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Undertakings Down Under

Chapter Text

The dying days of Santa Fe’s summer are warm and dry; windows are left open during the day to permit a cooling breeze. However, out in the desert, temperatures drop come night time; the house becomes still without the curtains dancing and curling in the wind, but it keeps out the cold to allow for peaceful sleep.

Jesse finds his peaceful sleep interrupted by his phone going off. A groan next to him confirms that Hanzo was also sleeping peacefully. 'Was' being the key word – now he’d have to deal with a grumpy demon after this call.

He reaches for the pesky device, eyes too heavy with sleep to decipher the black writing on the bright screen. He answers the call with a groggy “McCree.”

“Jesse,” comes Fareeha’s voice. “Sorry to wake you, but it’s pretty urgent.”

“Ok. Gimme like two minutes to wake up properly, otherwise yer urgent message is gonna go out one ear, an’ in the other.”

Fareeha gracefully lets his faux pas slip, instead chiding him about is old age and being dead asleep at 12:30 on a Friday night. Jesse slowly lifts himself off the bed and heads to the kitchen. He thinks he hears a sad whine from Hanzo.

Once seated at the small dining table, he feels considerably more alert. “Ok Pharah, lay it on me.”

“Got a couple of insistent phone calls in the past half hour from one Jamison Fawkes. Did you forget to give him your new number?”

“Must have,” grumbles Jesse, thinking of the lanky pyromaniac he had met in Bali (a very popular holiday destination for Australian tourists), “what does he want?”

“He says he has evidence of a vampire coven in Melbourne, Australia. I told him I’m a hunter, and that I could look into it with Mom, but he said, and I quote, ‘nah, mate. Give us Jesse bloody McCree.’.”

“Fareeha, that was a terrible Australian accent,” Jesse chuckles as Hanzo enters the kitchen, wearing only a pair of exercise shorts. His silky hair looks unfairly smooth, given that it should be unruly and sleep-mussed like Jesse’s.

“I know, I know. I hoped you’d be too asleep to notice. Anyway,” her tone shifts to business-like, her military training kicking in, “I called to see if you would be willing to take the case. I agreed to pass on Fawkes’ contact details only if you were willing, so that you can call him back when you’re ready.”

“Yep, that’s fine. I’ll make sure he gets my new number.”

“Wonderful. Take care Jesse. Let me know if you need anything.”

“Wilco, Lieutenant.” Fareeha raspberries at him. “Bye now.”

“Good bye, Jesse,” she says with a laugh.

He ends the call and not a second later, Jamison Fawkes’ contact information pings onto his phone. Fareeha also sends personal files detailing his ‘condition’. Jesse doesn’t bother with those; he knows damn well that Jaime is a werewolf.

“Jesse?”

The hunter looks up; Hanzo is standing by the sink in his usual spot, watching him closely. The gentle moonlight kisses his greyed skin, highlighting toned muscle. Jesse’s heart starts pounding – the demon always looks most stunning in moonlight.

“Jesse.” Hanzo repeats, more insistent this time. Jesse shakes his head to clear it.

“Sorry, darlin’, still kinda sleepy.”

Hanzo smiles at him. “Is everything ok?”

“Yep. Gotta call this Fruit Loop an’ make sure his intel is solid. If it is, I’m bookin’ us a flight to Australia.”

“Australia?” Hanzo groans. “How long is that flight?”

“Don’t remember. Haven’t been there in years. Why dontcha see if you can find out, maybe get us some cheap flights?”

“Hn. Tea first.”

Jesse laughs. “Of course. You do whatcha gotta do, honey. I gotta make this phone call.”

Hanzo gets to boiling the kettle and getting his tea ready as Jesse gets Jaime’s number into his phone. It hardly gets through one ring before the call is answered with a nasal “Who the bloody hell is this?”

“Jesse bloody McCree,” he answers slyly. Hanzo glances at him with an amused smirk.

“Oh, McCree! How are ya, mate?”

“Tired, seein’ as how it’s near midnight over here in the States.”

“Oh, fuck me. Sorry mate, it’s still afternoon over here. Anyway,” His voice shifts up in pitch with his excitement; “have I got a job for you!”

“Lemme hear it.”

“So, a few sorry buggers have gone missing, never to be heard from again. No alarms goin’ off yet, though. But then, I find one of these missing bastards. Stinks like bloody vampire, and the corpse doesn’t have a drop of blood left in it.”

“So, a vampire?” Jesse asks, scratching his chin. Hanzo takes the seat next to him, placing his feet in Jesse’s lap with a gentle smile. Jesse returns his smile, placing a metal palm on Hanzo’s shin.

“Nah, mate, worse: a bloody coven. This poor bastard stunk like vampire. An’ not like a normal stink. He absolutely reeked. Plus, he had more than one set of puncture wounds. Whadda ya say to that?”

Hanzo tilts his head as he eyes Jesse. Probably curious about the case, too, the little eavesdropper. “If it weren’t fer your keen nose, I’d say it was one sadistic vampire. But, if that ain’t the case, I’d say it’s a small coven, new an’ too scared or inexperienced to hunt more than one person for a meal.” Jesse sighs long and heavy. “But, if no one’s been findin’ the bodies, that means they’re organised. And organised vampires huntin’ humans is all kinds of bad.”

“I hear ya, mate. So, will you take the job?”

“I can investigate, but you know the terms of my services.”

“Too right I do! That’s why I’ll be taking care of your food and accommodation for ya!”

“Oh. Ok. What hotel did ya have in mind?”

Jaime laughs in his high-pitched maniacal way, and Jesse just knows that he and Hanzo won’t be staying at a hotel.

“Mate, you’ll be staying with me an’ Roadie! And before you whinge-” Jaime pauses for effect as Jesse holds his breath, “We got ourselves a good little two-bedroomer in a nice little suburb. And. The. Food. McCree, mate, this place has so many good food joints! We’re spoilt for choice!”

“Ok, ok,” Jesse relents. “What’s the name of this li’l suburb?”

“Why? You’ve never been to Melbourne before! All you need to know is that it’s only a 20 minute drive from the airport, and there’s fucking awesome food nearby.”

“I also need to know if y’all have a double bed in yer spare bedroom; got me a partner now.”

Jaime is uncharacteristically quiet. Then he snaps; “not that fuckin’ vampire, is it?”

Jesse’s too tired for this shit, but he clenches his jaw to stop his cutting retort – he will need to keep things civil if he’ll be staying with Jaime indefinitely during his investigation. Hanzo removes his feet from Jesse’s lap, startling the hunter; he’d forgotten about the demon. Hanzo places his tea on the table, then leans into Jesse, stroking his hair in a calming manner.

“Naw, Consuela’s long gone,” he says quietly, ready to fall asleep with the way Hanzo’s claws are massaging his scalp. “My man’s as neutral as they get,” he says, throwing a wink at a chortling Hanzo.

“Orright then. Well, I’m usually up at odd hours, so give us a call when you’ve booked ya tickets, an’ we’ll go from there.”

“Will do. Bye now.”

“Nighty night,” cackles Jaime, then he hangs up. Jesse places the phone face-down on the table, humming contentedly. Suddenly, Hanzo withdraws his touch.

“Honey-”

“Jesse, I will not have you falling asleep at the table again. If you would like to follow me back to bed, I can resume.”

Jesse gives Hanzo a light chuckle and a tired smile. “You got me wrapped around yer pinkie finger, ya know that?”

The demon flashes him a smug smile, and then it turns into something softer. “I could say the same of you,” he admits.

 

~~~~~~

 

The next morning, Jesse scrambles eggs and burns toast as Hanzo sits in silence at the table with his tea. Jesse wonders how much sleep he got last night; when the demon has something on his mind, he tends to stew. And when he stews, the playful morning banter is relatively non-existent.

“So,” Hanzo says suddenly, “Jaime is a wolf?”

McCree chuckles before responding. “What gave it away?”

“Vampires smell unpleasant to wolves. And Jaime was rather… strong with his disdain for vampires and their stench.” The demon rises out of his seat with empty mug in hand, sauntering over to the kettle by Jesse’s side for a refill. “Did you not start any lycanthrope support groups in your time in Australia?” He asks teasingly, fiddling with the empty mug.

“Jaime ain’t a lycanthrope; he’s a werewolf.”

Hanzo nearly drops his mug to the floor. He is quiet for a time. “And you don’t have a problem with that?”

“’Course not. Demon bit my arm off, but I don’t hate you.

The demon stares intensely at his empty mug, tail twitching in Jesse’s baggy exercise shorts.

“Honey?” Jesse says gently. Hanzo makes no indication that he had heard him. Jesse flicks the stove off and wanders over to Hanzo, who abruptly turns to face Jesse.

“You just surprise me sometimes,” he says with a tiny smile.

Jesse places a metal palm on Hanzo’s face. “You ok?”

Hanzo leans into the touch. “Fine,” he says with a bigger smile.

Jesse doesn’t really know what else to say or do – functional relationships were never his strong suit. He deflects. “Breakfast?”

Hanzo gives an affirmative grunt, and they sit together with their serve of eggs. Hanzo enquires about the case.

“Tell me of vampires – surely they would be a bigger problem, given their necessary diet?”

“Naw. Interestin’ history that,” he says with a smile, back in his element. “Vampires of old would drink animal blood. It was only when they moved to Europe in the third or fourth century that wild animals were slim pickin’s and they couldn’t keep killin’ off livestock that they had to adapt an’ drink human blood.”

“The third century?”

“Yep. They’re pretty ancient.”

Hanzo huffs. “Only by your standards,” he says airily with a casual sip of his tea.

“Why? How old’re you?” McCree places his chin in palm and flutters his lashes.

“Old enough,” Hanzo laughs. He places a scoop of egg in his mouth, then mutters, “What else can you tell me?”

“D’you want interestin’ history shit, or jus’ what ya need to know?”

He considers his answer as he chews. Finally, he says “Surprise me.”

Jesse smiles, then adjusts his seating to face Hanzo better. “So, you have pure-blood vampires, who, like demon families, have ancient ties and a family bloodline that goes back to God knows when. Then you have reborn vampires, who were human once, but were turned.”

“That sounds very similar to the differences between werewolves and lycanthropes,” Hanzo says through another mouthful of scrambled eggs.

“Don’ it?” Drawls Jesse. “Only difference is that even reborn vampires can turn humans. In fact, their venom’s more potent than pure-blood venom.”

“Hn. Would that have to do with pure-bloods being caught up in petty squabbles over status and keeping the bloodline pure? Thereby weakening any genetic advantages of breeding outside of a closed gene pool?”

“Yep. I’m guessin’ you’d know a thing or two ’bout that?”

“Indeed,” growls the demon. He stares at his empty plate with downcast eyes – something’s on his mind. Jesse waits for him to spit it out, placing a reassuring hand on his shoulder.

Eventually, he speaks up. “I miss Genji. I see it now more than ever that he was brave enough to ignore all of that rubbish. I was too caught up in my family’s name, and what those powers could grant me. Genji… he…”

The demon sits in a heavy silence. “Y’know,” McCree says gently, “I got a message from Genji a couple days ago. More recent than the one you read an’ replied to.”

At that, Hanzo glances up with a weak smile. Jesse continues: “Says he’s enjoyin’ Nepal, an’ that he hopes you’re enjoyin’ America.” Jesse presses his leg against Hanzo’s, rubbing affectionately. “Wanted to know if we could go to Disneyland an’ get him some Goofy merchandise.”

Suddenly, Hanzo starts laughing. It comes out as choked and startled at first, then grows in intensity, the demon leaning back and covering his eyes with his hand as his chest shudders.

“Gods above, of course he would ask for Goofy merchandise! He always wanted to go to Tokyo Disneyland. He…” Hanzo loses his laughter with a sad smile. “He only wanted to go with me. And I kept saying no.”

“Well,” Jesse says, before the silence gets too heavy again, “we can all go together when y’all’re ok with it. Hell, we can even go to the original! California’s only a 2 hour flight away from here.”

Hanzo gives him a happier, stronger smile. “I would like that.”

They finish their breakfast, comfortably quiet. When their meals are done, Jesse takes the dishes to the sink and gets to work. Hanzo is beside him shortly.

“So,” he says, sounding grumpy again, “Albuquerque to Melbourne is a 23 hour flight. If we were going from Japan, it would only be ten hours.”

“Why don’t we do a stop-over, then?”

“A… stop-over…?” Hanzo’s expression is a weird mix of excitement and discomfort. “In Japan?”

“Only if yer ok with it, Hanzo.”

“Are we not short on time if people are dying?”

Jesse rubs his chin. “I suppose. But vampires only need a blood meal once a week. So what’s that?” Jesse pauses to calculate, “Twelve hours from here to Japan, stay fer two nights, then ten hours to Melbourne Airport… three days, give or take?”

Hanzo gives him a dubious look. “More like five days, give or take; you are incredibly sluggish after a flight.”

Jesse wants to protest, but he knows he doesn’t have a leg to stand on. “Ok, cupcake. How about when we get to Melbourne, you take point an’ get my investigation started for me? We’re partners now, ain’t we?”

Hanzo pouts in his playful way, leaning against the sink in ‘his spot.’ “I was under the impression that we were romantic partners, not business partners?”

That comment forces a surprised guffaw from Jesse, and he can feel himself go red involuntarily. Damn relationship business. Although he’s more annoyed with himself than with his current situation – in fact, he’s quite elated that Hanzo considers them ‘romantic partners’ before business. It’s just unfortunate that Jesse’s only relationships up until this point were either only of a sexual nature, or they failed miserably; he has no experience with something this comfortable, this close.

“What’s so funny?” Asks Hanzo with a smile. “Did you not tell Jaime that I was your man?”

He had. But he had meant it in a professional way, for Jaime’s sake. Then again, if it were a professional relationship, why would he be asking for a double bed, rather than 2 separate sleeping quarters?

“I guess I did,” Jesse admits, face still feeling flushed. He clears his throat. “I hope you know that goes both ways? As in, I’m… I’m all yours?”

Hanzo just chuckles. “Of course.” He adopts a softer smile. “You are very cute when you’re flustered. It’s very strange seeing you all red and stuttering when you’re normally so forward.”

“Well,” Jesse says, heart racing, “ain’t too good at this relationship thing. I… I guess I jus’ really want us to work out.” He drops his eyes and fiddles with the joints in his metal fingers. He hears more than sees Hanzo approach. The demon grabs a wrist in each hand, pulls Jesse’s arms apart and then snuggles himself into the hunter’s chest, wrapping his arms around Jesse’s waist. The hunter is frozen for a while, but after a few seconds, his brain catches up and he returns the embrace.

They stand silently like that for a while, in each other’s arms. Eventually, McCree’s heart rate slows, and he lets out a heavy breath. Finally, Hanzo speaks up:

“Let us to the stop-over in Japan, then,” he says gently. “I should like to revisit my room.” Then more playfully, “Did you know that you are the only human to have slept in that bed?”

“What?”

Hanzo turns his face so that he is no longer speaking into Jesse’s chest. “The others… I never took them into that room. I may have had an incubus or three in there, but no human has laid on that bed.”

“Hold up,” says Jesse, brain working overtime to process what he just heard, “you’ve slept with incubi before?”

“Of course,” huffs the demon, “they’re very willing participants. However,” his voice lowers in pitch and volume, “they were not as generous as you are with their affections. Selfish lovers.”

“Hmm. Glad I have you to fulfil all my demon-bangin’ fantasies, then.”

That earns him a sharp poke in his side. Jesse just laughs and holds Hanzo tighter, nuzzling his soft hair. One of the demon’s horns rubs gently along his throat. His mind can’t help but think on how easily Hanzo could skewer him, how quickly his life could end.

He’s pulled from these thoughts when Hanzo shifts in his arms and looks up to face Jesse. “Let us get our things ready, then. I will see if I can find us a flight with a stop-over in Japan.”

“Ok, but not just yet,” he replies, still wanting to hold Hanzo. The demon allows it, blessedly not commenting on his pounding heart.

The two of them had never been on a hunt together, and Jesse knew this would be an eventuality, but a vampire coven on the other side of the world was jumping straight into the deep-end with a new partner. This is why he hunts alone; no one else to watch out for but himself, and even then he needn’t worry, what with his solid instincts, his years of experience and his endless supply of luck.

God dammit, he thinks, why the hell didn’t I call in those favours for patrol work? Coulda eased right into it instead of hunting a fuckin’ coven in Australia.

But it’s done now. He just has to have faith that they’ll be ok; Hanzo’s a powerful demon that can easily take care of himself. And he’s smart.

Reluctantly, Jesse gives Hanzo one final squeeze before releasing him and heading to the bedroom to pack his things.

We’ll be fine. We’ll be juuuuuust fine.

Chapter Text

Their stint in Japan is brief but enjoyable. Hanzo gives Jesse the heads-up that his bedroom in the castle is being tended to by a man whose great-grandfather had made a deal with Hanzo’s father.

“His family serves loyally, and in return, I protect him and his family from other demons.”

The hunter eyes him gently, still not used to seeing human-skinned Hanzo with a short, spiky ponytail. “An’ what does ‘servin’ loyally’ involve?” He asks with a wink.

Hanzo laughs at the implications, but responds honestly. “In the past, it meant building shrines and leaving offerings in our family’s name. But seeing as my father is no longer in the picture, I simply ask that Yama tends to my rooms whilst I’m away.” He lets out a happy sigh. “There is nothing quite like returning to your bed, clean and made, after a trip elsewhere.”

They both look forward to a tidy and familiar room after their twelve hour flight. As soon as they enter the castle grounds, Hanzo drops his human appearance, shifting even more quickly than he had when he jumped into Lúcio’s car after their first flight. It’s almost comical; Hanzo all dressed up like a businessman with his suitcase, but in his demon skin.

As the two approach the bedroom at the end of the hallway, the shōji door with the dragons painted on it slides open, and a thin, middle-aged man steps out. He freezes upon seeing Jesse, and just about lets out a whine at seeing Hanzo with greyed skin and horns.

“Yama-san,” rumbles Hanzo as he hands the man his suitcase and struts right passed him. Yama stands there, frozen, with the suitcase in front of him. Jesse walks up to him with his most charming smile and his free hand;

“I’ll take that,” he offers.

Yama starts at being addressed. He eyes McCree warily, probably trying to assess whether or not he’s been enthralled by Hanzo. Jesse just chuckles, reassuring; “He’s with me now; I make sure he stays out of trouble.”

“How did you endear yourself to him as such?” Yama finally seems to have found his voice, but he throws a nervous glance towards the bedroom and whispers to the hunter; “He kills men after they sate his needs.”

Jesse scratches his chest with his metal hand – Yama’s eyes lock onto the embossed monster skull. “We have an arrangement.”

“…I see.” Yama stares at the skull distractedly, then snaps out of his trance. “Please excuse my interruption; I’ll leave you to your evening.”

“Thanks. Have a nice night.”

“And the same to you.”

!~*~!

When Jesse gets to the bedroom, a naked Hanzo is lying on his belly with his phone in his hands. His tail swishes lazily, drawing Jesse’s eyes downwards.

“Well?” The demon rumbles, not even looking at Jesse. The suave sonovabitch. Jesse can play that game, too; he saunters over, feigning disinterest, then he gives Hanzo’s tail a playful pull. The demon gives a surprised yelp, dropping his phone. He turns sharply to stare the hunter down, but his amusement is not very well hidden. Jesse decides to rib him further.

“There a problem, cupcake?”

“Yes. You are still clothed.”

Jesse chuckles, then begins unbuttoning his shirt. Hanzo watches for a little while, then turns his attention back to his phone. The hunter gets completely naked, then crawls next to Hanzo on the bed, flesh hand running along the back of a thigh, over his rear, and along his lower back. The demon hums the entire time, pretending to still be watching his screen.

Jesse climbs on top of him, pressing himself along Hanzo’s back firmly. He kisses gently and sweetly along Hanzo’s shoulders and along the nape of his neck. Hanzo’s phone screen has gone black and has dropped right out of his hand.

Hanzo lets out a low moan, which is Jesse’s cue to start rubbing his semi-hard self against Hanzo’s rump. The demon fists his hands into the blanket, pushes himself back, moans more loudly. Jesse drinks it all up, moving in sync with Hanzo to maximise the friction.

“Baby,” Jesse breathes into Hanzo’s ear. “I want you to do me with yer hair tied up like that.”

Hanzo chuckles. “Any other requests?”

Jesse hums, considering. It’s all Hanzo needs; he turns his whole body with Jesse still over him, then flips them. Jesse lands on his back with a gentle ‘oof,’ which coaxes a chuckle out of Hanzo. The demon nuzzles his chest, trailing soft kisses across his pecs. Jesse wants to pull and ruffle hair, but he also really wants to watch Hanzo slam into him with that ponytail; with his hair out of his face, his regal features stand out so much more.

The hunter watches, enraptured, as the demon places two clawed fingers in his mouth, just like the last night they spent together in this room. But this night is completely different, and feels so much more important.

Hanzo watches Jesse’s face as he opens him up; one finger, then two, then three. Jesse writhes and moans under Hanzo’s skilful touch.

“Are you ready for me, my pet?” Hanzo coos. All Jesse can manage is a clumsy nod. The demon chuckles, then licks his free palm slowly, eyes still on Jesse. With that hand, he gives himself a few slow strokes, then he removes his fingers and plunges straight into Jesse.

The hunter gasps sharply, toes curling as Hanzo thrusts slowly. Clawed hands grab his waist, and Hanzo thrusts deeper; Jesse cries out, chest heaving.

“Right there, baby! That’s the spot!” Jesse digs his heels in, angling his hips upwards to match Hanzo’s thrusting. They’re both moaning loudly; Jesse with his hoarse voice, and Hanzo with his growls and rumbles.

Jesse’s chest heaves as he’s slammed into. He tries valiantly to keep his eyes open, to watch Hanzo with his hair in that ponytail, but the pleasure is overwhelming; he shuts his eyes, feeling himself melt into the sheets below him.

Hanzo pauses momentarily to push himself forward so that he’s hovering over Jesse. He resumes his pace, now with his and Jesse’s noses touching. The hunter pushes his face forward, capturing Hanzo’s lips with his own.

They kiss passionately as the demon’s thrusts become gentler and less urgent. Jesse’s legs wrap themselves around Hanzo as his hands roam all over dark flesh, feeling and teasing. He pinches a nipple, causing Hanzo to shudder.

Jesse hums suggestively; “Didn’t know you were sensitive there,” he whispers smugly. Hanzo pins the hunter’s hands beside his shoulders with a smile. He then threads their fingers together, squeezing Jesse’s hands. They indulge in each other, slow and lazy, until they reach their ends loudly.

The two of them enjoy the afterglow of their post-orgasmic haze, Hanzo laying on top of Jesse, just about purring with the way he growls in his pleased way. Jesse enjoys it for as long as he can; the demon never tolerates lying in their collective mess for long.

!~*~!

As predicted, Hanzo soon rises to tidy up, using his own shirt to wipe them down instead of Jesse’s plaid one, much to his surprise. Probably plannin’ on stealin’ it, the little thief, Jesse thinks fondly. Once clean, the two snuggle together for some well-needed shut-eye; they have a long flight and an even longer investigation ahead of them.

 

