Chapter 1: Prologue- Genji & Hanzo
Genji was 3 and Hanzo was 6, when their father put a gentle hand on Genji’s head.
It was the earliest memory Genji would be able to recall. The meeting, parading around with his small hand clutched into his father’s, as people complimented the head of the Shimada clan.
Genji had been proud as people around him commented on how he would surely grow the become a fine warrior and a good heir for the Shimada family. He had been acting proper as father asked him to, even if he would feel bored at times, and at the end of the night, sitting in their car on the way home, Genji put his head against his father’s arm. Father gently stroke his hair “You’ve been very good, Genji. I’m proud of you.” He said, in his calm, deep voice.
Genji was happy, but at the same time something was not sitting right within him. His young mind could not quite pin point what the feeling was, so he scrunched his face. “Father?”
“Why couldn’t Hanzo come with us?”
He’d felt the distance with his older brother. It was probably the most time they’ve been separated ever since Genji had been born, and Genji had found himself many times during the evening looking around for the familiar shape, only to then remember Hanzo waving him goodbye as he and father left the castle.
The silence stretched for long second, Father’s hand still on Genji’s hair. Then he started to stroke him again, gentle.
“You love your brother, Genji, don’t you?” Father asked softly. Genji immediately nodded vigorously. Of course he did.
“Then you have to make me a promise.” Father added. He shifted, so he could face Genji. His expression was dead serious. “An adult promise. You can do that, don’t you?”
“Of course, father, anything!” Genji replied, straightening up. He could do that, he was a big boy now, after all. He proved so tonight.
Father smiled, affection in his eyes. The hand on Genji’s hair slid down to cup his cheek. “Your brother is… Special.” Father said, his voice calm and gentle. “No one must know of him, as it could be dangerous for him. So, Genji, you have to promise me you will never speak of Hanzo with anyone outside the family. There’s people out there- Bad people, that could hurt your brother. That’s why we have to keep this secret. So we can protect Hanzo. You understand, don’t you?”
Genji swallowed, his throat tight. The idea of anything, anyone hurting his brother was beyond horrifying, and he felt the sting of tears prickling at his eyes. “O-of course! I will never let anything happen to Hanzo!” He hiccuped, clutching at his father’s yukata. “I promise, father. I will be good.”
“I know you will.” A small kiss was placed on Genji’s forehead. “You are a good boy, Genji.”
Genji was 4 and Hanzo was 7 when Genji really understood for the first time that his brother was… Different.
He’d been going out more often, with father. Had met people and other children. He’d been socializing, seeing new things, learning. In the evenings he’d sit with Hanzo on the porch, the gentle sound of the water streaming in their garden, and they’d talk. Hanzo would tell him of his daily activities, how he was getting better at hand to hand combat, sword, archery. Genji would tell him of the things he’d seen outside the castle, the people he’d met, the things he’d learn. Hanzo would listen, enraptured, his attention completely focused on Genji. A strange light would reflect in his bright yellow eyes.
(Only years later Genji would realize that it was pure longing for something that was forbidden to his brother.)
And Genji had come to a realization. He’d seen so many new people. And yet, no one ever came close to looking like his brother.
No one had yellow eyes and thin, serpent like pupils like Hanzo did. No one had bright blue scales, shimmering in the light, like Hanzo had around his eyes, on his arms and legs. No one had long, sharp fangs taking place after baby teeth that fell. No one had ivory horns poking out behind long, pointy ears, nor a long tail that would lazily whip back and forth as they listened to Genji.
He had asked father, one day. How come Hanzo looked so different from anyone else.
“The dragon blood runs in our veins.” Father replied. “In your brother’s, even more so.”
Genji was 6 and Hanzo was 9 when he left the castle for more than a single day for the first time.
Hanzo looked sad. He was trying to hide it, but despite his long hair nearly covering them, Genji could still see Hanzo’s droopy ears. And his tail was just sitting on the ground, unmoving.
Father hugged him, playfully flicking the scaly blue ear. “It’s only two weeks, Hanzo. We will be back before you can even realize.”
“I’ll bring you a souvenir!” Genji exclaimed heatedly, running into them to join the hug. “And I’ll call you everyday, I promise!”
Hanzo hugged him back, silent. The image of Hanzo’s sad, watery eyes stuck with him for the entirety of the two weeks.
(Only much, much later would Genji realize that every time he and father had to leave, Hanzo was left completely alone, trapped
in a cage without bars.)
Genji was 8 and Hanzo was 11 when he asked “How was mother like?”
Hanzo tensed, tail jerking from side to side. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
Genji pouted. He had no memories of their mother, all he knew is that she passed when he was just barely over two years old.
“Hanzooooo.” Genji whined. He had found a picture, earlier that day. He had recognized their mother, but it took him a while to realize that the yawning baby in her arms was, in fact, him.
Mother looked radiant, smiling down at the baby (himself, Genji thought gingerly) with so much love in her eyes it managed to seep through the glossy paper. It made Genji longing for something he didn’t even knew he could miss.
“Just tell meeee!” Genji insisted, poking Hanzo’s arm as his brother pointedly ignored him. “Hanzo. Hanzo. Haaaa-nzooooo—“
Genji jerked in suprise, his eyes widening as Hanzo abruptly rose to his feet, a literal growl escaping from his throat.
Tense silence fell over them, both of them surprised, as Hanzo had never even slightly raised his voice against him, before that. Hanzo looked away, hiding his expression behind a strand of black hair. “I don’t want to talk about it, Genji. Please, don’t ask anymore.” He added, softer.
Genji stared at his brother’s back as he left, his heart beating hard and fast in his throat.
Genji was 10 and Hanzo 13, when Genji padded into their father's office sheepishly.
Father was in a lousy mood. He and Hanzo had a fight, a really bad one. Genji had to watch from the sidelines , feeling worse and worse as he watched both his father and brother increasingly lose their calm demeanor.
It all started simply enough, with Hanzo asking if he could go out, just for a couple of hours, to visit the festival that would start in Hanamura that evening. Father refusing ("you know why, Hanzo."), the discussion increasingly worsening unti Hanzo slammed his chopstick on the table and left without a word in the middle of the meal, the fur on his tail puffed in anger.
Genji lost his appetite short after that. He excused himself from the table, searching for his brother without success. Hanzo wanted to be left alone.
So Genji had to sit in his room, sad uneasiness a grip on his stomach, until he had an idea.
"Father?" He called, receiving only a grunt in response. "I- I was thinking that me and Hanzo could go at the festival this evening- no, listen." Genji said hurriedly as father looked up at him with fire in his eyes. " I had an idea!"
Genji showed the oni mask he was hiding behind his back. Just a plastic toy, something that so many children would wear during the evening. An old keepsake, from the very same festival, father bought for him years ago.
"We'll hide his tail under the yukata- and he'll wear this- no one will notice, I promise!"
Father looked at him. Then at the mask, then back at him. Genji started losing hope father would say yes, when father he covered his eyes with an hand and let out a trembly sigh.
"Three hours." He said, his voice low, without looking at Genji. "not a minute more. He's gonna keep the mask on the entire time, and you are gonna keep your eyes on him the entire time. If someone even looks twice at him, you are out of there. Understood?"
Genji let out a little joyous yelp and ran to his father, hugging him. "Yes! Yes! Oh, thank you, father!"
"Go get your brother ready, you can leave in a hour." Father replied, tired strain in his voice. Genji ran out with a happy skip in his step, unable to stop grinning. And if later that evening he found himself having to play the part of bodyguard/babysitter for his older brother, well, it did not matter. It was all worth it to see Hanzo happier than he ever seen him in his entire life.
Genji was 12 and Hanzo was 15 when Genji came back home late in the evening and stopped in front of Hanzo's room.
"Hanzo?" He called out softly. "I... I'm sorry about what I said. I didn't mean to- I'm really sorry. Please, can we talk?"
Genji waited eagerly for a response, and when nothing came he deflated, sadly.
"I- ok, we can talk tomorrow, if you prefer. Good night..."
Genji turned on his heels to leave, when he suddenly heard a soft, pained sound coming from Hanzo's room.
"Hanzo? Are you ok?” Silence greeted him again, and Genji had to swallow around the ball of guilt and worry in his throat. His hand hovered on the door. “I’m coming in."
Genji started to softly push the door, and his nostrils were immediately attacked by a sharp metallic smell. Then he noticed the dark stains on the floor, the futon, trailing up to a corner in the room. It was too dark to see properly, but Genji could recognize the familiar shape everywhere.
"Hanzo?! Oh my god-“
Hanzo was hugging his legs against his chest, face hidden on his knees. His arms and hands were red, blood was caked into his hair- Genji frantically took his brother pale, bloodstained face between his hands, trying to see were Hanzo was hurt, before realizing-
Hanzo's horns were gone, in their place stood two short, splintery stubs that were still bleeding.
Genji was 15 and Hanzo 18, when Hanzo bit three of their father's fingers off.
Hanzo's horns had started to grow again even if the tips were sharp and charred. But Hanzo wasn't the same. He was distant, cold. He would train obsessively from dawn to twilight, with a vicious violence that left their training equipments in pieces nearly on a weekly basis. He was strong, and fast.
Genji hadn't come to the realization, not until Hanzo's and their father hand to hand training hadn't become a little bit too intense. They were exchanging words, Genji was too far to understand them but still watched amazed as always by their prowess in combat.
Trying to free himself from a chokehold Hanzo opened his mouth on father's left hand and snapped his jaw close.
The fingers came off as if Hanzo had been biting through butter.
It all happened so fast father didn't even made a sound, and by the time Genji had frantically ran in the training range and wrapped a towel on father’s hand in an attempt to stop the bleeding, Hanzo was already gone.
Later that night Genji softly opened the door of their father’s room, to see if he was sleeping or if he needed something after coming back from the hospital, but froze on the spot, door just slightly ajar, when he heard sobbing.
Father was sitting, his back against the pillow, his uninjured had slowly massaging Hanzo’s back as his firstborn openly cried against his shoulder.
Genji had never seen Hanzo cry before. Even when they were just children the worst that could happen was Hanzo’s eyes getting watery, but not a single tear ever escaped.
But now Hanzo was crying- no, he was desperately sobbing, clutching at father’s robe, fat tears rolling down his cheeks. His breathing was short, uneven. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry-“ Hanzo blurted, over and over, seemingly unable to stop sobbing.
“Sshhh, It’s fine.” Father replied, soft and reassuring. “Everything is fine, my son. You did nothing wrong.”
Hanzo shook his head frantically, and Genji left in a hurry before he could hear his brother reply, feeling like he just intruded into something that no one had the right to see.
Genji was 21 and Hanzo 24 when Genji realized he and Hanzo hadn’t exchanged a single word in the past three weeks.
He would never seen him anymore outside of meals. And even during those, Hanzo would never speak. Silent, barely moving, ever single gesture perfect and calculated as if Hanzo was trying to live while making as little noise as possible. His eyes were shielded, his face an emotionless mask.
A shadow, Genji thought, suddenly feeling like mourning the brother he knew so long ago.
Genji was 22 and Hanzo 25 when father put his hand on Genji’s hair, gentle as ever. His voice was weak, but as calm as it always was. A lighthouse, strong and unmoving in the stormy ocean.
“Be kind to your brother when I will not be with you anymore, Genji. You are all he has.”
Genji did not had the guts to tell him that he and Hanzo were just slightly more than strangers to each other, at that point.
Genji was 23 and Hanzo was 26 when he turned his back to his older brother, walking away without a second thought.
No one would force him to abide to the clan’s will.
Genji would’ve yielded, for father. But father was long gone, and Hanzo would’ve been a much better fit as the new head of the Shimada clan, anyway, seeing as he was the one that had been prepared both in body and mind by their father since the day he was born.
Genji was 23 when he heard a guttural, inhuman growl behind him, and he turned around only to see his a flash of beastly yellow eyes and sharp fangs.
Genji was 23 when he woke up to see a blond woman standing over him, his body mauled by the brother he’d once loved so much.
Hanzo was 2 when his father yelled at him for the first time.
Hanzo did not understand- He just wanted to go hug him. He’d seen the car outside, and he ran towards father, to welcome him back- And then suddenly father was yelling.
Hanzo stared, confused, his eyes filling with tears, until father knelt in front of him so they could be eye to eye, his voice suddenly calmer, kinder.
“I’m sorry, my son, you scared me.” Father said, frowning. He put an hand on Hanzo’s cheek. “Hanzo- You cannot leave the castle, do you understand?”
Hanzo nodded, slowly, his chin slightly trembling.
“You cannot leave, it would too dangerous. I don’t want anything to happen to you. You understand that, don’t you?”
Hanzo nodded, again, adding in a tiny voice “Yes, father.”
“Can you promise me you will never leave the castle alone, my son?”
“Yes, father.” Hanzo repeated, feeling calmer already. Father sighed deeply, putting his arms around Hanzo and lifting him.
Hanzo wrapped his arms around father’s neck as father carried him inside. “You are a good boy.” He said, kind, placing a kiss on the top of Hanzo’s head. “Let’s go greet your mother, my son.”
Hanzo was 3 and Genji was barely a few days old when Hanzo eagerly approached mother.
She was cradling the baby, so enraptured with him she did not even realize Hanzo padding towards her.
It was still difficult for Hanzo to grasp the concept of having a brother. It was hard to imagine that the strange, pink bundle father and mother brought home would one day become as big as Hanzo was, be able to talk and play with him. The concept was exciting, in an abstract way. Father had explained that, being the big brother, his role would be to watch over and protect Genji. Hanzo had accepted, eager and proud of being given such an important responsibility.
Mother gently put Genji down on the futon as the baby fussed, turning around as Hanzo knelt near his baby brother. Hanzo’s hand hovered and the baby looked at him with big dark eyes, tiny fingers closing softly on Hanzo’s index finger. Hanzo let out an excited giggle, then suddenly he found himself rolling violently back, the motion stopping when he hit the doorframe with enough force to make it tremble.
Hanzo looked up, confused as the room seemed to spin rapidly around him, barely able to see mother hurriedly cradle the baby back in her arms and run out the room. He could hear her calling for father, then angry, urgent voices, and he saw a glimpse of father, pale and worried, running toward him before slipping into the dark
Hanzo was 5 and Genji was 2 when father let the glass of water he was holding drop on the floor with a crash.
“Hanzo-“ Father sounded breathless, froze for a moment with his hand still hovering as if holding the glass, before he hurriedly knelt in front of him, gently holding Hanzo’s face between his hands and turning it to inspect the damage. “Hanzo. What happened?” Father asked, faintly.
Hanzo gaped silently, unable to drag any word out of his throat. His face hurt, felt hot and so swollen he could no longer see with his left eye. But his arm, that he was cradling against his chest, hurt more. A constant sting of high pain that would flare stronger at every little movement.
Hanzo tried to speak, he really did, but tears pooled in his eyes, rolling down his cheek, and all he could after that was just bawl.
Later that week, when his arm was in a cast and his face was not swollen anymore, although still bruised, father sat near him while he tried, and failed, to stop the tears.
“Don’t you waste your tears.” Father said to him, gentle and severe at the same time. “She does not deserve them. You are my son, the proud heir of our family. You and your brother are more important than anyone else will ever be. There’s no need to cry.”
Hanzo nodded, but he could not stop. Unable to verbalize all the conflicting emotion storming within him, tears the only way he could let them out.
Long seconds of silence passed, Hanzo’s healthy hand nervously tracing the hard, rough surface of the cast.
“What did I do wrong, father?” Hanzo finally said, his voice tiny, wavering. “Why… Why did mother hate me?”
Father looked at him, eyes wide with an emotion Hanzo could not understand. Father hesitated, before enveloping him in a gentle hug.
“You did nothing wrong.” Father whispered, his voice cracking for the first time. “You did nothing wrong, my son. Don’t cry anymore, my dear son.”
It hurt deep down, to hear father sound so sad, uncertain. As much as knowing he was the reason why mother was now being sent away. Hanzo closed his eyes, letting himself relax into the embrace, promising himself he would never cry again. Would never make father sad again.
Hanzo was 9 and Genji was 6 when Hanzo felt for the first time the bitter taste of envy and jealously.
He had to watch from far away as Genji got to enjoy the world outside, while he was stuck inside the castle. His entire world consisted of the same walls, rooms, stairs, he’d walked them so much he could move around the place blindfolded and never stumble into anything.
He had to watch as Genji and father left, for days to weeks at a time, and then he’d be alone.
Servants were instructed to never cross more than they should, and the very few members of the clan that were trusted enough to know of Hanzo’s existence were too busy to come keep company to a child.
So he’d be alone, always feeling slightly sick and angry, no matter what. Always wondering how it would be if he was allowed to go outside, how it would be to just go with his father and brother.
Whenever they left, something else would come to Hanzo. A murmur in the back of his head. Something dark and beastly that he could not keep at bay in the deafening silence of the empty castle. A need, an overwhelming urge of something Hanzo could not discern.
He would go into the training range and run, jump, hit and maul whatever he could until he was so tired all he could do would be drag himself to sleep, sometimes forgetting to eat what was to be left ready for him by the servants.
Sometimes he looked at the sky over the high walls surrounding the castle, and dreamt. He could just- climb them, and go outside. Father wouldn’t even know.
But the thought of father froze him in place, wrecked by guilt at the mere idea of disobeying him. Father, that had always loved and cared for him, his hands gentle and his eyes revering. Father’s calm voice, calling him “my son” so lovingly. Father, explaining to him why he was to be kept inside and why he trusted Hanzo to obey for his own safety.
So, Hanzo never left. He stayed inside, sometimes catching a glimpse of his own reflection that would spark a feeling of hate so strong to leave him dizzy.
Hanzo would stay inside, and hope father and brother would come back before whatever lived inside of him would manage to overcome his humanity.
Hanzo was 12 and Genji 9 when father came back home deep into the night, Genji sleeping between his arms.
He put his youngest into the futon, silently stepping outside and closing the door. When he turned to walk to his own room, his eldest was standing in front of him.
Hanzo had grown very fast in the past year, looking less and less like a boy and more like a young man. It was disconcerting, at times, to realize that his precious firstborn had nearly reached him in height.
His precious firstborn, that was covered in blood from his feet all the way up to his chin.
His heart skipped a beat as he felt unable to breath for long seconds. Hanzo was still, unnaturally so, eyes unfocused and vacant.
Making a strangled sound, he immediately started checking his son for injures. But the blood was old, already dried and cracking on Hanzo’s skin. Hanzo didn’t react when he asked what had happened, if he was hurt- Hanzo just turned, to look down the corridor where he must’ve came from.
There was blood staining the floor in a patch visible in the moonlight.
He walked all the way down the corridor, slowly, Hanzo trailing behind him silently. He was immediately hit by the stench of decay upon opening the door.
There were two corpses lying on the bloodied floor- or what was left of them, at least. Which was very little. Remnants scattered all over the place, the only way he could say for sure that it was two corpses was thanks to the severed heads he could see in the dim light coming from outside. There were weapons, guns- two intruders, an enemy clan maybe- whoever they were, they managed to slip past the security outside, only to be greeted a violent fate. By the hands of-
He turned around to look at his firstborn. Hanzo was staring, expression still lost and vacant, just standing still by the doorframe.
He would have to make some calls, but making whatever was left on the floor disappear was no pressing matter. He gently took his son’s hand instead, guided him into the bathroom of his own room. Hanzo followed without an inch of resistance. He undressed his son, discarding the bloodied clothes in a corner. Sat him by the shower drain and slowly, gently washed and rinsed until not a single trace of blood was left, just pink skin and blue scales, shimmering under the artificial light.
Hanzo did not made a single sound the entire time. He followed again, soft and docile, as he was guided into his father’s room, covered with a night robe, put on the futon and gently covered with a blanket.
Father combed his hair with his fingers, gently.
“Everything is fine, Hanzo.” He murmured, broken hearted at the sight of his son’s lost stare. “Close your eyes, and sleep. It will be just like a bad dream. You need not to worry.”
Hanzo fell asleep, father murmuring lulling him.
Hanzo was 14 and Genji 11 when he openly, purposefully disobeyed father for the first time.
The oversized hoodie Genji got for him was perfect. His tail wrapped around his hips hidden under the soft fabric, the hood covering his ears and horns.
They slipped out in the dead of the night, walked down the street, Genji excitedly hanging on his arm as he pointed everywhere, chattering without stop.
“Over there there’s the other arcade I told you about. Takashi lives in the street down there! Hanzo, can we go to the playground? I want to ride the swings with you-“
Their nightly adventures became a weekly occurrence. They would sometimes meet people, looking at them curiously, but no one ever approached them.
If father knew, he never said anything.
It was something just theirs. A brothers’ secret.
And every time they went, Hanzo could not stop taking deep breaths, taking in all the fresh air outside, just giving in to every little whim of his younger brother, happy, happy, happier than he’s ever been.
Hanzo was 15 and Genji was 12 when father slapped him for the first time.
Father immediately sobbed and hugged him tight afterward, shivering.
“We’ve nearly lost you-“ Father whispered, broken. “How could you—“
Hanzo’s head hurt, a pulsing pain throbbing from were his horns once were. He remembered grabbing them with his bare hands and snapping, ignoring the blood and the blinding pain, an obsessive thought stabbing him over and over, why couldn’t he be normal, why couldn’t he be just like his brother, father, anyone else— why, why, why
“Please, Hanzo—“ Father murmured against his shoulder, jolting him out of his thoughts. “We will find a way. I can help you. But promise me— nothing like that will ever happen again. Please.”
“I can’t promise something like that—“ Hanzo replied, his voice rough against his dry throat. “Sometimes— my thoughts are not mine, my actions are not mine, and I cannot control—“
“We’ll find a way, my son.” Father interrupted him, shifting to look at him in the eyes with determination. “We’ll find a way.”
Hanzo was 18 and Genji was 15 when he and father silently walked out the room after a long meeting with the few most trusted members of the clan.
Hanzo was not to become the official heir. It did not matter that he was smart, strong, prepared. It did not matter the amount of time and effort father had sunk into him, preparing him— He simply could not be accepted.
Not one in the clan would trust—
No one had outright said the word, father’s expression promising storms if someone even only slightly hinted about his firstborn being anything other than the perfect son he’d raised him to be. Hanzo sat, silent and still, his tail not even twitching, as the discussion dragged for hours, watched as father was, in the end, forced to yield.
