No Legs is going by. Or could be some other rand-o. Since I don’t have anything in my records there’s a chance it could be a code name given by yaku-oh. Oh . Ohhhhh .”

He frowned at his own reflection in the dark glass. “What is it?”

“Nothing! Catch you later!” Kerrigan’s phone went dead, leaving Jesse confused and feeling as if he missed part of the puzzle.

***

May fifth arrived, and with it the small city of Hanamura was covered in colorful carp flags and families out celebrating. It warmed Jesse’s heart right up, even if he did have to stop a few hundred times that day because kids wanted to take pictures with a Real Cowboy. Sure, he could have just not dress up, but what was the point if he didn’t? So he smiled, posed for the cameras, and waited.

Night fell. The businesses closest to the front gates of the Shimada castle closed early. People hurried home. By the time it struck midnight there wasn’t a single living soul outside. Except Jesse, of course, hiding on top of a roof directly across from the castle’s main gates. There he sat, wishing he could have a cigarette. But even the smallest light might give away his position. So he bit the inside of his mouth and waited. And waited.

And there he was.

Jesse almost missed him, only seeing a brief hint of the man between shadows. There was a flash of gold, blue, and then nothing. If it wasn’t for that hint of movement he also would have missed seeing the figure silently climb the large wood doors and slip over the top. Not using any equipment either as far as Jesse could tell. Show-off. He held his breath in hope of hearing anything that was happening on the other side of the walls.

After a minute there was a short, cut-off yelp.

A round of gunfire that ended far too soon.

Louder screams, further away. Were any of them Rokurou’s?

Then, silence.

Jesse took the lull in the action to finally have a smoke. What did Rokurou say? ‘Whatever weird shit he does in the temple’? He should have pressed for a time frame. Weird shit, in Jesse’s experience, usually was either really fast or really drawn out. So he waited in that all too familiar limbo that came with missions. One hand on the edge of the roof, the other on his gun.

Hardly an hour later the figure scaled back down the Shimada Castle’s doors. Jesse expected him to run, but the second the man landed he moved to spot where Genji once lay. There he was, standing in the same beam of light from the video. Hanzo Shimada. Without mercy. Without redemption. And, Jesse noted, without a whole shirt. There were other small changes from the video. A beard, whispers of grey hair at the temples, and whatever softness he carried before was gone. But most importantly Hanzo now wore his hair up, allowing Jesse to finally see the man’s expression.

Ever since Jesse had arrived in Japan he thought about this moment. He would daydream about confronting Hanzo all proper-like. Explaining how this was for Genji. Maybe make a big fancy show of it with gun tricks and everything. Really go all out. God knows Genji would have loved something dramatic like that. But every time his thoughts wandered to the final confrontation he would just imagine Hanzo as he was in the video. Shaking. Pale. Clutching what remained of his brother tight.

 Jesse wondered if the expression Hanzo wore at that moment was the same one he couldn’t see before. Like a man who had lost everything. A beaten dog left to starve.

Still hidden in the shadows Jesse slipped between the seconds. Around him all of Hanamura froze save for a hot, desert wind that blew only for him. His eye ached, but he didn’t mind. Jesse accepted the cost of the Deadeye a long time ago. There, in the space between spaces,  he lined up his shots. Two at each prosthetic leg, one at the wrist, and final one trained on that fancy looking bow. Just enough to make sure Hanzo wasn’t going anywhere. Without a catchphrase, or witty comment, Jesse pulled the trigger.

Everything went wrong.

Of course everything went wrong. He was Jesse McCree. That’s how his life went. Yet he was still shocked when, against everything Jesse knew about the Deadeye, Hanzo dodged the shots. While the world was still within that space between seconds Hanzo was able to roll and stand back up with his bow at the ready. As Jesse threw himself to the rooftop he prayed Hanzo didn’t know where he was hiding.

 An arrow flew right where his head had been a second before. That answered that.

Jesse rolled onto his feet and ran, hearing another arrow fly over his head as he put as much distance between him and the archer. Normally he’d be able to escape via rooftops, but the memory of how quickly Hanzo was able to scale that door was fresh in his mind. After a leap over a narrow gap between two buildings Jesse risked a look back and yup, there was Hanzo, gold and blue following close behind. He debated shouting back at the man, perhaps explaining that this was all a misunderstanding, when Jesse ran into a pigeon.

It was his own fault, really. Ana had warned him of such dangers years ago. The pigeon had taken off when the Deadeye went off, leaving it fixed in the air about stomach level. Jesse slammed into the frozen bird hard enough that he fell backwards onto the rooftop. He tried to catch himself, and when that failed he braced for the arrow that was sure to come.

But it didn’t. Jesse lifted his head enough to see that Hanzo had instead chosen to get closer to the suspended bird. He tried pushing the bird, pulling it, and even poking it with the tip of an arrow. When all failed he looked over at Jesse and pointed at the bird, as if it was his fault.

“Don’t look at me darlin’,” Jesse said as he got up onto his feet. “Normally it wears off by now.”

Hanzo stared at Jesse with that same baffled look on his face. Stunned, but not in the unable-to-move-way he should have been.

Jesse took the opportunity to shield his eyes and throw down a flashbang at his feet. A grunt of shock from Hanzo was enough to let Jesse know that at least that still worked. He jumped off the side of the roof onto a raised walkway which crossed the street. Cover, he needed cover. Jesse also needed a second to reload. Or at least enough time to figure out what the hell was going on.

He ran across the walkway, ducking into the connected building on the other side. Some sort of storage unit if the boxes and stacks of paper were anything to go by. He silently thanked whoever was listening that it was currently unoccupied. Jesse rounded a corner into a hallway and reloaded as quickly as he could. At least he finally had distance between him and Hanzo.

An arrow embedded itself in the wall right behind Jesse.

“Never gonna piss off an archer again,” Jesse hissed as he jumped over a pile of dusty cardboard boxes. “Never ever ever-”

Jesse heard the loud grunt of what he assumed was Hanzo discovering that the cardboard boxes were as hard as concrete in the space between seconds. Which led back to Jesse’s question of what the hell was happening. His eye didn’t hurt anymore, everything was still stuck, and not to mention the whole pissed-archer-still-moving thing! Someone was paying for this, and it sure as hell better not be him.

The sound of metal feet on the tiled floor grew too close for comfort. Jesse twisted around to take a wild shot at Hanzo. Not to hit, but in hopes of maybe getting the man to slow down. The archer came around the corner just as Jesse fired his gun. A split-second later he realized that the bullet was going to strike Hanzo in the chest.

Somehow, things got even worse for Jesse.

Because the bullet didn’t hit Hanzo. The bullet never reached Hanzo, because the hallway they were standing in became blue. Just, blue. Jesse blinked and the blue light had become less all-encompassing and instead wrapped around Hanzo in the form of two streams-no, snakes-no, they almost looked like-

Dragons.

Jesse knew of Genji’s dragon. For the longest time he wrote it off as a hologram that Genji used to freak out his enemies. Then when he started seeing it ferret-sized around the base he, well, he didn’t really think about it at all. Magic was just one of those things. He could stop time, Torbjorn drank lava, Genji had a dragon. Genji never talked about it so Jesse figured it was none of his business.

But as the two dragons wrapped around Hanzo, one around his shoulders and the other on his tattooed arm, Jesse really wished he’d asked. Because the blue dragons were far bigger than Genji’s and looked extremely pissed off. Unless that was how dragons normally looked? Jesse took a step back and the dragon wrapped around Hanzo’s shoulders roared. The sound slammed into Jesse’s body and scratched at his skin like shards of glass. No, he was pretty sure the dragons were pissed off.

Hanzo shouted something unheard over the roar, and the other dragon leapt at Jesse with its teeth bared.

He was going to die.

Jesse took the shot. Instead of passing through the dragon like he feared, the bullet hit the dragon right in the horn. The glass, the bone, the horn splintered and cracked from the direct hit. The dragon reared back, letting out a howl of pain or anger or something Jesse wasn’t going to find out because he was getting the hell out of there. He turned and ran, not waiting to see how Hanzo or his dragons were going to retaliate.

The hallway ended in an open doorway to an office. An office with a large open window to let in the spring air. Behind him Jesse heard Hanzo’s footsteps, or maybe it was the dragons, or maybe it was something even worse because that’s how his life went sometimes. But he had made it this far in life by acting, not thinking. Before whatever was left of the logical part of his mind could kick in Jesse jumped out of the open window. An action he had done a thousand times before over the course of his life.

He twisted, he rolled, he landed all wrong.

Jesse swore he actually heard a snap when he hit the street below. It was a complete fluke, a costly mistake of landing on his wrist instead of his forearm. His Peacekeeper was right out of reach to make matters even worse. He tried to pick himself up only to find that his legs weren’t agreeing with him. All wrong, all wrong. Gabe would have been disappointed in him. A damn kid who was only alive out of sheer dumb luck. And this is where it ran out. On a cobblestone street in Japan, all because he decided to talk instead of shooting blindly.

He raised his head. There, on the walkway above, was Hanzo. The man had an arrow pointed straight at Jesse. His expression one of determination and nothing else. Those two damn dragons circling high above both men like vultures in the night sky. Jesse had to admit Hanzo looked real nice in the moonlight, despite everything. Shame they never got to talk. A real damn shame.

“This,” Jesse said, hoping that his voice still carried, “is for Genji.”

The name struck Hanzo hard. He flinched, which was all Jesse needed. Jesse used the second to lunge for his gun and, once it was clear his right arm wasn’t doing anything, grabbed it with his left. Not ideal but nothing in that moment was. With nothing left to lose Jesse aimed his gun up at Hanzo and prayed.

 Too late did Jesse notice that Hanzo had lowered his bow.

 Too late did Jesse notice one of the dragons was missing.

 Too late did Jesse hear the roar, jerking his head back in time to see the dragon with the broken horn barreling straight at him.

The dragon opened its mouth, those dagger-like teeth engulfing Jesse’s outstretched arm, and bit down.

Chapter Text

Time resumed once Hanzo landed on the cobblestone street. Smoke moved across the starry sky, streetlights flickered, and an extremely confused pigeon flew up into the night. He stepped soundlessly around what remained of the cowboy (Assassin?). The man spoke of Genji, but not if he knew his brother personally or was hired by someone who did. It didn’t matter anymore. Nothing did besides the extra blood on Hanzo’s hands.

Hanzo knelt next to the far more literal blood seeping out onto the street. Taking care not to stain his clothes he fished the cowboy’s (Assassin cowboy?) wallet out. As much as he hated lowering himself to stealing from the soon-dead, Hanzo hated not being able to eat even more. Inside was a rather well made fake ID, a frequent customer stamp card to a sub shop on the other side of the world, and far more cash than he expected the cowboy (Cowboy assassin?) to be carrying.

“A hired gun and nothing more,” Hanzo said.

Genji might have known a cowboy, said Udon from his perch on the walkway. He seems Genji’s type.

Soba said nothing. Instead he remained in the air above, floating in place.

The old woman down the street mentioned a vacationing American had been helping her out, Udon continued. We should stop by her house tomorrow to confirm this was him. Perhaps help her with some laundry while we’re there?

“We will remain here no longer than necessary,” Hanzo said as he pocketed the cash.

Soba landed on the street right next to what remained of the man. He was staring down at the puddle of blood, his light giving the near-black puddle a faint glow.

You should reconsider. Udon lowered the front half of his body down to Hanzo so he was face-to-face with his master. She has helped us before, echoed Udon’s voice, and has always shown kindness. There is no harm in a short visit before we leave. We may not have another chance to speak with her again.

“Udon-” Whatever Hanzo was going to reply was lost as the second-weirdest thing happened to him that night.

Soba burped.

It sounded like thunder, blew like wind, and smelled of a fresh rain, but there was no covering the fact that it was a burp. Which was odd, because Hanzo couldn’t think of a single time when either of his dragons had burped before. Mostly because they didn’t actually eat. (They enjoyed sweets and fruits, naturally, but would spit out the remains afterwards. Hanzo had been proud of the fact that his dragons disposed of their snacks politely while no one was around. Unlike Egg, who would just sort of spit it up the second she lost the flavor.)

“Soba?” Hanzo stood. “Are you alright?”

Soba licked a remaining spot of blood on his lips. Hola? Me llamo Soba? Soy de Japan. Mi color favorito es el azul. Este es mi hermano, Udon. Este es mi mejor amigo, Hanzo. Él está triste.

Uh oh, Udon said low enough that Hanzo almost missed it.

El es Jesse McCree y es un vaquero. Su madre se llama Ana y su padre se llama a Gabe. Él tiene una hermana pequeña llamada Fareeha, una hermana llamada a Angela, y un hermano llamado--pues--¡Color favorito de Jesse es rojo!

“What did you mean, uh oh?” Hanzo said as pointed at the other dragon. “And why is Soba speaking Spanish?!”

Udon jumped off of the walkway and landed next to Hanzo. Gently he bit down on the back of the cowboy’s shirt and lifted him up as gently as a giant dragon could. We need to get him to a hospital, Udon said. Now. Now now.

Jesse solía trabajar de Overwatch. Soba tilted his head. Ha sido en Hanamura de meses de espera y ayudar a la mujer por la calle con sus compras, Jesse McCree es muy útil a la gente en necesidad.

Hanzo stepped in front of Udon, trying not to focus on the bleeding man in his jaws. “This man tried to kill me. He brought me to, to whatever that place was, just to put a bullet in my head. Tell me why I should save his life.”

He’s, Udon flattened his ears against his head, important.

“Important.”

Yes.

Hanzo crossed his arms. “If he’s so important then why did Soba bite his arm off?”

Él tiene un sombrero de cuero, me gusta su sombrero!

He wasn’t important until Soba ate his arm.

“Udon-”

Udon lowered his tail. Master. Please .

With a sigh Hanzo untied his silk ribbon from his hair and secured it around what was left of the man’s arm. Despite the fact that there was far too much blood on the street the cowboy was still breathing. Hanzo wondered if his being alive had to do with Soba. Perhaps the cowboy was just that lucky.

Hanzo tilted the man’s head up. No, he thought, the cowboy wasn’t Genji’s type. Too rough around the edges. Too much muscle. Too damn handsome. “Perhaps you’ll get your revenge yet-”

Su nombre es Jesse McCree!

“-McCree-san.”

***

McCree was dropped off at a nearby hospital that learned long ago not to ask questions. Hanzo only caught the briefest glimpse of the cowboy being wheeled away on a stretcher-ridiculous hat perched on his chest-before he slipped away into the night. He made it several blocks away before he realized his favorite silk ribbon was still tied around McCree's stump.

Jesse will return it, came Soba's voice in a language Hanzo understood, when he hunts you down again.

"If he lives." Hanzo leaned back into the shadows of an abandoned building. He could barely make out a faint blue aura coming off his tattoo. "Done with your Spanish lessons?"

Si, uh, yes.

The blue light grew, twisted, and emerged from Hanzo's arm only to lazily wrap around in the form of Soba. He brushed his thumb across the dragon's now-cracked horn. It felt sharp as broken glass, but did not pierce the skin. "What happened?" Hanzo whispered.

Soba rested his head against Hanzo's hand. I…don't know, Master. I tasted blood, and dust, and hot wind that blows far from here. I caught the scent of a land without rain far out of the domain of dragons. It tasted like metal. It burned like the sun. And now I know Spanish!

 Hanzo sank down so his knees were pressed against his chest. He wrapped his arms around his knees tight. "I don't understand. Why did this happen now and not when, when…"

As if sensing how little Hanzo wanted to finish that thought, Udon appeared in a stream of light on his right arm. It happened, the other dragon said, because Soba did more than devour the cowboy's flesh.

Which was super gross, Soba added.

Soba ate a part of him. His soul, his spirit, his essence, a sliver of his very being. Normally for such a thing to happen the sacrifice must be made willingly. Your mother, for instance, gave all that she could to your father's dragon. And in return both he and his dragon grew more powerful from it.

 "My mother had all of her limbs."

Udon's body rippled in a way that suggested a shrug. The sacrifices are normally of a spiritual sort. This set of circumstances with Soba and McCree-san is a tad unusual, Udon said with an odd look towards his brother, but this is Soba we are talking about.

 Yeah Udon is right and-hey! Take that back!

 Hanzo watched as the twin dragons playfully began biting at each other, each still attached to his arms. A mighty battle between the dragons that would have been far more impressive if Hanzo couldn’t hear their giggling. There was a question lingering right on the tip of his tongue. He shouldn’t ask. He wanted to ask. He couldn’t. But the more he ignored the question the louder it became.

 He must have been thinking too loud because Udon stopped chomping on Soba’s head and turned to face him. Master?

 Soba, who had been playing dead, flipped back onto his stomach. Master?

 “You said names,” Hanzo finally said, “while you were speaking in Spanish. Who were they?”

 They were of McCree-san’s family, Soba said in a tone that suggested he knew where Hanzo was going. I saw people, memories, things I did not fully understand. I’m pretty sure there was a talking gorilla at one point. Why do you ask?

Master , Udon said, stressing the word.

Hanzo shouldn’t ask. He really shouldn’t.

“Did you see Genji?”

Soba laid his head down on Hanzo’s hand and gave it a lick. A comforting gesture from his childhood. McCree-san and Genji were friends. He loved Genji like a brother. And Genji loved him as such.

“So this was revenge,” Hanzo let out a laugh bitter enough to leave a foul taste in his mouth. “If I had known, I wouldn’t have dodged.”

The dragons did not respond. Instead they sunk back under his skin, leaving Hanzo alone once more. To laugh. To cry. To mourn. That was the rule. Tomorrow he would once again be a high-class assassin. But tonight he was just a common murderer.

***

Days passed. Hanzo left Hanamura for his next job.

Life returned to normal. Or as normal as life was.

***

He’s awake.

Soba’s statement came one night when Hanzo was failing to fall asleep. He lifted his arm to allow the dragon to slither out, but Soba didn’t budge. By the morning Hanzo had forgotten about it completely.

***

He’s angry.

Soba’s next statement came while Hanzo was on a stakeout for his current target. After hours of silence the sudden noise was almost enough to get him to fall out of his hiding spot. He shot a look at his tattooed arm but nothing else followed. The target finally left the hotel, and Hanzo suddenly had something far more important to focus on.

***

He’s sad.

This time Hanzo was ready. He put the arrow he was working on aside and directly addressed his arm. “This is McCree-san? Correct? You can feel him?”

Sorta, Soba replied, it’s less of a ripple and more of a picture of ripples sent to me by someone across the world. And they used like a really terrible filter on top of it.

“What?” Asked Hanzo.

Also I really want tacos.

What ?” Asked Hanzo again. He didn’t get an answer that time.

***

Weeks passed and the statements continued.

He’s tired.

He’s frustrated.

He’s confused.

He’s calm.

He’s excited.

He’s here.

The last statement came while Hanzo was eating at an open air ramen restaurant in Osaka, almost three months after his run-in with the cowboy. Hanzo felt a strange wave of relief wash over him as he heard the telltale clicking of boots by the entrance. He had been waiting for the cowboy to follow his trail of blood through Japan. Revenge would be too tempting to pass up. A fact Hanzo knew too well.

Hanzo didn’t bother to turn around to face McCree. What could he do? The guitar case holding his bow was just out of reach. Even calling upon the dragons would take too long. He could feel Udon and Soba twisting, howling under his skin but it was no use. Maybe McCree would grant him the mercy of a quick death. At least it would be over soon.

“Howdy, partner.”

Or maybe McCree would take a seat next to Hanzo instead. He let himself look McCree’s way, if only to check for any signs of danger. Instead he got to see a man completely out of his element. McCree did not look like he should be a patron of an open-air ramen stall. He should not have his elbow on the bar with his strange blanket (serape, Soba corrected) hung over what remained of his left arm. The cowboy was too large, too out-of-place, and his smile too damn genuine.

“So, funny story. I’ve been havin’ a nice little vacation in Hanamura, seeing the sights, enjoying the food, hunting down my best friend’s killer, when out of nowhere a dragon bites my arm off. Really put a damper on things, you know? Can’t perform any of my old fancy tricks with this two-bit piece of junk the hospital gave me. Made me right mad. Was real mad for a damn long time.”

McCree leaned into Hanzo's personal space, filling the air between them with the scent of smoke and gunpowder, “But, and here’s where the story gets weird, right before I’m discharged one of the nurses slipped who dropped me off. Didn’t give a name, of course, but I figure there’s not that many men running around Hanamura in fancy old clothes with a bow strapped to his back. Let me tell you, when I heard that it nearly knocked my hat right off!"

Hanzo risked looking away from McCree to check behind the bar. The omnic cook was long gone. Smart man.

"That got me thinking, what sort of man lets his dragons chow down only to drop said lunch off at the hospital? What sort of man breaks into his old home once a year only to leave without a trace? What sort of man kills his brother only to turn around and slaughter everyone else in his clan? So I decided to do a little research on my own. Cost me dearly, too. Had to give up my mother’s maiden name."

If the bizarre comment was meant to confuse Hanzo, it worked. But before Hanzo could ask any follow-up questions McCree continued.

“But it was worth it. Found out things about you, sweetheart. Things I wish I knew before I pulled the trigger. Like how you tried to run after you killed Genji. How the elders dragged you back and cut off your legs so you wouldn’t run again. But then you crawled to the family’s prosthetic maker, got some new legs, and slaughtered them all like pigs. Wish I knew that before, darlin’, really wish I knew.”

Hanzo used the end of McCree's ramblings to finally put his chopsticks down. He didn't want to answer the man. Assuming he could. Luckily McCree didn't seem to expect any, because the man used the break in his story to fish something out of his pocket.

"Here, I'm pretty sure this belongs to you, sugar." With that McCree dropped a familiar golden silk ribbon in front of Hanzo, narrowly missing the cooling bowl of ramen. "Fixed it up and got rid of the stains. Least I could do considering most of the blood was mine."

Hanzo picked his lucky ribbon up, wrapping the cloth around his hand. He almost didn't recognize it. The bloodstains were gone, old and new alike. The rip in the middle had been mended with such skill he almost passed over the stitches without noticing. Even the fraying ends had been hemmed. He traced his thumb across the rippling wave pattern before turning to McCree.

But whatever compliment on McCree’s skill Hanzo was about to say died the second he saw that Jesse was in the middle of devouring Hanzo’s ramen. Hanzo even looked back at the empty space on the bar in front of him to confirm that, yes, McCree had stolen his dinner. He was even using Hanzo’s chopsticks.

McCree slurped up his mouthful of noodles and swallowed. “What?”

Later, much later, Hanzo would blame McCree’s shocking food habits for not noticing that someone else had walked up to the bar. A young man, dark clothes, with a nervous tick that Hanzo would swear he would have picked up on if McCree had bothered to get unused chopsticks to eat with. No, the young man wasn't even a part of Hanzo's world until he pulled out a knife.

"Hey! Shitheads! Where's the cook?!"

McCree turned around on his stool. He pointed at himself, as if to ask, 'who me?' to the young man.

"The cook!" The young man pointed behind the bar with his knife, "The fucking tin can! He owes The Squids money! Do you know where he is?!"

McCree nodded, as if finally understanding, and pointed at Hanzo.

The young man's hand shook as pointed the knife at the two of them, "Stop fucking with me! Either tell me where the cook is or I'll cut you both up!"

With that McCree turned back to Hanzo and gestured at the young man with his thumb, "You want to help me with this, sweet pea?" He said in passable Japanese with a grin.

Hanzo surprised himself by returning the smile.

***

The night became far more eventful after that. A bit of arm twisting lead to a boss, who lead to a bigger boss, which ended with a lot of dead gang members and a very thankful omnic cook. After a bowl of noodles that was a little too early for breakfast yet far too late for dinner, Hanzo found himself walking alongside McCree. Fighting with him had an experience. Thrilling. Fun. Even if the cowboy tended to go on.

“-on his eye! He tried to tell people he got hit with a bit of shrapnel, but Angela told me all the details. Gabe was reachin’ down into a take-out bag and somehow managed to get a papercut right on his eyeball! Gotta admit he looked pretty damn cool with that eyepatch, but couldn’t shoot worth for shit. Then Gabe was all, ‘Well then you try it, ingrate’. Course he didn’t know that Ana had been training me to aim with one eye closed.”

Will he ever shut up, asked Udon.

I like him, chimed in Soba.

Of course you do. You ate his arm, replied Udon.

Hanzo ignored his dragons. Instead he thought about the recent battle, with McCree at his back and all of the times the man could have easily killed him. But he didn’t. There had even been a few times McCree had saved Hanzo instead of letting him die. As their path cut through a small park Hanzo finally asked the question on his mind.

“What do you want, McCree-san?”

McCree stopped his rambling tale and shot Hanzo another smile. He’d been doing that a lot, too. “I told you, cupcake. I’m here to hunt down your brother’s killer.”

“And you have. Yet you have not taken your revenge against me.”

“See honeybee,” McCree pulled a beaten pack of cigarettes out of his pocket and popped the remaining cigarette in his mouth. “That’d be like smashing the gun of the man that shot my Pa. Sure it’d feel good, won’t deny that, but it wouldn’t get me any closer to fixing what’s wrong. Not to mention I’d be a right idiot to get rid of a perfectly good weapon.”

Hanzo watched McCree as he lit the cigarette. In the near darkness of the park Hanzo could see the fire reflect in the man’s eyes. Udon grunted. Soba gasped. Hanzo continued to ignore them. “I have already killed those who demanded my brother’s death.”

“Not everyone.” McCree inhaled deeply, letting the smoke drift out of his mouth as he spoke. “There’s one person who’s slipped by, isn’t there, buttercup? Real silent fellah that goes by the name Azama? Who just slipped right out of your grasp?”

He’s totally being dramatic on purpose, said Udon.

And it’s so cool, said Soba.

Hanzo narrowed his eyes, “You know where he is?”

McCree held the glowing cigarette between his fingers, “Nah. But I know someone who does. It’ll cost you, pumpkin, but I got a feeling you’re not shy about sharing old Shimada-secrets these days. So what do you say? I know we got off on the wrong foot-”

“You shot at me-”

“But I think we can do real good, Shimada-san. And get what we both want.”

“Revenge?”

“Justice.”

