“It is nearly your birthday, aniki.” Genji piped from across the table. “The big three-O!”
Hanzo looked up from his newspaper, arched one imperious eyebrow and then returned to gazing at the obituaries as if Genji had never spoken. He knew it wouldn’t deter his brother, as evidenced by a delighted snort but it was never a good idea to encourage whatever idiocy was about to come out of his mouth.
And idiocy it certainly was.
“We should throw you a party!”
“No,” Hanzo replied instantly. The top of the newspaper was sinking, giving him a good view of Genji as he munched on his corn flakes with as much grace and manners as a hyena on a gazelle carcass.
The room around them was lit by the morning sun streaming in through large windows, making the bright blue tiles that lined the walls even brighter and highlighting the large mess Genji had left in Hanzo’s usually neat and ordered kitchen.
“Wow, you are so boring,” Genji whined, wiping milk from his chin with the back of his hand. “You are even going grey. You are only thirty but you are all grey and sad and don’t have any friends.” He sniffed. “Except for that weird French lady that threw a dart at my head once.”
Unwillingly, Hanzo’s hand fluttered self-consciously up to the tufts of hair that framed his face, knowing that there was indeed some silver coming through. It’s distinguished, he had told himself just last night, as he considered the merits of hair dye.
“It is because you are stressed.” Genji continued, waving his spoon around. Hanzo eyed the milk spots that appeared on his dark rosewood kitchen table with every flourish.
“If you are suggesting you have stressed me enough to send me grey, then for once we agree on something,” Hanzo snapped. He folded up his paper, placed it neatly on the table and grabbed for his half-finished coffee instead. He sipped at it, eyeing his brother unhappily over the rim.
Genji only laughed and dropped his spoon into the bowl with a clatter that made Hanzo flinch. “No way, I am the only fun thing in your life. It is your job sending you over the edge. Obviously. I know dad was all ‘you must be a lawyer and slave away for me for years until your hair goes grey and you hate your life’ but you totally don’t actually have to do that.”
Hanzo didn’t have an answer for that, only a sour downturn of his lips. This was a familiar argument and one he was not willing to get into now. Shimada & Co was his birthright and expectations had always been high. Regardless of whether or not he enjoyed stepping onto a courtroom and defending criminals by shooting down his enemies with precisely worded arguments (he did) or having to deal with their overbearing father, annoying clients and a printer that would only ever beep boop rather than do its intended job (he really did not) was beside the point. The point was, he did not appreciate the constant needling, as if he really would drop his entire life’s work because Genji thought it was a good idea.
“Buuuut since you never ever listen to me about that, you need to have a party instead.”
Hanzo readjusted his silk blue nightgown, pulling it more securely over his crossed legs and still didn’t answer. He sipped at his coffee instead, down to the last drop and placed to back on the waiting coaster.
“Thirty, Hanzo, thirty! You are wasting your life!”
“Says the twenty-seven year old who will not move out of his brother’s house because he can not keep a job. the reason being, and this is the best part, he keeps sleeping with his co-workers.” Hanzo finally snapped back. But that particular arrow had been released so many times, it missed its mark entirely.
Genji was practically leaning across the table, so eager to get his point across, his bowl of corn flakes dangerously close to spilling with his chest pressed against it. “Please, please, niisan. Let’s have a birthday party!”
“Tch,” Hanzo spat out the sound, leaning forward quickly to hook a finger around the rim of Genji’s bowl and pull it away from him before there was a disaster. “You are a nuisance, Genji.”
“Is that a yes?” He was making that face again (it had somehow secured him a new motorbike last year) and Hanzo made a desperate attempt to stare at the wall instead but his resistance was crumbling and he was certain Genji could sense it.
Genji could sense it like a shark smelling blood, his nostrils even flared. “Just a little one? We can do it here. I’ll bring some friends over, we will have some drinks, you can invite French lady and whoever else you know; do you even know anyone else? Wait, do not answer that. I promise I will be on my best behaviour and I will even try get another job.”
Hanzo hummed noncommittally. “Why must we do it here?”
Genji’s eyebrows shot up, disappeared into his hair. Black, thankfully. The green was still a horrible memory. “Your house is huge. It has four bedrooms.”
“Three,” Hanzo sniffed. “The other one is my training room.”
“Four bedrooms, three bathrooms, study, lounge, kitchen, that other kitchenette upstairs that I am still confused about, laundry, greenhouse, weird little library room, dining room, that huge lounge with the big sofa nobody ever sits on.” Genji rattled off the list gleefully. “I think there is more than enough room for a party. I will even organize someone to clean up the next day. Come on, please. I want to do something nice for you.”