Genji was to become the next head of the Shimada clan.
Hanzo went straight for the training range, father not stopping him.
He took his frustrations out on the training equipment, not caring about destroying whatever ended up in his hands. Father never complained about that, maybe knowing that doing so was all Hanzo had to try satisfy the increasingly violent urges coming from deep within his guts. But then father joined him.
“Hanzo.” He said, calm and collected as if he hadn’t spent a good part of the day heatedly discussing with the very same clan thriving under his guidance and ultimately sealed his firstborn’s fate. “Let’s spar.”
“I don’t think that would be a good idea.” Hanzo replied, immediately wincing as his voice came out a gravelly, inhuman growl. Father approached him, unfazed.
“Three knocks down, hand to hand. Play dirty, if you must.” Father said as if he hadn’t listened him at all. Hanzo glared at him as he took place in the middle of the training range. Genji choose that moment to walk by, wave at them and stop to watch with a smile on his face. Hanzo felt angry, angry at his brother’s blissed ignorance, angry at his father acting as if nothing happened, angry at the people that watched him sacrifice everything he had in order to become what father wanted him to be and still denied him, angry at himself—
But when was he not angry at himself?
“Hanzo.” Father said, severe, already waiting in a fighting stance. Hanzo sighed. Might as well get this over with.
“Don’t take this half-assed.” Father said, his voice hard as they started. “What happened this morning does not change anything, does not change what I expect you to be.”
There’s nothing to expect, Hanzo thought bitterly as they exchanged blows. He was a monster, and nothing in the world would ever change that.
“You will be by your brother’s side and aid him. You will be his most precious ally and protect him. Nothing has changed. You will rule, side by side with Genji.”
“Maybe he will need someone to protect him from me.” Hanzo growled back. “It was made clear enough that I am not to be trusted—“
“Nonsense.” Father interrupted him. “You are so much more than you can see, Hanzo.”
“That I am alright.” Hanzo chuckled, mirthless. “There’s so much more inside me. Maybe one day I will wake up and rip Genji’s throat open with my own hands—“
“Maybe one day I will turn against you, like a wild animal.” Hanzo continued, still exchanging blows with father as their sparring got increasingly more intense. “Maybe one day I will just get tired of being looked at and I’ll rip everyone intestines out with my teeth, maybe—“
Suddenly he was in the air. When he hit the ground with his back the air was knocked out of him. He looked at the sky, calm and blue, not a cloud in sight.
“First knock down. Get up.” Father said, angry. “Stop with this nonsense and get a grip on yourself, Hanzo, You are acting like a child.”
Hanzo slowly got up, the anger that had been storming inside him slowly calming. Somehow, it was worse, as something else started to pool in his stomach, something even stronger than anger. A single-minded, perfectly focused rage that left him feeling as if his senses had suddenly grown three times stronger. Without speaking another word he turned, resuming the sparing session.
“You think this is the end? Nothing has changed. All the things you’ve learnt will still serve you. Your future might be different, so what? It’s nothing but a mere change of plans.” Father scolded him, easily slamming him down in the dust a second time. “Second knock down. Get up, Hanzo, you are not even trying.”
It took everything Hanzo had to not bare his fangs at father. He got up, again, went for the legs.
“You need a focus.” Father said, easily dodging. “You are getting too lost in your head. It’s time to stop and concentrare and what you can do, instead of what you might do. Show me— no, show the entire clan that you are much more than they will ever hope to be.”
Father’s neck was open and unguarded, and suddenly Hanzo hesitated, dizzied by the need to lunge and bite down- It was enough for father to twist him in a chokehold.
“Hanzo.” Father sighed. “We have much work to do still, don’t we? Stop getting distracted and concentrate—“
Father fell silent when Hanzo’s fangs bit through flesh, muscles and bone effortlessly, severing three of father’s fingers off his left hand.
Hanzo was 25 and Genji 22 when father started to die.
“You are gonna be fine, Hanzo.” Father said, tired, but smiling. “You and your brother will be fine. You’ve grown to be a man I can be proud of, my son.”
Hanzo said nothing, just held his father’s hand, his face not betraying a single emotion.
That was what Hanzo had become. Always in check, always calculating, not letting anything get to him anymore.
Detached, Genji had once said to him. He could not find in himself to disagree. He could not let emotions hinder his judgment, not after all the sweat and tears he poured into learning to keep the beast at bay.
“You will be fine. Stand by your brother and you both will thrive, my dear son.”
Hanzo was 26 and Genji 23 when everything, every purpose Hanzo had, came crumbling down. The calm, collected façade Hanzo had been wearing for the past few years going with them.
Genji turned his back on him, Genji was gonna leave, Genji did not care about the fact that Hanzo was nothing without him, did not know about how much Hanzo had to sacrifice, preparing himself to become Genji’s right hand once his younger brother would step in and take their father’s role.
Genji had no idea there was a monster inside of him—
Hanzo was 32 and Genji was dead, when the omnic that stepped into his cell called him by name.
Chapter 2: Chapter One
"Alright, I'm gonna update tomorrow."
"Well, it's technically tomorrow, for me... EEEH FUCK IT"
I have written 26k words and I'm not done yet. Good lord help me.
Genji was very grateful for the mask covering his face, effectively isolating him and the air he was breathing thanks to the internal ventilation system of his half-mechanical body. The cell he stepped in looked absolutely filthy, there was not a single centimeter on the floor or walls that hadn't those unidentifiable dark stains on them. When he opened the heavy, iron reinforced door with a loud creak letting the light in, cockroaches scattered away in a second. In a humid corner there were some bones, grubs wiggling on the little bits of decaying flesh still attached to them.
Something else had moved away when he let the light in. Something much bigger than a roach. Genji stood on the door frame, casting a long shadow into cell, as the thing slowly moved forward again. There was the creaks of heavy chains being dragged on the bare concrete floor and a low, grumbling growl that was only slightly interrupted ever few seconds by the human-shaped creature dragging a ragged gulp of air in.
The creature was as filthy as the rest of the cell, long dark hair crusted and matted a disorderly mane around his head, down his shoulders. Genji could just barely see the tip of its nose and stained, long fangs being bared at him menacingly between the mass of hair and the long unkept beard covering the creature's face.
It was muscled, but thin, pale under the filth covering its naked body. An heavy iron collar and cuffs around his neck and wrists, chaining it to the wall right behind. The creature was sitting, moving on its fours as the growling grew louder. When it suddenly lunged violently forward, Genji didn't move an inch, watching as the short chain cut off the attempted aggression and the creature let out a strangled cough, being dragged back by the harsh recoil of the chain attached to its neck.
The creature shook its head slightly and turned towards Genji again, pacing back and forth on its four like a nervous, hungry tiger. Only then Genji noticed that the creature wasn't standing because both its legs had been severed some centimeters down the knees. And that the creature had what was, unmistakably, a tail.
Feeling like he had just swallowed a ton of lead, Genji took a tiny step into the cell. Then another. Slowly, he knelt in front of the creature, just outside of arms reach. His tongue felt like glue in his mouth when he whispered "Hanzo...?"
A shitty night for a shitty job, Jesse thought, forlorn, as he stood outside keeping watch. It was cold and humid, a rain so thin you could not see it but insistent enough to seep through clothes constantly pouring on his head. All he wanted to do was go back to base and just do nothing for a few days.
It had been a long month. Jesse was not new to long ops, but this one had been dragging, heavy and messy. They'd lost some good men and the chitchat around Blackwatch had got increasingly worse. The Shimada clan was getting weaker but the last groups of resistance put up a fierce fight, turning what was supposed to be a two weeks reckon mission into a field war between Blackwatch and the yakuza family that had lasted a month. They had managed to conquer the heart of the clan when they effectively chased them away from Shimada castle, but it did not felt like a victory to Jesse. The clan would reconnect, surely, and Jesse had to watch as his op partner and best friend searched feverishly every inch of the castle, only to come back, silent and looking like he had walked through ten years worth of nightmares.
Genji didn’t spoke for a day, and Jesse did not press him. They had talked about it extensively way before the mission even started.
(”What makes you so sure you brother didn’t just left the clan? Why would he stay? We have absolutely no record of him, after all— ”
“I just know he wouldn’t leave.” Genji had replied, voice low and dark, as if he knew more than any of them. Hell, Jesse mused, he probably did. He loved the guy, but Genji had a way of keeping his cards so close to his chest they were nigh invisible.
“Alright, then.” Jesse gave up with a sigh. “Whatever ‘ya say, partner.”)
Genji kept being silent, until Jesse’s communicator started going off in the dead of the night, scaring him awake.
”Go get me Shimada, goddammit!” Reyes screamed into his ear, when Jesse let out a garbled sound to let him know he was listening.
“Gh—“ Jesse squinted at the watch on his wrist. “Oh for fuck— It’s four in the fucking morning, Gabriel, we’ll leave in two hours to get back to base, what the fuck do you want from me— Shimada got his own damn communicator. “ Jesse grumbled, voice thick with sleep, forgetting that he was speaking with his superior officer. Not that he ever remembered, really.
Reyes snorted like a bull into his ear, and he would normally scold him for five minutes straight for his lack of discipline, but this time he cut straight to the point. ”Shimada got his own damn communicator that he is not answering!”
Jesse let out a muffled scream, his face pushed into the thin pillow he was resting with. Then he got up, dragging his feet to the next room, were Genji was sleeping. He opened the door with a bang, hoping to startle his dipshit of a friend awake. “You owe me so many fucking beers, Genji!” He exclaimed, turning the lights on. He was greeted by the sight of an untouched bed and none of Genji’s belonging to be seen. “Huh— Gen?”
”What does ‘huh, gen’ mean?” Reyes asked, sounding like he already knew the answer.
“Why don’t you tell me.” Jesse bit back, too tired and irritated to play games. “Seems like you already know what’s going on.”
”I got a message from your partner half an hour ago. He said he was gonna check one last thing. Did not elaborate further, is not answering any call.” Reyes said, curtly, his voice not leaving to the imagination that he would probably go ahead and strangle Genji Shimada with his own hands as soon as they put a foot down at home base. He then added some colorful profanities, for good measure. Jesse scrubbed a tired hand on his face.
“I’ll go get him.” Jesse said. Not a question. He was already back in his makeshift room, gathering the necessities and holstering Peacekeeper. “I’ll let you know when we are ready for extraction.”
“You two are gonna fucking put me into a early grave, I swear to fucking God.” Reyes said, as if he wasn’t just about to order him to go get their favorite cyborg ass back before he’d dare to come back home. Jesse had just anticipated him. “The instant you find him, you are both out of there, I don’t care what he thinks he needs to check, got it?”
“Aye aye, sir.” Jess replied, mock saluting as if Gabriel could see him. Gabriel snorted and closed the communication with the telltale low beep in Jesse’s ear.
Jesse walked out in the cold air of the japanese winter, trying to decided just how many rounds of beer Genji owed him after this little stunt.
Thankfully it did not take much for Jesse to find his partner. He had left in a short enough time that he could still easily track the armored van Genji had took before leaving. He followed the trail for a couple of hours along dirt roads getting further and further into the japanese wilderness until the trail took a deep dive into the woods. Genji had pushed through the plants and small trees until he could, left the van behind when he couldn’t anymore, and kept on going on foot. Jesse thanked his own brilliant brain for deciding to take a more agile motorcycle. He would be able to hopefully close the half hour advantage Genji had on him, now that he was on foot and Jesse was not.
He had to drive through a rough patch or two, the motorcycle protesting loudly, but then the green became scarcer until he Jesse found himself into a clearing, in the middle of which there was single, dilapidated concrete construction half eaten by nature.
Genji was standing in front of it, not moving, as if waiting for him.
Jesse parked the motorcycle silently and approached his partner. His voice was light when he spoke. “Waiting for a date, sweetcheeks?”
“I could hear you coming from a country away.” Genji sighed, with that metallic quality of his voice. “Hell, the whole forest did. Why are you here, Jesse?”
“Why am I—“ Jesse spluttered, then punched Genji in his metal shoulder with more force than necessary. Not that he would feel it, anyway. “I got woken up by Reyes throwing me a new one directly into my ear because you decided to take a night stroll, you dipshit!”
At least Genji had the decency of looking guilty, his shoulder slumping forward. “I— Should’ve imagined he would call you. I wasn’t thinking straight. I’m sorry.”
Jesse had half a mind to just yell at him, but then he sighed. He knew Genji was not in his right mind, after everything that had happened— He probably should’ve kept a closer eye on him, anyway. Jesse was as much responsible for this as Genji was.
“Why are you here, Genji?” He asked instead, softly. They both turned to look at the unassuming piece of concrete that was slowly turning green. A few years more, and no one would realize that there was a human touch in the clearing anymore.
“I… Have concerns.” Genji replied.
“Concerns.” Jesse repeated, tilting his eyebrows. “And the van?”
“As I said, I have concerns.” Genji said with another sigh. “We might need it.”
“Need… It.” Jesse dragged both his hands on his face, feeling bone-deep tired. “Gabriel ordered me to get both our asses straight back to base as soon as I found you, you know.”
“Jesse, please.” Genji said, suddenly ten times more passionate, grabbing Jesse’s shirt. He had his mask on, but Jesse was ready to bet under it Genji must have an anguished expression. “I need to find him—“
“I’m worried.” Genji blurted. “I worry about what might’ve happened to him. I worry every day. I— I know you must not understand, but there’s things— It’s different, now, after all these years, and I see things that back then I couldn’t— And I know he didn’t had chances, not like me— It’s been so long, and I don’t know what happened to him, I need to find him.”
Jesse did not need to ask who he was talking about. “Why would he be here, Gen? Why would he hide like this, as his family is methodically being dismantled?” He asked, tiredly. “Look, dude, I get it. I don’t pretend to understand, but I get it. And I want to help you out, ok? But you need to throw me a bone, here, Gen. Help me help you.” Jesse underlined his words by pointing at the both of them.
“I… I will tell you everything.” He whispered after long, tense seconds. “But please, just let me check this place, and if I can’t find anything, we’ll leave. You can stand guard outside, I’ll check real fast, if there’s trouble we can book it. I won’t protest. Just… Let me do this.” Genji’s voice was faint, strangled, as if he was on the verge of tears. “Please.”
Jesse looked at him, wishing he could look at his friends in the eyes instead of his inscrutable mask.
“Well, we have lost our flight anyway.” Jesse said, slowly. “Might as well take our time.”
He did not anticipate the reaction, as Genji jumped on him, arms around Jesse’s neck. He stumbled some steps backwards, instinctively putting his arms around Genji’s waist.
“Communicator back on. If there’s trouble inside you call me immediately. Also, report in every ten minutes. That or I’ll drag your ass back home, Gen” Jesse muttered, embarrassed.
“It’s a deal.” Genji sounded breathless, getting his feet back down on the grass. Jesse watched him walk into the concrete construction— probably an old bunker by the look of it, with a grip on his stomach.
Then he stood outside, under the light rain, for what felt like hours, his only company Genji’s voice in the communicator just saying “Copy” every now and then as they concurred. The sound was low and disturbed, but still understandable at least.
Jesse was musing about the power of their communicators, being capable of working even under a shitton of concrete trying to block the signal, when he realized Genji hadn’t reported in in a bit too long. That was until he heard the soft ”Hanzo…?” in his ear.
Jesse’s heart skipped a beat. If there was one thing he knew about Genji’s mysterious brother, that was his name. He had expected some things from this little side mission of theirs, and one of those was to see Genji walk out the bunker with a disappointed slump to his shoulders. To get some bullets shot at in their way, at worst.
Genji actually calling his brother’s name out wasn’t even an option he contemplated.
“Genji.” He called out, dead serious. Silence greeted him. “Genji, report in, now.”
“I-“ Even despite the scratchy quality of the audio, Jesse could hear the distress in Genji’s voice. “I— I’m not in danger. But I might need some help.”
Oh God, oh boy. The night surely was taking an interesting turn. “Shit— Gen, where are you?”
Curtly, Genji gave directions. Left, right, left, two rights, down the stairs— Jesse followed, dutifully, a flashlight in a hand, Peacekeeper fully loaded in the other. The place looked as empty as it gets, but he wasn’t gonna get any chances.
As he got closer, he started to feel stronger and stronger a foul stench. Jesse had smelled corpses in the past, and it would never get better, but this felt like a mix of rotting corpses and human misery. He had to cover the bottom half of his face with his serape, and it only helped marginally. By the time he finally reached the corridor that had the lights on, where Genji was standing, his eyes were watering.
Genji was hugging himself, the gesture making him look ten years younger than he was. He was standing in front of an open cell, and the stench was nigh unbearable by the time Jesse reached him.
“How are you not fucking puking all over the place—“ Jesse managed to ask, between fighting the gagging coming up his own throat. That seemed to shake Genji out of his stupor, as he looked up at Jesse and then knocked on his metal mask with two fingers.
“You lucky son of a gun.” Jesse grumbled, walking past him to look at the cell, knowing he won’t like what he’d find inside. “This better be a fucking good lead on your brother’s position, Gen, or I’ll swear to God I’m gonna kick your—“
It happened very fast, Jesse entering the cell and taking some steps in, squinting to try and see in between the room being pitch black with just a sliver of light coming from outside and his wet eyes, when he heard a loud roar much like a tiger’s and the clang of chains, and suddenly he was being dragged back forcefully by Genji with a ripping sound.
They tumbled back in the corridor together as Jesse lost his balance, the smell hitting his nose at full force. In the tangle of limbs between his and Genji’s he desperately searched for his serape to cover his face again, only to find just a thin strip of red cloth around his neck. He looked into the cell, just in time to see the rest of his serape being dragged into the dark and two yellow eyes glinting for a second. The roar subsided to a low, menacing growl.
He gaped as his eyes slowly adjusted, unable to stop looking while Genji rose to his feet. There was… Something in the cell. He made out human like features, except whatever it was had a long, reptilian tail partially covered in fur that might have not looked absolutely disgusting a long time ago. It was also happily ripping his serape with bare teeth, biting down and ripping out more and more strips, letting out aggressive growls.
“What is that—“ Jesse asked, breathless in every sense.
Genji didn’t immediately answer, perfectly still and tense at his side. Then he said, voice low. “That’s my brother.”
The silence dragged for what had to be the longest, heaviest seconds Jesse has ever lived before he was able to speak, flabbergasted. “excuse me?!”
“That’s—“ Genji choked on his word, his fist creaking as he tightened it. “That’s my brother.”
“You are not asking me what you are asking me.”
Jesse’s nose was forever burned, at that point. They’ve been there for what must’ve been hours. He didn’t smell anything anymore.
“We can’t bring him to base.” Genji murmured, his voice tiny. “What do you think they’d do to him?”
“We can’t bring him anywhere, period!” Jesse protested. “How are we supposed to free him from reinforced chains, just the two of us, if he tries to bite our throats out as soon as we even slightly look his way?! We need to call backup to get him out of here, Gen!”
Not that they hadn’t tried plenty already. They tried to approach Hanzo Shimada carefully, looking as small and non threatening as possible, they had tried to speak to him gently, they tried to lure him with water (it nearly worked, he got a little bit closer, sniffing tentatively, but then roared at them and retreated in his corner of the cage, were he panted and lapped at the water trickling down the wall. It had to be the most unhealthy thing one could drink, but then again Jesse wondered how long the man had been left alone in this cell, with no food or water, to rot in his own waste, jesus fucking christ—)
Nothing seemed to work. Hanzo was completely feral, apparently unable to understand their words, even when Genji tried to speak japanese to him. He roared and trashed around and tried to attack them viciously at every occasion. He’d lunge forward with his fangs bared, insanely fast for someone so thin and with no fucking legs— He managed to bite down Genji’s arm, that made and ominous creaking sound as some cracks appeared on the metal, and Jesse wondered just how strong Hanzo’s jaw was, for the reinforced alloy covering Genji’s body to give in so easily.
He would try over and over to attack, even when the chain around his neck constricted him, making him cough and splutter and pant. Enough time had passed with their fruitless attempt at trying to get through him that Hanzo was starting to look tired, stopping to pace back and forth. He’d sit in his corner, wary yellow eyes constantly fixed on them. He wasn’t even blinking. He was still constantly growling at them, low and menacing.
“Say we somehow manage to get him off the chains -and let me just point out that it seems insane to even do that- without him ripping our hearts out, how are we supposed to get him over international waters? Hell, how are we even supposed to even get him into the— van.” Jesse frowned, interrupting himself. “The van. You wanted to be able to move him. Did you know?”
Genji was staring at his brother, silent.
“Genji. Did you know?”
“I had suspicions.” Genji whispered, not turning towards Jesse. “I’ve seen some signs, heard some phrases- as we took down the clan. They would make no sense to any of you, but for me— I suspected he could be… Not completely himself. I had no idea it would be this bad.”
Jesse turned the words around in his brain for a whole minute, before his frown deepened. “Just wait a second there. You suspected your brother could have been turned into a… lizard hybrid thingy of sort? How in the—“
“He’s a dragon.” Genji interrupted him, sounding amazingly enough like a parent scolding his children for being disrespectful. “And he hadn’t being turned. Hanzo was born this way.”
If Jesse thought that the one they had an hour prior was the heaviest silence he could ever live through, he had been swiftly proven wrong. This was.
“Genji, you know I love you, but what in the actual everloving fuck are you trying to tell me here—”
“Hanzo was born like this.” Genji repeated. “He had always been like this ever since I have memories. But back then he was… Human. He was smart, and kind, and strong. I don’t know why it happened to him, to be this. Father used to say that the blood of the dragon runs stronger in Hanzo’s veins.”
“You know that none of us ever took you literally when you said that your family has dragon blood in it, right?” Jesse joked weakly. Genji replied with a dark chuckle.
“I know. Nobody ever does. But this is my brother.” Genji stood, taking a step to linger near the door frame, a gentle hand on it, as if he wanted to put the very same gentle touch on his brother. Hanzo’s growling grew in volume. “He… This is what he is, but this is not all he is. I— I need to help him, find his humanity back. To leave him like this, neglected and abused— It is not right.”
“It’s not that I don’t agree, Genji.” Jesse said in a tired, low voice. “Of course I don’t want to leave him here like this. Shit, nobody deserve something like this. But how are we supposed to free him and get him anywhere— Just the two of us, without anyone back at base knowing? He is too aggressive and unpredictable, best case scenario he manages to run away from us, worst case we end up rotting in the corner with that poor bastard over there.” Jesse added, standing near Genji, pointing with a small nod to the corner where something was rotting.