Hanzo came to a stop within a small grove of cherry trees. Their branches were still heavy with blossoms despite being well into the summer months. A gift from his family, no doubt, to some long forgotten local politician as part of a deal. He would find them often in his travels in Japan. Shades of what once was, of what he could have been. Instead there he was, watching as cherry petals fell onto the cowboy’s ridiculous hat.

“Two conditions.” Hanzo plucked the cigarette out from between McCree’s fingers. “One. If you call me by one more pet name I will stab you in the throat with one of my arrows.”

McCree let out a laugh which quickly dwindled into an awkward cough. “You ain’t kiddin’.”

“I am not.”

“I can try, but it’s going to be hard, ange-” McCree snapped his mouth shut, took a deep breath, and tried again, “Shimada-san. Old habits and what-not. Can I have a few more pet names before the stabbing?”

Hanzo thought it over before he answered. “Three.”

“Right. I can do that. What’s the second condition?”

Hanzo took a long drag from the stolen cigarette only to blow the smoke back up at Jesse. He noted the way the man’s Adam’s apple bobbed in response. “You are the reason time stopped, correct?”

McCrees’ grin from earlier returned in full force, “Damn right. Never lasted that long before but that was all me.”

“How-”

Hanzo didn’t get to finish his question before he noticed the cherry blossom petals frozen in the air around them. He could feel a hot wind blow across his skin yet nothing around them moved. He turned back to McCree and saw the light, surrounding him as if the sun was hidden right behind his shoulders. There was a bright red flash in McCree’s eye, followed by a very loud shout.

“Mother fuck!” McCree grabbed his right eye, “Ow ow fuck ow! Fuck all, that’s what I get for being out of practice. Fuck. I’m okay? I’m okay. My eye isn’t bleeding, is it?”

“No?” Hanzo reached out only to pull his hand back. “Does it normally hurt?”

“Not that bad. Fuck me sideways that stung.” McCree took a deep breath. “Part of the price of the Deadeye. It’s a special...trick I guess you’d call it? That my old teacher taught me. Lets you step between seconds but you gotta be willing to pay for it. Ana always said magic was a real bitch like that. I’m guessin’ your dragons are similar? Some sort of magical energy given form through your Jesus FUCK!”

Hanzo tried not to smile, and failed, as Soba poked his head up through his shoulder. He shouldn’t have enjoyed the frightened yelp from McCree but, in his defense, Hanzo did put up with a lot of pet names that night. Soba slithered down Hanzo’s arm just so he could get a little closer to the cowboy. “My dragons are more than a mere magic trick. They are spirits bound to my soul.”

“Huh. Would you look at that. Explains a lot about-well, it explains a lot.” McCree tipped his hat at Soba. “Howdy. No uh, no hard feelings?”

De nada, Soba said and followed up by sticking his tongue out.

“I’m going to take that as a sign of good will.” McCree smiled and swiped his cigarette back from Hanzo. “They’re not going to bite off anymore of my parts, right? Cause so far I’m already down an arm and my favorite gun-”

That was the moment Hanzo experienced his third-weirdest McCree-related event. Because as soon as McCree said the word ‘gun’ Soba made a noise shockingly close to a cat coughing up a hairball and spat up a series of items. To be exact it was part of a sleeve, a leather glove, and finally a gun. A gun with a little spur on the grip.

“Peacekeeper!” McCree scooped the gun off the ground and kissed it because of course he did. “Thought I’d never see my baby girl ever again!”

That was disgusting, Udon said.

Wow, I feel so much better! Said Soba.

“If you are done showering your gun with affection,” Hanzo said as he adjusted the guitar case strap over his shoulder, “we should discuss our next move someplace private.”

McCree twirled his gun around before slipping it under his serape. “So that’s a yes on the whole teaming-up thing?”

Hanzo took a moment to look over McCree, the cowboy, the man who violently burst into his life. He was ridiculous from head-to-toe and topped it all off with a smile brighter than distant city lights. Even after their battle McCree was willing to walk alongside Hanzo into hell. And for what? To right a wrong? So Genji may rest easy? Every bone in Hanzo’s body was screaming at him to run, to put as much distance as he could between him and this clearly insane American wrapped in a blanket that reeked of smoke.

You also think he’s cute, pointed out Udon.

You should mate with him! said Soba, somehow making it even worse.

“For now.”

“YEEHAW!” Before Hanzo could take everything back McCree wrapped an arm around his shoulders. “You and me are gonna do some real good, partner.”

Hanzo fought the urge to pull away as they began to walk down the path together. “That’s one.”

“Nuh-uh,” McCree said as he flicked his cigarette away. “We’re partners. So I can call you partner anytime I want, sugar.” He sighed, “Okay, that was one. But I got two left! And I’m gonna save them for a special occasion. Just you wait and see. Now how about we go celebrate this partnership together with a round of drinks. And, considering you stole my money back when we met, you’re buying.”

“Hmph. That is fair.” Hanzo felt his dragons twist under his skin, both crackling at McCree’s touch. He was sure they’d stop after a while. Same with the flutter in his stomach. With a straight face Hanzo did his best to glare at the cowboy. “Do not make me regret this, McCree.”

***

Hanzo did not regret a single moment.

***

That wasn’t true. He did have one regret.

***

Hanzo deeply regretted not kissing Jesse sooner.

There had been a brief pause when they landed together on the beach. A few grunts, a reminder that they were both too old for such dramatic moves, but when their lips found each other once more the pain was forgotten. All of Hanzo’s world consisted of was Jesse. His rough lips, his hands exploring Hanzo’s body, his words pouring out like a prayer between kisses.

“Darlin’, sweetheart, angel, sugar, buttercup-”

For years Hanzo had been fantasizing about this, this moment that was always right out of his grasp. There was always a chasm between them, an uncrossable ocean, a wall neither of them could climb. But they had finally come together, finding each other. Jesse wore his mark and was practically singing those names Hanzo denied himself of for so many years.

“Sugar plum, apple dumplin’, cinnamon bun, sweet simple syrup-”

Hanzo broke away from Jesse, if only to look down at his, his , his cowboy. “I cannot tell if those are pet names, or if you are just hungry.”

Jesse laughed, that laugh that made the nights so much more bearable, “Oh I’m real hungry for you, darlin’.”

Hanzo let out a completely undignified snort before going in for another kiss, allowing his fingers to brush through Jesse’s hair. His hat was somewhere far less important. As if sensing the imbalance Jesse reached up and pulled at Hanzo's ribbon to free his own strands. Jesse let go of the ribbon (sending it to wherever his hat had gone) to cup Hanzo's cheek with his tattooed hand.

“Hanzo? Sweetheart?” Jesse lightly scratched his fingers against Hanzo’s beard. “How long have I been a right damn idiot? And I mean by not noticin’ how you felt, not in general. I know the answer to that.”

“I am not sure, myself.” Hanzo leaned down to kiss Jesse again, softer this time. With every break to breathe he moved the kisses down past Jesse’s chin to his neck, “Somewhere between when you shot at me and when you left. But if you mean when I, when I knew I, I-”

“Poker night.”

Hanzo froze, his lips right in the crook of Jesse’s neck. He could feel Jesse’s fingers twisting around in his hair as he spoke.

“For me it was during last poker night. When you were smilin’ about when you and Genji were kids? You just sorta rested your head back against my arm and I just knew, just knew . Course I also figured you’d shoot me dead if I ever said I loved you, and then the dragon thing happened and-”

Jesse did not get a chance to finish that thought.

Because as much as Hanzo loved Jesse’s voice, his words, his stories his singing his every sound he made, Hanzo was also done talking. He returned his attention to Jesse’s mouth, nibbling and biting when kisses weren’t enough. All Hanzo wanted to do was explore every inch of Jesse he had been forbidden from for years. Taste his skin, hear his moans, feel his breath, claim what was his. Let Jesse claim him.

Hanzo did not have to wait long. Jesse grabbed onto his shoulders and easily rolled Hanzo under him. All he could comprehend was Jesse's weight, his body heat pinning him down. Before he could catch his breath Jesse's hands were under Hanzo's shirt and freely exploring his skin.

"Tell me," Jesse growled as his hand moved up to grope Hanzo's chest. "Tell me what you need, darlin'. I'll do anything, just tell me."

"Give me your arm," Hanzo said, his voice heavy.

Those were clearly not the words Jesse had been expecting. He froze with his rough fingers still clamped down on Hanzo's pec. With great reluctance he let go, pulled said arm out from under Hanzo's shirt, and offered it to the other man. "Er, it doesn't hurt, so you don't need to-"

Hanzo brought Jesse's wrist to his lips and kissed the tattoo, causing a sparkle of red energy where their skin met. He traced the ink down Jesse’s arm, finally able to lavish it with the love and attention it deserved. The skin still felt too new, too soft, but it was still Jesse’s. With every kiss came another spark and another strangled word from Jesse.

“How the, that’s, shouldn’t, Hanzo, how, Lordhavemercy!”

The last string of words came out all at once as Hanzo nibbled on the small patch of skin that bore Soba’s broken horn. As much as Hanzo was enjoying the broken words from Jesse he was caught off guard when the cowboy’s hips bucked at the light bite. What he felt pressing hot and hard against his hip was a lot more than he expected. Jesse must have noticed, because he rolled his hips again.

“Somethin’ on your mind, sug?” Jesse asked with a chuckle.

Hanzo tried to respond with words, he really did. But Jesse destroyed all chance at coherent thought by sliding his free hand down Hanzo’s thigh to grip his ass and lift, pushing his aching hardness against Hanzo’s. He returned the motion, rocking his hips along with Jesse’s guiding metal hand. He wanted more, so much more than the friction between the two of them, but he couldn’t let go of Jesse long enough to do anything besides rut against him.

His, Hanzo thought as he wrapped a leg around Jesse’s waist. His Jesse, his cowboy, kissing him with a passion that could no longer be contained. It was his Jesse who practically ripped at his clothing so there was more to feel, more to grab, more to hang onto. Jesse who wore his mark, moaned his name, who was his .

That was all it took.

Hanzo came hard, silent and shaking, wrapped in Jesse’s arms.

His Jesse, his cowboy, his lover who wore his mark for the whole world to see.

Jesse was nowhere as silent, making sure the entire damn beach heard him cry out Hanzo’s name. He thrusted his hips once, twice, enough for both of them to eke out whatever pleasure they could, before slumping down onto Hanzo’s shoulder. They laid like that, Jesse nuzzled against Hanzo’s side, trying to catch their breath once more.

“Hanzo?” Jesse finally asked, breaking the silence.

“Jesse?” Hanzo replied.

“You ain’t going to shoot me for all of those pet names, are you?”

Hanzo laughed, smiling up at the still dancing dragons in the sky above. “I will let you off this time.”

***

Hanzo did not know when he drifted off, but when he woke there was one thing he knew for certain: sand. Good God, the sand .

Sand was everywhere. It was in his hair, under his clothes, and dug into places where sand should not be. Hanzo moved his legs to confirm with a sick crunch noise that, yes, it had even got into his prosthetics’ plating. Satya was going to kill him. No. She was going to lecture him as if he were a child, and then kill him.

With the existence of sand confirmed (weren't sand fleas a thing? Hanzo vaguely recalled Mei talking about sand fleas. Were those on this beach? Best not to think about it), Hanzo opened his eyes. The sky above had gone from pre-dawn grey to soft blue of the early morning. The pleasant weight of Jesse was still pressed against his side. He was snoring away, and Hanzo couldn't bring himself to wake him yet. Even if it meant sacrificing his arm to be Jesse's pillow.

Jesse. The sight of him sleeping peacefully made Hanzo's heart flutter.  It was almost too much, in a way, the knowledge that they had finally crossed the distance between them. He brushed his fingers through Jesse's scruffy beard. Maybe he should wake him up. They could find their way to a shower, a bed, someplace not out in the open where any teammate could stumble across them.

Just as Hanzo went to wake his lover he realized there was an odd noise in the air. He had brushed it off as the ocean at first, but no, this was all wrong. More like a high-pitched whine that was getting closer. But any fear or worry that may have rose was quelled by the realization that the noise was coming from inside his head.

FORMER MASTER!

Soba landed on Hanzo's stomach, jumping and twisting in a frenzied dance. The high pitch squeal from the dragon only ended long enough so he could talk.

Former Master I'm so happy I was so worried about you and Current Master but now you're in love and mating and I'm so happy this is the best I've already started working on a nest but I don't think seaweed works well as a bedding it's okay we can start on a better one in your room do you think Current Master will let me have one of his belt buckles it's very important to decorate the nest so only the best spirit dragons are summoned for your future babies I tried to use your lucky ribbon but Udon won't let me have it oh UDON Udoooon we got to keep building let's go!

With one last wiggle Soba leapt off of Hanzo and dashed away. He twisted around to see where the dragon was headed and, yes, there was a large pile of seaweed about a hundred feet away. Soba even decorated the pile with a few lovely seashells and shiny rocks. The glowing red dragon happily went back to work on what Hanzo assumed was the nest's moat.

Once Soba was thoroughly distracted Udon flowed out of Hanzo's arm. Do not worry, Master, I have hidden your ribbon and McCree-san's hat.  

"Thank you," Hanzo whispered.

Those should be saved for the nest proper.

Hanzo almost corrected Udon. No, he decided, that would be an argument for another day. Instead he scratched behind Udon's horn. "Could you distract Soba a little longer? I do not think Jesse is ready for the nest talk."

As you wish. And Master?

"Yes, Udon?"

Udon moved up and pressed his forehead against Hanzo's. I am glad you are happy, Master.

With that Udon flew to his twin, leaving Hanzo alone with Jesse. Who Hanzo only then realized was no longer snoring. He looked down at Jesse only to see his cowboy sleepily smiling back.

"Noodles are makin' a love nest for us?" Jesse said with a yawn.

Noodles. Another topic Hanzo needed to bring up later. "Something like that."

"Glad they're having fun over there." Jesse moved so he could rest against Hanzo's chest instead of his arm. "Means we can get some more shut-eye."

Hanzo shook out his now-freed arm before twisting his fingers into Jesse's hair. So much sand. They needed to fix that. "Or we could go inside."

"Later." Jesse buried his face right between Hanzo's pecs.

"Get out of these clothes?" Hanzo tried.

"Nope."

"Shower?"

"Nah."

"We need to move at some point, Jesse."

"Don't see why." Jesse waved his hand vaguely around. "We can just stay here. Future generations could put up a plaque about it. Here on this beach, at this very spot, a gunslinger and an archer-"

"Jesse-"

"Darlin'-"

Doki Doki Itadakimasu -”

Hanzo felt his phone buzz against his leg as the heartbroken (yet hopeful) anime protagonist sang. He pulled the phone out and glanced at the screen. Genji. Either the mission wrapped a lot faster than expected, or it was a total bust. Ignoring the odd twist in his stomach Hanzo answered.

"Big brother!" Genji sang in Japanese before Hanzo could even say hello, "There you are! You haven't answered any of my texts! Is everything okay? Is Jesse being an asshole? I can go do my little-brother duty and threaten him some if he is!"

Hanzo tried not to think about how Jesse's hands were wandering again. "I have been…busy. That is all. Is the mission over already? Did it go well?"

"Well, we found the old Talon base, but uh-" He missed what Genji said next, because Jesse chose that moment to reach down and squeeze Hanzo's ass as hard as he could. Hanzo moved the phone away to snap at Jesse (at what he clearly thought was hilarious) when he was interrupted by Genji letting out a Soba-level shriek.

Moving as one both men looked over at Hanzo's phone. Genji's visor-less wide-eyed face stared back. He had clicked on the video phone option when he answered, giving his little brother a perfect view of the two of them tangled together on the beach.

Genji broke out in a wide grin. "You had sex with Jesse."

"Genji-" Hanzo said as he moved an arm around said man.

"You had sex with Jesse! Jesse!" Genji's shoulders were shaking from the sheer effort to not laugh. "On the beach! My prude brother actually had sex in public! With Jesse! Oh! Oh no. Don't tell me you were still going at it. Brother, promise me that you will never, ever pick up the phone while riding your cowboy."

“I got this, honeybunch.” Jesse plucked the phone from Hanzo’s hands, tapped on the screen, and brought the phone to his ear before Hanzo could even reply. “Genji? Howdy partner! Sorry I didn’t ask for your blessin’ all proper like but, well, you know how it is. Listen, I love you like the brother I never had, really do, but if you keep nosin’ your way into our business I’m gonna make you bleed like a stuck pig from head to groin. Now how about you go take care of all of that Zenyatta-Angela business before they realize you’re in love with both of them. Take care, sugar.”

And with that Jesse threw the phone as hard as he could down the beach. Hanzo couldn’t see where it landed. Jesse sighed. “Shouldn’t have thrown it. Sorry about that, love.”

“No matter. I will have Udon find it later.” Before the urge to wrap himself back around Jesse returned Hanzo forced himself to sit up. With that simple movement he became aware of how cold, sandy, and itchy he was. And badly in need of that shower. “We should move inside, before the team returns from the mission.”

Jesse, bereft of a Hanzo to lay on, sat up as well. “I don’t know, sweetheart, Udon and Soba did make us that nice little love nest over there. Maybe you and me can spend the day relaxin’ in the sun.”

Hanzo reached over and plucked a seashell off of Jesse’s back where one shoulder of his shirt slipped down. It left a small dent behind, and all Hanzo could think about was kissing that odd shape on Jesse’s skin. He settled for rubbing the imprint instead. “We could. Or we could make use of the fact that both of us can easily fit together in your shower.”

“You,” Jesse narrowed his eyes, “you’ve thought of that before.”

“I have. Many times.”

“Then let’s head in before we’re caught out here neckin’ like a couple of teens.” With a grin as bright as the sun Jesse rolled onto his feet and offered Hanzo his tattooed hand. “Shower, maybe grab a bite to eat, and see where the evening takes us. What do you say, partner?”

Hanzo did not hesitate when he took Jesse’s hand. He returned that smile with one of his own. “Do not make me regret this, partner.”

“Never, darlin. Never.”

Chapter Text

Genji's earliest memories were of drawing. Faint, blurry memories of scribbling on pieces of scrap paper before running to his mother to show her his work. She treated each one as a masterpiece and showered Genji with loving praise before hanging it up on her office wall. Such wonderful art! No doubt her sweet little Sparrow would be a world famous artist one day! And little Genji would laugh, unaware of the sorrow tinging the corners of his mother's voice.

(Years after her death Genji found a box of his childhood drawings tucked away in an odd corner of the castle. His mother had kept every one.)

With time scribbles turned into doodles drawn during his lessons. While most of his tutors would scold him for his actions there was one who was thrilled to see Genji take an interest in the arts. Genji barely remembered the man himself, but his gift of a How-to-Draw book, a sketchbook, and a set of fancy pencils became young Genji's most prized possessions.

After that art flowed into the cracks of Genji's life. He would sketch the flowers in the garden instead of meditating. During boring business meetings Genji amused himself by copying Hanzo’s various grimaces down onto the page. In the quiet lulls of his training missions he would draw birds while waiting for packages and messages. By the time Genji was old enough for University even his father had noticed, and gave Genji his blessings to study art. It’s what Genji’s mother would have wanted, his father had said with a rare note of sadness in his voice.

Hanzo never said anything about Genji’s artistic talents. Never praised, never slighted, never spoke a single word. Only in retrospect did Genji realize that's what motivated him to study Edo period art in college, at the same time combining it with more modern tastes. When he returned home it was with the intention of decorating the walls of the castle with his own unique style.

Years would pass before Genji felt the desire to draw again.

Angela suggested it, actually. Back when Genji was trapped in that small, private room after his surgery, torn between wanting to die and being bored out of his mind. She showed up one day with a notepad and a few markers swiped from someone’s desk. It would help improve his fine motor skills, she explained, her voice almost musical compared to the other dour doctors. Angela gave Genji the supplies and stood there expectantly, clearly waiting for Genji to give it a shot.

He wanted to scream.

He wanted to rip the panels off his body and pull out every part that wasn’t him.

He wanted to cry until he was empty.

All things he normally did ever since he woke up in that hellish grey room.

Instead Genji drew the worst flower of his life.

Angela loved it. At first Genji thought she was humoring him, but the light in her eyes was too real. She even asked if she could keep the drawing for herself. Angela did that with the next flower Genji drew, and the next, and the next, each flower a little better than the last. Whenever Genji had to get patched up or repaired he would leave her another flower on whatever spare scrap of paper he could find. He wished he could do something better to repay her. He wished he had the nerve to leave her real flowers.

(She still had them, pinned to a cork board in her private quarters, not a single scrap overlooked.)

Art slipped away from Genji once again as he left Overwatch and the closest thing he ever had to a muse. Not that he cared. Training by Zenyatta’s side filled his days and meditation sorted away his unpleasant thoughts at night. There was too much to do, no time to create. But Genji did indulge himself one day when he came across some village children drawing on the side of a building with white chalk. He showed them how to draw a few basic animals before taking his leave.

A few days later Genji was approached by Zenyatta, who was carrying a box of colored chalk. For the children, his teacher explained. Perhaps Genji would care to join him? And maybe Genji could hold onto the chalks when the children weren’t playing with them? To keep them from being ruined from weather and neglect. And Genji agreed, because of course he did. He would do near anything Zenyatta asked, and not just because they were teacher and student. So Genji kept the chalk in his room until the next time he saw the kids.

He made it three days before he snapped and covered the buildings with his art. Simple patterns at first, but he quickly found himself copying the Edo period art from his studies. Soon the village was covered in mountains and waves, forests and clouds and all the ideas and pictures that had been simmering in the back of his mind waiting for release. When the rains washed away his chalk drawings the children did their best to replicate the designs. By the time he and Zenyatta left the mountains Genji still spotted a few of his lopsided mountains among the normal childish scribbles on the walls.

(Genji caught Zenyatta admiring the drawings before they were washed away. He was tilting his head in that way Zenyatta always did while committing something to memory. Even if the physical drawings were gone they would never be forgotten.)

With Zenyatta’s gentle prodding Genji kept up his artistic pursuits as they traveled. He tracked their journey together in his leather bound journal, sketching out the people they met and the cities they visited. Although a glance through the pages was enough to see that most of the drawings were of Zenyatta. Or Angela. Genji spent a few nights trying to duplicate Angela’s smile from memory. There were others, but those two would keep coming back.

Because you love them, Egg would answer without waiting for the question.

And Genji knew she was right. His heart belonged to both Angela and Zenyatta without question. He had known ever since the recall, but as the months passed by Genji couldn't bring himself to admit it out loud. The truth was that he was afraid, terrified, of so many things. They could reject him for his body, for his past, for being unable to choose one over the other. So Genji held his tongue and kept his emotions to himself.

Except, as his dear friend Jesse pointed out, they were going to find out because Angela and Zenyatta were like super smart and holy shit they totally know how Genji feels what the hell is he going to do would they confront him or are they waiting for him to make the first move holy fuck he's screwed -

“Oi! Mister Crunchy-Candy-Shell! I’m talking to you!”

Genji looked up from the blank page of his journal to see that Junkrat had entered into his personal space on the padded bench something fierce. He wasn’t sure how long Junkrat had been sitting next to him, but clearly long enough to get annoyed by Genji’s non-response. Or, Genji reflected, Junkrat’s source of frustration may stem from the mission.

Even after the extremely risky (but admittedly awesome) ‘Reinhardt Hitting The RIP Tire Like A Golf Ball’ maneuver to save Satya, the mission had been a bust. Once again the Talon Base had been cleared out with nothing but empty servers and piles of dust left behind. To make matters worse they were unable to find any trace of Widowmaker’s body. Her blood, yes. But still not enough to safely declare her dead.

And there, laying on a stretcher on the other side of the transport with Lucio hovering nearby, was the cause of the discord in Junkrat's soul. Satya had passed out the second she was moved onto the stretcher and hadn’t woken since. No wonder Junkrat was antsy; he was simply looking for a distraction. But before Genji could apologize, or even respond, Junkrat poked his arm.

“You got some wires poking out there, mate. I can fix that in a jiff if you'd like.”

Genji lifted his arm to see that, yes, one of the panels on his forearm was cracked open with a few wires exposed. A vague memory of hitting a corner wrong flashed in his mind. “Oh. Thank you. I will have it looked at as soon as we land what are you doing hey hey hey!”

Junkrat, clearly ignoring Genji, grabbed said arm and slammed it onto the table sending Genji’s journal and the transport ship’s pet pachimari flying off the side. With a screwdriver Genji would have sworn he didn't have a second before, Junkrat flipped the panel open. A rush of air hit Genji's sensors with a sensation not unlike a aching tooth. “Cor! Look at you! Those are some real nice connectors you got there. You’re a fancy mug, Genji. Never seen stuff this high quality attached to a person before.”

“Thanks?” Genji tried to tug his arm back, but Junkrat’s own metal hand kept it pinned to the table, “You really don’t-”

“Overwatch must have pumped a ton of cash into ya. Not enough to keep the wiring tight, I see! But then again, the wrist is always the first to go, ain’t it? Let me take a look-see and whoops-" Junkrat shoved the screwdriver into Genji's wrist and the aching tooth sensation went full 'botched root canal' before vanishing into dull static. "-and that should take care of the pain! I always forget to turn those off. Not used to working on bits with feelies."

"Feelies," Genji repeated. Deep breath. Calm down. Don't punch your teammate.

"Yeah! All those sensors and what-not. Er. Sorry." Junkrat flexed his fingers on his prosthetic hand. "Don't gotta worry about them myself. Cor, the first time I helped Satya with her arm I thought she was going to pop my head off! Never seen her so angry before! Ended up having to hunt down these British candy bars she likes just to get her to talk to me again."

Junkrat only paused long enough to tuck the wires back into Genji's opened panel. "Course, after that she helped me upgrade my own arm. Can't feel a thing but at least I can run proper diagnostics on it instead of just poking it and guessing. She also started making sure I actually ate and showered and such. A weird bird, that Satya. Would have made one hell of a junker."

Genji tried his best to not look at Junkrat fiddling with his components directly. Instead he focused his attention on the man's shockingly warm smile. "So, you and Satya-?"

Junkrat's smile vanished, "What? No! No no no. Ain't into Sheilas. Not to mention Satya's crushing on the literal bird something fierce," he added with a nod towards the cockpit. "Don't think you're in any place to be nosey, anyway, Mr. In-Love-With-Doc-Angel-And-The-Tin-Can."

That got Genji's attention off his arm. "How-"

"Left your communicator on."