There was two ways this could go; Hanzo could give in with minimum fuss and endure the party or he could struggle and end up enduring a party anyway. He decided to bow out of the fight gracefully this time.
“Very well. You may have your party.”
Thanks to the superb craftsmanship of his very expensive kitchen table it hardly shifted at all when Genji slammed his hands down triumphantly. “You are going to love it, aniki!” He beamed. “I’ll organize the stripper tonight.”
The smile that had begun tilting the right corner of Hanzo’s mouth up disappeared in an instant. “Absolutely not. No stripper. Do not even joke. Genji.”
“Urusai yo.” Hanzo stood up from the table, pushing the sleeves back on his nightgown before picking up the bowl and cup. “Do not test me. If you even attempt to follow through with that ridiculous idea, I will organize a lunch with father and force you to attend.” It was the worst threat either of them could imagine, even if it also hurt them both.
Genji deflated with a sigh and splayed out across the table. “Aw,” he whined.
“Is that understood? No stripper. Just some friends and some drinks. That is all.” He turned his back on his brother and took the dirty dishes over to the sink, rinsing them under hot water.
Genji knew when to give in, especially with how tense Hanzo’s shoulders were. “Ok. I was mostly kidding anyway. Friends, drinks, some balloons. Nobody getting naked. Promise. Cross my heart.”
Hanzo looked over his shoulder. “Make sure of it.”
Hanzo, foolishly enough, had believed his little brother.
Until he opened the door to find a cowboy on his doorstep.
“Howdy,” the cowboy said, left thumb tucked into his belt and a ridiculous grin on his face.
“Gah,” Hanzo replied.
Before this the birthday party had actually been an enjoyable affair. Genji had decorated the lounge tastefully, a pleasant surprise as Hanzo had been expecting a garish and obnoxious onslaught of coloured balloons and ribbons as soon as he stepped through the door. There were balloon and there were ribbons but they were all tasteful shades of blue, contained in the appropriate spaces and not acting as an eyesore.
Genji had organized the catering, his friends all seemed nice enough and there was nobody Hanzo knew from his work to annoy him.
Dressed in a dark blue suit and hair tied back with a golden sash, perhaps slightly more formal than necessary but Hanzo did like to make a good first impression, he had greeted the guests. Angela, he already knew and he greeted the doctor that had saved his brother’s life ten years past with a warm smile. The smile held firm as Genji doted over her like a delighted puppy.
Lena had surprised him by talking a mile a minute and he understood immediately why Genji liked her, even if he was certain he would find her exhausting after five minutes. The excited hug had taken him be surprise, his shoulders going stiff before she let go and whizzed past. When he followed her back down to the hall to the lounge room, she was wrestling with Genji on the sofa, both screeching at each other like four year olds.
The room slowly filled up with new arrivals and Hanzo stood quietly in the corner, savouring his drink and watching as his brother enjoyed the party that had never really been Hanzo’s in the first place. He didn’t mind.
Then the doorbell had rung and Hanzo had answered it, presuming Amélie was arriving fashionably late as usual.
Instead he revealed the cowboy.
Hanzo looked him up and down, his brows knitted together, expression slowly shifting from confused to thunderous anger. Cowboy hat, brown plaid shirt hanging over blue jeans, brown boots with spurs that jingled when the tall man shifted his weight from one foot to the other. There was even a red serape sitting comfortably on broad shoulder. If forced to, Hanzo would admit that he was ruggedly handsome. He had always thought beards should be neat and tidy, well manicured like his own but with the stranger grinning at him, he realized there was potentially something good to be said about letting yourself go a little.
But whether Hanzo considered him good looking or not was irrelevant.
The man was dressed like a cowboy and it was obvious that he had a stripper on his doorstep. The one his brother had promised he would not hire.
Hanzo was going to kill Genji. He was going to take down the family heirloom sword his father had gifted him and slice his brother into teeny tiny pieces and then put him back together again just so he could repeat the process.
“You alright there?” The cowboy asked. “Cat got your tongue? You’re Hanzo, right? Genji told me you were hot but I didn’t think-”
It was his brother’s name that snapped him from his murderous thoughts and he cut the stranger- no, the stripper off with a hiss.
“You have to leave.”
“What? I just got here. Where’s Genji? Let me just-”
“No. Your services are not required. You are leaving. Thank you and goodbye. I will make sure he reimburses you for the mistake.” Hanzo stepped forward, insistently encouraging the man to remove himself from the premises with a hand on his arm.