“He can’t really run anywhere now, can he?” Genji whispered bitterly. Then let out a deep sigh. “Look, I know it’s insane, but— I could knock him unconscious, you can shoot the chains off. I know Peacekeeper can pierce metal.”
“Ain’t seems like it really matters to him, considering he jumps on us like a cricket on steroids altright.” Jesse made a motion as if dragging an invisible cigar away from his mouth. He was really itching for a smoke. “Ok, you knock him unconscious, I shoot the chains off. Then what? We have to drag him all the way down to the van and hope he doesn’t wake up, find a way to move him somewhere safe. Even if we manage to do that, then what? What do you think we should do to snap him out of this feral thing he got going? Is that even possible? We don’t know for how long he has been kept like this, for all we know he could’ve been captive for years, abused and neglected as you said. Maybe he simply lost it, maybe there’s nothing to salvage left. And we need to feed him and keep him clean and healthy. How are we supposed to do that when he’s this dangerous? And without any of our friends knowing, on top of that?“
Jesse had been rambling more for his own sake, trying to lay out the problems they will have to face, with all the intentions to try find a solution— not noticing as Genji winced, shrinking on himself at every each word. He was looking away from Hanzo now, staring at a corner of the cell, a nervous hand running up and down his own arm.
“Shit— Genji, I’m sorry—“ Jesse immediately added when he finally noticed his friend’s discomfort. He’d been talking about his brother being tortured and possibly being unable to heal with a levity that was borderline cruel. “Sorry, I didn’t want to imply that there’s nothing we can do, o-or that your brother cannot be helped, I just—“
“No, you are right.” Genji interrupted him with a tiny, rough voice. “You make good points. There’s— a lot to take in consideration. I just— I worry about what might happen if we let people know. He’d end up prisoner in some laboratory being poked and prodded at like a guinea pig if we’re lucky. Or maybe he will be considered too dangerous and he’ll be killed if we’re not lucky.” The silence was thick and heavy on their shoulder. Softly, Genji added. “What am I supposed to do, Jesse?”
Jesse had no answer to that, so he did not answer.
“We always kept him a secret, you know?” Genji kept going, with a tiny, soft tone. Jesse could barely heard him over Hanzo growling at them from his corner. “Me and father— We would always fret when we were away from him. Would Hanzo be ok without us? He always was in the end, when we’d come home. He was perfectly capable of taking care of himself, but he did not like the loneliness. It’d make him irritated and snappy. But he couldn’t come with us, he couldn’t leave the castle, if he was to be discovered what would’ve happened to him? So we had to keep him a secret, for his own safety.”
They did not speak for a good, long couple of minutes. Genji continued. “But in the final years, we grew complacent. He was strong and independent, he was much more suited to guide the family than I was. We stopped worrying about him— Or maybe I was the only one that did. Father always groomed him up to his very final days. To me it looked like Hanzo would be fine, he was capable of defending himself, to guide the clan. So I decided to leave. It wasn’t the life I wanted for me. He did not take that very well. At first I thought he was just angry for what he perceived as a betrayal when he attacked me. I never realized there could be so much more going on behind his calm demeanor.”
“Hindsight is twenty-twenty, as they say, isn’t it? In retrospect, it makes so much sense. Some of the things that had happened— Some of the things Hanzo and our father had kept from me, thinking I wouldn’t discover them— To me Hanzo always looked like the dependable, strong-willed big brother I could always count on, I never really think that other people in the clan could perceive him as something else. And yet, all those years, Hanzo had been fighting with a demon, and I never realized. He was… Like this when he attacked me. A mindless beast, not the brother I knew and loved. In the end, I am responsible for what has happened. I was blind to his suffering, I pushed him over the edge. If I had been more perceptive I could’ve helped him. We wouldn’t be here, now— “
“Hey, now.” Jesse interrupted, feeling his throat tight at the pain evident in Genji’s voice. He put a tentative hand on Genji’s back. He did not retreat from the touch. “Gen, you cannot blame yourself for that. Look, shitty things happens, and looking back at them wondering what you should’ve done ain’t gonna do you any good. Hanzo clearly did not want you to know of his troubles, so you didn’t. What were supposed to do other than look out for yourself back then? Brooding over it won’t change anything and won’t help where we are now.”
Genji stayed silent, and Jesse noticed that the growling had stopped. Hanzo was still looking at them with a snarl, but he looked spent, breathing heavily. Like he had no energy left anymore. Hopefully that meant he was going to stay out for a while once Genji would finally knock him unconscious.
“I know it would be the wisest course of action, to call in reinforcements— but I cannot trust anyone with this, Jesse. Only you.”
Jesse blinked, surprised. “What?”
“I promised, remember? I would’ve told you the truth if I hadn’t found Hanzo here, tonight.” Genji turned toward him, looking up at his face, voice fond. “I know I have friends that would lend a hand back at base but— They won’t understand. I can only trust you, Jesse, because you get it.”
And it was true, somehow. Amazingly, passed the initial shock, Jesse wasn’t really surprised to discover that the brother of his cyborg ninja best friend was an half dragon hybrid killing machine. And he understood why Genji wanted to help said half dragon hybrid killing machine.
“Aw, hell, shoot.” Jesse grumbled, covering his face slightly with his hat. “Always get straight to the heart, why won’t you, you lil’ shit. You know I can’t deny you anything when you get all sappy on me, Shimada.”
Genji’s laugh was slightly watery. He pushed his face against Jesse’s chest, heaving a deep sigh. “Thank you.” He whispered.
“Yer welcome, pal. Now, it’s about nigh time we start moving this shitshow, before Reyes sends an entire fucking platoon after our sorry asses.”
Chapter 3: Chapter Two
The fic is done! I'll have to do a bit of proof read and adjustments, but it's all down, black on white! I'll probably post a chapter every 2 days or so, we'll see
(also added some tags for future chapters!)
Hanzo went down like a brick, not without putting up a short, but fierce, fight. Thankfully Genji knew what he was doing, managing to put his brother to sleep without hurting him further. Jesse had to empty Peacekeeper, but he managed to shoot the chains off where the heavy links met the wall.
(”We should keep part of the chain on, for now, I think. Will be useful to keep him nice and still while we move into a safer location.” Jesse had suggested, Genji did not protest.)
It was even colder outside, now, as they got closer to sunrise. Jesse’s breath would condense in front of his face, and he immediately mourned his beautiful, heavy, warm serape, now reduced to pieces all the way down into the shitty cell they’d found the older Shimada in.
“Me and your bro are really starting on the wrong foot, here. Destroying my serape like that, that was just plain rude.” Jesse grumbled as they made their way down in the forest where Genji had left the van. He ignored the motorcycle, deciding it would be too much pain to also get that on the van with them. It’s not like they didn’t had a thousand of those back at base, anyway.
Reyes would probably have his hide for mismanaging Blackwatch’s property like that, but then again he will probably have both their hides way before that, when he’d discover what they were doing. It wasn’t even a matter of if, as much as when he’d discover it. Ah, well. He’d jump that fire-y loop when the time would come.
Genji, transporting his brother on his back, laughed weakly. “I’ll make sure to buy you a new one when I can.”
“Nah man, I’ll pass.” Jesse replied, his voice light. “You have absolutely terrible taste, last one you got me was a unsightly thing— lime green, honestly.”
“It’s a beautiful, vibrant color, you- you bear.” Genji replied, huffing. Jesse chuckled at that. Dear old Genji and his inability to insult anyone properly.
It all felt nearly light and normal, until Jesse got a good long look at the unconscious form on Genji’s back. Under the pale light of the sun rising, he could really see how thin Hanzo was. He could count his ribs, the bones of his spinal column sticking out against the skin. Who knows in how long he hadn’t been fed properly. He was absolutely filthy, and Jesse wondered how the hell were they supposed to clean him off. Clearly, they couldn’t leave him like that, but he could hardly imagined Hanzo standing nice and still in a bath. Also, he was stark naked, and it was really fucking cold. He hurried his steps, silently urging Genji to follow, keeping him steady when needed. They really didn’t need to deal with hypothermia setting in, on top of the entire mountain of problems ahead of them.
Once they made it back to the van, Genji was breathing like a tired horse. Even if underweight like that, Hanzo was still a pretty massive man, shoulders wider than Genji’s, not to mention the heavy reinforced chains still attached to his neck and wrists. Jesse took the keys and hurried to go open the backdoor. He helped Genji haul Hanzo’s unconscious form in, and then they both hurried to get him secured and chained properly. He could tell Genji didn’t like it, but he didn’t protest, understanding the necessity.
In so far Hanzo hadn’t even stirred, still out like a light. Thank god for small mercies.
Once they’d made sure Hanzo was strapped in tight they climbed at the front of the van, Jesse in the driver’s seat. They sat there for some minutes, just catching their breath and contemplating the magnitude of what they were doing in silence.
“Ok, step one: find a convincing reason for Reyes as of why we cannot be extracted via plane.” Jesse said, tiredly scrubbing his burning eyes. “Next: Where the fuck do we go, now.”
Genji did not answer for so long Jesse was starting to think he might have fallen asleep, but then he spoke, his voice suggesting he could fall asleep on Jesse at any second.
“I— might have a favor or two to call in, for what concerns where do we go next. As for Captain Reyes, you deal with that. You are his favorite, anyway.”
Jesse hissed between clenched teeth, starting up the engine. “Well, fuck me sideways, then. If I am the favorite, I don’t wanna know what he does to the ones he dislikes.”
Genji chuckled, resting his head against Jesse’s shoulder. “Do you need me awake?” He asked, already halfway through sleep.
“That’s what GPSs are for, hun’. Just tell me where we heading at and get some rest.”
“Sorry, we can’t? That’s your amazing excuse to Reyes as of why we can’t hop on a plane back to base?!”
“Not all of us had the privilege to get a nice power nap, my friend. Some of us had to drive for five hours on a sleepless night. Kinda makes it hard to think.” Jesse snapped back as they finally stopped at the outskirts of the tiny village Genji had guided them to. Genji crossed his arms on his chest, looking slightly hurt.
“You could’ve just woken me and slept a little bit, you know. I know how to drive.” He muttered.
Jesse sighed. “Look, Gen, it’s fine, you needed the rest and I was ok with driving.” He said, slowly hopping down the van. His entire body ached. “To be honest, huh— “ He scratched his head, apologetic. “I might also have told Reyes that you were kinda out of it and needed some time off work. I basically called in all our vacation days we have accumulated in these years— a lot of them, apparently.”
Genji’s arms dropped at his sides, staring at him with his usually inscrutable mask. “Well, it was not a total lie, now, was it.” Genji said, a little cold. Then he sighed. “Sorry. I don’t want to be unfair. It’s a good excuse— Calling in the vacation days will really come in handy, good thinking.”
“If it’s of any consolation I also added that I was pretty much going fucking insane, too. Which is about as true as it gets, right now. So there’s that.” Jesse shrugged, walking around the van side by side with Genji. He got a jokingly elbow in his side for his effort, and took a small sigh of relief.
They both stopped in front of the closed doors of the van, hesitating. No sound was coming from inside, but that did not mean much.
“So, you ready?” He asked, turning to stare at Genji. He was trying to appear relaxed, failing miserably.
“As much as you are.” Genji replied, weakly. “Alright, here goes nothing.”
They opened one of the doors, just slightly, and peeked inside. A couple of very open, very vigilant yellow eyes turned on them. Hanzo stared, silent.
They exchanged an hopeful look, then Genji nodded and slowly climbed into the van, as Jesse stayed behind and watched.
“Hanzo?” Genji asked, his voice soft and gentle just barely above a whisper. “Hanzo, brother? can you hear me?”
Hanzo kept staring, no snarling or growling. Genji moved forward with painfully slow movements, still speaking kindly.
“Hanzo, it’s me. It’s Genji. Can you understand me? Can you answer?”
Jesse started to feel hopeful as he watched Genji crawl closer and closer without any aggressive reaction from Hanzo. Genji extended an hand in a silent invitation. Hanzo moved slightly, yellow serpentine eye shifting from Genji’s face to his hand.
Then he lunged forward, even faster than he had been in the cell, and his fangs closed with a loud snap on the air where Genji’s hand was a second before.
“WOHA, THERE!” Jesse exclaimed, launching himself forward to help Genji out the van. Thank god for ninja-reflexes, because Jesse had no doubt Genji’s hand wouldn’t be attached to his wrist anymore hadn’t he reacted so fast, judging by the sound Hanzo’s jaw made when it snapped close. “Mr. grumpy pants decided to forgo the warning signals and went straight for the kill, yes, good!” He exclaimed a little hysterical, closing the door on Hanzo’s glare. Genji was breathing shallowly, hands clutched on Jesse’s shirt. “Gen, you ok?”
“I— yes, I’m fine, just a bit startled.” Genji replied, bitterness clear in his voice. “I’m sorry, I really thought—“
“It’s ok, he needs some time, pal. We have to be patient.” Jesse sighed, patting Genji’s shoulder gently. He had also hoped, for a second, there. “Let’s leave him alone, hopefully he might decide to go to sleep. We should go meet with your contact, anyway, shouldn’t we?”
“Yes, of course.” Genji said, recomposing himself quickly. “We should meet in half an hour on dock number three, so we can plan together. We might want to go get some food in the meantime. For Hanzo, too, probably.”
The meeting on the dock went fast and easy, Jesse standing on a side as Genji spoke in a string of intense japanese with the old man that greeted them. He was about half as tall as Genji and as menacing as a newborn kitten. Yet, Jesse had the feeling he was not someone to fuck with.
Maybe it was because of the two meters tall, packed japanese guy standing behind him with his arms crossed on his muscly chest and a no-nonsense expression on his face. Probably.
“They’ll get us a boat. We’ll met a two am, same dock. It’s gonna be big enough to fit the van, and fully restocked for the trip and a couple weeks of stay.” Genji explained after they had ended the meeting with a respectful bow (Jesse lagging a bit behind, forgetful of japanese formalities) and they started walking away, back to the van, groceries bags in hands.
“Wait, where are we going, again?” Jesse asked, frowning. He felt slow for the lack of sleep, like he was unable to put the pieces together.
“Little isolated island. Has been abandoned for years, but most of the buildings are still in good condition. It’s about the last place left around these parts that isn’t under heavy satellite scrutiny. Should buy us some time.” Genji explained as the van came into view. The smell of the ocean was strong on this side of the village, the beach just a under a kilometer away. Jesse would’ve loved to go chill on the sand, and even take a bath, but he also needed to sleep. He should probably catch some, before the nighttime meeting with Genji’s contact.
“Are we ok, trusting them?” Jesse said, instead of thinking of warm beaches and warmer oceans.
“They are honorable people, and I helped them time ago. They will keep their word. No one will ever know we have even been here,” Genji reassured, as he rummaged into the bag between his arms. He fished out a packet of meat jerky. “Do you think he’s gonna eat these?”
“Those are totally delicious and packed with calories, he’s gonna love ‘em.” Jesse replied, distracted, as they stopped yet again in front of the van doors. With a sigh, Jesse put down the grocery bag and opened the door, gingerly.
Hanzo was rolled up in a corner, his back towards the door. He turned around, squinting at them through the matted mess of his hair. He looked like they had waken him up.
“Hya, buddy, what do you think of a snack?” Jesse asked lightly, taking the packet out of Genji’s hand and ripping it open, seeing as Genji was hesitating. Jesse took out one of the jerky and launched it in the van, close enough that Hanzo could pick it up. “It’s super good, cross my heart and hope to die.”
Hanzo slowly turned. Without ever taking his eyes off them, he distrustfully sniffed at the jerky. Then as fast as he had been when he tried to bite Genji earlier he snatched it off the floor with his mouth, gulping it down without even chewing.
“Well, I guess he likes them.” Jesse muttered, launching more pieces into the van. Hanzo picked them all up and gobbled them, even snatching some of the jerky directly up the air before they could even touch the floor. Poor bastard. He wondered when was last time he actually ate something.
Genji at his side had gone tense, releasing unhappiness in waves.
“What’s the matter? He’s eating, right? We gotta get more of these, God knows the guy needs some more calories on him.” Jesse asked, frowning down at him. Genji shrugged, tense.
“It’s degrading.” He then said, his voice harsh. “To eat off the floor, desperate, like a kicked mutt-“
“Well, he kinda acting like a kicked mutt, just about one hundred times more dangerous and angry.” Genji snorted, irritated, at Jesse’s response. “Ain’t liking this anymore than you, but at least he’s eating. Not much we can do until he gets back to his senses.”
“I guess it can’t be helped.” Genji gave in, still as unhappy as he sounded. He rummaged through the bag again, fishing out a pack of plastic plates and a bottle of fresh water. He took one of the plates out and poured the water into it. Slowly, he pushed it towards Hanzo, an inch at a time. Jesse helped him out by distracting Hanzo with more jerkies, even though the man kept shooting glares towards Genji’s direction, snarling.
Genji gave one final push and immediately retreated. They both watched, holding their breaths, as Hanzo sniffed the plate, and sighed in equal relief when he started drinking desperately.
“It’s not the best, but at least we know he’ll eat and drink even if it’s us giving him stuff.” Jesse sighed, relieved. “ I was really afraid he wouldn’t trust us enough to accept the food.” Would be no good, all this pain, only to watch him starve to death.
“I don’t think he really has a concept of ‘trust’, right now.” Genji murmured, his irritation turned to grief. “Food is food and water is water, he will instinctively feed himself given the chance. I guess he just wants us to stay away, for now.”
“Can’t blame him, who the fuck knows what they’ve been doing to him in that cell.” Jesse sighed, scrubbing at his tired eyes. He shouldn’t say things like this, no need to put more grief on Genji’s shoulders. “Sorry. I really need to sleep.”
“Go rest a bit, Jesse. There’s plenty of time before we’ll have to move the van again.” Genji did not look away from Hanzo. “I’ll keep watch out here, wake you up when it’s time, don’t worry.”
If he had to be honest with himself he didn’t fancy too much the idea of leaving Genji alone with his feral brother and his cutting thoughts. It was clear enough that Genji had been straining himself, trying to keep calm and composed in this dire situation, but it was only natural that he was anguished by many different emotions storming inside him.
Yet, Jesse would’ve been more than useless in an emergency situation, unless he rested for a bit. He gave up to the idea that he had to leave the two brothers to each other. “Alright, then. I’ll see you in a bit, wake me up if needed.” Jesse wobbled to the front of the van, unsteady, climbed and stretched on the passenger seat. He put his hat over his face, and immediately fell asleep like a rock.
He woke up to a sickly sensation of floating through waves and the sound of retching.
Jesse jumped into the seat, heart beating in his throat painfully, and looked around frantically. He was still in the van, it was dark outside, but he could see the slice of moon being reflected on the water in the distance. His horizon was wavering, as if he was on a boat— Which he was, he realized.
He must’ve slept right through the embarking.
His neck was screaming bloody murder at him, but at least he felt rested. He climbed down, looking around. They were on a fishing vessel, the van securely strapped on the dock. He took a walk around it, noticing that the back door was slightly ajar, probably to let some fresh air in, until he found who he was searching for.
Genji was sitting with his back against the iron railing, mask finally off, slowly sipping from a bottle of water with a trembling hand. He looked absolutely terrible, pale. the dark smudges under his eyes and the scars on his face a dark contrast against the sickly white complexion. His hair was sticking in every direction and on his sweaty forehead.
“Howdy, partner.” Jesse called out, gently, as of not startling him. “Not too fond of boats, I take in? Ain’t too much either.”
“It’s not that—“ Genji replied, voice rough. “I have been reading the documents that were gathered in the castle off the server.” He added, showing the small, Overwatch branded tablet in his free hand. His voice had a dark tinge, a tone that Jesse had heard his friend using only an handful of times ever since they’d met. It was never a good sign.
Reyes would know Genji had been reading those as every access to the Blackwatch server was monitored, but then again it worked with the story he had fed him about Genji being too obsessed with his family matters to be able to work properly for the time being. He had marveled at how quickly Reyes had bought into that, his voice sounding dangerously paternalistic and worried when he had given them permission to get some time off and had ordered Jesse to keep a close eye on the kid. Only now Jesse was realizing that it worked so well because it had been pretty much the truth.
“And?” He asked, not really wanting to ask, as he took a seat at Genji’s left side, their arms brushing.
“And now I know what my brother was used for.” Genji spat the word, disgusted. He did not continue for a good, long half minute, taking an angry swig from the bottle. “No one had the guts to kill him, as he was still the firstborn and technical heir to the clan, but no one had an idea what to do with him either. So they sew his legs off to make sure he won’t be able to run away, stuck him in a cell and—“
Genji hesitated, his face scrunching up in a pained expression. Jesse had been wishing for the most part of their past day that he had been able to see Genji’s face, but now he was rethinking his wishes. The pain, clear on his expression, was heartbreaking.
“Whenever there was someone that they needed to make disappear— They’d— They’d starve Hanzo for days. A-and then throw whoever they wanted gone into the cell with him—“
Jesse felt like a ton of bricks had been poured on his head, his mouth hanging open at the terrible implications. Genji covered his mouth with his hand, stifling a sob as single tear rolled down his cheek.
“Shit— That’s—“ Jesse gaped, unable to form coherent words. “That’s… That’s fucked up —“ He managed to let out, understatement of the year. Genji sobbed again, and Jesse threw a hand around his shoulders as Genji pushed his face against Jesse’s side, shivering.
Jesse was no shrinking violet. He had seen and done things he was no proud of, both back in his Deadlock days and now in Blackwatch — but was he damned if that wasn’t one of the most fucked up things he had ever heard. Stuck alone in a cell, abandoned and forcefully fed other people— Was it any wonder the older Shimada brother was the way he was now?
He enveloped Genji in a gentle hug, running an hand through his sweaty hair, an eye on the slightly open door of the van and the darkness inside. It looked about ten time more ominous, now.
“Why have I not searched for him sooner, Jesse?” Genji sobbed, voice tiny and muffled against his chest. “Why did I let my rage dictate my actions? I-I could’ve prevented any of this—“
“ ’S not your fault, partner.” Jesse replied, voice low. “ ’S not your fault.”