"I left my communicator on." Genji sighed. "Great."

"Look, I'm going to give you a piece of advice." Junkrat pointed his screwdriver directly at Genji's chest. "Perfect moments don't exist."

That wasn't what Genji had been expecting. "What?"

"You're waiting for the perfect moment to tell them how you feel, ain't you? For like the stars to align and it's like snowing but also fireworks and there's a band or something with a whole bunch of pretty flowers everywhere before you get up the nerve to confess, right? Well it ain't going to happen. Not like that. You have to go make that perfect moment for Angela and," Junkrat didn't try too hard to hide the disgust in his voice, "the omnic."

Genji reminded himself, again, to not punch his teammate. As tempting as it was every time Junkrat spoke about Zenyatta like that. He promised. Deep breath. He flexed his hand and grabbed onto a less-potentially-violent conversation topic. "I didn't know you were a romantic, Junkrat."

Junkrat fiddled with something on his side out of Genji's view and pulled out, much to Genji's surprise, the gaudiest jewel-encrusted ring he had ever seen in his life. The simple gold band was smothered by a large blue gem surrounded by tiny white diamonds and a red gem cross on top. As if sensing his confusion Junkrat said, in a well-practiced tone, "This beaut here is the Sovereign's Ring, created in 1831 for the coronation of William the Fourth. Left to his wife Queen Adelaide, who then left it to Queen Victoria, and then some other nonsense happened before it wound up with the rest of the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London. Till me and Roadie broke in that is."

"I remember seeing that in the news," Genji said and glanced down at the ring between Junkrat's fingers. "I guess the part about the police recovering all the jewels wasn't true?"

"Damn right. We managed to steal the lot of them for what, half an hour? Gotta be a record. Managed to sneak out a couple of the smaller pieces. Anyway, after getting chased all across London me and Roadie ended up hiding from the cops in an abandoned building over in King's Row. We were a right mess after the robbery. Roadie was yelling at me for almost getting shot, I couldn't stop laughing, he took off his mask and started yelling more, then I looked over at him and it hit me that he was worried about me. Like, honestly worried about my well-being. Tearing up and everything."

Junkrat's voice took on a softer edge as he continued, "I uh, had been thinking of Roadie that way for awhile by that point. I half-convinced myself that it was just some dumb crush, you know? That he'd only been hanging around with me 'cause I was paying him. Sometimes I'd tell myself that I would confess everything when the moment was right. But seeing him like that, seeing him so, so worried, crying over the idea of losing me I, I told him. Not exactly the romantic moment I was picturing. Blurted it all out. Don’t think half the words I said even made sense. I guess he still understood because he held me and we, he uh, well, it all worked out, in the end.”

With a flick of his wrist Junkrat tossed the ring up in the air, caught it, and hide it away out of Genji’s sight. “The next day he gave me this ring. Said it was my share of the treasure but we both knew what he meant. And I wouldn’t have my treasures, ring and hubby alike, if I sat on my arse and said nothing like a right idiot cause the time wasn’t right.” With that Junkrat snapped the plate on Genji’s arm closed and looked him in the eye. “Savvy?”

“Understood.” Genji had to admit that his arm did feel better. He would have said so out loud, and even thanked Junkrat, if a different thought didn’t click together in his head, “Hubby? You and Roadhog are married?”

“Yeah? Hence the ring? Going on three years now? Wait. Wait wait wait.” Junkrat’s normal crazed smile returned. “You seriously didn’t know me and Roadie are hitched?”

“Uh-”

“Lord that’s brilliant! Oi! Frog boy!”

Lucio finally tore his eyes off of the sleeping Satya to look their way. “Yeah?”

Junkrat gestured with his thumb at Genji. “He didn’t know about me and Roadie!”

Lucio brightened up and grinned. “Seriously Genji? Junkrat and Roadhog are the cutest married couple at Overwatch! Always hanging off of each other, like literally during meetings sometimes! You gotta get out of your own head.”

“This is too good. I got to call Roadie.” Junkrat stood up and moved away from the table, his phone already in hand by the time he reached the stairs up to the cockpit. “Roadie? Roadie! Heya B'doodleykitten, mission went tits up, yeah yeah that’s not, listen, I just had to tell you that, it turns out, Genji didn’t know we were hitched! I know, right? Some real metaphysical solipsism going on there if you ask me.”

“Metawhat?” Genji asked, but Junkrat had already slipped up the stairs, gabbing away on his phone. He looked to Lucio for support only to see that the other man was focused on Satya once more. Alone in spirit, if not in body, Genji picked up his journal back up. He could try drawing again. Maybe a few simple sketches. Something to occupy his thoughts until they landed.

Below his skin Egg twisted around his thigh, echoing Junkrat, her words more felt than heard. No such thing as a perfect moment.

If there was one thing Genji was good at it was acting without thinking. Before he could talk himself out of it Genji's phone was in his hands and a second later a text to both Angela and Zenyatta was sent out. It was nothing more than a simple request for the three of them to meditate together later. They both replied in turn, and a few buzzes later a time and location was set.

In roughly five hours Genji was going to tell Zenyatta and Angela how he felt.

He was thankful that he couldn't actually throw up.

***

Angela met with the team the second they set down at the Watchpoint. After a quick glance over everyone she spirited Satya away, promising that the woman's injuries weren't as bad as they looked. She just needed some time under the biotic field, Angela had explained to the extremely worried looking Fareeha and Junkrat. A few days rest and Satya would be back on her feet. But as Satya was moved inside Angela did managed to flash a smile in Genji's direction before following suit.

13:05

***

Genji barely remembered the mission debriefing. Fareeha spoke about what happened in short distracted sentences, Winston looked worried, and absolutely nothing of use was said or done. Genji did briefly wonder what the conversation would have been like if Lucio and Junkrat weren't there. Jack was also there, of course. He always showed up to every meeting, desperate and hungry to hear the name they all tried to avoid saying, to know if his old friend had paid them another visit. Genji wondered if Jack would say anything about the piles of dust. Or about Widowmaker’s potential death. But he didn’t, and another mission was chalked up as a failure due to Talon's unknown enemy.

13:52

***

Genji considered hiding in his room. Find something to do until the allotted time. But walking past a window overlooking the empty beach made something click. The fact that his bedroom was right next to his brother's, to be exact.

Maybe they're mating in Jesse's room? Egg offered from the back of Genji's mind, not sounding so sure herself.

"First, I'm not even going to risk it. Second, I never ever ever want you to use the phrase 'mating' in reference to my brother ever again."

As you wish, Master. Oh! Speaking of which, I think I've figured out a way for you to mate with both Angela and Master Zenyatta at the same time-

Genji sighed. " Or in reference to me."

Fine. Master, Egg said. Which was followed by a feeling Genji could only describe as 'being confused and annoyed by non-dragons'.

14:09

***

"I am sorry Agent Genji Shimada, but Winston is taking a phone call in the lab and cannot be disturbed ."

Genji gave the glowing screen next to the lab door an odd look. Winston wasn't exactly the most social gorilla. The idea of him on a phone call with anyone willingly was curious. He squinted his eyes in an attempt to see better through the lab's glass doors. "Who's he talking to?"

"I am not at liberty to say who he is speaking with. " There was a brief pause before Athena's voice came out as a whisper, "But Winston did say he was expecting a phone call from a potential new agent ."

"No way?" Genji whispered back, "Got any hints for your favorite agent?"

"I do not detect Agent Oxton nearby ."

Genji placed his hand over his heart and let out an overly dramatic gasp. "Athena!"

The logo on the screen spun in amusement. Reading Athena was tricky sometimes, but Genji had a lot of practice. "I will say, Agent Genji Shimada -"

"I still think Hanzo should be the only one who gets the full name treatment. I was Agent Shimada first-"

"-Winston did ask Agent Bastion about potentially having to share his charging station temporarily ."

"Another omnic?"

"Shh!"

"Sorry." Genji lowered his voice again, "Another omnic? That's great! And don't worry. I won't tell a soul. This is between you and me."

"Thank you Agent Genji Shimada ."

Genji made it halfway down the hall away from the lab when suddenly another screen eye-level came to life with Athena's symbol. "Oh, and Agent Genji Shimada? Be sure to brush your hair before your date at sixteen hundred. It always gets messy after a mission ."

14:21

***

Finding someone taking a nap in the common area was not unusual. Finding every single seat occupied by a napping teammate was. Reinhardt was sprawled across the couch in the only way he could really fit, with Ana curled up like a cat on top of him. Torbjorn had taken the recliner and didn't even bother to take off any of his equipment before drifting off. Jack had been clearly in the middle of reading something on his tablet before falling asleep on the loveseat. Genji was almost convinced that this was the result of Ana's itchy trigger finger when he saw that Hana's stream was playing on the television.

Genji didn't recognize the game being played. Something old and artsy with a floating mountain spinning around in a void. What Genji did recognize was his beloved teacher on the face cam. Hana was curled up on the large bean bag chair next to Zenyatta with one of Jesse’s serapes wrapped around her shoulders. She hadn’t succumbed to sleep yet but was clearly on the ropes.

Hana stifled a yawn before she spoke. “Okay, now type, let’s see, B five times, then a C, and then another B.”

Zenyatta did so, each button press followed by a musical note. In turn snow drifted down onto the low polygon mountain. “Ah! How lovely!”

“Mmmhmm,” replied Hana. Her head had fallen directly onto the bean bag chair.

“I must say I am enjoying this game, Hana. The simplicity of of it all, being unable to affect it directly and only being able to watch from the distance, the music-based code system, I really do like this. I will have to get a copy for myself." Zenyatta twisted around to face a laptop slightly off screen. "It appears that everyone in the chat is enjoying the game and, oh, Hana, I think there’s something wrong with your donation counter.”

That got Hana’s eyes to open the whole way. She wiggled about on the bean bag chair so she could see the laptop' screen as well. “Oh. That. Don’t worry about it.”

“Are you sure? It keeps going up and down by the same amount-”

“That’s Haigha,” Hana said with a snarl in her voice. “She suggested an ‘inappropriate’ game for the stream. And even though I refunded her donation she keeps trying to donate it back, so I refunded her again, but she donated again, and even after banning her like twelve times from the chat she keeps coming back but you're not allowed in the chat Haigha because you're in time out! So go sit in the corner and think about what you did!”

The mountain spun in silence, forgotten, as Zenyatta’s attention focused solely on Hana. “Haigha? She the one with the cute skull icon, correct?”

“A stupid skull icon,” Hana states before flopping back onto the bean bag chair. “Want another code?”

Zenyatta shook his head, “Not yet, I rather like the mountain covered in snow. You know Hana, this game brought up a very interesting predicament back during the opening. The game stated, ‘You are mountain, you are God.’ This is curious because the game is referring to us, the audience, as both the one in control and the one being controlled. Although the idea seems impossible at first, to be both God and worshiper, assuming the mountain is a stand-in for one, is that not what we are in life? Touched by the deeds of others while others are changed by our simplest of actions? We are in control of so many yet at the mercy of countless more. This is of course not even touching upon the concept of the Gods themselves and you've fallen asleep.”

Indeed, Hana was slumped over on the bean bag chair, partially buried under the serape. Zenyatta gently shook her arm but she remained asleep. With slow, precise movements, Zenyatta reached over the sleeping Hana to grab her laptop. He placed the machine next to him and, after a few clicks, spoke in a low voice.

“Let’s see...Haigha, was it? Are you in the chat right now?”

In the stream’s chat room an icon that could be described as ‘a cute skull’ popped up with a friendly 'Hola'.

“Greetings, Haigha,” Zenyatta said with a small nod to the laptop. “According to this log you requested, ‘Mario is Missing’. I do not know this game, or why it has upset my dear friend, but I trust Hana’s judgement in refusing your donation. You should obey her request and cease at once.”

The chat flickered once before all of the icons turned into that same purple skull. Between the repeated bursts of typed laughter the same message repeated over and over: What was Zenyatta going to do about it?

"You have not learned your lesson by being banned. Perhaps you need a stricter teacher." Zenyatta reached off screen only to pull back with a controller in his hand. The orbs around his neck pulsed and spun in place with every word. "Best of three. You win, I will play whatever game you wish. I win, you will apologize to Hana after she has gotten a full eight hours of sleep."

The chat emptied out save for one last message from Haiga: Bring it, Racter.

“Then let us begin. No items. Fox only. Final Destination.”

Agent Genji Shimada ?”

Genji, lost in the thought of holy shit did he love Zenyatta, jumped at the sound of Athena’s voice. He wasn’t sure when he sat down on the recliner armrest, but he was glad that no one was awake to see him almost fall off. “Athena? Is everything okay?”

Agent Genji Shimada, your presence is requested in the gym by Agent Zhou .”

“O...kay?” Genji stood up, making sure not to disturb the still-sleeping Torbjorn. “Tell her that I’ll be there-”

Agent Genji Shimada, your presence is required in the gym by both Agent Zhou and Agent Zaryanova .”

Genji pressed a thin panel on his side, causing a near hidden compartment to open and his cell to pop out. One of the better side effects of being over eighty-percent cybernetic was the fact he always had a place to put his phone. He glanced at the time. 14:48. “Did they say why?”

They did not. But I suspect it is related to the cameras in the gym being blue .”

“Blue?”

“Blue .”

***

The gym was blue.

Luckily Genji was very, very acquainted with that exact shade of blue. He forced the door open more to confirm that, yes, most of the gym was taken up by his brother’s dragon. From wall to wall, ceiling to floor, all that could be seen was Udon’s snake-like body curled upon itself several times over. Through Udon’s translucent form he could see some gym equipment pushed against the walls, a lot of destroyed gym mats, and two hazy figures on the other side of the room. The smaller of the two jumped up and down.

“Genji!” Shouted Mei, muffled by the dragon in the way. “Genji! Over here!”

“Mei? Zarya?” Genji tried to squeeze in, but there was almost no space between the doorway and dragon. “What happened?!”

“We do not know!” Zarya said at normal voice level, which was roughly as loud as Mei shouted, “Udon appeared before us, running around and chirping like a newborn chick, and then this happened!”

“I think he’s trying to tell us something!” Mei said, “We were hoping maybe you could understand him? Also if you could save us that would be really nice. Although we could escape out the window if needed? Maybe? Honeybear?”

“It would be easy! You hang onto my back and together we climb up to the workshop window!”

“That should not be necessary,” Genji said as he placed a hand on Udon’s flank. He could feel Udon’s energy racing under his touch. No words could express how much joy being able to touch his brother’s dragons again brought him. After their father’s death Genji couldn’t get near Soba or Udon without getting zapped. But the past was past, and his brother’s dragons were a part of his life once more. No wait. His brother’s dragon, and Jesse’s dragon. Man, he was never going to get used to that. “Udon? You uh, okay there buddy?”

Udon twisted, his body slithering against the wall and ceiling, shredding even more gym mats as his head poked out between coils to face Genji. A voice not unlike Hanzo’s echoed in the back of Genji’s head, almost singing the words Young Master!

“Greetings, Udon. Is there any reason you’re taking up the entire gym?”

Udon, despite being very much a dangerous beast, managed to look sheepish. I am sorry, Young Master. I was sent to inform Mei-chan and Zarya-san that they should not attempt to murder New Master. But they could not understand me, so I tried other ways to communicate and I may have over-excited myself with the news, I apologize.

Genji gave the dragon a fond pat. “There is nothing to, wait, murder? Jesse? Why are we murdering Jesse?”

“Because!” Zarya shouted this time, “He broke Hanzo’s heart! So we must break him!”

“We weren’t going to murder him!” Mei said unconvincingly. “Honest!”

“What are you, what, no, no murdering Jesse.” Filled with the sensation that Genji missed a part of the story, he climbed up Udon high enough to scratch behind the dragon’s horns. “Let me guess Udon, you were sent here to tell Mei and Zarya about Hanzo and Jesse?”

Yes! Udon said as he leaned into Genji’s scratches, and not to disturb my Master as he is currently mating with New Master.

My Master does not wish for us to use that phrase, chimed in Egg from within Genji.

I apologize Young Master. Then I am here to inform Mei-chan and Zarya-san not to disturb my Master while he is having sex with New Master.

“That’s.” Genji rubbed his eyes, “Fine. I will pass the message along. You can return to my brother.”

Udon tilted his head. I shall take my leave, but I think my Master is currently busy in bed with-

“Then go work on a nest!” Genji hissed to cut the dragon off.

Udon nodded and, in a flash of blue light, returned to his far more manageable size. Genji easily caught himself and landed on his feet safe and sound. The dragon twisted around itself once, twice, almost tying itself into a knot before scampering out the door. Genji stepped around the gym mat remains (tragically cut short in the prime of their life) to cross over to a slightly frazzled looking Zarya and Mei.

“Well done!” Zayra said before slapping Genji hard enough on the back that one of his damage sensors flickered. “But unless the news about your brother and Jesse is good-”

“It is.” Genji pulled his phone out of his compartment (while politely ignoring the disgusted look on Zarya’s face) and brought up the screen grab he took of his brother and Jesse on the beach, staring up at the phone like deer in the headlights. It was always handy to have embarrassing photos of one’s brother on hand. He passed the phone over to Mei. “See? They kissed and made up.”

“Oh my gosh!” Mei sang as she held the phone up to Zarya. “Look look look!”

“Ha! Well done!” Zarya said. “The cowboy lives another day!”

Mei handed Genji back his phone before pulling out her own. Somehow he wasn’t too shocked by Mei’s oversized penguin phone case. If there was one piece of common ground between him and Mei, it was sticking to a theme. He took a quick glance at his phone’s screen. 15:16. A sudden idea popped into his head and he sends off a text only to notice that Mei was texting as well. Her thumb danced across her screen as she spoke.

“Do you know any of the details? Who made the first move? Are we talking just making out or full love confessions or oh my gosh do you think someone proposed oh gosh I am getting all the details from Hanzo as soon as I can!”

Genji tried, he really did, to imagine Hanzo doing anything remotely close to gossiping about his love life. Maybe over a cup of coffee? No, it wasn’t happening. Genji just kept mentally running head-first into the memory of a teenage Hanzo almost blushing to death over the mention of anything going past hand-holding on a date. “You’re not texting him now, are you? Udon said he’s,” don’t think about his brother having sex with Jesse don’t think about it, “busy.”

Mei’s thumb froze in place as she did her best to not look guilty. It didn’t work, but she was saved from any further questioning by literally being picked up by Zarya. Genji did have to admit to himself that he could see the appeal of dating someone who could easily carry you under your arm like Zarya could. "We should focus on finding some clean-bots to help us with this mess, my dear little snowbell. Genji. Would you care to join us?"

Genji’s phone buzzed. He only gave the screen a brief glance to confirm it was an answer to his text. “I apologize, but I must be going,” he said as he slipped his phone back inside his compartment. “I have previous arrangements.”

“With Zenyatta?” Asked Mei the exact same time Zarya asked, “With Dr. Ziegler?”

“Something like that.”

***

“Genji luv, this isn’t exactly the type of emergency I had pictured when you sent me that text.” Lena rocked back onto her heels as she looked the cyborg over. “This is even worse! Are you seriously telling me you were just going to show up to your date in your battle armor!?”

“It’s not really a date,” Genji said. “More of a, uh, love confession?”

Lena let out the most dramatic sigh she could muster as he opened Genji’s closet. Normally he wouldn’t have gone to her for fashion advice, but time was of the essence. And if there’s one thing Lena was good at it was working under a deadline. “We can talk about all of that later. I’m pretty sure we do talk about it later, but enough about that, we have a slight problem. Where in the chuff are your clothes?”

That was true. In another life Genji had been very into fashion ranging from fitted suits to getting away with wearing as little as possible. Now he either wore some sort of armor or, if he was having one of his off days, a large hoodie over his armor. He did have an immense collection of hoodies stolen from his fellow agents.”I was kind of hoping you could help me pick out which set of armor to wear?”

Lena closed the closet door as fast as she had opened it. “You’re panicking.”

“I’m panicking,” Genji agreed as he sat down on the edge of his bed. He decided the risk of running into his brother and Jesse was worth returning to his private quarters for the sake of tidying himself up before the meet-up. “I shouldn’t have sent that text I shouldn’t be doing this I shouldn’t be telling them at the same time and I know I’m not going to throw up but I feel like it.”

“Oh Genji.” Lena sat down next to him and pulled him in for a patented Lena-hug. It was crazy to think that he once hated those. “You're going to be fine. The whole confession thing will be an absolute corker. Take a deep breath and let it all out through your vents.”

That got a laugh from Genji. “Not how it works, Lena.”

“That being said you probably shouldn’t wear what you wore on the mission. Bet it’s all sweaty under there. What about that chromed armor of yours that’s all nice and shiny? Without the helmet or headgear? Let them see that lovely smile.” Lena even pinched Genji’s cheek to punctuate how nice Genji’s smile was.

Genji lightly shoved Lena away. “First Athena and now you. Fine, helmet off, chromed armor, hope Zenyatta and Angela are into shiny men.”

“They’re into you , Genji,” Lena said as she stood back up. “Seriously, you have nothing to worry about you silly sausage. Except maybe getting there on time. You might want to hurry up and switch your armor.”

Genji checked his alarm clock. No, he was still vaguely on time. “The communications tower isn’t that far from here and we’re not meeting up until sixteen hundred. I have plenty of time. ”

“I wouldn’t be so sure about that, luv.” Lena gave Genji one last hug before vanishing in a burst of blue light that tingled against his skin. But before he could even begin to unlatch his armor there was another burst of blue light followed shortly by Lena standing in his room once more.

“Oh, but you should wear a hoodie over the armor! Nice and casual. But not Jesse’s. Please burn that old thing.” Another burst of light and she was gone.

15:33

***

The communications tower was Genji’s favorite place at the Watchpoint. (Not the parts inside with all the computers and math, that was totally Winston’s domain.) Whenever he needed to get away from people he would go there to meditate on the cliff’s edge. Or play Pokemon on the cliff’s edge. Or silently debate if diving off the side of the cliff into the ocean would result in him instantly dying from either the impact or later by Angela. But most of the time Genji would admire the beauty of nature in a way he never could before.

(Minus the beach. Don’t think about the beach. The beach was dead to him.)

It was here that Genji asked for Zenyatta and Angela to meet with him. Not only for the hopefully romantic view, but because the communications tower was only ever used during missions. Even then Genji double-tripled check that no one else was around. And then triple-check the triple check. What would that be? Nine-times check? Hanzo was the math-brother, not him.

(Don’t think about Hanzo, either.)

The other plus to scouting the area was that it kept Genji’s mind off the nervous flutter in his chest. Everything was going to be fine, he reminded himself as he climbed the main tower with ease. Lena said he was a corker, and she was always right about that sort of thing. This was Angela and Zenyatta. Even if they didn’t feel the same way they would be respectful of Genji’s train of thought violently crashing because fuck oh fuck he could hear people speaking nearby.

With a leap featuring a few superfluous flips Genji landed at the foot of the satellite dish. Okay, this wasn’t a huge deal. All he had to do was see who on his team had the worst timing and get them to leave via begging, threats, or potentially pushing them off the cliff. He vanished into the shadow of the satellite and crept silently to the roof’s edge. There, staring down at the intruders, Genji was struck by a thought he should have realized hours ago.

Angela and Zenyatta were both the type to show up to meetings early.

There they were, standing close together with their heads bowed, whispering too soft for Genji to hear. The tight knot of panic chest vanished at the sight of his teacher and angel. The fear, the worry, all faded under the blossoming warmth inside him. Seeing them side-by-side only strengthened his resolve. They would listen. They would understand.

But ready as Genji was to bare his heart and soul, he did recognize that it would be sorta-weird if they found him spying on them. Easily solved. He just needed to discreetly jump down and walk up like a normal person would. Genji turned to make his escape only to come face-to-face with green. Glowing, glass-like green that filled his vision from edge to edge. He took a step back, looked up, and kept looking up.

Egg looked down.

The word massive was an understatement. Egg had filled the space between the buildings with her sprawling body. Genji couldn’t comprehend what he saw. Egg, sweet Egg with her love of dried fruit and tendency to tie herself in a knot had become so much more. There were memories, distant ones, of his father’s dragon lazily resting across the Shimada Castle’s rooftops, larger than anything his child self knew. He reached up as far as he could, his hand barely touching her snout. Egg burned with energy.

Genji did not ask how. Not out loud.

Egg heard him anyway.

She lowered her head far enough to see eye-to-eye with Genji. Only then did Genji see her once-white eyes were now a brilliant gold, and her horns bore a silver metallic sheen. Given enough time Genji may have pieced together why Egg’s appearance changed. But before the words gold and silver could settle in Genji’s mind Egg booped him off the roof with her nose.

Genji fell with all the grace of a sack of bricks that somehow was also drunk. Years of ninja training vanished in the short gap between the roof and ground. He landed with a violent crash that set off sensors across his cybernetic parts. Slight damage, plate dislodged, wires disconnected in his right hand, his foot was an error message. He wasn’t sure how that even worked.

Sounds filtered through a haze of static. He could hear footsteps but not the ocean. The telltale hum of Zenyatta’s motors were loud and clear but not the chimes of his orbs. But the feeling of two sets of arms helping him sit up cut through the alarms blaring in his head. Genji felt Angela’s hand on the side of his head before reality came rushing back.

“-ear me? Genji?” Angela was kneeling next to him, her hands already running across his body in search of damage.

“Angela?” Genji said, yes, he did say that out loud, at least his voice wasn’t screwed up. “Master?”

“Are you alright, my student?” Zenyatta asked as he knelt down on Genji’s other side. “That was quite the tumble.”

“I’m-” Genji did his best to shake off the remaining alarms in his head. It mostly worked.

“I’m not-” Genji blinked and it hit him that Angela and Zenyatta were there, touching him, worried about him, tending hands and soft voices expressing how much they cared.

“I didn’t know-” Were not the words Genji wanted to say, but once they came out he found himself unable to stop. “I didn’t know what to do.”

“Genji?” Both Angela and Zenyatta said, their voices mingling in Genji’s ears.

Genji closed his eyes, the courage to look at either of them suddenly gone. “I didn’t know what to do. I’ve felt this way for so long but I was afraid to say anything. You’re both, you are both everything to me. I need both of you, I would be nothing without the two of you, but I was afraid what would happen if I said something what if you hated me what if you demanded that I would choose and I can’t, I can’t choose just one of you-”

“Genji,” Angela said as her hand cupped his scarred cheek. He could feel her thumb run against a ridge where synthetic skin met flesh.