~~~~~~

 

Jaime picks them up from the airport in a beat-up Holden Commodore – a ‘true blue bogan car,’ they are advised, though Jesse has no idea what that means, especially since the car is a deep green colour. The lanky wolf is in a foul mood, despite the calming presence of his large companion squashed into the passenger seat. Jesse only knows him as Roadhog; fully human, but with a weakened immune system – hence the black surgeon’s masks.

“Bloody Melbourne,” the wolf grumbles as they travel on the freeway with the airport disappearing behind them. “In Sydney, you can catch a bloody train to the airport, no worries. Just jump on the Airport Link and Bob’s your uncle. Here, gotta get your arse on a shuttle bus, which takes you to bloody Southern Cross station, an’ that fuckin’ place has sixteen platforms! By the time you figure out which bloody platform ya train’s on, it’s fuckin’ gone-”

“It is a grid,” Hanzo interrupts, back in his demon skin and glancing at a map of the Central Business District of Melbourne City.

“What?” Snaps Jaime.

“The city is built like a grid. There are perhaps one or two roads that run diagonally. All of the others are very tidily arranged.”

Jaime stays unnervingly silent. Finally, he relents; “I suppose that’s one good thing about this bloody city.”

“Food,” Roadhog provides.

“Oh, fuck me, the food, fellas! The food here is amazing! Have you poor buggers had a proper meal yet?”

“Naw,” replies Jesse, “we were plannin’ on grabbin’ something after we unpacked. Figured there’d be somethin’ decent nearby.”

“Nah, mate! We’ll go to Flemington! Best wolf-friendly dining around!”

“I have never had Australian cuisine before,” says Hanzo. That comment gets a high-pitched maniacal laugh from Jaime, and a gentle chuckle from Roadhog.

Australian cuisine!” he cries. “Oh, that’s a good one!”

“Yeah, they don’t really have their own food here,” says Jesse.

“Fuck off! We have barbies and sausage sizzles!”

“Anyway,” Jesse continues in response to Hanzo’s confused look, “You mostly get international foods here.”

Good food. Lots of migrants,” supplies Roadhog.

“Yep,” confirms Jaime, “that means traditional recipes.”

Hanzo huffs. “I should like to see how well they make ramen here.”

“Maybe tomorrow – tonight, it’s dumplings!” Jaime slowly and calmly overtakes another driver, humming at the wheel. Jesse remembers Jaime driving him through Sydney once, but there, the traffic was unmoving, and he hadn’t yet met Roadhog, who somehow manages to keep Jaime considerably calm. Needless to say, that escapade had made Jesse incredibly reluctant to agree to be in a car being driven by Jaime. He pushes those thoughts from his head.

“So where’s this establishment, anyway?” He asks.

“Flemington,” Jaime repeats, as if it answers everything, “should be there in 20.” Jaime then reaches over to the glove box while trying to keep his eyes on the road. Roadhog bats his hand away and attempts to extract whatever Jaime was after – his large hands and belly make it difficult, but eventually he pulls out a take-away menu and hands it to McCree.

“Order now for pick-up,” he says, watching Jesse with his dark, brooding eyes. Jesse wonders if they’re not dining in for Hanzo’s sake, or if it’s because Jaime’s antisocial tendencies haven’t changed since they last met. He settles on thinking it’s a healthy combination of both.

Hanzo abandons his map of the CBD and rests his head on Jesse’s shoulder while reading the menu. They decide on what they want, and Jesse calls in to place the order.

Jaime’s car leaves the freeway off-ramp, and he turns onto a narrow road with what appear to be tiny train tracks running along it.

“What,” mutters Hanzo, “are those?”

“What are what, mate?” Asks Jaime, glancing at Hanzo in his rear view mirror.

“Those tracks on the road?”

“Trams,” Roadhog grunts, as if that one word explains everything.

Hanzo looks to Jesse for clarification. The hunter shrugs. “Don’t got no idea what a tram is. Only been to Perth an’ Sydney. Ain’t never been in this state before.”

“They’re fucking old, and stupid,” mumbles Jaime, sounding thoroughly unimpressed. “Perth an’ Sydney got rid of those useless things decades ago – that’s why you’ve never seen ’em, McCree.”

Jesse finds himself following the tram tracks, fascinated; they remind him of the Californian Waterfront Red Car trolleys Gabriel had taken him to see way back when. He imagines the trams to be tall and bulky and red, a relic of times passed in a modern, thriving city.

Jaime snaps him out of his daydreaming when he turns off the main road and onto a narrow side street. He turns again, and they end up in a public carpark, where Jaime reverses into a spot with surprising grace and precision, then barks at Roadhog to hand him his wallet.

“I will pay for dinner tonight,” Hanzo interrupts, “as a thank you for picking us up from the airport.”

“What? Nah, mate, we got it.”

“I insist.” When Jaime harks up, Hanzo places a card in Jesse’s hand, then shoves him out of the car, still arguing with Jaime. Jesse makes quick work of paying and grabbing their food; the last thing he needs is Jaime and Hanzo fighting. Hell, the last thing this whole damn investigation needs is for those two to not get along.

Thankfully, the two appear both calm and happy upon Jesse’s return. Jaime drives them further down the side street they came from, and down another road, this one narrower with cobblestone gutters. The houses that run along the street look tired and worn, but beautifully old-fashioned. Hanzo seems to have noticed, too;

“How old are the houses along this street?” He asks.

“Fuckin’ ancient. Notice the lack of driveways, fellas; these houses were built back in horse and cart days.”

“So, last week?” asks Jesse playfully. He gets a chuckle out of Roadhog and a hissed “smart arse” from Jaime. Their hosts’ house is one of the more recently touched-up houses, much to Jesse’s surprise. Jaime steers them right into the cobblestone gutter, parallel-parked right in front of the property. The wolf grabs the food excitedly and hurries inside, while Roadhog insists on carrying all of Jesse and Hanzo’s luggage.

Once inside, the two are shown their room, complete with double bed, a desk, and a bureau with a small television set atop it. They essentially dump their luggage and run straight to the kitchen for their serve of dumplings. Jaime has set the table with chopsticks, which catch both the hunter and the demon by surprise.

“What?” asks Jaime, feigning offence, “you think just ’cause I’m a yobbo, I don’t have chopsticks in my house?”

“What on God’s green earth is a ‘yobbo’?” mutters Jesse rhetorically. Jaime catches the hint, and continues his faux-offended rambling about how cultured he is because of all of the different international foods he and Roadhog have indulged in since lodging in Melbourne. Hanzo sends a knowing smile in Jesse’s direction, which the hunter returns; they both know damn well that even men with a traditional recipe generations old need to Anglicise it to sell.

Despite that knowledge, both Jesse and Hanzo find the dumplings beyond satisfactory; the fried ones are crisp and full of flavour, without being terribly oily like most fried dumplings Jesse has had before, and the steamed ones are perfectly soft without being soggy and sticky.

When all the food is eaten, Jesse and Hanzo retire for the night, curling up together as they normally do in their own bed. They’re both exhausted, but not quite sleepy yet, so Hanzo plies Jesse for more useless vampire information.

“Vampires are not particularly social, correct?”

“Depends. In the city an’ more urban areas, no, not really. Kinda like cats; selectively social.”

“But out in more isolated areas, covens are more common?”

“Yup. Pack mentality; teammates and protection. I know of four covens out in the desert near home; groups of about ten or fifteen vampires, but they’re far away from any human settlements. Mostly feed on horses an’ buffalo; one animal can generally feed five vampires.”

“And the solitary ones?”

“They either try to join a coven, or get themselves in trouble killin’ livestock. Like Consuela did.”

Hanzo grumbles at the mention of that name. He pulls Jesse closer, nuzzling more affectionately (or possessively) along his neck and collarbone. “Tell me of European vampires; are they the only ones who feed on human blood?”

“Naw,” Jesse chuckles, holding Hanzo more tightly, “human blood meals are only really a thing where animal blood isn’t too readily available. In Europe, they got the resources for animal feeds, so that’s what they do. Can’t really do human feeds nowadays, what with hunters bein’ competent; all those centuries ago, they were bein’ fought with garlic an’ crucifixes.”

Hanzo laughs into Jesse’s shoulder. “Yes, I have heard about garlic being a vampire repellent. Most amusing.”

“Yeah, we can laugh about it now, but there were real consequences for that ignorance. When vampires couldn’t be kept in check, they went all out. Human blood has certain… properties; it changes things. So when vampires had nothin’ but human blood, an’ lots of it, they started losin’ their human appearance, gainin’ more resistances an’ powers. Ever seen a painting of an Old World vampire?”

Hanzo shakes his head.

“Freaky shit. Anyway, they’re long dead. Got wiped out by the Black Death. Normal vampires managed to survive by drinkin’ animal blood, but the Old Worlders would often drink from infected humans in their desperation for a meal.”

Hanzo scoffs, unimpressed. “Desperate for a meal, but too proud to drink animal blood.”

“Pride is a dangerous thing,” Jesse hums.

“Indeed,” laments Hanzo, “mine almost cost me my brother.”

They are both silent for a time, Jesse wondering if Hanzo will keep talking, will lift the heavy air surrounding them. When he offers nothing, McCree clears his throat nervously, and continues his lesson:

“Anyway, most vampires ain’t interested in killin’ people for blood meals. The ones that are have generally heard ’bout Old World vampires an’ want in on that action.”

Hanzo mutters something incoherent into Jesse’s skin.

“Huh?”

“Is that what you suspect may be happening here?”

“Well, it’s either that, or someone isn’t doin’ their research; the most common web search with the word ‘vampire’ in it is ‘can vampires live off of animal blood’.”

Hanzo hums, considering the new information. “So how does one actually kill a vampire?”

Jesse sighs. “Stake to the heart.”

“Truly?”

“Yep. The reason they’re near invincible is because of their healing an’ regeneration rate. The source of that power is the heart.” Jesse muffles a yawn before continuing. “Take that out, an’ then you can end them. Easiest way to do that is with a stake.”

“Enough talk for tonight, I think.” Hanzo says with a chuckle, pressing himself even closer to Jesse.

“Ok,” Jesse says with another muffled yawn. He nuzzles the top of Hanzo’s head, snuggling in close.

“Goodnight, my pet.”

“Night, Hanzo.”

Even as he drifts off to sleep, he can feel Hanzo stewing. That’s a ‘future Jesse’ problem, he decides, present Jesse needs his shut-eye.

Chapter Text

Jesse wakes to warm skin on his back and gentle laughter in his ear.

“Huh?” is all he can manage.

“Nothing,” Hanzo chuckles from behind him.

Jesse’s brain catches up slowly; the only times Hanzo wakes him with laughter is when he’s been sleep talking. He sighs, pretending to be exasperated. “What did I say this time?”

“You were telling me about your ‘badass’ hunter gear.” Hanzo pulls himself closer, chuckling. “Why did I not see this gear in Japan all those months ago?”

“Wasn’t huntin’ in Japan that time; just investigating.”

The demon snorts; “Investigating my cock.”

Jesse guffaws, suddenly feeling more awake. “Well, I’d say it was a pretty successful investigation, then.”

Hanzo hums contentedly, nuzzling into Jesse’s neck. The hunter exhales happily, enjoying the warmth of the bed and Hanzo’s breath on his ear. That is, until he hears the scratching of chairs on tiled floors and a very particular nasal voice using colourful language.

Jesse sighs. “Well, it was nice while it lasted,” he says playfully. “I’m pretty keen on breakfast right about now, anyway.”

Reluctantly, they get up and out of bed. The both of them dress in jeans and long-sleeved shirts, despite the warming weather.

Breakfast is a noisy affair; eggs, bacon, avocado mashed with feta cheese, sour dough toast, and a yappy wolf talking excitedly about how well Roadhog makes this particular meal better than they do at their favourite café. The large man had even cooked a small amount of rice for Hanzo.

After they get their fill, they return to the bedroom, setting up Jesse’s computer at the desk. Jesse also sets his tablet up in a specialised stand; this will be how he video-calls Winston. Now all he needs is Jaime to fill him in, hopefully quickly and in a coherent manner.

“Jaime!” Jesse calls. The wolf runs in.

“G’day!” he chirps.

“I need all the intel you can give me; where you found the body, number of bites, if you’ve found any more. Even if the information don’t seem important, I can probably use it.”

“Righty-o, mate!”

The next few hours are spent building a profile around Jaime’s intel and any other information Jesse can get from local reports, news outlets, and even others monitoring the situation and reporting on Winston’s forums.

Lunch approached fast, but the two were on a roll; they stayed at the desk while getting their fill, trying to determine how big the coven was. Jesse estimates at least ten – a big number for such an urban area. By late afternoon, they needed a proper break. Jaime promises tea and sweet biscuits, minus the sweet biscuits.

Which is how the two end up in a nearby supermarket in the aisle full of sweet biscuits. Jesse is staring down the large selection of unfamiliar packaging when he feels uneasy. Not long after, he gets that itchy prickle on the back of his neck.

“We’re bein’ watched,” he whispers.

“So I noticed,” Hanzo replies easily. He reaches for a packet of biscuits, giving it a once-over. “What kind of name is ‘Iced VoVo’?”

“Wh-?” Jesse looks at the packet in Hanzo’s hand; on it is a photo of what appears to be a rectangular sweet biscuit with pink icing, a strip of jam down the middle, and dusted with coconut. ‘Sweet and interesting,’ the packaging promises. “That is the strangest damn cookie I’ve ever seen.”

“I am buying these,” Hanzo announces.

“What?” Blurts Jesse, startled. “Why?”

“I have a fondness for things that are ‘sweet and interesting’,” he says boldly, looking at Jesse with a sly smile. The hunter laughs.

“Oh, you!” He says coyly. He turns back to the shelf and spots Wagon Wheels. “Huh. These are Lena’s favourite.”

“Lena?” Hanzo asks.

“Yeah, she an’ the girlfriend were backpackin’ when your party was on, so you didn’t meet them. Anyway, these are a British thing, but I guess they have their own version here.” Hanzo nods distractedly. Probably focussed on our tail, Jesse thinks; in his experience, supernatural creatures seem to just know when others are around. Except, Hanzo plays it cool well – his tail doesn’t even twitch.

They head to the check-out, but then the demon walks passed it and on towards the freezer section. “Ice cream,” he says by way of explanation. Jesse knows something’s up, but he follows anyway. Hanzo looks to the selection of flavours, then addresses Jesse in Japanese;

“We are still being followed,” he says, pointing to a fancy-looking tub of cookies and cream.

“I noticed,” Jesse replies easily. “Do you think it’s the target?”

“It is difficult to say. But this creature is very angry; I believe it would be worth looking into.” He then reaches into the freezer and extracts the ice cream he was eyeing. “I am also buying this.”

Jesse can only chuckle and shake his head in an amused fashion.

They complete their purchases and head outside; McCree notices that the supermarket is close to a train station. He also notices a hooded figure walk hurriedly towards the city-bound platform. Once the figure is out of sight, Jesse’s body relaxes. He looks to Hanzo, who seems to have drawn the same conclusion; that was who was watching them.

Hanzo places the handles of the plastic grocery bags in Jesse's hands. “Take these; I'm going to see what was following us.”

“Like hell you are-”

“Jesse, please take the ice cream home before it melts,” the demon sighs.

“Hanzo, if we're gonna tail this guy-“

“Wrong; I’m tailing this guy.”

“Baby, please,” Jesse whines, already knowing that Hanzo will ignore him and do as he pleases, “it could be a trap, or it could be somethin’ we’re totally unprepared for. I’d be best to jus’ get back to the house an’ build on what we know.”

The demon just stares him down with exasperation. Jesse relents.

“Fine. Melted ice cream fer us.”

Jesse hears the approaching train blaring its horn. With his supernatural precision and speed, Hanzo snatches Jesse's phone from his pocket and bolts for the train.

“Hey!”

“Call me!” the demon cries gleefully.

“Hanzo, dammit!” Jesse tries to keep up, but the groceries in his hands slow him down. Hanzo manages to leap through the closing doors of the train before Jesse can even get onto the platform.

McCree stands there, fuming as he watches the train clear the platform and disappear. God dammit, Hanzo! He storms back to the tram stop, reaching it just as the tram is coming to a stop before him. The strange 'donk' noise of the tram bell calms him; the trams are an endearing relic.

When Jesse returns to the house, Jaime and Roadhog are there, the former chattering excitedly on his phone.

“Oh, here he is right now. Hang on a tick!” Jaime bolts over to Jesse, whose hands are still filled with plastic grocery bags. “It’s ya mate, Hanzo!”

Jesse drops the bags and just about snatches the phone from Jaime.

“Hanzo, what in the ever-lovin’ fuck are you playin’ at?”

“I followed our tail to an abandoned property in the southeast. Definitely vampire.”

Jesse pauses, momentarily impressed and proud. Only momentarily.

“Fine. Get yer ass back to the house while I check it out.”

“Negative. I will wait for you here.”

“This ain’t negotiable. I’m in charge of this investigation, I call the shots. Get yer demon buns back into this house before I give ’em a good tannin’.”

“Hmmm,” purrs Hanzo, “I think I should enjoy that.”

Jesse inhales sharply, squeezes his eyes shut, exhales slowly, prays in Spanish the way Gabriel always used to when Jesse would do anything exceptionally stupid; “God, give me patience, because if you give me strength, I’ll kill him…”

The demon purrs again; “That sounds very pleasing. Can you whisper that to me the next time we fuck?”

The hunter pushes the phone into Jaime’s skinny chest.

“Get that outta my face before I break it,” he growls, low and dangerous. He storms off to his room, slamming the door. He has blissful silence for all of ten seconds before Jaime nervously knocks on the door.

“Uh, McCree, mate?” He says tentatively, “don’t ya wanna suss this place out?”

“Nope. Let Hanzo do it. He thinks he knows how it’s done. Let him deal with it.”

“More people will die,” comes Roadhog’s low rumble.

“People’re always dyin’,” he snaps, startling himself with how cold that comment was.

He’s given another ten seconds of blissful silence before he hears Jaime muttering:

“C’mon then, Roadie. Let’s check it out ourselves.”

Jesse bolts upright and just about breaks the door down in his hurry.

“Nope! Y’all’re stayin’ right here! I’m goin’! Right now!”

McCree quickly grabs the essentials and is out of the house before he can witness a sly Jaime winking at Roadhog. “Told ya that’d work.”

