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Endless Summer

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Genji Shimada was ready for a kickass summer. The first week, he had plans to stay at Jamison’s beach house with a bunch of their friends. A few weeks later, he would be road tripping with Hana and Dae-Hyun. In August, he would be catching a cruise free of charge, thanks to Jean-Baptiste having connections with the cruise line. And in between he would be turning it up at parties and clubs all over the city.

Or so he thought.

“Genji,” his dad, Sojiro Shimada, called from the living room. Genji didn’t look away from the tv screen where he was playing Street Fighter.

“Yeah?” he called back.

“Come in here, I need to talk to you,” his dad said impatiently. Genji sighed, and set down his controller, letting his character get killed. He stretched, then stood to head downstairs to where his father was sitting with his laptop on the coffee table.

“Yeah, what do you need?” Genji asked. His dad fixed Genji with a cold stare over his reading glasses.

“You didn’t tell me you were on academic probation,” Sojiro accused. Shit.

“I am?” Genji said, feigning ignorance. “Whoops.”

“Yes, whoops,” Sojiro said with a frown. “It says here that you failed 3 of your 5 classes this semester, Genji. This is unacceptable.” Genji glanced away.

“I’m just getting used to the difficulty curve,” he said. “I’ll get the hang of it.”

“You will,” Sojiro said crossly. “You will attend more classes, and fewer parties.”

“Hey, who says I was partying-”

“You did, loudly, on the phone with your friends last night,” Sojiro cut him off.

“Oh come on,” Genji complained. “Everyone parties in college. I bet even Hanzo did.”

“Hanzo is graduating with honors. If he did attend parties, it did not impact his schooling. You are one semester away from being kicked out of the university.”

“Fine, I’ll do better next semester, okay?” Genji huffed. Of course Hanzo could do no wrong. He turned to go back up to his room.

“Genji, I am not finished,” Sojiro said. Genji turned back around. He really wasn’t in the mood for more lecturing. “I just got off the phone with your uncle Ichiro. He recently had back surgery, and will take some time to recover.”

“Tell him I said get well soon then?” Genji quipped.

“I volunteered you to go to New Mexico and work on his farm for the summer,” Sojiro informed him. Genji blanched.

“You what ?”

“Your flight is booked for the day after Hanzo’s graduation,” Sojiro said simply.

“But I have plans!” Genji protested. “I’m going to Jamison’s beach house next week! You can’t just volunteer me for shit. I’m not going.”

“If you wish to return to school next semester, you will go,” Sojiro said sharply. “I am not paying for you to get drunk with your friends. Some hard work will teach you some accountability.”

“I said I’d do better,” Genji pleaded. “Come on, I promised I’d be there, I can’t bail on my friends.”

“You will see them in the fall,” Sojiro reasoned. “I will take you shopping tomorrow for some clothes that are suitable for farm work. You can’t work in skinny jeans and crop tops.”

“Dad, please-”

“My decision is final, Genji,” Sojiro said sternly. “Inform your friends that you won’t be going to the beach house.”

“Fine!” Genji snapped, storming off to his room. He shut the door and put his head in his hands. He had to get out of this somehow. He was not about to spend his perfect summer on a goddamn farm . He barely even knew his uncle Ichiro. He had better at least be getting paid for this.

===

The last thing Genji wanted to be doing the day before he was shipped off to the middle of nowhere was attend Hanzo’s college graduation. A day to laud attention on his perfect brother was the opposite of what he needed right now. He didn’t see why he even had to go.

Genji nearly fell asleep during the ceremony’s ceaseless speeches. He had hoped that this wouldn’t take too long, but clearly it was going to be an hours long affair, especially with how many graduates were seated in the auditorium. He actually did doze off as the grads began crossing the stage, until his dad shook him awake.

“Genji, pay attention, Hanzo is up soon,” Sojiro said, a note of pride in his voice. Genji yawned, and scanned the crowd for his brother. Hanzo’s long black hair was easy to spot against his red gown. Hanzo stepped onto the stage and gave the announcer his name card.

“Hanzo Shimada, graduating with honors with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering,” the announcer proclaimed. Hanzo stood proudly onstage, and moved the tassel on his cap to the opposite side before exiting the stage. Genji glanced over at his father. Sojiro had a smile on his face as he snapped pictures on his phone. Genji sighed softly. His dad was always so proud of Hanzo. Always praising him. He’d even bought Hanzo a new car last year. Genji doubted he would get the same treatment, the same proud smile on his dad’s face when he graduated. If he even graduated.

They met up with Hanzo after the ceremony, and Sojiro hugged his elder son tightly. Genji only nodded to him. He and Hanzo used to be closer when they were little, but they didn’t have a lot in common anymore. Hanzo was all smiles, for once, as Sojiro took more photos of him.

“Genji, go stand with your brother,” his father instructed. Genji silently shuffled over to Hanzo and put on his best fake smile. Best not to give his dad a reason to be irritated with him on Hanzo’s big day. Sojiro took a few pictures of the two of them together, before asking a passerby to take photos of all three of them. Sojiro came to stand between them, and Genji wanted to roll his eyes. Was all this necessary?

Once they were done with pictures, they walked back to Sojiro’s Bentley. Genji climbed in the back, while Hanzo sat in the front.

“I am so very proud of you, Hanzo,” Sojiro said genuinely.

“Thank you,” Hanzo replied. He said more than that, but Genji already had his headphones in. The two of them continued to converse without him the rest of the way home, and as soon as they pulled into the garage, Genji quickly made for his room. He supposed he should pack his things for the flight tomorrow, but he opted to lay in bed listening to music instead.

After about an hour, he heard a loud knock on his door. He groaned, and took one earbud out.

“Yeah?” he called. The door opened, and to his surprise, it was Hanzo, not his dad who entered.

“Thank you for coming today,” Hanzo said. “I know you didn’t want to.”

“Dad made me,” Genji said flatly.

“Right…” Hanzo trailed off.

“Congrats or whatever. I guess you’re going to grad school next?”

“Yeah,” Hanzo said. “I haven’t decided on a school yet, but I have 4 offers.”

“Course you do,” Genji said bitterly. Hanzo scowled.

“What is your problem?” he huffed. “It’s like everything I do is a personal attack on you.”

“I don’t wanna talk about it Hanzo,” Genji grumbled. “Leave me alone. I have to pack.”

“Fine,” Hanzo huffed. “But none of your problems are my fault. You’re just being an asshole.”

“I said go away Hanzo,” Genji said, raising his voice a little. He knew he was being childish, but he really, really didn’t want to discuss this with his brother. Hanzo wouldn’t understand how he felt. He was always the good kid, the center of attention. Their dad’s favorite. Hanzo sighed irritably and closed the door, and Genji put his earbud back in. He really should start packing.

He spent another half hour just laying in bed with his eyes closed, before finally sitting up to start packing up his things. His dad had taken him to buy some truly ugly clothes. Work jeans, boots, plain t shirts, leather gloves, he was going to look ridiculous. He begrudgingly shoved his new attire into his suitcase, but he left room for a few actual trendy outfits. Surely he could find a club somewhere in New Mexico.

===

Genji spent the plane ride from San Francisco to Albuquerque sulking against the window, listening to music that he should be hearing from a breezy dock by the sea. The passing scenery below was breathtaking, but Genji couldn’t bring himself to notice or care.

After the plane touched down, Genji filed out into the airport with the other passengers and started looking for his uncle Ichiro. He hadn’t even seen him in years. Would they even recognize each other? After a few minutes, though, he spotted a man who looked strikingly like his father, wearing a back brace. Genji approached him, and Ichiro smiled broadly.

“Genji!” he said cheerfully. “You’ve grown so much. It’s good to see you. Thank you for coming.” Genji nodded unenthusiastically.

“No need to thank me, it’s not like I was given a choice,” he mumbled. Ichiro patted him on the back.

“Don’t look so put out. I’m sure you’ll enjoy the farm,” he said. Genji nodded listlessly. The two of them started walking, following the signs for baggage claim.

“It’s about a two hour drive from here to the farm,” Ichiro informed him. Great. More sitting, this time with small talk. “The guest room is all set up for you.”

“Okay,” Genji mumbled.

“I can tell you’re not thrilled to be here,” Ichiro continued. “But it won’t be so bad. And I don’t know if your dad told you, but I will be paying you for your work.” At least there was that.

“Thanks,” said Genji. They arrived at baggage claim, and Genji grabbed his suitcase off of the carousel.

“I won’t be able to do much to teach you the ropes, because I just had my surgery. But the young man from the farm next to mine has been helping me. He will teach you what you need to know,” Ichiro said as they made their way to the parking garage.

“Okay,” Genji replied. His uncle led him to a black pickup truck, and Genji hoisted his suitcase into the back before getting in. Immediately, he rummaged through his carry-on bag for his headphones. He wasn’t about to chatter with his uncle that he barely knew for two hours. Ichiro got into the driver’s seat with some difficulty due to his injury, and started the truck.

“You must be tired from your flight, so I will let you be until we get to the farm,” he said, to Genji’s relief. He put his headphones in and watched as they drove out of the airport, out of the city, through the desert countryside. It was pretty, but to Genji it just represented a prison sentence. He would have seen something similar on his road trip with Hana and Dae-Hyun anyway. About halfway through the drive, he fell asleep.

“Genji, we’re here.” Ichiro’s voice startled Genji awake. He rubbed his eyes, and looked out the window at a quaint farmhouse, several acres of fenced in fields, a barn, and… not much else. There was another house a ways down the dirt road, but that was it. Genji opened the door of the truck and hopped out to get his luggage. He grimaced at the sight of his suitcase covered in dust from the road. Ichiro led him up the front walk to the house, and when he opened the door, Genji was taken aback at how modern it wasn’t. The floors were uneven wooden boards in some parts, stone in others, and there was a wood burning stove in the corner. The room was dimly lit with only one lamp, there was actually a cow skull on the wall.

“Welcome to your home for the summer,” his uncle said warmly. “I hope you enjoy your stay. Your room is to the right, past the kitchen.”

“Thanks for having me,” Genji mumbled. He walked through the small kitchen to an equally small bedroom, with a queen sized bed taking up about half of the total floor space. There was a small dresser, and a closet, and a big bay window. Genji propped his suitcase against the wall, and immediately searched for the outlets. He needed to charge his phone.

“By the way, Genji. This house is solar powered, so please be mindful of how much electricity you use,” Ichiro said behind him. Genji wanted to groan. He had brought his laptop, his tablet, and his Switch expecting to use them all liberally to keep himself from going out of his mind with boredom. So much for that, he supposed.

“Got it,” he said. “Anything else I should know?”

“Well, there is no heat here, and it gets pretty cold at night, so feel free to use the extra blankets in your closet. The comforters are all real down, so they should keep you warm.” Genji looked at him incredulously. No heat ? “Surprised? I built this house myself, you know. It can’t have everything,” Ichiro explained.

“Alright. I’m sure I’ll get used to it,” Genji sighed.

“I suggest you turn in early, since you had a long day. I’ll be getting you up at 5 tomorrow to show you what your job will entail,” Ichiro informed him. Genji nodded numbly. Not even a few days to relax, huh?

“Okay. I’ll see you tomorrow then,” he said.

“Goodnight Genji.” His uncle closed the door, and Genji flopped face down on his bed. It was nice and cushy, at least, with lots of pillows. He pulled out his phone and searched for nearby nightlife, but as he expected, Albuquerque was the nearest spot with any to speak of. He doubted his uncle would be willing to drive him two hours just to go drinking and dancing. Just fucking great. Genji laid his phone to the side and rolled onto his back to stare at the wood beam ceiling. Everything about this was terrible. Jamison and his other friends were probably sipping cocktails on the boat right about now. It wasn’t fair.

After several minutes of laying there feeling pissed off and sorry for himself, Genji got up to change into the warmest pajamas he had packed: a loose t-shirt and a pair of thin cotton lounge pants. He went to the bathroom to wash the gel out of his hair and brush his teeth, suddenly realizing that he probably wouldn’t be able to keep his green hair nice out here.

Once back in his cramped bedroom, Genji plugged in his phone and climbed under the covers. He lay there for a good thirty minutes before finally groaning and rolling over to pick up his phone again. He couldn’t go to sleep at 7pm when he was used to staying up until 2am every night. He eventually got bored of checking and rechecking his social media accounts, and resorted to just laying in the dark. This sucked.

Finally, at 1am, Genji drifted off. He didn’t know what his uncle had in store for him the next day, but he was absolutely certain that this summer was going to be positively eternal.

Chapter Text

“Time to get up, Genji,” Ichiro said brightly. Genji didn’t move, he only groaned. There was no way it was time already. He had barely gotten any sleep at all. The sun wasn’t even filtering through the curtains yet. “Genji, come on. You need to get up,” Ichiro said more firmly. Genji rubbed his eyes, and very reluctantly sat up. Fuck, it was cold. He swung his legs over the side of the bed, and hissed when his bare feet touched the chilly stone floor.

“I’m up,” he lamented.“Good. Now, you do have work clothes, don’t you?”

“Mhm.”

“Good. And sunscreen?” his uncle asked.

“Yeah,” Genji yawned. He desperately wanted a shower, but he figured he was about to get sweaty and disgusting anyway. Ichiro left him to his own devices, and Genji had to fight the urge to huddle under the comforters again. He rummaged through his suitcase for his thick, uncomfortable jeans, plain red t-shirt, crew socks, and work boots. He pulled them on and frowned at himself in the mirror. He looked stupid. At least he was unlikely to meet anyone he wanted to impress around here.

Genji sprayed sunscreen on his arms and neck, and rubbed the excess onto his face. He didn’t bother gelling his hair, but he did pull it back with an elastic headband. Rubbing his eyes, he tromped out of the room in his ridiculous boots.

“Alright, you look good to go,” Ichiro said, giving him a thumbs up. “Now, how do you like your eggs?”

“Oh, uh. Scrambled, with cheese if you have it,” Genji replied. He hadn’t really expected to have breakfast cooked for him.

“I will have it ready for you when you get done with tending to the animals, then. Now come on, I’m sure Jesse is waiting for us.” Genji followed his uncle outside and around behind the house, toward the barn. He wrinkled his nose at the smell emanating from it and the nearby chicken coop. “Ah, yes, there he is,” Ichiro said, pointing. Genji looked, and his jaw nearly dropped. Riding toward them on a black horse was an actual, real life cowboy. And as he came closer, Genji could see that he was gorgeous . He had sunkissed brown skin, a strong jaw with thick, well manicured sideburns, and muscle to spare. His eyes were warm and inviting, with crow’s feet that were not at all unappealing. He jumped down from his horse, and it became apparent that he was quite tall, with long, powerful-looking legs ending in cowboy boots.

“Howdy,” the cowboy greeted, and Genji about fell over. He actually said howdy.

“Howdy,” Genji laughed. “You must be Jesse?”

“That’s me,” Jesse confirmed, holding out his hand for Genji to shake. He took it, and wow, those were worker’s hands alright. Big, rough, with a strong grip. Genji couldn’t help imagining them on his body. He suddenly remembered that he looked idiotic, and suppressed a grimace.

“I’m Genji,” he said congenially. “I hear you’ll be teaching me what’s what around here. Good to meet you.”

“Pleasure’s mine,” Jesse replied. He moved to hitch his horse to the cast iron ring attached to the barn.

“Jesse has been a big help to me. I’m sure he will teach you well,” Ichiro praised.

“Just doin’ what I can to help a neighbor,” Jesse hummed. He stretched, and Genji’s mouth watered at the sight of the thick trail of hair in the center of his toned stomach. “Genji, you ever worked on a farm before?”

“Huh? Oh. No. I’ve never even been on a farm before,” he answered.

“Well, you’ve come to the right guy,” Jesse said. I certainly have , Genji thought, eyes wandering to Jesse’s biceps. A farm boy had no business being this ruggedly sexy.

“I’ll leave you boys to it,” Ichiro said, turning back toward the house. “Breakfast will be waiting for you both when you finish feeding the animals.”

“Thanks,” Jesse said cheerfully. “Now, what brings you down here? Just wanted to give your uncle a hand? Awful kind of you.”

“Oh,” Genji said awkwardly. “I’m actually kind of being punished. For doing badly at college.” Jesse whistled.

“So, definitely not your ideal summer then,” he said.

“No,” Genji said flatly. “But it can’t be all bad.” There was a hot cowboy to ogle after all.

“You don’t sound real convinced,” Jesse said. “But don’t you worry. There’s a lot to love about this life. It won’t be as bad as you think.”