“-I don’t know if either of you even want me. I’m, I am nothing compared to the both of you. A playboy, a ninja, an assassin, a cyborg, a student, a, a patient. You’re both so much more than I. Angela, Zenyatta, you’re both so, so wonderful I cannot find the words to describe, to-” Genji let out a laugh that was more nerves than anything else. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t, I should-”

“Genji,” Zenyatta said as his hand took Genji’s, metal fingers entwining with still-human ones.

“You’re both just so amazing and loving and so smart like really smart but also down-to-earth except not literally since Angela you can do the flying thing and Master you float-”

“Genji!” Angela’s hold on Genji’s cheek tightened enough that his eyes opened in shock. Before he could continue his ramblings, before his breath could be taken away by the sight of the two people he loved most in the late afternoon sun, Angela forced Genji to look down.

Huh, Genji first thought, he had never seen Angela wear a skirt that short before. Or had seen Zenyatta wear shorts at all.

Oh, came the second thought, Zenyatta just pulled the bottom part of his pants up to form shorts. That made sense.

Egg’s laughter was technically Genji’s third thought, but him wondering what was on Angela’s leg followed for a close fourth. Was it a design on her leggings? It almost looked like-

“Genji,” Angela patiently said again as she shifted her leg in order to show more of the tattoo.

Genji almost didn’t recognize it at first. It had been over a decade since he last saw it in full, the image of Egg twisting through storm clouds, inked out from ankle to thigh. The urge to touch it, to feel it, to confirm it was real was cut short by Zenyatta mimicking the same motion to show off his leg as well. Sometimes, late at night, Genji wondered if omnics could be marked as a Shimada. The complex engraving of his tattoo across Zenyatta’s leg finally answered that.

Words formed and died on Genji’s tongue. Maybe he didn’t need words at all. Genji lunged forward, wrapping one arm around Angela and the other around Zenyatta to pull them in for a hug. The move sort of worked. They were a tangled mess of flesh and metal limbs, laughter and tears mixing together between the three of them. He was crying and Angela was crying and Zenyatta’s whole frame was shivering in a show of intense emotion.

Genji found Angela’s lips first, as soft and warm as he always imagined they would be. His imagination didn’t guess that Angela would be the one to press in harder, eager, wanting more. But before he could get too distracted Genji moved enough to kiss the seam of Zenyatta’s faceplate right on the gap he always thought of his Master’s mouth. He could feel the rumble of Zenyatta’s inner fans speed up to confirm, yes, Zenyatta rather liked that as well. When Genji pulled away he knew he found the words he had been searching for.

“Thank you,” Genji said as he looked from Zenyatta to Angela. “For making me whole.”

Zenyatta made a noise closer to a burst of static than anything resembling proper speech before the omnic tightly embraced both Genji and Angela once more. Angela was laughing, hiccuping, utterly failing at forming a cohesive sentence. But the sparkle in her eyes, and the tight grip around Genji’s waist, said it all. Genji was content in staying in that slightly-awkward but loving embrace until Angela found words in the form of a sharp curse.

“Genji Shimada! Your hand!” She twisted her body out of Genji’s grasp only to hold his robotic hand up. Not only had the back panel cracked open in the fall, but the part of his forearm that held his ninja stars had wires poking out. “Were you damaged during the mission? Why are your inner sensors scratched and, wait, Genji, Genji please tell me those are not crumbs.”

Genji winced. “Hana wanted to know if I could put other things besides ninja stars in my arm to throw during her big charity stream and uh, one of the items we tested might have been corn chips?”

Zenyatta broke the silence that followed with his laughter, and that was enough to chase off the dark expression on Angela’s face. Only then did it strike Genji that Angela and Zenyatta made a good pair as well. Might work very, very well together in more ways than one. He filed that thought away for later and went to stand. Try to stand. Try to move his legs at all?

“Uh,” Genji looked down at himself. “I think more than my hand is broken? And I might need help getting up? My legs are still attached, right?”

“Unfortunately your right foot is not,” Zenyatta said as he effortlessly picked Genji up. Genji did his best not to let out a squeal of joy as it happened. “To the workshop?”

Angela bit her lip. “The workshop will be far too crowded. The infirmary has most of the tools I need, but we would have to stop by the supply closet.”

“What about my room?” Genji suggested, his voice a touch too strained. He coughed and tried again, his arms firmly wrapped around Zenyatta for extra support, “I have tools and extra supplies there.” When neither Zenyatta or Angela replied right away Genji smiled and tried one last thing, “And a door with a lock.”

***

Genji would be lying if he said he didn’t hope that the day would end with Angela and Zenyatta in his bed. And although the set of circumstances didn’t match up with his overactive imagination it was still pleasant. He was happily dozing with his head on Zenyatta’s lap and his damaged foot resting on Angela’s thigh. Genji hadn’t realized how exhausted he was, both physically and emotionally, until he laid down. He drifted there, lost in the chimes of Zenyatta’s orbs floating in the air and Angela’s feather-light touch on his inner sensors.

You do realize that you need to have a serious conversation with the two of them about establishing boundaries in this brand-new complex relationship, said Egg.

Genji squeezed his eyes closed even tighter. Egg sounded too much like his brother for his own liking.

I heard that, Egg said again.

“Is that Egg talking?” Angela asked, finally breaking the silence between the three of them.

Genji opened his eyes. As nice as a nap was, he did admit looking up at his teacher was far better. “Yeah, that’s Egg. Can you hear her?”

“She is faint,” Zenyatta said as he brushed his fingers through Genji’s hair. “Like hearing someone speak down the hall. Far different from when she speaks to us directly.”

“What is she talking about?” Angela asked again as she kept her eyes down on Genji’s ankle.

Genji briefly weighed his options between telling the truth to seeing how fast he could distract the both of them, when Zenyatta cut him off by saying, “I would not be surprised if Egg is attempting to bring up what we spoke about last night, Angela.”

That got Genji to fully wake up. “Wait, what?”

There was a loud click as Angela snapped Genji’s foot back into place. “Zenyatta and I, and Egg, we, well, we discussed how a relationship between the three of us could potentially work. Of course we must sit down and have a similar conversation with you, Genji, to work out the exact details. But we really must check for any lasting damage first. Are there any other sensors going off?”

Genji replied with an odd static noise before he properly responded. “No? No. Yes. The panel on my hand is still stuck open. So uh, what did you and Zenyatta exactly talk about?”

“Zenyatta?” Angela said with an amused tone in her voice. “Could you help me with Genji’s armor? I wish to check for any further damage.”

Zenyatta responded with his own chuckle. “Of course. Genji? Can you sit up? Or do you need my assistance?”

“No, no I’m good.” Genji did as he was told. There was an odd, nagging suspicion in the back of his head. Also the sound of Egg giggling, but it was mostly this strange feeling that he was being lured into a trap. Maybe it was the way Angela was gazing at him with such heated eyes, or how the second he sat up Zenyatta moved so Genji was nestled between his legs. Suddenly Angela was sitting next to him, on her knees, and he knew for a fact that there were far less buttons buttoned on her blouse than a second ago.

Zenyatta acted first, those skilled fingers of his working the latches on Genji’s armor. There was a soft hiss with the release of each one. As soon as a section was freed Zenyatta removed the plate and dropped it on top of Genji’s cast-off hoodie on the floor. This was not new. Zenyatta had helped Genji in and out of his armor a hundred times before. But this time, this time Zenyatta’s hands lingered on Genji’s skin, tracing the maps of scars and cybernetics with his fingertips. That was new.

Meanwhile, Angela almost acted like her normal self. Her hands were working hard, fiddling with the stuck plate like she did after almost every mission. He would need to be upgraded one day, but there always seemed to be one more mission between him and when they had the time to do so. So Angela did her best to fix him as-is. He was memorized by the movement of her hands, as he always was, watching her patch him back together. But instead of the fond pat she would always give him when she was finished, Angela gently kissed the inside of Genji’s wrist.

“Genji,” Zenyatta’s voice reverberated in his ear. “Lift up your hips.”

Genji obeyed. He felt Zenyatta’s heated body press against his back. How long had the armor on his arms and torso been off? Genji had been lost in watching Angela work, not realizing how much plating Zenyatta had removed. He heard, and felt, the hiss of the plating around his pelvis being removed right as Angela traced a line of kisses down Genji’s forearm. She finished the last of her buttons and let her blouse join the removed armor pieces on the floor.

(He almost, almost asked where Angela had even gotten a lace bra in ‘his’ shade of green but he stopped himself in time. That was not the time for questions.)

“Have I ever told you how beautiful you are, my dear student?” Zenyatta whispered into Genji’s ear, his hand squeezing Genji’s pec hard enough for a gasp to escape his lips. “You are a woven tapestry of flesh and metal which transcends all known art. I have long admired every part of you, mind, body and soul.”

“M-Master,” was all Genji could get out before he heard and felt the hiss of the latches on his thigh plating being released. Angela shifted so she was between Genji’s legs, eagerly getting rid of the last of his armor. He could feel Egg twisting under his skin, shifting and clawing as what remained of his flesh was exposed to the air. With that same wicked look in her eyes Angela ran her hand down the remains of Genji’s tattoo and he swore he saw stars.

Which only made him feel even worse when he reached out to grab Angela’s shoulder. “Wait! Wait. Stop. Please.”

And like that the mood was destroyed. No, obliterated. Any hope of getting laid anytime soon had turned to dust. Angela’s expression went from, well, from something Genji will be thinking of for a long time to a far more common worried one. He felt Zenyatta remove his hands from his chest and inner thigh with a brief note of panic (when did that even happen, since when was his teacher so good at moving stealthily, more thoughts for later). Genji took the opportunity to scoot back enough so he could face the two of them. He rubbed his eyes, wishing that Zenyatta and Angela didn’t look so damn good disheveled.

“Angela, Zenyatta, I, I want this, okay? I really, really want this. But I,” Genji sighed and looked away. “I don’t want to rush into this, either. You both mean so much to me, and I never really had anything remotely close to a stable relationship before and I, damn it I want to do this right! You deserve it, both of you. So.” He forced himself to look back up. “Can we take this slow while we’re figuring all of this out?”

Zenyatta’s whole frame relaxed, as if he was letting go of a breath he couldn’t possibly hold. “You have a good point. Perhaps Angela and I were a bit hasty in showing our affections. But I am happy to experience this relationship whatever pace you are most comfortable with.”

“We can go as slow as you want, Genji,” Angela said as she took Genji’s hand. “Just tell us what you need.”

Genji smiled, glad that he didn’t actually mess things up. “A hug would be nice?”

Zenyatta chuckled as he offered Genji his arms, “I believe we can work that out between the three of us.”

Genji returned to his spot against Zenyatta, now joined by Angela. There was a little bit of wiggling, a leg had to be moved, an arm flexed so it wasn’t trapped, but after the brief struggle Genji ended with his head on Zenyatta’s shoulder and Angela pressed against his chest. Not a perfect fit, but they made it work. Deep within him he felt Egg let out a happy purr of satisfaction.

“Uh, Genji?” Angela asked from her spot. “Should I put my shirt back on? If you’re not comfortable with it off?”

“Never said that,” Genji said perhaps a little too fast.

“I do not mind either,” said Zenyatta.

Genji nodded. “See Zenyatta agrees wait what-”

“Part of last night’s conversation. We’ll fill you in later,” Angela said before shifting around enough to kiss Genji, only to lean up to kiss Zenyatta as well. Genji wondered if it was normal to enjoy that sight as much as he did.

Egg giggled. Genji had a feeling she would be doing a lot of that.

“Later,” Genji echoed. He closed his eyes, letting himself drift off to sleep to the sound of Zenyatta’s motors and Angela’s steady breathing. It was true that he had found peace with himself years ago. But now, within the arms of the two he held most dear, Genji felt something even better. He was complete. Remade. Alive. Whole.

Chapter Text

Even before Satya joined Overwatch (well, was forcibly sent as ‘a show of goodwill’ by Vishkar) she knew about Dr. Ziegler’s radical advances in the field of medicine. Back then she had lost a few evenings watching videos of biotic fields literally patching patients back together. There was something hypnotic about watching bones fusing, skin interweaving, injuries healing in a fraction of the time they traditionally required. But none of the videos, or essays, or interviews with Angela herself ever mentioned the fact that the biotic field itched .

Her whole body itched. Everywhere that the golden light touched itched. There were parts inside of her that itched. Worst of all was the bandages on the side of her face. The second Satya’s fingers ghosted over the cotton padding Angela would be to scold her. Once she waited until Angela was in the infirmary’s bathroom and still the doctor knew.

Magic, whispered a voice in Satya’s head that sounded too much like Lucio’s for her own liking.

Or she simply asks Athena, said a voice closer to Zenyatta’s than anyone else’s.

“G’day Satya!” said a voice that was one hundred percent Junkrat’s. And there he was, leaning over Satya’s bed with his normal crazed grin. “How’s the noggin? Didn’t get too janked up, did it? You know I count on you being the smart one.”

“Junkrat,” Satya murmured, her voice still weak. “You reverse-engineered a gyroscopic-based power cell for your arm out of car parts. You’re as intelligent as I am.”

“Yeah yeah, I know, but you are ahead of me on the limb game. That’s gotta mean something.” To her surprise Junkrat’s smile faded. He took a seat on the edge of Satya’s bed within the golden glow. “Glad you’re back with us, Satya. Gave us all a real scare back there. Fareeha was as mad as a cut snake on the way back. Wanted to crush that crook bug woman herself for what she did to ya.”

Satya wiggled away from Junkrat to give him a little more room. Her head wasn’t thrilled with the sudden movement, but as long as she stayed in the biotic field she was fine. And she was sure Junkrat could use some healing rays for himself. The man was a near-expert at finding odd cuts and bruises he never remembered getting in the first place. “You were unable to find Widowmaker, correct?”

“Either someone did a real good job cleaning up the chunks before we got there, or she lived and booked it. Or something else dead set barmy. Not like anything makes much sense with those Talon cu-ooh yeah!” Junkrat snapped his fingers. “Winston sent me here to let you know the mission was a total shit house. No baddies, no lappys, and enough dust to make me want to break out some thongs. Our favorite gorilla won’t admit it, but I think he’s bit stonkered about the whole thing. Not that anyone here does what with all the kangaroos runnin’ around the top paddock. You’re looking at me weird, Satya. Am I yabbering too much?”

Satya wondered if she should admit that she only understood every-other word Junkrat had said, but instead went for the the other pressing matter on her mind. “Fareeha asked me out on a date.”

“Good on ya!” Junkrat nudged Satya’s remaining arm with his own. “Be sure to give her a good pash at the end all proper-like.”

“Junkrat,” Satya stressed his name. “Fareeha asked me out on a date .”

“And?”

“And--” Satya sat up, or at least tried to. The second she lifted her head a wave of vertigo struck her back down. From behind the privacy curtain around the infirmary bed she heard an ‘ahem’ from Angela. Seriously, how did the doctor do it? Knowing her limits Satya instead sunk deep into the foam pillow. “And I’m me . What do people even do on dates?”

“You’ve never been on a date?” Junkrat frowned. “Seriously?”

Satya could only weakly shrug in response. “Too much paperwork.”

There was that odd expression on Junkrat’s face again, not quite pity, but far too close for Satya’s liking. But in a flash he was smiling again. “Don’t know why everyone’s suddenly asking me for relationship advice. First the tinny-bugger, and now you! I swear if the Yank wants help with Mister-Scary-Dragon, I’m gonna demand compensation for my hard yakka!”

“Tinny, wait, you mean Genji?” Right as Satya said that she heard the telltale squeak of a chair from behind the privacy curtain. Almost as if a certain doctor was leaning closer to the curtain to hear better. Satya’s eyes met Junkrat’s and he responded with a curt nod.

“Gave him some good oil about getting his ducks in a row. Sure he’ll be able to figure things out.” Junkrat waited until the next chair-squeak sounded to continue. “You know, he had no idea that me and Roadie are married!”

“That’s,” Satya frowned up at the ceiling tiles, “impossible?”

“Swear it’s the truth!”

“You introduced yourselves to everyone as partners in both the married sense and the crime-spree sense.”

Junkrat shrugged. “Maybe he was busy with the whole, ya know,” he waved his mechanical hand in the air to signify the universe at large. No, Satya realized a second later, he was waving at the curtain and the doctor on the other side. There was that same, understanding nod from earlier right before Junkrat said a touch too loud, “Got any idea on what gets your kukabara crowing?”

That got Satya to look directly at him. “What ?”

“For your hot date! You gotta impress your bird lady, right? Really go all out! Like wear the red and gold number you had on during the gorilla’s birthday party during which, I must point out, she was practically attached to you.”

“I was boring her to death!” Satya snapped, only to draw back. Fareeha had been bored, hadn’t she? Everyone Satya tried to explain the history of hard light to would get that same glassy look in their eyes and then excuse themselves. She never held it against them. No amount of Vishkar training could get her to stop once she was on a topic that interested her.

Except Fareeha didn’t excuse herself. She stayed out on the balcony with Satya after the party became far too overwhelming. Fareeha smiled, she laughed, she didn’t seem to mind that Satya never made eye contact. Instead of leaving Fareeha leaned in closer, that silky blue dress moving against her body in so many interesting ways, and said-

“She said I’m the most interesting conversationalist she’s ever met.”

“There you go!” Junkrat nudged Satya’s arm again. “Just spend the date talking about how much you hate magic-”

“I don’t hate magic, it’s the fact that no one here understands that it’s not real.”

“-or Lucio-”

“I don’t hate Lucio, we simply have a disagreement on the best way to improve society at large.”

“-or the fact you don’t know how Jesse lost his arm and that’s really gotten in your craw-”

“I know how Jesse lost his arm.”

The words surprised Satya as much as they obviously affected Junkrat. Yes, she reflected, she did know how Jesse lost his arm. The pieced together timeline of events was a shining beacon in the hazy memory fog of earlier that day. She didn’t have a full picture, but there was no other explanation for the pieces she did have. The fear on Jesse's face, the regret in Hanzo's eyes. There was no other answer. Hanzo’s dragons bit off Jesse’s arm.

The extremely not-real dragons.

“Go on,” Junkrat said after the pause stretched a little too long. “How’d he lose it?”

Another creak came from behind the curtain.

Satya took the time to piece the words in her head in a neat, precise line before answering. “He broke into a zoo while drunk and tried to pet one of the tigers.”

“Ha! I knew it was zoo related! Don’t blame him, I’ve lost track of the times I wanted to do some late-night-illegal-petting-zoo-action! Not tigers. Somethin’ more harmless. Giraffe? Always wanted to pet a giraffe. Animals have no right being so tall but damn if they’re not adorable. What was I talking about?”

“My date with Fareeha.”

“That’s right! Uh. Why on Earth were you asking me again?”

Satya squeezed her eyes shut. “Because I was hoping for relationship advice from one of the two happily married couples in Overwatch and Ana terrifies me.”

“Fair enough,” Junkrat shrugged. “Best advice I ever heard? You’ll love this, it’s all math-y. Think of a relationship as like fifty-fifty, right? Half put in by you, half put in by your lady bird. Well what you do is you aim to put in sixty percent. Just that extra bit of extra effort, you know? Brew her some coffee the way she likes it first thing in the morning, always offer to help her with her repairs, whatever you ladies do in the bedroom, little things like that. But here’s the catch! Fareeha? She’s gotta put in sixty percent as well. Maybe your old buddy Junkrat can drop a few hints to her about what pastries you like at breakfast, or how you steal still-warm towels from the laundry room, those sort of things. Savvy?”

Satya opened an eye. “I do not steal towels from the laundry room.”

“Uh-huh. And I bet the fluffiest ones just happen to always end up in your locker by chance.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about, Fawkes .”

“Sure you don’t, Vaswani.

Junkrat and Satya almost managed to keep straight faces before laughter bubbled up between them. Satya’s head and neck didn’t appreciate the movement, but it was worth it for how light the rest of her body felt. Unless Angela had increased the painkillers. That was also possible. Their bout of giggles was stopped by a sound from the door that in theory was someone clearing their throat, but was closer to a vacuum struggling to pick up misshapen aquarium rocks. Satya didn’t have to move her head too much to see Roadhog in the infirmary doorway holding a vase full of sunflowers.

“Ello darl’!” Junkrat said, his expression almost glowing as Roadhog walked in. As fast-forming as Satya’s friendship with Junkrat was, her friendship with Roadhog always felt a bit uneasy. He didn’t really talk to her for the first month, and even after that it was always in short two-to-three word bursts. But the fact he was there with flowers and his mask off spoke of how much his trust had grown. Junkrat rose from the bed right as Roadhog ducked down so they could share a quick kiss.

“Greetings, Mako,” Satya said as she watched Roadhog place the vase down on the night stand. She was impressed by the sheer number of sunflowers he had managed to cram into a single container. It made her wonder if there was actually any room for water.

“Flowers.” Roadhog pointed with his thumb at said flowers. “From Bastion.”

“And you, you big lug.” Junkrat nudged Roadhog in the side without much effect.

“Thank you, they’re lovely,” Satya said. And it was the truth. She wasn’t sure where a Bastion unit learned how to grow prize-winning flowers and crops, but she was glad he was on their team. Satya went to say as much only to be caught off-guard by a deep yawn. It hadn’t register before how tired she was.

“Junkrat isn’t bothering you, is he?” Roadhog asked in what had to be the longest sentence he ever said to Satya.

“Roadie! You wound me!” Junkrat pressed his metal hand against his chest. “I’ll have you know Satya and I were having an important discussion about, uh, zoo animals? Damn, what was before that? Zoo animals, limb removal, magic existing or not, your hot date with Fareeha I remember now! She’s got a date with the metal bird!”

“Congrats,” Roadhog said and, after a pause, added, “If she hurts you I’ll break her.”

“Please do not break Fareeha,” Satya replied.

There was a brief rustling of fabric before the privacy curtain was pulled back to reveal Angela. “I agree, Mako, no breaking any teammates for any reason. Even if justified.”

“Noted,” said Roadhog with a grunt.

“Least not where Athena can see us,” Junkrat whispered in a way that was still loud enough for everyone to hear.

“Anyway .” Angela pointed at the two men. “The patient needs her rest. I promise she will be up and fully healed by tomorrow morning if you wish to visit her then.”

“Right right, we know when to take a hint.” Junkrat nudged Satya’s arm one last time. “We’ll be here fresh in the morning with one of those cherry danishes you like. Even if we gotta break the cowboy’s fingers-”

“No breaking!”

“Ugh, fine Miss Angel Doc! Even if we have to gently take the danish from someone in a way that doesn’t hurt anyone! There, happy?!”

“Immensely.” Angela gave a little nod towards the door. It was well known throughout the team that the good doctor would not ask a third time. Then again, Satya reflected, Junkrat was also famous for never listening to orders the first few times around. But like so many times before Roadhog saved the day by picking Junkrat up and tucking the much smaller man under his arm.

“Thank you,” Roadhog said to Angela. “Feel better,” he said to Satya. “Let’s go, Rootrat,” he said down at the squirming Junkrat before exiting the infirmary.

Satya heard one last cry of, “Roadie! I told you not to call me that in front of others!” before Roadhog’s heavy footsteps faded down the hallway, only to be replaced by the peaceful white-noise hum of the various machines around her. She could feel sleep nipping at her heels, eager to pull her under once more. Satya almost gave in, almost allowed herself to drift away, when Angela’s voice brought her back up to the surface.

“Danke. For not telling the truth about Jesse.”

Satya shrugged as she closed her eyes. “He wouldn’t have believed me anyway.”

***

Satya blinked, and it was sunset. She didn’t remember falling asleep. She didn’t remember waking up, either. But Angela was gone, and the infirmary walls were painted red and orange from the dying light. Her head didn’t ache as much anymore and, in a turn of events that made her skin very happy, the biotic field had been switched to a lower setting. The moment would have been one of pure tranquil bliss if it wasn’t for the humming. Lucio’s humming.

She knew it anywhere. The second they met (officially, not in the trying-to-stop-the-other way from before Overwatch) Lucio had made noise. He hummed, he sang, he whistled; he was quickly banned from all missions involving stealth. Even when he mopped the floors Lucio would play music loud enough to be heard on the other side of the Watchpoint. And despite having a sleeping patient nearby Lucio was determined to continue his eternal cacophony.

Well, she wasn’t sleeping currently. But still. It was rude.

“Satya? You awake?”

Even ruder to speak to someone who was obviously trying to fall back asleep.

Lucio leaned into her view with his dreads ungracefully framing his face. “Morning Sunshine! How’s your head feeling?”

(He called her that, sometimes. The first time was spat out. The second sarcastically. Only then did Satya wonder when the barbs fell off the odd nickname.)

“Better,” Satya said, too worn down to fight. “What time is it?”

“After eight. I can go grab you something from the kitchen if you’re hungry. Unless you want one of Doctor Ziegler’s insty feel-good protein shakes?”

A too-fresh memory twisted inside Satya. The protein shakes were healthy. They were also food. But nothing beyond those two descriptions. “Never again.”

Lucio shuddered. “I hear you. I still get nightmares from the taste. Not even joking! I’ll be having one of my normal fruit-fly dreams but then bam! Chalk but without all the appealing flavor! I know healthy isn’t supposed to taste good but between you and me I think Angela takes it too far sometimes.”

“Like how the biotic field itches?” Satya asked as she forced herself to sit up. Her head still spun, but nowhere as bad before.

“Exactly.” Lucio gently took her shoulder, being sure to only touch what was covered by the infirmary-pajamas, and helped Satya up the rest of the way. “Ever get ‘resurrected’ by her?”

Satya nodded, the motion making her wish that she stayed down. “I almost threw up.”

“I did! Right on Hana’s MEKA! If she wasn’t so happy about me being okay she would have killed me!” Lucio laughed as he moved his hand away. “Lucky thing Angela was there! I’ve done the run-away-with-a-serious-wound before and let me tell you that it is not something I want to experience again, uh--” His laughter stopped. “Are you okay? You’re giving me one of your scary looks.”

“You were shot,” Satya said, the memory hitting her through the static. “Hardly twelve hours ago. How are you moving around?”