They arrived at the small island deep into the afternoon, none of them had felt like talking after their discovery, so they disembarked silently. The crisp winter air was gentler, somehow, as they secured the fishing vessel into the port. Jesse was really thankful for the fact that Genji seemed to have at least a modicum experience in handling boats. That kind of maneuvering still required a human touch, even with the precise, calibrated auto piloting system. They carefully drove the van off the boat on the dilapidated but still usable road and gathered their stocks on the dock. There was plenty of food and water, on top of fresh clothes, linens and toiletries. All the necessities they’d need for their stay on the deserted island. They stared, both thinking the same thing, both of them not wanting to express it.
“We are gonna need the van to move this stuff.” Genji ultimately sighed, voicing their thoughts.
“Guess we need to get him off of it, then. Won’t really do us any good if he starts to rip everything to shreds.” Jesse added, turning around to face the van. “Alright, you are the expert, here, where are we going?”
Genji turned and walked toward the van, climbing on the driver seat and starting the engine. Jesse followed suit, looking out the window at the village, slowly being reclaimed by nature, as Genji drove silently by. The island was literally abandoned, the only sign of life the occasional bird flying away, startled by their vehicle.
“I was used to go on this island with my friends, during the summers, when I was younger.” Genji suddenly blurted, his voice soft. “It was abandoned already, so we made a game of it. A courage test of sort. We’d come spend some days here, and every night we’d scatter around, trying to scare each other, the one that never screamed in fear was the winner. During the day we’d stay and mess around at my family’s place. Father bought it and made sure it was kept in good conditions just for me.” The ghost of a smile passed on Genji’s lips, before disappearing, being replace by the wary, tense tiredness on his face. “I doubt anyone had bothered to keep it clean in years, but it was a pretty solid cottage. I’m sure we can make it usable with a bit of work.”
Jesse did not comment, hoping his friend was right. After a couple of minutes of peaceful silence, Genji added in a whisper. “I always wanted to come here with Hanzo, too, but father never gave permission.”
Jesse tried to think of something, anything, he could say to console his friends, well aware that the pain ran too deep for any of his words to be really effective. The road suddenly became more bumpy at they switched from asphalt to dirt, driving up a gentle slope, and Jesse leaned forward to peek out the windshield, at the classical-looking japanese house in the distance. It was beautiful, not as much as the Shimada castle was, way smaller in size, but still elegant, surrounded by greens but fortunately enough not yet overcome by nature. Genji braked softly just right outside the stone wall surrounding the place, in front of the open hole where gates must’ve stood a long time ago.They hopped down at the same time, Genji looking around with a wistful expression.
Jesse looked at him, sadness gnawing at his stomach, before he forced himself to snap out of it and walked around the van to get to the backdoors.
“Oh, shit—“ Jesse muttered, Genji running at his side in a instant at his words. “I just realized that we actually have to get in and untie the chains to get him off. Fuck. He’s gonna be pissed.”
Genji grimaced, an hand hovering on the door handle. “I— I think we should’ve muzzled him while he was asleep.” He murmured, sounding pained at the mere idea. “I didn’t think about it at all, I’m sorry…”
“Well, neither did I, buddy, so don’t beat yourself up.” Jesse sighed. “ ‘aight, let’s face the music, partner.”
They opened both doors at the same time. Hanzo retreated away from the light with an annoyed huff, before squinting at them angrily. He growled softly.
“Was kinda hoping he’d be sleeping right now.” Jesse whispered. “No such luck, huh? What do we do now?”
They had secured the chains on the wall all the way down in the van, to make sure they would be able to open the doors without being jumped on. But the space was cramped and Jesse had tied the chains really tight to prevent the older Shimada from freeing himself. It would get some time to get them off, and Hanzo wasn’t looking any happier by the seconds.
“I… I’ll immobilize him, you get the chains off?” Genji proposed, sounding unsure, shifting his weight from foot to foot.
“I don’t like the idea of letting you close to those fangs, Gen—“
“I like the idea of letting you close to those fangs even less.” Genji interrupted him, huffy. “I have less fleshy bits to bite off, if something goes awry.”
Jesse snapped his mouth shut. “You make a good point.” He then said, breathless. “Let’s… Let’s keep your fleshy bits where they are, shall we? I like your fleshy bits.”
Genji chuckled, humorless. “Alright, let’s go. I want to retrieve our stuff from the boat before twilight.”
They climbed in the van, Hanzo immediately letting out a warning growl. He was cornered, and if Jesse knew something about wild animals (or other things acting as such) was that a cornered one was a dangerous one. Or even more dangerous, in this case.
“It’s ok, we don’t want to hurt you.” Genji said, softly, a gentle hand in front of him. “It’s ok, Hanzo. It’s ok.”
Hanzo was pressing his back against the metal wall of the van, yellow eyes shooting feverishly back and forth between the both of them, growls growing in volume. His fangs glinted dangerously in the light pouring in from outside. He roared and snapped forward in an half-aborted attack, immediately retreating when they moved another step. He was still aggressive, but seemed more on the defensive. He probably did not like having two enemies approach at the same time.
“Alright— Alright.” Genji sounded breathless. “On the count of three. Are you ready?”
No, he was not. Jesse nodded wordlessly.
“One… Two…” Genji took a deep breath, suddenly yelling “THREE!”
Hanzo jumped back, startled, and Genji was on him in an instant, closing on him in a choke hold. Jesse did not stop to look, hearing the angry roars and Genji’s metal body banging against the floor and walls as he struggled to pin his brother down, hurrying at the chains to hook them off.
It felt like it took forever, but when he finally exclaimed “Chains are off!” the roaring has subsided to a low wheezing. Hanzo wasn’t fighting anymore, his eyes unfocused, struggling for breath with Genji’s arm perfectly still on his neck. Jesse didn’t waste anymore seconds, helping his friend to get Hanzo out the van and into the garden. “Where are we getting him?!” Jesse asked frantically, looking over his shoulder as he was walking backwards, holding half of Hanzo’s weight by what was left of his legs.
“There’s a tool deposit in the back—“ Genji replied, short of breath. “Solid walls, good tool rack, should be enough to keep him still for the time being— take a left— No, your left— “
Huffing and puffing they dragged Hanzo into the room in question as the man weakly attempted to free himself, wheezing and coughing against Genji’s arm. He padded on it, clumsy finger searching and smearing fresh blood on the metal alloy. A nail must’ve come off as they fought in the van.
The room was dusty and full of cobwebs, but fresh air had already started to pour in the instant Jesse had kicked to door open. Genji ungracefully tumbled on the floor, still tightly holding his brother, when Jesse had to let go of Hanzo’s legs to go secure the chains on the rack Genji’s had been talking about. Jesse took shovels and gardening tools off it hastily, launching them away with a loud clang of metal, and started to tie the chain around the metal bars. It was a solid rack, iron only slightly rusted by time, perfectly bolted to the stone wall.
Once he was done, Genji finally could let go of Hanzo, who coughed roughly and crawled away from them, launching one last hateful look over his shoulder, before showing them his back. Hanzo’s tail rolled around him as he covered his ears with bloody hands, shivering, slightly hunched in his shoulders.
Jesse was hit by that like a punch in the guts. In so far Hanzo had been acting like an animal, moving on all fours, body language tense and aggressive, and yet that gesture of fear was so unmistakably human, almost childish, that it broke Jesse’s heart.
Genji hiccuped at his side, voice broken. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m s-so, so sorry.”
Genji woke up, feeling slow and heavy, Jesse snoring loudly at his side. A soft light was coming from outside, it must’ve been still pretty early in the morning.
Slowly, he sat on the ratty futon they had dragged in front of the tool deposit door the night prior, once they had finally took all the stocks they needed into the house and abandoned them in the living room, too tired to start arranging everything properly. Genji had tried to stay awake longer, listening for Hanzo’s quiet breathing behind the door dividing them, but he had been too tired and soon followed Jesse into deep sleep.
He silently rose to his feet, making sure to don’t wake Jesse up. He was gonna let him rest as long as he possibly could, it was the least he owed him, after all the shit Genji had put him through.
He had to check if the boiler was still working. He was in dire need of a shower, and he was sure Jesse would also appreciate being able to wash with warm water. But first…
Silently, he slid the deposit door open and peeked inside, holding his breath. Hanzo seemed to be sleeping, he had crawled on the blankets they had left him before arranging their own accommodation for the night. Genji let out a soft, relieved sigh. It was really cold, he had feared Hanzo might end up sleeping buck naked on the floor. Thankfully, he was mostly covered.
Genji looked him over, critically. The sound of his breathing had a rattling quality he didn’t like one bit and he was way too pale under the filth stuck on his skin.
About that, next priority was to clean him off. They couldn’t keep him like that, it was absolutely unhealthy. Hanzo’s hair was too long, too much of a mess. They’d probably have to cut most of it off before attempting with a shampoo.
Genji wondered how in the world would he even be able to attempt with a shampoo.
Somehow, he’ll have to make it work. He sighed again, closing the door behind him and venturing deeper into the house, retracing familiar steps toward the small boiler room. He opened the door, coughing when he inevitably raised a cloud of dust, and padded in the pitch black until he found the light switch.
Like a miracle, the lightbulb wheezed and turned on.
Genji thanked every God above. Having working electricity would be invaluable. He looked the boiler over, blew on the buttons to get off some of the dust, switched the green one up. The boiler stayed silent until it was hit with a couple of solid smacks, then spluttered back to life, filling the room with a low hum. Genji sent another mental pray to their late father, bless his soul and perfectionism in always making sure to have the absolute best the market had to offer.
He entered the master bathroom, then. Obviously the room was dusty as well, smelled stale, a couple of moths fluttered away when he opened the windows to let the fresh air in. Some dead bugs on the bottom of the giant bathtub. Aside from that, it was more or less in pristine condition. Genji opened the faucet in the bathtub, watched as brown-ish liquid was spluttered out, soon enough followed by clean, pristine water. Condensation started to rise soon enough, sign that the hot water was working properly. Genji smiled to himself, relieved, and then got to work.
Bathroom, and kitchen too, he wanted to have those cleaned properly and usable by the end of the day.
Jesse found him kneeling in the tub, scrubbing at the pale azure tiles. He blinked, confused, a case of bed hair that wasn’t as bad as much as a complete disaster. “The heck are you doing?” Jesse asked, voice still thick with sleep.
“Guess what.” Genji grinned back at him, instead of answering. “Hot water.”
He tapped the faucet, watching happily as Jesse’s eyes glinted when he noticed the condensation rising up.
“I could kiss you right here and now.” He said with a small moan. “Get out of there, cinderella, it’s shower time.”
Genji laughed. “You should thank me, evil stepmother, if I hadn’t worked my ass off now you would have to shower in a bug cemetery.” He said, launching the dirty sponge he’d been using to clean to Jesse. “Kitchen’s all yours.”
“Aw man, we’ve been married for a night and you are already talking ‘bout chores.” Jesse grinned at himself, satisfied of hearing Genji laugh again. “Alright, kitchen’s mine, but now seriously, lemme get in there, I feel like I hadn’t showered in about one thousand years.”
Genji climbed out the tub, nudging him on his way out. “I’ll bring you some fresh towel, don’t take too much.”
He left Jesse happily whistling and the sound of running water behind him, padding silently back to the tool deposit. Genji took a deep breath, before opening softly the door.
Hanzo turned to look at him warily, completely alert. He then turned around, giving him the could shoulder, still rolled up in the blankets. His tail was twitching nervously.
“Hi, Hanzo.” Genji said, softly. He walked over him slowly, noticing that the apple slices they had left for him were untouched, but the bowl of water was completely empty. “Aren’t you hungry?”
He nudged the plate with the apple forward, Hanzo ignored him.
“I’m sorry, I don’t want to keep you chained still, but we don’t have much choices…” Genji said, feeling guilty. “I— We can take those off, if you can give me a sign that you understand— Anything at all.”
The tail was moving back and forth, much like the tail of a nervous cat, but Hanzo kept giving him his back, pointedly ignoring him. Genji carefully refilled the water bowl, before looking at him sadly.
“I— I missed you.” He whispered. “So much— I have so many regrets, so many things I want to say to you— So please, Hanzo. Brother. Come back to me?”
Genji bit his lower lip in the silence. He was so close to him, now. He could just— stretch an hand, and he’d be able to touch Hanzo’s back—
Hanzo turned so violently that Genji let out a loud yelp as he instinctively jumped back, landing on his butt. The chains cricked dangerously after the loud clang that signaled Hanzo had tried yet again to jump on him, only to be denied by the chain around his neck.
Genji’s breath was shallow as he watched with wide open eyes the pure, unadulterated hatred in his brother’s. There was nothing human in that yellow gaze, just rage and hunger. Hanzo roared, effectively letting him know of what he thought of Genji’s brilliant idea of trying to touch him.
The loud slap of wet feet came from behind Genji, Jesse barging into the room with his hair dripping all over the place. “Genji?! Are you ok?! I heard the noise—“
“I’m fine.” Genji sounded breathless. He slowly rose to his feet, watching warily as Hanzo pulled and pulled against the chains, growling loudly. There was no doubt he would’ve attacked the both of them without a second thought, given the chance. “let’s— Let’s leave him be.”
He followed Jesse outside the room, closing the door on his back, heart beating in his throat. Jesse sighed gave him a long look, relieved to see no damage on him.
“You scared the crap out of me. Christ, don’t do that again.”
“Sorry.” Genji whispered, slowly regaining his composure. He blinked. “—Why are you naked?”
“No towels, you yelling. You make the math, genius.” Jesse huffed back, walking barefooted in the living room. Genji followed him, pointedly not looking at his naked behind as Jesse fished a towel from the pile in the living room, energetically scrubbing his wet hair. Then he rolled it around himself, at least covering the bare minimum. “What happened?”
“I got in to check on him. I— Tried to touch him.” Genji admitted, feeling shame burning in his cheeks.
If Jesse thought it had been a royally stupid idea, it did not let it appear on his face. “Go take a shower, Gen. I’ll start in the kitchen, so we can fix ourselves something.” He said instead, gentle. Genji wordlessly followed the hint, disappearing into the bathroom. Jesse sighed, opening the door on the tool deposit instead. Hanzo immediately turned with a growl.
“Geez, aren’t you a ray of sunshine today.” Jesse muttered. “Give him a break, would you? He’s trying.”
They ended up to have to shower again, anyway, at the end of the day. They had put on some nondescript white shirts and black sweatpants fished from the pile of stuff in the living room. Jesse had dutifully cleaned the kitchen and they had a nice, filling japanese breakfast. Jesse promised himself he had to make Genji cook more often because holy shit that had been the beast meal he had in ages. (except for the nattō. He could’ve done without that, even if Genji had laughed, lighthearted, when he tried it and made a face.). Then they had tackled the next, more pressing matter.
Hanzo had protested loudly and for a long time when they pinned him to the tool rack by his wrists, even after they had put a makeshift muzzle on him. Unhappily grimacing, Genji had cut the long, matted mess of hair as Jesse kept him steady, discovering not without a sense of marvel that Hanzo had a pair of pointy ears covered in blue scales and two ivory horns poking out behind them. They shampooed and scrubbed him energetically multiple times, until all the filth had been washed away and the now much shorter hair looked finally clean, ink black and glinting in the light coming from outside. Hanzo had repeatedly tried to shake his head all through the process, drenching them in water and soap. They had tried to get under the iron collar and cuffs, too, not completely successful as there was still some dirt on the irritated skin, but at least now he was clean.
“We need to shave him, and brush his teeth too.” Genji said, short of breath, as Hanzo glared at them so hard that they would’ve long ago dropped dead, if looks could kill. Jesse slowly turned to look at Genji.
“Are you actually insane?”
“It’s going… Good enough, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, sure is, with those nice chompers of his all covered and tucked away. Do you really want to handle sharp objects around his throat while he has very sharp objects of his own to use?!”
“I’m not gonna handle anything, you are. I’ll keep him steady, I promise.”
“You are the one with a beard.”
“Goddammn— alright, lord have mercy on my soul, let’s do this insane bullshit.”
And so they did, beard coming off first, the whole ordeal turning into a three body wrestling match as they kept Hanzo immobilized and his mouth open so Genji could scrub his teeth. The man was beyond pissed, his tail slapping them with wet sounds, once getting Jesse right in the face with more force than he would have ever expected.
They were all panting heavily when they were finally done, but there was no time to rest. Genji and Jesse rapidly scrubbed the dirty water away from the concrete floor as Hanzo growled and glared, still pinned to the rack. They put a fresh futon and blankets into a corner for him, along some more water and a generous bowl of rice with strips of meat. Hopeful, Genji had also put a pair of chopsticks near it.
All they had to do now was to unlock the hook keeping Hanzo pinned by the wrists so he could have more freedom of movements. Except the man roared at them so loud when they tried to come close again that Jesse winced in sympathy. That must’ve not been good on Hanzo’s throat.
“What now?” He asked, eyeing the furious man. Now that he was clean, he could see the patches of glinting blue scales on Hanzo’s shoulders and arms, on his legs, around his eyes. His hair was rapidly drying, looking much softer and slightly curling on his neck. He looked younger without the beard, but not any less menacing.
Genji sighed, stepped forward ignoring the warning growl, and rapidly opened the hook, jumping back in a second. Hanzo’s hands fell on the floor with a thud and he immediately retreated as much as the chains allowed him to, away from them. They stood there, watching him to see if he would eat, but it became soon enough clear that he was too upset to be doing anything other glaring at them from his corner, so they left the room, closing the door behind them to give him some peace.
Jesse looked down at his shirt that had been so nice and clean just some hours prior. “Well, there goes the first laundry. Do we have a washing machine in this place?”
Genji looked like a drowned dog. Not that Jesse looked any better, probably. “There should be a laundry room, although we should probably let the machine do a couple of empty washing cycles first, unless you want your clothes to smell like mold, forever.”
“My perfect cinderella.” Jesse fake swooned. “Alright, let’s do that and shower -again- in the meantime. I just feel like the dirt hasn’t been washed off Hanzo as much as it had just changed owner.”
The next few days flew by. They put away orderly all their stuff, cleaned some more of the house, prepared two separate rooms for themselves (ended up still sleeping together on a futon right outside the tool deposit every night, anyway), tried to speak to Hanzo. Mostly Genji, considering all Jesse knew of the man was his feral, wordless side. But still he would sit, sometimes, on the small step leading down into the deposit, and just let his mouth go as Hanzo watched him warily.
Genji took care of his brother, fed him, kept him clean, tried his best to try get through him even when Hanzo reacted violently. Some nights he’d cry against his pillow, silent. Some night Jesse would hug him without offering a single word. There was nothing one could say that would ever make a difference in such a situation.
Hanzo seemed to calm down, even if only a bit. He’d still snap and growl and glare, but he was less prone to sudden violent outbursts, wouldn’t really try to bite them anymore, as long as they gave him space. He’d still watch them, weary, but there was something in his eyes that suggested he was actively listening, even if the concept seemed ludicrous.
One particular night at the start of their second week, Genji came out the deposit with a slightly disappointed look on his face and a piece of paper in hand. Jesse, that was preparing their futon for the night, looked up. “Whatcha got there?”
“Oh— It’s… Nothing.” Genji hesitated, turning the paper in his fingers. “It’s just a photo of our father. I hoped it might spark some reaction in Hanzo, considering how much he had loved and respected father, back then. But—“ He did not end the phrase, shrugging.
“…Can I see?” Jesse asked softly, after some seconds. Genji wordlessly plopped on the futon, handing him the picture without looking at him.
The man in the picture gave out an aura of austerity, even if he was smiling. He had high cheekbones and a full mouth, ink black hair like silk on his shoulders. It wasn’t hard to imagine Hanzo would’ve grown to look exactly like that had he been less scale-y and fang-y. The man was cradling a young child, probably not older than three or four, that was looking grumpily at the camera. There was something familiar to the child, something in his eyebrows or the line of his cute nose—
“Wait, that’s you!” Jesse realized, as Genji shrugged, running a nervous hand up and down his arm. “Man, what a cute little squirt you were. Unbelievable.”
Genji chuckled at his choice of words. “It’s startling, how similar Hanzo looks to our father. I guess it’s to be expected— But I had forgot how father really looked like.”
It was hard to imagine that the serious, but happy, man in the picture had been the head of one of the most dangerous, if not the most dangerous clan in Japan. He looked so— normal.
“Father had always been nothing but kind and loving to us.” Genji mused, voice low. “I always took that for granted. Sometimes I wonder if I shouldn’t have done more to let him know how much I loved him. Although— this must be weird for you, hearing me talk about father like this, considering we have been waging war to my own family for the past few years.”
“Nah, man, I get it.” Jesse replied, giving the picture back. “Familial bonds and love are not exclusive to good guys, even if the world likes to think so. Just ‘cause your dad was a genius yakuza boss ain’t mean he couldn’t love his two sons dearly. Sure looks like he did, by this pic.”
Genji hummed, pocketing the picture and putting his head on Jesse’s shoulder. He’d grown more physically needy in the past week, often leaning on Jesse like that, or grabbing onto his arm or hand. Jesse did not protest, happy to offer whatever kind of comfort he could to his struggling friend.
“I would like to visit father’s grave.” He murmured. “With Hanzo. I’m sure he would be glad to go pay his respects, too.”
Jesse hummed, lighting himself a cigar. “Maybe one day.” He offered, voice low.
Genji had took the van to go down to the port, to meet up with the old man that had lent them the fishing vessel. Apparently he had some vegetables for them, Genji had said, amused. Jesse was curious and even a little grateful about having someone looking out for them, even if that someone was probably some really dangerous yakuza guy. He never asked, though, and Genji never offered an explanation. Some things were better left into the dark.
So it was his turn to check on Hanzo and bring him food and fresh water, that morning. He softly opened the door to don’t startle the older Shimada brother, but Jesse immediately realized something was off the instant he set foot in the room.
Hanzo was sitting on his futon, looking outside the window. Actually sitting, not half lying on a side or ungracefully propped on his knees and hands as he usually was. Properly sitting, his back straight against the wall, chin up, legs slightly crossed with a single hand resting on his thigh. He still had the yukata they had put on him some days prior to keep him warm. The obi was properly and orderly tied around his wast, as if it had been just recently re-tied by practiced hands.
Hanzo turned, slowly, a strand of soft black hair bobbing in front of his face, and looked at Jesse.
“Holy shit.” Jesse whispered.