“So what’s first?” Genji asked. Jesse took his hat off to sweep his hair back, and Genji took that moment to appreciate his bangs falling in his face.

“Feeding the chickens,” Jesse said, gesturing to the coop. “Feed’s in the barn. Ichiro free roams his chickens, so all you gotta do is let em out and spread the feed on the ground. C’mon, I’ll show you.” Jesse turned around to open the barn, and Genji took the opportunity to appreciate his ass. It was so round, how was this man even real? He followed Jesse into the barn, which smelled significantly worse on the inside, and to a large burlap sack full of chicken feed. Jesse hoisted it onto his shoulder like it was nothing, and Genji immediately pictured the cowboy toting him around in the same way.

“Alright, so I typically throw the feed down first, then let the suckers loose,” Jesse told him. “Or else they get al underfoot. He set the sack down and loosened the drawstring before lifting it again to pour about a quarter of the contents on the ground.

“Want me to open the hatch?” Genji asked, walking over to the coop.

“Go for it,” said Jesse. Genji unlatched the door, and slid it upward. Immediately, he heard chickens chattering inside, and he stepped aside as they started quickly filing out.

“Mornin’, ladies,” Jesse greeted them, and Genji giggled. “Now, while they’re eatin’, we can go in and collect the eggs they laid overnight.” Jesse handed Genji a basket lined with a dingy white towel. Genji took it and opened the door to the coop, making a face at the smell. How did Jesse and his uncle deal with this on a daily basis? Holding his breath, he started plucking eggs out of the nesting boxes as quickly as possible, setting them in the basket a little more hastily than he should have. Sure enough, his carelessness rewarded him with two broken eggs. He released the breath he was holding.

“God dammit,” he muttered. Once he’d picked up all the eggs, he exited the coop and shut the door.

“You sure you got em all?” Jesse asked. “I only ask cause if any get lost in the straw, they aren’t fun to find later.”

“Yeah, I got them,” Genji said. “Also I broke a few. Sorry.” Jesse patted him firmly on the shoulder, and his touch was just as firm as Genji imagined.

“No need for apologies on your first day,” Jesse reassured him. “You’ll get the hang of it.” He flashed Genji a smile. Even his teeth were pretty, perfectly straight and bright white.

“What’s next? Genji asked. He set the basket of eggs in the shade provided by the barn.

“Gotta feed the donkey, the goats, and the steers,” said Jesse. “The donkey gets hay, the cows get grains, and the goats get hay and alfalfa pellets.”

“It smells so bad in there,” Genji complained.

“Heh, you’ll get used to that,” Jesse chuckled. “Barely bugs me anymore. Here, the alfalfa is right here next to where we got the chicken feed. You’ll want one scoop per goat, and there’s four of em. See those little troughs on the inside of the stalls? Just drop em in there.” Jesse opened the feed bag, and immediately Genji heard scuffling behind him. He turned, and saw the four goats all waiting impatiently at the front of their stalls. One of them had large horns, and the other three had smaller ones. Jesse scooped up a generous amount of alfalfa pellets, and sauntered over to the first stall.

“Oh, by the way, forgot to tell you everybody’s names,” Jesse said as he dumped the pellets into the trough.

“They have names?” Genji hadn’t really expected them to, though he supposed it would be easier to keep track of them that way.

“Course they do. This here’s Bonnie, Sheila, Lacey, and Clyde,” Jesse said, pointing to each goat in turn. “These guys are Rusty and Bruce.” He gestured to the two brown steers in their stalls. “And the donkey is Sojiro.” Genji snorted, and started to laugh.

“Holy shit-” he wheezed.

“That means somethin’ dirty in Japanese, don’t it?” Jesse asked.

“It’s my dad’s name,” he cackled. “Ohhh, I bet he has no idea either. I’m gonna tell him. He’s gonna be so mad.”

“Ichiro’s told me before that your dad is a real stern guy. That’s amazing,” Jesse laughed. Genji pulled out his phone and moved to take a selfie with the donkey in the background. He put up a peace sign and winked as he snapped the shot.

“I’m sending this to dad and Hanzo. Met the donkey today, his name is Sojiro,” he read aloud as he typed. Jesse continued to move between the feed bag and the goat stalls as he sent his message.

“Hanzo’s your brother, right?” Jesse asked.

“Yeah,” Genji said flatly. “He’s perfect. Also kind of an asshole.”

“It’s tough bein’ the younger sibling,” Jesse said. “I’m the youngest too. I’ve got two older sisters, they’re twins.”

“Oh, damn. Were they always better than you at everything too?”

“Yup. They were always real sweet about it, never rubbed it in, but I was never really the good kid. Kind of a little bastard, honestly. I got into some real trouble in my teen years,” Jesse chuckled. He picked up a bale of hay from against the wall, and started breaking off pieces for the animals.

“How old are you now?” asked Genji.

“24,” Jesse replied.

“Yeah? Haven’t you ever considered like, moving somewhere new? I mean, how many people live in this town?” Genji asked. It was perplexing to him that someone Jesse’s age would want to stay in a podunk farm town like this when there was so much more out there.

“Sure, I’ve thought about it,” Jesse said. “I went to UNM, so it’s not like I’ve never spent time in the city though. You’re from San Francisco, right?”

“Yeah, well technically I’m from Hanamura, but we moved here when I was a baby, so yeah basically.”

“Hanamura, that’s Japan, yeah?” Jesse asked.

“Yep. Don’t ask me to design you a kanji tattoo though, I don’t actually know how to write it,” Genji said dryly.

“I’ll keep that in mind,” Jesse chuckled. He went over to the bag of grain mix and scooped some for the steers. “But getting back to what I was sayin’, if you’re coming from a huge city like that, I don’t really blame you for thinking this place is kind of a backwater. But there’s a lot out here you can’t get anywhere else.” Genji gave him a skeptical look.

“Like what?” He asked.

“How ‘bout I show you?” Jesse offered. “If you’re gonna be here all summer, we’ll have plenty of time to get you the authentic country experience.”

“Yay?” Genji was still unconvinced. But he knew not to pass up an offer to spend more time with a hunk like Jesse.

“Meet me tonight around sundown. I’m guessing you’ve never really seen the stars before?” Jesse asked.

“I’ve seen stars. It’s not like I’ve never left San Francisco in my life,” Genji objected.

“Yeah, but have you seen em from the bed of a truck with zero light pollution on a summer night?” Jesse countered.

“No, but that’s really specific,” Genji said.

“Well, now you’re gonna get the chance,” Jesse chuckled. He finished feeding the cows, and closed up the bags of feed. “Now, your uncle’s probably got our breakfast waiting for us, so let’s get the eggs and head on back.” Genji perked up a little. Breakfast sounded great.

“Sounds good,” he said. They exited the barn, and Genji picked up the basket of eggs. He watched the chickens milling around and pecking the ground for a moment. “I want to name a chicken after Hanzo.”

“They’re all hens, though,” Jesse pointed out.

“So? That’ll just annoy him more.” He pointed to a silkie chicken, with its poofy crown of feathers bobbing as it walked. “That one’s Hanzo now.” Jesse laughed, and Genji thought he could listen to that laugh all day.

When they got back to the farmhouse and opened the door, they were instantly greeted by the smell of delicious eggs cooking. “Ah, you’re just in time,” Ichiro said. “Jesse, your eggs are done. Genji, yours are on the skillet now.” Jesse sat down at the table, and Genji followed suit.

“Thanks, Ichiro,” Jesse said. Ichiro placed a plate with four sunny side up eggs in front of him. “These look great.”

“It’s the least I can do to thank you,” Ichiro said. “Genji, what do you think so far?”

“Oh, he’s real helpful,” Genji said.

“I meant of the work, not of Jesse,” Ichiro chuckled. Genji flushed. Duh.

“Oh,” he said dumbly. “It doesn’t seem too hard so far. I dunno if I can carry that entire chicken feed bag around on my shoulder though. I like that you named your donkey after my dad, that was a highlight.” Ichiro laughed heartily.

“I always have to pick on my little brother,” he said fondly.

“Wait, dad is younger than you? I thought he was the older one,” Genji said.

“Yes, I am three years older, just like Hanzo is to you,” said Ichiro.

“Huh.” Genji wondered if his dad had ever felt eclipsed by Ichiro, like he felt with Hanzo.

“Here are your eggs, Genji,” Ichiro said cheerfully. He placed a heaping plate of scrambled eggs with cheese in front of Genji. Genji took a bite, and his eyes lit up.

“Wow, thanks,” he said, quickly shoveling more into his mouth. “These are amazing.”

“Can’t beat farm fresh eggs,” Jesse said contentedly. As Genji ate, he started to think that maybe this wouldn’t be so horrible. Jesse was good company, and very easy on the eyes. Ichiro was easygoing, nothing like his father. He still wasn’t wild about working all day in the heat, but at least he wasn’t stuck doing it alone. And there was no Hanzo to show him up at every turn. This summer might actually turn out to be okay after all.

Chapter Text

After breakfast, Genji followed Jesse back outside for more work. The sun was starting to beat down on them, and Genji really wished he had some shorts on instead of heavy jeans.

“So what’s next?” Genji asked.

“Mucking stalls,” Jesse said cheerfully. Genji made a face.

“That’s just another word for shoveling shit, isn’t it?”

“Yup. We’ll let the animals out into the corral, clean up the messes they made in their stalls, rake up the dirty straw, and hose the stalls down real good. Then lay down some fresh straw.”

“Great. Sounds disgusting,” Genji said unhappily.

“Again, you get used to it,” Jesse said, patting Genji on the shoulder again. He opened the barn, and handed Genji a broad shovel and a large bucket. “I’ll take the animals out back to the corral. Then you can get started.” Jesse closed the front door to the barn, and opened the back door, which opened to a large, fenced in area with grass growing thanks to a built in sprinkler system which was just finishing up its watering. As soon as the sprinklers shut off, Jesse started opening the stalls. The animals seemed to know the routine, and each of them wandered out into the pasture. Except for one.

“Come on Sojiro,” Jesse coaxed. The donkey was determined to stay put. Genji couldn’t help but giggle again at the name. “I should have brought a carrot out, I forgot how stubborn this guy is.”

“Would some hay work?” Genji asked, already peeling some hay from a nearby bale. He waved it in front of the donkey, who didn’t budge.

“Naw, he knows that if he doesn’t move, he gets a treat,” Jesse sighed. “I’m gonna run back to the house and get a carrot real quick.” Jesse exited the barn through the front door, and Genji was left standing in the barn alone. He glanced at the donkey. He had never been this close to one before, they were a lot bigger than he expected. It honestly made him kind of nervous. He cautiously held a hand out and stroked Sojiro’s nose. The donkey huffed, and Genji jumped back nervously. He didn’t even want to know what it was like to get bitten by such a large creature.

“I’m back. Sojiro, I got your carrot,” Jesse said. He held up the carrot, and Sojiro immediately started towards him. Genji gave the donkey a wide berth as Jesse led him out to the pasture. “You afraid of him?”

“No,” Genji lied.

“It’s okay. He’s a big guy. But he won’t hurt ya. C’mere, how about you give him the carrot?” Jesse said, holding it out to Genji.

“No way. I don’t want to get bitten,” Genji said, folding his arms.

“Okay, I’ll show you just for today, but I want you to get comfortable with the animals eventually.” Jesse held the carrot up to Sojiro’s mouth, and the donkey happily took it. Jesse stroked his ears gently. “Good boy,” he murmured.

“You really like animals, don’t you?” Genji asked.

“Sure do. I’ve been around farm animals my whole life. Once you build a relationship with an animal, it’s really rewarding. You saw my horse, yeah? I raised her from the day she was born,” Jesse said proudly.

“What’s her name?” Genji asked.

“Peacekeeper,” Jesse replied. “In fact, I was about to lead her to the pasture with the other animals. But why don’t you lead her instead? She’s the gentlest horse you’ll ever meet.”

“If I have to,” Genji said hesitantly.

“Don’t you worry, I’ll be right next to you,” Jesse reassured him. He opened the barn door again, and walked over to Peacekeeper. “Alright girl, let’s go out to the corral.” He untied her lead from the hitch, and gestured for Genji to come closer. Genji nervously approached. If he’d thought the donkey was big, the horse was massive.

“Maybe I’ll do this tomorrow,” Genji balked.

“She’s never hurt a soul,” Jesse promised. “No time like the present.” Genji bit his lip, and took the lead from Jesse.

“Now what?” he asked.

“Gently tug in the direction you want her to go, walking beside her,” Jesse instructed. His voice was even and gentle. Genji took a deep breath and gave the lead a cautious pull. Peacekeeper obediently started walking, and Genji walked beside her. He guided her into the barn, and true to his word, Jesse stayed right next to him, ready to take the lead just in case. When they got the horse out to the pasture, Genji let out a breath he didn’t realize he had been holding.

“There you go. Good job,” Jesse said warmly, smiling at Genji with that dazzling smile. Genji felt his cheeks flush pink at the praise. Jesse had no right being so gentle and sweet on top of being gorgeous. “Now, let’s get to mucking.” Genji groaned loudly. The moment was ruined.

---

It took them a little over an hour to clean out every stall and fill it with fresh hay, and by the time they were done, Genji was exhausted. He’d never done this much physical labor in his life.

“You look like you could use a break,” Jesse said, to Genji’s immense relief. “Let’s go back to the house and get some water.”

“I don’t know if I’m even going to make it to sundown to look at the stars,” Genji lamented. “I feel like I could go to bed right now.” Jesse chuckled.

“It’s not even noon yet,” he reminded him.

“What? Seriously?”

“By my guess, it’s around 10,” said Jesse. Genji checked his phone. Sure enough, it was 10:12.

“It’s not even lunchtime yet,” Genji muttered.

“If you’re hungry, we can have an early lunch. I know it’s hard work,” Jesse said sympathetically.

“No, it’s fine,” Genji said stubbornly. He didn’t want to seem like a wimp in front of Jesse.

“Alrighty, if you say so,” Jesse hummed. Genji’s stomach growled, and he flushed slightly. “Maybe just a snack. You don’t wanna work on an empty stomach.”

When they got inside, Ichiro was on the couch watching TV. Jesse poured them each a glass of cold water from the fridge, and tossed Genji an energy bar from the pantry.

“Here. These aren’t that good, but they perk ya right up,” he said. Genji opened the energy bar and took a bite. Jesse was absolutely right, it was not good. But he’d done enough complaining to the cowboy this morning. He ate quietly, washing it down with refreshing water. It felt amazing to drink after working hard the past hour.

“So,” Genji said. “What’s next now that we’re done with the stalls?” It couldn’t be worse than cleaning up cow shit, he hoped.

“Tending the fields,” Jesse said. “There’s hay, beans, and chiles. Your uncle grows some mean chiles, too.”

“You flatter me,” Ichiro called from the couch. “Besides, Genji will be the one growing them this summer.”

“The fields are planted already, but they’ll need to be weeded, watered, and fertilized. Watering is the easy part, all you gotta do is turn on the irrigation system. But we gotta weed and fertilize by hand. You know all that muck we scooped up earlier?”

“No,” Genji groaned.

“Yep,” Jesse laughed. “Well, we’re gonna toss that on the compost pile, and take some of the older compost and mix it with water so we can spread it easier.”

“How much of farming is slinging shit around?” Genji whined. Jesse only laughed harder.

“Don’t worry, you don’t have to fertilize every day. C’mon, let’s get back out there,” he said brightly. Genji had to give him points for cheerfulness. It was hard to feel sorry for himself when Jesse seemed so happy to be there.

They headed out back to the fields, and Jesse handed Genji a hoe. “Here, this’ll help you with the weeds. They’ll be small, but make sure you get the whole root system or they’ll be back bigger,” he instructed. “Start with the bean field, I’ll be in the hay field.”

“Okay,” Genji said. He looked out over the field. It wasn’t insurmountable, he supposed. He went to the back left corner, and started making his rounds, scraping up the young weeds. Once he had a rhythm going, it was actually kind of relaxing, mindless work. When he reached the end of the first row, he wiped the sweat from his brow, and checked the time. It had been about fifteen minutes. Genji stepped back and counted the rows, and frowned. Wait. Eight rows, at fifteen minutes each… this was going to take him two whole hours, and then there was still the chile field. Genji cursed under his breath. On the second row, he was a little more hasty, trying to cut down on the time. The sun was blisteringly hot, and he was wishing he could just take his clothes off entirely.

“Hey, how’s it coming?” Jesse asked, approaching him as he hacked away at a weed in the third row.

“Oh, you know. Thrilling,” Genji quipped. “What are you doing over here? I thought you were doing the hay field.”