“Same reason you’re not at risk for potential brain hemorrhaging.” Lucio rapped his knuckles on the biotic field emitter hanging over Satya’s head. “Fareeha swiped one of Jack’s before the mission began and used it on us while transport showed up. He has got to stop leaving them around like that.”

Satya leaned over the edge of the bed to get a better look at Lucio. There were wrappings around his calves, but nothing beyond basic dressing.  “You were shot. With a high power sniper rifle. Through your legs.”

It was rare to see Lucio’s smile slip, even rarer for his whole body to deflate. “Satya. You know the answer.”

Satya’s eyes shifted over to her hand. She focused on how her fingers twisted around the thin infirmary blanket. “Magic isn’t an answer.”

“Satya-”

“Don’t you Satya me!” Satya’s head snapped up so she could meet Lucio’s wide eyes. “This world is made out of logic and reason! Atoms, cells, elements, everything, everything follows rules and guidelines and makes sense! I will not sit here and be told to swallow the idea that the universe would allow for magic to exist! Do not treat me like a child and tell me I live in a world where music can heal, dragons are real, and tattoos appear out of thin air!”

“But it does.” Lucio waved a hand through the air as if signifying the world at large. “You said it yourself, sound amplifier only amplifies sound. My music is what heals. My Mom was the same way, her mother was, her mother’s mother, all the way back before record keeping was really a thing. And dragons, well, Genji’s dragon steals the fruit from my yogurt every morning so I can vouch for dragons being that real at least. Magic is all around, Satya. Just look at us! There’s no way science can explain half the stuff we do on a normal day! And I gotta say, I always thought your hardlight was pretty magical.”

“Hardlight is a science. It can be explained.”

“Doesn’t mean it’s not magic.”

The scream of frustration Satya let out was not as satisfying as she hoped it would be. Nor was falling back on the bed like a sullen teenager. But Lucio was laughing again, and a small part of Satya was happy that natural order had been re-established. Maybe that was what triggered her moment of weakness. Maybe it was the exhaustion, the pain, the near death experience that lead her to speak.

“I used to think hardlight was magic, too,” Satya said as she stared up at the ceiling tiles.

“For real?” Lucio managed to get out between laughs.

“Yes, when I was first taken in by Vishkar. I remember watching an employee create a starscape of crystals high in the air above us. She danced and the crystals moved with her, making it seem as if the stars were at her command. Then she came to me, me of all people, and demonstrated how to make a crystal for myself. The crystal ended up a horrid misshapen mess that exploded a second later but I did it. I didn’t know what hardlight was, or how it worked, so to me it was magic.”

“Bet that was adorable. So the dancing crystal woman, was she your teacher? Mentor? Whatever?”

“She was, to start.” Satya relaxed her grip on the blanket. “She passed away shortly after I began my training.”

Lucio leaned forward in his chair. “Oh Wow. I’m sorry.”

“There is no need. As important as architects are, they are just as replaceable as all Vishkar employees. She was replaced by my predecessor, I replaced him, and I am sure when I am no longer of use Vishkar will send another architect to join Overwatch it my place. Do not worry, I have written an in-depth guide for the next architect on how to work with everyone here. Including various ways to trick Junkrat into taking a bath.”

Satya was surprised at the lack of a response from Lucio. She turned her head to look at him directly, only to see an expression on his face she could not read. What was that? Sadness? Pity? It was useless to guess. She was trapped between not knowing if she needed to apologize, or try to cheer him up, or some other page of the script always out of her grasp. If only Junkrat was there to give her a heads-up like he always did after weird social situations. Even Hana or Lena was willing to help her out when she found herself confused or overwhelmed. Or Hanzo, now that she thought about it. McCree. Jack. Ana. Almost everyone on the team.

Except Lucio, she reminded herself.

Lucio, who reached out to hold her hand.

“Satya. You’re not disposable. You’ve never been disposable.”

He squeezed her hand and let go. The contact is brief, but the warmth of his skin lingers. She hadn’t realized how cold her body was until that moment. Satya still can’t read his face, but if pressed she would say he did look a bit happier. It was enough to calm the worry inside her. As the silence ticks on a breath too long she begins to search desperately for something to say to end it, but thankfully Lucio beats her to the punch.

“So when’s Angela letting you out?”

“Tomorrow morning.”

Lucio snapped his fingers. “Man, you’re going to miss movie night!”

Satya was honestly disappointed. Movie night was one of the few group activities Satya enjoyed, mostly because everyone would sit quietly and watch with relatively few outbursts. Not to mention the tastes of the agents resulted in a rather eclectic collection. Which begged an important question, “Who picked the movie this time?”

“Genji. He said it’s a classic bad movie, too.”

“With robot puppets this time or no?”

“Not too sure? I’ll ask when I see him. Wherever he went off to.” Lucio stood up, and this time Satya was able to note the shakiness in his legs when he walked. “Speaking of which I gotta, uh, go do a thing. Are you going to be okay in here by yourself?”

“I am sure if anything happens Athena will alert you or Angela right away,” Satya said as she muffled a yawn. “Right, Athena?”

Of course Agent Vaswani,” sang Athena’s voice from above.

“Alright! I’m going to go do that thing.” Lucio pointed up at the ceiling. “Athena, I’m going to need your help for this.”

Very well. But I must warn you that several of our agents are indisposed at the moment.”

“Don’t worry about it! Satya, you feel better, okay?” Lucio flashed her one last smile before he left her alone once more, humming as he went.

***

The third time Satya awoke the infirmary was dark and the biotic emitter had turned off. Also someone was knocking.  A determined, yet gentle knock of someone who had a plan but didn’t want to ruin someone’s day because of it, so Satya wasn’t too surprised to see that Fareeha was the one at the infirmary door with the bright lights of the hallway at her back. Not surprised, but Satya was suddenly and violently aware of every single flaw in her looks the second the other woman made eye contact.

(Her hair was a mess her makeup had been wiped off the infirmary pajamas were unflattering at best and she sure as hell wasn’t wearing a bra why did Angela have to save her life-)

“Hey,” Fareeha whispered loud enough for Satya to hear. “How are you feeling?”

If Satya was even a tad bit smoother she could have busted out a great line like, ‘Better because you’re here.’ Instead she sat up, crossed her arms over her chest, and said, “I no longer wish to vomit, so, better? What time is it?”

“Quarter after ten.” Fareeha stepped closer, allowing Satya to see her clearer. Unlike her, Fareeha was dressed up to a much higher standard, from the nice blouse to makeup to what was obviously one of Hana’s bunny-shaped hair clips. And from the odd angle of the clip Fareeha probably didn’t know it was in there. “And you haven’t eaten yet, right?”

“Correct.” Satya felt a tingle of unease that always came from being lured into a trap. “Please tell me you’re not going to force me to drink one of the protein shakes.”

“What? No! I wouldn’t force that on anyone!” Fareeha stood in front of Satya’s bed, close enough that Satya could pick a faint scent of flowers. Perfume? Why was Fareeha all dressed up and-

Oh, thought Satya as she looked up into the eyes of a woman with a plan.

Oh no, thought Satya as Fareeha, dressed to impress, moved to the side of the bed and offered Satya her hand.

“How about we get you out of here and find some food?”

“I don’t think I’m allowed to leave,” Satya said only to immediately kick herself for doing so.

That is correct, ” Athena chimed in. “Agent Vaswani is not allowed to leave the infirmary until she is cleared by Dr. Ziegler. If she attempts to leave without clearance I am to contact Dr. Ziegler immediately, no matter what-

Fareeha’s head snapped up. “Athena! Blackwatch override code phrase ‘Morrison dances like an old timey prospector.’”

Athena made a sound almost like a sigh before saying, “Override activated. But don’t cry to me if you get in trouble, Agent Fareeha Amari.

“I was not aware Athena had such a feature,” Satya said. “Isn’t that dangerous?”

“There's only three people alive that know the code, and two of them only use it to get out of mandatory meetings.” Fareeha outstretched her hand again. “What do you say? Want to break out?”

Not trusting herself to speak, Satya took Fareeha’s hand. Oh, she could have written an essay about the sensation of those calloused fingers brushing against her palm. She studied how the muscles in Fareeha’s arm flexed as she helped Satya stand up, how the fluffy bathrobe she was holding contrasted against the rough scars over her skin and, bathrobe? Bathrobe. Fareeha held one of the infirmary’s suspiciously stained bathrobes out to Satya and gave it a little shake.

“Satya? Do you want the robe? If not we can stop by your room if you want to change-”

“The bathrobe is fine!” Satya said as she slipped the robe on in what could best be described as a blind panic. After a short, confusing battle over which arm hole was which Satya wrapped the sash high up in hopes of making up for lack of proper undergarments. With everything vaguely strapped down Satya turned her attention back to Fareeha, who was studying an odd stain on the ceiling.

“To the kitchen, then?” Satya asked when Fareeha didn’t immediately look back down. But when she did the other woman grinned wide enough to let Satya know that oh yes, this was a trap.

“Actually, I have somewhere else in mind.” Fareeha offered Satya her arm instead of explaining further. Then, after another pause that lasted a second too long, Fareeha offered her other arm so Satya could actually take hold of it in her current state. Arm-in-arm the two women stepped out into the blessfully empty hallway.

Satya considered herself lucky that they didn’t run into anyone during the first leg of their journey. After passing the kitchen she thought it was odd that they hadn’t run into anybody. There was always someone awake and wandering around the base no matter what the hour. When they passed the very-empty workshop Satya broke.

“Where is everyone?” Satya asked, her one arm still wrapped around Fareeha’s with no sign of letting go. “It’s too early for movie night.”

Fareeha gave a half-hearted shrug. “Well, according to Mei’s earlier mass text Jesse and Hanzo finally hooked up so they’re going to be busy for the next few days, if you catch my drift. Lena said Genji had some sort of date with Angela and Zenyatta, about damn time if you ask me, so that’s at least five people missing in action.”

“Oh.” Satya frowned to herself. “Wait, Jesse and Hanzo aren’t already dating?”

“Ugh. It’s this whole story. I’ll explain later.” Fareeha stepped away from Satya to open one of the doors leading outside. She even gave a little nod and a smile, urging Satya on. She did, and in doing so Satya realized three things.

One, the door had lead out into Bastion’s garden. Two, Fareeha’s chosen winding path was one without any windows overlooking Bastion’s garden. And three, they were on a date. Fairy lights had been strung up around the garden, over old machinery and odd crates that still lingered on the edges of the makeshift farmland. Cheap paper lanterns flicking with LED lights hung in the branches of the wild olive tree by Bastion’s empty charging station. At its base was an honest-to-God picnic blanket with matching wicker basket.

“Too much?” Fareeha asked as her smile began to falter.

“No!” Satya walked further out into the garden. “I am, this, this is unexpected.”

Fareeha walked past Satya and sat on the picnic blanket, giving the space next to her a pat. “I couldn’t wait for Saturday night. And if anyone deserves a nice, romantic dinner after being shot in the face by one of Talon’s top snipers, it’s you.”

Satya took a seat next to Fareeha (hesitating for a second, the urge to make herself a chair passed with the realization she no longer had the means to do so), only to wonder if she was sitting too close. Or not close enough? She had been counting on having a few days to mentally prepare herself for this moment. But now Fareeha was so close, smiling, smiling at her. She should probably look at Fareeha instead of her hand. “I was not shot in the face.”

“Side of the face. Close enough.” Fareeha handed Satya a champagne flute already filled with bubbling liquid. Satya twisted the flute around, watching the bubbles rise from the bottom. She didn’t hear Fareeha uncork a bottle, but that mystery was solved when she took a sip only to discover it was not champagne. It almost tasted like-

“Cider?” Satya asked as she looked up at Fareeha, who shrugged again.

“I don’t drink and wasn’t sure if you did. And it’s sparkling cider so it’s still pretty fancy, right?” Fareeha held up her own matching glass. The fact that Overwatch had two matching, unbroken flutes was impressive in itself. “A toast?”

Satya raised her glass in turn. “To not getting shot in the face?”

“Not getting shot in the face it is.” Fareeha clinked her glass against Satya’s and added, “Fee saḥitkum!"

Satya took another sip, which turned into a gulp, which turned to her downing her entire glass at once. When was the last time she had anything to drink? Or eat? Free of the biotic field her biological systems were coming back to life. A fact backed up by the loud gurgle from her stomach. Luckily Fareeha was already elbows-deep in the picnic basket.

“I hope you don’t mind leftovers,” Fareeha said as she pulled out a tupperware container and fork. “Because the only thing I can cook is eggs and that really didn’t scream romantic picnic dinner to me.”

“That is one more dish than I can cook,” Satya admitted. She popped open the contain to what turned out to be leftover pad thai. Lena made it, if she recalled correctly. A quick bite of near-tasteless noodles confirmed that yes, Lena was behind this one. But hunger overruled any complaints and Satya continued eating. Well, devouring. She didn’t bother to slow down or take a moment to breath until she felt Fareeha’s hand on her shoulder.

“Easy there!” Fareeha laughed. “I don’t want you getting sick, Angela will really have my head for sure.”

“Mmmph,” Satya sorta-said before swallowing the mouthful of bland noodle. “I apologize and, oh, don’t you have anything to eat?”

“Don’t worry about it. I’m not the one that’s been laid up in bed all day.” Fareeha replaced the empty container with a bottle of water. This Satya had the self-control to sip. “And don’t sell yourself so short, those muffins you made the other week were amazing! And Winston’s birthday cake? I know that was really you and only one percent everyone else.”

“That is different. Baking is a science. There is no difference between baking cookies in the kitchen and working in the lab. But to throw seemingly random ingredients together in a skillet and have it turn into a masterpiece? I do not know how Mei does it.”

Fareeha let out a laugh as her whole frame relaxed. “I know, right? Jesse’s the same way. In the old days he would find the most random old canned food laying around and make chilis and stews that were out of this world! Everyone loved it when he did and I mean sometimes it was the only reason Gabe...ever came out of his office…”

Satya watched as Fareeha’s expression clouded over. She panicked, and scrambled for the first thought that entered her mind in hopes of seeing Fareeha smile again. “At Vishkar we’re not allowed to cook.”

It wasn’t a smile, but at least Fareeha didn’t look so sad anymore. “What?”

“Instead we are given strict diets with premade food supplied to us. Rather like those dusty MREs Jack enjoys eating but with a bit more flavor. Of course since I am away from Vishkar I have more freedom to my food choices, but I am required to include what I have eaten on my daily email reports so the company’s nutritionists can adjust my medical charts-”

Satya froze, her mind ripped away from Bastion’s garden, away from the flickering light on Fareeha’s skin, into a cold pit of realization.

She hadn’t sent Vishkar a daily email report since Hana showed her the video of Hanzo’s dragon.

She hasn’t contacted Vishkar in weeks .

Her whole routine had been thrown off ever since that day. Gone were the morning stretches, the carefully worded emails, the cup of tea with a Vishkar approved granola bar. Instead there had been days sleeping in, pancake breakfast with the team, far more failed dragon-shaped hardlight creations than she cared to admit. Her mind reeled, desperately trying to find a reason, an excuse for her actions that wouldn’t get her terminated from Vishkar or terminated by Vishkar.

Fareeha’s hand on her own brought Satya back. Calloused skin, chipped nails, fingers far stronger than her’s. Warmth and strength made flesh. Their fingers entwined, and Satya looked up to willingly meet Fareeha’s gaze.

“This is going to sound weird,” Fareeha started. “Really weird. But I saw on your medical record, I had to read it as team leader I swear, that, okay, that your arm was surgically removed.”

Ah. This conversation. Satya was secretly thankful she had something normal to focus on. “That is correct.”

“By your request.”

Satya squeezed Fareeha’s hand. “It made more sense for me to have all of my hardlight equipment semi-permanently attached to my body than to carry it along with my photon projector.  I am sure my medical file shows that there was no real lasting damage, and my training records prove that my prosthetic does not hinder me in any way.”

Fareeha nodded. “Satya, I just wanted to say that, that’s, that’s amazing .”

And that’s all it took for Satya’s mind to go blank. “What?”

“The fact that you willingly sacrificed part of your body for the sake of your work! The sheer amount of devotion to your cause is staggering! Do you know how rare that is? For someone to give anything, literally anything, for what they believe in? I’ve known so many weak-willed slugs who give up their so called beliefs the second the wind changes, but you, you stand tall and stick by your morals! And I’m not just talking about your arm! It’s the way you fight for order and balance in everything you do, from helping organize missions to strictly enforcing the chore wheel to actually taking stock of the storage rooms!”

“Finding a discrepancy between the Overwatch branded clothing in our storage and what’s listed in the computers isn’t important,” Satya said, only to be cut off by another rush of words.

“But it is to you! You’re passionate about it! You’ve dedicated your life to crossing every T and dotting every I! All for the sake of making the world a better place. I, I really admire that about you. And even though you didn’t exactly come here by choice I’m glad you did. Overwatch is lucky to have you, and the brass over at Vishkar are a load of idiots to let you go.” Fareeha leaned back. “Was that too much?”

Satya did not trust herself to answer with words. The move was awkward, hindered by her trying not to knock over her bottle of water, but she did succeed in slipping between Fareeha’s arms. Fareeha caught on and did her best to help as well. A shifted leg, an arm around the waist, a final scootch, all so Satya could lean her non-wounded cheek against Fareeha’s broad shoulder as they cuddled. They stayed like that, under the lanterns and fairy lights, until Satya found the courage to speak once more.

“I like it when you do that ‘Justice Rains from Above’ attack. It’s really...cool.”

Fareeha’s laughter made almost getting shot in the face worth it.

***

They took the same winding path to the infirmary, arm-in-arm again, but this time conversation flowed freely between them. Giggles popped up between words, stories chased one another as both women took their time getting back. But even with delays (a potential rock in Satya’s slippers, Fareeha having to stop and check her phone) they eventually neared their destination.

“Five years?” Satya asked, her eyes glued on Fareeha. “That doesn’t seem possible. They both start whining like children if they have to spend a weekend apart.”

“Tell me about it! Do you know how I found Jesse? Crying at a dive bar drunk off his ass! He’s lucky I was in the area for work, and double-lucky that the good samaritan lady decided to call the ‘sister’ contact in his phone and not ‘mom’. He would have lost his other arm if Mum found him like that.”

Satya studied Fareeha’s face before deciding to risk a question. “Is Jesse-?”

Fareeha cut her off short with a snort. “No! No, not by blood at least. Not that it stopped him or Angela from becoming family. We certainly got in enough trouble together to count as siblings. They’re the ones who taught me how to shoot. Behind my mother’s back, of course. She wanted to teach me ‘when I was older’, but they both thought thirteen was old enough.”

“Jesse I can see. But Angela?”

“Don’t sound so shocked! Angela never was one for following orders back then. You should have seen the fights she would get in with Jack and Reyes. You could hear the three of them shouting from across the base! She was the only one who ever had the guts to stand up to both of them at the same time.”

“I must say, I have yet to experience that level of shouting myself.”

“And that is why I have faith in this version of Overwatch. The old days were far less, oh, we’re here.” Fareeha didn’t even bother to hide the disappointment in her voice as they stopped in front of the infirmary door.

“Indeed we are,” Satya said as she finally let go of Fareeha’s arm. The pit in her stomach was ridiculous and she knew it. She would see Fareeha tomorrow, and work alongside her for the foreseeable future. But even with that in mind she couldn’t help but mourn that this time, this moment with Fareeha had come to an end. “I should return to my bed before I am caught by Angela.”

Fareeha nodded. “I hear Reinhardt’s making french toast for breakfast tomorrow. Think you’ll be up for it?”

Satya turned to face Fareeha directly. “Of course. And I look forward to our second date on Saturday.”

“Second.” Fareeha let out another one of her bellowing laughs, far too loud for that time of night. “I guess this was our first date, huh? I promise our next one will have better food.”

“And dancing, if I recall?” Satya asked as she took a step closer.

“And no weirdly stained bathrobes. Unless you really want to. I got to admit, you pull off the ‘spent all day hospitalized’ look pretty well.” Fareeha laughed again and smiled, which was all Satya needed to act. She had been waiting to confirm with Fareeha her suspicions about this being a date. With the status verified she knew exactly what to do.

Satya cupped Fareeha’s cheek, leaned up, and kissed her.

The kiss was not supposed to be anything major. Thanks for the lovely date. Looking forward to the next one. A physical sign that Satya was interested in Fareeha and a potential future together. But Fareeha parted her lips, pulled Satya into her arms, and the kiss became so much more. Satya happily met the challenge and devoured Fareeha’s pleasant surprised whimper with her next kiss.

If given a chance Satya would have been more than happy to spend the rest of the night out in the hallway. Held tight by Fareeha, letting her body take over and giving her mind a much needed break. There was even a part of her (well, most of her) that wouldn’t have said no to having the evening end so soon. But that brief, near-perfect moment was tragically cut short by the sound of someone sneezing inside of the infirmary.

Logically it made sense that there would be someone inside. Angela could have shown up to check up on her. One of her teammates might have horrifically injured themselves while she was away. A clean-bot from the server room could have escaped their prison and was making human-like noises in hopes of luring a potential victim to their doom. All perfectly normal things Satya expected thanks to her time at Overwatch. But there was no clear explanation for the fact that right after the sneeze there was a chorus of ‘bless yous’ and shushes from within.

Satya broke the kiss and leaned back enough to see the guilt plastered all over Fareeha’s face.

“In my defense,” Fareeha began, “I was planning on doing the whole ‘surprise romantic picnic’ anyway.”

Without a word Satya let go of Fareeha and turned her attention to the door instead. Faint, right on the edge of hearing, were the telltale whispers that only happens when too many people try to be silent and fail. She pushed open the door, expecting a few well wishers or perhaps some weird practical joke set up laying in wait for her return.

What she found instead was everyone.

Getting all current members of Overwatch inside the infirmary wasn’t as tricky as getting them in the mission debriefing room, but that didn’t stop them from mostly piling on each other again. Lena and Emily were cuddled up with Winston. Lucio and Hana had taken their normal seats on Bastion. Junkrat was perched on Roadhog, Mei was almost engulfed by Zarya’s arms, and all of the old timers had formed a single mass that was already complaining about their backs. Most shocking of all was the appearance of not only Hanzo and McCree (snuggled up together under a serape) but Angela, Genji and Zenyatta all tangled together in a mess of limbs.

They were all sitting around a holo-projector that had been set up against the far wall. Satya only saw the briefest glance of Athena’s logo bouncing around the large projected screen before the view was blocked by a flash of blue. Lena stood in front of her, dressed in bear-print pajamas, rocking on her heels like an excited child. She even clapped her hands together as she squealed.

“Surprise!” Lena shouted. “Heard you couldn’t make it to movie night, so we’ve brought it to you!” 

“It was Lucio’s idea,” Hana said, not bothering to look up from her phone as she pointed out the mastermind. Lucio gave Satya a small, slightly embarrassed wave in response.

“This is,” Satya started, taking in the smiling faces of her teammates. “I am, how, how on Earth did you get Bastion in here?”

“Simple geometry,” Hanzo said with a knowing laugh.

“We took off an arm to fit him through the door,” Jesse replied and earned himself a glare from Hanzo for that.

“I took his arm off!” Torbjorn grumbled. “You all were yammering about what movie to watch!”

“I still think we could have gotten him through the window if I made an ice wall.” Mei said.

Bastion let out a string of musical beeps and twisted his torso around (nearly throwing off Lucio and Hana in the process) to show that, yes, the omnic was down one arm.

“Speaking of which,” Ana said from her spot between Reinhardt and Jack. “Tradition dictates that the most injured agent gets to pick the movie.” The older woman topped off her words with a knowing smile and Satya realized a ‘talk’ between the two of them about Fareeha was most definitely going to happen in the near future. With any luck it wouldn’t involve a sniper rifle.

“I was told Genji had a bad movie picked out?” Satya asked.

“I did?” Genji asked from his own snuggle pile. “Oh yeah! I did! A good one too! And by good I mean it might cause lasting brain damage.”

Satya narrowed her eyes. “Does it have the robot puppets?”

“Yes?”

“Then we shall watch that.” For lack of a better seat Satya sat back down on her bed. When she saw the hesitation in Fareeha’s stance Satya gave the spot next to her a small pat. And, with a smile she was certain she would never tire of, Fareeha sat down beside her.

“Sorry about keeping you in the dark,” Fareeha whispered as the lights of the infirmary dimmed.

Under the cover of darkness Satya leaned over and kissed Fareeha on the cheek. “You can make it up to me later. Perhaps this Sunday, with breakfast?”

With a familiar jingle the holo-screen came to life and the noise Fareeha made was lost to the sound of every Overwatch agent singing along to the show’s theme song. It never failed to amaze Satya how not a single person there could hit the right key. Lucio was the closest, but missed due to his determination to ‘make it his own’. But even with the utter lack of harmony there was a certain charm to the chaos that Satya could not begin explain.

There, in the darkness, surrounded by her teammates, Satya closed her eyes and sang along.

***

Satya did not email Vishkar right away.

If pressed she would give what she considered a valid excuse. She was recovering from a head injury. She was busy repairing her arm. She was too focused on organizing her notes about the (impossible) Shimada dragons. She was distracted, in a rather lovely way, by her brand new girlfriend. All valid, and all covering the simple truth that she had no idea what to do.

Vishkar never sent an email asking her for an update. Nor would they. Instead Vishkar was waiting for her to make the first move, to realize her mistake, to come to them on hands and knees and beg. And they would forgive her. Satya had seen it before with under-performing colleagues. There would be no punishment, no making an example of, there might not even be a note on her record. Instead they would welcome Satya back into their fold, give her a cushy desk job, and never send her out into the field again.

And then one day, exactly one month after her last email, Satya knew.

Satya awoke at roughly half-past seven, only lingering in bed a few minutes before rising. She stretched, showered, dried, started the mini coffee maker on her desk, dressed, and even applied her makeup all before the sun had fully risen in the sky. By the time the coffee maker sang its ‘Coffee's ready!’ Bastion-like beeps, Satya was already busy documenting her notes on last night’s teleporter testing. Which went better than most late-night Workshop testings, with only one argument that no, Junkrat, you can’t have two teleporters teleport each other at the same time.

