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Touch of a Hand and Tick of a Clock

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The give and take of a friendship built on mutual trust and respect was hard earned after too many years spent in wary silence. McCree was always the more colorful of the two of them. He’d been ready and willing to make nice with strangers for his own reasons, but Genji had a tendency of messing up all the usuals and day to days. Befriending Genji came with the added hurdles of trauma and a rebirth, both of which McCree had too much experience with if he was feeling honest. That need for an outstretched hand was what he had needed in those earlier days, and although the familiarity of shared experiences allowed for a lot, McCree’s newest try at making nice still held the risk of too much, or too far.

Genji’s first reactions to McCree’s friendliness contrasted sharply with the personality painted by his files, but McCree would’ve been lying if he said he didn’t expect some kind of shift after dying. Getting to know him beyond the words on a page just seemed like it could be a fun exercise.

Those first days, when McCree still wore the black and gray of his uniform and Genji didn’t laugh were too reminiscent of his trials post Deadlock. Still, there would never be any regret to taint befriending his new companion. Genji didn’t know happiness then, but watching him go from untouchable in his distance to someone who could eventually joke when McCree tried his best to bridge the gap was enough.

Genji’s own attempts at learning about McCree would later seem more stilted. Too many demons. Before his friendship with Zenyatta, Genji stumbled through communication like someone trying not to die. Interactions were a way of remembering a lost humanity. But their subtle flirtations and slow friendship were everything to McCree. His years spent wandering through the shadier parts of the world as hired hand would try to take those small moments from him, but the taste of what could have been were an oasis during tough times.

Recall was a chance for new beginnings despite the fact that it still tasted like ash in his mouth to try to build a sense of trust that had been lost on the graves of old ghosts. Long years spent alone left time for self-reflection, however. A boon that kept on giving as far as McCree was concerned. From that period spent thinking enough for a lifetime, there were a few things that McCree had settled on, the ins and outs that he came to terms with. Of those, he’d learned to cope best with his tendency towards lateness. Late to life, late to happiness, late to all of the things that made a life worth living.

His days as mercenary and hired hand were the kind of placeholder times that lent themselves to more waiting. He had had quite enough of being left behind when life came calling, so when Winston put the call through that his hired hand was better used helping than hurting, well, that just seemed like the right time to stop being late.

Quite honestly, Genji had not registered as the singular reason as to why he should accept the offer, or even registered as an added part of joining back in with familiar faces. McCree knew what it was like to dedicate life and limb for one person, and once that was dead and done, he learned that liking himself, or at least knowing what made him tick, was priority over whatever faces haunted his dreams. Another hard won trait from late nights and lonely days.

Showing up at Gibraltar came with the shock of realizing that his world could once again encompass more than just the clothes on his back and the jaunty whistle of a man used to being alone.

Genji was one of the first people he saw among the blanketed and forgotten crates of the old watchpoint. A sentinel on a roof, the quick hand that waved as McCree came in sight, it was as good a welcome back as he could have hoped for. The quick reflexes of Genji’s cybernetic body made it so his leap from the building was more cause for marvel than actual concern. A graceful shift of a body, the trailing grace of his sash, an image that McCree had tried to forget but was now becoming reacquainted with loving.

It was easier to forget useless pining when the object of affection was thousands of miles away.

That was just the beginning, a slow and steady crawl with familiarizing himself with the bustle of human contact and playing the role of hero. Although Blackwatch had given him a taste of the good and virtuous in the early days, there was nothing like knowing that every action and reaction was made for the cause of good. No use for regret when the actions of now spoke of a call for redemption. He was just lucky enough that this new try for penance came with the added benefit of friends.

Being around the younger generation of heroes was a test of patience more often than not. Too eager to hear stories of a time better left in the past, an outlaw turned savior, the strain of talking about Blackwatch was still a touch too fresh to be overlooked. He had lived his good years for a time. He had seen the best wither into a shell. And he had too many stories that would shock and awe if not for the intimacy of hearing it from a voice more likely to break than gloat. Sure, he had spent his time coming to terms with one too many broken families, but it didn’t stop him from choking on nostalgia and a wish for a better ending.