“I- what? Woah, there!” The last words slipped out in surprise, as if he hadn’t expected the smaller Japanese man to have the strength to start manhandling him back off the front step.
It was then that Amélie chose that moment to arrive, her sleek black jaguar rolling up his driveway. Hanzo was not an easy man to rattle and later he would tell himself that he did not panic at all when he imagined the amused French rolling off her tongue when she saw him standing on the front step with a stripper or the email she was undoubtedly send around his office because she had always been particularly evil. Or he did indeed panic, but compartmentalized his terror and took the best course of action available, which was get two hands on the cowboy stripper and pull him inside.
They nearly fell over in the process when the larger man stumbled over his own feet but Hanzo kept them both upright, one hand holding the flannel shirt in a death grip to keep him in place.
“Look, darlin’, I think you’ve got the wrong-”
“Be quiet,” Hanzo hissed, shutting the door quickly and considering his options. He couldn’t take him down the hall to the party, that was ridiculous. That was what Genji wanted. He couldn’t go back out the front because Amélie would be waltzing up any second now, high heels clicking and her perfect sneer at the ready. They would have to use the ‘weird little library room’.
It was the first door on the left and Hanzo pushed the cowboy in there as he continued to protest, followed him in and locked the door. The knock at the front door came only a moment later, then a second, and a third forceful one, until Genji finally arrived to open it.
Hanzo looked over his shoulder in warning and the taller, stupidly rugged cowboy man wisely kept his mouth shut.
They listened to the conversation at the other side of the door.
“Oh, it is you.”
“Where is Hanzo?”
“I have no idea. Around somewhere. I guess you should come in.”
“Merci.” Contempt oozed off the word.
Their footsteps slowly faded and Hanzo knew it wouldn’t be long until they started looking for their missing birthday boy. He would simply have to deal with this problem quickly.
“Look, the name’s McCree-”
“I do not care what your name is. I am sure you are skilled in your chosen career path but I have no need for a stripper,” he said as no-nonsense and curt as possible, “tonight or any night. Please leave quietly.”
Hanzo unlocked the door and peered out into the hallway and did not get to see the emotions flit across McCree’s face. They ranged to surprised to thoughtful and then settled to downright devilish.
A massive hand pressed against the door and Hanzo jerked back his head as it closed just shy of snipping his nose.
“Wellll now, sweetie. Thing is, I’m already paid for. You're shy, I get it. We can do a private party. Just you and me. Right here.”
‘Right here’ was a small room lined with bookcases and redwood panelling. The only illumination was from a tall reading lamp beside a brown leather armchair. The plush cream carpeting gave the room a cozy and intimate feeling.
“No, absolutely not.”
“Well, that’s a damn shame.”
The words came out in a drawl, lips quirked up and warm brown eyes heavy-lidded.
Hanzo had never in his life considered anyone in his life seductive. Sex was always near the bottom of his to-do list, engaged in infrequently with people he did not plan on dealing with a second time. McCree somehow, with only a glance, made his toes want to curl and his clothes feel uncomfortably tight.
He had to run and run quickly before his freshly woken libido got him into trouble. He would flee back to the party and take Genji by the -
“Heeeey Hanzo.” His brother was right outside the door. “Where the hell are you?” Hanzo locked the door again, it snipped into place. Trapped. “French lady just tried one of the spinach rolls and told me it tastes like disappointment.”
The door knob tried to turn.
His defences trembled.
The room felt too small.
The cowboy was a warm presence at his back.
He could still leave if he wanted to.
If he left this room now, he would have to face his brother. He would push this McCree out the door and spend the rest of his night bitter and angry, anticipating the argument that would fill the house once the guests had left. Surely it wouldn’t hurt to indulge himself, just for a moment. He so very rarely let it happen.
Squaring his shoulders, Hanzo straightened his suit top, ran his hands down each sleeve to smooth out the wrinkles and turned to face McCree. His shoulder clipped the other man as he strode past, McCree shifting around to watch as he settled himself down in the armchair. They stared at each other, until Genji’s voice faded away and only then did Hanzo wave a hand and say: “Well then.”
“Well then?” McCree repeated. He drummed his fingers against his belt buckle (BAMF, really? How inane.) and Hanzo’s eyes drifted down and then up again, suggestive. “Oh, hell, you mean, actually? You want me to do the thing?”
“It’s what you were employed to do, was it not?”
McCree looked weirdly flustered and Hanzo pursed his lips, regretting his decision almost immediately. “If you would prefer not to-”
“No, I mean, yeah! Don’t bail on me, darlin’. I’m gonna give you to the show of a lifetime.”