At the third ‘Coffee’s ready!’ beep, the pile of blankets on Satya’s bed moved. There was a lurch, a violent spasm followed by a miserable groan. With a grunt of effort the blankets blossomed opened to reveal the still-mostly-asleep form of Fareeha. Satya did pause writing long enough to catch a glimpse of Fareeha naked on her bed. A wonderful sight even if Fareeha looked as if she was ready to murder the concept of being awake.

“Good morning, my jaani,” Satya sang as she watched Fareeha climb out of bed. But before Fareeha could stumble her way in the direction of the shower Satya was up with the cup of coffee in her hands. Fareeha stood there, wobbling, before her brain kicked in enough to take the cup. At this point Satya got to see the second most fascinating sight that morning, which was Fareeha downing a cup of still-hot black coffee all in one go.

“Beautiful,” Fareeha said as she returned the cup and pressed a chaste kiss against Satya’s cheek. The coffee seemed to be enough to carry Fareeha to the bathroom, at least. Leaving Satya alone once more. With her computer. And the email. She put the cup back in the coffee machine and pressed the button before sitting back down at her computer.

The email was still blank by the time Fareeha came out of the bathroom. She was awake now, drying her hair with a fluffy towel, still shirtless but wearing a pair of stolen boxers. After seven months of working with Overwatch Satya wasn’t sure if anyone still had the original wardrobe they arrived with. That being said she wasn’t too heartbroken when one of her old skirts vanished, only to be replaced by an oversized tank top that was perfect to sleep in.

“Morning, jelly bean.” Fareeha leaned down to hug Satya from behind, wrapping her arms around Satya’s shoulders. Satya could feel the water drip from Fareeha’s hair down her back as she kissed her neck. “Busy with science?”

“Not as much,” replied Satya. The cursor was still blinking away where she had left it.

“Oh? Oh.” Fareeha’s arms shifted enough to give Satya a little more air. “If you’re not ready-”

“I am.” Satya breathed deeply as Zenyatta taught her. “I have to do this, and I have to do this now. I cannot put it off any longer. I just, I just need to find the words.”

Fareeha placed the next kiss on Satya’s cheek. “You can do this, Satya. I know it’s hard but you totally can do this. Do you want me to be here? Or do you want to be alone?”

Satya licked her lips. The cursor blinked. “Could you please go see if there’s any pastries left?”

“Sure thing honeybee. One cherry cheese danish coming right up, even if I have to tear it right out of Torbjorn’s claw.” Fareeha pulled away, leaving Satya’s world a little colder but far less damp. “You’re free this afternoon, right? Winston wants the new agent’s personal quarters ready by tomorrow, and it would be nice if you were there to help me order everyone else around.”

Satya leaned back against Fareeha and looked up at her girlfriend. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

Fareeha ducked her head down just enough to kiss Satya before leaving her to the terrors of the blank email. She then returned shortly, put on a shirt, grabbed the second cup of coffee, went for another kiss, and left the room again. Satya waited to see if there was anything else Fareeha forgot (a third kiss, perchance?) but after a minute ticked by it was clear that she was alone again.

Satya stared at the screen, but she did not think about the email.

She thought about Fareeha on her way to the kitchen for a pastry run. She thought of Winston and the Old Timers busying themselves with the arrival of the newest member of Overwatch. She thought of Hana, Lucio, Genji, and everyone else (who were no doubt still awake from the night before) working on those silly costumes for that video game convention coming up. She thought of the hundreds of pictures and videos on her new phone of the Shimada dragons performing tricks in return for snacks. She thought of Junkrat and his inability to understand how even the most basic of teleporters worked. She thought of Bastion, a robot made only for the sake of killing, preparing his garden for the long winter ahead.

Satya thought of her teammates. Of her friends. Her family. Home.

The email she sent Vishkar was precise, efficient, and two words long.

I quit.

Chapter Text

A few months later, after the beach, after the dragons had been reunited, after a quiet agreement between himself and Hanzo when it came to sharing living quarters, Jesse found himself in part of a different story.

(If Jesse had better cognitive awareness of the whole narration he would have been happy to hear that he wasn’t one of the main characters in this one. He would be thrilled, honestly. Let someone else take the reins, he would say before heading off to spend some quality time with Hanzo. But Jesse would always think of himself as the main character even if the spotlight was on someone else.)

After a brief but vocal meeting between the Old Timers of Overwatch, it had been decided that Jesse would be the one to show the newest agent, Orisa the intimidating yet polite omnic, the ropes. Not only was Jesse good with the kids--Jack’s words--but it would be a great test to see how the new recruit worked with wanted criminals with a combined bounty big enough to buy a small country--Ana’s words. Which was how Jesse ended up as team leader on a mission to escort a large amount of munitions that were stolen from a gang so it’s technically stealin’ but it is the right thing to do--Jesse’s words. Orisa didn’t seem to believe him, but Efi made her pinky-promise to follow his orders anyway.

“Okay Orisa, let us try again,” Satya said as a sparkling white screwdriver appeared in her hand out of thin air. She was elbow-deep in the large omnic yet somehow didn’t have a spot of grease on her. “Million dollars.”

“A million dollars,” Orisa repeated.

“It’s a lot of money, is it not?”

“I still do not know what currency the imagined money is in, Miss Vaswani, so I cannot confirm if it would be, ‘a lot of money--’”

Jesse waved from his spot on the couch. “Orisa, sweetie, just agree that it’s a lot of money.”

The mission had been a success. A messy success thanks to a rival gang showing up to steal the munitions at the same time, but a success nevertheless. With the payload secured they settled into an old Overwatch safe house until their pickup arrived in the morning. Hanzo and Jack were sent on a very important mission to find grub. Satya and Lúcio were on fix-up-Orisa duty since she did take the brunt of the gang’s attacks. Team Leader Jesse took it upon himself to test out of the safe house’s couch for potential naps.

Luckily for him and his love of firm couches, the safe house was one of the old ones that had been gussied up to resemble a regular old house. Even the insides gave the appearance of a normal family dwelling decorated by someone allergic to the idea of matching furniture. The living room they were in, for example, had a real every-item-was-found-abandoned-on-the-curb vibe going on.  But the walls were reinforced, the windows bullet-proof, and there were enough rations in the basement to last through another Omnic Crisis. Assuming you were a fan of freeze-dried food.

Orisa’s eyes flickered and changed from shape to shape before settling on happy-upside-down-V. “As you wish, Commander McCree.”

“Not a Commander,” Jesse said with a grumble. “But go ahead.”

“Million dollars,” Satya repeated. “But you must use a grappling hook to travel instead of your feet.”

Orisa’s upside down V’s turned into confused dots. “I do not understand.”

Lúcio, who was trying to pry a large rock out of Orisa’s knee with his far-less-sparkly screwdriver, looked up from his work. “I’m with Orisa on this one. How do you use a grappling hook to get around?”

A smile played on Satya’s lips as she mimed what could only be described as a grappling hook throw with her empty hand. “You throw it, hook it on something, and pull yourself across the room.”

“Can I use my legs at all?” asked Jesse. “Or do I gotta drag myself?”

“You have to move your body by arm muscle alone. Or robot muscle in Orisa’s case.” Satya pointed at Lúcio, adding, “And no cheating by wearing skates.”

“I’m out,” said Lúcio before jabbing his screwdriver deep into Orisa’s knee right under the stone.

Orisa’s eyes switched back to their normal lines. “I do not understand why the money is being offered in the first place. What would anyone have to gain by an inability to walk?”

“It’s not like a serious question, Orisa.” Lúcio wiggled his screwdriver, only to frown as it refused to budge. “It’s more like a, um…”

“A Million Dollars But is about weighing a large sum of money against actions that may harm, embarrass, or make your life difficult,” Satya said. “It’s also a fun way to pass the time.”

“Think of it as a logic puzzle, sweetheart,” Jesse added.

“Oh!” Orisa’s eyes lit up. “Efi had me solve many logic puzzles when she was working on me! She said my weakness with math was made up by my ability to get animals and food across a river in a timely fashion. Yes, yes I know what my answer is. I would use part of the million dollars to install hoverpads on my feet.”

Satya frowned. “I said--”

“You said wheels were forbidden, Agent Vaswani, not hoverpads.”

“She’s got you there, Sunshine!” Lúcio laughed and slammed his fist down onto the stuck screwdriver. That was enough force to dislodge the rock and send it flying off in the direction of the breakfast nook. Considering Jesse didn’t hear anything break he figured it wasn’t anything to worry about. 

“Of course,” Orisa continued, ”if I needed a large amount of money the most logical choice would be to turn Commander McCree and Agent Hanzo Shimada in for their bounties and Agent Vaswani and Agent Correia dos Santos over to the Vishkar Corporation for their reward.”

There was a long silence after Orisa’s statement only broken by Jesse asking, “Wait, what about Jack? You gonna turn him in for his bounty?”

“No. I will require his assistance as I would not be able to carry all of you at once.”

A single undignified snort escaped from Satya, followed by a wave of giggles. “I’m sorry,” she said as she covered her mouth. “Just the mental image of Jack trying to carry Jesse and Hanzo at once is too much.”

Jesse officially gave up on his nap and sat up. “Don’t laugh, he used to throw me over his shoulder like it was nothin’ back in the day.”

“Was that a frequent occurrence?” asked Orisa.

Jesse shrugged. “More in the beginning after I first joined. If he ever caught me slackin’ off he’d just scoop me up and drop me off at Gabe’s doorstep without a word. Course I was a tiny lil’ thing back then. Hard to believe, I know.”

“Not really.” Lúcio pulled his phone out of his pocket and held it up. “Hana sent me some old photos of you a couple of weeks ago. Dude, you were freaking adorable back then! Look at that patchy facial hair!”

“Is it at least a picture of me lookin’ cool?”

“I believe you are wearing sweatpants that barely fit?” Satya said as she pulled out her own phone to check. “Yes, yes you are. Did they not have a smaller size?”

“I am glad you are no longer severely malnourished, Commander McCree,” chimed in Orisa with that same gleeful tone Efi always spoke with.

Never before had Jesse been so glad to hear the musical ding-dong that let everyone know the front door had been opened. At once the other agents looked Jesse’s way all asking the same silent question. Jesse stood up and brushed a non-existent bit of dirt off his chest. Considering that no alarms were going off and the scent of fried food had filled the air he assumed it meant Hanzo and Jack were back from their super important mission of grabbing dinner. Jesse gave a little everyone-relax wave to the group just as Hanzo and Jack walked in.

Was there a more beautiful, more perfect sight in the whole world than Hanzo, his Hanzo, his life, his heart, his everything, carrying an armful of take-out? No. Not to Jesse. He swooped in to help his beloved with the task of holding enough food to feed five Overwatch agents. And steal a quick kiss while he was at it. “What’s on the menu tonight, honeybunches?”

“Torta ahogada for Lúcio, carne asada tacos for Satya and myself,” Hanzo said as he handed the containers out. “And an order of Dorilocos with extra gomitas for Jesse. Which will also include a future conversation with Angela about your dietary habits, if I am not mistaken.”

“You’re killin’ me, darlin.”

“No, that would be the cueritos you requested,” Hanzo said, but he did so with a gentle smile he wore more often than not those days.

“Just ‘cause of that I’m not sharin’ any of my churros with you. Hey, where’s Jack’s…?” Jesse turned to the space he had been certain Jack stood a second ago only to see the man’s back retreating down the hall. He only caught a glimpse of Jack carrying two food containers in one hand and a beat up phone in the other before he vanished into the laundry room, aka his hide out. Jesse felt Hanzo’s hand on his shoulder before he even registered the pain of disappointment in his gut.

“I do not understand why Agent Morrison never joins us for meals,” Orisa said, already fiddling with a spare napkin as she tended to do while the others were eating. “Efi stressed to me that it is crucial for team members to spend downtime together.”

“Don’t worry about it, Orisa.” Satya closed the panel on Orisa’s back before taking a seat on the floor with her food. The fact that there wasn’t a speck of oil on her didn’t stop Satya from carefully wiping her hands on a rag before picking up a plastic fork. “Sometimes it takes a while for people to be used to working in a team.”

“Is his inability to spend quality time with teammates the reason he is staying in the laundry room instead of one of the bedrooms?” asked Orisa.

Jesse shook his head. “That’s ‘cause he’s a paranoid bastard that wants to be near an escape route at all times.”

Lúcio nodded vaguely in the direction of the hall after opening his own container. “So uh, was he always like that? Before the whole dead-but-not-really thing?”

“The phone is new.” Jesse sat back down on the couch only to find that Hanzo had taken his warmed-up spot and serape. He took the untouched cushion in defeat. “Even back in the day he’d refused to use them. Gabe never did either. I always figured it was some weird hang-up from the crisis.”

“That would explain why he wanted me to take all the programs off,” Satya said between bites. “I apologize, his exact words were, ‘Can you remove everything that isn’t a phone for me?’ and then muttered something about new-fangled technology.”

“Man, why even have one at that point?” Lúcio inhaled most of his rice before continuing, “So could you?”

Satya shrugged. “Partially. I am sure he will be able to live with the ability to text and send photos.”

Jesse popped open his take out container. Okay, maybe his food did look kind of greasy compared to Hanzo’s. And the overflowing amount of sauce and cheese probably didn’t help either. Not that it stopped him from shoving a large forkful of peanuts and pork rind into his mouth. Knowing that Hanzo might actually stab him if he talked while eating, Jesse carefully swallowed before saying, “Ain’t it your turn to ask a question, Lúcio?”

“Huh? Oh yeah! Okay, Orisa, a million dollars…”

The chatter faded into the background as Jesse’s attention focused on the near-silent Hanzo. His lover, boyfriend, sorta-husband was exhausted. He would never admit to it but Jesse could tell. It was in the way Hanzo ate slowly with a distant look in his eyes. No surprise there. While Jesse spent the mission camped out on the payload Hanzo had flown across the rooftops above like an extra-deadly guardian angel. All Jesse ever saw during the mission was a flash of Hanzo’s gold ribbon and the near-silent whistle of his arrows. Shame, really. Nothing took Jesse’s breath away like watching Hanzo in his element.

Which was blatantly untrue. Over the past few weeks Jesse had found himself frankly stunned by Hanzo in so many ways. Everything from the sheen of Hanzo’s sweat as they’d lain entangled in bed, to the sound of his laughter, his kisses, and that one literal stunning moment when Hanzo accidentally set off Jesse’s flashbang in the middle of combat practice. Even the sight of Hanzo eating his dinner half-asleep made Jesse’s heart skip a beat. Without really thinking about it Jesse reached over to brush a grain of rice off Hanzo’s cheek. “You got a little...”

Hanzo snatched Jesse’s hand within his own and lightly kissed the palm. Electricity sparked where lips met skin. Suddenly that stray bit of rice didn’t matter. Jesse forgot that food even existed as Hanzo laid another static-tinged kiss on his wrist. Only the distant voices of his teammates kept him from returning those light kisses with interest. Instead Jesse moved an arm around Hanzo’s shoulders and tugged him closer. With only a slight bit of fumbling, mostly to keep the food from falling off their laps, Hanzo slotted against Jesse’s side with his head resting on his shoulder.

Jesse closed his eyes to savor the feeling of that moment. No wall between them, no endless ocean, no chasm to cross. They had come together at last. And as long as Jesse breathed nothing would tear them apart.

“Commander McCree? Are you aware that your dragon is being adorable?”

That was enough to get Jesse to open his eyes. True to Orisa’s words there on the floor was Soba busily building a nest out of sauce packets and unused napkins. And used napkins. Also part of Hanzo’s mostly untouched dinner. Lúcio and Satya flanked the dragon on either side with their phones held out at the ready. Soba dropped the chunk of tortilla in his mouth to let out a guilty-sounding chirp.

“Not again,” Jesse groaned. With great reluctance he let go of Hanzo to scoop the wiggling dragon up out of its garbage nest. He blinked, and the dragon was back on the floor. Jesse tried to pick up the dragon again only for it to fall effortlessly out of his hands like water through cracks. The third try was slightly more successful if only because he was able to witness the dragon wiggle out of his grasp instead of it just vanishing and reappearing. “Soba, sweetheart, Soba! Hold still!”

“Allow me.” Hanzo reached down and picked up Soba with no problem. Soba even securely wrapped itself around Hanzo’s arm. Jesse was pretty sure Soba stuck his tongue out at him, too. “He is antsy from not being used. You must take care to exercise your dragon, Jesse.”

With a surge of confidence that could only come with a perfect setup Jesse tipped his hat and said, “Maybe you could help lil’ ole me out by giving my dragon a good hard workout, darlin’.”

Lúcio shot to his feet fast enough to knock over Soba’s half-built nest. “Okay Orisa! How about you and me go find a nice souvenir for Efi? Maybe take a walk around the city, check out that park down the ways, make ourselves scarce for awhile?”

Orisa stood as well, her eyes shifting back to the upside-down Vs of happiness. “That would be wonderful, Agent Correia dos Santos! But can we wait until after the dragons are exercised, I promised Efi I would record--”

“Nope, we’re going now, have fun you two!” Lúcio shouted as he grabbed Orisa’s hand and half-led, half-dragged her out of the living room. She nearly knocked over a floor lamp on her way out, but Satya caught it and returned the lamp to its rightful spot.

“I think I shall assist Jack with his weapon and emitter preparations. Goodnight.” Satya gave a curt nod before walking a little faster than normal down the hall. Jesse watched as she slipped into the laundry room and slammed the door behind her. Before he could comment on the sudden departure of the entire team a blue light in the corner of his eye caught his attention.

“What about you, Udon?” Jesse reached up to scratch the dragon behind the horns. “Need to work off some of that dragon energy?”

“Perhaps,” Hanzo said as he moved to Jesse’s side. “You and Soba can burn that energy off by cleaning up the mess the two of you made.”

Jesse almost began to argue that the mess wasn’t that bad until he actually looked down at Soba’s half-made nest. Somewhere during all of the wiggling a few of the packets had opened and were leaking a rainbow of colors onto the carpet. It really accented the bits of food crushed into the fibers by Orisa’s hooves, and the baffling amount of used napkins strewn about the floor. “Technically this wasn’t all my mess.”

“Your team, Commander. Your mess.” Hanzo gave Jesse a light kiss on the cheek before slipping away. Jesse only caught a glimpse of gold framed in red and blue light racing up the stairs before it vanished completely. Abandoned by both dragon and Hanzo alike, Jesse leaned over the handrail and shouted up into the darkness of the second floor.

“I said I ain’t the Commander!”

 ***

One of the perks of being team leader (and only the team leader) was that, according to Overwatch tradition, Jesse got to call first dibs on what room he wanted. That being said no one really put up a fight when Jesse claimed the largest bedroom for him and Hanzo. Which also happened to be the only one with a bed big enough for two. Or in this case two dragons firmly wrapped around each other in a knot that took up the entire mattress. Soba and Udon weren’t at their full size but were still large enough that their coils only left the smallest edge of the bed left uncovered.

“Come on.” Jesse gave a section of Soba’s side a nudge. “You’re killin’ me here!”

Somewhere from within the knot he heard Soba snort in response. Jesse couldn’t even make out where the dragons began and ended. While this was adorable when they hid under Jesse and Hanzo’s bed, at this size it was slightly terrifying. Luckily from the sounds of it Hanzo was still in the shower so he had a little time.

“Look, I love you two, I really do. Best dragons a guy for ask for. But I’m hopin’ to spend a little quality time with Hanzo and I uh, you know, can’t with the you two here. I know he’s used to you guys seenin’ everything but I ain’t. A man’s got to have his privacy. Well, privacy with his sugarplum. And there’s really no way in hell I’m doing anything if you’re taking up the bed like this. Maybe we can work something out?”

Soba and Udon’s bodies parted enough for Jesse to see their glowing eyes from deep within the knot. When his eyes met theirs a single word ripped through his mind. A word filled with desire, need, and an unspeakable hunger behind each letter. He had never heard the dragons speak as one before, and Jesse hoped to never experience it ever again. Not after they spoke that single, powerful word.

Mangos.

Jesse frowned after regaining his composure. “What?”

There is a mango cart down the street, said Udon, his blue eyes narrowing at Jesse. I saw it. They were selling cups full of chopped mangos. We want mangos. Give us mangos.

And I want a jicaleta! A rainbow one! Soba said, his voice far more clear in Jesse’s head.

“That’s--” Jesse froze as he heard the shower turn off. “--fine! All the damn mangos and whatever street food you want! But can it be after, you know, after?”

Red and blue eyes met each other from within the darkness. Udon’s gaze fell on Jesse’s once more. Give us money. We will purchase the mangos for ourselves.

And a rainbow jicaleta!

Yes, and a rainbow jicaleta for my brother. Udon poked his head out from between the dragons’ entwined bodies. Give us your wallet and we shall leave you and our Master to your mating.

Jesse debated arguing with the dragons, refuse to give into what was clearly snack-based blackmail, maybe even point out that as ancient spirits it would be near-impossible for them to engage in basic commerce. But he heard the click of Hanzo’s feet on the bathroom’s tile floor and before Jesse knew it he had shoved his wallet into Udon’s mouth. The dragons untwisted, shrank, and were out the window by the time the bathroom door opened. He turned to face Hanzo with his best I-didn’t-just-give-our-dragons-all-of-my-money smile. “How was the shower, apple dump...ling...”

Words failed the second Hanzo stepped out of the bathroom naked save for the towel he was attempting to dry his hair with. Jesse would never consider himself a shallow man that only cared about looks, but as he watched the stray water droplets travel down Hanzo’s neck past his pecs to his navel, Jesse knew he was the luckiest bastard to ever live. Hanzo walked over with that same sleepy smile on his lips. “Speechless, cowboy? I did not know that was possible.”

“Just regretting not joining you in the shower.” Jesse closed the distance between them by resting his hands on Hanzo’s hips. As much as he wanted to lick every drop of water off Hanzo’s body, he knew his lover was exhausted from that day’s mission. He needed to be gentle. Not that it stopped him from waggling his eyebrows at Hanzo. “Think I could convince you in joining me for mine?”

Hanzo snorted and rested a hand on Jesse’s chest. “You know for a fact the both of us cannot fit in that pathetic excuse for a shower stall. Besides, last time we took a shower together you pulled a back muscle. And, I must add, couldn’t stand up without my assistance.”

“Wasn’t that bad,” Jesse grinned. “And it wasn’t like either of us were eager to get out of bed.”

“Angela took you off the mission roster for a week.”

“Didn’t hear you complain at the time, sugarpie.”

Hanzo finally leaned in enough to steal a kiss. A soft, shy one ruined by the hunger in his voice. “I must say, I am shocked by your restraint. I expected you to take me the second I walked in.”

“Shucks darlin’, I didn’t know if it would be wanted.”

Hanzo glanced down at his own naked body. “I thought I had made my intentions clear?”

“You could have, I uh, okay, you got me there. Better fix that!” Before Hanzo could stop him Jesse wrapped his arms around Hanzo and lifted him up off the floor. Somewhere within Hanzo’s laughter there may have been a worried gasp about Jesse’s back, but it was lost during the short trip to their bed. Jesse twisted around at the last moment and fell back onto the mattress with Hanzo on top of him. He was radiant. Smiling. Laughing. And naked. The naked part was real nice, too.

But then Hanzo’s shoulder twitched ever-so-slightly and Jesse shelved his ravishing plans for the time being. He ran his non-metal hand up Hanzo’s side, savoring the feeling of Hanzo’s muscles under his fingertips. “How ya feelin’, sweetheart? You gave one hell of a show out there.”

“I am uninjured,” Hanzo smirked. “As you can see.”

“Didn’t mean it that way, muffin. You were practically fallin’ asleep in your dinner earlier. Wanted to make sure everything’s okay.”

Hanzo puffed up his chest in response. “If you are insinuating that I have over extended myself--”

“Sugarplum,” Jesse said as he let his hand wander to Hanzo’s back and up the man’s spine. This was an old argument of theirs, dating back to their early days working together in Japan. But now Hanzo’s eyes shone as he argued, and Jesse’s concerns were voiced out of love.

“Or that I may be in less than perfect physical condition--”

“Angel, honey, snuggle bunny.” He drew lazy circles on Hanzo’s back, searching for the archer’s weak spot. The one only he knew about. His fingers came to a stop right under Hanzo’s left shoulder blade. There it was.

“And may I point out that you are the one with the bad knee--”

Using his grip on Hanzo’s hip for leverage, Jesse pressed down on Hanzo’s shoulder muscle as hard as he could. The effect was almost instantaneous. Hanzo’s love-filled nagging was cut off by a moan that was equally full of pain and pleasure. Jesse hummed while he rubbed the aching muscle in a circle. “What was that, honeybunches?”

Hanzo sunk down into Jesse’s arms in a sign of surrender. “Every inch of my body is on fire,” he admitted into Jesse’s shoulder.

Jesse chuckled and shifted both of his hands to Hanzo’s back. He kneaded the muscles as best he could from such an odd angle, but if Hanzo’s groans were anything to go by he was doing a good job. “Sweetheart, you did so good out there today. I’m gonna pamper you real good when we get back home.”

“Oh?” Hanzo replied. Possibly. It might have been another whimper. Jesse pressed on anyway.

“Mmm-hmm. I planned it all out while I was stuck on the payload. First, I’m gonna give you a massage all proper-like. I’ve been studying videos and practicing on pillows and I’m pretty sure I got it all down. Get all these knots out of your shoulders. I’ve seen the way you rub them after a mission. Now it’s my turn to relax ya. Then I’m thinking a nice hot bubble bath with a drink or two. Hell! Might be able to sweet-talk our way into borrowing Reinhardt’s tub so I can join ya for that. Lord knows the both of us can fit in it, give or take a few extra dragons.”

Hanzo lifted his head up to smile at Jesse. “And then?”

With a slight push Jesse rolled Hanzo onto his back and laid down at his side, his tattoo-covered arm wrapped behind Hanzo’s shoulders and his metal hand resting on Hanzo’s stomach. He was gorgeous like that, spread out for only Jesse to see. “And then, sugar, I’m going to make love to you all night long, slow and gentle-like. I’ll take my time opening you up so you can take every inch of me. ‘Less of course, you want me to do the riding.”

Hanzo shifted an arm around Jesse’s shoulders for support. “I must admit I am more interested in your current plans for me.”