“I did,” Jesse said.

“Already? But the hay field is the same size as this one,” Genji said skeptically.

“I’ve been at this a long time, partner. Don’t worry, I’ll help you out. Then we can tackle the chile field together, and we can call it a day. I don’t wanna work you too long on your first day out.” Genji’s gratitude must have shown on his face, because Jesse’s smile widened. “Then maybe you can catch a nap, so we can still go out and see the stars.”

“Yeah, there’s no way I’m not taking a nap,” Genji agreed.

“Let’s get back to it then, so you can hit the hay sooner,” Jesse said, walking off to the opposite corner of the field. Genji watched him go again, he had a feeling he’d never get tired of watching Jesse’s backside. Feeling renewed, partially by the fact that the end was in sight, and partially by the thought of stargazing with Jesse later, Genji got back to work.

It was afternoon by the time they finished weeding, watering, and fertilizing the fields, and Genji was acutely aware that he reeked of sweat and barn.

“Good job today,” Jesse told him as they put their tools away. “You’re picking this stuff up quick. You’ll be running the farm on your own in no time.”

“I can hardly contain my excitement,” Genji said sarcastically. “But thanks. Helps that I had a good teacher.” He couldn’t help flirting with Jesse a little.

“Aw, I’ve just got experience,” Jesse said with a wink. Genji found himself blushing again. He was tempted to say something about liking experienced men, but he didn’t even know if Jesse liked guys, let alone guys that came on that strong. “Anyhow, I’ll pick you up around sundown, okay Genji?”

“Alright, I’ll try to be conscious,” Genji said, grinning. He was excited to go do something fun and relaxing after a hard day of work. “But for now, I really, really need a shower. I don’t think I’ve ever needed a shower as badly as I do right now.” Jesse laughed again, and Genji reveled in the sweet sound.

“Alrighty. Catch you later,” Jesse said, sauntering off to get his horse from the corral. Genji smiled to himself all the way back to the house. It wasn’t actually a date, he was sure. But it felt like date material to him, and it would be a chance to get to know Jesse without a bucket of poop in between them.

“Back for the day?” Ichiro asked once Genji came inside.

“Yeah, we’re all done,” Genji replied. He took his headband off, grimacing when his hair didn’t budge. Gross.

“Jesse really knows his stuff, doesn’t he?” his uncle asked.

“Yeah, he was a big help,” Genji said. “And he offered to take me out later tonight to see the stars.”

“Ahh, making sure you experience the best of the country?” Ichiro chuckled. “He’s a good kid. I’m sure he is happy to have someone near his age around.”

“So am I,” Genji admitted. “No offense, but I was kind of dreading being out here with nobody my age to hang out with.”

“None taken,” Ichiro said. “Now, go ahead and take a shower. I’m sure you’re wanting one.”

“Yes. Where do you want me to put my dirty work clothes?”

“There is a laundry room next to the bathroom, just leave them in there,” said Ichiro. Genji nodded, and without further ado, headed to the bathroom. Peeling off his work clothes felt almost euphoric. He had to laugh at how filthy the parts of him that had been exposed were compared to his legs and torso. He started the shower and impatiently waited for the water to heat up before stepping in with a moan. Never before had a shower felt so good. He gently rubbed his arms and watched the grime just melt off of them. But, he realized with a frown, he was now sporting a light farmer’s tan. That was only going to get worse.

Genji stayed in the shower until the water ran cold, just basking in the feeling of being clean after feeling nasty all day. He was shivering by the time he stepped out and wrapped up in one of his uncle’s big, fluffy towels. His stomach growled, but it could surely wait for him to take a nap first. He went back to his room, dropped the towel, and crawled under the covers without even drying his hair. Genji knew he’d regret the way it would look later, but he was too tired to care at the moment. He was asleep within minutes of his head hitting the plush pillow.

“Genji,” Ichiro said, rousing him from his deep slumber. “Jesse is here to pick you up.” Genji sat up. Shit, he should’ve known he would oversleep. He could just feel the stupid things his hair must be doing.

Alright, I’ll be right out. Close the door, I’m not dressed,” he mumbled groggily. Ichiro backed out of the room and closed the door, leaving Genji to get ready. He stepped out of bed and walked over to the mirror. Sure enough, sleeping on wet hair had rewarded him with gravity-defying ridiculousness. He sighed, and grabbed a snapback out of his suitcase, along with a pair of loose joggers and a faded tank top that read “Party Don’t Start Til I Walk In” in bright orange letters. He dressed himself, and slipped on flip-flops, trying to look awake as he left his room.

“Morning,” Jesse chuckled, he was sitting in the kitchen with a picnic basket. He was missing his hat, but he still had on cowboy boots, a different pair than before. He had on a blue flannel over a black tank top, and a fresh pair of jeans. “Your uncle packed us some dinner, since he figured you wouldn’t wake up in time to eat beforehand.”

“Oh, cool. Thanks,” Genji said, trying not to yawn.

“Of course,” Ichiro said with a smile.

“You ready?” Jesse asked. “My truck’s out front.”

“We’re not taking the horse?” Genji teased. Jesse chuckled. “Later, uncle Ichiro.”

“Have fun,” Ichiro said.

Jesse stood, and they headed outside. Jesse’s truck was a beat up old red pickup, which Genji thought suited his country boy image perfectly. He climbed into the passenger’s seat as Jesse got in on the driver’s side. “So, where are we going?” Genji asked.

“Just a few miles out of town, where there’s no artificial light,” Jesse replied. “I got some blankets in the back, we can sit in the back and eat, and just watch the sun go down and the stars come out.” Sounds awfully romantic , Genji thought.

“Cool,” he said instead. He watched out the window as Jesse drove off the dirt road into the desert. “What are the chances of running into a rattlesnake out here?”

“Oh, I’m sure you’ll see some before the summer’s over. But you know, the majority of snake bites are caused by tryin’ to kill the snake. If you leave em alone, they’ll leave you alone,” Jesse informed him.

“Yeah, well I’m not gonna try and stomp one in flip-flops,” Genji said.

“Don’t worry. If we see one, I’ll make sure you don’t get bit,” Jesse promised.

“My hero,” Genji joked. “I’m swooning.” Jesse laughed softly.

“Alright, I think this is plenty far enough,” he said, slowing to a stop. He got out of the truck, and Genji followed suit, taking the picnic basket with him. Jesse went around to the bed of the truck and pulled down the back wall so they could climb in. Genji followed him into the bed, where Jesse already had thick blankets laid out. This really did feel like a date.

“So Jesse,” Genji began as Jesse opened up the picnic basket to pull out a sandwich. “You got a girlfriend?”

“Naw,” Jesse replied, shaking his head. “Haven’t dated much since college.”

“I can’t imagine there’s a lot of options in a town this small,” Genji remarked.

“Not really, no,” Jesse chuckled. “What about you, you seeing someone back home?”

“Nope. I have a lot of one night stands though,” said Genji.

“Yeah? I never really enjoyed casual flings that much,” Jesse said. He pulled out a cigar, and put it between his lips. “Nothing wrong with it, though. If it makes you happy.”

“It’s hit or miss,” Genji said dryly. “Sometimes it’s fun, more often it’s… well, it makes for a good story.” Jesse laughed.

“Yeah? Got any good ones?” he asked, bringing his lighter to the end of his cigar.

“Well, there was the one guy who finished in thirty seconds and then fell asleep on top of me,” Genji recounted. Jesse barked a laugh.

“Wow, alright, I feel a lot better about my own prowess now,” he said.

“Then there was the guy who I had to reassure that his dick wasn’t small about 12 times, then didn’t stop when I said ow that hurts,” Genji continued. Jesse grimaced after blowing a plume of smoke away from Genji.

“Now that’s just fuckin’ rude.”

“Mhm. Oh, and there was the girl whose boyfriend called her while we were in the middle of it. Like, I may be a slut but I try not to be the guy someone cheats with,” Genji said.

“Yeah, it’s just not right,” Jesse agreed. “So you swing both ways, then?” Genji reached for his cigar, and Jesse handed it to him.

“Yep. How about you?” Genji asked. He took a drag from the cigar, and closed his eyes. Jesse had expensive taste.

“I’m bi too, actually,” Jesse chuckled. Genji internally did a fist pump. Hell yes. “Though I tend to lean more toward guys, myself. I had a boyfriend in college, but we ended up parting ways when he wanted to move to New York City and I wanted to stay here. Can you imagine me in NYC? I can’t.”

“Definitely not,” Genji laughed. He looked up at the sky, which was starting to darken. The sun was red on the horizon, and he could already see more stars than he ever saw in San Francisco.

“Pretty, ain’t it?” Jesse hummed, leaning back against the cabin of the truck. Genji took a sandwich and leaned back next to him.

“Yeah,” Genji admitted. “I’m used to the sky just being dark, or as dark as it gets with all the light pollution.” He took a bite of his sandwich, and while Jesse’s eyes were on the sky, scooted a little closer.

“Do you know any constellations?” Jesse asked, seemingly unaware of his movement.

“Not a one.”

“Let’s give it about ten more minutes, and I’ll point some out to you. What’s your sign?” Jesse inquired.

“Are you flirting with me?” Genji said teasingly. They shared a chuckle, and Jesse rolled his eyes good naturedly. “I’m uhhh… my birthday is August 9th, so I think I’m a Leo? But I don’t remember.”

“Sounds right to me,” Jesse hummed. “Let me check real quick if Leo’s visible tonight.” He pulled out his phone, and Genji shivered a little. As the sun set, the temperature was dropping fast. He’d forgotten already how cold the desert got at night.

“Jesse, do you have a jacket in your truck?” he asked. Jesse looked up from his phone.

“Hm? Oh. No, here, take this,” Jesse said, setting his phone aside to take off his flannel. Genji tried not to stare at his big, buff arms, and largely failed. Jesse handed the flannel over to Genji, who took it gratefully.

“Thanks, I should’ve brought a hoodie but I’m used to summer nights actually feeling like summer,” Genji said as he pulled it on. It smelled lovely. This was becoming more of a date by the second, and he wondered if Jesse was thinking so too. He looked up at the stars, as Jesse quietly exhaled another plume of smoke beside him. Genji couldn’t think of the last time he’d felt this peaceful. His usual nights out were fast-paced, loud, and social; his typical nights in consisted of video games, multiple chats with his friends, and loud music. Genji hadn’t realized how tiring all those stimuli could be day after day.

“Here, I think I see Leo,” Jesse said, his deep, smooth voice bringing Genji out of his thoughts. “You know what it looks like?”

“No,” Genji said softly. Jesse brought up a picture on his phone, and showed it to him.

“Here, it looks like this. Now, if you look over that way, see that real bright star clustered up with two others?” he asked. Genji nodded.

“Look to the left of that a ways. And you’ll see it.” Genji scanned the sky, looking for the pattern in the stars, until he spotted it.

“Ah, yep, I see it,” he said. “It really doesn’t look like a lion though.”

“Back in the old days people had to get creative to have fun I guess,” Jesse chuckled. He offered Genji the cigar again, and Genji took it. “Now, lemme show you the Big Dipper. It’s easy to spot. See right up above us?” Jesse pointed, and Genji followed his finger upward. Sure enough, he saw it without too much trouble.

“There it is,” he said, taking another drag on the cigar.

“I hope I ain’t boring you,” Jesse said.

“No,” Genji said truthfully. “This is actually kind of a nice change from the usual. I guess I didn’t realize how much I’m always doing at once.”

“Yeah?” Jesse asked, inviting him to continue.

“I’ve got a lot of friends. Like, a lot. Which is great, I love people, but I’m always doing something with a group. Parties, online games, group chats, group calls. It never slows down,” Genji said, watching the sky. Now that the sun was completely gone from the horizon, the sky was alight with thousands of stars. It was breathtaking, and he had a feeling that he wouldn’t have even noticed if Jesse hadn’t gotten him to slow down and look.

“Sometimes you gotta just take time to appreciate the world around you,” Jesse hummed. He took his cigar back, and took a long drag. “That’s what I meant, when I said there’s a lot to love out here. It’s kinda humbling, in a way.”

“Yeah,” Genji said quietly. They sat in silence for several minutes, just gazing at the stars above them. Genji’s phone pinged at one point, and he didn’t even check it. He was busy taking time for himself for once, and it felt freeing.

“You’d best finish that,” Jesse said eventually, pointing at Genji’s mostly untouched sandwich.

“Oh, I guess I should,” Genji said, picking it up again. “I just got distracted is all.” He picked it up and resumed eating, and Jesse draped a blanket over their laps. 

“So,” he mused. “Still dreading your summer out in the country?”

“Not as much,” Genji admitted. “But I am missing out on a free cruise to the Caribbean. You have to admit, that kind of sucks.” Jesse laughed.

“Okay, I’d be bummed about that too,” he said. “But I’m glad you’re feeling better about the whole thing now. I’d feel bad if you were just miserable the whole time.”

“It’s not like you’re the one who dragged me out here. But thanks,” Genji said. He finished off his sandwich, and sat up to take another one. He shivered some more. It really was chilly at night.

“You about ready to head back?” Jesse asked. Genji nodded.

“Yeah, I think so. It’s freezing, and I have to get up at 5,” he said, though part of him was reluctant to end the night. Jesse sat up and moved to get out of the truck, and Genji followed. When they got back into the cabin, Genji was thankful it was still a little warm from earlier.

The drive back was short, but Genji found himself fighting to stay awake as they pulled up to the farm. When the truck stopped, Jesse smiled at him. “Thanks for coming out with me tonight, Genji,” he said. Genji blushed. The only way this could be any more romantic was if Jesse kissed him. He wished he would.

“Yeah, anytime,” he said genuinely. “I’ll see you tomorrow?”

“Yep. Bright and early,” Jesse said cheerfully. “Get some more rest, now.”

“Night,” Genji said, opening the door and getting out.

“Goodnight,” Jesse said. He waited for Genji to get inside the house before driving, like a gentleman. Genji could tell that his cheeks were still flushed by the time he got inside, and he was thankful his uncle had apparently gone to bed already. He headed back to his room and changed into his pajamas, and as he snuggled into bed, his mind was at peace. No crazy schedule to keep track of, no drama to worry him, just Jesse and the stars. Genji thought that maybe he could get used to this life. He looked forward to seeing what else the summer, and Jesse, had in store for him.

Chapter Text

Getting out of bed the second morning was infinitely more difficult than the first. Genji had hoped that his nap the previous day would make it a little easier, but no. Dragging himself out of bed was painful, literally, as his whole body felt sore.

“Come on, Genji,” Ichiro laughed gently as he slowly rose from the comfort of the covers. “It won’t be this bad every day, I promise.” Genji once again winced as his feet touched cold stone. He would have to get some slippers.

“I’m up,” he grumbled. Genji wobbled to his feet, feeling an overwhelming urge to lay back down. But instead, he shambled to his suitcase to pick out his clothes for the day, and saw Jesse’s flannel from last night among his laundry. Genji smiled slightly to himself. It had been a good night. Once Ichiro was out of the room, he lifted the flannel to his face and smelled it. It had a wonderful scent, but Genji realized a moment later that he might be doing something creepy, so he stopped. He started to dress himself, applying sunscreen just as liberally as yesterday, and pulled the flannel on over his t-shirt. it was big on him, but he looked awfully cute in it. Genji wondered if Jesse would agree.

“See you later, Ichiro,” Genji said as he passed through the house.

“I’ll have breakfast for you again,” Ichiro replied. “Have fun.”

“Oh I will,” Genji said only half sarcastically. Doing chores sucked, but talking to Jesse was definitely fun. He yawned as he left the house, and wandered to the barn at a leisurely pace. Jesse was already there, opening up the barn door.

“Morning!” Jesse greeted when he heard Genji approaching. He turned around, and smiled when he saw his flannel on Genji. “How’d you sleep?”

“Amazingly,” Genji said. “But tragically, all good things come to an end, and now I am here.” Jesse laughed heartily, and Genji felt his chest tighten. He loved that sound more every time he heard it.

“Well, today is the same as yesterday, except we don’t have to totally clear out the stalls. Hopefully you’re not too sore.”

“I’ll live,” Genji said. He didn’t want to complain too much to Jesse, and come off as whiny.

“Good to hear. You think you can lift the chicken feed sack? It’s about a three quarters full. You’ll need to get used to it.” Genji walked up to the sack confidently, and with great difficulty, hefted it off the ground. He toddled out of the barn with the sack hugged against his chest, and Jesse put his hands on his hips with a big smile. “Hey, not bad.”

“I do work out you know. I just do more running than lifting,” Genji explained.