Hanzo’s eyes were still as yellow as ever, but they had a human light in them. Hanzo’s expression was smooth and calm. He blinked, softly.
“You— You understand me, do you? You actually understand— can you talk?”
Hanzo’s face scrunched slightly. He gaped a couple of times, as if he wasn’t sure how words worked. Then, soft and rough. “…Yes.”
Jesse might had an heart attack just there and then. He dropped the the tray he was holding on the floor with a loud clang, rushing at Hanzo’s side. The man looked startled, retreating a bit from him, but soon enough relaxed again, taking a deep breath.
“You— You actually—“ Jesse felt his eyes prickle with tears, he couldn’t stop grinning, kneeling at Hanzo’s side. “Oh my God, Genji is gonna explode with joy! Just you wait until he gets back— Oh man, I can’t wait to get you off those chains, I’m sorry about those, by the way, the situation was kinda shitty, you see—“
Hanzo looked clearly overwhelmed, so Jesse forced himself to take deep breaths, calm down, give him some space. He retreated a little bit. “I can go call Genji right away, if you want me to?” He offered, softly
Hanzo looked at him, then his eyes slid down towards Peacekeeper, safely holstered at Jesse’s side, back to Jesse’s face. There was crease between Hanzo’s eyebrow, and Jesse was about to offer to leave the gun outside if it made him uncomfortable when Hanzo spoke again. “Wait… I— huh—“
“Yes?” He nudged, gentle, as Hanzo clearly searched for words, squinting.
“P-please- K…” Hanzo hissed, irritated. He closed his mouth, licked his lips nervously, looked at Jesse straight in the eyes. “Kill… Kill me. Please—“
Genji stepped into the deposit, in a good mood. He had lingered at the port longer than he should have, engrossed in a discussion with Takashi-sama. The old man was still as smart, his words as cutting as they had once been years ago, even if his body was now much more frail.
He had left them more food than they would ever really need, but Genji did not turn down the offer. It would’ve been improper. It was also strangely comforting, to have Takashi-sama looking out for him after all these years. Even in his old age, he was still charismatic and influential, and Genji was glad he’d thought of him. He just hoped he won’t have to impose any longer.
Hanzo was in his usual corner, back towards the door, head resting against the wall. His food and water bowls were empty, which was usually a good sign.
“Hi, Hanzo.” He greeted, softly. “I’ve been speaking with Takashi-sama. You remember him, don’t you? One of the few who had your back one hundred percent, back in the day. Too bad he ended up retiring, father really lost a good ally that day… He says ‘hi’ to you, too, by the way. Not that I have told him, but— You know him. Quicksilver mind.”
Hanzo did not react, which wasn’t unusual. Genji slowly sat near him, putting a ceramic plate on the floor.
“He brought some mochi— I want to share it with Jesse, too, but I know it’s your favorite, so I brought you some first, if you want it.”
Hanzo was still not reacting, which was starting to be a bit unusual. He would always ignore him, for a bit, but at some point he’d turn around, to stare at Genji with different degrees of menacing. This time, he was perfectly still, his face pushed against the wall.
“Hanzo?” Genji called, softly. His hand hesitated, hovering some centimeters away from Hanzo’s shoulder. “Brother?”
Suddenly, Hanzo covered his ears with his hands, clawing at his hair, a long, pained sound escaping his throat. He hunched over in himself, trembling.
“Hanzo—” Genji’s heart was beating in his throat as his mind filled with white noise. He threw prudence in the wind, grabbing Hanzo’s shoulder, trying to turn him around as Hanzo whined pitifully.
Genji saw, for a long, clear second, recognition in his brother’s eyes.
Then his back was on the floor, Hanzo looming on him with his fangs bared and a growl deep down his throat, his eyes back to animalistic rage. Genji was frozen, unable to react, until something grabbed him and dragged him away from Hanzo in one fast motion, sliding the door of the deposit close with a slam.
Genji finally breathed again, Jesse’s metal arm around his neck, his eyes fixed on the now closed door.
Clear tear marks had been glistening on Hanzo’s cheeks.
Jesse dragged him silently, outside, where he finally let him go to light himself an already half consumed cigar.
Genji gaped, still shocked, looking at Jesse’s feet and noticing he was standing barefooted in the dirt and grass, around him three abused cigars butts. He looked up, slowly. Jesse wasn’t looking at him, he was glaring at the horizon, dark smudges under his eyes, chewing on the fourth cigars like it had personally offended his entire lineage.
“I’m calling this off.” Jesse said, harsh. Genji blinked. “I’m callling this off. We are not equipped to deal with this. We need help. He needs help. We can’t help him, Gen, he needs something more. A professional.”
“You spoke with him.” Genji said, faintly. Not a question. Jesse let out a dark, brief chuckle.
”What? N-no, I can’t— What are you—“
“Please… I need… n-need… stop… Can’t deal anymore. Too much. Please, please m-make it stop—“
“Cannot… Control… Too much. I want… i-it… to stop… Enough… Please, please… Just— I want to die—”
“You could say that.”
Genji gaped for long seconds, unable to form real words. He looked lost, like a child. “What did he say— “
Jesse did not reply, dragging an harsh breath of smoke in and letting it out from his nose.
The silence stretched, thick. Jesse threw the consumed, chewed on cigar on the ground. Considered lighting the fifth right away.
Jesse closed his eyes. Counted to ten. Turned around, looking down at Genji who was staring at him with a snarl, his eyes burning, tears pooling at the corners.
It would destroy Genji, to tell him what Hanzo had said.
“Look, man, he— He’s not ok. He won’t ever be, even if we stay on this island for-fucking-ever. He needs something more.”
“Jesse. What did he say—”
Jess remained stubbornly silent as they glared at each other for long seconds. Then Genji turned on his heels, walking away fast, angrily wiping his tears.
Jess looked down at the consumed cigars on the dirt. Took out another one.
“God fucking dammit—”
They did not speak at all for the next three days, Genji still stubbornly sleeping in front of the deposit they kept Hanzo in, making it clear without words that Jesse was not welcome to join in. Jesse retreated to the untouched room they had designated as his and would lie on the futon, staring at the ceiling as Hanzo’s words came back to him, over and over again.
He had forced himself to leave the deposit, as the older Shimada stared at him, cold and calculating, when he refused. His eyes would linger on Peacekeeper, and Jesse could tell Hanzo’s mind was working a mile a minute, trying to think up of something that would get him what he wanted.
He had to leave, the yellow piercing gaze burning on his back. He had to leave, before he could do something insane like actually pointing his gun at Hanzo and pull the trigger—
He angrily rolled on a side, interrupting his train of thoughts with a huff. He was not considering to land a mercy kill on his best friend’s brother. Not a chance in hell.
Giving up to the fact there was not gonna be any sleeping tonight, Jesse rose to his feet and silently padded downstairs. He’d get a glass of water, maybe walk out for a little bit, clear his mind. Hopefully, it’ll tire him enough that he’d want to go back to bed.
He had to walk by the deposit if he wanted to go out. Jesse held his breath, hoping to be silent enough to don’t alert Genji’s keen senses and wake him up. Except there was no need to do so, since the futon was empty and the light was on in the deposit, when he walked by. Jesse stood out there, as Genji was whispering something in japanese. He just started to walk away with a sigh, when he heard coughs and the sound of retching.
He stopped dead in his tracks and turned around, sliding the door open.
Hanzo was curled up on a side, a basin near his face. He coughed and gagged, clear liquid trickling down his chin, beads of sweat on his forehead. He looked pale and miserable. Genji did, too, kneeling at his brother’s side with tears in his eyes. He turned when Jesse took a step in, a single tear falling down his eyelashes. “Jesse?” he called out, softly, as if he had already forgotten the silence that had stretched between them for days.
“What’s going on?” Jesse asked, a worried frown on his face. Genji sniffed.
“He has not… been well.” He whispered, gingerly touching Hanzo’s sweaty forehead. He took the basin away and pushed the water bowl near his mouth, but Hanzo moaned weakly, turning his face away. “Whatever he eats comes back up, and now he cannot drink either without being sick either— I-I don’t know if it’s something, like, I don’t know, a stomach bug o-or—But he hasn’t eaten anything in days—“
“Shit—“ Jesse hissed, kneeling at Genji’s side. Hanzo squinted weakly at the both of them, before closing his eyes again, his breathing ragged and uneven. “Shit— Gen— He might need a doctor.“ Jesse whispered.
Genji gently took Hanzo’s hand, squeezing it between his. A silent plea. He had turned his face away from Jesse.
“Just give me another day.” He whispered. “Just one more day, and then if he doesn’t get better, we’ll call in for help.”
Jesse closed his eyes, frowning. “Ok.”
It did not get better.
They had walked out, for twenty minutes, to take some fresh air. They had walked out for twenty minutes, Jesse apologized for being too harsh, Genji apologized for not speaking to him on purpose. They exchanged a soft hug and stood in companionable silence as they watched the clouds go by in the sky. They got back in when Jesse shivered slightly in the particularly cold air that had been setting in for the day. They went into the kitchen to retrieve the light miso soup Genji had made for Hanzo and carried it to the deposit.
When they opened to door, the tray went crashing down on the floor.
There was blood trickling down on the wall, to the floor, from a corner of the rack Hanzo was chained at. Hanzo was kneeling near it, hands on the wall to steady himself, as he slammed his forehead on the corner over and over—
Genji immediately jumped forward with a strained, pained whine, dragging Hanzo away from the rack. Jesse stood by the doorframe, frozen in horror, as he watched the deep gash that had opened on Hanzo’s forehead, between his eyes, bleeding profusely. Genji was sobbing something in japanese as he tried to stop the bleeding with one of the blankets.
Genji was so shocked the blanket fell from his hand, eyes widening, looking down at his brother. Hanzo was squinting up at him as the blood trickled down his face. He spoke again.
There was a beat of silence as Jesse wondered what Hanzo could’ve said, and then Genji wailed.
He had been considering going to get the third cup of coffee of the day for the good part of the last ten minutes, when suddenly the computer started beeping at him. He had half a mind to just go ahead and ignore it, when he caught a glimpse of the name showed on screen. He immediately answered.
“ ‘bout time you’d let us know you are alive, you little shit.” He grumbled. “How’s your partner in crime? You both enjoying the vacation?”
”Gabe.” Jesse voice was low and subdued in a way he had only heard once in the long years he had known the boy. ”We need help.”
He did not react, his face hidden against Hanzo’s hair. He didn’t want anyone to interfere. He didn’t need anyone to interfere. Hanzo was breathing against his neck, soft and reassuring.
Nothing really mattered anymore.
“Soldier, look up. It’s an order.”
He wasn’t a soldier. He wasn’t anything, anymore. It did not matter, anymore.
“Genji. C’mon, man—“
“If he wants to go, so am I.”
“What did he say?”
“Never picked up japanese, Gabe, you know that.” A sigh. “Genji. Please. I need you to snap out of this, Hanzo needs you to snap out of this. We— We’ll help him out, ok? I promise, but you need to let him go, Gen.”
“You should listen to your friends” Hanzo murmured weakly. ”Go. You have wasted enough of your life on me, brother—”
“If you want to go—” Genji replied through gritted teeth. “So am I.“
Hanzo fell silent for long seconds, before softly putting an hand on Genji’s arm and pushing it away. He slid out the embrace, meeting for the first time the eyes of a dark skinned man, that was looking at him like he had seen a ghost. “If you want to follow me, then, brother, you must follow them.” Hanzo said in english, turning his eyes on Jesse. The man was pale, his eyes bright with tears. “Please, help me out, Jesse-san. We are leaving this place, aren’t we?”
Jesse recoiled. “Yes—“ He choked out, throat dry. “Yes, we are.” Jesse carefully approached him, and Hanzo peacefully and silently offered his wrists. The cuffs went off easily enough when Jess rummaged around them with some kind of tool, and so did the collar. He massaged the abused skin, gingerly, looking up into Jesse’s stormy eyes.
“I must ask you to carry me, if it is not too much trouble, then.” Hanzo added, calm and composed. It made a stark contrast with his bloodied face and the open wound on his forehead. Jesse shook his head frantically, helping Hanzo climb on his back. After circling Jesse’s neck with his arms, Hanzo looked at the other man. “It is in a inconvenient situation that we meet, I apologize. I’m Hanzo Shimada.”
“Gabriel Reyes.” The other man replied, gruffly, clearly at a loss of how to react. He was trying very hard not to stare at his horns, he could at least appreciate that. “Your younger brother is quite an handful, I cannot imagine how he must’ve been as a kid.”
“Quite an handful.” Hanzo replied with a weak, tired, close lipped smile. “So, Genji, are we going?” He then asked lightly, as if he hadn’t spent the last ten hours being cradled into Genji’s arm, as the younger brother sobbed and sobbed into his hair.
Genji was looking at them, eyes wide on his pale, scarred face. He looked completely lost, as if he couldn’t quite understand what was going on.
Christ, the kid is a mess. Gabriel thought to himself, before gently pulling him up by an arm and guiding him outside. He nodded to Jesse, letting him take the lead as he carried the older brother towards the small plane Gabriel has arrived with.
“It’s gonna be alright, soldier.” He murmured, an hand on Genji’s back, that followed silently and docile in clear shock. “It’s gonna be alright.”
Some meters away, Hanzo’s arms squeezed a little tighter around Jesse’s neck. Jesse felt a huff of air on his ear.
“I understand if you are not comfortable with fulfilling my request.” Hanzo whispered softly. Jesse didn’t need to ask what he was talking about. “But I have another favor to ask of you, if you will.”
“Shoot away and we’ll see.” Jesse replied in a low, tense voice.
“Just… Take care of him.” Yet again Jesse didn’t need to ask who he was talking about. Sadness tinged the so far neutral, composed voice Hanzo had been speaking with. “And—I do not know how long I will be able to keep a hold on my mind. I might lose myself again, soon. When that happens, protect him. And if there’s the chance that something else might end my life, please, do not stop it.”
Jesse gritted his teeth. “Why are you so keen on that idea? We might be able to help you—“
“You might.” Hanzo conceded. “That does not change my wishes. My life had been a burden enough. On those whom I love, on myself. All I want is to end it. But since this choice had been taken from me, I will play along as long as I will be able to. Just promise me you will take care of my little brother, Jesse-san.”
Jesse grimaced at Hanzo’s cutting words, spoken is such a calm manner. He gulped around the knot in his throat. “Fine. Ok. I promise.”
Hanzo let out a little, sweet sigh of relief, gently resting his head on Jesse’s shoulder. “Thank you.” He whispered, grateful. Jesse might have wished someone would plant a bullet between his eyes right then and there, just so he could escape this fucking nightmare.
They had been sitting in silence for hours. Genji had fallen into a perturbed sleep at some point, his pale face scrunched up in pain. Jesse had looked at him for a long time, feeling like someone was squeezing his heart in an iron fist. He absolutely hated this, seeing his best friend so heartbroken and desperate, while he was completely powerless to do anything.
Hanzo was now in cuffs again, for safety measures. He was sitting in front of Genji, looking calm and collected, sitting with his back straight, his tail under the bench as if not taking too much space. He had, somehow, a regal aura to him, as he stared with an intense gaze at his brother. His face was not betraying a single emotion, except for his eyes. He was looking at Genji like he wanted to commit every little feature to memory, like he knew this would be the last time he’ll have the chance to look at his younger brother.
Sometimes he would turn to look at Jesse, eyes turning cold and calculating, when Jesse would stare too much.
“I did this to him, you know?” He had said slowly, at some point, when they had both looked at Genji moaning softly in his sleep. “Not just the scars, or his body… I have emotionally compromised him. He might not ever be the same.” Then he looked at Jesse, looking somehow… Challenging?
He was testing him, Jesse realized. He was challenging, testing the limits, trying to find the right buttons to push to have Jesse put a bullet into his brain—
“Yeah, well, we all make mistakes at times, don’t we?” Jesse offered, neutral, not rising to the bait. Hanzo sighed, turning to look back at Genji.
“I guess so.”
Jesse felt suddenly more tense. Having witnessed the animalistic rage firsthand, he hadn’t realized that a lucid Hanzo was as dangerous as a beastly Hanzo. Just in different ways.
The guy was scarily keen on getting his way, but Jesse would be long damned before he’d do something like that. Genji would hate his guts forever, and Jesse was a little bit too fond of him to let it happen.
He rose to his feet, silent, opening the door to the cockpit to go sit at Gabe’s side in the co-pilot seat. He kept an eye to the little screen showing a fish-eye view of the back of the plane, just to make sure Hanzo would keep sitting nice and straight right where he was and not try to disembowel Genji if he started losing it again.
Gabriel was silently gritting his teeth, his jaw squared in that way that was usually followed by scolding, screaming, punishments or any combination of the three. It was a look Jesse was all too familiar with.
So Jesse waited for the storm that never came. Instead, Gabriel sighed, not taking his eyes off the cloudy sky outside as he flew them back home. “Explain.” He simply said.
And so Jesse did, recalling the last two weeks down the every single detail he could remember. Gabriel listened, not interrupting even once, and the silence lulled them once Jesse arrived at the part were he had called him with the communicator.
“You should’ve called sooner.” Gabriel said, soft, but harsh at the same time.
“Genji had a fair point.” Jesse replied, playing with a crease in his shirt. “I called you because we were desperate, but let’s be real, Gabe. What is gonna happen to Hanzo once we land? He’s too dangerous, out of control, and he’s… What he is. You can’t just straight up bullshit me and say that it’s gonna be ok, because it’s not. Governments are gonna be all up our asses if they catch wind of Hanzo’s existence, we are already walking a fine line as it is. It’s a shitshow, Gabe, and Hanzo just came in for the final act. They are gonna tore him to pieces and feed him to dogs.”
Gabriel shifted in his seat, betraying how uncomfortable he was. “We already have some— Colorful characters amongst us. You can consider me one of those, in a sense.” He said, slowly. “We can make it work—“
“Government-sanctioned characters.” Jesse interrupted him. “It’s not the same, and you know it. And on top of that, there’s the matter of his and Genji’s past, what has been happening as he was captive— There’s too much, there’s no way we can come out of this one clean.”
They fell silent again, as Jesse crossed his arms on his chest. “I was stupid, I know. But I hoped— I hoped we could make it work. If we could help Hanzo get back on his feet he’d be free, no one needed to know of him, Genji would be happy— I never even considered that Hanzo would be such a— “
“A suicidal mess?” Gabriel completed for him when he hesitated, voice low. “Ptsd would do that to a man. You did the right thing, Jesse. I— Cannot make any promise, but I’ll try to help Genji’s brother out, even if only for Genji’s sake. We’ll think something up, you know we always do.”
“That’s true.” Jesse conceded with a sigh, throwing his head back on the headrest of the seat and closing his eyes, covering his face with his hat. “We always look out for each other, in Blackwatch.” He mimicked, making Gabriel snort, amused.
Someone was shacking him lightly. Genji rose from his deep slumber slowly, not really wanting to open his eyes.
“C’mon, sleeping beauty, we are home.” Jesse said, softly.
Genji opened his eyes, bleary, feeling his back and neck stiff and sore. Jesse blinked at him, expression neutral.
“We have landed, Gen. Get up, you can rest some more in a bed after Gabe is done chewing us up and spitting us out.”
Genji suddenly jolted on the seat, one hundred percent awake. He looked around, frantically. “Hanzo?!”
Wordlessly, Jesse nodded towards the exit ramp of the plane. He could see the familiar buildings of the HQ in the distance, artificial lights casting withe columns in the dark night sky. There was a chilly wind coming in, and on the ramp Hanzo was sitting on a wheelchair, cuffed hands crossed in his lap. He blinked at Genji, saying something in quiet japanese. Genji made an abrupt movement, as if wanting to run and jump into his brother’s arms, but Jesse blocked him, an arm on his chest. Genji growled at him.
“What now, you getting on your bro’s mannerism?” Jesse said, tilting an unimpressed eyebrow. Gabriel came out the cockpit in that exact moment, standing tall with his chest puffed as it usual was when he was angry (which was most of the time, really.).
“Shimada, you are with me.” He said, in a no-nonsense tone. “McCree, escort… Shimada… To block twelve. We got two of those, now, for the love of Christ—” He added in a mutter. Genji opened his mouth, surely to protest, when Hanzo said something else in a cutting tone. Genji snapped his mouth shut. He followed Gabriel, silently, not without launching a glare at Jesse over his shoulder.
“What did I even do, now?” Jesse muttered, starting to push the wheelchair. Hanzo sighed.
“Forgive him, he is hurting.” He said, carefully. “He hasn’t changed much, in that sense. He has a fiery spirit. Do not take his anger personally.”
“You really love him, don’t ya?” Jesse asked, casually, as he pushed through the base in the dead of the night. Very few people were around, none of them casted a second look at them, too busy with their night shift duties.
“Of course I do.” Hanzo whispered softly.
“Then why you so keen on wanting to leave him behind?”
Hanzo closed his eyes with a soft sigh. “I have to.” He replied. He did not elaborate further.
Jesse pushed the wheelchair, the rest of the way spent in tense silence.
“Jesse-san?” Hanzo called when they stopped outside block twelve. Jesse hummed. “You might want to find another muzzle for me. I think I’ll probably try to rip someone’s limbs off, soon. Or maul my own veins open. One of the two.” Hanzo added, as if they were conversing about the weather.
Jesse was waiting for him, casually leaning on the wall, the brim of his hat casting a shadow on his face under the artificial lights, when he walked out Reyes' office closing the door behind him with a soft click.
In silence, they started walking down the corridor, side by side.
"Yer looking properly chastised."
Genji felt his cheeks burning in shame.
“Captain Reyes had plenty to say." He offered, weakly. "I've been acting like an idiot. I completely lost my mind. I'm sorry, Jesse." He added, nervously running an hand up and down his arm.
Jesse sighed, wrapping a gentle arm around Genji's shoulders. Metal against metal.
" 'S alright, Gen. We all have our moments. Lord knows you've witnessed mine plenty of times."
"Hanzo would say that I have been improper—“
"Yeah, well, Hanzo can suck my big, fat c—“
Genji interrupted him with a startled laugh, bumping his shoulder on Jesse's arm.
"I'm glad you are comfortable enough to make crude jokes about my brother." He said, grinning up at him. He looked like shit, pale and bone tired, but smiling for the first time in days. "I think you two will make good friends."