“Patience, darlin’, patience,” Jesse purred as he pressed a kiss against Hanzo’s neck. He would have been more than happy to tease Hanzo longer, make his lover beg to be touched, but the way Hanzo was craning his head to look down at Jesse’s hand made him pause. “I uh, I can switch to your other side if you’d like.”

“No!” Hanzo looked shocked that the word came out so forceful. “I-I do not mind if you continue like this.”

“Really? You sure?”

Hanzo responded with a short, shy nod. Jesse might have passed it off as Hanzo just being polite, but he couldn’t help but notice the high flush on his cheeks. He wondered if maybe his dear Hanzo was more than a little okay with his metal hand. Well, there was only one way to make sure. Jesse moved his hand back up Hanzo’s chest and squeezed his pec. The moan Hanzo let out made Jesse kick himself for not bringing this up sooner. With his hand firmly occupied with teasing and pinching Hanzo’s nipple Jesse leaned down to latch his lips onto the other one.

Hanzo sang.

Every bite, every lick of his tongue, every roll of his fingers got another heavenly sound from Hanzo. Please Jesse, more Jesse, harder Jesse , all whimpered and groaned in a mixture of English and Japanese. Always demanding, always begging, always wanting more. Jesse knew damn well he could get Hanzo off from just playing with him like this. A quick glance down at Hanzo’s already aching cock was enough for Jesse to see how close his lover was to the edge. Hanzo let out a needy whine as Jesse completely let go of Hanzo’s chest.

“Cupcake, I’m thinkin’ you’ve been keeping something from me.” Jesse slid his prosthetic hand down to rest on Hanzo’s pelvis.

“Jesse.” Hanzo’s back arched Jesse ran his fingers through his dark curled pubic hair. “Jesse if you do not touch me right now --”

“Nuh uh.” Jesse leaned in to kiss Hanzo on the neck. Another weakness of the archer. “You gotta ask for it nicely.”

Hanzo growled deep enough that Jesse could feel the vibrations. “I do not beg.”

“Beg? What? Oh! Oh darlin’!” Jesse laughed as pressed his next kiss on Hanzo’s cheek. “Sweetheart, I don’t want you to beg. I want you to ask for what you want. No more hiding from each other, remember?”

“I am not hiding anything,” Hanzo muttered. There was that flush on his cheeks again.

“Is that so?” Jesse rubbed his metal thumb against the base of Hanzo’s shaft, drawing out a sharp gasp from his lover. “Cause it seems to me you’re rather interested in what I can do with these fingers of mine. Now what do we say?”

Hanzo’s throat bobbed. Jesse knew that sometimes it was hard for the archer to open up. So to see him admit to his desires always made Jesse’s heart skip a beat.  “Please. My love. Touch me.”

Jesse shivered. He’d never get used to Hanzo calling him that. He hoped he never did. Jesse pressed a kiss against the side of Hanzo’s mouth before taking Hanzo’s cock in his hand. His fingers barely touched the man before Hanzo bucked his hips against Jesse’s palm. “Easy now darlin’, don’t want to rush this.”

“Tease,” Hanzo accused before he grinds against Jesse. He is trying to fight, but Jesse wasn’t going to let Hanzo exhaust himself further.

“I’m not teasin’. I told you. Gonna treat you right.” Jesse stops Hanzo’s next word with a kiss and, thankfully, Hanzo doesn’t seem to mind at all. The kisses are drawn out gradually, each easing Hanzo into a calmer rhythm. Only once Hanzo slows down to match Jesse’s pace does he tighten his grip firmly against the shaft.

“Kuso!” Hanzo hissed and reached back to grab at the pillow under his head.

“That’s it, that’s it sug,” Jesse purred as he slowly pumped his hand. “Baby, you’re so good, been doing so good on the mission, I’m going to treat you so right. ‘Cause you deserve it. You deserve so much and I’m going to make sure you’re treated like the angel you are. A radiant angel that a sinner like me ain’t worthy to touch. I’m yours, all yours, my darlin’ angel. You’re divine, you’re heavenly, you’re laughing at me!”

Hanzo was, in fact, laughing at him. What had started as a mere chuckle had only grown by the time Jesse caught on. Hanzo cracked his eyes open only to start giggling again. “You,” he gasped, “do not stop talking!”

Jesse paused and rested his fingers at the base of Hanzo’s cock. “And what pray tell is so funny about that?”

“It is not funny.” Hanzo twisted his body around onto his side to face Jesse. “It is charming. Like how you keep thinking of new pet names for me.”

Jesse snaked his now-numb tattooed arm around Hanzo’s back. “Pumpkin?”

“That is one, yes.”

“Honey Cakes.”

“Mmm-hmm.” Hanzo pressed his head under Jesse’s chin.

“Cuddly-Wuddly.”

“Do not use that one ever again.”

“B'doodleykitten!”

“Stop!” Hanzo laughed.

Jesse placed his metal hand on Hanzo’s hip. “Well cookie, you never use any pet names for me so I gotta keep up for the both of us.”

He could feel Hanzo smile into his throat from those words. Jesse could also feel Hanzo’s hand sliding down his chest followed by the telltale click of his belt buckle opening up. “I am more a man of action than words.”

Hanzo’s rough hand on his cock breaks Jesse out of his sugar-inspired pet name list. There’s a brief thought to stop Hanzo, say that this was all about him tonight, but Hanzo bit down on Jesse’s neck and he could have sworn he saw stars. Well if his buttercup wanted to return the favor he wasn’t about to tell him otherwise. Jesse grabbed onto Hanzo’s ass with his metal hand and Hanzo groaned enthusiastically in response. Oh, Jesse was going to explore more of this prosthetic interest when they got back home.

There is an awkward moment between the two men, shuffling legs and arms, a curse about Jesse’s taste in complicated belts, but it passes and they are joined again. Jesse’s only regret is that he cannot touch every part of Hanzo at once. There is only fleeting contact against Hanzo’s arms and chest, his back and his ass, down his thigh and everywhere else Jesse could reach. Hanzo on the other hand is more focused. His hand tightly wrapped around Jesse’s cock and his mouth on his neck.

Jesse tried to talk, to sing Hanzo’s praises, to form the most basic of words, but every time he almost put two words together Hanzo would squeeze his hand and he’d lose it again. Hanzo was too damn skilled with those hands, too damn good for him. He tried to say as much but all that came out was so good, too good, the same words repeated over and over in prayer. Hanzo cruelly let go of Jesse’s shaft to find purchase on his ass.

“Jesse!” Hanzo moaned as their cocks rutted together in the hot space between them. Jesse holds Hanzo tight, not willing to let go, wanting to feel every inch of his lover, and is rewarded with the sensation of Hanzo spilling out against the curve of Jesse’s lower belly. The faint gasp that Hanzo let out was music to Jesse’s ears and was enough to push him over the edge. With Hanzo still in his arms Jesse rocked his hips to help eke out the last of their shared pleasure.

He doesn’t let go of Hanzo. Not right away. Not until the blissful feeling passes, not until Hanzo’s breathing steadies out into the archer’s normal light snore. Only then, once he was sure that his lover was fast asleep, did Jesse let go because Christ almighty what a mess. And, Jesse realized as he looked down at his stained shirt and jeans, he only had the one set of clothes.

***

The plan was simple: One, untangle himself from Hanzo. That was easier said than done since his lover was a cuddle-monster when he slept. At least he didn’t have to peel off the dragons as well. Two, grab Hanzo’s long forgotten towel and use it to clean themselves up. Three, realize that was the only towel in the bathroom. Four, briefly debate using a blanket for modesty before using it to tuck Hanzo in instead. Five, suck it up and march to the laundry room naked with his dirty clothes in hand.

Jesse made it halfway across the living room before it hit him that he could have just walked to the laundry room while wearing said clothes. No, he decided as he stepped over the still-open toolbox, he would rather risk having Orisa see him naked than explain what the stains on his clothes were. Had Orisa even have the talk yet, he wondered to himself.

He felt a tinge of disappointment when nothing answered him back. Soba had only been part of Jesse for less than half a year and he was already used to having the lil’ fella around for commentary. Even Jesse’s arm felt as if something was missing. Like finding an empty fortune cookie but without the existential dread that always followed. Funny how easy Soba fit into his life. How easy Hanzo fit into his and vise-versa. How easy he and Hanzo tumbled from friends to lovers without a breath in-between. How easy he had forgotten about Jack and Satya being in the laundry room until the very second after he opened the door.

Thankfully for what little remained of Jesse’s modesty the laundry room was empty. Curiously so, once Jesse thought about it while loading the washing machine. He wasn’t too shocked at the idea of Jack sneaking out without leaving a note. To Jesse it was far more shocking that Jack hadn’t ditched Overwatch to go off on his own again. But Satya leaving without saying a word was a bit odd. Their weapons were still propped up against Jack’s makeshift workbench (aka an ironing board with a slab of plywood on top) so they couldn’t have gone far.

Or something happened to them, said that Gabe-like voice in his head.

Or it’s because this room is right under your bedroom, said Soba quite literally in his head.

Jesse felt Soba before he saw the dragon. A red light trickled down his tattoo and with it the feeling of a puzzle piece snapped back into place. That was when he noticed Soba curled around Jack’s pile of half-finished bio-emitters. There was a wooden popsicle stick in his mouth and a couple of chewed up sticks on the floor next to Jesse’s wallet. Which was a lot thinner than the last time he saw it. “How…?”

Soba spat the stick out of his mouth. Lúcio helped, he explained, but he did buy three all for himself!

“Yeah, yeah, small price to pay I guess.” Jesse dropped his clothes in and  turned the washer on. “But he better not come crying to me if he gets a stomach ache from eating that much. That being said, I swear I’ve seen him eat more than Reinhardt and Zarya combined. Probably burns it all off being, well, bein’ Lúcio.”

Barriga llena, corazón contento! Soba sang.

“You said, wait, hang on, since when do you know Spanish?”

Lo siento. No hablo Espanol. Soba’s ears flattened against his head. One of many reasons why Jesse gave up on teaching the dragon poker.

Jesse took a seat on the floor next to Soba’s pile of metal and chewed wood. No, he corrected himself, a nest. Yet another one of Soba’s numerous love nests that the little dragon had made ever since the morning on the beach. This one featured a wall of protective bio-emitters with only the shiniest screws and bottle caps on the inside. He scratched Soba behind the horns and speaking in Spanish said, “Is this one of those Hanzo-gave-you-to-me things, an arm eating thing, or have you been holding out on me this whole time?”

To Jesse’s shock Soba shied away from the scritches. Now he knew something was wrong. When no response came Jesse did what he did best and kept talking. “Wish you’d said something earlier. We could have been gosspin’ behind Hanzo’s back this whole time! Bet Udon and Egg don’t know a lick of Spanish either. Next mission with them we can chat about whatever we want without anyone listening in.”

Soba made a noise that was either a chuckle or a kitten-like sneeze before leaning back against Jesse’s hand. But they cannot hear me anyway if I speak directly to you, Soba said.

“Shh, don’t ruin it with fancy thinkin’ and logic. That’s Hanzo and Udon’s job.”

Soba’s laughter returned only to die down once again. He leaned out of his nest far enough to rest his head against Jesse’s hand. Arm.

“Arm? What, oh, arm.” Jesse flexed his metal fingers. “You got Spanish from eating my arm?”

I did not get Spanish from your arm. I got Spanish from eating a sliver of your soul.

Jesse stared at him a long moment, trying to process that. “That’s, wow. Hanzo didn’t mention that bit before.”

Soba wiggled his long body in a way that Jesse knew meant to be a shrug. It wasn’t a big part, he said, just a little off the side. I did not mean to do it on purpose. I’m, I am sorry New Master.

“What? Aww, Soba!” Jesse rubbed his thumb against the crack on Soba’s horn. “Don’t worry about it. I’m pretty sure we’re even, anyway. Wasn’t like I was doin’ anything with it. But I gotta ask, did you get anything else besides Spanish? Like can you make a mean chili, or shoot a gun or know how to fold a fitted sheet?”

Soba shook his head. The mystery of how you fold sheets still eludes me. When I ate, digested, swallowed, absorbed, please stop making those faces New Master--

“Sorry.”

--when I, um, took in part of you I saw a flash of your memories. People and places I did not recognize then but I now know to be of Overwatch and its people. Of your home and family.

Jesse relaxed. “Yeah? How so?”

Soba brightened up. I knew you were a good man who tried his best like Old Master. I saw your father Gabe and your step-father Jack and your mother Ana and your strange uncles Reinhardt and Torbjorn and your cousins Lena, Winston and Gerard and your sisters Fareeha and Angela and your brother--

“Genji.” The name slipped out before Jesse could stop himself. “You saw Genji.”

Soba’s ears flattened back against his head.

“You knew. You knew Genji was alive this whole time. You knew and you didn’t tell Hanzo.”

I do not speak Spanish, Soba said in Japanese.

“Soba!”

The dragon let out a sad chirp and crawled up Jesse’s arm, twisting himself around his own image, shaking against Jesse’s skin. What could I say, New Master? That his brother was alive? That he was no longer fully human? That he was filled with such rage I felt it even in that brief flash? That Egg, my sister, our sister was shattered and in more pain than I have ever experienced? That even though Young Master was dead and alive and hurt he still laughed and smiled and cried and played that card game I never understood and lived while Old Master...stopped? I could not tell him, New Master. Old Master was in so much pain. I could not inflict more.

With caring hands Jesse slid Soba off his arm and held the shivering dragon close. He did his best to comfort Soba, rubbing his thumb in a circle behind his horns. Jesse sat there with Soba long after the washing machine had clicked off, but he didn’t mind. Only when the silence became too much he started humming a half-remembered song to fill the air. Slowly but surely Soba’s voice joined in with the melody to fill in the gaps Jesse forgot.

“You’re a good noodle, Soba. How about we keep this between the two of us?”

I thought you and Old Master swore to have no more secrets between you?

Jesse scratched under Soba’s jaw. “This is a you-me secret so it doesn’t count.”

Soba tilted his head and nodded. Evidently that logic was good enough for him. Soba extended his neck up enough to bop his nose against Jesse’s chin. I am glad you’re a terrible shot New Master.

“And I’m glad you’re my hey wait a sec! Where’d you get that idea?!”

When you missed Old Master and shot me instead! Soba literally glowed with happiness. If you had hit him the two of you never would have become friends, or fallen in love, and there would be no future little Shimadas!

“About that.” Regret flooded every corner of Jesse’s body as he stood up from the floor. He should not have sat down that long. Naked. On concrete. Balls should never touch concrete. Jesse did his best to ignore the way his knee popped on the short walk to the washing machine. “Soba, sweetheart, I’m really impressed by your nests, really, but do you know me and Hanzo can’t have kids, right? We ain’t got the right tools for the job.”

Soba climbed up Jesse’s chest and took his normal seat on his shoulder. New Master! I am an ageless spirit that has watched this world long before Udon and I became Old Master’s guardians. I am aware of how human reproduction works. I am practicing nest building for the children you will adopt in the future.

“And I’d love to settle down and raise a gaggle of little cowbabies with Hanzo but I don’t think it’s in the cards. Don’t think Hanzo’s the family type either,” Jesse said as he moved the load of wet clothes into the dryer.

But Old Master wants to have a family with you!

Jesse was honestly surprised how much those words made his heart flutter. “You uh, sure about that?”

Oh yes! Udon says he speaks of it often when you are away on missions! Even more so since the two of you mated!

“Well. How about that.” Jesse closed the dryer lid, pushed the button, and kicked the machine until it actually turned on. More so. Soba said more so didn’t he? He took a deep, calming breath to keep his heart rate down. “So uh, did Udon mention what exactly my sweetpea said? About a family?”

Soba lifted his middle section up in an attempt to shrug. Blah blah family blah blah dragons blah blah tradition I don’t listen too closely when he goes on about family. I just want all your babies to be healthy with super powerful dragons! And cowboys! They’ll all be cowboys, right? Half cowboys? That’s how it works, right?

“See, it’s saying stuff like that which makes me doubt this whole you-know-where-babies-come-from thing. Sure you don’t want me to give ya a rundown?”

I’m not stupid, New Master!

Jesse grinned as he walked out of the laundry room. Heading back to Hanzo sounded like heaven right about then. And with any luck he wouldn’t run into any gawking teammates between there and his still-warm bed. “Soba sweetheart, I saw you try to eat one of Junkrat’s bombs once.”

He called it an apple, Soba said, grumbling loud enough for Jesse to feel the vibrations. And you’re not one to talk! I saw you eat a burger out of the trash!

“You wouldn’t understand, Soba. Back then I was a desperate, starvin’ man.”

It happened last week!

“And dinner was like three hours away.” Jesse scooped Soba up off his shoulder and held him up to his face. “Face it sugar, I do think we’re meant for each other.”

Soba stuck out his tongue, but Jesse could feel affection radiating off the dragon. With a mighty butt-wiggle Soba lept out of Jesse’s hands straight into his chest. The sensation of Soba’s spirit joining his own always felt a little strange. Like slipping on a fuzzy warm sweater but only over his organs and guts and stuff. But, Jesse reflected as he headed up the stairs, it also felt right.

Hanzo had not moved a muscle since Jesse left, still wrapped in a thin sheet and nuzzled up against his pillow. Jesse did his best to slip back under the cover without disturbing the other man, but the second his head hit the pillow Hanzo was wrapped around him once more. An important part of their relationship meant accepting Hanzo’s octopus-like sleeping habits. Even if it made getting up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom a pain. Jesse kissed the top of Hanzo’s head. “Sorry for wakin’ ya.”

Hanzo grumbled in return, “Couldn’t sleep. Too cold.”

A lie, but Jesse wasn’t going to push it. His hand traveled in a lazy circle across Hanzo’s back. “Don’t worry sugar, I’m here to get you nice and warmed up. Go back to sleep.”

“I was not asleep.” In what may have been an attempt to prove his point Hanzo lightly bit down on Jesse’s neck. As much as Jesse would have loved to follow that action he was too tired to act. He settled for kissing Hanzo’s hair again before settling back into the pillows. Hanzo followed, his body going slack in Jesse’s arms.

They laid their together, legs entwined, not quite asleep nor fully awake, when Hanzo broke the silence. “I was serious about being cold.”

Jesse moved his hand down to Hanzo’s hip. “Son of a gun, you are on the chilly side. Want me to grab an extra blanket? Or three?”

Hanzo shook his head. “You are warm enough, my love. I am still adjusting to being without Soba, that is all.”

“Uhh…”

Hanzo lifted his head up to give Jesse a look. “Have you not felt the warmth of your dragon? The fire within your arm? When I carried both the heat would almost be too much to bare.”

“Oh. Um. Is that why, you know?”

“Yes. Jesse. That is why I would fight with only half a shirt on.”

“Huh. Mystery solved.” Jesse’s hands moved again, this time on the quest to warm up as much of Hanzo’s body he could reach. “Haven’t really noticed, but with me it’d be like lighting up a campfire on the sun. Hope my little wiggler ain’t overheatin’ in me.”

“I am sure he is fine.” Hanzo smiled and moved his head back to his normal spot against Jesse’s neck. Jesse often wondered these days why Hanzo always curled up right there. Maybe he enjoyed feeling Jesse’s pulse? Or maybe he was shy and trying to hide in his own bashful way?

Jesse returned his hands to Hanzo’s back. “Did it hurt? Losing Soba? Cause it hurt like a bitch getting him.”

Hanzo shook his head. “No. It felt closer to a hypnagogic jerk.”

“A what ?”

He could actually feel Hanzo breathe out a sigh against his neck. “When one of your limbs twitch right as you are falling asleep? That sensation?”

“Oh, one of those. Those are the worst.” Jesse closed his eyes and nuzzled the top of Hanzo’s head. “I always get this weird falling feelin’ right in my stomach whenever that happens. You ever get that, sugarpie?”

Hanzo did not get a chance to answer.

The sound of shattering glass hit Jesse first. Light followed, and with it the too familiar sounds of battle. Jesse didn’t think. He didn’t have to. He rolled out of bed, grabbed his Peacekeeper and communicator, and pressed himself against the wall near the window. By the time his brain caught up to what was happening Hanzo had already taken a spot on the other side of the widow.

Hanzo held his Stormbow at the ready. He nodded to Jesse.

Jesse held up his gun and nodded back.

Hanzo looked down at Jesse.

Jesse looked down at Hanzo.

“Why are you naked?” Hanzo hissed as he readied an arrow.

“Why did you waste time putting on pants?” Jesse hissed back.

“We arrived at the window at--” Hanzo shook his head to dismiss the line of thought. “You told me the windows were bulletproof.”

“These ain’t normal bullets.” Jesse reached up and turned his communicator on. “Emergency! The Safe House is under attack! Repeat! We are under attack! All agents report in!”

Silence. Jesse felt his stomach drop. “I repeat! All agents report in!”

The communicator clicked, and the sound of the same gunfire in the distance filled Jesse’s ear before a voice spoke. “This is Agent Zaryanova reporting in. I hear you Commander.”

“I ain’t your commander, Zarya!” A second bullet shattered another pane of glass. Jesse slammed the metal knob on his prosthetic once, twice, three times before the window completely gave way. “Wait. Zarya?!”

“Zarya?” Hanzo reached to his own ear. “What are you doing here? Your mission--”

“Is over,” Zarya said in a tone which suggested any further questions would result in losing a limb. Jesse looked to Hanzo for help with Zarya, they were closer friends after all, but Hanzo’s focus was on firing an arrow out the window.

“Right. Don’t suppose you’re in the neighborhood? Me and Hanzo are all alone at the Safe House and no one else is answerin’.”

“Do not worry! I am on my way with the robot baby!”

Jesse frowned. “Robot baby? Orisa? You mean Orisa? Please tell me you mean Orisa.”

There was another click followed by Orisa’s voice. “I am here Commander! I apologize, I did not turn my communicator back on! I, um, forgot.”

“No problem sweetheart, that’s why pencils have erasers.” Jesse paused long enough to swing his arm around and rapid fire out the window. A flash of neon colors told him everything he needed to know. “Los Muertos. Didn’t think they were dumb enough to pick a fight.”

“They are not firing at us,” Hanzo noted as he let loose another arrow. “They are trying to get into the building across the way.”

That was worth risking another peek. Jesse poked his head around to look out the broken window. Hanzo was right, all of the brightly decaled gang members were banging at the doors, clawing at the windows, and more or less tearing at each other. They were fighting tooth and nail for not only what was inside the building, but the right to get it for themselves.

Jesse narrowed his eyes. “If they’re not firing at us then what the hell are they after?”

Once again Jesse’s body reacted before his mind could. He saw movement at one of the windows in the besieged building and ducked back enough so he could just see the figure. Nothing more than a flash of pink followed by a gun being fired out the crowd below. Six shots, six gang members went down. Great shot. Wore bright pink. His stomach found a way to drop again.

“Hana. Fucking hell, it’s Hana.”

“Jesse,” Hanzo shot Jesse a look before also firing another arrow into the crowd. “Hana is on a mission with Genji--”

“And Zarya’s supposed to be in Russia or somethin’! Speaking of, Zarya! Where are you?”

“I have visual of the battle,” Zarya said. “The baby is scanning the building.”

“Biometric scan complete,” Orisa chimed in. “I detect two life forms within the structure. There is a positive match with Agent Song. Both are injured.”

“Well fuck me sideways.” Jesse rubbed his eyes. “Does anyone know where the hell Lúcio is?”

“He went off with Lynx.” Zarya said, spitting out the name.

“Now who in Sam Hill is Link?!”

“Jesse!” Hanzo shrugged off his quiver to show Jesse his single remaining arrow. “We need back up. Now.”

Jesse risked a glance down at Peacekeeper. One bullet left. “Orisa, I need you to get into that building and protect Hana and whoever she’s with.”

“Probably her girlfriend,” Hanzo answered.

“Since when does Hana,” Jesse shook his head. “Forget it! Just get in there and get your barrier up! Zarya, cover her!”

“Understood, Commander.”

“I’m not, not important, it’s not important right now is we need support or Jack or--”

A loud click cut Jesse off. “Lúcio and Lynx reporting in!” Lúcio shouted over the distant sound of gunfire. “I’m guessing the fighting is about us?”

Jesse mouthed who is Lynx at Hanzo and got a shrug in return. “Lúcio I need you to get back to the Safe House right now. Hana is hurt and trapped in the building across the street and needs assistance now.”

“Hana?!” Lúcio shouted. “Hana’s with Mercy--”

“I can confirm Hana’s MEKA was placed in the transport with Brother Zenyatta,” Orisa said.

“Wai,.” Zarya cut in. “Did you see her with her MEKA as well?”

“There’s no MEKA in that building,” said a voice Jesse didn’t recognize at all. “At least I can’t find any. Also I assume if there were one she wouldn’t be trapped in there.”

“Observant as always, Lynx,” Zarya replied.

“Seriously! Who the everlovin’ fuck is this?”

“Enough!” Hanzo slammed his hand against the wall behind him. When no one responded right away he continued. “Orisa and Lúcio, get in the building and protect Hana and her girlfriend. Zarya, cover them. Lynx, either get off this channel or make yourself useful and track down Satya and Morrison.”

“Sure thing,” said probably Lynx. “I’ll just track down the two people I don’t know or have any clue what they even look like. Got it covered.”

“He means Solider 76, kitty.” Purred Lucio.

“Oh, yeah I can totally track them down. Stay safe, froggy.”

“It is settled.” Hanzo nocked an arrow into place. “Zarya, Lúcio, Orisa, report when you are in position. Lynx contact us the second you have their location. Jesse, step back.”

Jesse did as he was told and not a moment too soon. Hanzo, his wonderful Hanzo, leapt over the broken glass covered floor and fired his remaining arrow out the window as he did. The arrow scattered into a half dozen points of blue light, each hitting a different target below. He landed gracefully in front of Jesse with a smug smile on his face. Neither man needed to look outside to check his work. They both knew every strike was lethal.

“Simple geometry,” Hanzo said, beaming with pride.

Jesse didn’t respond right away. He was too busy looking at Hanzo. Just looking at him. Deep down he knew there were more pressing matters, but in that instant he couldn’t tear his eyes off Hanzo. Deadly, beautiful, bathed in streetlight and smiling just for him. When Jesse did respond he did it with the sort of kiss he always wanted to give Hanzo in the middle of battle. Greedy and tinged with the taste of gunpowder. He pulled away enough to gaze into Hanzo’s eyes.