The thing was, Reyes was always the planner of them two. The man on a mission, he had the stuff that made commanders what they were. McCree had always been more of the, crash through a door, guns blazing kind of guy. Late to the party and underdressed would’ve been Reyes’ description of it. It’d made for some interesting moments, but sometimes the touch of a well thought out design was the only way to get things done.

And so, with hat in hand, the only way to move from point A to point B was through the careful kind of operation that would’ve made Reyes proud, no matter where he was looking down from.

A quick stop at Zenyatta’s favorite meditation corner, a badly executed shopping trip with Hana and Lucio, and an even less welcomed side eye from Hanzo. McCree was glad that he had a tough skin. Getting everything just right was more than enough motivation to weather all of the trials that this venture seemed to be calling to it.

“Don’t you think you’re trying too hard?”

“Easy for you to say, every woman that you’ve had moon eyes for in this fine establishment has had moon eyes right back.”

Easy for you to say as an Amari would’ve been the more accurate statement, but McCree wasn’t about to start splitting hairs over the pull those women had over everyone in their immediate vicinity.

“Aw cheer up cowboy, just because you can’t see his eyes doesn’t mean Genji isn’t looking right back.”

Fareeha wasn’t ever the type to be sentimental, took after her mother too much in a tough love and simple truths kind of way, so that final shove had Jesse righting his tipped hat and turning for the door.

McCree wished he’d put some thought into packaging. The cool cloth of the sash had been nearly ruined one too many times from the enthusiastic handling of his younger and eager to help squad mates. It could have used a dry hand, but for all his tries at good planning, his palms still felt the dampness of a cold sweat. At least McCree could rest assured that his speedy actions and reactions could always be used to mark his handiwork, whether or not the cards landed in their proper place.

Finding Genji was much the same as it had been that first day, a lone shadow in meditative silence, holding vigil on the roof of their shared home. His graceful jump at McCree’s loud greeting was the same too, a sight that had McCree clutching a little harder at the strip of material in his hand. The sash that trailed after Genji’s visor in a gentle arch was distinctive, the type of steadfast singularity that distinguished itself from the cyborg’s already noticeable frame.

A ninja who could never really blend himself into the background. McCree always wondered if it was on purpose or if he was just biased in trailing Genji’s movements through a crowd.

Genji’s quiet greeting in return to McCree’s rougher hello was a leftover from his contemplation on the roof, but the actual moment that McCree had been waiting for stuttered under the reality of not knowing what to say. Another badly executed part of his surprise, maybe he should’ve waited before going through with it.

Shoving his gift toward Genji’s visor and hoping that the tilt of his head was at least due in part to him looking at it square on, his less than spectacular attempt at an explanation started as his plans always seemed to. At random and with a fervent prayer to something that it would all work out in the end.

“Now, I know this might’ve been in bad taste, and I don’t know when your birthday is so I’m going off of when we met, but I couldn’t just keep quiet after finally coming back together like this and Ana always said I jumped too quickly into things anyways.” Rambling on probably wasn’t the smoothest approach to this, but at this point McCree was more worried about the reaction than he was about anything especially bizarre tumbling out of his mouth.

Genji’s mastery of body language was a new trait. It was one that spoke of more contact with those used to the easy display of facial expressions. The subtle shift into McCree’s space was a kind of openness that had McCree’s heart considering a vacation.

“I know I’ve never been one to make declarations, but Zenyatta didn’t know when your birthday was and I couldn’t handle waiting it out some more. And you have every right to refuse it if it’s not to your liking or if I’m late too late to make up for any time lost but I was just thinking that maybe…” The cool touch of Genji’s hand halted his speech right about the sweetest way McCree could have thought of. Then again, the metal chill of his fingers against the progressively warmer temperature of McCree’s cheek would’ve halted stronger men in their tracks.

Maybe it was another attempt at the kind of forwardness that Genji had lacked in those early days, the type that made memories seem more stilted than their active participants could have known. The here and now of it had McCree leaning a little too quickly into the touch, the reactionary and foolhardy signature of his that could have become a stumble if not for Genji’s quicker reflexes.

A quick laugh and an upturn of his visor, Genji kept hold of the sash in one hand while McCree’s cheek still burned in the other.

“You’re right on time.”