Jesse thought of yellow eyes, cold and calculating, seizing him up, searching for a way to turn him into a tool that would serve its bloody purpose--
"Maybe, one day." Jesse offered, tone neutral.
I'm that loser that is sketching fanarts for her own fic... What even.
(let me know if you'd like to see them actually LOL)
(edit: Here's some dumb sketches yeh)
Chapter 5: Chapter Four
The world was spinning too fast.
Jesse tried to move his arm, and found out that he couldn’t. His entire body felt heavy like lead, his brain worked slowly, disjointed thoughts passing by.
He’d been eating with Genji, and then… Something else… Doctor Murich had been there… And then… He wasn’t sure…
“Good morning to you, too. A passing bird told me you’ve been skipping your meals, again. Like, dude, c’mon, can you at least try?”
“Don’t— Don’t come any closer— D-don’t— GH—“
Someone was yelling. Jesse forced himself to open his eyes, too see something over the blurriness. He could feel heavy breathing on his face, and he looked up. There was— Fangs, and blood dripping— And—
An acute pain in his neck, and the blackness engulfed him.
“What do you mean, I can’t see him?”
Genji sounded like a kicked puppy, his shoulders sagging at the words the doctor had just said to him.
“I’m truly sorry, Genji, but I cannot work with your brother with you around. Your presence is a strain on his mental balance.” Doctor Helena Murich said, her voice gentle. She was a small, feeble thing with long, thin fingers and delicate features under a mop of curly dark hair. Her physical appearance was an injustice to the iron fist she had when doing her job. “You bring too many painful memories with you, and I know it’s not fair, but it’s the truth. We will get care of those, given time, but you need to give him space. We will never be able to start his healing process if we have to take two steps back every time he sees you.”
Genji gaped, in search of words. “But he— He’s so much better already? He’s so calm, a-and collected, he’s just the way he was back when we were younger—“
Helena smiled a gentle, sad smile. She placed a careful hand on Genji’s chest, her finger just barely ghosting on the metal alloy. “That is the problem, Genji.” She said, softy.
Genji did a double take so violent she might as well have slapped him.
“The way your brother is acting— It’s not healthy. He is not dealing, he’s running away.” She explained, softly. “He’s taking comfort in old ways that were never good for him in the first place. But he cannot keep everything bottled up inside like this. Like a bullet wound, you cannot sew it close when the bullet it’s still inside and call it healed. We need to give him the chance to let it all out, only then he’d be able to really start his healing process. You being there it’s only serving as catalyst for all the bad habits to come out. You understand that, don’t you?”
Silence fell on them, only interrupted by the low buzzing of the artificial lights over their heads.
“I— Can I at least— Watch?”
Helena gave a gentle squeeze at his shoulder. “You know you can’t.” She whispered. “But I’ll keep you informed. I promise.”
Taking a deep breath behind his mask (and wasn’t he grateful for deciding to wear it that day, even though he knew Helena could see right through him, as she always did.) Genji nodded, then added in a weak voice. “Ok.”
“Alright, then. I have to go, but first—“ She turned around, to pick up the tray she had been carrying until she had found Genji waiting outsider the door. Genji tilted his head on a side. “Matcha. Isn’t that a little stereotypical?” He asked, surprised and even a tiny bit amused.
“Who said it’s for your brother? I like it.” She smiled, sly. “But I believe in the power of sharing a nice cup of tea, so he will be welcome to have some, if he so desires.”
Genji chuckled softly, and she stepped into the room with one last nod to him, content for that small victory. She wasn’t any happier than Genji, to forbid him from seeing his brother. But she had to put some distance between them if she wanted to coax Hanzo out of his shell. There was too much at stake
“Hello.” She said, good-naturedly, the door swooshing close behind her. Hanzo looked up at her, his face a mask of pure neutrality. He’d been staring at his own fingers, crossed on the table. He was sitting straight, his back as stiff as ever. He was wearing a nondescript white yukata and somehow made it look like the attire a prince could pull off. He was good at grooming, his face always clean shaven and his hair well kept. She was told he’d shower often, nearly obsessively so, and considering the reports she had read about how he was kept before Genji and McCree had found him— She had yet to define if the older Shimada had any real memory of what had happened while he was kept captive, but even if he didn’t, something had stuck in there, for sure.
“Doctor.” He said, soft. “I see that you still insist in requesting to meet me without any precaution. You might regret your choice, one day.” He added, pointedly shaking his cuff-free wrists.
“I trust you won’t do anything rash, Shimada-san—“
“Which is very stupid—“
“— And beyond that, I know how to defend myself.”
Hanzo let out a tiny, annoyed sigh, before smoothing over his expression as he watched her put the tray on the table, between them. She let the silence stretch as she prepared the tea with delicate but firm gestures.
“Matcha.” Hanzo said, tilting his eyebrow ever so slightly. “Isn’t that a little stereotypical?”
There were moments were Helena had to repeat herself I’m a professional over and over. Especially when she wanted to just bash those two stubborn Shimada skulls against one another, and call it a day.
“Nobody said it’s for you.” She replied, calm.
“… There’s two cups.”
“Well, I’m not rude.” She quipped immediately. “Cup ‘o tea?”
“I would gratefully accept.” Hanzo said after a two seconds beat, the very picture of politeness.
They drank in companionable silence, taking small sips of the hot drink. Hanzo put his cup down with a soft click when it was empty.
“I thought of twenty different ways I could kill you in the time it took us to drink.” He said. “Some of which involves the cup you are holding now. When will you start seeing sense and let the guards cuff me as they should?”
Helena put her cup down as well, but only after having took her time to finish drinking. “I’m here to help, Shimada-san.” She said, meeting the sharp, yellow gaze and holding it. “There must no be physical barriers between us, if I want to dismantle the mental ones. I don’t want you to feel like a prisoner.”
“That’s interesting, considering as you speak I can see my own reflection in the glass behind you. Like an animal at the zoo. Who’s watching behind that, huh?”
“I would like much more if we’d be able to speak sitting on the grass, under the sun, it is quite nice at this time of the year. But, alas, I am afraid there’s only so many rules I can break before someone gets all over my ass, as they say, Shimada-san.”
“You could drag me out under the sun, with cuffs.”
She let out a short, breathy chuckle. “You are never gonna let it go, are you?”
Hanzo smiled. If you could call it that. He lifted a corner of his mouth, cold, lips tightly sealed to keep his fangs hidden. It required effort to smile like that. “I have been told I am quite stubborn.”
“Somehow, I have no trouble believing that.” She smiled back, open and unguarded. “So, Shimada-san, how are you doing? Any trouble sleeping?”
Hanzo looked at her with mistrust in his eyes as she opened the folding Go board on the table between them.
“Are you actually trying to mock me?”
“Why, Shimada-san, I would never.” She replied, putting down the bowls with the black and white stones at the center of the board. “If I have to be honest, this is a little whim of mine. I always wanted to measure myself against a good player.”
“Who told you I am good player.” Hanzo cut her off, squinting menacingly. It was the most emotions she’d ever seen him display in so far. “Actually, who told you I can play.”
“Amazingly enough I’ve been working here even before you came along, Shimada-san. I have had various chances of speaking with your brother, if you can believe that.”
Hanzo liked her sense of humor and pungent quipping, and she knew it. He let out a soft snort, crossing his arms on his chest. “… If you asked him to play, you must’ve been disappointed.”
“Oh, we had a couple of fun games.”
Hanzo shook his head softly. “Ha was always terrible at Go. He would only accept to play because he liked the stones, but would soon grow bored. I can hardly believe him being able to sit still for an entire game.”
“Nigiri?” She replied, stirring the conversation away. Hanzo snorted.
“I’m not that cruel. Put down five stones.”
She took her time, Hanzo’s piercing gaze fixed on the board.
“Onegaishimasu.” She said, once she was done putting down the stones. Hanzo let out a tiny chuckle before answering in kind. Helena let herself admire the elegant way Hanzo would put his stones down for a couple of turns, before asking casually. “So, if it was not Genji, who would you usually play with?”
“Out father, of course.” He replied. He was in a good mood, today, she mused. He usually wasn’t this easily open to share detail of his and Genji’s mutual past. “We couldn’t play often, but he always tried to cut some time in for me, once or twice at week. We’d discuss battle strategies as we fought on the board.”
“Who was stronger between the two of you?”
“… Speaking like a true amateur.” She let the thin insult slide, smiling brightly at Hanzo as she put down another stone. “… I only won against him an handful of times.” He added, soft, after some seconds.
They kept playing in silence for long minutes, until Helena let out a huff, relaxing in her seat with a pout. “I might be an amateur, but I know when I’m getting absolutely destroyed. Your game, Shimada-san.”
Hanzo smiled that cold, complicated smile of his, putting the stones away with little, delicate gestures.
“You have a good sense for the game.” He said once he was done, pushing the board toward her. “It has been more enjoyable than I had anticipated.”
Helena grinned, brightly. “Maybe we can play again, one of these days.”
“Maybe we can.” He conceded, his fingers lingering on the cheap wood before retreating.
“Can I ask you something?”
“You would do it anyway, whenever I wanted it or not.” Hanzo was sitting on the floor with his back toward the table, that day. Hands a cup in his lap, the long, thin tail resting on the floor in a languid half-moon. His eyes were closed, back straight and stiff.
“What happened here?” Her hand hovered near one of the horns poking out from behind Hanzo’s ears. Although, taking a closer look, maybe calling them antlers would’ve been more right. They were slightly velvet-y, of a delicate ivory tinge that abruptly turned into a dark brown at the tip. And unlike the little sprouts of antler protruding on the sides from the main body, that would end into a delicate curved shape, the tip was pointy and almost splintery, the edges sharp.
“In my young age, I believed that if I wished hard enough I might become like anyone else.” Hanzo offered without even opening his eyes. “At times, I would wish too hard.”
Helena entered the room and she was immediately pissed.
“What does this mean—“ She hissed in the communicator in her ear, a finger on it in a second. “No— I don’t care. I can’t work like this! Explain what is this bullshit, right now!”
Hanzo looked up at her from behind a bruised, swollen eye. His hair was messy, his wrists had been cuffed to the chair.
“No— I don’t care what he says, my job here is not to talk all over him, I have to talk with him!” Her voice was heavy with cold irony. “I don’t know you, but I find doing that a little bit hard when my patient is in a fucking muzzle.”
She stood for a long, long time, listening to whoever was speaking in her ear .
“Go tell that douchebag he can stick his opinion up his ass, with the broom that has been living there for the past twenty years. I’m gonna do my job, here, whenever he likes it or not.”
She took out the communicator, threw it on floor. She sighed, approaching Hanzo. He was breathing heavily through his nose, the muzzle secured too tight digging in his skin.
“I’m so, so sorry—“ She whispered, fingers gentle on the leather belts as she searched for the buckles. Hanzo turned his head away abruptly with a loud snort. He did it one, two, three more times until Helena took his face between her thin, but strong, fingers. She stared straight into his not-swollen eye.
“Hanzo.” It was the first time she called him by name. It was effective, freezing him in place. “Let me.”
He did not move anymore as she gently untied the buckles and slid the muzzle away from his face. Hanzo coughed, saliva rolling down his chin. His skin was an angry red where the leather had dug in.
“I’m sorry, I can’t take the cuffs off, I need a key for those.” Helena said, sliding a strand of long black hair behind Hanzo’s ear in a motherly gesture. “They told me what happened. Why did you attack, Hanzo?”
“If you need to ask—“ Hanzo was breathless, his voice a rough gravel in his throat. “Then maybe they did not tell you everything—“
“We both know why you attacked, but why did you attack, Hanzo?”
The silence stretched for long seconds. Helena pushed again. “You’ve had a perfect track record, here, so far. Why ruining it to defend someone that wasn’t even there?” A beat. “Have you grown fond of him, Hanzo?”
Hanzo snorted as if he found the concept ludicrous. His yellow gaze was burning as he finally looked up to her “I won’t stand idle as some immature brat insults the honor of a warrior—“
“Is it just that? Would you have done this for anyone else?” She pushed, her voice low. “Why him, Hanzo?”
Silence. A beat. Yellow eyes sliding down the floor.
“He’s good to my brother.” Hanzo whispered.
Hanzo was sitting slovenly on the chair, an arm thrown over the backrest. His hair needed a brush, a three-day beard growing on his chin and cheeks. He was looking on a side, at the wall, his eyes bleary and unfocused.
His cheekbones looked even sharper in the hollow tinge his skin had taken after he’d been refusing to eat for four days. He had long stopped to try take out the IV line in his arm.
He was far, far, where no one would be able to reach him.
“Do you know what a human being tastes like?” He had whispered, and then did not utter a word more for the rest of the day.
Jesse blinked down at the tiny, but scary, Doctor Helena Murich.
She looked stressed, and Jesse didn’t need to wonder why. Neither he or Genji had been allowed the clearance to be kept informed about Hanzo’s status (not that they hadn’t protested, long, and loudly, at that. Jesse was pretty sure Gabriel was on the verge of planting a knife between his shoulder blades just to shut him the fuck up, McCree, I’m working on it. )
But Helena Did Not Give A Fuck. Capital letters and all. She’d routinely slip them a brief summary of her every session with Hanzo. Of course she was a professional and would never add personal details, but she’d let them know how he was, if he was sad, or angry, if they’d took some steps forwards, if Hanzo had smiled.
In the past few days the reports had come to an abrupt stop, as she walked in a hurry up and down corridors all over the damn HQ, her face pinched and pale. It wasn’t hard to imagine whatever was happening was not good.
Genji had been out his mind with worry, even if he tried his damn best to don’t let it show. He could never hide it from Jesse, though, as they shared a room. They’d spend most evenings in silence, Jesse softly petting his friend’s hair, Genji lying on his bed in a fetal position as he moaned in pain every now and then, plagued by stomach cramps. Jesse hadn’t reached yet the level of anxiety that would come out in physical pain, but he was hastily getting there.
To be kept, in the dark, like that, was nerve wracking. He nearly missed the days were he could open the tool deposit door and Hanzo would turn to glare at them. He was less than human, back then, but had least they could look at him.
“I believe your presence might help.” She repeated.
“Me? Don’t ya mean, Genji? I can go get him if you want—“
“No!” She nearly yelled. “No— It would be— No, not Genji. I need you.”
“What the hell am I supposed to do?” He asked, throwing his hands out, palms up. “I barely know the guy!”
“That’s the entire point. You don’t come with baggages, but one. You are kind to Genji.” She said, tiredly scrubbing her eyes. “You are about the only positive figure in his life where he stands. I would never, under any circumstances, involve a not medically prepared personnel with a patient this troubling, normally. But I am literally at the end of my rope, McCree.” She ended in a whisper.
Jesse couldn’t say he was her friend, but he had his fair share of private sessions with the good doctor in the past, and he had learned that Helena Murich was not one to give up, ever. To be reduced like that, things must’ve been really fucking bad.
Jesse thought of Genji, and sighed. “What do you want me to do? I’m not—“ He gulped around a knot in his throat. He begged me to kill him, he wanted to blurt. “I’m just good at shooting things, doc.” He added, instead.
“Just talk to him.” She replied, weak. “It’s bound to make something happen, at least.”
Hanzo was breathing heavily, face hidden behind his messy hair, curled up in a corner. He was showing his back to the door in all too-familiar sight. Jesse sighed.
“Good morning to you, too. A passing bird told me you’ve been skipping your meals, again. Like, dude, c’mon, can you at least try?” He said, uncomfortable, taking tiny little steps toward Hanzo.
“Don’t— Don’t come any closer— D-don’t— GH—“ Hanzo convulsed for a second, hands clawing at his hair as he hunched in himself, shivering violently. “I can’t— Control— S-st—“
“Hanzo.” Jesse whispered, kneeling at arms reach. He thought of Helena, sitting at a table with Hanzo. No cuffs, no chains, no muzzles. She was still there, wasn’t she? “You can do it. You can— You can overcome it. You are stronger than that.” He added, not sure himself of what he was talking about. He extended his right hand, gingerly grazing Hanzo’s shoulder.
“I believe in you—“
It happened so fast Jesse did not even feel the pain until he was already on the floor, the world spinning around him violently, as Hanzo tore a chunk of his good arm away with a single bite.
“Should’ve shot me dead when you had the chance, Jesse-san.” A voice sounding dangerously like Hanzo mocked him in his brain.
He must’ve drifted away for some seconds, because when he came back there was a lot of shouting and the sound of the heavy steel door being kicked open.
He went down, as Hanzo’s fangs sank deep into his neck.
“Suspended for a month, at the end of which you’ll have to pass a psych eval.” Gabriel massaged one of his temples. He did not comment Genji’s cold chuckle at the words ‘psych eval’. “All things considered, kid, you got it lightly.”
“I’m aware.” Genji replied after some seconds of silence. “I— Thank you for covering for me, sir. It’s appreciated. Truly. And thank you for— Everything else, too.”
Genji knew that the captain had been working his ass off to try help Hanzo. He fought tooth and nail until he got a deal. Hanzo was to be kept into Blackwatch’s custody for the time being, a doctor assigned to his case, trying to gauge if he was fit to live between humans. Genji knew Helena, and knew she would try her goddamn best. At least, Hanzo had a chance. They were walking a fine line, but for now, his brother would be safe.
Gabriel snorted. “Get out of here.” He gently nudged him. “I’m starting to get pavlovian headaches every time I look at you and that other disgrace in a cowboy hat.”
Genji giggle-snorted a bit, rising from the chair. He saluted, and then bowed respectfully. Gabriel let out an amused snort as he left the office.
A month-long suspension. He really got it lightly. Of course there was the matter of the psych eval, and Genji sighed. He was an absolute mess, and he knew it.
He’d go to Doctor Murich for a talk, normally, but clearly she had bigger matters between her hands. He’d have to adjust in another way, somehow.
He walked toward the mess hall, deep in thoughts, distractedly stood in line for food. He made a beeline towards the cowboy hat, tray in hands.
“Hya, Gen.” Jesse mock saluted with a fry between his fingers. “So, verdict?”
“A month off. Psych eval.” Jesse hissed in sympathy. “You?”
“Two weeks, and a threat of being put on toilet duty for the rest of the year if I don’t stop nagging at Gabe.” Jesse sighed. “Guess I was just considered an accomplice in our little escapade. We got lucky, to be honest. People have been discharged for much less.”
Genji shrugged, stirring around the soup he got. He wasn’t really hungry, but he forced himself to gulp something down.
“Have you met doctor Murich?” He asked, slowly. A dark, somber expression passed on Jesse’s face,
“No.” He put down the fry he’d been playing with nervously. “Maybe I’ll go nagging Gabe some more, after lunch, toilet duty be damned.”
Genji smiled weakly. “It’s ok, Jesse. We have to be patient— I— I’m sure they will let us know something, soon.”
Neither of them believed that, but neither of them would admit it, either. They finished eating in silence.
Genji was walking down the corridor after parting ways with Jesse outside the mess hall when a soft, feminine voice stopped him in his tracks.
“Doctor Ziegler.” Genji found himself smiling at the woman, as she walked swiftly toward him. He stiffened a bit, surprised, when she hugged him briefly.
“It’s Angela, for you, how many times do I have to tell you that?” She huffed, a fond smile on her face as she took a step back to look at him. “I haven’t seen you in forever. How are you doing?”
Genji gaped for a second. There were many things he could say, none of which were really suitable for a light chat with someone he hadn’t met in more than three months.
“I’m— Ok.” He said, instead.
She looked him over, critically, tutting. “We need to do a bit of maintenance, definitely.” She took his left arm, turning it over. “What happened here?”
It took him a while to realize she was talking about the cracks on the external surface of his arm. They had become part of him, at that point, he realized. His mind went back at the sound of metal giving in under the strength of Hanzo’s jaw—
He shrugged. “You know how it is, out there.” He replied, noncommittal. Angela sighed.
“Why don’t you come into my office? We can catch up while I take a look at you and see what needs to be repaired.”
After the third “Classified.” that Genji had muttered, Angela had stopped trying to ask why Genji looked so down as she worked on him. She steered the conversation on safer, lighter topics instead, not missing the grateful light in Genji’s eyes as they spoke of what she’d been up to, about some of the funny moments Genji and Jesse had lived during their missions.
Three hours passed by fast. She ignored the fact that she had paperwork to do and took care of whatever she could on Genji’s body. Some parts needed to be changed, but she had to order those, so they could only wait on that.
“How’s McCree doing, anyway? Haven’t seen him in even longer than you, which is saying something, considering you guys are attached at the hips—“
“We are not?” Genji immediately replied, voice half scandalized and half questioning. She chuckled.
“You kinda are.” She jokingly nudged him. “So, how is he?”
“A pain in everyone’s bottom, as usual.” Genji replied, giving up on denying the obvious. “I’m sure Captain Reyes is plotting his untimely demise as we speak.”
“Shouldn’t you include yourself in those plans? The time were you could pass as the innocent victim being roped in into his mischiefs has long passed, Genji. You are not fooling anyone.”
“Am I not?” Genji grinned toothily at her, before putting up a fake puppy-eyed expression, as Angela laughed.
Genji was about to whip out some jokes, happy to make her laugh, when his communicator beeped. He did a little apologetic shrug at Angela, who responded with a small ‘go ahead’ gesture. He brought two fingers up to his hear. “Yes?”
Angela gave him her back as Genji listened in, starting to put away some of the tools she had needed for her check up of Genji’s body, but she turned around abruptly when Genji let out a faint, broken whisper.
He had turned paper white, mouth hanging open, eyes wide and terrified. Angela stood there, frozen. She had never seen him this scared, not even years and years back, when they had found him barely clinging to life—
Suddenly he jumped down the medical table and ran out her office, violently pushing the door open with a bang. “Genji—!” She ran after him, worried, as Genji hurried into the other side of the medical care facility, pushing people out of his way. “Sorry— Sorry— “ She said, slaloming through the annoyed people that had turned to glare at Genji.
Abruptly, Genji stopped in the middle of a corridor. She finally reached him, panting a little, as she turned into the same direction Genji was looking at, someone was shouting—
Her hands rose on her face, covering her mouth with a strangled gasp.
A medical team was pushing a stretcher down the corridor, fast.
McCree was even paler than Genji, if possible. His bruised eyes were closed, mouth slack. A nurse was keeping a bloody towel on his neck and cheek, deep irregular wounds visible in a flash under it. Another blood drenched one was pressed on his good arm, the nurse launched it at the bottom of the stretcher as he yelled to get a fresh one.