Hanzo highly doubted that but he was willing to give him a chance to prove his skills. He sat straight backed, legs slightly parted, one hand resting casually on either arm of the chair. Then he waited, trying not to look as if his breathing was already somewhat irregular.
McCree was doing a lot of strange things with his face but he started moving, swaying back and forth, one hand holding the top of his hat to his head and the other hooked into his belt. He stamped a foot, the spurs jingled; he did the same move at the other side and then did a little turn. There was a look of concentration on his face as he swirled his hips around in a circle.
“What are you doing?” Hanzo asked, eyes narrowing. He had been to strip clubs. His top clients almost exclusively liked to hold meetings in places where men and women were removing their clothing. They normally didn’t do it like this.
McCree stopped moving, face flushed red. “I’m getting into the zone, sweetheart.”
“You’re supposed to be taking your clothes off.”
“I’m gettin’ there. You can’t rush art.” McCree plucked his hat off and closed in on Hanzo. “Here.” He dropped the hat on his head and stepped back, fingers already working at the buttons of his top. A process that halted when McCree remembered he was wearing the serape and had to pull it awkwardly over his head. The red fabric pooled at his feet when he unceremoniously dropped it.
Finally the first few buttons on his shirt came open, slowly revealing a muscled chest generously covered in dark hair. As if remembering he was supposed to be to be moving, his hips began with that odd swaying motion again. It felt all too intimate for Hanzo’s liking. A striptease was meant to overtly sexual, a show for an audience. This was far too earnest and horribly sloppy.
“I would have preferred a policeman,” he said, simply to break the mood.
McCree paused mid-shirt removal, one arm out and the other still stuck in the fabric. “Hey now, that ain’t fair. Everyone knows cowboys know how to ride hard and dirty.”
“Stop opening your mouth. It ruins the mood.”
The shirt was tossed aside and for a long moment McCree simply stood there, as if uncertain of how to proceed. Just when Hanzo was about to snap at him again, he lifted his arms into the air, flexed his muscles and thrust his hips forward. Hanzo was genuinely confused about whether to feel aroused or not.
He eventually decided no when it became obvious that this was McCee’s only move and on the fifth repeat of the flex-thrust, he held up a hand. “Stop. Please.”
“What?” McCree was looking annoyed now. “What’s wrong?”
“Have you ever done this before? Is this your first time? If it is not, I’m surprised if you make enough money to feed yourself.”
“Maybe if you weren’t so damn judgemental I’d be doing a better job.” McCree snapped back.
“If you were better at your job, I would not be so judgemental.” Hanzo responded just as hotly. Of course Genji had hired the worst stripper in the city. If this was his only birthday gift, he was going to be very annoyed.
“You reckon you could do a better job?”
“I do not have to do a better job because I do not make money from taking my clothes off. But I assure you, if I did, I would be exhibiting far more talent then you are.”
“Goddamn, I’d tan yer hide if you weren't who you was.”
Hanzo realized that he liked McCree angry. The red flush that crept down to his chest, the bright challenge in his eyes and strong hands curled into fists. It was pleasing. “Was that,” he purred, “even English? Is that why you’re here? Failed school? Daddy didn’t love you?”
“You sonofabitch, keep it up and I’ll teach you a thing or two.” He crossed the short space between them and loomed, tall and mighty.
Hanzo turned to liquid in his chair, legs stretching lazily and gaze amused. It took the heat out of McCree, anger released in a huff.
“You’re not finished yet.” He lifted a hand, long fingers stretched, tapped the belt buckle with his nail. “I’m not going to tip you if I don’t see the goods.”
The cowboy swore, colourfully, in English and Spanish, but finally moved back into position. He released the clasp on his belt, pulled it free and tossed it aside. McCree swore again as he began tugging off his boots, hopping awkwardly on one foot.
Hanzo couldn’t help it, he started laughing. “Don’t you have,” he managed to ask between each new round of laughter that shook his whole body, “those pants that just tear off?”
“Does it look like I have the pants that just tears off?” McCree tossed the first boot in Hanzo’s direction. It missed, clipped the lamp instead and they both watched as it threatened to tip over before gravity settled it back in place.
When he was done killing his brother, Hanzo made a note to also thank him. He hadn’t had this much fun in years.
The boots were gone. The jeans followed. Hanzo stared at the Road Runner boxers, some part of his mind noting that those were definitely not stripper underwear. Then they were also removed. They landed in Hanzo’s lap and he absentmindedly reached for them, rubbing his fingers into the silk. His laughter had fled; leaving a coiled heat in his gut.