“Marry me.”

Even in the dim light Jesse could see Hanzo’s face turn red. There was a slight tremble in his voice as he spoke. “Jesse, the dragons--”

“I know darlin’, connected forever, fates entwined, I know. But hell, Hanzo, I want to get married. Have the whole damn ceremony in front of everyone while wearing itchy suits and babblin’ about how much we love each other. Probably can’t do it legally but I still want to marry you proper-like with flowers and Reinhardt cryin’ and the dragons as ring bearers! I love you, Hanzo. And I want everyone to know I’ll love you till the day I die. And we can throw one hell of a party for the reception. What do you say?”

Hanzo smiled hard enough his eyes crinkled on the sides. “On one condition.”

“Anything, darlin’.”

“You wear the cowboy hat to the ceremony.”

“Deal.”

“Commander!” Zarya’s voice came in, this time with the gunfire louder behind her. “We are in position outside of the Safe House. We cannot get close to the building and require a distraction! There are too many to take head-on!”

Jesse took a deep breath and mentally shoved all of the unimportant information to the back of his brain. Hana’s girlfriend, whoever the hell Lynx was, where Jack and Satya had gone off to, why Zarya was even there, the color schemes for the wedding, all of that. He could deal with all of that later. Much later. Right now all that mattered was getting Orsia and Lúcio into that building. He met Hanzo’s eyes once more and his fiance nodded in return.

“Hold your horses, Zarya. Hanzo and I got it covered. You ready, pumpkin?”

Hanzo leaned up to give Jesse a kiss. Sweeter than the last, but the taste of smoke remained. “Let us end this, together.”

Hanzo tossed his bow behind him, clasped Jesse’s tattooed wrist, and stepped back in front of the window. Jesse followed in a far less artistic way, making sure to awkwardly stand on Hanzo’s feet to keep off of the glass covered carpet. For a second he thought he might fall but Hanzo kept a steady arm around his waist. Around them the world slowed as they slipped between the seconds together by the glow of Jesse’s Deadeye. Jesse pointed his gun down at the frozen battle below. He could feel Soba clawing at his skin, screaming out to tear all that stood between Jesse and his family. And he knew Hanzo and Udon felt the same way. All they needed was the command.

Bang.”

Chapter Text

For Sombra the end arrived back when the story was just beginning for Hanzo and Jesse. Right when things were finally going her way. Life, she would later reflect, was a bitch like that.

Sombra’s plan (one of many, so many, she tended to have a lot of irons in the fire) had been simple in her eyes. Too simple to fail. She had wrestled control of the Laughing Skulls, a small biker gang with no real drive besides destruction, with ease. A few bribes here, a couple of promises there, a quick overthrow of leadership and without any real effort she had a fleet of morons ready to die at her command. They didn’t know that, of course. The idiots honestly thought they could stand up to and take down Los Muertos. They wouldn’t, but Sombra didn’t care. The important part of the plan was that the Laughing Skulls took down as many Los Muertos as possible.

With Los Muertos weakened it would be easy to step in. Kill whatever fool was in charge and replace them with someone she could trust. The thought of running the gang herself had passed through Sombra’s mind but she brushed it off. In another life, perhaps. But she had bigger fish to fry. She would keep a close eye on them. Make sure they didn’t stray off the path. Her blood boiled every time one of their petty crimes popped up on her news feed. Muggings! Attempted arson! Threatening omnic-run businesses! One of the founding members was an omnic, for God’s sake! If Kelvin could see what’s happened to his old gang--

The memory hit Sombra harder than she would’ve liked to admit. A wave of nausea followed by a cold weight she couldn’t shake off her shoulders. Most of the time she could shove her childhood memories into one of the dusty back corners of her mind, but the second Kelvin popped up a thousand other memories came with it. The large, muscular, neon-decorated omnic glaring suspiciously down at her younger self. Him carrying her that one time when she twisted her ankle. His laughter, always tinged with static thanks to his refusal to get regular check ups. If Kelvin could see what’s happened to his old gang.

If Kelvin could see...

Too much stress, Sombra told herself as she climbed into her cot. Not enough sleep, she also told herself as she clutched her old teddy bear Señor Arturito Sleepyhead to her chest. She would feel more human in the morning, she continued to lie to herself as she waved a hand to turn off the lights of her hideout. Wrapped in darkness, hidden away from the rest of the world, Sombra closed her eyes and prayed for sleep.

She made it a whole hour before officially giving up.

Sombra rolled onto her back so she could stare up at the ceiling like a proper insomniac. She held her teddy bear up to block the view of the same stains she’d been staring at every night for months. “What do you think, Sleepyhead? I could head across the square to get a drink. See if our favorite cowboy’s shown up again?”

Don’t become dependent on alcohol, Señor Arturito Sleepyhead didn’t say but she liked to pretend he did.

“Might have sleeping pills in the first aid kit.”

Or pills, Señor Arturito Sleepyhead continued to not really say.

“What am I supposed to do? Have a cup of that gross tea to help me sleep?”

Yes, because it will work, Señor Arturito Sleepyhead replied. She liked to imagine he growled slightly while he said it, like a proper bear would. In her mind he sounded like a chain smoking military sergeant who secretly dressed as Santa Claus every year down at the orphanage. Scary, but gooey on the inside.

“Fine.” Sombra opened her hands and let the teddy bear flop down onto her chest. “Just because you’re always right doesn’t mean you have to rub it in.”

With Señor Arturito Sleepyhead tucked under her arm, Sombra got up off of her cot and walked over to the section of the hideout that she called The Kitchen. It was not a kitchen. It was a firefighter’s worst nightmare. A mini-fridge, a microwave, a hot plate, an electric kettle, a toaster, a toaster oven, all stacked on top of each other and plugged into a single overworked power strip hidden behind a mountain of instant-foodstuff. Sombra nudged the power button for the kettle on with her foot. After waiting a second to see if it would catch on fire (again) she knelt down next to the food pile to carefully extract the tin of chamomile tea from the bottom.

“Gotcha.” Sombra opened the tin and sniffed. There was a faint scent of dust, mold and flowers to the tea. Then again, it’s always smelled that way. It was probably fine. She was sure it was fine. Her hand fumbled around the area of the floor that the non-disposable utensils lived in. Only when the search for a tea infuser came up short did Sombra wave her hand to turn on The Board.

The Board was Sombra’s masterpiece. Information and truths woven into an intricate web. It also doubled as a great light source. Pale purple light flooded the cramped hideout as the web spread out from the center hexagon. If pushed Sombra would admit that the shape was mostly for aesthetic purposes. But, she would counter, she would like the imagined person arguing with her to try and make a conspiracy board that wasn’t web-shaped. Sometimes she had this argument with her bear. Sometimes, with the memories of friends long gone. But never with anyone she actually knew.

No friends. No family. No attachments.

In the soft violet glow Sombra found her shark-shaped tea infuser wedged between a bowl of instant noodles and a six pack of vegetable juice she bought in a half-hearted attempt to be healthy. Tea wasn’t normally on the menu, but Sombra knew the basics. Fill semi-clean mug with hot water. Add what she hoped was honey. There was a happy bee on the packet; it was probably honey. Put tea into the infuser, hang the shark on the rim, and let it steep for--

“Ten minutes?!” Sombra groaned as she dropped the tin back onto the floor. “I’m not waiting around for ten minutes!”

Then do something useful, said Señor Arturito Sleepyhead.

With a seemingly endless eternity between her and a cup of tea, Sombra staggered back and slumped down into her computer chair. She dug her heels into the stone floor and kicked hard enough to roll over to The Board. There were currently thousands of programs searching the internet on her behalf for small scraps of information. Up close it was actually possible to see the transfer of data stream between the pictures. For example, at the briefest glance Sombra could see there had been a drastic decrease in Soldier 76 sightings. So the old man was laying low, but why? Was it connected with the increase in Overwatch activity? Unless he’d finally gotten himself offed. Man, Gabe would be so pissed if Jack got killed by something that wasn’t him.

A flash in the corner of Sombra’s vision drew her attention. A smaller hexagon in the upper-left corner of The Board connected between the Korean military and Overwatch pulsed bright pink. The hexagon for Sangbyeong Hana Song was different from the others. Not only because of the color, but because there were only the two connections unlike the dozens of other threads weaving hexagons together. For a while Sombra also included the multiple charities Hana’s involved with but dropped them once they only turned up the normal level of corruption. And none tied to Hana herself.

Hana Song was...interesting. That was a good word to describe her. She was always in the limelight but never seemed to cast a shadow. No shady dealings, no secret addictions, nothing but a clean military record and a whole lot of disappointed paparazzi in her wake. Sombra didn’t know how to deal with people with a spotless records. They didn’t exist. There had to be a speck of dirt on Hana somewhere. Sombra just had to find it. And if that meant watching Hana’s video game streams, so be it.

Hana’s pink hexagon flickered once and grew large enough to cover most of The Board. The screen changed to what Sombra assumed was that night’s charity stream. Most of it was taken up by the game itself, some old shooter that she didn’t recognize. On the right side was the chat, spewing its normal filth. Across the top a banner announced that they just broke five thousand dollars for the UK Omnic Rights Campaign.  And in the lower left hand corner was Hana grinning to herself.

There was a hint of sleepiness to Hana’s eyes that a more casual observer might miss. She was having a hard night, too. Normally Hana did her best to hide it from her viewers but Sombra could tell. She wondered if she should send Hana a text, just to make sure everything was okay. Having Hana’s personal phone number was an ace up her sleeve that Sombra wasn’t sure what to do with. She didn’t even hack anything to get it. Hana had sent it to Sombra over messenger willingly after a bad night. Not that Hana knew it was Sombra on the other end. To her, Sombra was just a rich gamer that went by the name Haigha and nothing more.

A holographic screen popped up by Sombra’s hand, allowing her to type a long-memorized series of commands. Half a second later Hana’s stream let out a chime that shook the young woman from the spell the game had put her under. Her eyes flicked off-camera before turning her attention back to the game. “Well, look who finally showed up! Thank you for your donation as always, Haigha! I was starting to think you were going to miss tonight’s stream. Everyone say hello to our top donator!”

The chat stream told Sombra to go fuck herself. As usual. She’d drain their Steam wallets later.

“Mods, please ban everyone who, well, everyone.” Hana waved a hand in the direction of where the chat would be on her screen. “What’s on the menu tonight, Haigha? Still in a retro mood? Or are we going to duke it out? You know I’ve been itching to take you down!” She playfully punched at the camera, controller still in hand.

“Another day,” Sombra said to herself while typing out her actual response.

On the other side of the screen Hana dramatically groaned, but was unable to hide her smile. “Really Haigha? Really? Fine, the Super Mario Brothers Three No-Touch-Challenge it is. But if I fall asleep during tomorrow’s mission it’s totally your fault for keeping me up. Okay everyone, strap in! Let’s see if I can get past World Three this time!” Hana settled back into her oversized beanbag chair as the game booted up.

With the gentle notes of Mario music in the air, Sombra turned her attention to the other information coming in about Hana. Nothing wrong with keeping up-to-date on her favorite Overwatch vigilante. She scanned the various file names and headlines that popped up but nothing really stood out. The money was still going to charity, the Korean army was still begging Hana to return on a daily basis, the various nudes that popped up were clearly fakes, all the usual stuff.

It wasn’t until Sombra hit Hana’s promotional feeds that she perked up. Hana had canceled her appearance at the big Numbani Retro Game Convention in October, sorry for the inconvenience, personal matter, and so forth. Keep an eye on social media, she'll announce her next convention appearance soon. A quick look at Hana’s not-so-secret bank account and equally-not-secret email confirmed Sombra’s suspicions. Six tickets bought for the convention together under a fake name, each with equally fake names. It had Overwatch written all over it. And if Overwatch was going to be there…

Sombra typed a hasty message on the holographic screen and sent it off. A second later the donation jingle played in Hana’s stream. Hana’s eyes lit up as she broke out in a wide grin. “Good news everyone! You’re in for a rare treat tonight! Haigha’s had a change of heart and has thrown down the gauntlet to take on yours truly one-on-one. So, what’s going to be your weapon of choice this time? Fighting? Racing? Party game hell?”

“There is no way in hell I’m in any condition for a real challenge” Sombra muttered as she sent her reply. If the dark circles under Hana’s eyes were anything to go by the other woman wasn’t up for it either. Better keep it simple.

“Kirby’s Dream Course? Oh man, I haven’t played that in ages! Everyone hang on while I boot this one up!” Hana said, already digging through her controller bin.

Sombra snapped her fingers and the holographic keypad in front of her transformed into a controller. Not great, but she didn’t exactly live the lifestyle that allowed for a whole lot of personal possessions. Computers and hardware was stolen and ditched. Furniture was taken from curbs or abandoned houses. Clothes were burned when possible and all hints of fingerprints destroyed. All ‘cept for Señor Arturito Sleepyhead. She allowed herself to keep him.

The game stream switched from Mario over to the title screen for Kirby’s Dream Course, flickering letters and pixel spotlights and all. The pink blob was a little too happy for Sombra’s liking but she was willing to deal. She waited for Hana to pick the two player option before grabbing onto her own pad and jumping in. With her fingers occupied Sombra turned her thoughts onto the other matter at hand.

If Overwatch was sneaking their way into the Retro Game Convention then Sombra needed to be there. And she needed to do it without any of her current clients or bosses finding out. That part was easy. Finding out what Overwatch was up to was another thing entirely. Why would Overwatch need to infiltrate a video game convention? It was so unlike them. She had to get to the bottom of this. She could hack the security system and track them that way.

Or she could go about this another way.

Sombra pulled her current burner phone out of her pocket and typed half a text before pausing. She had to play this cool. But not too cool. This required precise wording that sounded friendly without coming off as a total creep. Would emojis help? Or make it worse? She had no idea what she was doing. She finished the text only to delete it all again without sending.

“Um? Haigha? You still with us? It’s your turn.”

Hana’s voice snapped Sombra back to the present. Without really thinking about it she grabbed the controller, hit the A button, and watched in amazement as her sickly yellow Kirby got a hole-in-one. From the sound of Hana’s groan the other woman was just as shocked as Sombra  to see her Kirby fly off into the sky on the back of a shooting star. Sombra seized the moment to pick her phone up off the floor and shoot a quick text to Hana before she lost her nerve.

“Looks like we’re tied! Don’t worry, I still have a few tricks, wait, hang on,” Hana fished her own phone out of pocket. It wasn’t until Hana looked at the screen did Sombra doubt herself. A myriad of expressions passed over Hana’s face as she read over the text. Happiness? Worry? Terror? Confusion? Before Hana could settle on one her thumb pressed down a fraction of an inch too far and Kirby shot forward into a rotating set of spikes.

“Shit!” Hana tightened her grip on the controller. “Sorry everyone! Just, uh, important Overwatch message. You know how it is. Being a hero and all. Ha, um, yeah. But now let me focus on kicking Haigha’s butt! I know I can do it with everyone cheering me on!” She flashed a peace sign at the camera much to the delight of the chat. Hana was in her element and she knew it.

Sombra squeezed Señor Sleepyhead tight, her eyes glued to Hana’s section of the screen. On those fierce eyes. That cocky grin. Thousands of viewers staring her down and she didn’t even flinch. She loved the spotlight no matter how bright. Sombra waited until Hana finished the level before she sent the next donation. There were nights she wished she could do more. There were even more nights when she wondered if the donations were the only reason Hana paid her any mind. That was fine, of course. That’s how the world worked after all. Better the money go to Hana than where Sombra stole it from.

Hana smiled, and Sombra found herself smiling back.

No attachments, reminded Señor Arturito Sleepyhead.

She ignored him.

***

Sombra’s hideout was still dark when the alarm went off. She woke up and promptly fell off her chair with the grace of a sack of potatoes that somehow forgot gravity existed. And she may have stayed there, alarms or no, if a holographic map of the local city streets didn’t pop up right above her head. Thankfully the alarm wasn’t one signalling cops at the door. Nor her alarm specifically for when the Laughing Skulls were doing something stupid that would probably get them killed. Although, the large Overwatch symbol on the map did ruin her plans for sleeping the rest of the night. Hana mentioned a mission in the morning, didn’t she?

Of course the mission just had to be on Sombra’s turf, she thought as she dressed decently enough to sneak around the city.

Of course they had to be poking their nose around the Laughing Skulls’ territory, she also thought as she slipped on her gloves. A tingle of static traveled from her head down her spine to signal their activation. Not awful, but nowhere close to pleasurable. To her it was the sensation of an electric shock combined with the feeling of running her hand through a box of Lego bricks. With her cybernetics connected she could track down Overwatch with ease.

And of course they just had to show up when everything was going her way. Sombra quite literally vanished into the night, knocking over her forgotten cup of tea as she left.

Sombra didn’t go far before she found Mei outside the tourist trap hotel right by the bay. But then woman wasn’t exactly one for subterfuge. Sombra just had to follow the unusual chill in the early autumn air and there the scientist was, sitting on a bench facing out to sea. Mei seemed unaware of the thin layer of frost which clung to the long planter filled with ferns behind her. In fact all of her attention was on a tablet laying across her lap that she was typing furiously on. Probably some sort of paper on ice or snow or whatever. Sombra didn’t care. What she did care about was that Mei’s little robot buddy Snowball was in sleep mode.

Collecting unique technological advances was a passion project of Sombra’s. To her it seemed a waste for one person or corporation to hog what she thought of as The Good Stuff. Take her invisibility, for example. That was grabbed out of the hands of Vishkar while they were too busy chasing after The Kitten and The Frog. Her teleportation was pieced together from scavenged Overwatch research papers. The ability to create ice walls sounded like a rather nice addition to her stable.

Sombra watched Mei from around the corner of a nearby building, waiting to see if she was as distracted as she looked. When Sombra got bored a minute later she turned on her earpiece, already tuned into Overwatch’s frequency. Maybe the rest of the do-gooders were having a more interesting night?

“I’m tellin’ ya Genji, even if you cut it up into really small pieces I don’t think I can eat my hat.”

They were not. But Sombra kept the line open anyway.

“Not all at once,” responded Genji. “A sprinkle on every meal over the course of a year.”

Lúcio cleared his throat. “As the resident health care provider I can’t really recommend that Jesse eat his hat over any length of time. Also I’m pretty sure he meant in a sentimental way.”

“See? Lúcio gets it! Can’t ask a cowboy to just go eat his hat like that! This hat of mine’s been with me through thick and thin. It deserves better than to end up as seasoning. That and I wouldn’t be able to eat the bullets and buckle part.”

“Not with that attitude,” said Genji.

Mei stopped typing and smiled at the horizon. “You know Jesse, early American settlers used to eat leather as a last ditch effort to stave off starvation before cannibalism!”

There was a long pause over the line before Jesse said “That’s uh, great Mei. Why do you know that?”

Mei shrugged. “It came up while I was researching early American life. Did you know the Donner party ate everything from their oxhide rugs, cabin roofing, even the strings in their snowshoes before eating their dead?”

“Agents,” Morrison’s sandpaper gargled voice cut in. “Report in.”

“All clear,” said Genji.

“Same when you asked half an hour ago, boss,” Jesse said, spitting the last word out.

“Nothing happening by me,” Lúcio said.

Mei finally paused in her typing long enough to look around the area, her eyes passing over Sombra’s hiding spot. “No one over here but me and Snowball.”

As soon as Mei went back to her typing Sombra stepped out from the shadows and vanished into the night. She walked slowly, her steps falling silently on the cobblestone road.

“D.Va,” Morrison barked over the communication line, “report in!”

Sombra stretched her hand towards the small robot attached to Mei’s fuel pack. Being forced to carry around her own ice-making chemical might be a pain, but it would be totally worth it if it meant magical snow powers.

“D.Va!”

“Jeez! I’m here! I’m here!” Hana’s voice cut in sharply, frayed at the edges. “I’m here and everything is fine, okay?”

“Doesn’t sound fine to me,” Jesse said. “What’s wrong, sugar?”

Purple lights flickered around Sombra’s fingers as she got close enough to connect to Snowball. The lights bounced over to the robot, causing its normally blue front panel to turn that same purple color. Sombra’s skull icon appeared on the robot’s screen--

“I’m sorry, it’s just…this text I got from Haigha.”

And like that the purple lights vanished. Sombra froze in place, unaware that her invisibility had turned off. Luckily for her Mei was still focused on typing.

“Haigha?” Mei asked, raising an eyebrow at no one.

“She’s, she’s uh,” Hana cleared her throat, “a friend. She’s always in my stream chat and we play games together and sometimes we text, well, we text a lot but she’s never sent me a text like this before and I just don’t know what it means! It’s been driving me crazy, you know?”

“Now what did the message say, exactly?” Genji asked with a note of suspicion in his voice.

“It says ‘gg ez lol. U r going to RetroCon in October right?? I will be wearing a purple hoodie with my gamertag icon on it. See you there? Heart emoji heart emoji heart emoji’. Heart emojis! What does that mean?”

Sombra felt her stomach drop. Never before in a life filled with strife and pain did she ever regret anything more than those three heart emoji. At the time they seemed playful. Not so much when Hana read the text out loud.

“Whoa whoa, gg ez lol?” Lúcio asked. “Is this the person that’s been beating all your high scores? Skull icon lady?”

“First off, she had been beating me, but I’m in the lead again!” Hana let out a sigh. “But yeah, it’s her. Normally she’s not so, so, friendly sounding? Totally never used emojis before.”

“That convention always has a lot of old school arcade games set up,” said Genji. “Perhaps she’s planning on challenging you?”

“Or she’s trying to ask you out!” Mei covered her mouth to fight down her giggling which did not work at all.

“Yeah I guess it could,” Hana paused. “Wait, what?”

“That does sound like nerd flirting to me,” Jesse said. “Beating you in a bunch of video games and following it up with hearts? Seems like something a shut-in would do.”

“Have you seen any pictures of her?” Genji asked, that worried note still there.

“No! No. All I know is that they identify as female, speak Spanish, and their icon is a skull but it’s like a cute skull? The nose is an upside down heart? Pretty cute for a skull, I guess.”

Mei finally paused in her typing. “Hana has a cru-ush.”

“Do not! I don’t even know what they look like. Or how old they are. Or anything about them besides the fact they also got that Feed Your Waifu a Slice of Cake achievement that only like point-zero-one-percent of all Steam users have!”

“Lord child, you have it bad,” Jesse said.

“If you are all done talking about D.Va’s love life,” Morrison said, stressing each word. “We need to find this gang before they move again. McCree, check the warehouse near you. D.Va, cover him. Lúcio and Mei you’re with me. Genji, keep to the rooftops.”

Sombra snapped out of her embarrassed trance in time to duck behind the planter full of ferns that separated her and Mei. Possibly Sombra’s worst attempt at hiding yet considering all Mei had to do was turn around and she would be spotted. But something was looking out for Sombra that day because Mei instead hopped down the stairs leading to the lower pathway. Sombra waited until the clomp-clomp of Mei’s boots faded before she stood back up.

Okay. She was fine. Hana potentially knew about her stupid crush but that was okay. She could recover from that easily. Sombra brushed off her clothes and only made it a few steps before it hit her that Morrison said they were looking for a gang. No. There were plenty of gangs in Dorado. The chances of them going after the Laughing Skulls were very slim. She might have even managed to convince herself until the clear sound of gunfire echoed from the direction of the Laughing Skulls’ hideout.

“No no no no no no NO!” Sombra almost tripped over her own feet as she scrambled up a nearby fire escape. She followed the cacophony across the rooftops and with every step the sound became clearer: The roar of motorcycles, the twinkling notes of bullets reflecting off Hana’s shield and Lúcio’s music pounding in the background. With every street crossed Sombra did her best to piece together a plan. If she distracted Overwatch at least the smarter gang members could get away. A nice localized EMP should do the trick. All Sombra had to do was catch up and--

Blue.

Somehow, right as Sombra’s reached the edge of the roof, the world turned blue. More than a just a blue light. It was everywhere, it was in her body and rushing through her mind to the point where nothing existed save for that one shade of blue. She became aware of the wind first, followed by a roar and the rest of the world coming back to her. Sombra craned her head up to the sky to follow the light. And there, flying in a lazy circle above the city, was a dragon.

Later, much later, she would drive herself bonkers trying to figure out what she saw exactly. A hologram? A new type of a weapon? She would then connect the dragon to the Shimada clan and a whole new slew of questions would keep her up at night. But at that moment there was only one thought in her head.

“Holy fuck, it’s a Goddamn dragon,” Sombra whispered.

The dragon lowered its head so its white eyes met Sombra’s. It was staring at her. Staring into her. She could feel it shining that same blue light inside and she wanted to do nothing but scream, scream and claw until those eyes were off her. The dragon brought his massive face closer, so close that it was mere inches away from Sombra’s own head. She stood there, frozen, unable to escape what she prayed would be a quick death.

And then the dragon licked her cheek.

Sombra missed it when the dragon did one last loop in the sky before landing on the street below. She remained there, staring at nothing while Overwatch moved out and left her city silent once more. In time the cops would show up to clean up the mess, assuming that the other straggling gangs didn’t pick over the remains of her gang first. Assuming it was the Laughing Skulls in the first place. Sombra staggered to the edge of the roof and looked down into the alley below. Yup. Those were the Laughing Skulls’ bikes. What was left of them.

The Laughing skulls were gone. Her perfect plan ruined. She might have scared Hana off for good. And a dragon licked her.

Sombra crumbled into a heap down onto the roof. She laid there, staring up at the predawn sky, letting the weight of a horrible evening slide off her frame. In a few hours Dorado would be waking up to the start of a brand new day. If she hurried she could get to her favorite bakery just as they opened for a concha fresh out of the oven. Maybe gossip with the owner about the latest Overwatch sighting. Or just talk about the senseless violence that happened mere moments before.

But she didn’t do that. Instead Sombra pulled out her burner phone and typed in a number she memorized a long time ago. She held the phone up to her ear and waited. Three rings. A click. Silence.

“Hola Gabe,” Sombra sang into the phone, “Listen, my schedule just cleared up for the time being. So I guess I can help you take down Talon. But only because you asked me so nicely. Pick me up at the usual spot. I’ll bring breakfast.”

Sombra hit the end call button and turned her gaze back at the sky above. If she stared hard enough she could almost see the stars.