“Well, you’ll have buff arms in no time workin’ here,” Jesse hummed. Genji opened the bag of feed and carefully tipped it, trying not to spill out too much. Jesse approached him and guided the bag. Genji blushed softly and deliberately didn’t look at his face. It was too close, he didn’t want to get caught staring.

“Like yours,” Genji remarked. Which was a mistake, because it prompted Jesse to step back and flex his bicep. Genji’s eyes must have betrayed his admiration, because Jesse winked at him.

“Didn’t get this way by layin’ around,” Jesse said, a note of pride in his voice.

“You might have to do that again, I think I missed it the first time,” Genji said, unable to resist flirting a little. How could he, when presented with such a display? Jesse laughed, and flexed again, leaning close to Genji.

“You can touch if you like,” he teased. Genji pinched his bicep.

“So strong,” he said in a dramatic tone. They both laughed, and Genji felt warm. Being around Jesse was so effortless, so fun. As they continued their morning chores, he wondered if Jesse was enjoying his presence as much as he was enjoying Jesse’s. He was bisexual, it was entirely possible that he could be interested. But Genji had to be careful. If he put him off, it would be one lonely, awkward summer. He’d have to play his cards right.

By the time they finished feeding the animals, Genji’s sore muscles were barely bothering him, and he had a bright smile on his face from bantering with Jesse as they worked. “You seriously had no idea it was a weed brownie?” Jesse laughed as they walked back.

“Nobody told me!” Genji defended through his own laughter. “I got so fucking high. I got trapped in the bathroom because I couldn’t figure out where the door was. My friends had to stop me from eating more weed brownies because I got hungry. I fell asleep on the kitchen floor.” Jesse was practically in tears by the time they reached the front door of the farmhouse.

“You sound like an absolute riot at parties,” Jesse said, wiping his eye. They stepped inside, and Ichiro waved to them.

“I am,” Genji said matter-of-factly. “Hey, maybe we could go into the city sometime and find some nightlife.”

“The city’s awful far,” Jesse said. “We might have better luck with a barn party.” He pulled out a chair and sat down at the table, and Genji followed suit.

“Yeah? You know of any?” Genji asked curiously. He’d never been to a barn party.

“I could ask around. Since it’s summer, all the college kids in the area are home, it shouldn’t be too hard to reconnect with one of my old buddies and find some fun.”

“Just be careful,” Ichiro chimed in. “Genji, I’m not going to lecture you, but you need to be careful not to get caught drinking. The last thing I need is for you to get arrested and your dad to come after me.”

“Yeah, yeah. I’ve never gotten caught before,” Genji reasoned. “I’ve got a fake ID.” Ichiro placed two plates of eggs in front of them.

“Folks around here definitely won’t know a fake California ID,” Jesse said. “And I’ll look out for ya.

“It’s actually a Washington one,” Genji chuckled. “But yeah, if you can find us a party to hit up, that would be awesome.” He dug into his eggs. They were just as delicious as yesterday’s.

“I’ll see if any of my high school friends know of anything,” Jesse said. “And really, you probably won’t even need the ID. Nobody really cares around here as long as you’re not like 12.”

“Still best to be careful,” Ichiro warned.

“Yeah, I know,” Genji waved him off. He finished up his breakfast right after Jesse finished his, and stood back up. “Ready to head back out, Jesse?”

“Sure am, right after I text a few buddies,” Jesse said. He tapped away on his phone for a moment, then pocketed it. “Let’s get back to work.”

---

After a few more hours of hard work weeding the fields, Jesse wiped his brow, took off his work gloves, and checked his phone.

“Any luck?” Genji asked hopefully.

“Actually, yeah,” Jesse said. “My old pal Dave from high school is going to a party next weekend at a farm about 20 minutes from here. Said it’s open to whoever.”

“Sweet,” Genji said excitedly. “Do we need to bring anything or will there be booze for us there?”

“Never hurts to bring your own stuff,” Jesse hummed. “It’s just courteous. Plus these parties are usually just cheap beer and even cheaper liquor.”

“Oh, I’m used to that,” Genji laughed. “What do you like to drink, anyway?”

“I’m a bourbon guy,” Jesse said without a second thought. “What about you, what’s your drink of choice?”

“Anything strong and sweet,” Genji said. “I’m not that picky. I mostly just drink what’s available.”

“Moocher,” Jesse teased. Genji laughed.

“Maybe so,” he said.

“Anyhow, I’d best be gettin’ home. My ma’s got more chores waitin’ for me,” Jesse said, pocketing his phone. “See you tomorrow, Genji.”

“Seeya,” Genji said cheerfully. They walked off in opposite directions, and Genji’s head was instantly filled with thoughts of barn parties. Would there be cow tipping? Was that even a thing? He couldn’t remember. What would Jesse be like drunk? Would there be line dancing? The thought made him chuckle to himself. The rest of the afternoon, he daydreamed about the possibilities. Genji was ready to get back into his element, and he figured he’d have earned it by the time the party rolled around. Hopefully his farmer’s tan wouldn’t look too stupid with his outfit.

---

By the end of the second week of work, Genji could tell he was getting stronger. He was lifting the feed bags more easily, and getting through the fields faster. His exhaustion at the end of each day was getting more manageable, and his naps were shorter. To his dismay, his hair was growing out, and his green dye was almost entirely faded due to lack of maintenance, leaving him with a part-black, part-bleached mess. The day before the party, Genji asked Ichiro to take him into town to find a salon that could fix it for him, and returned with all-black fringe. His bangs were getting a little long, but Genji didn’t mind so much. It was easier to pull back that way.

The day of the party, Ichiro generously gave him the rest of the day off after he tended to the animals, and Genji took the opportunity to get some more beauty rest after his shower. He wanted to have plenty of energy if he was going to be up all night partying. He got up around 6pm to eat some dinner, and afterward, set to work getting ready.

Genji realized when he opened his suitcase that maybe clubbing clothes would be out of place at a rural barn party, but they were all he had brought that didn’t look heinously unflattering. Oh well, he thought. It wasn’t like he cared if some strangers judged him for his outfit. He knew he’d look good. He opted for dark blue skinny jeans, pastel pink high tops, and a loose, cropped black tank top with the phrase “Summer Boy” across the chest in pink letters. He ran a little hair gel through his bangs for a piecey look, and put on a woven bracelet just to complete the ensemble. Normally, he’d add a little eyeliner, but he had forgotten to bring it along with him to New Mexico.

“That’s quite a look,” Ichiro remarked when Genji stepped out of his room.

“It’s how I always dress for parties,” said Genji.

“You look trendy. Are you planning on bringing a jacket this time? Or are you going to borrow Jesse’s again?” Right, Genji remembered. Cold nights. He would feel kind of bad taking Jesse’s jacket all night. He ducked back into the guest room to get a purple hoodie from his suitcase, and his phone blipped. One glance confirmed that Jesse was waiting for him outside. Genji smiled to himself as he slung the jacket over his shoulder on the way out of the room.

“Later, Ichiro. Jesse’s here,” Genji said, passing his uncle.

“Be safe. I won’t tell your father you’re out partying, but I expect you to work tomorrow, so don’t drink too much,” Ichiro warned.

“Alright, gotcha,” Genji said. He knew he’d be fine. He rarely got hangovers, one of the perks of being only nineteen. He left the house, and waved to Jesse in his truck. He walked around to the passenger’s side and climbed in.

“Howdy partner,” Jesse greeted cheerfully. “Wow, your hair.”

“Is that a good wow or a bad wow?” Genji joked.

“It’s good,” Jesse assured him. “It suits you way more than the green did. And it looks nice down like that.” Genji flushed slightly, he hadn’t expected such a sincere comment.

“You think? I liked the green,” he said. “But this’ll be way easier to take care of.” He kicked his feet up on the dash as Jesse drove off.

“I ain’t sayin’ the green looked bad,” Jesse clarified.

“I know,” said Genji. “Have you ever dyed your hair?” Jesse laughed, shaking his head.

“Me? Naw. That’s too much upkeep for me. Plus most of the time, my hair’s under my hat,” he said.

“Maybe we can dye your hair sometime,” Genji said mischievously. “How about fire engine red?”

“How about no,” Jesse chuckled. “I think i’ll stick to good ol’ brown.” They settled into a comfortable silence for a while, and Genji watched the sun starting to set on the horizon.

“Pretty sure that’s the barn, over there,” Jesse said after about fifteen minutes of driving. Genji looked up from his phone to see a large barn, and a huge pile of brush and sticks a hundred or so yards away.

“Looks like there’s gonna be a bonfire?” Genji commented.

“Usually is,” Jesse hummed. “It’s fixin’ to be a big one, too.” He pulled up alongside a long line of cars and parked.

“You bring any booze?” Genji asked.

“Just my flask,” Jesse replied. “You’ll have to fend for yourself, but I’m sure you’ll have no trouble. Oh, and… if you do run into any trouble, you come find me, okay?”

“Do you think I’m going to run into trouble?” Genji asked with a frown. “Is it my outfit? Do I look too gay?”

“No, no, nothin’ like that. But you know how parties are, things get outta hand.” At that, Genji just laughed.

“I can handle myself at a party, Jesse. You don’t have to babysit me,” he said. “C’mon, let’s go.” He opened the door and hopped out of the truck. Jesse jumped out after him, and made sure to lock up the truck before they headed toward the barn. As they approached, they heard country music pouring from the barn, accompanied by laughter and revelry. Several animals, presumably the residents of the barn, were out in the pasture, but to Genji’s disappointment, there were no cows to tip.

Upon entering the barn, Genji looked around in awe, just taking in the sights and sounds. It wasn’t his usual crowd, or usual music, but the general idea was the same. Young men and women, drinking cheap beer, dancing, and having a good time. There was a beer pong table in the corner, which Genji made a note to hit up later. For now, he just wanted a drink. He searched the room with his eyes until he spotted a table full of liquor, cups, and mixers. Underneath it were several coolers of beer. He made a beeline for the table, and Jesse followed him.

“Hey, McCree! Long time no see,” a young woman asked behind them. Genji grabbed himself a beer, and turned to face her with Jesse.

“Hey Lynn,” Jesse said congenially. “It’s been what, two, three years?”

“Yeah, how’ve you been?” she asked. “Who’s this? New boyfriend?” Jesse coughed, his cheeks coloring.

“Nothin’ like that,” he said. “He’s helpin’ out at the farm next door to mine, I thought I’d show him how we country folk get down.”

“Oh, sorry,” Lynn said quickly. “What’s your name? You’re not from around here, are you?”

“Nope, I’m from San Francisco,” Genji said, cracking open his can of beer. “My name’s Genji. You two go to school together?”

“Yup, high school,” Jesse informed him.

“Hey, Jesse McCree!” another voice called out. Genji turned to see a bearded man making his way toward them.

“Dave!” Jesse greeted brightly. “Dave, this is Genji, I told you ‘bout him. Genji, this is Dave.”

“Thanks for the tip about the party,” Genji said to Dave. “I needed an excuse to drink with strangers.” The small group they were forming shared a laugh, and Genji felt a rush of pride. He was in his element here, bantering with strangers. Even if he was no good at the things his dad wanted him to be good at, he had skills of his own.

“So Genji, what brings you here?” Lynn asked.

“I’m helping my uncle out on my summer vacation, he just had back surgery and can’t really work the farm on his own,” Genji explained.

“Aw, so nice of you to spend your summer helping your family,” she said. Jesse gave Genji a sideways glance, and Genji ignored him.

“It’s no big,” Genji hummed. “It’s nice out here, a good change of pace.” Jesse raised an eyebrow in his direction, which was also ignored.

“Hey, since we’ve got four people, you guys wanna play cornhole?” asked Dave. Genji looked to Jesse, unsure.

“Sure. Genji, you ever played before?” Jesse asked. Dave led the way back out of the barn, to a set of inclined boards.

“Nope,” Genji admitted. “What is it?”

“What is cornhole?” Lynn laughed. “City folks don’t have cornhole?”

“Hey,” Genji laughed along with her. “We’ve got arcades, that’s got to be at least as good.” Dave picked up an armful of beanbags, and distributed three to each of them.

“It’s real simple,” Jesse said. “Genji, you can be on my team. All you gotta do on your turn is try and throw the bag into the hole. If it lands on the board, you get one point, if it goes in the hole, you get three.”

“Easy enough,” Genji said confidently.

“You can go first, then,” Lynn said with a playful smirk. “You can’t go past your own board when you throw, okay?”

“Gotcha,” Genji replied, stepping up next to his and Jesse’s board. He tossed a beanbag, and missed the board completely. “Fuck.” Lynn tossed a beanbag his direction, landing it on the board right next to the hole.

“You’ll get the feel for it,” Jesse chuckled as Genji poked his tongue out in concentration. He tossed his second beanbag, which glanced off the board and slid off into the dust. Genji took a long swig of his beer.

“I just need to get warmed up,” he said. Lynn tossed another bag, knocking the first into the hole. Genji’s third toss was no better than his first, and his beanbag landed a few feet from the board.

Despite Jesse’s best efforts to improve their team score, he and Genji lost miserably, due to Genji only scoring two points the whole game. “Alright, I know when I’m beaten,” Genji laughed, patting Jesse on the back. “Sorry Jess. I hope you weren’t like, undefeated.”

“If I was, I wouldn’t have asked you to be on my team,” Jesse teased. Genji snorted, and punched him lightly on the arm.

“I’m gonna get another drink and see if I can do better at pong,” he said. “Thanks for the game guys.” He walked back into the barn to mix himself a strong drink. Genji poured a generous helping of cheap vodka into his cup, and topped it off with a little orange soda. He approached the beer pong table, and waited his turn. This, at least, he knew he was great at. Once it was his turn, he rubbed his hands together and grinned at his opponent.

“You ever played before?” the man opposite him asked, a note of condescension in his voice.

“No, this is my first time,” Genji lied. “I know the rules, but I’ve never actually played.” He was going to smoke this fucker. His first couple throws, he missed on purpose. A cocky smirk formed on his opponent’s face, and Genji had to suppress a smirk of his own.

“This is harder than it looks,” he said, frowning.

“You can back out, don’t want you to get too drunk,” his opponent jeered.

“If I miss one more time,” Genji said. He tossed his ball, and it landed squarely in the cup he’d been aiming for. His opponent landed his next shot as well, and Genji took a long drink, making eye contact with him.

As Genji landed throw after throw, a crowd started gathering. His opponent was getting increasingly frustrated. “You said this was your first time,” he huffed.

“It is,” Genji said innocently. “I guess I’m just lucky.” That drew chuckles from the crowd, and Genji couldn’t help but grin. He continued consistently landing shots, and his opponent started to miss more of his, until Genji had six cups left and his opponent only had one. Feeling cocky, he took the ball in his left hand.

“Oh come on,” his opponent said irritably. Genji smiled at him, and tossed from behind his back using his left hand, landing the ball squarely in the cup. Applause erupted around him, and he tipped his cup back, draining his drink in one go.

“Dude, that was hilarious.”

“Evan, man, he showed you up on your own turf!”

“Play me next, come on.”

“Let me get another drink first and I’ll play anyone,” Genji said. He strode back to the table to mix another strong drink. The first was starting to kick in, and Genji felt on top of the world. He returned to the pong table, where another opponent was waiting. This was shaping up to be a fun night indeed.

“Hey, Genji,” Jesse said after his third victory. Genji turned toward him, grinning wide.

“Jesseee! Where’ve you been? You wanna play me at beer pong?” he slurred, now significantly drunk.

“Naw, I’m no good,” Jesse said. “You okay there? How much have you had?”

“A lot,” Genji laughed. Jesse reached for his cup, but Genji moved it away from him, sloshing some of the contents on the ground.

“Come on now,” Jesse sighed. “Give it to me. You need to start drinkin’ water, or you’re gonna regret it.” Genji held his drink high above his head, but being that Jesse was a whole six inches taller, he took it easily.

“Hey!” Genji objected. Jesse downed the contents before Genji could try and take it back, and took him by the hand.

“C’mon, let’s get you some water,” Jesse repeated. He led Genji back to the liquor table and grabbed a bottle of water from one of the coolers. “Drink up. And let’s go outside, get some fresh air. The bonfire’s going, we should take a look.”

“Alright,” Genji said amicably. He followed Jesse, not-so-subtly staring at his ass. “God damn.”

“Huh?” Jesse turned around, and Genji giggled. Whoops. He hadn’t meant to say that out loud.

“Nothing,” Genji said in a sing-song tone.