 

~~~~~~

 

Jesse catches the next city-bound train, then changes to an outbound train, this one heading to suburbs with strange names. He jumps off after about five or so stops and follows his geo-locator, which has the location of his phone pinging nearby.

The hunter approaches what appears to be an abandoned demolition site: a dilapidated wire fence surrounds the area; bricks and crumpled walls litter the courtyard; thick thatches of weeds strangle and suffocate the remaining visible dirt. Jesse easily finds a hole in the fence, and climbs on through, glancing at his geo-locator, but also keeping a sharp eye on his surroundings.

Hanzo is waiting further in, skin back to grey with glowing white eyes. He smiles smugly at Jesse, but that expression quickly disappears when he notices Jesse stomping towards him, expression twisted with anger.

“You were outta line,” he snarls.

Hanzo adopts a defensive stance, shoulders squared and chin up. “I was furthering your investigation. You’re welcome.”

“There ain’t gonna be an investigation if ya run off an’ do whatever the fuck ya want.”

Hanzo looks at him sulkily, but before he can offer a retort, Jesse shoves passed him.

“C’mon. Let’s get this over with so I can go to bed.”

The demon huffs. “Fareeha is right – you are an old man.”

Jesse doesn’t reply. He clears his thoughts and goes into military mode, just like Gabriel and Ana had taught him. He draws his revolver, patrolling the abandoned site carefully, keeping a watchful eye out for any debris or anything out of the ordinary. Hanzo steps on a discarded aluminium can, the crunch deafening in Jesse’s ears. The hunter’s body tenses, and he wills himself to relax, to refocus on his task without looking back at Hanzo.

The two move deeper into the site, looking along walls and in any crevices that might show evidence of vampire squatters. Hanzo’s trouser hem gets caught in bent metal, giving with an abruptly loud tearing noise. Jesse turns to face the demon, well and truly fed-up.

“I am not used to sleuthing!” He whispers defensively, “I hide in plain sight!”

“Told ya you should’ve gone back to the house,” Jesse says smugly. Hanzo growls, but they press on in silence. They reach a wire fence with barbed wire atop it. Jesse walks along it, searching for an entry point someone might use. He finds a small gap where the fence has been pulled up, and the dirt has been rounded out, as if by many human bodies pressing against it to crawl underneath it. Hanzo looks at the dirt, affronted.

“Are we going in?”

“Yep.” Says Jesse softly, pulling a hunting knife from his belt.

“Through there?” He asks, incredulous.

Jesse just laughs, using the hunting knife to dismantle a small section of the barbed wire. When he’s done, he sheaths the knife and climbs over the fence. Hanzo follows suit, looking thoroughly impressed. Until Jesse’s phone goes off in his pocket.

“Damnit, Hanzo!” McCree snaps.

“Me?” The demon snaps back, incredulous. “I’m not calling you!”

Jesse yanks the phone from Hanzo’s pocket and declines the call. He then unlocks it and sets it to his specialised ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode. He shoves the screen in Hanzo’s face, pointing impatiently. “When I’m snoopin’, this goes on ‘Do Not Disturb’; that means anyone on my specialised list that calls gets an alert lettin’ ’em know I’m workin’. Everyone else gets sent to voicemail.”

Hanzo blinks twice, eyes comically wide. “That is… rather clever.”

Jesse doesn’t respond verbally; he shoves the phone into his pocket with more force than necessary, then gestures forward with an impatient tilt of his head. He moves along quietly, hearing Hanzo follow him closely.

They find a shrivelled corpse; someone they tried to turn, but the poor bastard hadn’t made it through the night. Jesse moves to inspect it, but the demon grabs Jesse’s arm, holding him in place. Jesse freezes, then looks to Hanzo slowly, a questioning look on his face. Hanzo just pulls him backwards gently, ensuring they’re both closer to crumpled piles of building, hidden in the shadows.

It’s then that Jesse hears it; faint chatter. He thinks he can hear three different voices; he looks to Hanzo, holding three of his fingers up. Hanzo just nods, looking mildly impressed.

Jesse strains his ears, but the chatter is too faint, the unfamiliar accent further muffling the voices. He can’t even confirm if they are in fact speaking English. Eventually, the voices fade away, and Hanzo relaxes.

“Didya catch any of that?”

“They heard your phone, but they weren’t sure what the noise was. One of them said he smelled something funny, but the other two dismissed it as ‘dead body stink’.” Hanzo turns away, glancing passed the bricks towards where the voices had come from. “I think we may have an advantage.”

“Sure,” Jesse drawls sarcastically, “lemme just rub myself with a corpse so they don’ smell me comin’.”

Hanzo rolls his eyes, then takes on his human appearance just in case. They share a look, nod at each other, then proceed. Before they’ve even rounded the corner, two vampires appear in front of them. Neither of them is the hooded figure.

“Well,” one of them says in an amused fashion, flicking her braid over her shoulder, “what do we have here?”

“Looks like a pair of sticky beaks,” growls the other. He is shorter and skinnier than his companion, but his eyes are considerably redder, and his canines are far more prominent. That’s enough confirmation for Jesse – this one has been drinking human blood for quite a while.

The male vampire turns to Hanzo, snarling; “And what, exactly, are you?”

“What kinda question is that?” Asks the female vampire.

“Can’t you smell ’im?” When she shakes her head, he turns back to Hanzo. “You’re definitely not human, so I ask again; what are you?”

“I believe that is my business,” Hanzo says dismissively with a regal tilt of his head.

The vampire with the braid also turns on Hanzo; “Oi! This is our turf!” She pushes her chin upwards with a snarl, exposing her canines. “Far as I’m concerned, we’re doing you a favour by letting you live. So how’s abouts you repay that kindness and answer the bloody question.”

“Or,” interjects Jesse, hands up in a placating gesture, “my buddy an’ I head on back and leave y’all to your business. How does that sound?”

“Nah,” she retorts, “I have a better idea. Y’see, you smell pretty tasty, and we’re pretty hungry.” A cruel laugh escapes her companion’s lips. She takes a step forward, eyeing Jesse up and down with a smile. Hanzo tenses beside him, ready to fight.

“And anyway,” she continues, “you’re a big bloke; the three of us’d be right for a week with you.”

“And there ain’t no talkin’ y’all outta this?”

The shorter vampire laughs. “Nah. You and your mate, you’re both dead.”

Hanzo chuckles lightly, glancing sideways at the hunter, who just lowers his hands slowly, shaking his head. “At least I can say I tried.”

And with that, he draws his revolver, fanning the hammer and landing three shots square in each vampire’s chest. He quickly re-holsters the empty gun, rolling forward and grabbing the taller vampire while reaching into one of his packs for a small stake.

The vampire is in shock; she doesn’t react to Jesse’s metal arm in her mouth, and she hardly puts up a fight when the stake is rammed into her neck. She drops quickly and heavily, paralysed. The other vampire stops inspecting his lack of chest wound and lunges toward Jesse, but before his body can make contact, Hanzo’s hand is around his throat. Even with inhuman strength from blood meals, the vampire isn’t strong enough to throw the angry demon off.

Ever the one for theatrics, Hanzo starts to shift out of his human form, watching his prey’s face as realisation dawns. The vampire starts babbling, trying to eke out an apology or a deal, but Hanzo won’t hear it; he pulls the vampire closer, their faces a breath apart, then he rumbles deep and low;

“Do not, fuck with my hunter.”

And with a sharp sweep of his claws, he decapitates the vampire. Jesse hovers over the vampire he paralysed, watching the headless body drop sharply from Hanzo’s grasp, a dark, thick liquid dribbling out of the wound. It confirms the hunter’s earlier observation; that one’s been livin’ off human blood for a while. As the body twitches, Jesse holds a stake out to Hanzo;

“Gotta finish it,” he says, amazed that he still has a voice after witnessing that display, “otherwise it’s a slow an’ painful death.”

“It is what he deserves,” growls Hanzo, refusing to grab the stake. He eyes the live vampire, who now has tears streaming down her face. “That one, too.”

Jesse can’t deal with this; not right now. He has two dying vampires, potentially a third to deal with – he can’t afford to have flashbacks.

He rises mechanically, shoves Hanzo out of the way, then kneels beside the twitching body. He lines up a stake, and with his left palm, whacks the stake through the heart. The second the twitching stops, a terrible wail comes from the paralysed vampire; her pupils dilate to a hideous degree, eyes almost black, and she actually turns herself towards the duo.

“What the ever-lovin’ fuck-”

An even louder shriek cuts Jesse off; that’d be vampire number three.

The hunter quickly reloads his gun, hoping to slow the frenzied vampire, but Hanzo is faster; he snatches Jesse’s hunting knife, and with a fierce roar, he meets the charging, hooded vampire head-on. The two grapple, but only for a few seconds; the demon clearly has strength and combat experience on his side. The knife finds its way into the vampire’s chest, where Hanzo twists it cruelly with a growl, then pulls it free; the vampire is dead before he hits the ground.

Jesse quickly moves over to the paralysed vampire before she gets back up – her movements are becoming less jerky and more fluid. The hunter ends her quickly with a swift stake to the heart. He looks to Hanzo, who seems vaguely interested in the lack of blood coming from his most recent victim. New, like this little gal.

The demon turns, but does not make eye contact. “What was that?”

“Don’t rightly know,” admits Jesse. “Normally, that kinda reaction is saved for bonded mates, but that’s a very different kinda frenzy.” Still watching her face closely, he takes her limp hand, checking her palms for post-mortem shrivelling. They appear dry and wrinkled, with her fingers curling as her body quickly loses moisture. Definitely dead. He notices that the woman’s left pinkie finger is missing. He inspects the other bodies, making sure they’re all definitely dead, also noticing the lack of left pinkie fingers.

The duo inspect the site carefully, looking for signs of other vampires. They find two corpses; one is a young man with his pants down, most likely lured there with sweet promises of a thrilling time, and the other is a young woman. While the man had been thrown haphazardly onto his front with bite marks all over his arms, the young woman was on her back, one hand on her chest and the other out to the side. Her dead eyes stare straight up, as if she died while in deep thought. Jesse points her out to Hanzo;

“They were tryin’ to turn her. An’ they were gettin’ the hang of not overdoin’ the venom. See how she ain’t all shrivelled like that other corpse?”

Hanzo just grunts. He wanders around, looking at the campsite. Jesse walks over to the young man, gently turning him over. He’s quietly grateful his face is still intact; someone will be able to recognise him and put him to rest. Hanzo calls to him sharply, and Jesse moves; it sounds urgent.

He finds the demon standing still and silent, pointing to the bottom half of a dilapidated barbecue. He wants to make a joke about Australians and their barbecues, but something’s definitely off. In fact, now that Jesse’s drawn closer, he can feel something off about the air; it feels dense and heavy. The closer he moves to that barbecue, the harder he finds it to breathe.

When he finally gets over there, he notices a dark piece of cloth draped over the grill, but it’s what is sitting on the cloth that changes everything;

On it are three tiny bones. Pinkie finger bones if Jesse had to guess. On each of them are a few horizontal cuts, like the bones just needed to be carved with something, anything.

“Jesse,” Hanzo rasps, causing the hunter to jump. “That is blood magic. What are vampires doing meddling with such a thing?”

Jesse’s blood turns to ice as realisation hits him like a ton of bricks. “They’re linked by blood. We ain’t just dealin’ with a coven; it’s a God-damn network.”

Chapter Text

Jesse had walked out of that abandoned site feeling numb; he’d only ever heard about networked vampires from hushed whispers with airs of fantasy – never would he have dreamed that he would be thrown into a hunt like this.

He hardly remembers walking out with Hanzo, and he remembers even less about Jaime’s car circling the site – apparently both he and Roadhog had wanted in on eliminating the coven. The car ride, he remembers. It was uncomfortably quiet, with Hanzo whispering to Jaime and Roadhog about what they had found, and the three of them shooting cautious glances at Jesse; he must have looked as exhausted as he felt, what with all of the thoughts running through his head, swirling and colliding.

As soon as they arrived home, McCree had alerted Winston and Fareeha; Winston would be in touch with Australian hunters and investigators on the forums, and Fareeha would check in with him to make sure the hunt was running smoothly.

The hunt, Jesse had thought, it ain’t just an investigation anymore.

After Jaime and Roadhog offer all the assistance they can, they leave the two to their desk in their room. Hanzo is too unsettled to sit; instead, he paces, tail twitching as the hunter watches his screen. It unsettles Jesse even more; his nerves are already frayed.

Suddenly, Hanzo turns to face him. “Why did you not want to follow our tail?”

Jesse sighs, not looking at the demon. “He’d have known if I followed him. Was plannin’ on seein’ which train he caught; would’ve been able to go from there.”

“Oh really? Especially since he changed train lines? How would you have tracked him from there?”

“I have my ways,” he rasps, sounding as ragged as he feels.

“Jesse, every delay means more lives lost,” the demon snaps.

Jesse is growing tired; he can’t be bothered reading between lines anymore, so he asks the demon a straight question: “Why do you care ’bout that?”

Hanzo growls, low and dangerous; “I thought you believed not all monsters were monsters. Or is that only your belief for lycanthropes? Are demons too far-gone for basic compassion?”

“Ok, now yer just puttin’ words in my mouth,” McCree says sulkily, still looking at his computer.

“I am a victim of circumstance, too, Jesse; I was born into a demon family with honour and a name to uphold. Every day I was reminded of what was expected of me.”

Hanzo, of course, makes a valid point – like a lycanthrope, Hanzo was thrown into his life without much say. But he’s straying from his point. “An’ why’s that relevant to our conversation?” Jesse asks, finally turning to face the demon.

“It’s not, I just-” Hanzo covers his eyes with one palm, sighing heavily. “Why did you not trust me to follow our tail and successfully lead you to his hiding place?”

So that’s what this is all about. “It ain’t about me not trustin’ you,” he says gently. “It’s about me bein’ used to workin’ alone, and not knowin’ how you work.”

“I will not let your ignorance jeopardise the investigation.”

My ignorance?! “You are goin’ about this the wrong way,” Jesse snarls, defensive.

“Am I? So far, I have seen nothing from you that indicates that you are a veteran hunter. I’m surprised you even survived last night, given how quickly you rushed in.”

Jesse stands abruptly, completely done with the conversation. He grabs a pillow, and one of the spare blankets.

“Jesse-?”

“I’m sleepin’ on the damn couch.”

Hanzo steps towards him, an amused smirk on his face, but Jesse has none of it; he pushes right through the demon and out of their bedroom, slamming the door behind him.

He stomps over to the couch, throwing the pillow roughly onto one end, then sitting just as roughly to remove his boots. He lies across the large couch, pleasantly surprised that he actually fits properly on it; he’ll need to get himself a Roadhog-sized couch at some point.

From where he is lying, he can see the closed door of his temporary quarters. Just looking at it is enough to conjure images of a stunned and sad-looking Hanzo still standing on the other side. With a huff, the hunter turns himself around, staring resolutely at the back of the couch.

He falls asleep angry and wishing for Hanzo’s arms around him. Instead, his pride keeps him on the couch, stewing and alone.

 

~~~~~~

 

Jesse wakes unfairly early. His muscles are stiff, and he aches all over. He feels too heavy, too sluggish, until a quiet breath next to him startles him into alert mode.

Hanzo is sitting up with his back against the couch, fast asleep. His arms are folded, and he looks contrary as ever, even with his eyes shut.

Jesse can’t help but be enthralled; he hardly ever catches Hanzo asleep. He listens to the demon’s gentle breaths, watching the tiny twitches of his nose and upper lip.

The hunter lets out a heavy breath, which is apparently enough to wake Hanzo; his eyes snap open, and then his eyes train themselves on Jesse. He lets out a grunt, then stretches and yawns lazily, curved fangs flashing for a moment before they’re hidden away.

“Are you done acting like a child?” He growls with a sleepy voice.

“Not until you are,” Jesse shoots back.

That gets a gentle chuckle from Hanzo. He is quiet for a time, and then he speaks up again. “Are we going to talk about last night?”

“Naw.”

“Jesse-”

“Just didn’t expect that shit from you,” Jesse blurts. He doesn’t mean to, but it all tumbles out: “My whole damn career, I’ve been laughed at an’ second-guessed. People kept askin’ Gabriel what he was thinkin’, havin’ some dumb hick from Santa Fe followin’ him around.”

“You are not dumb,” Hanzo says gently.

“Naw,” Jesse growls, turning to lie on his back, “‘ignorant’ was the word you used.”

Hanzo lets out a pained whine – it’s the most heartbreaking noise Jesse has ever heard. He turns back to look at Hanzo, who has buried his face in his hands. He knows he fucked up.

“C’mere,” Jesse whispers, pushing himself as close to the couch backing as possible and lifting the blanket in an inviting way. Hanzo goes, pushing up against Jesse, as if trying to get as physically close as possible. He covers the hunter’s face with gentle, sweet kisses, apologising without saying a word. Jesse nuzzles into the space between Hanzo’s neck and shoulder, and it doesn’t take long for him to fall back asleep, securely wrapped in Hanzo’s arms.

 

~~~~~~

The entirety of the next day is spent tracking down any potential members of the vampire network. It is gruelling work, considering how many vampires there are living in Melbourne – Winston’s request for information on the forums had lead hundreds of young Melbourne-based vampires to take selfies of their human-coloured eyes to prove they were living off animal blood. Cute, but completely useless, Jesse thinks.

It’s early evening when Jaime approaches them.

“Uh, fellas,” he says nervously, “you wanna duck out and grab some tucker?”

“Nope,” replies Jesse, determined to track down a small section of the network apparently hiding in a nearby suburb. “I’m good here. Hanzo?”

“I cannot feel my tail,” he says sulkily. “Surely we can take a quick break and do something that does not involve sitting on our asses.”

“Ok. How’s abouts gettin’ some groceries, an’ we’ll cook somethin’?”

“Jesse,” Hanzo grumbles, rolling his eyes, “can we not dine out?”

“Nope – not ’til I figure out exactly how many assholes we’re dealin’ with here.”

Jaime stands in the doorway, staring Jesse down with a sulky expression. Finally, he huffs, then turns, stomping his prosthetic foot emphatically. “Fine. But I’m pickin’ the ice cream this time; the one you picked was shithouse.”

“That’s ’cause y’all let it melt!” Jesse calls after him.

“I did not even get to try it,” whines Hanzo with his arms crossed.

Serves you right fer runnin’ off, Jesse wants to say. Instead, he shoots Winston a quick message, then puts the PC to sleep. Before he’s out of the bedroom, an excited Jaime bounds in.

“C’mon! Let’s go get ice cream!”

“We’re gettin’ groceries,” sighs Jesse.

“And ice cream,” Hanzo says firmly. Jaime nods enthusiastically beside him.

“Can y’all act like adults? Please?”

Jaime snickers, and Hanzo rolls his eyes again. Jesse looks to Roadhog, who is standing in the doorway. All he gets is a broody stare, until the man speaks up:

“I like ice cream.”

Jesse gives up; he just climbs into Jaime’s old car while the wolf chants ‘ice cream’ the whole trip. When they get into the store, Jaime is just about vibrating with excitement.

“I’m gonna have a Golden Gaytime!”

“A… a what?” Jesse asks.

“McCree… mate…” Jaime looks almost sad, which confuses Jesse terribly, “how have you been to Australia twice and never had a Golden Gaytime?”

“I, uh… I don’t quite know how to respond to that,” Jesse answers while Hanzo hums suggestively next to him.

“That’s it!” Jaime caws loudly, catching the attention of passers-by, “A Golden Gaytime for everyone!”

“Jaime, please don’ say that too loud,” whispers McCree, worried by the glances cast at them.

“Nah, mate. You don’t understand.” And to prove his point, Jaime yells at a young woman walking passed. “Oi! How about a Golden Gaytime?”

“Oh, fuck yeah!” She responds eagerly. Jesse walks away from the scene as quickly as possible. He makes his purchases, then waits by the car. When the other three finally get back to the car, Jaime and Roadhog have bags full of various boxes of assorted ice creams and sweet biscuits, and Hanzo has two bags; one with vegetables, and an extra bag that he tries to hide.

“Whatcha got there, honey?” Jesse asks pointedly with a smirk. Hanzo blushes, the pink tint made all the more apparent in his human form.

“Ingredients for dinner. What else?” He answers shortly while Jaime and Roadhog climb into the car.

“Oh, now I know yer hidin’ something,” he laughs, approaching to inspect the bags. Hanzo looks away and pushes the hidden bag towards Jesse. In it are six packets of Iced VoVos.

“Honey,” says Jesse, trying to keep a straight face, “I think ya might have a problem.”

“Indeed,” Hanzo says, deadpan, “he is tall, hairy, and has a cowboy hat.”

Jesse guffaws, completely thrown by the playful jab. “Touché,” he says as they climb into the car.

They get home and begin preparing dinner, with Roadhog insisting on doing all of the cooking. Jesse at least manages to peel and chop vegetables for steaming while Roadhog tends to the beef steaks he had purchased.

While he marinades, Jaime pulls out the Golden Gaytimes. As it turns out, they’re ice cream popsicles - vanilla and toffee flavoured - coated with a layer of chocolate and polished off with honeycomb crumbs. Jesse opts to have just a bite from Hanzo’s; sweets are always best after dinner, he finds.

Their meal is ready in about twenty minutes. The four of them sit and chat at the dining table as they eat, Jesse particularly impressed with the flavourful marinade on the steak. He makes sure he mentions to Roadhog how delightful he finds the meal, and were Jesse looking at him with his mask on, he’d have missed the slight curve to his mouth and the amused huff he lets out.

After dinner, Jaime teaches them the art form that is the Tim Tam slam.