Jesse’s arm was mauled. Chunks of flesh were missing, muscles and bones visible under it, all the way from the crook of his elbow down to his wrists.
“Pulse is gone—“ Someone yelled over the cacophony as they hurried toward the intensive care.
The silence feel heavy as lead once the team disappeared through the doors. Genji stood there, his back to Angela. He extended his trembling hand towards the end of the corridor. Took a tiny step, then another one.
He fell on his knees without a sound, and didn’t move again.
Genji stood outside the glass wall, unmovable, as he watched his best friend hanging between life and death by a thread.
“This is all my fault.” Helena whispered, hugging herself as tears rolled down her cheeks. “I’m so sorry—“
Genji turned and walked away before he ended up putting his fist through the glass, or worse—
He wasn’t sure how much time had passed. He hadn’t left the room ever since they’d let him in. He’d sit and watch, not moving for hours. Sometimes he’d let his fingers graze the mattress, but never dared to touch.
Captain Reyes entered, silent as a cat. He approached the bed, then gently put the cowboy hat on the nightstand.
“they still keeping him under, huh?” He said, voice barely above a whisper. His dark eyes lingered on the empty space under Jesse’s right elbow, a pained fold between his eyebrows.
Genji did not answer. Did not even move. Gabriel took the one empty chair in the room and dragged it on the other side of the bed, sitting down. They sat in silence for a long time, watching over, only the sound of the machines keeping Jesse alive as companions.
“We had to move him.” Gabriel said suddenly, low and terse. “There was an accident.”
“An accident.” Genji whispered, voice rough with misuse.
“I think you should see by yourself.”
“I—“ He felt the rage bubbling up his throat, like bile. He had to force himself to add, disgusted. “I don’t want to see him, for now.”
Gabriel's eyes might’ve opened a hole through him, for how intense they burned as he abruptly turned to stare at Genji. “Are you telling me you don’t want to accept the consequences of your actions, Shimada?”
He had drawled the name out like it’d been poison. It might as well have been.
Genji did not reply, as Gabriel stood with a sigh.
“If you have any intention to get your head out of your ass, at some point, you know where to find me.”
Two minutes passed, before Genji stood, gently grazed the blanket covering Jesse, and followed Gabriel out of the room.
The cell was small, four walls, floor and ceiling, and a single chair bolted to the concrete right in the middle.
They put a straightjacket on him, arms forming an ‘X’ on his chest, closed fists at the sides of his neck, the belts and buckles tightly immobilizing him, tying him to the chair. He was sitting hunched on himself. A cold yellow eye barely visible over the brim of the muzzle covering his mouth and nose, behind the messy black hair. He was staring, unblinking, as if he knew there was something on the other side of the wall in front of him.
Hanzo’s right horn wasn’t there anymore, a recently stitched gash ran all the way from his right temple down to his jaw, an ugly red line between the blue scales, not far from the wound that was scarring on his forehead.
“We had to put the muzzle on, first. He kept trying to bite his wrists open.” Gabriel said, leaning on the glass panel with arms crossed on his chest. “That’s not why we had to move him.”
“He waited for the change of guards, then started launching himself on the wall, headfirst. By the time we got in stop him, the horn had already snapped. Never would have thought that horns were supposed to bleed that much. Sliced his face open. So, on the chair he goes.” An abrupt nod towards the center of the cell. “The straightjacket is a recent addition. He broke his thumb to free his hand from the cuff and tried to grab a gun. My gun.” He sighed. “I wanted to try speak with him. I have no doubt, had he been successful in getting it, he wouldn’t have pointed it at me.”
The silence stretched and stretched, suffocating. Gabriel closed his eyes.
“I would not deny that I harbor a certain amount of resentment towards him, but this is not why I will say this—“ A beat of silence. “If something wants to go so badly, maybe it’d be merciful to let it.”
“So— What.” Genji whispered. “What do you want me to say.”
No answer came.
“Do you want my blessings—Do you want me to say, go ahead, put him down, like you’d do with a rabid dog—“ A soft, impossibly cold chuckle. “As if my opinion even matters.”
Gabriel glared at him. “Your opinion is the very reason why we are here, and why one of my best men is lying into a hospital bed, with one more—“
“So you are just kindly suggesting, it’s not personal, at all.”
“Don’t you dare, you hypocritical little shit. You didn’t even want to look at him, twenty minutes ago— Don’t you dare tell me you don’t blame him—“
“Of course I don’t, it’s not his fault!”
“Is it not?”
Genji gaped, feeling like someone just punched him in the guts. He replied after a few seconds with a low, flat voice. “He cannot control himself. It’s not his fault.”
“You seem to be under the impression that that’s supposed to be a point in his favor.” Gabriel replied, steel gaze unwavering. “Just so you are aware, all of this is being discussed between people higher in the food chain than me, and I can assure you of something: It is not a point in his favor.”
Genji broke the eye contact first. He looked into the cell, softly putting a hand on the glass.
“So, this is how it ends, anyway.” He murmured in a cold chuckle. “I guess father was right, brother. There is no one in this entire world besides me and him that would ever protect you.”
He ran, hands gently cupping his treasure as mother turned toward him. She smiled that big, full smile of her, the one that made him fee enveloped in a warm hug.
He was panting when he finally reached her. Everything was gold. The light in her deep brown hair, the glint in her eyes, the wheat around them, the sun on the horizon. He grinned up at her, some teeth missing from his smile, the band aid on his cheek stretching on his skin. She leaned in as he slowly opened his hands—
The young sparrow immediately took off, flying away. He pouted, as she laughed sweetly. She then sighed, softly, a rough hand cupping his cheek.
“He’s gonna fly away, too, if you don’t wake up.” She said. “You have to wake up, sweetheart—“
He woke with a gasp, feeling like a thousand pins had been pushed painfully in in his chest— Something was constricting him, his lungs burned— Something was in his throat and he tried to grab it, but nothing happened— He couldn’t breath—
Something was pinning him down, and he recognized voices, but he couldn’t understand what they were saying. Hands on his face. He tried to fight back, but his arms weren’t working as they should, his body was heavy, his thoughts scrambled— He was choking and then— He was not.
He took a deep breath in, his chest burning, and opened his eyes. Faces hovering, a white ceiling. He could not recognize any of them but one.
“Always so melodramatic—“ Angela choked out in a small, watery laugh. “Couldn’t you just open your eyes like a normal person?”
“You know me—“ His voice was barely more than a hoarse whisper. His throat hurt. “I don’t really do normal—“
Angela laughed again, a single tear rolling down her cheek. He tried to raise his hand so he could wipe it away, and realized he could not. He looked down, staring at the empty space where his right forearm and hand should’ve been.
“I have a request.”
Angela looked up from her papers, tilting an eyebrow.
“Since Genji has been a jerk and hasn’t come around to visit yet, I want my arm to look like his, but like— Cooler.” He made a vague gesture with his left, metallic arm. “Like, I stole his style and made it better. You get my drift?”
Angela rolled her eyes, muttering to herself. “This is what you get when you offer in the first place, Ziegler.”
“Oh God, you are not serious.”
“I was joking.”
She ignored him and pushed the prosthetic into the socket. He yelped at the familiar sensation of electricity running up his spine, then tentatively moved his fingers. They responded perfectly.
“How does it feel? Any latency? I’ve been running tests but the computers always have that 0,0001% margin I can never work around—“
He put them side by side, his two metal arms. The left one, silver-y and -he had to admit- tacky, full of scratches. The design was rough. He wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.
And the new one, on the right. Delicate, curved lines, indeed very reminiscent of the design that had been used for Genji’s outer shell, painted in the same, delicate ivory tinge.
They got together as well as you’d expect.
Angela was staring, too, an hand on her chin. She was frowning in a way that suggested she was rethinking every single life choice she had ever made that led her to this moment.
“This is terrible, and this is what I get when I listen to you.” She said, sounding as if she couldn’t quite believe this was happening. “Let me get it back, I’ll re-design it so it would go better with you left arm—“
Jesse turned toward her with a giant, toothy grin. “I love it!”
He squeezed the stress ball angrily as Gabriel stood at the foot of the bed, arms crossed on his chest.
“Are you gonna ignore me for much longer? I have places to be.”
“Places to be.” He chortled. “Like, you mean, are you implying— You mean to tell me there’s an outside world.” He gasped dramatically, his shiny new right hand on his chest. “I am shocked, I was sure nothing existed outside this room!”
Gabriel pinched the bridge of his nose. “Jesse—“
“Why don’t you go to your places, Gabe, I’ll stay here, under house arrest—“
“It’s not— You nearly died.” Gabriel cut him off. “You need to rest—”
“Man, you must think I’m really stupid.” A cold smile. “What excuse are you feeding to Genji to keep him closed in a room, huh? Is he buying it?”
Gabriel scrunched his face. “What makes you think that?”
“Well, you clearly do not want me out of here for some reasons, and he hasn’t come to visit. Looks like simple math to me.”
Gabriel did not answer, and Jesse did not add anything else. The silence stretched as they glared at each other.
“Just stay put for a bit, Jesse.” Gabriel said in a low voice, turning around to leave. “It’ll be better this way. Trust me.”
When the doctor finally deemed his wounds healed enough that he won’t need bandages anymore, Jesse went to the bathroom to look in the mirror.
They would scar, in a ugly way. Irregular in shape and size, starting from his right cheek and jaw down to his neck, disappearing on his collarbone.
His beard was growing again, but not on the scarred tissue on his jaw. It would never grow back, there. The skin was angry red in the points were the fangs had sunk all the way down.
He stared at his reflection for a long time, searching his heart. He’d expect to find rage and resentment.
But, in the end, all he found, was pity.
One distraction was more than Jesse needed.
Nothing electronic was allowed into the room, except for medical equipment. But there was that one nurse that was always a little bit too lax. Comfortable with Jesse. They’d often come in with their tablet in a pocket instead of leaving it outside as they were supposed too.
One cup accidentally thrown to the ground, one “Oops, sorry.”, one little smile and a quick hand.
The nurse got out the room with one last smile, and a tablet lighter. Jesse went into the bathroom, closed the door behind him, and fished the object from inside his shirt as he sat on the toilet. Then he stared at it.
He’d been going insane, slowly, closed in the hospital room with no access to the outside world and no idea of what was going on. He had an access, now, but he highly doubted he was ever gonna find any record of what was happening with this whole Hanzo Shimada ordeal, not quite yet.
He couldn’t search for one brother, but there had to be something, anything, about the other one.
He missed his best friend.
Gingerly, he digitated ‘Shimada, Genji’ into the internal engine and hit send.
He had to blink twice as he looked over the first result. He refreshed the page and searched again.
The private chat window popped up, but he ignored it. If it was urgent, they’d call on the phone.
It was only two hours later that he bothered to go read the messages he had received.
McCree.J.12: Yo gabe SENT 10:42
McCree.J.12: Thought you seen the last of me SENT 10:42
McCree.J.12: Mind to explain to me SENT 10:43
McCree.J.12: Why does this say that Genji deserted SENT 10:43
McCree.J.12: *has sent you a file* SENT 10:43
McCree.J.12: gabe fukin ansswer me SENT 10:46
McCree.J.12: dd genji leave SENT 10:46
McCree.J.12: did genji took hanzo and left SENT 10:46
McCree.J.12: gabe SENT 10:47
McCree.J.12: why are u guys hunting him down SENT 10:55
McCree.J.12: r u serious SENT 10:56
McCree.J.12: u guys are hunting him down SENT 10:56
McCree.J.12: you let him take hanzo and leave an now ur hunting him SENT 10:57
McCree.J.12: like a fucking criminal SENT 10:58
McCree.J.12: shouldnt have called you SENT 11:13
McCree.J.12: u guys did jack shit to help anyway SENT 11:13
McCree.J.12: u fucking let my best friend desert because u were shit with his brother SENT 11:16
McCree.J.12: fucking guy never ever got a chance with ya didnt he SENT 11:17
McCree.J.12: why did i even hope something good woulld come out of this SENT 11:22
McCree.J.12: we couldve stayed on that island wouldve bbeen better for everyone SENT 11:22
McCree.J.12: you wouldve killed him wouldnt you SENT 11:29
McCree.J.12: you picked me up and gave me a second chance SENT 11:29
McCree.J.12: no i was given a thousand chances SENT 11:29
McCree.J.12: even when i did the worst bullshit SENT 11:29
McCree.J.12: no one gave up n me SENT 11:30
McCree.J.12: but guy got a tail so suddenly we have to kill hin cause hes dangerous SENT 11:30
McCree.J.12: did you all discuss it like, did you sit around a table sipping coffee and decided he was gonna die SENT 11:34
McCree.J.12: genji knew yall took a decision so he did what he had to, took his brother and left SENT 11:37
McCree.J.12: guess what, gabe SENT 12:00
McCree.J.12: ill go ahead and do what i have to do, too SENT 12:00
This was the hardest chapter to write, for me, for some reason. I kept getting back to it and expand scenes and then scrap everything out again. The end results to me feels very stream-of-consciousness-y (but then again that's pretty much how I write everything).
I hope you guys enjoyed... See you with the new chapter in two days!
The snow crunched under their feet.
It had been a good day, so far, and the two nice, fat hares hanging from his hand were testimony to the fact. Genji breathed in and out slowly, relaxed, as he led the way, his other hand tightly sealed around Hanzo’s.
There was no need to hold his hand anymore. At that point, Hanzo was perfectly stable on the two prosthetics Genji had gotten him, but it was hard to shake the habit. It had been a necessity at first, when they had to move silent and unseen, putting distance between them and the HQ. Hanzo had been wobbly and unsure on his new metal legs, had often needed to stop and rest. Genji had to find a way to keep him balanced and on the right tracks: the hand holding seemed to do the trick.
It wasn’t really needed anymore, but it gave peace to Genji. Hanzo had the tendency to go scatterbrained at times and would just wander casually. He won’t risk to lose him, this way.
They walked in silence, around them only the sounds of the forest and the rhythmic crunch-crunch-crunch of the snow. They walked familiar trails, stopped by the river. Genji cleaned the blood off the arrow heads, as Hanzo knelt on the river bank and splashed his face with the icy cold water.
“Don’t whine at me if you get a cold.” Genji sighed, exasperated.
Hanzo turned to look at him with an unimpressed gaze, his head slightly tilted to the left, as it had been ever since he lost his right horn. Then he splashed some more water on his face, before cupping his hands to drink a bit. The tip of his nose was bright pink, much like the scars on his face. Genji figured his exposed face mustn’t look much different in the icy cold air of the mountain range.
He let Hanzo wash his hands into the river over and over— A nervous habit he’d developed ever since they started their isolated life on the mountain range. He knew better than to try forcefully stop him, now. He’d put a gentle hand on Hanzo’s shoulder instead, murmuring. “That’s enough, brother.” and Hanzo would stare at his palms, turning angry red after being submerged in cold water for so long, and then he’d put them under his armpits with a grunt.
“We should go, the days are getting shorter.” Genji sighed, observing the shadows casted by the naked tree trunks and doing a rapid mental calculation. Just two more hours of sunlight. Not much. “C’mon, Hanzo.”
Genji had already started walking but then he stopped, waiting for him. He grabbed his hand, and started walking again.
They walked in silence.
Hanzo stopped dead in his tracks not far away from the cabin. He actually planted his heels firmly down the snow and refused to move even when Genji gently pulled him.
“What’s the matter?” Genji asked, frowning, as Hanzo was staring up in the direction of the cabin, perfectly still. One of his ears twitched slightly as he took a tentative sniff. “Hanzo?”
Hanzo shook his head and took a step back.
“Han— Is there someone up there?” Genji whispered. There’s was a slight tinge of fear in Hanzo’s eyes, the kind of expression he’d make when someone who wasn’t Genji would get too close. He took another step back.
Genji glared up in the direction of the cabin. Maybe it was just a lost tourist that had taken a wrong turn and wandered off the main trails, deep down the mountain range— Or maybe they had been found.
Whoever it was, they wouldn’t be around longer. He’d make sure of it.
“Stay here.” He whispered, pushing Hanzo under an evergreen. Hanzo dutifully sat, hugging his legs against his chest. He hid his face on his knees, tail nervously rolling around him. Genji sighed with a worried frown, pulling the hood of the heavy winter coat over Hanzo’s head, “I’ll be right back, brother, don’t worry,” He added, his hand lingering on Hanzo’s shoulder before he rose to his feet.
He changed direction, silently running a wide circle, approaching the cabin from the heavy patch of woods on the right where he knew he wouldn’t be spotted so easily. He nocked the arrow silently, pointing at the human figure that was clearly watching the small, apparently unused and decadent cabin curiously. They were alone, clad in a heavy coat with the hood over their head, a trekking backpack on their shoulder. Their relaxed stance did not suggest they were here with belligerent intentions. Genji hesitated.
He did not want to harm civilians, even those who were stupid enough to wander deep, deep into the forest were they shouldn’t have been in the first place. But if they were to be seen—
The figure dragged what was unmistakably a metal hand toward their face, taking something out their mouth. A cigar. Smoke was languidly blown into the hair.
Genji nearly let the bow drop on the ground.
Slowly, he came out the thick vegetation, the telltale crunch of snow under his feet. The person turned around, and they watched each other for long seconds, before the person slid the hood off, revealing a mop of messy brown hair—
Jesse took the cowboy hat that was hanging from the trekking backpack and put it on his head.
They both fell in the snow when Genji tackled him in a tight hug.
“— ’t was then that I realized you could have not gone far. You are not stupid, you knew security would be high on the borders. So what’s the best place to hide, if not in plain sight? I squeezed my brain until I remember a certain cabin… Small little thing, really, a place were no one had been in years except for two stupid, reckless agents trekking out in the wilderness for shit ’n giggles.” A pause. “Glad to know I was proven right because let me tell ya, I would’ve felt really fucking dumb if I had froze my ass off to climb all the way up here, only to find a whole lot of nada.”
Genji laughed, a wondering tone in his voice that suggested he could not quite believe what was happening.
“Hya, Hanzo!” A cheerful voice said. “Nice legs ya got, there.”
He felt the hood being slid off his head.
“It’s ok, Hanzo, we are ok. You can look.” Genji said, gentle. He shook his head.
“C’mon, man.” The other voice was closer now, sounding a little plaintive. “Came all the way out here for ya guys, can I at least get one smile?”
Even hadn’t he recognized the voice, the smell of the cigar was all he needed. He didn’t move.
“Is he—“ Hesitation. “Ok, I know he’s not fine, but is he, you know, actually here.”
The soft sound of a hand nervously brushing on fabric. “He doesn’t talk much— Or at all.” Genji admitted, slowly. “But— He understands.”
A soft touch on the right side of his head, where the tiny stump that was left of his horn was. A small whimper escaped his lips.
“Hanzo.” The voice was gentle, in a way he did not deserve. “I’m not here to do any harm, I promise. You can look up.”
Slowly, he did. Jesse smiled at him, his eyes warm. “Here ya are. See, that wasn’t so hard, was it?”
Hanzo’s eyes lingered on the right side of Jesse’s face, ugly scars all along his neck, a patch of jaw without any beard— Before he could realize, his hand had moved, thin fingers brushed delicately on the scarred surface on the cheek.
Genji was putting some wood into the fireplace, the warm spreading into the cabin.
It was small, a single room, not something that was meant to be used for more than a night of rest or two. Near the fireplace Genji had created a small kitchinette in a corner and a little shower of sort in the other. A pot of water warming up thanks to the cheerful cracking fire, an old battered basin barely big enough to accommodate someone sitting to collect the water that was to be poured outside once one was done. There was even a big bar of soap and and a ratty curtain to offer some form of privacy.
The rest of the room was occupied by the makeshifts beds made of sleeping bags and blankets where Hanzo and Genji must spend their nights, two trekking backpacks much like his were sitting against the wall nearby the door, and that was it.
Genji had thrown him a little, apologetic lopsided smile. “We have to make do.” He had commented as Jesse took into the inside of the cabin. Jesse shrugged, putting down his own backpack nearby the others and taking off the heavy boots as Hanzo and Genji did the same, leaving them by the door.
Hanzo had shed the heavy coat as soon as they came in, orderly hanging it on a hook on the door. He was wearing an ugly brown, heavy wool sweater that was too tight on his shoulders and too large around his waist and jeans that had known better days. His hair had grown longer, falling on his shoulders, and he had a well kept beard. He took off the socks he was wearing, padded toward the shower, took the bar of soap, and then headed straight out, leaving prosthetics-shaped footprints in the snow. Jesse gaped at him as he closed the door of the cabin, then turned toward Genji with his palms thrown out, perplexed.
“He prefers to wash into the river, sometimes.” Genji commented, flat.
“…It’s, like, minus twenty degrees out there.”
“He’s stubborn?” Genji offered, his phrase sounding more like a question rather than a statement. “I’ve long ago stopped questioning some of the things he does. He’s calmer if I give him at least some leniency.”
Jesse stood near the door, silently, for a solid minute. “Are you ok with… You know— Leaving him alone like this, considering—”
“I have to trust him.” Genji sounded pained, moving the charred wood around in the fireplace. “He knows when I don’t, and he doesn’t like it. He’s not a kid, I have to give him some space.”
Genji’s hair had grown longer, too. He looked like the dark smudges under his eyes had took permanent residence there, and they probably had, Jesse figured.
The small ambient was already warming up nicely, so Jesse took off the coat, hanging it nearby Hanzo’s. Genji stared at him as a small, sly grin opened on his face.
“Should I sue for copyright infringement?” He asked, amused, and Jesse blinked confusedly before realizing Genji’s eyes were lingering on his right arm.
“Well— Technically speaking, not your design.” He replied, grinning back. Genji’s smile grew bigger. “…Or is it?”
“Considering it was gonna be my new body, I had a say on how it was supposed to look. So it is my design, in part, I guess.”
“Oh my God, you actually choose to get a slick ninja body, you nerd.”
Genji let out a hearty laugh, and then in a second he was hugging Jesse again, arms tight around his torso.
“I missed you—“ He said, choking on his words, voice muffled against the fabric. “I’m so sorry I left like that, without even waiting for you to wake up— I’m so glad you are here—“
“It’s ok, Gen. You did what you had to do.” Jesse gently enveloped him with his arms, ignoring the clang of metal. “I missed you too.” He whispered, barely audible over the cracking of the fire.