“If you say so. Just make sure you’re drinking that water, okay?” Jesse said patiently. Genji opened the bottle and took a drink, if only to appease Jesse. Once they were outside, Genji could feel the drop in temperature, but it hardly bothered him. “Whoo, it’s cold out, you should put on your hoodie” Jesse suggested.

“Aw, you’re looking out for me,” Genji giggled. He dropped his water on the ground, thankfully having remembered to put the cap back on, and pulled his hoodie on with only moderate difficulty. Jesse bent down and picked the bottle up for him.

“Course I am. What kinda friend would I be if I didn’t?” Jesse said, handing the bottle back. They wandered toward the bonfire, which radiated heat even from hundreds of feet away.

“I dunno. The hot kind?” Genji said, causing Jesse’s eyes to widen and his cheeks to flush.

“Genji…” he said awkwardly.

“I mean, you’re still hot when you’re a good friend, obviously,” Genji continued. “Like, really fucking hot.”

“Genji, you’re awful drunk, maybe now’s not the best time to have this conversation-”

“What, like I don’t mean it just cause I’m drunk?” Genji laughed. He grabbed Jesse’s hand again, and pulled him so their chests were flush against one another.

“Genji,” Jesse said more firmly, but Genji wasn’t deterred. He placed Jesse’s hand on his ass, and Jesse promptly removed it. “I’m gonna need you to hold your horses.”

“Are you not interested?” Genji asked, stepping back. Shit. Did he just ruin everything?

“It’s not- it’s not that,” Jesse said with a deep sigh. “Whether I’m interested or not, you’re way too drunk for me to be touchin’ you. I think maybe it’s time I took you home.”

“But we’ve only been here for like an hour and a half,” Genji whined.

“Sorry Genji, but I’ll feel most comfortable with you getting home, having something to eat, and sobering up. C’mon,” Jesse said evenly. He started off toward the truck, and Genji reluctantly trudged after him. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been this drunk, and as if to prove his point, he suddenly felt the urge to vomit. Genji rushed over to a nearby ditch, nearly tripping over his feet before dropping to his hands and knees and throwing up. He heard heavy footsteps accented by the jingling of spurs behind him, and Jesse knelt at his side. Genji turned to face him with an apologetic expression.

“I didn’t mean to get this drunk,” he said weakly. Jesse rubbed his back.

“I know,” he said gently. “It’s alright, I ain’t mad at you. Just let it out if you gotta.” Genji nodded, and a few moments later, puked again into the ditch. Jesse continued rubbing his back in gentle circles as he threw up three more times.

“Okay, I think I’m done,” Genji said sullenly. He wiped his mouth, and Jesse handed him his water. This time, Genji gratefully drank.

“If you’re sure,” Jesse said.

“Mhm.”

“Alrighty, let’s get you home to your bed, okay?” Jesse said, standing. He offered his hand to help Genji up, and Genji took it gratefully.

“Okay,” Genji said quietly. He felt like a jackass. He’d overdone it, and he’d probably alienated Jesse. Probably the only reason he was still being nice was that he’d promised Ichiro that he would take care of Genji. Jesse opened the passenger side door for him once they reached his truck, and stood by in case he fell trying to climb in. Once Genji was securely in his seat, Jesse went around to the driver’s side, and started the truck.

The drive home went by in a blur. Genji felt way too out of it for his own comfort, and he wished he would start sobering up already. “Hey,” Jesse said about five minutes from the farm. “I’m not mad at you, alright? If that’s what you’re worried about.”

“Bullshit,” Genji mumbled against the window.

“I’m not,” Jesse said. “You were seriously drunk. If you wanna talk about it later when you’re sober-”

“Can we not?” Genji interrupted. “Please? I just want to drop it. I was out of line, I’m sorry, just forget about it.”

“Let’s just get you home, and cross that bridge later,” Jesse said. He pulled up to the farmhouse, and got out ahead of Genji to make sure he didn’t fall out of the truck.

“I hope Ichiro’s asleep,” Genji said as they approached the front door. Luckily, it was still unlocked, though the house was dark and Ichiro was nowhere in sight. At least there was that. Jesse used the light from his phone to guide Genji to the guest room.

“Alright… get some sleep,” Jesse said. Genji nodded. “Goodnight Genji.”

“Night,” Genji said. Jesse closed the door, and Genji heard the jangling of his spurs slowly fade into nothing. He clumsily tugged his shoes and jeans off, then flopped onto the bed. Fuck. How had he fucked the night up so badly? He huddled under the covers, still feeling a little nauseous. He would have to deal with the consequences of this later, but for right now, he was so tired he could barely keep his eyes open. Before long, sleep took him, and he dreamed amorphous dreams, filled with anxiety.

Chapter Text

When Genji awoke, it was to a deep, throbbing pain in the center of his head.

“Genji, did you hear me?” his uncle’s voice pierced straight into his brain, and he groaned pitifully.

“Don’t talk so loud,” Genji whimpered. He buried his face in his pillow in case Ichiro planned to turn on the lights. He heard a deep sigh, and footsteps approaching his bed.

“Genji,” Ichiro said. “I told you not to overdo it. That you were supposed to work today.”

“I’m sorry,” Genji said weakly, muffled by his pillow.

“You’ll have to get a late start today, I suppose. I already let you stop early yesterday,” his uncle scolded.

“I know,” Genji moaned. “Please stop talking…” Ichiro sighed again. Genji heard him walking away, and then returning a few minutes later.

“Here is some water and some aleve. You’d best take them,” Ichiro said. The sound of the glass making contact with the end table made Genji flinch. He had never had a hangover this wicked in his life. The beginning of the party was a blur, and the rest of it was gone entirely. The last thing he could cleary recall was losing at that beanbag game.

“Thank you,” Genji mumbled. He sat up, and his head swam with pain and nausea. For a moment, he thought he would puke right over the side of the bed, but thankfully he was able to fight back the urge. He downed the pills, and drank as much water as he could without feeling sick, before laying back down. He couldn’t be upright right now, it just wasn’t happening.

“I think I’m gonna throw up if I sit up,” Genji said, huddling under the covers.

“Alright,” Ichiro conceded. “Stay in bed a while, then. Do you want some coffee?”

“Mhm,” Genji answered morosely. To his immense relief, his uncle left the room, closing the door quietly. Genji wanted to check his phone, but there was no way he would survive the backlight shining in his face. So he lay there, curled into a pathetic ball, until Ichiro returned with his coffee.

“I called Jesse to inform him that he is on his own today,” Ichiro said. “You can’t work like this. Here.” Genji sat up to take the coffee, and sipped it until he felt he couldn’t sit up anymore again. He set it down, and returned to the fetal position. He felt a little bad for making Jesse work on his own, he would have to make it up to him later.

When Genji woke up again, it was past noon. He still felt a dull ache in his head, but it was less oppressive now. When he sat up, he wasn’t hit with an instant wave of nausea, so that was an improvement. Genji stood, and padded to the bathroom to take a shower. As he washed up under the hot water, he wracked his brain, trying to recall anything about the party. But it was no use, he had blacked out pretty badly. He’d just have to ask Jesse how it went tomorrow.

After his shower, Genji stayed in his room playing shitty phone games. He didn’t want to face his uncle and get a lecture, and he didn’t have anything better to do. He only finally emerged when he smelled dinner.

“Ah, you’re alive,” Ichiro said when Genji joined him in the kitchen. “How are you feeling?”

“About 80%,” Genji mumbled, avoiding his gaze. He wondered if Ichiro had told his dad about his screwup.

“Was the party at least worth it?” his uncle asked.

“I don’t know,” Genji admitted. “I don’t remember much.”

“Maybe I should have a word with Jesse, he was supposed to be keeping an eye on you,” Ichiro mused.

“No- it wasn’t his fault,” Genji said quickly. The last thing he wanted was for his own mistakes to get Jesse in trouble. “This isn’t the first time I’ve done this.”

“Alright,” Ichiro said hesitantly. “But I can’t have this happening regularly. It isn’t fair to make Jesse take care of the farm on his own.”

“I know,” Genji said, bowing his head. “I won’t make it a thing. I’ll do better.”

“Thank you, Genji.”

“You haven’t told my dad on me, have you?” Genji asked nervously. Ichiro chuckled softly.

“No, I have not. Now, I might not be so nice if it happens again, though,” he said.

“Thank you,” Genji breathed in relief. He sat down at the table, where his uncle had set a delicious-looking chicken dinner. The two of them remained quiet as they ate. Genji just wanted to get back to his room, still feeling ashamed. He made a mental promise to work extra hard the next day to make up for today.

“Thanks for dinner,” he said as he stood after finishing every last bite. He rinsed off his plate, and scurried back to his room. The light from his phone, which was still on the bedside table, was blinking with a new message. Genji picked it up, and his stomach dropped when he saw it was from Jesse.

Jesse: your uncle said you were in pretty rough shape this morning, you doing okay?

Genji pursed his lips. He didn’t seem mad yet, but Jesse was polite.

Genji Shimada: I’m a lot better now that I slept most of the day

Jesse: good. i felt bad you were so gone last night. did you throw up any more?

Genji grimaced.

Genji Shimada: No, and I don’t remember throwing up last night either. The whole party is kind of gone

Jesse: oh

Genji stared at his phone. Oh? What was that supposed to mean? He paced around the room, waiting for more messages, but after about three minutes he decided none were coming and pulled his phone out to respond again.

Genji Shimada: What? What did I do?

He sat bracing for the response.

Jesse: maybe we should talk about it in person

Genji groaned out loud. Fuuuck. That was never, ever a good sign. He wanted to go back in time and smack his past self, but he didn’t even know what he’d done or when. It was maddening.

Genji Shimada: Can we meet up tonight then?

Jesse: yeah, ive just got a few chores to finish up at my own place so do you mind coming here?

Genji breathed a sigh of relief. At least he wouldn’t be left hanging all night.

Genji Shimada: I’ll be right over.

Jesse: okay, ill be in the barn so just holler for me

Genji stood back up, and shucked off his pajamas in favor of sweatpants and a t-shirt. He was too anxious to even bother with fixing his bedhead, so he put on a hat and headed out.

“Going somewhere?” Ichiro asked as he made for the front door.

“Going to apologize to Jesse,” Genji said. It wasn’t a lie, he was sure he had more than one thing to apologize for.

“Alright,” his uncle said. Genji left the house, and started walking toward Jesse’s farm. The barn was a little bigger than Ichiro’s, and as he approached, he could hear carefree whistling.

“Jesse?” he called, opening the heavy barn door. Jesse poked his head out from behind a stack of hay bales.

“Hey there,” he greeted, stepping into view. Two tortie cats followed him faithfully, one rubbing against his leg. Ordinarily Genji would have bent down to pet them, but right now he was far too anxious to think of it.

“Sorry to bug you while you’re busy,” he said, chagrined. “I just want to sort out what happened last night, you know?” Jesse leaned against a support beam.

“How much do you remember?” he asked. One of the cats trilled at Jesse.

“The last thing I really remember is losing that game,” Genji confessed. “Everything else is gone.” Jesse wiped the sweat from his brow, and took in a deep breath.

“Well, after that, you went to play beer pong. You won pretty handily too, from what I saw,” Jesse began. Genji nodded, that sounded like him. “Then I came and got you, and took your drink away cause you were obviously way too gone for your own good. Gave you some water, and took you outside. Then, uh…”

“Please just tell me,” Genji urged.

“You called me hot a couple times, then got up in my business and put my hand on your ass,” Jesse said, cheeks coloring. Genji’s blood turned to ice. Oh no.

“Shit,” was all he managed to say.

“I told you it was time to go home, and you ended up throwing up a couple times in the ditch before we headed out,” Jesse continued awkwardly. He wouldn’t meet Genji’s gaze.

“Fuck- Jesse, I am so fucking sorry,” Genji said, mortified. He was never drinking again.

“S’fine,” Jesse mumbled. “You were real drunk. I ain’t gonna hold it against you.” Genji had a hard time believing that, with the way Jesse was avoiding looking at him.

“If you don’t want to work with me anymore I get it,” Genji said, hugging himself.

“No, I-” Jesse said quickly. He let out a long sigh, and pinched the bridge of his nose. “It’s fine. I ain’t upset. I just thought you should know what happened.”

“I didn’t mean it,” Genji said. A flash of something- hurt, possibly- crossed Jesse’s face. Genji quickly backtracked. “I mean- not-” he floundered.

“I getcha, you were drunk,” Jesse said evenly. “We all say things we don’t mean, and do shit we would never do sober.”

“It’s not that I don’t think you’re attractive,” Genji blurted.

“Genji,” Jesse said, putting a hand up. “It’s okay. We’re cool.” Genji bit his lip, frustrated. How had he fucked up this badly in less than twenty-four hours?

“Right… I’ll see you tomorrow then?” he mumbled.

“Yeah, I’d best finish up my chores,” said Jesse. “G’night Genji.” Genji turned on his heel and left. As soon as he was far enough from the barn that Jesse wouldn’t hear, he let out a string of curses under his breath. Smooth, Genji, real smooth. How could he get that messy? When he got back to the farmhouse, he quickly made a beeline for his room, ignoring his uncle’s inquisitive expression.

Then his phone rang. Genji looked at the screen, and groaned at the sight of his father’s name. “Okay, this might as well happen too,” he muttered before picking up and raising the phone to his ear. “Hey dad.”

“Hello,” Sojiro replied. “How is farm life treating you, Genji?” Genji kicked his shoes off and reclined on his bed.

“Oh, just great. I get to shovel shit, I have a stupid looking tan, and this house has no heat,” Genji said with sarcastic enthusiasm.

“I hope you’re working hard,” his dad continued.

“Yes, dad,” Genji said.

“And staying out of trouble.”

“Dad, is this really what you called for?” Genji groused.

“I just want to make sure you aren’t creating problems for your uncle,” Sojiro said.

“I’m not,” Genji said. “I’m sure he’d tell you if I was.”

“Like he told me about the donkey he named after me?” Sojiro asked mirthlessly. That got a laugh from Genji.

“Oh man, coming here was worth it just for that,” he snorted. “I named a chicken after Hanzo too. One of the goofy looking ones with the feather afro.”

“I’m sure your brother will be happy to hear that you’re thinking of him,” Sojiro said, amusement creeping into his voice. “So, who is Jesse? Does Ichiro have a hired hand, now?”

“Oh, nah. He lives next door, he’s just helping out cause he’s a good guy,” Genji said. “He’s not that much older than me actually.”

“Maybe he can teach you a few things about hard work,” Sojiro mused.

“Dad, please, can we just have one conversation where you aren’t like this?” Genji huffed. “I’m working hard, okay?”

“I don’t appreciate your tone,” Sojiro said crossly. “But I am glad to hear it.”

“Yeah, okay,” Genji said, rolling his eyes.

“Oh, Hanzo wants to speak to you,” Sojiro said. “I will talk to you soon, Genji.”

“Mmkay, bye,” Genji said. He heard the phone being passed, and then his brother’s voice.

“Hello?” said Hanzo.

“Hi. What’s up?” Genji asked.

“Did you seriously take my favorite skinny jeans to New Mexico with you?” Hanzo asked irritably.

“No,” Genji lied. “Have you tried looking at your boyfriend’s place? Oh wait, you still don’t have one.” He really didn’t feel like dealing with Hanzo in a bitchy mood after the day he’d had.

“Unlike you, I have standards,” Hanzo hissed. “I know you took them. Mail them back.”

“Ooh, are you slut shaming me, Hanzo?” Genji goaded.

“Genji. Give me my fucking pants,” his brother said, deadpanned.

“Okay, jesus,” Genji said. “Is that all you wanted?”

“Yes,” Hanzo said.

“Don’t wanna hear about the hot cowboy next door?” Genji offered. A pause. Hanzo was so predictable.

“You made that up,” Hanzo said.

“I actually didn’t,” said Genji. “There is literally a cowboy, and he is a solid ten. He’s twenty-four, and he can lift an entire sack of chicken feed like it’s nothing.”

“What’s his name?” his brother asked.

“Jesse,” Genji replied. “I know he likes dudes, too. He told me when he took me stargazing,” Genji said smugly.

“Maybe I should have failed college,” Hanzo remarked.

“First, fuck you, I didn’t fail, I’m still going back in the fall. And second, I saw him first. Though I think he might be pissed at me right now. I got really trashed last night and he had to deal with it,” Genji admitted.

“Genji,” Hanzo said firmly. “you are living next door to a beautiful cowboy who does romantic things like take you stargazing, and you’re still doing the same idiotic shit that got you sent out there in the first place?”

“I don’t need a lecture from you,” Genji snapped.