~~~~~~

Hanzo and Jesse spend the best part of the next day scribbling on a large map of Melbourne and its surrounding suburbs.

When Jaime and Roadhog return from their outing, Jesse has managed to mark two other camp sites and a potential central hub a good half hour’s drive from the city.

“So,” Jaime caws, speaking unnecessarily loudly, “Roadie an’ I did some sticky beaking just now-”

“In plain English, please,” sighs Jesse, only halfway through his third coffee for the evening.

“We found this group,” Roadhog says, pointing to a marked location close by.

Jesse is startled into alert mode; not only because Roadhog actually managed more than a grunt or one word on its own, but because the two were out sleuthing. Not good.

“How many?” Hanzo asks immediately.

“Six in the little hidey-hole we found.”

“Six left,” corrects Roadhog. Jesse eyes Jaime suspiciously, and the wolf cracks.

“Ok, ok! There were eight of ’em, but two wandered off to ‘hunt,’ so me an’ Roadie tailed ’em.”

“Oh, really, now?” Drawls Jesse, not at all liking where this was going.

Jaime starts fidgeting. “Well, we did it all nice, just like how you go in, McCree. Offered them mercy an’ everything. But they said, and I quote, they would rather die than help a ‘dirty mongrel’ like meself. So we offed the dickheads. An’ before you start-” Jaime takes a few quick steps backwards, closer to Roadhog, “before you start, mate; we took ’em out quick an’ clean. Straight to the heart, wait ’til they shrivel, then dump the bodies at the local school.”

“What-”

“A joke! It was a joke, mate! Holy fuckballs, McCree!”

Jesse had involuntarily surged forward, metal fist raised threateningly, and Jaime had leapt behind Roadhog.

“Dammit, Jaime!”

Roadhog steps in; “They’re recruiting tonight.”

It’s all Jesse needs to get into action mode. From there, everyone gets into their battle gear: McCree in his black hat and coat, leather armour, and pouches full of stakes and bullets; Hanzo in immaculately white kyudo-gi and hakama, with his grey bow; Jaime shirtless with ammunition strapped to his skinny chest and a spiked tyre on his back; Roadhog also shirtless, and instead of a gun, he wields a cruel meat hook attached to a chain. He also wears a black porcine mask with haphazard white stitches along it. Charming.

They all climb into the car, and Jaime drives them away from the inner suburbs. They get to a quiet side street lined with eucalypts when Jaime pulls over. They exit the car and Roadhog leads them to a public walking track within a wetlands. They continue walking through until they reach a large stormwater drain tall enough for Roadhog to walk upright comfortably. When Roadhog and Jaime saunter through without even a backwards glance, Hanzo throws Jesse a concerned look. The hunter just shrugs, then follows the odd duo closely.

The four of them walk through the dark drain in silence, the only lighting from their phones – it’s a very eerie environment, and Jesse doesn’t at all like being in such an enclosed space when they’re dressed for combat. Thankfully, the walk through is only 5 minutes – they reach the outfall, which is a large concreted half-pipe surrounded by overgrown grass.

Even though the platforms to their side raise the grass to their eye level, they can still see smoke from a fire.

“Stay,” Roadhog says to Jaime.

“Fuck off!”

“You too,” he rumbles at Hanzo. When the demon snarls, Jesse cottons on;

“No, he’s got a point. You two need to lag behind us, or they’ll smell ya comin’.”

“And the two of you?” Snaps Hanzo. “They will smell a meal before they smell enemies.”

“Yep, which is why y’all’ve gotta be our back-up.”

Hanzo catches on, too. “Let them think two humans have come for them, so that they are not expecting us,” Hanzo grumbles. He relents with a roll of his eyes, then grabs Jaime’s skinny wrist and drags him away from the campfire. Jesse and Roadhog head in the opposite direction towards their quarry.

The hunter hopes Jaime will hold up; a large number of vampires can cause an early shift in werewolves. He probably should have warned Hanzo. Ah well. The stubborn bastards ran off before I could say anything.

The hunter quickly clears his mind; six vampires will be difficult to deal with. He leads the way slowly and deliberately, in case the coven already know he’s here. Roadhog moves startlingly silently for such a big man.

They come to a halt a good distance from the camp’s outskirts. Roadhog waits patiently beside him. He gives the larger man a knowing look, trying to communicate without words. Vampires are impatient, especially when they can smell a meal. Roadhog looks to him briefly, gives a tiny nod, then looks forward again. Jesse happily takes that as acknowledgement of the current situation.

Suddenly, the back of McCree’s neck starts to prickle. He looks around him cautiously, and spots a wide-eyed vampire beckoning to him impatiently. What the ever-lovin’-

He doesn’t get to finish that thought; Roadhog has spotted the vampire too, and his size belies his speed – he manages to ensnare the vampire with his hook and chain and pulls them towards them. The vampire goes into a panic, but still manages to whisper:

“Please, please! I’m trying to help! Don’t kill me yet!”

Yet? Jesse places a metal palm on Roadhog’s forearm, making sure the vampire is held still, and not injured.

“What do you mean you’re tryin’ to help?”

“Look, most of us were turned against our will. We don’t want to be part of this stupid family or whatever!” The vampire holds up their left hand, looking close to tears. “They hacked my finger off.”

“Well, ok then.” Jesse sighs, long and heavy – this case keeps getting stranger and more complex. “What’s yer name?” He asks the vampire.

“Ch-Charlie,” they whimper.

“Ok Charlie. We can help y’all out if you’ll let us. Roadhog?”

The large man disentangles Charlie from the meat hook, not being particularly gentle. If the poor kid wasn’t a vampire, Roadhog would have surely snapped them in half by now. McCree holds his hand out, and Charlie grabs on tightly. He wishes he’d held out his metal hand instead.

“Th-there’s a few of us at this camp,” Charlie whispers, “but the two that are in charge left. I-I don’t know when they’ll be back.”

“They won’t be,” Roadhog says menacingly. Charlie’s eyes go wide. Jesse gets their attention again:

“How many of y’all are here at this camp?”

“Uh…”

“Charlie, I need an honest answer. We ain’t here to hurt y’all; I’m just investigatin’ this camp site.” It was half-true, but it was all the reassurance that Charlie needed.

“Six. There’s six of us. Jonno’s in charge for now… if you can help us, keep us away from the rest of the family-” Charlie’s voice cracks, breaking into a fearful sob.

“Company,” Roadhog rumbles, standing hunched and ready for a fight. Jesse stills; he can definitely hear a lone vampire approaching. He puts himself between Roadhog and Charlie, with a gentle hand on the vampire’s shoulder. “Ok, let’s everybody be calm.”

“What the fuck is this?”

Jesse looks up at the new vampire in the clearing; tall and dark with faded brown eyes.

“Jonno, it’s fine,” sobs Charlie.

“It’s obviously fucking not,” he snaps. He eyes Jesse dangerously. “What did you do to Charlie? Huh?”

His yelling has the others approaching; soon, all six vampires are in their midst. Just swell, Jesse thinks heatedly.

“You’re a hunter,” one of the female vampires says. She looks tired, like she wouldn’t really mind if she died tonight. The comment puts the others on edge, though.

“You’re here to kill us, then,” Jonno growls.

“Ain’t here to kill anyone. I’m here to help.”

“Help? There’s no helping us.”

“An’ why not?” Jesse holds his hands out, imploring. “I can help, as long as y’all let me.”

“I don’t think so,” one of the male vampires growls. “I like living like this.”

“How can you?” The tired vampire turns on him, baring her teeth. “How can you enjoy being a fucking slave, living underneath someone like this?”

“Because I’m getting stronger.” He stands taller, looking far more intimidating with that red glint in his eyes. “I lived off ’roos in the middle of nowhere for two bloody years. Now look where we are - I can feel so much. Youse don’t know how shit it is chasing fuckin' animals around, just to get nothing out of it.”

“Well,” says Jesse loudly, completely done with this asshole, “anyone else feel that way?”

“No,” Jonno growls viciously. He gets right up in the other vampire’s face. “You’re a nasty one. And I think we’re all fed up with you.”

“Wait!” Another female vampire steps in, standing between the two. “But he has a point? We’re getting stronger each meal.”

Jonno gets right up in her face as well, just about spitting with rage; “Are you willing to grab a human being, look ’em dead in the eye and tell them their life is over because you want to be able to see better?”

She freezes, looking horrified, like she has just realised the implications of her actions. She turns to the other vampire, looking sadly at him. Jesse doesn’t like the smirk on his face one bit; he knows this asshole is about to attack.

McCree approaches the trio slowly, trying to keep things calm. He hopes the vampire caught in the middle knows to keep her eyes on the shorter asshole. But she doesn’t, and it’s all he needs; as soon as she turns to Jonno, the smaller asshole bites her neck, ripping the flesh there. He pulls back and manages to bite into her cheek before the other vampires are pinning him down.

“Watch the teeth!” Jesse snaps, but there’s no need; they’ve already neutralised him. Instead, he focusses his concern on the mauled vampire; if she doesn’t hold damaged flesh in place, it won’t heal properly. And if she panics, her heart will give out, and she’ll die.

She falls into his arms, and he lays her down slowly. “I got you, kid. I got you. Lay down nice an’ slow.” Jesse gently places her on her back, carefully pulling her hands away from her gaping wounds.

“Ok, I’m just gonna hold this in place. It’ll all be fine. Try to breathe nice an’ slow.”

He pushes loose flesh together as carefully as possible, but this vampire has been living off human blood; the dark liquid that seeps from her wounds obscure Jesse’s sight. He tries anyway, hoping that everything is nice and aligned underneath his fingers.

But it isn’t healing.

“Darlin’, I know yer scared, but I need ya to breathe in nice an’ slow, and try an’ be as calm as possible. Charlie? Can ya hold her hand, please?”

Charlie goes, stroking her hand and whispering softly, but it doesn’t help – the young vampire is far too panicked, red eyes wide and scared. Both his and Charlie’s reassurances fall on deaf ears. Before long, she stops breathing entirely, and her eyes fall still.

Jesse’s heart jumps straight into his throat. He breathes slowly, but ragged, trying to prevent the flood of images he knows will fill his mind. Instantly, he grabs his revolver, feeling her solid build and her familiar weight. She grounds him, but the image of a disembowelled vampire still worms its way into his mind;

“Why?” He remembers asking. “Why would someone do that?”

“Fear does ugly things to human beings,” Gabriel had said tiredly.

Jesse can’t help himself; he holds the vampire’s shrivelled hand as tears spill down his face, trying to offer some form of comfort, even though it was far too late. Gabriel places a gentle hand on his shoulder.

“You never get over it,” he says sadly, “you just learn to cope.”

“You alright, mate?”

Suddenly, Jesse’s back in the present. His hand is still on his revolver, but he’s hunched over next to the dead vampire. He looks up and around him: Roadhog standing close by to keep the vampires back; Charlie still holding their friend’s hand; another dead vampire ripped to shreds, dribbling thick, dark liquid; three startled-looking vampires standing around as if they’re not sure of what to do.

McCree sighs, then picks himself up. He offers his flesh hand to help Charlie up, and again regrets not using the metal one.

“Hey,” Jonno says gently, looking at Jesse with concern, “you alright, mate?”

“Yeah, I’m fine. Just… seen too many dead vampires killed fer no reason.”

“What do we do now?” One of the other vampires asks.

“Now? Y’all stick together, take care of each other. I would advise movin’ to the country, find yourselves a spot a good while away so the head honchos don’t have the time or resources to hunt y’all down.”

“And if we want to fight these arseholes with you?” Jonno says, standing defiantly. Roadhog laughs, low and menacing, the muffled sound behind that creepy mask making Jesse’s hair stand on end. The remaining vampires eye the large man cautiously.

“Y’all’re already in danger – yer linked by blood, remember? The big bosses already know who’s dead-”

“Wait, what?” Jonno asks.

“Linked by blood?” Another asks, her brow furrowed in confusion.

“Is that why they hacked our fingers off?” Asks Charlie quietly. When Jesse nods, they swallow heavily. “I thought it was some stupid initiation. I didn’t think…” They fall quiet as the other vampires, looking to each other.

“I have a proposal,” comes a regal voice. All eyes turn to Hanzo, his archery wear still spotless, but looking a little ruffled. Roadhog is instantly back on guard;

“Where’s Jaime?”

“I… had to muzzle him… And tie him up.”

“What do you have in mind?” Jonno asks before the situation gets out of hand.

“We are hoping to take down the network in the next few days. There is a hotel nearby; I have adequate funds for a room for a week.”

“An’ if they’re tracked down?” Jesse asks.

“Unlikely: the two leaders here were big players. The remaining leadership will be licking their wounds and regrouping. They will not be able to spare resources for tracking until they can replace lost leaders. And vampire social structures are similar to a demon’s; there will be in-fighting and squabbling over who replaces whom.”

Jesse can’t help but smile warmly at Hanzo. “That sounds like a fine plan.”

And so it goes; Hanzo in his human form leading the remaining vampires to a hotel (after they bury their lost friend), while Roadhog carries Jaime in wolf form back into the car. They take the backseat while Jesse drives, Jaime resting his head in Roadhog’s large lap for comfort – his pride had taken quite a hit, first with being unable to stop his shift, and then with being tied and muzzled.

McCree steals an occasional glance at the two in the rear view mirror; Jaime is so calm compared to the last time Jesse witnessed his shift. He wonders again at the nature of the relationship between him and Roadhog – they do share a room. He watches the large man as he gently strokes Jaime’s back, occasionally running large fingers along the top of the wolf’s head for gentle scratches, and promptly decides their relationship is none of his business.

When they return home and the door opens, Jaime bolts for the couch, immediately curling up on it with a brief yawn. Jesse switches his phone back to normal mode, and immediately gets a message from an unknown number:

Jesse, I am staying with these four tonight. They’re quite scared and would feel better if I were around. I will most definitely be back at the house in the morning – don’t wait up!

McCree just chuckles, typing out a response:

Ok sweetpea. Stay safe.

He sends it, feeling amiss. Two nights in a row going to sleep without the demon next to him. At least he’ll be in a bed this time. He falls asleep thinking of his Hanzo.

Chapter Text

Jesse wakes with a start; someone’s here. He regulates his breathing, pretending to still be sleeping. He listens closely, hearing a shuffling of clothes. An explanation for that kind of sound escapes him. He reaches for his revolver under his pillow, gripping her firmly. When he feels weight on the bed, he turns swiftly, revolver in the face of the intruder-

“Hanzo?”

“Hello,” the demon says, naked and completely unfazed by the gun. Jesse is mortified as he lowers the revolver, heart pounding fast and heavy.

“God dammit, Hanzo. I coulda shot you!” He tries to sound firm, but he ends up sounding tired and hoarse.

“But you didn’t,” Hanzo says slyly, crawling under the sheets beside Jesse.

The hunter takes a moment to collect himself. He flicks the safety back on, then drops onto his back. Hanzo grabs the revolver and places it on the bedside table, leaning across Jesse’s body. He then drops onto Jesse’s chest, nuzzling at his neck. The hunter wraps his arms around Hanzo.

“I thought you were stayin’ with our coven?”

“They seemed ok to keep watch without me.” Hanzo says it a little too quickly and dismissively, but Jesse decides to let it go.

“Well, ok then. As long as they’re safe.”

Hanzo nuzzles affectionately, rubbing Jesse’s arm in a soothing way. “You are tense.” Then he purrs, groping and grabbing.

“Well yeah – I nearly shot you. And, uh,” Jesse suddenly remembered, “Jaime an’ Roadhog might still be on the couch.”

!~*~!

“We will have to be quiet then,” Hanzo whispers. He then adds deliciously low: “I think it will be a fun challenge.”

“Baby,” Jesse whispers, but he can’t think of a decent counter. He can’t even think of why quiet sex would be a bad idea. He sighs heavily. “Well, ok then.”

Hanzo hums happily, then bites gently along his neck. He climbs properly on top of Jesse, straddling his hips with his solid thighs. He runs hands with a firm touch up and down Jesse’s chest, pinching nipples and squeezing muscles. The hunter closes his eyes, humming contentedly.

The demon then drops onto him, their chests pressed together. Hanzo gives him a firm kiss, pulls away to give Jesse a cheeky smile, before pressing their lips together again. Jesse holds Hanzo’s face in his hands, kissing back excitedly. He can feel his body waking up slowly.

It’s then that he remembers he’s wearing his boxers. He tries to worm his hands downwards, but Hanzo’s faster.

“I know,” the demon whispers. He kisses down Jesse’s chest, then disappears under the sheets.

“Ooooh, Lordy,” the hunter huffs raggedly as Hanzo’s mouth moves lower and lower down his body. He feels himself spring free from his boxers, and then a hot, wet heat surrounds his erection. He has to hastily stuff his fist into his mouth to stop his loud moan echoing around the room.

Hanzo bobs his head up and down the hunter’s length at a mild pace, starting things slowly. Jesse removes his hand from his mouth, opting to cover it instead. Hanzo places a clawed hand on Jesse’s abdomen as he works. The hunter can’t help but grab it with his free hand, needing to hold onto something while his other hand stifles his moans.

There’s a sudden lack of heat as the demon pulls away and climbs back up from out of the sheets. He looks straight into Jesse’s eyes. Jesse smiles at him fondly, reaching for his face with his hands.

“Yer amazin’, ya know that?” he whispers. The demon makes a deep, rumbling noise, much lower than his usual purr. Jesse eyes him questioningly, but Hanzo just shakes his head with a soft smile.

He lowers himself onto Jesse again, their bodies pressed together. Hanzo starts rubbing their erections together gently and slowly, while nuzzling affectionately at Jesse’s neck. There’s something definitely different, something even off with how sweet the demon is being, but Jesse doesn’t want to upset him by asking what’s up. Instead, the hunter indulges, strokes the demon’s hair lovingly, places gentle kisses on his temple, holds him close.

It’s so slow, so soft, and so gentle, that when the demon bites Jesse’s neck firmly, he can’t help the strangled moan that escapes him.

“Shhh,” Hanzo chides. Jesse chuckles softly – he can play at that game, too. He allows his hands to roam, massaging and grabbing at Hanzo. The demon rumbles happily, still a much deeper sound than normal. Jesse decides to ignore it for now. He pushes his hips up, chasing friction. Hanzo gasps sharply, remembering that they’re trying to keep quiet. He gets back at the hunter with another bite along his neck.

They continue until they get close, their movements becoming more frantic with heavy gasps; they finish with quiet grunts and shuddering breaths, Hanzo smashing their mouths together in a vain attempt to stifle their moans.

!~*~!

As per usual, Hanzo allows them to rest in their collective mess for all of 2 minutes before he’s up and cleaning them off. Jesse lies there like dead weight, watching Hanzo carefully, before he decides that he’s entirely too tired to deal with this much thinking.

For now, he curls up in Hanzo’s arms and falls dead asleep.