McCree was breathing heavily, half-hard and his hands clasping and unclasping at his sides. “Happy now?”
“Very.” He really was very nice to look at. There was a slight gut, easily forgiven, his arms and chest well-muscled, his hair dark and inviting. There was an intricate tattoo of a skull and metal on his left arm that Hanzo would be happy to memorize with his tongue.
“You wanna touch?” McCree had apparently gotten over his anger, slipped just as quickly into needy wanting.
“That would be inappropriate.”
“Maybe a little one.” The words trembled slightly when they emerged and Hanzo knew he was blushing. McCree moved closer to the chair, until Hanzo’s stretched legs were between his. He held himself just out of easy reach with an easy smirk. It forced Hanzo to make an effort, to sit up and reach out. His hand ghosted over firm thighs, tangled briefly in his belly hair and then coaxed McCree from half-hard to fully erect with only his fingertips.
“You’ve got a smartass mouth on you but goddamn are you beautiful,” McCree rumbled. It startled Hanzo enough to look up, to see his own hunger mirrored in the others eyes. He liked it, liked this. He wanted to see what sort of sounds McCree could make.
The lock turned and the door swung open.
“Seriously Hanzo, hiding-” The words turned into a high-pitched shriek, Genji reeling back as if physically struck. He clutched at the door frame, pale enough for good old fashioned swoon. But in good Genji fashion, he recovered swiftly, pointing an accusing finger at McCree. “Jesse! Jesse, what are you doing to my brother?”
This shocked McCree out of his stunned statue routine, had him scrambling for his clothes. His serape ended up providing some modesty, bundled up over the flagging erection. “Damn it Genji! Ain’t doin’ nothin’. Well, hell, we were doing somethin’ but-”
“When I said ‘hey come to my big brothers birthday party and be nice’, I did not mean strip off your clothes and assault him with your gross hairy body!”
“He thought I was a stripper! I was just playin’ along. He liked it.”
“No, he did not.” Genji hissed. He looked like cat, fists clenched and back hunched. It was easy to imagine bristling hair and a puffy tail.
“Wait,” Hanzo interjected, his sharp tone turning both pairs of eyes on him. He pulled in a steadying breath. “You are not a stripper?”
“Hell no.” McCree answered, flustered.
Hanzo sat back, closed his eyes, pinched his nose between his thumb and forefinger. A headache was starting to pound and if the ground had suddenly opened up, he would have gladly jumped in. “Well. It explains your utter lack of skill.” He sighed. “Genji, why did you tell him it was a costume party?”
“I didn’t? He always dresses like that.” Genji shot McCree a glare.
“Truly?” Hanzo decided to laugh instead of cry. “Your fashion sense is an unforgivable crime.”
McCree spluttered some sort of reply that never formed into coherent words.
“Mon Dieu,” Amélie had appeared behind Genji, sharp gaze roaming over the scene with dark glee. “Hanzo, I did not expect this of you.” Hanzo had a feeling she was far from disappointed.
“Well, I’m outta here,” McCree declared, apparently knowing the best moment to bail from a bad situation. He was pulled on his pants, snatched the hat off Hanzo’s head and rammed it on to his own. “It was great fun for ‘bout five minutes there, honey.” He bundled the rest of his belongings into his arms and headed for the exit. Genji blocked the way and they stared each other down until McCree simply muscled through. The front door slammed closed behind him.
The chattering of voices from the hallway made it very clear the rest of the party was now in attendance.
“Will you close the door already?” Hanzo sighed.
“Oh, right, yeah.” Genji shut the door in Amélie’s face as she scowled. He turned back to Hanzo, indignation replaced with curiosity. “How did this even happen?”
“I thought you had ordered a stripper.”
“You told me not to!” Genji exclaimed, waving his arms as he plopped down on the armrest.
“Yes, I did. I jumped to the wrong conclusion. I apologize.”
“Are you... okay though?” Genji was curled slightly to look down at him, brow furrowed with worry. Hanzo was touched by his concern.
“I am fine. Thank you.” He patted Genji’s knee reassuringly. “So who is this McCree?”
“Jesse McCree. We used to work together at that nightclub last year. He works as security mostly. Hilarious and great in a fight but I totally hate him now.” He shifted, dropped himself into Hanzo’s lap, long limbs splayed awkwardly. Hanzo adjusted to the new weight with a sigh.
“Jesse McCree,” Hanzo rolled the name over his tongue. He laughed, a soft huff. The silk boxers were still in his lap. Genji squealed in disgust when Hanzo tugged them free and held them aloft like a war trophy. Road Runner grinned back at him. “I would like his phone number please.”