“Fine, keep doing what you’re doing then. See if it impresses him,” Hanzo said coolly.

“Bye Hanzo!” Genji said. He hung up the phone, and stared at the ceiling. As much as Hanzo pissed him off all the time, he had a point here. Jesse was a country boy, and a gentleman. If Genji wanted anything to happen between them, which he did, he would have to try a different approach.

---

The next day, Genji awoke to a text from Jesse, saying that he wasn’t feeling well and wouldn’t be able to make it to work. Genji’s stomach dropped. Of course. He knew he could do the chores on his own, but he also knew that his mind would be fixating on his mistakes and what he could have done differently the entire time. Jesse was upset enough to avoid him, he must have really put him off.

The next seven hours were, indeed, full of regrets. All Genji could think about was how disappointed Jesse had looked. He had to think of a way to apologize. Genji recalled that Jesse liked bourbon, but he had the feeling that an alcohol-related gift would be in poor taste for this particular apology. Maybe a gift would be overdoing it? Jesse seemed like the type that would be more moved by a plain old honest verbal apology.

By the time Genji had finished work, showered, and eaten, it was after 3pm. He was sure Jesse would long be finished with his own chores by now. Genji considered texting him, but he didn’t want to get brushed off. He wanted to resolve this already, and for that, he would have to go to Jesse in person.

“Where are you off to?” Ichiro asked as Genji headed for the front door.

“I’m going to talk to Jesse,” Genji said.

“That’s a good idea. You should bring him some of the chicken stew I made, it’s great for when you aren’t feeling well,” Ichiro offered.

“That’s a great idea, actually,” said Genji. Yes, this would be the perfect excuse to go see Jesse. Genji could simply say he was worried about his health, and offer company. Ichiro smiled, and started ladling some of the still-hot soup into a plastic container. He filled it to the brim, put the lid on, and handed it to Genji.

“Tell Jesse I hope he feels better,” Ichiro said warmly.

“I will, thanks,” Genji said on his way out the door. He walked quickly toward Jesse’s house, feeling hopeful that they could patch things up. He saw Jesse’s horse, Peacekeeper, in the corral with a few other horses as he approached, and briefly wondered if Jesse could teach him to ride. If they were still friends after this, he would have to ask at some point. When he reached the front door of Jesse’s house, he took a deep breath and rang the doorbell. The door opened to a small indigenous woman holding a thermometer.

“Hello, may I help you?” she asked.

“Hi, I’m Genji. I’m staying next door,” Genji greeted.

“Ah, yes, Genji, I’ve heard plenty about you from Jesse,” the woman said brightly. “Come on in, what do you have there?” Genji stepped inside and took off his shoes.

“It’s chicken stew. Jesse said this morning he wasn’t feeling well, so I thought maybe he could use it,” he said. The woman’s smile grew.

“Oh, that is so thoughtful of you,” she said. “He’s been in bed with a fever all day, the poor thing. I’ll let him know you’re here.”

“Thanks, Ms… McCree?” Genji replied.

“Ah, just call me Kasa,” Jesse’s mother insisted. “I’ll be right back, I just want to make sure he’s awake.” She left the room, and Genji stood in the entryway feeling a little guilty for assuming Jesse had been lying to avoid seeing him. A moment later, Kasa returned.

“Is he up?” Genji asked hopefully.

“He is,” Kasa told him. “Let’s get that soup warmed up for him.” She gestured for Genji to follow her to the kitchen, and he went obediently. He handed over the container, and Jesse’s mom placed it in the microwave.

“So, Jesse’s mentioned me?” Genji asked.

“He certainly has. He thinks you’re just hilarious, and he’s glad to have someone closer to his age to talk to,” said Kasa.

“Yeah, I’m glad he’s around too. I kind of expected this summer to be lonely,” Genji admitted.

“Jesse says you’re from San Francisco, is that right?” Genji nodded. “I hope this old place isn’t too much of a culture shock for you,” Kasa chuckled.

“It’s not so bad,” Genji said. The microwave beeped, and Kasa removed the container. She poured the soup into a bowl, placed a spoon in it, and handed it to Genji.

“Here you go,” she said cheerfully. “Thanks again for thinking of him.” Genji smiled as he took the bowl. He walked through the one story house, and realized that he had no idea which room was Jesse’s. He resorted to just knocking on doors until he heard Jesse’s raspy voice:

“Come in.” Genji opened the door, and smiled sheepishly at Jesse. The poor guy looked awful, his eyes dull and his hair disheveled.

“Hey. Fever, huh?” he asked sympathetically. Jesse coughed, and nodded. Genji brought the bowl of soup to him, and set it on the bedside table.

“Yeah, woke up in the middle of the night with awful chills,” he said, his voice rough. “I’ve been coughing all day too. You might wanna keep your distance.”

“It might be too late already, with how much we’ve been around each other,” said Genji. “You may have picked up something at the party.”

“Maybe,” Jesse shrugged.

“About the party,” Genji said, taking a breath. “I’m really, really sorry for getting way too drunk and hitting on you.”

“It’s okay,” Jesse said. “Really. It was just a little awkward having that conversation. And I didn’t really know what to think when you said you hadn’t meant it. Did you mean you didn’t mean to act that way, or didn’t mean what you said? I shouldn’t have shut you down, I just needed a minute to think.” Genji bit his lip. He would have to choose his next words more carefully than last time.

“I didn’t mean to act like a horny jackass, is what I meant,” he began. “I… do think you’re attractive. But I won’t make it a thing.” Jesse looked at him with an unreadable expression, and for a moment, they shared a tense silence.

“I’ve thought you were cute since you first showed up,” Jesse confessed with a cough. Genji felt his cheeks warm up.

“Really?” he asked dumbly.

“Yeah. I was actually thinkin’ of asking you on a proper date-”

“But I blew it?” Genji cut him off.

“No,” Jesse said. “You didn’t blow it. I just wasn’t sure if that was somethin’ you’d be interested in. I know you said hookups are more your scene.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me right? Shit, that stargazing thing was the most romantic thing that’s ever happened to me and that wasn’t even a date- yes I’m interested,” Genji gushed, nearly tripping over his words. Jesse smiled, and it was dazzling even despite his haggard appearance. Genji blushed darker. It wasn’t fair that Jesse could fluster him with just a smile. Genji was used to being ever calm and collected when talking to potential partners, but this man did things to him.

“I gotta come up with somewhere special to take you then,” Jesse mused. “Damn, I didn’t think I’d get this far.”

“We can figure that out later. For now, you should worry about getting better,” Genji said, gesturing to the bowl of soup. Jesse picked up the bowl and tried a spoonful, his eyes closing in satisfaction.

“Ichiro made this?” he asked.

“Yup,” Genji confirmed.

“Tell him he’s my favorite person in the world right now,” Jesse sighed happily.

“Damn, do I have some competition?” Genji teased lightly. They chuckled, though Jesse’s laughter turned to coughing, and Genji frowned. “You alright?”

“Yeah, I’m fine. I just need a lil rest and I’ll be back in top shape,” Jesse assured him. “Sorry for leaving you alone with the chores.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Genji waved him off. “I can’t always rely on you, you’ve got your own chores to do anyway.”

“You’re already comin’ a long way from when I first met you,” Jesse said. “I doubt you’d have been so cavalier about doing everything yourself before.” Genji blushed, embarrassed.

“I’m getting used to it,” he mumbled.

“It’s a good thing,” Jesse promised. “You’re a reliable guy, Genji.” Genji had to laugh at that.

“That’s a new one. Nobody’s ever called me reliable before,” he said sardonically.

“Maybe you’re turnin’ over a new leaf,” Jesse hummed. Genji smiled a little. Maybe Jesse was right. It was true that an entire day of farm chores with no help would have sent him running for the hills a few weeks ago.

“Thanks, but I think you’re biased cause you think I’m cute,” Genji joked. Jesse rolled his eyes, but continued smiling.

“Sure,” he chuckled, before devolving into a fit of coughing again.

“Maybe you shouldn’t be talking so much,” Genji said worriedly. “I think I should let you eat and get some rest. Just text me, okay? We can talk about that date.”

“Alright, if you insist,” Jesse said, picking up the spoon again. “Thanks for stoppin’ by, Genji.” Jesse winked, and Genji felt his heart jump.

“No problem,” Genji managed. “See you around.”

“Later,” Jesse coughed. On his way out, Genji’s stomach was doing flips. A date? The last thing he had expected to get out of coming here was a date with Jesse. What was he even supposed to do on a date? He hadn’t dated since high school, and that wasn’t really the same.

When he got home, Genji changed into pajamas and lay back on his bed, just wondering what it would be like. Was Jesse the kind of guy to kiss on the first date? Genji sure hoped so. But he still didn’t know what to wear, or what to expect, or how to act. After some waffling, he decided to swallow his pride and message his brother.

Genji Shimada: Hanzo you were wrong.

Always a good way to open a conversation with Hanzo. He waited a few minutes, and his phone pinged.

Asshole: About what?

Genji Shimada: My partying ruining my chances with Jesse.

Asshole: I don’t want to hear about your sex life, Genji. I really, really don’t.

Genji Shimada: We didn’t have sex. Yet ;)

Asshole: Is there a REASON you texted me, Genji?

Genji chuckled at his phone. Hanzo was so easy to annoy, he couldn’t help poking at him.

Genji Shimada: Actually yeah. Jesse wasn’t feeling good so I brought him some stew uncle Ichiro made, and he asked me out on a date :D

Asshole: Congratulations then.

Genji Shimada: Which is why I texted you, I don’t think I’ve ever actually been on a real date and I don’t know what’s involved.

Asshole: Oh, so now my dating life is good enough for you?

Genji scowled. Alright, he deserved that.

Genji Shimada: Hanzo pls

A pause.

Asshole: Fine. Do you know where he’s taking you?

Genji Shimada: No, he said he has to think of someplace.

Asshole: Well, I can’t imagine it will be an upscale restaurant since you’re in the middle of nowhere. I’d say dress how you usually would if you were going out to dinner with your friends.

Genji Shimada: Okay. And how do I act? Do I kiss him at the end, or should I hold off on that?

Asshole: IF the date goes well, and the context seems right, you can kiss him. Otherwise, just act like you normally would with him?

Genji Shimada: I can do that.

Asshole: Minus the getting wasted and being a massive pain in his ass.

Genji Shimada: Fuck you Hanzo. Also phrasing.

Asshole: Why do I even talk to you?

Genji laughed at his phone. He hadn’t realized how much he missed hassling Hanzo.

Genji Shimada: So what I’m getting is that I basically just have to be myself and maybe smooch him if the moment’s right? I could have figured that out myself.

Asshole: Then you should have instead of bugging me.

Genji Shimada: :p

Hanzo didn’t even dignify that with a response, so Genji set his phone aside and stood up to look at his wardrobe. He would have to pick out an outfit that was cute, but not trying too hard. It was easy to decide how he’d do his hair, since Jesse seemed to like how he styled it for the party. Genji started laying out clothes on his bed. A tank top seemed like a good bet, since his arms were starting to get buffer. He knew Jesse wouldn’t judge him for his farmer’s tan, either. A crop top would be cute, but he also didn’t want to seem like he was showing off his body too much on their first date.

Genji ended up trying on different outfits until it was way past when he should have gone to bed. In the end, he couldn’t choose. He would have to wait until he actually knew where they were going, he decided. With a sigh, Genji folded up his clothes and changed into his pajamas for the night. As he climbed into bed, he realized that he was feeling nervous. Dating hadn’t even been on his radar in years, but he actually really wanted this to work out. He wanted to have more than just a fling with Jesse, and for once he wasn’t confident in his interpersonal skills to do so. Genji knew he was fun and good in bed, but was he relationship material? Would he make a good boyfriend? These questions plagued his mind until he was finally too exhausted to keep himself awake worrying. Genji fell into a deep sleep, and dreamed only of Jesse McCree.

Chapter Text

Genji was on his own with the chores for the next week while Jesse recovered. Despite Genji’s offers to come and see him while he was resting, Jesse insisted that he stay away for his own good. By the end of the week Genji was bored and stir crazy, but there was no denying that he was getting stronger. His face and arms were a golden brown from the sun by now, and his hands were becoming rough and calloused. Genji wondered if his friends would even recognize him by the time school started up again, not that he disliked the changes. He would have preferred an even, all-over tan instead of the ridiculous farmer’s tan, but the bigger biceps, and pecs to rival his brother’s were a nice change. 

After he finished work on the fifth day of Jesse being sick at home, he decided to pay him an unannounced visit. Five days should theoretically be long enough for him to stop being contagious, Genji figured. He walked up to the front door of Jesse’s home and knocked. When it was Jesse who answered, he smiled brightly.

“Hey you,” Jesse greeted. “Wasn’t expecting you.”

“Yeah, well I thought if I texted you you might tell me not to come again. But it looks like you’re doing better,” Genji said cheerfully. Jesse really did look worlds better. His eyes weren’t glassy and sunken anymore, his complexion was better, and his hair was styled like usual.

“Yeah, I think I’m over the worst of it,” Jesse said, opening the door for Genji to come in. Genji stepped through the door.

“Is that Genji?” Kasa called from the kitchen.

“Yep,” said Jesse.

“Hello Genji!” Kasa greeted, poking her head out to wave at him.

“Hey Ms. Kasa,” Genji said politely.

“Just Kasa,” she insisted. “Have you eaten dinner yet?”

“Not yet, I just finished my work for the day.”

“Then you should join us, it should be ready in about half an hour,” Kasa said. “I insist.”

“Alright, sure,” Genji said gratefully. “Thanks.”

“My ma makes the best empanadas I’ve ever had,” Jesse told him.

“Lucky. My dad can’t cook for shit. Comes with being rich and having everything done for him when he was growing up. Mom was a good cook, but he did not pick up on it,” Genji laughed.

“Do you guys eat a lot of Japanese food at home?” Jesse asked.

“Not since mom died,” Genji said. “I do miss it though. There’s ramen shops in San Francisco, but nothing beats homemade.”

“Can’t say as I’ve ever had ramen that wasn’t from a packet,” Jesse admitted.

“What? Seriously? We have to fix that. You know, come to think of it, Ichiro can cook, I wonder if he knows how to make it,” Genji mused.

“I’d sure like to try it,” Jesse said.

“If he knows, maybe he can give us the recipe and we can make it together,” Genji suggested. “Maybe that could be our date?” Jesse’s face lit up.

“Sure,” he said enthusiastically. “I’m sure my ma wouldn’t mind giving us the house to ourselves for a while.” Genji’s heartbeat quickened at the thought of having some quality time alone with Jesse. Maybe if this date went well, it would end with makeouts in Jesse’s room.

“I’ll ask him then. If he doesn’t know, I’m sure my dad still has my mom’s old recipes around,” Genji said. “Actually, now that I think of it, why can Ichiro cook just fine but my dad never learned?” Jesse laughed.

“The two of them don’t seem too similar,” Jesse remarked.

“Tell me about it,” said Genji. “It kind of reminds me of me and Hanzo, except the one with the stick up his ass is the younger one.” Jesse snorted.

“Do you wanna go out to the barn for a minute while my ma works on dinner? I haven’t been out to see Peacekeeper in a few days,” he said, changing the subject.

“Sure,” Genji agreed. Jesse produced two sugar cubes from his pocket, and handed one to Genji.

“I was actually on my way out when you showed up. You should feed her one, you gotta get used to the animals more,” said Jesse. Genji took the sugar cube hesitantly. He was more comfortable with the barn animals lately, but the idea of feeding one from his hand still made him nervous. Horses had big teeth.

“I guess so,” Genji tentatively agreed. He followed Jesse out to the barn. Jesse opened up the heavy door, and the two of them stepped inside. Genji hadn’t gotten a good look around the last time, but this time he noticed that jesse’s barn had only horses in it, five of them. Upon seeing Jesse, Peacekeeper grew excited in her stall.

“Hey girl, I didn’t forget about you,” Jesse laughed as he approached her. She put her head down for Jesse to pet, and he stroked her affectionately.

“So you guys only have horses?” Genji asked.

“We’ve got chickens too, but other than that, yep. Two of them aren’t ours, their owners are boarding them here for the summer. That’s Buttercup and Rusty over there,” Jesse said, gesturing to a reddish brown horse and a dappled brown and white one in the adjacent stall.

“What about the other two?” Genji asked.

“That there is Duncan,” Jesse said, gesturing to the brown horse. “And my ma’s old girl Missy.” He pointed at a smaller, tan colored horse.

“Why so many horses? Do you just like them?” asked Genji. Jesse chuckled, and gave Peacekeeper her treat, which she took happily.