 

~~~~~~~

 

When Jesse wakes, Hanzo is on the other side of the bed, fast asleep. He wants to lie in bed for longer and just watch the demon sleeping, but his stomach betrays him. He gets up carefully, heading towards the smells and sounds of breakfast.

Upon entering the kitchen, he sees Jaime still in his wolf form, hovering around Roadhog’s legs, as if hoping to steal scraps.

“Damn, Jaime,” Jesse laughs, “you’d think you don’t get fed with the way yer skulkin’ around like that.”

The wolf snorts, giving McCree a lazy sideways glance with golden eyes. Even as a wolf, Jaime is stringy and thin, and he looks a lot wilder and monstrous than Clara does when she shifts – a lot less oversized wolf, a lot more hunched beast. Even with his right hind leg missing, he still manages to move with ease.

Jesse heads straight to the coffee machine – he normally needs at least one cup before he feels functional enough to deal with breakfast. Roadhog moves out of his way, leaving the tiny space with only his and Jaime’s breakfast; apparently Jesse will need to cook this morning. He steals a glance back, making sure Roadhog was definitely done with the kitchen.

Jesse watches dumbstruck as Jaime climbs elegantly onto a chair and sits at the table, holding a fork in his paw. On closer inspection, it is an unsettling mix of a paw and a human hand. McCree can’t help but stare at the wolf; it reminds him of how few werewolf shifts he’s dealt with in comparison to lycanthropes.

It’s then that Hanzo enters the kitchen yawning. Jaime flicks his glance to the demon, ears folding back ever so slightly. The hunter doesn’t pay them any mind; he gets eggs and bacon started while Hanzo tends to the toast.

There’s an awkward silence as Hanzo butters his toast and Jesse fries up their breakfast. Finally, Hanzo turns to face the wolf.

“Jaime,” he starts. The wolf lowers both ears and turns to Hanzo with an unimpressed look. Jesse has to suppress a chuckle; Jaime’s expressive face still manages to convey so much even in wolf form.

“I would like to apologise for my behaviour last night; my actions were insensitive, and you were undeserving of them, especially since you have been such a generous host.”

Jaime’s expression softens immensely. He lowers his fork, drops off his chair and saunters over to Hanzo. He hops back on his hind legs and places a paw on the demon’s shoulder, golden eyes wide and bright.

He then steals a slice of buttered toast right from Hanzo’s plate and runs off with it.

“Hey!” Hanzo snaps, surging forward. Jesse catches him, but the demon doesn’t put up a fight. Instead, he laughs at the scruffy wolf, who is holding the stolen food in his maw, butt in the air and bushy tail wagging. It’s enough to get a loud belly laugh from Roadhog.

Hanzo just sighs dramatically. “I suppose that is a small price to pay for forgiveness – a single slice of toast.”

Breakfast is a much more relaxed affair after that.

Once they’re finished, everyone gets themselves ready for the day. Both McCree and Hanzo agree that information about their network will be much easier to obtain from the four friendly vampires, rather than spending another day poring over a map. They plan to catch up with their coven, heading out on the tram towards the central area of Melbourne city.

When they arrive at the hotel, Charlie and Jonno leave their shared room, explaining that they all agreed to gather in the girls’ room. Jesse then learns that their names are Kylie and Vivian. Vivian he recognises as the tired vampire; she still looks disinterested and fed-up, an expression that doesn’t match her tidy clothes and immaculate long black hair. Kylie looks startlingly like the female vampire that died; light hair, pale skin, stocky frame. He wonders if they were related.

They group together in the living room, sitting on the sofa, or on chairs gathered from the dining table. Hanzo prefers to stand, arms folded as he eyes the vampires. He seems to have a particular dislike for Kylie.

“So,” Jesse starts, “how did everyone hold up last night?”

“Not great,” whimpers Charlie. Jonno sits beside the hunter, wringing his hands. Jesse catches his eye, hoping to coax something out of him. It works:

“You said that we’re all… connected?” Jonno finally says. “I thought that you were full of it, mate, but when… when she stopped breathing... I felt it…”

“We all did,” Kylie adds sombrely, placing a hand over her heart. The four vampires stare sadly at their hands or their feet. Jesse decides that they need to talk this out.

“What was her name?” He asks gently. It was enough to open the floodgates; the next hour is spent listening to the vampires vent and cry. Hanzo eventually wanders over to the kitchen, which seemed to be Kylie’s cue to scoot closer and closer to Jesse, eventually ending up pressed against him.

Everything about last night suddenly makes sense. McCree steals a quick glance at Hanzo to confirm his suspicions, and sure enough, the demon is staring Kylie down, tail twitching rather erratically in his pant leg.

He really should not have told Hanzo about Consuela.

Jesse excuses himself under the pretence of helping Hanzo in the kitchen.

“You ok?” He asks.

“Fine,” Hanzo says curtly.

“You can talk to me about it,” he says gently, switching to Japanese.

“I am trying not to murder that vampire… the one that was cuddling up to you.”

“You know I’m all yours-”

“You should have heard her last night,” Hanzo interrupts, arms folded haughtily, “even after watching her friend die, all she could talk about was that handsome hunter.”

Jesse waits until the chattering vampires increase in volume so that he can switch back to English.

“Is that why you came back last night?” He asks coyly. Hanzo turns to him with a smirk.

“Of course. How else was I to remind myself that you’re all mine?” The demon moves closer, resting his head on Jesse’s arm. “And that I’m all yours?”

“Well, alright then,” Jesse says, placing a gentle hand on the back of the demon’s head. He turns to look at the four vampires, then he looks back to Hanzo.

“Shall we?”

With an affirmative grunt from Hanzo, they both return to the huddle, Jesse now with his tablet in hand. He starts by sharing all that he and Hanzo had gathered thus far, and all of their mapping and information. He then explains that they’re his best source of information for tracking the rest of the network, and putting an end to any more killings.

“We weren’t given many details,” Vivian pipes up, “that was all on the two fuck heads that were in charge.”

“Yeah, the ones your scary mates offed,” Charlie adds.

“Good riddance,” Vivian growls under her breath. Jesse eyes her quizzically, which is all of the encouragement she needs to continue with that line of thought.

“They were nasty. Really mean. I outright refused to kill anyone, because I know for a fact we can survive off animal blood. So they wandered off to grab ‘live prey’ for us to practice with.”

“So that’s the kind of ruthless assholes the ringleader likes in charge of things,” Jesse says. Not good.

“Yep,” Vivian continues, “I overheard them talking about a coven in some place called Carnegie. Sounds far away.”

“Nah,” Jonno says, “there’s a tram line that runs through Carnegie – it can’t be too far from the city.”

“I got that one on my map,” Jesse says, pointing to a little south-eastern suburb on the tablet screen. It’s not too far from the first section of the network they came into contact with. The night that they learned what they were really dealing with.

“There was a group in Essendon!” Kylie pipes up suddenly. She turns to Jonno; “Didn’t they say something about wishing they were in charge over there?”

Jonno looks to Charlie, who gives a confident nod. It’s enough for Kylie, who then turns to Jesse. “They said it was a small group, but this was a week ago now.”

“Ok, I’ll make a note. Where’s Essendon?”

Kylie leans in close to mark the suburb on Jesse’s map, but Hanzo pokes his head in between them, as if trying to look more closely at the map. They young vampire is clearly unsettled by Hanzo, so she points Essendon out from a distance – it’s nice and close to Jaime and Roadhog’s house.

“I also remember them talking about the ‘boss man’, if that helps,” Jonno says weakly.

“So you’ve got an alpha male in charge. Did they mention another vampire alongside the boss man?”

“I, uh… I don’t think so. Why?”

“It’s a big operation to run on yer own. An’ given the kind of folk the ringleader likes to have in charge, he’d probably want someone to watch his back. So it’d figure he’d have a mate fer that.”

“A mate?” Charlie asks. “Like, a mate mate, or a mated pair?”

“Mate,” Jonno laughs, looking at Charlie questioningly, “he means a mate.”

"Maaaaate," Kylie adds, much to Jonno and Charlie's amusement.

“Well, they don’t have to be a mated pair,” McCree interrupts before the conversation can continue down that path. “That’s a really outdated term. Bonded pair works better.”

“Really? I thought vampires were all about sex,” Vivian states, deadpan.

Jesse guffaws. “Naw, that’s just the modern romanticisation of the whole thing. Plus old, traditional values. Bonded pairs don’t have to be the opposite sex, and they sure as hell don’t need to consummate their bond.”

“But they mate for life?” Vivian waves her hand in a vague gesture: “So to speak.”

“Yep. Most vampires prefer to be monogamous. Polyamorous vampires aren’t common, but they’re not unheard of.”

“So could this leader have more than one mate?” Hanzo asks.

“Not likely; the reason monogamy is so common is because of the strength of that bond and what goes into it. It’s harder to get that strength when it’s split.”

“But he’s ambitious,” Hanzo insists, “it could stand to reason that he has more than one mate so that he can spread his operation as far as possible.”

“Fair point. We’ll need to keep an eye out.”

“So,” Jonno pipes up gruffly, “how do we get rid of these arseholes?”

Jesse looks at him pointedly. “We,” he says, gesturing to Hanzo and himself, “are gonna track ’em down first; can’t go in blind.”

Vivian huffs. “Trust,” she says dismissively.

“Beg pardon?”

“Trust you to insist we sit back and let you do all the work. You’re real heroes.”

“We’re professionals. How many vampires have you tracked an’ negotiated with?”

“How many have you negotiated with?” Vivian snaps accusingly. The air is tense, until Hanzo hums suggestively.

“Negotiated,” he repeats, voice teasing and smug.

“You, hush,” Jesse says gently. Then he turns back to the group. “If y’all’re fine workin’ alongside a werewolf, then fine. You can tag along.”

The four vampires eye each other nervously. They all seem to agree without discussion that they are perfectly ok with just helping from the sidelines.

 

~~~~~~

 

When the two finally arrive home, Roadhog is nowhere to be seen, and Jaime is still hairy, lazing across the whole couch. Jesse heads straight to the kitchen for coffee. Hanzo hovers around the wolf, chatting to him quietly.

When Jesse has a mug full of coffee, Roadhog decides to appear, holding a bottle full of liquid that is a disgusting shade of grey-green. In his other hand he has a feeding syringe. Jaime’s ears are instantly pressed flat against his head, and he lets out a low growl.

“What is that?” Hanzo asks Roadhog, barely hiding his disgust.

“Tonic,” Roadhog says. Jaime’s growling gets louder. Jesse watches with interest; usually angry wolves snarl and snap, but all Jaime seems to be doing is making his displeasure clear. In his experience, wolves are fiercely opposed to tonics. Jesse approaches the couch, laughing gently and shaking his head.

“Yer all bark an’ no bite, huh, Jaime?”

The wolf turns to him sulkily, making garbled growling noises as if trying to enunciate English words.

“Didn’t quite catch that, sorry,” McCree jokes. Jaime snorts, then pushes the hunter away with a large paw on his face. Despite his protests, he sits still and allows Roadhog to administer the tonic. He does, however, make a show of how foul the taste is, writhing and gagging dramatically.

When all the excitement is over, the odd duo head off to their shared room, Jaime opening the door with his freaky paw-hands. Jesse and Hanzo retreat to their shared room. As they settle at the desk, Hanzo enquires about the tonic.

“It’s a wolf thing. Supposed to help with aggression during the shift.” Jesse lowers his voice, sighing; his focus is no longer on the computer. “It’s not entirely necessary, but if yer a wolf an’ not takin’ some form of that tonic, people get pretty ugly about it. A lot of wolves who don’t actually need it are bullied into takin’ it. And, of course, any time a wolf gets cranky, it always comes back to ‘have you taken yer tonic this week?’ It’s pretty awful.”

“Every week?” Hanzo asks, incredulous.

“That’s the recommended frequency. A lot of wolves who have been on the tonic for a while can cut down their intake to just one dose before a full moon.”

“Does Clara use a tonic?”

“Naw, she’s older an’ more knowledgeable about her condition than Jaime is.” The hunter rubs the back of his neck absently. “An’ it helps growin’ up away from the city – not as much pressure to get on the tonic.”

They are quiet for a while before Jesse decides to add as an afterthought; “Plus, werewolves tend to be worse off on a full moon than lycanthropes.”

“I see,” Hanzo says gently. He turns to Jesse with his head titled slightly. “When will he revert to his human form?”

“Dunno,” replies McCree, “it varies from wolf to wolf. The tendency is for werewolves to have a longer phase than lycanthropes. But, Jaime might come out of it earlier, ’cause his shift was induced early.”

Hanzo nods thoughtfully. Then he nudges the hunter; “you’ve been reading that same page for the past 5 minutes. I think it’s bed time.”

“Yeah, I think so, too,” he yawns, locking the tablet’s screen and joining the demon in getting ready for bed.

Chapter Text

“Essendon?” Roadhog asks, sounding confused rather than gruff and indifferent.

“That’s what we were told,” McCree sighs. He and Hanzo stand in front of both Roadhog and Jaime as they sit on the couch. They look to each other, then the wolf makes his garbled growling noises. Roadhog grunts and nods.

“Uh,” Jesse says, “translation?”

“Can’t trust vampires,” Roadhog says simply.

“These vampires were emotionally abused by their leaders,” Hanzo says cautiously, “they have no loyalty to them, and they want this network to be taken down.”

Jaime starts to ramble, looking straight at Hanzo, and gesturing wildly with his paw-hands. When he’s finished, Jesse and Hanzo both turn to Roadhog.

“They’re manipulative,” is all he offers.

Hanzo scoffs. “I am a demon; I am no stranger to manipulation tactics. These vampires are so young, they are more human than anything. And I have had many years of experience in dealing with humans that are trying to get what they want. Trust me when I say that they have no stomach for those kinds of games.”

Jaime huffs loudly, golden eyes on the floor. He then places a paw-hand over his eyes and growls under his breath.

Roadhog looks to him, then looks back to Hanzo, expression never changing. “Fine.”

“Wait, what?” Jesse asks, incredulous.

“We’ll go to Essendon,” the big man confirms.

“Hold up,” Jesse rubs his hand along his face, “what makes you think y’all’re comin’ with us?”

“Why else would we be debriefing them?” Asks Hanzo.

“Debriefing? We’re lettin’ them know where we’ll be!”

“Really,” the demon snorts, “they are more than capable-”

“No.”

Hanzo pouts, while Jaime folds his arms, tail flicking in an agitated fashion. Despite being slapped by the bushy appendage, Roadhog remains still and unreadable.

“Jesse,” Hanzo says sweetly. He holds the hunter’s face in both of his clawed hands. “You can rely on us.” He strokes Jesse’s cheek gently. “You do not have to do this alone.”

“Is this a demon tactic to get me to do yer bidding?” Jesse jokes. Hanzo gives him a playfully haughty look, and gives his beard a sharp tug.

“Ow.”

“I am serious,” Hanzo says, smile fading into a look of concern, “we are here to help.”

He releases a breath he didn’t realise he was holding, a feeling of tiredness washing over his body.

“Fine.”

Jaime lets out a whoop, then leaps off the couch to grab his battle gear.

“Not tonight,” Roadhog growls. When Hanzo starts to protest, Jesse steps in:

“He has a point: you two might be better off at night, but we won’t. Especially if we’re up against vampires that would rather shoot first an’ ask questions later.”

Jaime lets out a low whine, paw-hands resting on his spiked tyre. Hanzo folds his arms across his chest. But Jesse doesn’t back down.

“I’m serious. Y’all want to act like we’re a team here, then fine. As far as the hunt goes, I’m the hired gun, I’m runnin’ the investigation. An’ I say we wait until tomorrow.”

Jaime snaps his jaws shut, growling. He looks to Roadhog, then back to Jesse, then back to Roadhog.

The large man shakes his head, which is apparently enough for the wolf to lower his ears and tail, shoulders hunched. He lets out a resigned snort. Roadhog then turns to Jesse:

“Tomorrow morning.”

“Morning?!” Cries Hanzo.

“Done,” Jesse says, pleased. Jaime wags his tail happily.

 

~~~~~~

 

Morning for Roadhog is apparently 5 am – Jesse and Hanzo learn this when there’s an eager pounding on their door at 0430, followed by Jaime’s strange style of wolf speak. Hanzo lets out an exhausted groan, roughly placing his pillow over his head. McCree just yawns, lifting himself upright.

Apparently deciding the two weren’t moving fast enough, Jaime barges in, leaping onto the bed. Jesse goes into autopilot, pinning the wolf and ruffling the fur on his head – it was how he used to shoo Clara off when she woke him up early in wolf form.

It might not have been enough to get rid of Jaime, but it was enough to royally piss Hanzo off; he lets out a fierce roar, causing both Jesse and Jaime to scamper out of the room laughing.

Kicked out of his room in just his boxers, Jesse decides to have a mug of coffee while he waits for breakfast to be ready. And for Hanzo to calm down.

When the demon finally leaves their shared room, he’s in his white battle clothes with his hair tied back, his immaculate clothing contrasting sharply with his exhausted and dishevelled expression. He gestures with his head, pointing Jesse back to their room to get dressed. The hunter moves quickly, not wanting to miss out on the breakfast that was almost ready. He puts on his clothes and leather armour, but forgoes the coat.

The four of them have breakfast together, tidy up, and then head to Essendon, where they find the abandoned lot that was described to them. Jesse parks the car and turns to address the team.

“Ok,” he says, “Jaime an’ Hanzo-”

“No,” Hanzo snaps, just as Jaime lets out an affronted whine. “Did you forget what happened last time we paired up?”

“Hanzo, that was before the shift-”

“And how many other werewolf nuances will you expect me to know how to deal with? I would rather not have a repeat of last time.”

Jaime snorts his approval with a firm nod, golden eyes locked onto Jesse. The hunter relents.

“…Fine. Jaime an’ Roadhog, sneak around back, see what you can find. And don’t blow anything up. Hanzo and I will grab their attention first, see if they even wanna talk shit out.”

They exit Jaime’s car, with Jesse and Hanzo scouting ahead, looking for a way in, or signs that the area had been broken into, while Jaime and Roadhog wait for them to enter.

After a quick search by the hunter and the demon turns up nothing, the other two are called in.

“I told you so,” Roadhog says deadpan. Hanzo glares at him with pursed lips, until McCree speaks up:

“Naw, they forgot somethin’ important.” He drags out a battered trinket box from under a pile of discarded fencing; in it are five carved finger bones. “They were definitely here.”

The team scours the campsite for evidence, hoping to find a trail that would lead them to where the vampires had gone. They find tread marks.

“Fresh,” Roadhog says, dropping to one knee and gently placing a large finger on the concrete.

“What?” Jesse asks, as Hanzo sniffs the air.

“It stinks here. Like burned rubber.”

“Mother fucker! We just missed ’em!”

They get back to the car, then drive to the fresh tread marks, trying to decide where the car would go from there. It looks like their prey jumped straight onto the nearby freeway. Which is starting to get busy, given that it’s 7am on a weekday.

“What is this bullshit? Don’t work start at 9?”

Hanzo chuckles at him. When Jesse shoots him a frustrated look, the demon places a gentle hand on his leg. It helps Jesse relax considerably, until he spots Jaime in the rear view mirror.

“Jaime, get back in the car. You’ll give someone a heart attack.”

But Jaime has his head out of the car, sniffing rapidly. He then zeroes in on a bright orange pickup, barking to Roadhog beside him.

“There,” the big man says, pointing, “ute.”

“What?”

“Ute. Utility vehicle.”

“I’m sorry,” Hanzo says sarcastically, “but is that not a pickup truck?”

Jaime pulls his head into the car, muttering to Hanzo while waving a paw-hand around. Jesse imagines that there would be a fair amount of swearing if he could speak in English. Roadhog translates:

“You’re in Australia; it’s a ute.”

They leave it at that, their focus on tailing the orange car – McCree makes sure to keep them at least two cars behind so as to avoid detection.

They’re off at an exit in a built-up area with lots of surrounding factories and warehouses. The ute pulls into a side street and parks behind an abandoned gas station. The four-man hunting team park along a different side street, and approach with caution, Jesse and Hanzo moving ahead first.

The vampires had been expecting them; three of the beasts manage to surround the duo, red eyes glaring hungrily.

“Howdy-”

“Shut up, hunter!” One of the vampires hisses. His voice is distorted and raspy, and it puts Jesse right on edge. His lips have started to shrivel, reminding the hunter of those portraits of Old World vampires with exposed, pointed teeth. True predators of men.

“We are here to talk,” Hanzo tries, raising his hands in a peaceful gesture, but it doesn’t fly well, given that his bow is resting across his torso. The three vampires bare their teeth, making clicking growls that get McCree’s hackles raised and hair standing on end.

When McCree hears explosions and the sound of Roadhog’s chain, he knows that there’s no talking their way out of it. He reaches into a pouch for the stakes when one of the vampires leaps for him. Without a second thought, his mechanical arm is in it’s mouth, and a stake is firmly wedged in its neck. Jesse braces himself, waiting for the other two to pounce, but Hanzo keeps them back, growling and swinging his bow – they’re too close to shoot, given that Hanzo’s powerful bow is designed for ranged attacks.

The first vampire drops heavily, panting and twitching. Jesse leaves it for now, instead backing Hanzo up; he gets the vampires’ attention by pointing his revolver at them. It’s enough of a distraction to allow Hanzo to nock an arrow and pin a vampire’s foot to the soft dirt. It lets out an inhuman shriek that almost gets Jesse to lose his breakfast. His knees go weak, but he swallows heavily, keeping himself upright.

The remaining vampire lunges at Hanzo, throwing them both to the ground. McCree moves to help, but a snapping sound catches his attention; the pinned vampire has snapped the arrow in half and is trying to work its foot free. The hunter wastes no time – he keeps the creature occupied with his approach, moving erratically to throw it off. It works: the creature overreaches, and Jesse grabs its lower jaw firmly, stopping it from biting, but its strong hands are around his neck. He acts quickly, slamming the stake into its neck. Its eyes go wide, and its breathing slows right down, but its hands are still crushing Jesse’s windpipe. He carefully pries the fingers off from around his neck, then lets the vampire fall onto its back with a gentle thud.

McCree turns his attention back to Hanzo; the demon has managed to kill the vampire, but the beast got a few bites in. The hunter guesses demons would be immune to vampire venom, but he can’t imagine the resulting wounds would be pleasant.

Hanzo crouches beside the corpse he dismembered with his bare hands, fangs exposed and panting heavily. He holds his tattooed arm, which seems to be bleeding. Jesse can’t help but stare; sure, he’s seen plenty of demon blood, but the colours vary depending on the demon’s status within its hierarchy. Hanzo’s blood is black – he should be the head of the demon family.

His snarl brings Jesse back into the present. “Finish them off,” he growls, sounding distant and cold. Jesse just nods, breathing heavily. He turns back to the paralysed vampires, who have started writhing and snapping, their sudden surge in activity no doubt triggered by the death of their broodmate.

The hunter wastes no time; he finishes them off swiftly, then turns back to Hanzo to help him upright. He accepts McCree’s hand, grunting with the effort of standing.

“Thank you,” Hanzo says gently. He then looks down. “My arm-”

He’s cut off by a loud yelp. Jesse had completely forgotten about Jaime and Roadhog.

“Wait by the car,” Jesse says, holding Hanzo’s face gently in his flesh hand, “I’ll be back soon.”

He runs off without waiting for a response. He finds the odd duo dealing with a vampire each – Jaime with a broken arm, but a dying vampire in its death throes clamped in his jaws, and Roadhog with a vampire in a frenzy wrapped in chains.

The large man tries to get close enough to puncture its heart, but the frenzy causes the creature to snap and bite in every direction, not allowing for anything to get close without being mauled. It’s almost broken free of the chain. Jesse places a well-aimed shot in its head. The vampire freezes, temporarily out of its frenzy as it reflects on being shot in the head. It’s enough of a distraction for Roadhog to finally skewer it and end its life.

Jesse wastes no time in running to Jaime; the wolf barely spares him a glance, his focus on his prey until the very last second that it stops moving. Jesse gets a quick look before it shrivels post mortem. Another creature that’s been feeding on human beings, but its teeth were still mostly human; no deformations or loss of molars yet.

When the werewolf venom finally kills the vampire, Jaime lets go, and he limps over to Roadhog (who Jesse didn’t even notice had moved to be right beside Jaime) and lays across the large man’s lap. Both men inspect the wolf for other injuries, Jesse explaining that vampire venom is just as lethal to wolves as wolf venom is to vampires.

Fortunately, Jaime is not bleeding; the worst of it is his broken arm, which would be a very messy break, given that it was snapped by a frenzied vampire’s bare hands.

“C’mon,” Jesse says softly, “let’s get back home. Hanzo’s waitin’ by the car.”

The drive home is in silence. McCree’s mind is on those vampires and their facial features – how long have they been consuming human blood if that’s what they look like? And what does their alpha look like?

He chances a glance at Hanzo, who looks terribly sad and dejected. Jesse wonders if it’s his pride that’s more wounded than his arm.

When they get home, Roadhog gets to placing Jaime’s arm in a splint. Hanzo and Jesse make their way to the bathroom so that they can wipe away the blood and get the demon patched up.

“You know.” Hanzo says sadly. Jesse looks to him, confused. Hanzo continues:

“I saw you staring before. You know of my status.”

“It caught me by surprise is all,” the hunter says gently with a small smile. He rubs the back of Hanzo’s neck in a soothing fashion, but he can see the demon is still tense. Not knowing what else to do, Jesse deflects: “I don’ know about you, but I’m gettin’ hungry again. Hows abouts we see if we can find a Japanese restaurant. See if their ramen’s as good as the Rikimaru?”

A small smile tugs at Hanzo’s lips. “I should like that.”

And with that, Jesse bandages Hanzo’s arm up, and helps him into one of his nice shirts.

 