For how ridiculous it could sound, it was a simpler life, in a sense.
Sure, they were fugitives and had to live deep in a mountain where the weather was harsh and unforgiving, hundreds of kilometers away from the nearest city. But they had a ceiling over their head -for how worse-for-wear it looked-, and they were good at surviving.
Maybe that was what made it so simpler. There was nothing else to think about but survival. They’d wake up at the first lights of dawn, have a light breakfast, do their business in the hole that had been dug pretty far from the cabin as the designated “bathroom”, and then they were off to hunt, if needed. Even deep in the winter there was enough wildlife around, and they were good at finding it. They never went hungry.
Genji and Hanzo had a system in place, but Jesse managed to fit right into it, snug as a piece of puzzle. After all, Genji had been his op partner for years at that point, it was not hard to made it click.
They’d come back to the cabin before twilight, and take care of everything else. Made sure the place and the few belonging they had were kept in good condition, prepared the food (or, better, he and Genji prepared the food. Hanzo just ate raw meat. Genji had not offered any explanation and Jesse had not asked.), washed clothes and gathered wood for the fireplace. in the evening they’d sit in front of it, soaking into the engulfing warm, and just quietly spoke.
Well, two of them did, at least.
Hanzo hadn’t uttered a single word ever since Jesse had found them, and Genji had just shrugged sadly when he asked.
“He hasn’t said anything ever since I broke him out of the HQ.” He said, with a tone of voice that suggested he had just given up on the fact, and that it broke his heart. “I— I don’t want to force him. He has his ways to communicate, anyway.”
Hanzo seemed like a completely different person, in a way. Jesse had first met him when he was unpredictable and feral, had watched him turn cold and calculating. Now he just gave out a soft aura of submission, as if he had given up and let himself go with the flow. Docile. Compliant.
It did not suit the fire Jesse had witnessed burning deep inside that yellow gaze multiple times.
The days passed by fast, as they discussed possibilities for the future. Genji and Jesse started laying out plans for when the winter would be over. They were safe, there, for now, but once the snow would start to melt and the forest to come back to life, there was no doubt that the human activity around the area would increase exponentially. At some point, they will have to leave. And they wanted to be prepared when the time would come.
So they’d discuss, strategize, lay out ideas for whatever scenario could come up until they’d fall asleep. Hanzo would sit near them, his metal legs neatly folded under him, hands in his lap, as he watched the snow fall outside. He would curl up under the blankets with them when they’ll surrender to sleep, but never touch either of them.
Sometimes he would be so far from them he’d start to wander away aimlessly, slightly unbalanced on his metal feet, until either of them would grab his hand and keep him where he was. Grounded. Safe.
It always took hours before a light of recognition would come back in his eyes.
“We are such a mess, aren’t we.” Genji had murmured one night, in the dark, as they lay in the chaos of blankets and sleeping bags working as mattresses. It had been an harsh day, Hanzo had been more scatterbrained than usual, unresponsive to their calls, looking lost and confused as he’d attempt to wander away from them multiple times.
“I know he’s— Damaged.” Genji spat out the word forcefully. “But then again I’m fucked in the head even more than he is, probably, so what does that say about me, really—“
Jesse did not respond, staring at the ceiling, Hanzo’s regular breathing soft near his ear.
“I know we both need help.” Genji added soft, after a minute. “But— Who would ever help us? It’s just me and him— “
“Aren’t you forgetting someone?” Jesse replied, closing his eyes. “I feel like I should be part of the ‘fucked in the head’ club, don’t you think?”
“I think you are the sanest of all of us—“
“But you are welcome into the club if you want to join.”
Jesse turned. Genji was lying on his belly, head turned to look at him. His dark eyes glinted, fondly.
“You’re a bit too late, sweetcheeks. I think I invited myself a long of time ago.”
Jesse was startled out of sleep by a familiar sound, his eyes flying open.
“Jesse—“ Genji whispered. “Don’t move—“
Jesse froze, holding his breath. He only dared to turn his eyes, looking at his left, from where the growling was coming—
Hanzo was snarling down at him, yellow eyes unfocused, the deep growl rising from his throat. Jesse let out a tiny, breathy gasp, and Hanzo growled louder.
They stood there, Jesse lying belly up on the blankets, Hanzo on his fours looming on him—
“Hanzo, it’s ok—“ Genji whispered, slowly, so slowly, approaching them. “We are all friends here— You don’t want to hurt him—“
Again. The word hung in the air, heavy, as Hanzo, clearly not understanding any of the words, shifted forward Jesse.
Suddenly Genji yelled. Hanzo jumped like a startled cat and bolted away. He hit one of the backpacks, rolling on the floor, before he managed to made it out of the door. Jesse immediately rose, following him outside with his feet bare on the snow, just in time to see Hanzo disappear in the thick tree-line not far from the cabin. Jesse made a motion as if running after him, but Genji grabbed his shoulders, pulling him back.
“Let him go—“ Genji whispered, his voice slightly broken.
“Wha— You want to leave him alone, out there?!”
“He will be back.” Genji replied, sounding as if he had swallowed a box full of needles.
Jesse fell silent, pondering on the implications of that phrase. “It’s not the first time this has happened.” He said, then. Not a question.
Genji run a hand up and down his arm, not answering.
Hanzo came back two days later, small branches stuck in his messy hair. He walked into the cabin, took the bar of soap without even looking at them, and headed out again.
When he came back in, there was not a single trace of blood left on him or on the wet clothes.
“Genji. Gen— Wake up!”
Genji moaned softly. He didn’t want to wake up, he wanted to stay where he was, it was comfy and warm—
“Gen, something’s wrong—“
The urgency in Jesse’s voice finally managed to get through the thick fog of sleep. Genji opened his eyes, blinking confusedly for some seconds, then looked up with a frown at Jesse, that nodded towards the door.
Hanzo was standing in front of it, perfectly still. His ears would slightly twitch every now and then, the fur on his tail, normally relaxed and fluffy, was standing up.
“Someone’s out there.” Genji whispered immediately, rising to his feet. “Hanzo— Hanzo!” He whisper-yelled. “Get away from the door! Jesse, keep him away from the door—“
A crash, as something came through the window. All three of the turned to look down at the smoke grenade that had landed and rolled on the wood with a loud thud.
Jesse launched himself on the backpack to retrieve Peacekeeper but Genji was faster, grabbing the weapons he kept by the door, pushing Hanzo towards him. Hanzo stumbled against Jesse’s chest. “Take him away!” Genji exclaimed over the hissing of the grenade. The small room was rapidly filling with smoke. “Take him into the forest and hide there, I’ll take care of this!”
“Gen—“ A cough. “I can’t leave you to fight alone—“
“How many bullets do you have.”
“How many. Bullets. Do you have.”
Genji’s stare was unmoving. The blade of the katana made an ominous noise as he unsheathed it. “Make good use of them, then. Get Hanzo, run. I’ll be fine.”
A second smoke grenade landed in with a crash. Genji took the metal mask that went unused these days and put it on his face with a hissing sound signaling that everything had correctly slid into place.
“At my three, I’ll jump out first, you take him and run!”
“One— Two— THREE!”
Jesse wanted to fight back, but he was very low on bullets. (He’d been stupid, left the HQ in a hurry, guided by the anger in his belly. He hadn’t had the time to plan, just took whatever he could, fast, and booked it.)
In the end, for how little he liked it, he had done what Genji told him to. Took Hanzo’s arm in a firm grab, dragged him into the woods as the battle raged behind them.
They ran away so far that he could not hear any noises anymore outside the familiar low murmur of the forest. They both were panting heavily, as they stopped at the edges of a small cliff looking into a ravine. Jesse was sure someone was sticking needles into his lungs as he took huge gulps of breath, palms on his knees.
Hanzo’s breath calmed faster -perks of not going through cigars like tissues- and he took some steps away, to go sit nearby two big rocks leaning on one another that provided a small amount of shelter from the soft snow that had kept falling down on them. Some flakes were trapped on his ink black hair.
Jesse had recognized the grenades. He just wasn’t sure how they’d managed to track them down into the middle of nowhere, and yet, here they where.
“Why can’t they just leave us alone—“
“It’s not gonna happen.” Came a soft, hoarse murmur behind him. “It will never stop.”
Jesse turned around so fast his neck made a creaking sound.
“There will not ever be peace, Jesse-san, no matter what.” Hanzo said, calm yellow eyes digging into him.
“You talk— Of course.” Jesse replied, beyond irritated. He crossed his arms on his chest. “How very gratious of you, to finally open your mouth, thank you for the honor—“
“I—“ Hanzo scrunched his face. “I don’t really remember how speaking works, most of the time— My mind— it’s just—“ He made a vague gesture in front of his face, frowning. “— too messy. Cannot be put into words—“
Jesse’s arms fell down his sides as the anger immediately left him. “Oh, Hanzo— “
“It will not stop, Jesse-san—” Hanzo interrupted, as if continuing a conversation that has been going for a while. “It will not matter where we go, what we do. The outcome will always be the same. This is what has been happening around me my whole life. It will never stop.”
“Hanzo, you can’t say that—“
“It’s the truth.” Hanzo whispered. “Whenever I go, misery and death follows. Sometimes by my own hands, sometimes not. But regardless, my presence is a curse. It had always been like this.”
“Hanzo, stop— You can’t blame yourself for things that are out of your control.” Jesse said, his throat tight, carefully approaching Hanzo. Slowly, he knelt in front of him. “You cannot believe that—“
“But I do, It’s the truth.” Jesse realized there were tears forming in that yellow gaze. “I ruined my family. I broke my own brother. He had built something for himself even after what I’ve done to him, and I ruined it. I ruined your life, too—“
“Tell me this is what you wanted.” Hanzo interrupted him, angry. “Look at me and tell me this is what you wanted.”
Jesse closed his mouth.
A single tear fell down from Hanzo’s eyelashes. “You had a good thing going, and I ruined it. Nothing will ever be the same for you two, after all of this. And I’m tired—“ He let in a trembly gulp of air. “I’m tired, of everything. I’m tired of having to constantly fight a part of myself that will always only be capable of violence and rage, I’m tired of knowing any little thing could make me snap. I’m tired of not being capable of handling my own thoughts. Tired of getting lost into dark places and then realizing hours of my life have passed, and I have no recollection of them.”
A soft wind has rose, snowflakes twisting and turning around them. Hanzo closed his eyes, tears rolling down his cheeks.
“I’m tired.” He whispered, broken. “I want this to end.”
The sky was rapidly darkening, big, angry clouds rolling in. They had sat there for what felt like hours, their backs against the hard surface of the rocks.
Neither of them seemed able to leave. They should have. They should get up, get back, Genji was probably worried sick— Jesse should be reasonable, shake Hanzo out of this mental state he suddenly fallen in, drag him back, forget all this—
Except, Jesse found out, he couldn’t. This was not a sudden, at all.
Hanzo had been thinking about this, long and hard. Ever since they first spoke, back into the tool deposit. Maybe even long before that.
Hanzo had long made peace with death, but somehow there was always something keeping him back.
Jesse was not sure why this was happening now. Maybe it was the adrenaline, maybe it was the fact it was just him and Hanzo.
There’s was no Genji within earshot that could be hurt by Hanzo’s words.
It was as if a seam had broke in Hanzo’s mind.
“I remember everything.” He had said. “Everything that I did. I can… witness, but I can’t control my body. It’s like sitting in the back of a car as you watch the driver run at full speed against a wall, and being unable to do anything about it.”
“I remember every person that I ate. Some of them were children—”
“I remember every disgusted look and every hit I took.”
“I remember every cutting words thrown in my way when people would think I wasn’t capable of understanding.”
“I remember the fear, the humiliations.”
“I remember what I did to you.”
He spoke. Of his mother, that had felt nothing for him but disgust for having given life to such a creature. Of his father, that had loved him so much he had run himself into an early grave in order to protect him.
He spoke of Genji.
“I am weak, Jesse-san.” He said. “I never found the strength of ending my own life, because he was my purpose. And I still cannot find the strength of doing so, now, because despite everything he’s still by my side.”
“I am an egoist, because I still want to stand by him, even if my mere existence had been nothing but a burden on him for our entire lives.”
“I am a burden to you, too.”
“You are not—“ Jesse had replied, weakly.
“You are a good man, you had a purpose. I have destroyed that.” A pause. “I know what I must do.” Hanzo said, voice calm. “And I think it’s time I do it.”
The sky was rapidly darkening, when Jesse rose on his feet, angry, frustrated.
“So, this is how it goes, in the end?” He asked, terse. “You die, everything goes fine?”
“I cannot make something that’s already broken go ‘fine’. But I can stop myself from creating more damage and destruction.”
He wished he had a cigar, right now. He fell back, sitting at Hanzo’s side.
“And, more egoistically— I just want all of this to end.”
“You really want to do it, don’t you.” Jesse said, more a statement than a question. Snow had started to fall more intense, soon covering everything in a curtain of white.
“I always really wanted to do it.” Hanzo replied, calm. “But I never could find the resolve. I’d hang on excuses and cheap tactics to keep myself alive one more day, even if I kept telling myself I wanted to die.” A soft sigh. “But I think it’s time.”
Jesse slowly turned. Hanzo’s expression was soft. Serene, even.
“Don’t you want to at least say goodbye—“
“It would be cruel, don’t you think?” Hanzo replied, tilting his head on a side, softly. “Jesse-san, you don’t have to look, if you don’t want to. Just— Walk away.” He added, infinitely gentle.
“Maybe I can do better.” Jesse’s voice broke on the last word. He took out Peacekeeper, sliding the safety off with a soft click. Hanzo blinked, made a small motion as if taking the gun. Jesse stopped him.
“I couldn’t do anything to give you a good life, the least I can do is give you a fast, honorable death.”
Hanzo held his breath, his eyes widening. “No— I cannot let you— What would happen between you and Genji—“
“This is my decision to make. I want to see this through.” Jesse whispered. He slowly turned to kneel in front of Hanzo, staring right into his eyes. “Is death what you want? Is death what you really want?”
Without missing a beat. “Yes.” Hanzo replied, holding his gaze. Not a single trace of fear and doubt was left in the yellow.
“Alright, then.” Jesse whispered. He was about to rose to his feet, when Hanzo grabbed his right arm.
“Wait—“ A soft tone. “I— I’m sorry for being an egoist, but there’s one thing I want to ask— One last wish.”
Jesse waited a second, then nodded.
“Close your eyes, please.”
Jesse obeyed, heart beating in his throat. A gentle hand cupped his jaw, lingering on the scarring for a second.
A soft, delicate brushing on his lips. He felt facial hair tickling him as Hanzo pressed one, two, three sweet little kisses on his lips, before retreating. There had been nothing sexual, or romantic, in the gesture. Only comfort.
“I never got to try that.” Hanzo whispered… Happily. When Jesse found the strength to open his eyes, Hanzo’s eyes were crinkling at the sides, his lips curving up gently.
A real smile.
“Thank you, Jesse-san.”
Jesse wanted to run, or scream, or both.
Instead he stood, took some steps, the creaking of the snow muffled by the steady wall of white that was still coming down on them. He turned around.
Hanzo hadn’t moved. He was still smiling at him, the snow a pure white crown on his dark head.
“You deserved so much better than this—“ Jesse choked on his words, feeling like he couldn’t breath. He was shivering, yet his right hand was perfectly still as he pointed Peacekeeper. A trembling whisper. “Goodbye, Hanzo.”
He pulled the trigger.
*whispers* I'm not too much of a jerk so you get the epilogue tomorrow hang in there
The slightly mechanical sigh was followed by a gentle hand that landed on his shoulder with a soft click. Genji opened his eyes, feeling like he just came back from a long trip.
“You are getting there.” Zenyatta said, gentle. “But you get too excited at the end. That’s where you lose the connection.”
“I guess—“ Genji grumbled, running an hand up and down his arm. “I’m too impatient.”
“That’s an understandable feeling.”
“I just want to know what he has to say—“
“I know, my student. You will be able to, one day. Let yourself have time.”
Breath in, breath out. He shifted, changing leg position. Closed his eyes.
“Are you sure you don’t want to rest?” Zenyatta asked, softly.
“No. No, I can do this.” Genji whispered. “I have to do this.”
The ground was hot under his feet. Genji walked and walked, but all he could see was dark dirt as far as the eyes could see.
He tried to call out, but no sound came out his throat. The sky was a steel gray, humid air closing in on him. He kept walking.
Then he could finally see it, the thing in the distance. He started to run, before remembering that that was how he lost the concentration, last time. He forced himself to slow his steps.
He walked and walked, but he wasn’t getting any closer. He gritted his teeth, barely holding himself to don’t break into a run again.
He could feel the rage bubbling up from deep within himself. It took a hold of his stomach, crawled up, icy and burning at the same time, seized his lungs, up his throat, an acute pain in his skull. His step faltered as the anger became all seeing, all consuming.
Suddenly, the ground was cold. He realized he had closed his eyes. He opened them.
White, untouched snow under his feet.
“No” He thought. “I don’t want to be here, I don’t want to be HERE—”
Genji dragged a broken, painful gulp of air in, coughing. He wasn’t sitting cross-legged anymore, but on his knees, his fingers had dug ugly scratches on the wood—
“I think it’s time to stop, for today.” Zenyatta said, both hands on Genji’s shoulder.
Genji was shaking violently. He nodded.
He tried to run from the very start, never taking his eyes off it, the thing in the distance. The steel gray clouds rolled, angry, the snow started to fall, rapidly sticking to the ground.
“WHY DO YOU WANT ME TO SEE THIS—” He screamed, as the snow piled on him.
“There’s a rage so deep within you, you are afraid to look at it.”
Genji nodded slowly. Then added in a whisper. “There’s things I don’t want to think about, things I don’t want to see. But it’s all he wants to show me.” A trembling sigh. “I do not understand— Is he trying to hurt me?”
“There must be something else.” Zenyatta said, taking a long pause. “I do not believe he is trying to be cruel— But he must think it is important.”
“Of course it’s important.” Genji’s voice broke. “But I don’t want to live through that again. Not again.”
“I wish I could spare you, my dear student.” Zenyatta whispered. “But you came to me in search of peace. It is not something that can be conquered unless you are ready to face what you fear the most.”
He’d try, and try, and try. he could not escape the snow. The thing in the distance would never come close to him.
He gave up. He stood in the snow, tired.
“Fine, you win.” He whispered. “If you want me to watch this again, I will.”
He walked in the snow, not a single noise, as it became thicker and thicker, until the white was all he could see.
He heard a choked noise on his left, and turned, to see himself, pale and dirty, spots of blood on his body. The image was blurry, as if seen through an old film.
“No—“ The other him sobbed. “No— No, no no no NO! WHAT DID YOU DO?!”
He watched himself stumble ahead in the snow, sobbing loudly. He watched himself clawing at his face, murmuring “no no no no—“.
He watched himself roar in rage and charge something else that came into view into the wall of white.
It was a strange figure, vaguely human shaped. It was pitch black, the edges constantly shifting and vibrating, made of harsh hard lines, like an angry scribble made in dark pencil had come to life.
The other him charged his arm back and threw a violent punch—
The instant his fist touched the edges of the black shape, everything stopped. The snow froze midair, his other self and the dark thing completely still, like statues.
A deafening crashing noise had him jump and cover his ears.
The dark shape crumbled as if made of glass, but his other self was not content. He fell on his knees on the dark shape and kept hitting and hitting and hitting, screaming pure hatred, tears rolling down his cheeks-
Then suddenly everything disappeared, but the white. Genji took in a shaky breath.
“Is this what you wanted me to see—“ He whispered. “Not—”
As soon as the thought had come up, the figure materialized in front of him as if Genji had summoned it, like watercolor spreading on paper. White skin, lifeless fingers slightly curled, a strong and yet fragile body apparently weightless on the fresh snow, black hair on the white that had turned pink— He choked, turning his head away.
“But this is all me, isn’t it?” He asked, in a small sob. “No, you didn’t want to torture me with such a sight— That other thing you showed me—”
He heard chuffing behind him, he couldn’t breath, for a second. Slowly, he turned—
The thing in distance was right there, in front of him.
It was beautiful. A long neck, the blue scales shining like gems, soft fur crawling all the way up to its head. It had a long, strong muzzle, fangs a pure white poking down. It was resting in the snow, paws casually crossed in front of it. The dragon lowered its head, looking directly at him with piercing yellow eyes. Then it spoke, its voice had no real discernible sound, it seemingly came from everywhere and nowhere at the same time.
Genji felt himself engulfed into a warm sensation of love and kindness.
You know what I want you to do, the dragon said.
He heard the soft thuds of boots coming closer, and he forced himself to keep calm.
The steps stopped right behind him. Without turning, he patted a spot as his left.
He could hear the rustle of clothes, but he did not dare open his eyes. A soft grunt, then the silence.
“Thank you for coming.” He murmured. “I appreciate it. Truly.”
A low hum. Genji heard some more soft rustling, then the smell of an incense stick being ignited.
With a tiny, trembly breath, Genji forced himself to open his eyes. In front of him the slab of stone with no name.
His brother’s grave.
A metal arm came into his field of vision, gently putting down the stick of incense in its right place. The metal plates were the same as they had been years ago, so similar to his, but there was an addition. A little dragon, rolling around the forearm, painted in delicate blue tones with clear craftsmanship.
Slowly, he let his eyes roam up along the arm, to a strong set of shoulders, a scarred neck and jaw with a single, beardless spot. The brown hair was long and messy, as usual, gathered in a low ponytail. There was a spot of grey just barely growing at the temple. His hat was sitting on his knees, respectfully, a contrite expression on his face that highlighted the crow’s feet and age lines on the tanned skin. His nose was crooked, and Genji remember the sick crunch of it breaking under his fist as if it had only happened yesterday.
Jesse slowly turned towards him, and their eyes met again for the first time in five years.
“Hi—“ Genji managed to let out, breathless.
“Hey.” Jesse replied, soft.
They sat, in silence, looking at each other until the incense stick had burned completely.
They were going to be fine.
And so, we have arrived at the end of this little journey... Man, this fic manage to suck out part of my soul in the four days it took me to write lemme tell ya
I HOPE YOU GUYS WON'T HATE ME TOO MUCH, KNOW THAT I LOVE Y'ALL AND ALL YOUR AMAZING COMMENTS UR THE BEST <3 <3 <3