“My ma used to ride professionally,” Jesse explained. “Rodeos, and shows, and even a few movie stunts back in the day.”

“Whoa, really? That’s awesome,” Genji said, impressed.

“I know, ain’t it? After grandma passed, she took on the family farm, but she still likes to ride. Missy’s a little old for it anymore, so she rides Duncan now,” Jesse continued. “Say, you ever have any interest in ridin’?”

“Maybe not horses, but yeah,” Genji joked, wiggling his eyebrows. Jesse barked a laugh, and shoved him gently. Genji relished the flush that rose in Jesse’s face.

“Jesus,” Jesse laughed. “I mean it though, you wanna learn sometime?”

“Maybe,” Genji said. “It sounds fun, but I gotta admit I’m a little nervous.”

“Well then, let’s work on that,” Jesse said. “C’mon, why don’t you give Peacekeeper that sugar cube I gave you?” Genji looked over at Peacekeeper. She was so much bigger up close.

“Alright,” he said reluctantly, approaching her stall.

“Put it in your flat palm, and she’ll take it,” Jesse instructed. Genji placed the cube in his open palm, and nervously extended it toward the horse. Peacekeeper stretched her neck out toward his hand, and Genji fought back the instinct to pull it back. He gritted his teeth as Peacekeeper gently took the sugar cube with her lips.

“See, that wasn’t so bad,” Jesse said encouragingly.

“Guess not,” Genji acquiesced. “What about the other horses? Won’t they want treats too?”

“Oh, I brought two cubes for each of ‘em,” Jesse said cheerfully. “Want to help me give ‘em out?”

“Alright,” Genji agreed. Jesse pulled four more cubes out of his pocket and handed them to Genji. Genji approached Missy next, feeling emboldened by his encounter with Peacekeeper. She, like Peacekeeper, took her treat gently, tickling Genji’s hand and making him giggle softly. He fed her another, and then went over to Buttercup to give her his last two cubes.

“You about done there?” Jesse asked just as Genji was feeding Buttercup her second sugar cube.

“Yep. Do you think dinner is ready yet?” Genji replied.

“Probably close, we should go help set the table,” said Jesse. Genji gave Buttercup a pat, and followed Jesse out of the barn. They made their way back to the house, and as soon as they stepped inside, Genji was hit with an amazing scent.

“Wow, that smells incredible,” Genji said as he entered the kitchen, where Kasa was finishing up cooking the empanadas. Jesse walked over to the cabinets and took out three plates.

“Thank you, Genji,” Kasa said warmly. “They’re Jesse’s favorite. I hope you like them.” Jesse started setting the table, and Genji sat down. Kasa brought the pan over to the table and served two delicious-looking empanadas onto each plate.

“They look great, ma,” Jesse commented. Kasa smiled up at him, and Genji couldn’t help but find their significant height difference cute. Once everyone was seated and Genji was sure they weren’t going to say grace or anything, he cut a piece of his empanada and popped it into his mouth. His eyes closed in satisfaction, now this was delicious.

“These are amazing,” he gushed. “Thank you.” Kasa smiled at him.

“You’re very welcome, Genji. I’m happy you like them,” she said.

“I told you ma was the best cook,” Jesse added.

“You weren’t kidding,” Genji laughed.

“You boys flatter me,” Kasa chuckled. “Now Genji, Jesse tells me you’re a student. What are you going to school for?” Genji’s smile disappeared. He hated talking about school.

“I’m not sure yet,” he admitted. “I’m just kind of getting the general requirements out of the way for now.”

“You have plenty of time to figure it out,” Kasa reassured him, placing a hand on his arm. “Is there anything you’re interested in studying?”

“Not especially,” Genji sighed. “I’m kind of just going because that’s what’s expected of me. My brother just graduated top of his class for chemical engineering. I dunno if I can really top that.”

“Top it? Why would you need to top it? Your brother has his life, you have yours,” Kasa said, frowning.

“Well, when your whole life you’re compared to a guy, you kind of start to think a certain way,” Genji muttered.

“Hey ma, have you ever had ramen before? The real stuff?” Jesse asked. Genji shot him a grateful look. He would have to thank Jesse for rescuing him from that line of thought later.

“No dear, why do you ask?” Kasa replied.

“Well, Genji says it’s the best, so he and I are wanting to cook some sometime,” Jesse explained. “Do you think we could have the house for a bit later this week?”

“Of course,” Kasa said, smiling knowingly at Genji. “I have some shopping to do in Rhodes, so I can be out of your hair this tuesday.”

“Thanks ma. We’ll save you some ramen,” Jesse said.

“If it turns out edible,” Genji added. “I’ve never made it before, it’s kind of an intensive process from what I remember of my mom making it.”

“Oh, I’m sure you’ll have fun either way though,” Kasa laughed.

“I don’t doubt it,” Jesse said, smiling at Genji. Genji blushed softly. The three of them finished up their meal, and Genji stood up to take his plate to the sink. He started to rinse and scrub it, and Kasa came over to stop him.

“I can’t have my guests washing dishes,” she insisted. “Let me.”

“I don’t mind,” Genji said.

“Let us take care of it ma,” Jesse agreed. “You did all the work cookin’.”

“Oh, you boys are too kind,” Kasa said warmly. “Alright. Thank you.” She cleared her place at the table, and left the kitchen as Genji and Jesse started on the dishes.

“Thanks for changing the subject back there,” Genji said quietly once she was gone. Jesse patted him on the back.

“You seemed uncomfortable,” he said.

“I hate talking about school. It just reminds me that I’m a screwup,” Genji sighed.

“You ain’t a screwup. You barely had any time to screw up yet. You’re only 19,” Jesse said gently.

“Thanks, I guess,” Genji mumbled.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a long time either, y’know,” Jesse offered. Genji looked up at him.

“What did you end up picking?” he asked.

“Journalism,” Jesse replied.

“Really? I wouldn’t have guessed,” Genji said honestly. Jesse chuckled.

“Most folks say that,” he said. “But I used to write for a blog part time. Kinda miss it actually.”

“Why did you stop?” Genji asked.

“Well, with ma needing my help here, I kinda let it fall by the wayside,” Jesse said. “Not a whole lot to write about out here, y’know? It was easier when I was living in the city.”

“There’s gotta be something you could write about here,” said Genji. “You’re always telling me there’s more to this life than it seems.”

“Maybe,” Jesse shrugged. “But honestly, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with life takin’ an unexpected turn. Sure, this ain’t what I thought I’d be doing at this point, but I’m happy here. You don’t always have to follow the plan laid out for you.”

“I guess,” Genji said. His mind drifted to his uncle, who had been raised the same as his father, yet led a completely different life. Genji wondered what had caused him to leave behind their family’s affluent lifestyle for a small farm in the middle of nowhere.

“What I’m gettin’ at is, you don’t have to know what to do with your life now, cause even if you do think you have it figured out, things can change,” Jesse said, offering him a small smile. “So don’t worry too much, okay?”

“Okay,” Genji said. “Thanks…”

After they finished with the dishes, Genji bid Jesse goodnight and walked home with his thoughts swirling. “Welcome home,” Ichiro said as he entered the farmhouse.

“Yo,” said Genji. “Hey, do you know how to make ramen?” Ichiro smiled.

“I do. Your mother shared her recipe with me,” he replied. “Do you want me to make you some?”

“Actually, I was wanting to make it myself,” Genji explained. “With Jesse.” Ichiro’s smile grew.

“You two seem to be getting on well,” he hummed.

“You could say that,” Genji said, a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. “It’s gonna be a date. We’re wanting to do it tuesday.”

“Well then, I can certainly give you the recipe,” Ichiro said cheerfully. “You know, I had a feeling you liked each other.”

“Am I that obvious?” Genji frowned.

“Yes,” Ichiro said matter-of-factly. “I saw the way you looked at him the day I introduced you to him.”

“Guess I can’t argue with that,” Genji said with a shrug.  

“Anyway,” Ichiro chuckled. “I can make the tonkotsu broth for you on monday, since it takes all day. Then you two can do the rest together.”

“Thanks Ichiro,” Genji said.

“I’ll pick up the ingredients for you too. Only stipulation is you share the final product with me,” Ichiro said mirthfully. Genji smiled.

“I think we can manage that. I remember the recipe always made a ton,” he said.

“It does,” Ichiro confirmed.

“Well, cool. I’m gonna go settle in for the night though, thanks again,” Genji said with a yawn.

“Goodnight then,” Ichiro hummed.

“Night.” Genji headed to his room, and as he got ready for bed, all he could think about was his upcoming date with Jesse. He hugged his pillow as he settled down in bed, smiling to himself.

===

The rest of the week dragged for Genji, but eventually, tuesday rolled around. He finished his chores in record time, to his uncle’s amusement, and set to work getting ready. Genji knew right away that he had to wear Hanzo’s jeans- they really did make his ass look amazing. Picking a top was a little more of a decision, but he settled on a snug tank top to show off his arms. Finally, he styled his hair, down and piecey like he’d styled it for the barn party. Genji checked himself out in the mirror and grinned. If Jesse was able to resist him looking like this, there was nothing he could do. He pulled out his phone.

Genji Shimada: Yo, when do you want me to come over?

Jesse: whenever you’re ready, i finished my chores early today

Genji smiled at his screen. Jesse must have been excited too. He couldn’t wait to see what his date was wearing.

Genji Shimada: Same here. I just gotta grab the ingredients and I’ll be right over.

Jesse: cool, i’ll let ma know she can go out shopping now

Genji couldn’t keep the smiled off of his face as he left his room and started gathering the ramen ingredients.

“Have fun on your date,” Ichiro said from the couch.

“I will,” Genji hummed. “Hey, do you have a rolling cooler or something? This stock pot is heavy.”

“In the pantry tucked in the back,” Ichiro replied. Genji opened the pantry and pulled out a dusty rolling cooler. He started packing it with delicious, fresh ramen ingredients. Even without the date aspect, Genji was excited to have his mother’s ramen again.

“Alright, I’ll see you later,” Genji said brightly as he closed up the cooler. He checked his hair one last time in his reflection in the window, and made for the door with the cooler in tow.

“Use protection,” Ichiro teased. Genji made a face.

“Hmm, I sure hope we don’t forget to bring you ramen,” Genji said. Ichiro laughed.

“Just have fun,” his uncle chuckled.

“Seeya,” Genji said, exiting the house. When he arrived at Jesse’s front door, he knocked trying to keep the excited smile off of his face and failing. When Jesse opened the door, though, Genji’s breath caught in his throat.

“Hi,” Jesse greeted. He was dressed in a tight black tank top and an open red flannel, dark jeans that clung perfectly to his long, powerful legs, and of course, cowboy boots. The flannel’s sleeves were rolled up to his elbows, and his sideburns were freshly trimmed.

“Hi,” Genji said dumbly. “You look nice.” Jesse grinned brightly.

“You do too,” he said. “Looks like your arms are getting pretty buff.” Genji felt his chest warm up. The tank top was a great idea.

“Thanks,” he said, flexing his bicep with a grin. “You can touch if you like.” Jesse laughed, and gave his bicep a poke.

“Oooh, yep, you’re getting some real definition there,” he said. “Here, want me to take that to the kitchen?” Jesse leaned in close to take the handle of the cooler, and Genji caught a whiff of some seriously alluring cologne.

“Thanks. The broth is already made, by the way. It’s like a day long process so Ichiro went ahead and did it for us,” Genji told him. He followed Jesse to the kitchen.

“That’s mighty kind of him,” said Jesse. He opened up the cooler, and started laying the ingredients out on the table. “So, what have we got here?”

“Tonkotsu broth made with pork bones, chashu pork, fresh noodles, garlic, scallions, eggs, and bean sprouts,” Genji said, pointing to each ingredient. “My mom gave Ichiro her recipe years ago, so this is the same as what I had when I was little.”

“Perfect,” Jesse said brightly. “Where do we start?”

“Let’s start by heating up the broth,” Genji decided. “Oh, and boiling some water for the eggs. Unless you have an egg cooker?”

“I do actually,” Jesse replied. He reached up to the top shelf of one of the cabinets, and his tank top rode up just a little, showing off a tiny bit of his toned stomach. Genji wanted nothing more than to kiss that little bit of skin, but he refrained from staring too long. He didn’t want to be creepy on their first date. Jesse set the egg cooker down, and Genji took out four eggs.

“Go ahead and put the broth on medium low heat,” Genji instructed. Jesse placed it on the burner and turned the dial as Genji turned on the egg cooker and added enough water to softboil the eggs.

“So, what all is in the broth?” Jesse asked.

“Besides the pork bones, there’s pork fat, garlic, and ginger, I think that’s it,” Genji said. As the soup started to warm up, an aromatic scent started to fill the room. Jesse closed his eyes.

“Mmm, it sure smells good,” he said. “Can’t wait to try it.”

“Make sure to stir it,” Genji said. “Forgot to mention that.”

“That’s alright, I know I’m distracting,” Jesse teased with a wink. Genji blushed lightly, had he been busted or was Jesse just messing with him?

“It’s the jeans,” Genji remarked, and they both laughed.

“I knew they were a good idea,” Jesse chuckled. “Yours are doing you some favors too, gotta say.”

“Thanks, I stole them from Hanzo,” Genji said. Jesse snorted. “He’s pissed and wants me to mail them back, but now that I know you like them on me, he’s just going to have to deal.” Jesse’s smile was bright, and Genji found himself staring again. It wasn’t fair how pretty Jesse was.

“From what you’ve told me about your brother, I didn’t really take him for the stylish type,” Jesse said.

“He’s actually a pretty vain guy,” said Genji. “He works out like four days a week, and he’s always dressed to show it off. But I know he would rather get a bunch of piercings and dress like a street punk.”

“Really? Huh,” Jesse said.

“Yeah, I think he’s worried about what dad would say. But screw Hanzo, let’s talk dinner,” Genji said. “We should cook up the noodles next.”

“Gotcha,” Jesse said, thankfully willing to change the subject. He took a small pot from the lower cabinet and filled it with water. “Oh, by the way, I hope you don’t expect me to eat with chopsticks. I haven’t the first clue how.” Genji’s eyes lit up.

“I can teach you,” he said brightly. An excuse to get up close to Jesse and touch those big, rough hands? Yes please. “I brought two sets. But if you give up I won’t judge you.”

“Alright,” Jesse conceded. “If only to amuse you.”

“I’m gonna chop up the scallions, where can I find a cutting board?” Genji asked, smiling to himself. He’d never thought of cooking as particularly fun before, but making something together with Jesse felt special. He couldn’t wait to try the ramen when it was done. Thankfully, there was little room for error, with the hard part having been done by his uncle.

“Top right cabinet,” Jesse said, pointing. Genji opened the cabinet, and frowned.

“Why is it all the way up there?” he complained at the sight of the cutting board on the very top shelf. At five feet seven inches, there was no way he was getting it down. “How does your mom even reach that? She’s like a whole head shorter than me.” Jesse looked up and laughed.

“The other one must be in the dishwasher, usually that’s just the backup,” he explained. “I’ll get it for ya.” Jesse leaned over into his space and reached up, and Genji’s heart rate increased as the cologne hit him again. If he got the chance later, he would love to just press his face against Jesse’s broad chest and breathe it in.

“What’s that scent you wear?” he asked, innocently enough. Jesse smiled proudly as he set the cutting board down.

“It’s nice, right? It’s called Oak Temptation I think. My ma bought it for me one year and everyone I’ve dated since has loved it,” said Jesse.

“Yeah, well add me to the list,” Genji admitted. “Consider me tempted.” Jesse laughed, and Genji swore his cheeks were flushed.

“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, we still gotta finish dinner,” Jesse teased. Genji blushed and shoved him.

“Hey, who said I put out on the first date?” he shot back. Jesse’s eyes widened and he put his hands up.

“That’s not- I didn’t mean-” he quickly backtracked.

“I know,” Genji assured him. “And I have, in fact, been known to put out on the first date.” He couldn’t resist throwing in a wink, which caused Jesse to blush darker. Jesse cleared his throat awkwardly, and Genji’s smile grew. Cute.

“Is that, uh… is that what you’re hopin’ for?” Jesse asked, averting his gaze. Genji’s smile faded. Shit, he’d embarrassed Jesse a little too much.

“No, I was just teasing,” Genji said. “I know I said I have a lot of hookups, I wasn’t planning on moving that fast.” Relief washed over Jesse’s features, and Genji felt some tension leave his body too.

“Alright… cause I, ah,” Jesse started. He bit his lip. “I really like ya. And I didn’t wanna put you off by wanting to take things a little slower.” Genji gave him a reassuring smile.