~~~~~~

 

They look for Japanese restaurants, but only find a few sushi bars, which Hanzo turns his nose up at instantly; machine-rolled and mass-produced hand rolls were far too bastardised for his tastes.

They resume their hunt until Hanzo notices an outdoor sushi bar with more than just hand rolls on display. One of the workers approaches them. He takes one look at Hanzo, and then addresses him in Japanese. The demon is delighted, and responds excitedly in Japanese.

They take a seat in the restaurant, and Hanzo orders for them eagerly, especially with the staff’s assurance that their food is ‘like home.’

Hanzo orders them a large number of sides, including Jesse’s favourite: nikuman pork buns.

“Honey, are you sure yer gonna have enough room fer a bowl of ramen?” Jesse teases.

“There is always room for ramen!”

McCree just laughs and watches Hanzo as he fervently accepts his serve of ramen. He accepts his own serve, savouring the appearance and the aromas as Hanzo slurps happily beside him.

“Jesse, you must try!” Hanzo mutters through his mouthful. “Not as good as Rikimaru, of course, but it’s still delicious!”

“Honey, I gotta wait fer it to cool down,”

Hanzo ignores him completely, pushing his bowl towards Jesse, and collecting a large amount of noodles in his chopsticks. He then gives the hunter his best puppy dog eyes. Jesse relents without much of a fight; he manoeuvres himself carefully so that he can get the noodles in his mouth with minimal mess.

“Mmmmm!”

“Hn. And you did not want to try,” Hanzo says smugly. Jesse lets him have his victory, gently blowing on his own serving of noodles.

After their ramen, Hanzo orders desserts; daifuku, melon pan and dango.

The young worker from before catches them on their way out, asking Hanzo what he thought of his meal. Jesse hardly takes in what they’re saying; he’s completely enamoured by the demon, who is smiling freely with bright eyes. Just what the doctor ordered.

He lets the two have their conversation, turning to inspect the street. A neon sign catches his eye: ‘Club X Adult Centre.’ He looks back to Hanzo, who doesn’t spare him a glance, before wandering off to inspect the sign.

When he arrives in front of the store, Jesse’s eyes wander along the twists and curves of the sign’s tubing. He sighs wistfully, grateful that there are still genuine neon signs out in the world; they’re a lot easier on the eyes than LED displays.

He looks back to Hanzo, who again, doesn’t spare him a glance, and Jesse decides then and there to entertain himself – he heads into the sex shop down a narrow set of stairs.

The store is brightly lit with a high ceiling; the space is wide and open. It’s very different to the last sex shop he visited when he was 25 – a dingy, cramped store in Louisiana with a burly, tattooed man behind the counter. This store has three different women patrolling, one of them probably middle-aged judging by the crow’s-feet at her eyes when she smiles and greets him.

“Need a hand there, love?” She asks.

“Naw, just lookin’ fer now,” he replies with a smile.

“No worries; just give us a yell if you need anything.”

“Thanks.” McCree has a general wander around, ending up in the fetish wear, admiring studded leather intricately interconnected with metal rings and buckles. He almost misses a small, tucked-away subdivision of the fetish section. Drawing closer, he sees a tacky sign with obnoxiously colourful lettering; it reads: Monster SMASH Merchandise. Underneath it are a series of dildos that are obviously trying to imitate wolf and demon penises. Jesse spots butt plugs with wolf tails of varying colours. One of them is startlingly close to Clara’s russet coat.

“Eugh,” he grumbles, displeased that his mind had gone there. He turns his attention back to the merchandise that was supposed to resemble demon genitalia, and that’s when he sees it; men’s underwear with colourful, plush demon tails sewn onto them. Two pairs have grey tails, the colour a little paler than Hanzo’s skin tone. He can’t help himself; he grabs both pairs and buys them. The woman at the counter places the items in a colourful bag with no writing or images on it, and waves Jesse off with a friendly smile.

When he returns to the surface and heads back to the restaurant, a grumpy demon is waiting for him.

“I did not just see you exit a sex shop,” he says exasperatedly.

“Sure did, cupcake,” Jesse says with a wide smile. He then lifts the bag, and he can’t help but laugh at Hanzo’s wide eyes. “Got you somethin’,” he teases.

Hanzo just facepalms. Jesse nudges him gently.

“C’mon. Let’s get on the train; I wanna try these out.”

When they eventually get back to the house, Hanzo just about rips the bag from his hands.

“Oh, I kinda lied about them bein’ fer you. Just bought them ’cause I thought they were funny.”

Hanzo tips the bag and watches the underwear fall out. When he spots the tails (complete with pointed fork at the end), he starts laughing.

“You are ridiculous,” he chuckles, holding one of the plush tail between two fingers.

“Told ya they were funny.”

Hanzo grabs one of the pairs, holding it up to look it over, his laughter becomes near hysterical. Jesse tilts his head quizzically, and all Hanzo can do is turn the underwear so that it faces Jesse – and then he realises what is so funny.

The front of the underwear has a large, circular hole in it.

The hunter loses it.

They both stand there laughing until their sides are sore. Eventually, Hanzo is calm enough to put both pairs of underwear back into the bag.

“Come,” he says, gesturing to their room, “let us see if we can track the last of our network.”

“Back to work already?” McCree gives Hanzo a sultry pout.

The demon walks to their door, then pauses. “Hn. Perhaps you can assist me in the shower, seeing as I am down an arm.”

Jesse almost collides with the door in his hurry to join Hanzo.

Chapter Text

The hunter and the demon had spent a short amount of their evening looking at their map of Melbourne admiringly; marked with ink and labels and scratches, it is tangible proof of all of their hard work over the last two weeks. Jesse runs a thumb over a line – a highway that leads out of the vibrant city and onto more regional areas. To Geelong, reads Hanzo’s blocky writing. His script is short and practical, much like the demon himself.

Geelong is a short distance from Melbourne, maybe an hour’s drive. Now in bed, the duo reflect on the upcoming trip (which will need to be made without Jaime), the both of them on their sides, with Hanzo’s back pressed firmly against Jesse’s chest.

“I thought werewolves had an accelerated healing rate,” Hanzo says quietly. He sounds distant, like his mind is on other matters.

“They do, but it was a real nasty break. Poor kid’ll have that cast for at least another week.”

“At least he is back in human form now; he will not need to limp around anymore.” He sighs heavily, pressing himself closer to Jesse and burying his face in his pillow.

“Alright,” McCree says, “I’ll bite. What’s botherin’ you?”

“Nothing.”

“Honey,” Jesse drawls, smooth and sweet. He wraps his arm tighter around Hanzo, and nuzzles his neck delicately. “You’ve been awful quiet lately. Please talk to me.”

The demon stays silent. Jesse holds him, waiting.

Finally, he speaks up:

“Have you heard of the Shimada family?”

“Y’mean the demon family?” When Hanzo replies with a placid nod, the hunter continues. “Yeah, I’ve heard of ’em. Huge demon family in Japan, watched over some small village. Very powerful, very smart. Got wiped out eighty or so years ago, but there were whispers about one or two of ’em still bein’ around, which is total hogwash, ’cause there were no connections found.”

“Are you certain of that?”

“I knew the hunters that investigated those claims all those years ago; very clever, switched-on people…” McCree’s brain starts kicking into gear, trying to crawl out of bed time mode and back into investigator mode.

“Honey, do you know somethin’ about that family?”

Hanzo snorts. “You could say that.”

“Sweetheart, I’m too tired to-”

“What was the name of the village?” Hanzo interrupts, “The village that the Shimada demons protected?”

“I don’t remember, sugar.” He wracks his brain, pressing his lips against the demon’s shoulder. “Somethin’ to do with flowers… Hanabe, Hana…?”

“Hanamura.”

“Yeah, that’s it. Hanamura-”

It hits Jesse like a ton of bricks: how two powerful demons like Genji and Hanzo could fly so easily under the radar until Hanzo started looking for attention; how the both of them could maintain a human appearance for hours on end without breaking a sweat; Hanzo’s intricate tattoo that feels electric under his lips.

“Holeeeeee shit,” he whispers into Hanzo’s neck.

“I would understand,” Hanzo says sadly, moving away from Jesse, “if you don’t want-”

“Oh, no you don’t!” McCree pulls Hanzo closer. When the demon turns to push himself away, Jesse pins him against his chest.

“Jesse-”

“Shh, now. It’s cuddle time.” He strokes Hanzo’s hair and leaves a gentle kiss on his forehead. “This don’t change anything, ok?”

“…ok,” Hanzo says weakly.

“Yer still the same grumpy demon I fell head over heels for.”

“I am not grumpy,” Hanzo grumbles into Jesse’s chest.

“Whatever you say, sugar,” Jesse chuckles.

They lie like that in silence. Jesse moves to adjust his legs, but Hanzo pulls him into a tight hug.

“Honey-”

“Shh. Cuddle time.”

McCree decides that his legs are perfectly comfortable right where they are.

 

~~~~~~

 

The two rise at what Hanzo decides is a reasonable hour (10 am). Roadhog still makes them breakfast, and they all eat together, Jaime doing so surprisingly well, given that his dominant hand is the broken one.

“You ambidextrous or somethin’?” Jesse asks him.

“Nah. Just practised doing shit with both hands, just in case something like this happened.” He turns to Roadhog with a grumpy look. “Told ya it wasn’t a waste of time!”

The big man doesn’t even look up from his food.

After breakfast, they prepare to leave, getting Jaime’s car ready. They both wear their battle gear, fully expecting to finish off the rest of the network and be back in Melbourne before the sun sets. As Hanzo packs the last of their weapons and equipment into the car, Jaime and Roadhog come to the front porch and lean on the railing there. McCree goes up to join them.

“Fuck me, I could use a dart,” Jaime says suddenly.

Jesse looks to Roadhog for a translation, despite the fact that the wolf is back in human form.

“Cigarette,” he grunts. He then turns to Jaime. “Those are bad for you.”

“Mate, my lungs are more resilient than a human’s. Let me inhale some carbon monoxide.”

“No.”

Jaime grumbles, but he lets Roadhog have the victory. And he seems perfectly ok with being told what to do – the Jaime he knew from two or three years ago would have clawed the man’s face off, then would have smoked five cigarettes simultaneously, out of spite.

“We should be finished by tonight,” Jesse says confidently, “but if somethin’ comes up, an’ we need to stay the night, I’ll call ya first.”

“Sounds like a plan, mate. We’ll keep an ear out.” The lanky wolf looks at his cast-bound wrist and starts fiddling with the fraying threads. “Just… be careful, yeah? Take good care of Warren.”

“Who?”

“My car, mate.”

Jesse tries to keep his voice level, but it breaks with laughter. “…You named yer car Warren?”

“Oi, he’s a proper bogan, orright?” Jaime glances sideways at McCree, a mischievous smirk on his face. “What’s your car’s name?”

Jesse goes quiet. Then he covers his eyes with his hat. “I don’ need to disclose that information.”

“Strewth! What did you call ’im?”

“Her,” Jesse corrects automatically. He instantly regrets it.

“Oh, fuck me, mate. Now you have to tell us!”

“Tell ya what,” Jesse says playfully, “when we get back, I’ll tell ya what I called my car.”

“Deal!” Jaime caws eagerly.

 

~~~~~~

 

The drive to Geelong is calming and swift, what with Jesse keeping himself entertained with looking at all of the exit signs along the freeway.

“Lookit that one,” he chuckles, “‘Werribee.’ How d’you suppose you pronounce that?”

“Ridiculous,” Hanzo mutters under his breath. He’s more interested in the randomly dispersed warehouses and factories – alongside a rural freeway seems a strange place for such buildings.

They almost miss their exit; Jesse was so used to staying in the right-hand lane, it almost didn’t occur to him that he needed to merge across the whole damn freeway so that they could reach their exit.

When they reach the heart of Geelong, they get a much better feel for the place; it’s a quiet little suburb close to the coastline, and the central area is reasonably built-up with shopping strips with modern retailers and outdoor cafés. A giant mall catches them off guard.

“I was not expecting to see something like that,” Hanzo says in a bemused fashion, as he stares at the behemoth of glass and metal.

“Neither was I,” Jesse chuckles.

They both get back to looking around, the GPS directing them to a quieter area, tucked deep within the suburban sprawl of houses. They find their spot, then park along a side street.

Jesse leads the way, Hanzo staying a safe distance behind. The hunter gets to the end of the street, where there’s a ramshackle old house that’s been fenced off. The property is covered in tall weeds, grasses, and even a large amount of wild lavender. He doesn’t like this one bit; this spot is far too close to occupied houses for his liking.

As he walks along the street, he takes note of all of the empty driveways – hopefully all of these people are at work or school.

As he approaches the fence, he finds a small gap; this fence is only one of those temporary ones that are made up of small pieces of fencing placed side by side. He squeezes himself through the gap, and looks back along the quiet street. Somewhere in the distance, a dog barks.

Putting himself back in the game, he pushes forward and enters the house through the gap from a missing front door. He instantly feels eyes on him, and he turns sharply to his right.

Two men stand there, looking tired and weary. One is tall with dark blond hair and a solid build, and the other is shorter, stockier, with dark hair and an undercut. Jesse approaches slowly and cautiously. When he gets closer, he sees that their eyes are unnervingly pale – like they were blue once, but have since faded. The sign he was looking for was present; red around the edges of pale irises – these two hadn’t been drinking human blood for very long.

“Mornin’, fellas,” Jesse says easily. They both start.

“Shit,” says the shorter one, “You’re a bloody yank!”

Jesse rolls his eyes; Southerners are not Yankees. “I’m an American, yes.” He replies calmly. “I’m guessin’ y’all know why I’m here.”

The taller vampire stands straighter, squaring up. “You’re bloody right we do,” he says grimly, “you’re a hunter. You’re here to kill us.”

“Yes, and no,” McCree says with a tilt of his head. The two vampires share a quick glance, then stare intently at Jesse, so he continues;

“Yes, I am a hunter. But no, I ain’t here to kill you. I’m here to get some answers.”

“Answers?” Asks the blond vampire. “We’ve killed three people for a blood meal so we can survive. What else is there to know?”

Jesse blinks. “Y’all didn’t know you can survive off of animal blood?”

They both chuckle without humour. The shorter vampire speaks up. “We’re vampires, not bloody mosquitos. We have a very specific dietary requirement.”

“An’ who told you that?” When they offer no response and a stunned silence, Jesse continues. “Look, fellas, one of the most popular web searches is ‘can vampires survive off of animal blood,’ which means that y’all didn’t have the chance to look that shit up. Someone told you ya need human blood and can’t have nothin’ else.”

“But…” the blond vampire says quietly. His eyes are wide, and he looks fearful. “The stories? All the legends say that vampires need human blood.”

The shorter vampire turns to his taller friend. “That bloody mongrel lied to us!” He turns back to Jesse. “Garry, the bastard that turned us, he told us we needed human blood! We didn’t want to kill anyone, so he’d chuck us a dead body and we had to get what little blood he’d left for us. We were desperate for a feed, so we had to hunt! We had to!”

The taller of the two is in shock; he stands rigid, eyes out of focus. “We killed people…” he mutters, “we killed people when we didn’t have to.”

“Damo, mate, calm down.” The shorter one places a gentle hand on his friend’s shoulder, but the taller vampire doesn’t respond.

“Are there any seats left in here?” Jesse asks gently.

“Uh, yeah,” the shorter vampire replies, “in the kitchen.”

“C’mon, then. Let’s sit down. We got time to talk.” McCree moves slowly towards the taller vampire (Damo, apparently), who leans heavily on the hunter, eyes still wide and unseeing.

Both he and the dark-haired vampire guide him to what remains of the kitchen, where there are two worn but solid looking wooden chairs. Damo takes a seat, but he’s still not with them.

“Hey, y’all got wild lavender growin’ around this place.”

“So?”

“Y’all haven’t been vampires fer long; it might help calm yer buddy.”

“I’m fine,” Damo says suddenly. He looks anything but fine.

“Better grab that lavender, mate,” the other vampire says nervously. “I feel bloody sick to my stomach thinking about… about those people…”

“I’m on it,” McCree says gently with a soft smile. He finds a door at the back of the house, surprisingly intact. He doesn’t even close the door before he hears hurried whispers. He dawdles for a second, trying to catch the words.

“They are considering-”

“Jesus fuck!” Jesse whispers. He looks up, and sure enough, the source of that unexpected voice is Hanzo, sitting primly on the roof.

“Fuck,” Jesse repeats hoarsely for good measure. Hanzo just smiles smugly.

“As I was saying,” the demon continues quietly, “they are considering their options if they run for it. Go fetch your lavender; I will make sure they don’t leave.”

Jesse looks to Hanzo, then to the wild lavender, then back to Hanzo.

“Fuck,” he mutters, shaking his head and heading to the lavender. He can’t believe Hanzo managed to sneak up on him like that. He quickly gathers the lavender and heads back into the house, the demon still perched on the roof, looking entirely too haughty for the hunter’s liking.

When he gets back in the house, both vampires are sitting, but it’s the shorter one doing all of the whispering. He stops abruptly when he spots McCree, pale eyes turning hard and focussed. The hunter pays him no mind; he gets to placing the lavender in a cloth, and crushing the flowers. Once he’s satisfied, he places several drops of a clear, odourless oil onto the bundle. It instantly heightens the scent of the crushed lavender – Jesse breathes in deeply through his nose, an involuntary smile forming on his lips. He also notices both of the vampires slowly drop their hunched shoulders.

“Now,” Jesse starts, leaning against the wall with the lavender package in his metal hand and his flesh hand on his cocked hip, “why don’t y’all tell me a bit about this Garry fella.”

“Not much to say,” Damo manages, “just that he an’ the missus are turning people an’ hacking their fingers off.”

“‘The missus,’ huh?”

“Yep.”

“An’ it was just those two?” Jesse straightens his stance, leaning more comfortably against the wall. His movement finally gets Damo to meet his eyes. “It was just Garry an’ his missus that turned y’all?”

“He turned me first,” the shorter vampire supplies. “Right here, in this kitchen. He let the missus bite right into me.” He pulls the collar of his t-shirt down, showing thick and pale scarring on his shoulder. The vampire draws in a ragged breath. “I didn’t think she’d stop-”

“Mate,” Damo pipes up, placing a comforting hand on his friend’s shoulder.

“Right,” he says, adjusting his collar, hiding the scars. “Anyway, a week later, they bring me Damo. Tell me he’s my new buddy, that we’re to start ‘recruiting’. Then the fucker pats me on my sore shoulder, an’ says ‘you know what to do.’” He snorts angrily, snarling.

“Before they left,” Damo adds, “they hacked off our fingers.” He holds up his left hand, wiggling the remaining fingers emphatically. “Said something about keeping track of us. I dunno.” His shoulders sag, and he lets out a long, heavy breath. Jesse’s metal fist tightens around the lavender. No one should have to go through that kind of abuse.

“First thing’s first,” Jesse says firmly, “we need to get somewhere safe. We’ve been on this asshole’s tail for the past li’l while, an’ most likely he’ll be lookin’ at who he has left.” He looks at the two vampires sternly; “That means he’ll be comin’ for y’all soon to make sure yer loyal.”

“Loyal?!” The shorter vampire roars. Damo calms him again with a hand on his shoulder.

“We have no loyalty to that piece of shit.” He stares at Jesse intently, as if challenging him to dispute his claims. “Not after everything he put us through.”

“Well, ok then,” Jesse says, pushing himself off the wall firmly and standing tall. “Best gather what you have so we can get y’all outta here. We’ll wait for you out front.”

“‘We’?” Growls the shorter vampire.

“Me an’ my partner. I’ll introduce y’all when we’re ready to leave.”

Both vampires look unimpressed, but they comply. Once they’re out of the kitchen, Jesse moves to the front door, waiting for Hanzo to drop down beside him.

Before he can stop it, his mind wanders to what these vampires have been through. It bothers him to no end; despite wolves being forced onto the tonic, and shapeshifters being coerced into registering their existence, vampires still seemed to experience the most cruelty, both at the hands of humans, and other vampires.

“Wait, they tried to cut yer teeth out?”

“That’s what I’m telling you, asshole. How many times I gotta repeat it?” The vampire snaps. Despite the fact that Gabriel and Jesse rescued him from a grim fate, he’s still hostile towards them.

“Sorry… It’s just,” Jesse fidgets, trying to find the right words. “That’s real fucked up.”

“It happens more often than you’d think,” Gabriel whispers. Jesse only just catches it.

“So,” caws the vampire sarcastically, waving his hands in wide arcs, “now what? You just gonna release me back into the wild?”

“Nope,” Gabriel supplies, completely unfazed by the glib tone. “We’d like to relocate you for your own safety.”

“Nowhere’s safe,” snarls the vampire.

“There are plenty of covens out there,” Jesse says hopefully. “Got a good amount of land, plenty of buffalo an’ deer.”

“Not interested.”

“Are you crazy?” Jesse snaps. Gabriel holds out a hand, and Jesse keeps his mouth shut.

“Fine,” Gabriel says with a tired shrug. “It’s your call. Just know that covens out in the middle of nowhere are safe and quiet, and most of the humans around are too superstitious to come close to those territories.”

“Nope.”

“Ok,” Gabriel says. “Stay safe.”

“Boss-”

Gabriel silences him with a look. The vampire takes his leave without another word, not even looking back at them.

“Gabriel, what the fuck did we save him for?”

“So that he can choose how to live his life.”

“Well, he’s made a stupid-ass choice,” Jesse growls under his breath.

“But it’s his choice, niño. You don’t save someone just to put conditions on their life.”

A gentle touch on his metal arm brings him back into the present. He then realises he’s just about pulverised the lavender bag in his hand.

“Oh,” he says quietly, looking at his metal palm, which is now shiny with the oils from the lavender. A clawed hand gently removes the parcel from his grip.

“Come,” Hanzo says kindly, “they are just about ready to leave.”

McCree takes a deep breath through his nose, the scent of lavender working wonders on his nerves, and steels himself for introductions. Luckily, when the two vampires spot Hanzo, their only reaction is a muttered ‘bloody hell,’ which is followed by an exchange of names and firm handshakes. Jesse learns the shorter vampire is named Leslie, or Les for short.

Les suggests hiding at a nearby abandoned asylum that was never demolished. Not wanting to stink out Jaime’s car, the four of them set off on foot.

 

~~~~~~

When they get to the old building, Jesse is worn out and overheated in his armour, but he still gives Jaime a courtesy call to keep him updated.

“Oh, hey McCree!”

“Hi Jaime,” Jesse says, sounding as tired as he feels.

“Didya get those bloodsuckers?”

McCree sighs. “In a manner of speakin’. We got two fellas that want to help out. They traded us; info on their ring leader for their chance at revenge.”

“… so you two aren’t coming back here tonight?” Jaime says, slowly and carefully.

“Uh, hopefully we are. Why? Did I… interrupt somethin’?”

“What? Nah, mate. Me an’ Roadie are just in our trakky dacks watchin’ the tube.”

“…I see,” Jesse says awkwardly, barely understanding half of that sentence. “Anyway, I’ll keep y’all updated, and we’ll see you later.”

“Cheers, McCree. Have a good one!”

He ends the call, and turns straight to Leslie.

“What on God’s green earth are trakky dacks?”

Both vampires chuckle, but don’t answer his question. Instead, they keep walking, moving closer to the abandoned site.

“I still think we shoulda just covered the seats, an’ driven somewhere farther away,” Jesse says with a wry smile.

“Trust me,” Leslie says with a smirk, “This arsehole hates coming out this way. He hates Geelong. He’ll go straight to the house, see us gone, and that’ll be that.”

“And he’s really superstitious,” Damo supplies; “he won’t want to go near this place.”

The hunter and demon remain silent – they both know the perils of haunted buildings. But as long as the two vampires don’t provoke any restless souls, and as long as they think they’ll be safe from the alpha male, Jesse’s willing to risk entering the building.

The four of them squeeze through the surrounding fence and make their way towards the main entrance. The front doors have been barred shut and covered with graffiti, but Leslie guides them around the side, where all of the windows have been completely smashed in.

Once they’re all inside, Damo takes the lead:

“This way,” he beckons, walking further into the building. Jesse and Hanzo follow reluctantly, both sharing a look; they can both feel that something’s not quite right. Leslie picks up on their silent exchange.

“Something wrong, lads?” He asks. Jesse shrugs it off, but Hanzo doesn’t;

“Blood will be shed here,” he growls cryptically.

“What?” Damo stops in his tracks and turns to face the demon.

“The spirits here are restless; they know what is coming.”

The taller vampire folds his arms across his chest, totally unconvinced, until he spots Leslie in a panic.

“Les?”

“I can smell them,” he whispers frantically with wide eyes. Hanzo readies his bow, arrow nocked, and Jesse draws his revolver.

“Damn it!” Jesse growls. “They knew you’d come here.”

“But… but, how?” Damo says weakly, leaning against the nearest wall.

Les has lost his panicked state, and now has his teeth bared, ready for a fight. “We might’ve walked right into their fucking hands, but I’m not going down without a fight.”

“Good,” Hanzo growls with a fierce smile, “then we are with you.”

Jesse offers him a nod as confirmation, and he and Hanzo push forward, both vampires following them closely.

Chapter Text

The four-man team proceed through the building, which is mostly intact, and overrun with saplings and weeds. The air seems thicker here, and Jesse’s not sure if it’s because of the supernatural presence, or years of accumulated dust. Either way, even if they weren’t being pursued, Jesse would still feel claustrophobic and on edge in a space like this.

He reminds himself that he is covered in armour, he’s armed to the teeth, and he has Hanzo by his side. With that, he clears his mind and focusses on the hunt.

They push forward slowly, moving quietly and carefully. Leslie sniffs the air as best as he can, but he’s not a wolf; he can only smell their quarry, not follow their scent. Nevertheless, they keep moving around the building, Damo keeping them away from dead ends.

“The only way forward is through the men’s wards. Trust me, mate. The women’s wards are mostly collapsed and completely blocked off by rubbish. I’ve tried shifting it to see if-”

The four of them freeze when they hear stomping and sliding above them.

“Might be possums,” Damo whispers.

“Unlikely,” Hanzo supplies, his bright eyes still on the ceiling. “Rodents do not stomp like that.”

“Firstly, they’re marsupials-”

“Everyone, keep yer heads,” Jesse interrupts, pushing the brim of his hat with a gloved finger, “move slow an’ careful, an’ most importantly, stick together.”

“Understood,” Hanzo says confidently. The two vampires just nod their agreement, eyes scanning the room. McCree takes a step forward, snapping everyone out of their strange tableau, and the team move further into the building.

They enter a large, dark room, the dying afternoon sun kept out by the boarded up windows. Jesse feels unsettled by how empty the room is, but at least they’re not pinned down in a narrow hallway. The four of them move through to the other side of the room slowly, Jesse leading, and Hanzo bringing up the rear with his bow nocked.

They barely make it to the door for the next room before the vampires start gagging.

“Oh,” Leslie whimpers, covering his nose, “what is that smell?” Damo shudders beside him with a loud snort, also covering his nose. The stench doesn’t hit McCree until he’s a few metres away from the door. And then he recognises it as a strong dead smell.

He holds up a hand:

“Hanzo, with me. The two o’ you, hang back fer a tick.”

The two vampires comply without complaint, still holding their noses. Hanzo moves forward swiftly, armoured boots tapping on the worn linoleum floor. He readies his bow as Jesse moves to open the door.

A quick nod, and he pushes the door open, Hanzo charging in with his bow at the ready, Jesse right behind him with his revolver drawn.

They’re in a wide and long hallway with doors lined along the walls. In front of them, at their feet, is a dismembered corpse, its entrails strewn across the floor, and the face pulverised. Above the ruined head is the word ‘welcome’ written in blood.

“That is a fresh body,” Hanzo growls, “why does it smell so offensive?”

Jesse moves carefully to investigate, trying his best to supress his gag reflex – the stench has hit him full force now. He squats by the corpse, noting the missing forearms, and a missing foot. He moves a metal finger gently through the blood to test its consistency. It is gloopy, and starts to bubble when it settles back into place.

“Ghoul,” Jesse says shortly.

“A ghoul? A ghoul?!” Leslie hisses. “What the fuck-”

“Mate,” Damo says gently, but Leslie is near hysterical, whispering frantically:

“Jesus fuckin’ Christ, Damo! Vampires, werewolves, demons. And now a ghoul? What’s next? The bloody bunyip’s real, too?”

“Hey,” Jesse says carefully, “we need to focus on the mission an’ take these assholes out.” Jesse turns, still squatting, to face Les. “Are you with me?”

The vampire’s eyes flick wildly from Jesse’s face, to the ghoul, to the message in blood, and back again to Jesse. Finally, he lets out a shuddering breath and nods tiredly.

“Yeah. Yeah, I’m with ya.” Then with more pluck: “But when we’re bloody done here, I expect a full report on what the fuck else lives among us.”

“Deal,” Jesse answers calmly. He rises, then gestures forward with a tilt of his head, addressing everyone. “We need to check these rooms. I’ll check this side with Leslie. You two, take that side.”

“Understood,” Hanzo says with a gruff nod. The two teams inspect each room, the hunter and demon entering first with weapons raised, and when no threat is detected, a quick search of the room is undertaken before heading out and moving onto the next one.

Nothing. No traps, no furniture, not even possums. The only things that each room has in common (aside from being empty) are the lack of doors, and the sprawling graffiti covering the walls.

The two teams meet back up at the end of the hallway. A set of double doors with large windows stand between them and the next room.

“Keep yer heads down,” Jesse whispers.

“No one is there,” growls Hanzo. He lowers himself anyway. As the four move closer, they see a small pool of blood underneath the doors, along with that familiar stink of ghoul blood. Jesse presses a metal palm against the doors, and they both move easily. He’s not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing.

“Ok, are we ready?” When he gets affirmative nods from everyone, he and Hanzo push the doors open, looking for any signs of hostiles. They face a large, empty room. McCree and Hanzo move forward with weapons drawn, trying not to inhale through their noses. Another message awaits them in this larger room:

Almost there

One of the ghoul’s arms lies next to the writing, pointing to a darkened hallway, almost identical to the one they just exited. Except all of the wards’ rooms have been boarded up, or filled with rubbish.

“Oi, yeah, nah, fuck that,” Damo says quickly, eyeing the hallway as though it had personally offended him.

Jesse stays quiet, assessing the situation – the only two ways out of this room are through the hallway, or back the way they came. So their only options are to spring the trap and hope to gain the upper hand with their numbers, or wait for Garry and his mate to grow bored of waiting.

McCree turns to the demon, who seems to have been watching his face closely. He wouldn’t be surprised if Hanzo had guessed where his thoughts have been, and had come to the same conclusions. What did surprise McCree was when Hanzo stood straighter with a confident lift of his chin, and announced that he would move ahead alone and spring the trap.

“What-”

“Maaaaate-”

“Don’t be stupid-” Les seems to regret those words the second they’re out of his mouth, because Hanzo is in his face in the blink of an eye.

“We either wait for them to grow bored of waiting for us, or we spring the trap. And who would our quarry be expecting?” He tilts his head further back, eyeing the two vampires over the bridge of his bent nose. “You two, who he has wronged, and would be seeking revenge?” He then turns his gaze to Jesse, who suddenly feels very hot under all of his armour and those piercing eyes. “A hunter who has been dismantling his network for the past two weeks? Or…” He straightens even more, shoulders pulled back proudly, “… a lone demon whose family is long dead?”

“Yeah, alright mate,” Damo chuckles, “you’ve got my vote.”

That comment pulls McCree away from his lingering thoughts of Hanzo’s intense gaze. He shoots the vampire a disapproving frown.

“What? He volunteered!”

Jesse turns to address Hanzo, but before he can talk, Hanzo holds up a hand.

“Jesse, I know what I’m doing.”

“Like hell you do-”

“Really,” Hanzo snaps, affronted, “you still do not trust me?”

“Oh, fer fuck’s sake, Hanzo! It ain’t about trust! You know I trust you with my life!”

“Then what?”

“It’s just…” But he doesn’t have anything: Hanzo has experience with fighting against vampires, their venom won’t affect him, and he is just as fast and strong as any vampire. He is undoubtedly the best equipped to spring the trap safely and effectively.

Resigned, Jesse sighs heavily, then says weakly: “Just… be careful.”

“Jesse McCree,” Hanzo growls, trying for harsh, but his smile betrays him, “I have been killing hunters long before you had ambitions to become one. I can handle myself in combat.”

“I know, I know. But still… be careful, yeah?”

Hanzo rolls his eyes playfully, and nudges passed Jesse gently, whispering in Japanese:

“I will. Just for you.”

He walks through the hallway slowly with his bow ready, checking each room just in case something is hiding. Jesse watches him carefully, until Les approaches him with folded arms, tilting his chin towards the hallway.

“What was all that?”

“All what?”

“Don’t play coy with me,” Les growls, shaking his head dramatically. “You know exactly what I’m on about.”

McCree doesn’t even bother being subtle or delicate. “That’s my honey bee sweetie pie.”

Les narrows his eyes dangerously. “Isn’t that a conflict of interest?”

“So, why are you here, Les?” Jesse asks pointedly.

“Ohhhh, shit!”

“Fuck off, Damo.” Les snaps under his breath. He inhales heavily, then looks to Jesse. “Fine. But if this shit goes sideways-”

“All clear,” Hanzo says from the hallway. Leslie just about jumps out of his skin.

“What?” Jesse asks distractedly, as Les hisses every swear word under the sun.

“Blood on the floor. Thick and dark, but not offensive. And no vampires.”

Does that mean someone’s already taken care of Garry? Or his mate?

“C’mon,” Jesse says, “let’s see what’s goin’ on.”

The four of them move through the hallway, Hanzo leading. He points to dark spots on the floor. McCree can barely see as it is, so he grabs his tactical flashlight from one of his pouches. It emits a strong red light, specifically for human eyes.

“What is that?” Hanzo asks.

“Helps me see.”

“Hn. Really?”

“Made fer human eyes, cupcake. Y’all can already see in the dark, so this here light don’t look like much to you.”

“What, really?” Asks Damo. “How bright does it look to you?”

“Pretty damn bright,” McCree chuckles. He drops to his knee, inspecting the dark liquid. “Definitely looks like a vampire on human blood. I say we move quickly so we can catch this asshole before he recovers.”

“Sounds good,” Leslie growls, moving ahead to take point. Jesse keeps his flashlight on until there’s enough light from the next room to see without it.

At the end of the dark hallway, another large, empty room greets them. This room has two doors; one that presumably leads to another hallway filled with rooms, and another that looks like it leads to servant’s quarters. Hanzo moves to this door, sniffing loudly.

“I know that smell,” he growls. Before Jesse can ask, the demon has kicked open the door and stormed in with his bow drawn. Jesse hears four startled, but familiar voices cry out in surprise. No way…

McCree shoots a quick smile at Damo and Les, then follows Hanzo into the room. There stand four very familiar vampires. The only blonde turns to face them.

“Jesse!” Kylie squeaks, a large smile lighting up her face. Her clothes are covered in blood.

The other three turn as well, revealing on the floor what they were surrounding; a bloodied vampire lying flat on his back with his hands weakly grabbing at his neck. When Jesse looks closer, he can see a metal pipe protruding from his throat. It looks like it’s keeping him pinned in place.

“Howdy,” McCree says quickly. He moves closer to the pinned vampire to better look at his features. His human appearance is long gone: eyes red and dark; lips shrivelled and thin to reveal deformed teeth; pallid skin covered in veins; tufts of hair missing from his head, and eyebrows almost gone.

The vampire makes a clicking growl, and looks quickly to the other members of their party, his eyes resting on Les.

“Leslie,” he rumbles, voice distorted and gravelly.

“Tony,” Leslie replies confidently. It earns him a snarl. And dangerous stares from the other vampires in the room.

“Hang on,” Jonno growls, “who’re these guys?”

“Who’re we?” Les snaps, “Mate, who’re youse?”

“Les, Damo,” Jesse says quickly. He then gestures to the four standing vampires: “This is the li’l coven I was tellin’ y’all about.” He then turns back to said coven. “Why are y’all out here? I thought we agreed everyone would stay put?”

“Funny story, that!” Caws Charlie eagerly. “We wanted to get out of Melbourne for a bit, and with the weather warming up, we thought a trip to Torquay would be nice. But we took the wrong exit, and ended up in Geelong-”

“And that’s when we spotted the wolf’s car,” Vivian says distractedly.

“Oh, did you, now?” Jesse drawls, unimpressed. Vivian nods fiercely. “This ain’t the time for questions, but I’ll be askin’ a lot of them when this is all over.”

Without waiting for a smartass reply, he saunters over to the pinned vampire (Tony, apparently), then squats beside him. He hears the tapping of Hanzo’s boots behind him. It’s immensely reassuring to know the demon is right behind him.

“Talk,” Jesse growls. The vampire makes a winded rumbling noise. It sounds like he is trying to roar, but the sound doesn’t come out properly, given that there’s a large hole in his throat.

“C’mon, I’ll wait,” Jesse goads, not really needing a reply. He eyes the vampire closely: the thick, dark liquid pours freely from his neck – it means he’s had a blood meal recently, and if they give him enough time, he’ll get back up and fight them. They’ll need to kill him soon. Jesse also watches the vampire’s hands; they clench and unclench, the motion getting stronger gradually. Why is he letting them think he’s been bested?

At least one thing’s clear: Tony is definitely not an alpha’s mate, else he would be clicking more regularly. But he is of a high rank in the network. A beta, perhaps (though Jesse hates using wolf terminology to describe vampire hierarchy).

In the midst of McCree’s observations, Hanzo loses his patience; he growls lowly, aiming an arrow at the vampire.

“’S ok,” Jesse says, “I got what I need.”

“What?” Hanzo stares at him with wide eyes.

“Clickin’; it’s how they stagger human prey. But he ain’t an alpha’s mate – he don’t click often enough for that. ”

“So what is he, then?” Vivian asks.

“I’ll tell you what you are,” the vampire on the floor cuts in with a wheeze, “disloyal dogs.”

“Disloyal?!” Leslie thunders, teeth bared and hackles raised. “Look at what he’s fuckin’ done to us, Tony!”

“Les-” Damo tries to calm him.

“Nah, mate! Nah! This fuckin’ ratbag needs to hear it!”

“Hold that thought, Leslie,” Tony rasps. He arches his lower back, pushing his hips up and sliding his feet flat on the ground to help anchor his body. The rest of it plays out like an old horror movie; Tony pulls himself upright with a lot of cracking and squelching, the metal pipe disappearing into his throat. When he’s finally pulled away from the pipe, his upper body starts moving as if of its own accord, arms dangling behind him as he slowly becomes upright, a maniacal grin on his face.

Jesse watches as if it’s happening in slow motion. He knows the tells of a vampire ready to strike; the curl of the lip, the flare of nostrils, and that hard glare that says ‘I am about to end you.’ Tony has them all, plus a cruel smile, directed straight at a horrified Leslie.

Les seems to pick up on the body language, because he bends his knees, bracing for the impact. Tony leaps at the shorter vampire, snarling and snapping his jaws. Hanzo releases an arrow, and it manages to lodge itself in Tony’s shoulder, but the vampire is undeterred; he grabs hold of Leslie’s lower jaw, meaning to snap it clean off, but Jesse reacts faster – his metal hand grabs Tony’s lower jaw, and the rest of his body shoves him forcefully off the smaller vampire.

Jesse manages to pin him with his size and weight, and Hanzo manages to fire another arrow, this one landing in Tony’s neck. But the vampire still fights, kicking and bucking, trying to shift McCree’s weight off his body. Another arrow lodges itself in his neck, and still, he snarls and clicks and snaps, trying to bite passed Jesse’s metal hand. The hunter can barely manage to keep holding him down, let alone fish out a stake to pierce his heart.

“Les,” Jesse says quickly, “my knife.” Tony’s eyes widen, and he starts to fight harder.

McCree feels someone remove his knife, and with that, he pushes himself off Tony, quickly springing to his feet in case the vampire chooses to leap at him.

Instead he witnesses Vivian plunge his knife straight into Tony’s chest. The vampire gives an almighty shriek, grabbing at Vivian’s face, but she shoves him away with a quick palm strike, the knife coming free with a spray of blood.

Tony falls heavily, landing on his back. He lies completely still, eyes unblinking and wide.

“Fuck yeah, Vivian!” Charlie caws, punching the air with their fist. Vivian gives them a rare smile before wiping Jesse’s blade down on her already bloodied clothes. She hands it back to him, handle first.

“Wait ahead, y’all,” Jesse pants, sheathing the knife, “need to check the body.”

The vampires move without complaint, chattering excitedly and patting Vivian on the back. But Hanzo trots over to his side, bow still at the ready.

“Jesse?”

“He ain’t dead,” Jesse whispers. He squats beside Tony, whose facial muscles have started twitching.

“But she pierced his heart?” Hanzo says, still choosing to stand.

“Not enough when they’ve been on human blood this long,” Jesse replies. He fishes out a stake from a different pouch to his usual one. Hanzo’s nose instantly scrunches up.

“Yep. This one’s been blessed. It’ll definitely kill ’im.”

At those words, Tony’s eyes swivel quickly, watching Jesse intensely.

“You can fight beside us, y’know?” Jesse twirls the stake lazily in his metal hand. “Put an end to all this nonsense.”

Tony fixes him with a hard glare, one that undoubtedly says ‘I’d rather die.’

Jesse slowly lines up the stake, hovering it above Tony’s heart. “Last chance.”

The vampire doesn’t ever look away from Jesse’s face; he keeps fixing him with that hard glare, hatred in his eyes.

McCree lets out a wistful sigh. “Suit yerself.” And with that, he ends the vampire, hearing collective gasps from the other vampires. Not long afterwards, Tony’s hands begin to shrivel – he’s definitely dead now.

The hunter quickly looks over the body, checking for anything unusual. All he can see is the missing left pinkie finger.

Satisfied with his search, he rises, and he and Hanzo head back to the rest of the group together. Vivian shoots him a questioning look, but before she can ask anything, McCree addresses Les.

“You ok?”

“Fine,” he says, sounding anything but.

“You knew him.”

“We played footy together a few years ago. Then he went missing. I’d bet any of me other fingers that he’s the one that had Garry an’ the missus come after me to turn me.”

Damo places a comforting hand on his back. The other vampires stay quiet. Jesse clears his throat.

“I hate to do this to ya, but we gotta keep goin’.”

“Good,” the vampire responds. He stands up straighter and sets his mouth in a grim line. “I’m ready for some payback.”

“So are we. Have a plan and everything,” Vivian says dryly.

“I’m listenin’.”

“Find the alpha, keep him distracted. Jonno and Kylie stay hidden, so when the mate comes out-”

“Maaaaaate-”

“Shush.” Vivian continues, undeterred: “When she makes her appearance, they pounce.”

“Not bad. Weapons?”

“Just these dinky little knives,” Charlie says, removing a kitchen knife from a poorly improvised sheath attached to their belt. Jonno pulls a filleting knife from another flimsy sheath, and Kylie holds a cleaver.

“Lord Almighty,” Jesse sighs, rubbing his jaw absently. “An’ what did y’all think you could do with those? Make ’em some dinner?”

“It got us passed that first idiot,” Vivian says tiredly.

“No, it got him pinned. An’ that’s another thing we need to discuss before heading forward.” Jesse removes his hunting knife, throws it in the air and catches it by its handle. “Piercin’ the heart ain’t enough when they’re this far gone. That’s why y’all didn’t feel that asshole dyin’ until I finished him off.”

“I was wondering about that,” Damo says distractedly.

“It’ll paralyse ’em, though. Which means I’ll be able to finish ’em off for ya.”

“And why do you have to do it?” Jonno asks defensively.

Instead of explaining, Jesse reaches into his pouch for a blessed stake. Everyone around him scrunches their noses and turn away slightly. If shit weren’t about to go down, McCree might have made some time to laugh at their reactions. Instead, he holds the stake to Jonno, a wordless invitation. The vampire gulps, then reaches for the stake slowly. When his fingers brush it, he pulls his hand away inhumanely fast.

“Fuck! That’s hot!”

“Yep. So leave the killin’ blow to me. If y’all can help me out, this’ll get done a lot faster. But we need to move now. They’re strongest at night, and they’re already powerful enough without any extra advantages.”

With that, the eight of them exit the dining area and head through the last hallway filled with wards’ rooms. Again, they split into two teams and check each room for anything suspicious or dangerous. When they reach the end of this hallway, Damo stops them.

“This is it,” he says, sounding both excited and terrified. “Through here is a really narrow walkway, and that leads to the ‘Excited Patients’ building.”

“The what?” Kylie asks with a confused smile.

“It’s basically wider and roomier than these hallways,” he says, gesturing behind them.

“An there ain’t nowhere else this asshole could be hiding?” McCree asks.

Damo shakes his head. “This is the end of the line. Unless he and the missus were hiding in the rooms we inspected?” He looks to the hunter. “What if they transformed into bats?”

“That ain’t a thing,” Jesse says tiredly.

Kylie gasps dramatically. “My life is a lie!”

“Ok, ok. Heads back in the game, please.” Once the snickering dies down, Jesse turns to address Damo. “Any other ways into this? Or are we all waddlin’ in the one doorway?”

“Uh, there’s a stairwell. Leads to the old engine room. But there was a small hole in the wall last time I was here. Might be able to get to the kitchens through there. Then we have two ways into the Excited Patients building.”

“Sounds good. Let’s move.”

McCree leads them through the narrow hallway, everyone moving in single file. Hanzo brings up the rear, his metal boots tapping faintly.

At the end are two large doors, which presumably lead to the last section of the building, and a spiral staircase leading down. There is a very large hole in the wall.

Suddenly, a loud bang is heard in the next room over. All of them freeze, listening closely. Jesse swears he hears hisses and clicks. This is it, then.

McCree gets everyone’s attention, then points to Jonno, then Kylie, then Damo. Then he points to the hole in the wall. The three of them nod, then slink over there silently to wait in the stairwell. He looks to Hanzo and Leslie, and makes a ‘stay put’ signal. Hanzo throws him a sour look, which Jesse replies to with a shrug. He then whispers that it’s only for now, and they can come in after Jesse tries to talk things out.

Finally, he looks to Vivian and Charlie, who nod back at him confidently. Before he returns the nod, he reaches into another pouch and extracts two butterfly knives – part of the set Gabriel got him for his 25th birthday. The two vampires take them gratefully, stashing them besides the kitchen knives in their sheaths.

He finally returns their nods, and they move through the door.

And there stands Garry, adjusting a desk with casual nonchalance, like he wasn’t being hunted down.

McCree thought Tony had looked unpleasant, but it was nothing compared to Garry: he has no hair left on his head or face; his lips are completely shrivelled, revealing all of his teeth: deformed incisors that looked a lot more like canine teeth; the canine teeth themselves are thin and elongated, and a lot of his molars are missing. His ears are shrivelled and missing flesh, giving the appearance of pointed faerie ears. His nose is also shrivelled and pressed flat, making it look like the whole thing is missing, and there are just holes left.

“Fleshhh,” Garry rasps, more a clicking growling mess than a human voice. The sound is enough to get Jesse to almost throw up. A true predator of men.

“Evenin’,” Jesse drawls easily, placing himself in front of Vivian and Charlie. Garry clicks in response.

“S’pose you know why I’m here.”

“Hunter.”

“I prefer the term ‘mediator’, jus’ personally.”

Garry snaps his jaws, hissing through the gaps in his teeth. He widens his stance, ready for a fight.

“Real talk, though. It don’t have to end like this.”

“Yesssss it doesss!” Rattles Garry, eyes large and wild.

The hunter is braced for the lunge – he pushes his right leg back to balance himself as the vampire surges forward with inhuman speed. Jesse quickly brings his metal hand up, grabbing Garry’s lower jaw with metal fingers wedged in his mouth. No biting for you, asshole.

Realising his main method of attack had been neutralised, Garry screeches and bites down hard on the hunter’s hand while clawing at the leather chest piece protecting the hunter’s throat. Jesse lands a hard punch to the vampire’s stomach in the hopes of winding him, but vampires are far sturdier than humans; before Jesse can line up another punch, Garry kicks behind the hunter’s foot to trip him.

The hunter drops to his knee, letting Garry think he has the upper hand, and then uses the vampire’s momentum to roll them onto the floor. Jesse quickly straddles Garry and pushes his metal hand further into the vampire’s mouth, effectively choking him. He reaches for the stakes he (stupidly) keeps on his left hip, right hand barely managing to grasp the first one when Garry pushes up with uncanny strength.

Jesse is thrown roughly off Garry, landing square on his ass. He holds up his metal arm quickly, but before Garry can pounce, Charlie charges into him, shouldering him onto the floor.

With that distraction, the hunter gets to his feet quickly. He readies a stake in his hand, but the vampire is much faster – he’s managed to grab Charlie by the throat. Before he can bite into the young vampire’s face, a kitchen knife handle smacks him squarely in the face. It’s enough of a distraction for Charlie to shove him off and get themself out of there.

Garry lunges for Charlie, but McCree gets in the way, once again using his metal hand to prevent any bites. He manages to pin Garry against the wall, and both Vivian and Charlie charge in, seemingly out of nowhere to hold Garry’s arms back so that Jesse can end him.

Jesse lines up the stake, but before he can push it in properly, another vampire shriek reaches their ears. The sound turns Jesse’s blood cold and causes his muscles to twitch involuntarily. The stake doesn’t go deep enough. Enraged and in pain, Garry screeches, the sound weakening the hunter even further. Garry pulls his hands free of the smaller vampires, then grabs McCree by his cloak and throws him across the room.

Jesse skids along the floor on his shoulder, and comes to an abrupt stop when his back slams into the wall. He picks himself up quickly, trying to refocus his vision. Charlie is beside him, holding him as if he’d fall down at any moment.

“’M fine,” McCree mutters. He spots Garry quickly, and notices his lower jaw has been stuck closed with one of his butterfly knives. Vivian is wrestling with him, trying to avoid his hands grabbing anything firmly enough.

The stake is no longer sitting neatly in his chest.

“Damn,” Jesse growls, pulling another from his pouch. He counts three more in there – he’ll need to be more careful with these ones. When he and Charlie move closer, he makes a desperate grab for Vivian, pushing her against the wall.

“Oi! Dickhead!” Charlie yells as they run to help her. It distracts Garry enough to allow her to grab the butterfly knife and twist it cruelly.

Garry drops to his knees, crying out as loudly as one can when their jaws are held shut. It prompts a distressed screech from the stairwell – Garry’s mate.

Oh no – Hanzo!

Jesse runs to the dizzied vampire, needing to finish this quickly so that Hanzo would be safe. Again, both Vivian and Charlie hold an arm each so that Jesse can end the alpha once and for all. Distantly, he hears a shallow thud. Refusing to be distracted, he rams the blessed stake into Garry’s chest.

He gives an almighty shriek, writhing and kicking. Jesse strikes the protruding stake, driving it further, but it’s still not deep enough. He gives it one last smack with his metal fist, and with that, Garry stills.

McCree sits back, watching Garry carefully. He fails to notice Charlie and Vivian dropping to the floor slowly.

“Jesse!”

He hears Hanzo running towards him, and holds up a hand, still watching Garry to be certain that he was finally dead.

“Jesse, the others…”

It’s then that the hunter sees Vivian and Charlie on their backs, breathing shallowly with their eyes closed.

“Oh, no. No!”

But he doesn’t have time to check on them; a loud, piercing wail comes from the bottom of the stairwell.

“Jesse, I could only paralyse her-”

The demon is cut off by the wailing, her cries a crescendo echoing and booming, seeming to be moving closer to them. They both watch in horror as Garry’s mate climbs up the stairs, still screaming. She looks just as shrivelled and bald as Garry, but black tears have stained her face, and her mouth is open and gaping as she continues to wail.

In all his years hunting and working with the supernatural, this is the only time Jesse has felt true panic.

His feet feel bolted to the floor, and his mind is a jumble of irrational thoughts, the most prominent one being run! Just run for it!

When Hanzo moves in front of him with his bow ready, his mind snaps back into focus.

Right. Ready the stake. Brace for the lunge.

She comes to an abrupt stop right in front of them, suddenly going silent. She stands there, staring them down, unmoving. Hanzo remains poised, looking ready for anything, but Jesse notices the nervous twitch of his tail.

Quick as a whip, she reaches for the stake wedged in her neck, and rips it out viciously. Blood bubbles lazily down her clavicle, but she pays it no mind; her eyes burn into Jesse’s. With a regal tilt of her head, she rasps out a challenge, dangerous and low:

“Kill me.”

Jesse barely manages to grab a stake before she charges at them with a terrifying scream. Hanzo reacts just as quickly, lifting his bow and wedging it firmly in her mouth.

She grasps Hanzo’s hands, digging rotten nails into his fists and drawing blood. The demon snarls, pushing back with as much force as he can, but they’re equally matched in strength.

The hunter comes to his senses quickly – he readies the stake, moving close to the frenzied vampire. She snarls and snaps, digging more fiercely into Hanzo’s hands. The demon lets out a pained gasp, but he holds his ground. Until the vampire drops suddenly, and Hanzo surges forward, falling over. It’s what the vampire needs to get to Jesse.

She clicks and screeches, and Jesse plays the part, acting disoriented, but when she charges, his metal fist lands squarely in her mouth. Enraged, she bites down hard; Jesse can feel the metal giving.

Without wasting any more time, he plunges the stake into her chest.

She shrieks overwhelmingly loudly, releasing McCree’s hand and staggering backwards. Hanzo pops up from behind her and places his bow around her neck, pulling backwards so that Jesse has easy access to the protruding stake.

“Now! Finish this!”

Without needing further prompting, Jesse punches the stake with his metal hand with everything he has.

The resulting shriek from the dying vampire is the final straw on his frayed nerves; he drops to his hands and knees, fighting the urge to vomit.

He hears Hanzo call his name, but it sounds disturbingly distant, as if he were hearing it underwater. He feels clawed hands on his face, but he sees nothing – his vision has already faded to black.

And with that, Jesse loses consciousness.

 

~~~~~~

 

McCree wakes to a series of strange senses: a cool night breeze on his face; no feeling in his metal limb; a lot of chattering voices. One stands out from the rest:

“Jesse!” Hanzo’s familiar voice reaches his ears. He feels his face smile involuntarily; he’s really fallen for that grumpy demon. He feels a clawed hand press its way into his grasp.

“Jesse, squeeze my hand if you can hear me.” Hanzo sounds so panicked and urgent. Jesse squeezes, and holds on. Honey. I’m fine.

“Is he squeezing?” A distant voice asks. It sounds like one of the vampires.

“No shit, dickhead!” Jaime. “Can’t you see his bloody hand?”

“Well, obviously fucking not, you drongo!” Snaps the unfamiliar voice.

“Bite me, bloodsucker.”

A rumbling growl comes from his right, and the voices cease.

Baby, I’m ok. I can hear y’all. He’s not sure if he’s actually speaking, or if he’s imagining it. He squeezes Hanzo’s hand again.

“He picked one helluva time to wake up,” Jaime says tiredly. “Reconnecting prosthetics is painful business.”

Before McCree can process that last comment, a sharp, tingling sensation jolts up from his elbow all the way to his shoulder. Involuntarily, he sits upright, crying out and pulling his arm away from Jaime.

“Oh, c’mon, you wuss! That wasn’t even the painful part!”

Jesse comes to his senses slowly, blinking wildly and looking at all of the vampires around him. They stay a safe distance away, though; it looks like Roadhog wants them as far away from Jaime as possible.

He clenches his flesh hand, again feeling Hanzo’s reassuring hand in his grip.

“Orright,” Jaime caws, “give us ya hand so I can fix you up.”

“What’s wrong with m’ hand?” Jesse slurs, still not fully awake.

“Dirty bloodsucker bit it up pretty good. Then you landed on it funny. Now give it.”

Resigned to his fate, Jesse returns his metal arm to Jaime’s grasp. While the wolf readies the final connections, Jesse tries to keep his mind off what he knows is coming.

“So,” he drawls, “what’d I miss?”

Hanzo answers him, his voice surprisingly gentle. “Not long after you collapsed, these two broke the wall down.” He gestures tiredly at Roadhog and Jaime. “We moved you out here, hoping the fresh air would help wake you.”

“It didn’t. Roused the bloodsuckers, though.”

Jesse looks around at the vampires, giving them all a tired smile. Aside from their bloodstained clothes, they look happy. Relieved, even. Freedom is a good look on them.

“Brace yaself,” Jaime snickers. McCree holds Hanzo’s hand tightly.

The pain he feels from the reconnection shoots up all along his arm and shoulder. He grits his teeth, squeezing Hanzo’s hand until he hears the demon make a pained grunt. It’s then that he remembers the vampiress’ rotted nails cutting up his hand.

“Shit, sorry Hanzo-”

“It is fine,” he says shortly, lips pressed in a firm line.

“Alrighty! She’s good as new!” Jaime grabs McCree’s metal wrist and gives it a firm shake. “Yep, fingers look good. Give us a wiggle, mate.”

Jesse curls and uncurls his fingers. His pinkie feels sluggish.

“Nah, yeah, she bit into that one pretty hard,” Jaime says. “Might need to get it replaced when ya get home.”

“It’ll do fer now,” Jesse says gruffly, watching his fist clench and unclench. He meets Jaime’s gaze. “Thanks fer that.”

“No worries, mate! Now can we get out of this bloody dump and go home?”

“Only if we’re gettin’ dumplings.”

“Deal!”

Hanzo helps Jesse to his feet, and together, they say goodbye and thank the vampires for all their help. Vivian and Charlie return the butterfly knives they borrowed, and McCree gives them Winston’s contact details; he has a large list of hostels and shelters for misplaced vampires that they would find invaluable.

With a few more hugs and thankyous and promises to keep in touch, the hunter and demon head home with Jaime.

“I forgot to ask,” Jesse says, as he and Hanzo climb into Warren, “how did y’all get here?”

“Roadie took his car.”

“…he has his own car?” Jesse chuckles to himself. “Please tell me he drives a tiny li’l Colt, or Polo.”

Jaime cackles. “Nah, mate. He’s got a Defender 90. That’s what we use when we go bush-bashing.”

“I really hope that is not a euphemism…” Hanzo mutters. Jaime laughs even louder.

When a large SUV pulls up behind them and flashes their lights at them, Jaime gets Warren started.

“That’s Roadie.” And with that, he takes off. Roadhog gives chase, and Jesse and Hanzo hold on for dear life as the two Australians race each other onto the freeway and away from Geelong.