“Whatever your pace is, that’s fine by me,” Genji said. “I like you a lot too.” Jesse stepped closer to him, and Genji set his knife down and opened his arms for a hug. Jesse leaned down, wrapped him up in those burly arms, and lifted him off the floor.

“Makes me real happy to hear that,” Jesse said brightly. Genji giggled. He could get used to being picked up and tossed around by Jesse. Feeling bold, Genji laid his hand alongside Jesse’s face and kissed him firmly on the mouth. He felt Jesse smile against his lips, and then he was kissing back, sweet and slow. Jesse set Genji down and rested his large hands on his hips, making sure not to break their connection. Genji’s heart fluttered in his chest. Jesse’s lips were full and soft, and the gentle scratch of his stubble was just what Genji liked. Then, a loud hissing sound broke them out of their moment, and Genji turned to see the pot they’d set on for the noodles boiling over.

“Dammit,” he groaned. He turned the heat down and placed the noodles in the water. When he turned back to Jesse, he felt a surge of affection at the sight of the dreamy smile on his date’s face. “Heh, you still on earth?” he teased gently. Jesse kissed the side of his head, and Genji smiled brightly.

“Sure am,” Jesse hummed. “Now we’d better get back to work here.” Just as he said that, the egg cooker beeped. Genji leaned up for one more quick peck on the lips before going to turn it off.

“We can pick up where we left off after dinner,” Genji said cheerfully.

“Definitely,” Jesse agreed. Genji, who had been neglecting the scallions, resumed chopping them, while Jesse removed the eggs from the cooker and placed them in a bowl of cold water. Once he was done with the scallions, Genji went over to the stock pot and raised the ladle to his lips.

“Mmm,” he hummed. “This is almost hot enough. Let’s cook up the pork next.” He opened the package of high grade chashu pork, and Jesse retrieved a frying pan from the cabinet.

“What should I do next?” Jesse asked. “Anything else that needs preparin’?”

“No, not really,” Genji said as he laid the strips of pork into the pan. “Maybe get down some bowls, oh, and peel the eggs. Carefully, they’re soft.”

“Can do,” Jesse said agreeably. He set out two large bowls, and started shelling the eggs. “Shit.”

“You squish one?” Genji laughed. He looked over, and Jesse had made a mess of one of the eggs.

“I don’t exactly have the most delicate touch,” Jesse chuckled. The thought sent a shiver through Genji.

“Here, switch me,” he said. He stepped away from the pan and started to peel another egg, while Jesse moved to the stove. Genji’s hands weren’t what you’d call delicate, but he had nimble fingers. He had all three eggs clean and bare in no time. He sliced each in half, and smiled at the sight of the perfectly softboiled yolks. This was going to be delicious. Next, he went to the stock pot to taste the broth again, and bumped Jesse playfully with his hip.

“Hi darlin’,” Jesse said fondly. Genji beamed at him. He admittedly loved being called by pet names, and he very much liked the sound of being Jesse’s darling.

“Hi,” Genji replied. He raised the ladle to his lips and hummed happily. “This is definitely ready”. He turned off the heat, and took the noodles off of the burner to strain them.

“Colander’s in with the pots and pans,” Jesse informed him before he could ask.

“Thanks,” Genji said. “Honey.” They both laughed, and Genji’s heart felt full. Jesse blew him a kiss from across the room, and Genji pretended to catch it and eat it, prompting more laughter from his date.

“Not sure how to take that,” said Jesse.

“Mm, delicious. Send me another one,” Genji joked. They started laughing all over again as Genji strained the noodles and separated them into the bowls Jesse had set out. Who knew domestic stuff could be so fun? He never would have thought of a cooking date before he met Jesse.

“Alrighty, the meat’s done,” Jesse declared.

“Awesome,” said Genji. He ladled broth into the bowls, and set three egg halves in each. “Go ahead and lay it on top there, I’ll get the bean sprouts and scallions.” As they passed each other, Jesse stole another kiss, and Genji’s heart melted. Just for a moment, he wondered what it would be like if this was how things were forever. What if he married this beautiful farm boy? He quickly shook himself from those thoughts, however. It was far too early to even think of such a thing. They weren’t even a couple yet, officially, and he doubted Jesse would even want things to continue after the summer was over. Genji had heard plenty of summer romance stories. It wasn’t realistic to expect Jesse to want to date him from all the way in California.

Great. Now he’d gone and bummed himself out.

“There we go,” Jesse said cheerfully, none the wiser. Genji laid the scallions and sprouts to the side of the pork in each bowl.

“Cool. Last step is to grate the garlic on top,” he said. He took a clove for each bowl, and Jesse handed him a small grater. Once he was done topping the ramen with the garlic, he stepped back to admire his work.

“What do you think, Jesse?” Genji asked, feeling proud of himself.

“Looks delicious. Pretty too. The Japanese sure have a way with making food look nice,” Jesse said. Genji cleared off the counter behind the two bowls, laid chopsticks on the rims, and stepped back to take a few pictures.

“We make everything look nice,” Genji corrected. He started uploading the photos to instagram, and Jesse cautiously carried each bowl of ramen to the dining room.

“You ain’t proved me wrong on that front yet,” Jesse admitted. “Hell, you make a farmer’s tan look nice.” Genji laughed and made a show of flexing his arms.

“Do you find my farmer’s tan alluring, Jesse?” he teased. Jesse rolled his eyes good-naturedly, and poked him in the chest with his chopsticks.

“I try and pay you a compliment,” he said. Genji sat down at the table and Jesse followed suit.

“Please, don’t stop doing that on my account,” Genji sassed. “If I don’t get at least one compliment every fifteen minutes, I start to die.” Jesse snorted, and moved to dig into his ramen, but Genji put his hand in the way.

“Hey,” Jesse protested.

“Nope, not yet. First, we say thanks for the food, at least that’s how my family used to do it when my mom was around,” Genji explained. “ Itadakimasu ,” he said, placing his hands together.

“Say that again, but slower,” Jesse said dumbly. Genji typed it out on his phone and showing it to Jesse.

“Ita. Daki. Masu. Except the last bit is said more like ‘mas’,” Genji explained.

“Ita-daki-masu,” Jesse said slowly. “Yeah?” 

“Yep,” said Genji. “You got it.”

“Good, cause I can’t sit here and smell this any longer without eating it,” Jesse chuckled. He went to take a bite, and Genji took great joy in watching the realization dawn on him that he still didn’t know how to use chopsticks. “Uh."

“I was wondering if you’d forgotten. Here, I’ll show you,” Genji said. He picked up his chopsticks, and clacked them together a few times. “One stays stationary, and the other moves. Rest the bottom one on your last two fingers, and hold the top one like this.” Genji demonstrated slowly, and used his chopsticks to pick up a piece of pork. Jesse did his best to imitate him.

“This look right?” Jesse asked. He was already holding the chopsticks correctly. Dammit. Genji had been looking forward to fixing his grip manually.

“Yeah, you’ve got the right idea,” Genji encouraged. “It’ll take some practice to get used to them, but give it a try.” Jesse attempted to pick up some bean sprouts, but couldn’t keep a grip on them the first few times.

“This is hard, are you sure I can’t just have a fork. I’m starving,” Jesse entreated. Genji folded his arms.

“Nope, come on, you can do it. You’ve taught me plenty of things, now I get to teach you something,” he said.

“A’ight, fair,” Jesse sighed. He resumed his attempts on the pork, and his eyes lit up when he managed to get a piece to his mouth. “Whoa, that’s amazing,” he gushed. Genji took a bite of his own noodles, and his eyes closed in bliss. Instantly, he was transported back to his childhood, sitting around the table with his parents and Hanzo, slurping the broth from his second bowl. Mom would be happy if she knew I’d made this , he thought, and his chest tightened. The ache of losing her was never completely gone, even twelve years later.

“Yeah,” Genji said, trying to appear just as cheerful as before. “It’s just like I had when I was little. We did good.” Jesse must have seen through him though, because he frowned slightly.

“You okay?” his date asked gently. Shit.

“Yeah, I’m in ramen heaven,” Genji affirmed. He took another large bite, and hummed happily.

“Alright. You just looked sad for a second there,” Jesse said. Genji waved his hand dismissively.

“I just thought about my mom for a second,” he said. “I’m fine.” Thankfully, Jesse didn’t press it further after that. For a few minutes, they sat in silence, save for the slurping of noodles. When Genji had eaten everything from his bowl, he lifted it to his lips to drink the broth, and Jesse followed his example.

“Ahh,” Jesse said, satisfied. “Now that was a meal. Thanks for sharing, Genji.”

“Anytime,” said Genji. “I’m sure my mom left lots more recipes, so if you ever wanted to try something else from her repertoire I can ask Ichiro or dad.”

“I’d love to,” Jesse said. “And I know ma would be more than happy to share her recipes too.” They both stood and carried their bowls back to the kitchen to start on the dishes.

“Good, cause those empanadas were unreasonably good,” Genji laughed.

“Told you,” Jesse said with a grin. “Do you wanna scrub or load the dishwasher?”

“I’ll load,” Genji replied. He opened the dishwasher as Jesse started to rinse off the dishes they’d made.

With two people working on them, the dishes went by quickly, and Genji actually found himself enjoying the chore for once, with Jesse to joke and banter with. Once everything was in the dishwasher, Jesse washed his hands and shook the water at Genji, who squawked indignantly.

“Rude!” he protested as Jesse laughed.

“Here, I’ll make it up to you,” Jesse said with a twinkle in his eye. Genji raised an eyebrow, interested.

“Oh yeah?” Jesse took him by the hand and led him to his bedroom, and Genji’s heart skipped a beat. Oh hell yes. Once they were in Jesse’s room, the cowboy lay back on his bed, which was covered in woven blankets, and beckoned Genji closer. Genji’s heart pounded. He knew Jesse had said he didn’t want to have sex on the first date, but that didn’t mean things couldn’t get a little hot and heavy, right?

Genji sat down on the edge of the bed, and Jesse pulled him closer, practically over top of him, and Genji was in heaven with that sturdy body beneath him. His lips met Jesse’s with heated passion, and he was thrilled when Jesse kissed him back with equal fervor. Hell. Yes. Jesse’s hands roamed Genji’s back, and Genji melted against him, already growing hard in his (Hanzo’s) jeans. He had fantasized about those worker’s hands on his body, and they certainly didn’t disappoint as they slid down over his hips. Genji had to shift to keep from alerting Jesse to his erection, especially as Jesse’s tongue pushed insistently into his mouth. He tasted like ramen, Genji thought with amusement.

“Heh,” Jesse breathed, breaking away for a moment. “Sorry. Maybe I got a little carried away there.” Genji just stared at him for a moment.

“There is literally not a problem here,” he said. Jesse looked relieved, and laid his hand alongside Genji’s face.

“Alright, just making sure… you are one gorgeous guy, you know that?” Jesse asked with a smile that went straight to Genji’s heart. Genji did know he was gorgeous, but there was nothing like hearing it from Jesse’s lips.

“I get that a lot,” he joked softly. Nailed it on the romance there, Shimada. Jesse only chuckled and brought him in for another sweet kiss.

“Vain,” Jesse said fondly as they parted.

“Yeah, but you like me anyway,” Genji laughed softly. Jesse rolled so he was over top of Genji, and Genji’s face turned an impressive shade of scarlet.

“I really, really do,” Jesse said genuinely. Genji glanced away, suddenly feeling shy. Sex was easy, but he’d never really been the target of such heartfelt romantic overtures, and he didn’t know what to do. “You okay?” Jesse asked, concern written on his handsome features.

“Yeah,” Genji said, smiling up at him. “Just new territory for me is all. Nobody’s ever been this sweet to me. It’s usually oh, I’m gonna give it to you so hard, or something like that.” Jesse’s face scrunched up in disapproval.

“Hell, even when I’ve hooked up with people in the past I tried to at least not be gross,” Jesse said. Genji laughed, and pulled Jesse down for another kiss. “I’m gonna make up for all the unromantic shit you’ve had to deal with then.” Genji’s cheeks flushed again.

“Alright,” he said. “Romance away, cowboy.” They laughed together, and Jesse cupped his cheek, kissing him passionately. Genji’s heart was racing as their lips met again and again. Jesse’s weight and warmth on top of him was intoxicating, and Genji couldn’t help sliding his hands up the back of Jesse’s shirt. As Jesse shifted, so did the tight muscles of his back, and Genji’s cock twitched in the tight confines of his jeans. Jesse was built like a workhorse, and that kind of strength pinning him down, driving into him- Genji had to suppress a moan at the thought.

They kissed for what felt like hours, until the sound of the front door startled them both away from each other. Jesse’s face was flushed and his lips were red and shiny as he pulled back, and Genji wanted terribly to pull him back down for more, but instead he sat up, fixing his hair. A surreptitious glance at Jesse’s lap informed him that Jesse was just as hot and bothered as he was, and he felt a swell of pride.

“Sounds like ma’s home,” Jesse said, quickly fixing his own hair and tugging his shirt back down from where Genji had shoved it up. Genji adjusted his pants as subtly as possible, trying to will his boner to go down.

“Guess I should get going then,” he said reluctantly.

“I had a lot of fun today,” Jesse said, touching his hand. Genji smiled at him.

“Me too,” he said. “We should do this again sometime.” Jesse beamed, and kissed him on the cheek.

“I already know where I want to take you for a second date,” he said brightly.

“Oh yeah? Where’s that? A dude ranch?” Genji teased. Jesse shoved him playfully.

“Nope,” he said. “Better. You’ll see.”

“Ooh, I like surprises,” Genji giggled. Once his dick had calmed down a little, he stood up, and kissed Jesse one more time before heading toward the door. “I’ll see you tomorrow?”

“Yep,” Jesse confirmed, smiling warmly. “Have a good night, Genji.”

“Night,” Genji said, feeling butterflies just from that smile. He really had it bad, didn’t he?

The whole way home, his thoughts were swimming with Jesse, Jesse, Jesse, and he couldn’t keep the smile off of his face. When he got into bed, he pulled up the selfie he’d taken with Jesse when they went stargazing, and his grin widened. They looked good together, he thought. Maybe on their next date he would have to take more pictures. Genji resisted the urge to make the photo his lock screen, and hugged his phone to his chest. Dare he think it? Was he in love? He wasn’t sure, to be honest. But he had never felt this rush of joy at the sight, or even the thought of another person before, that was certain. He didn’t care about the trips he was missing out on anymore. This whole summer was worth it just for Jesse.

Chapter Text

In the days following their date, Jesse and Genji’s usual working pace slowed dramatically, as they kept taking breaks to make out in the barn, in the field, behind the coop, anywhere they were out of the line of sight of the house.

“Do you think your uncle is gonna notice we’re taking longer lately?” Jesse asked, inches from Genji’s lips. Genji’s headband had been discarded, and Jesse’s fingers were threaded into his hair. His other arm was boxing Genji in against the barn door.

“Probably,” Genji said, shrugging. “He’s not stupid, I’m sure he knows what’s up. But we’re still getting the work done.” Jesse kissed him again, and Genji’s eyes closed.

“You’re just distracting,” Jesse murmured against his lips.

“It’s kind of hard to concentrate when there’s a hot cowboy showing off his strength,” Genji agreed. “Especially when you know that the cowboy is willing to kiss you.” Jesse chuckled softly and kissed him again.

“You’re so beautiful,” Jesse whispered when they parted. Genji felt goosebumps raise on his skin. Beautiful. He liked that an awful lot more than sexy. Genji chased Jesse’s lips as he drew back, kissing him insistently, and Jesse hummed. Their tongues tangled together, and Genji felt his body grow hot. How he wished Jesse would put his hands on him. Maybe he could get away with being just a little adventurous today, he thought. After all, this was the fifth straight day of this song and dance. Genji’s right hand, which rested on Jesse’s mid-back, slid lower, lower, until it rested just above his ass. When Jesse didn’t react, he slipped his hand into Jesse’s back pocket.

“Hey you,” Jesse said playfully.

“This okay?” Genji asked.

“Yeah, you’re good,” Jesse said as he went in for another sweet kiss. Genji couldn’t help giving his butt a little squeeze, and mmm, it was just as soft yet firm as he’d imagined. This only spurred Jesse on, and he pressed closer to Genji, his overwhelming presence kicking Genji’s heartbeat up a notch. Their kisses grew more passionate, more sensual, until suddenly, the donkey snorted loudly, startling them both.

“Jesus,” Genji breathed, holding the hand that wasn’t on Jesse’s ass to his heart. Jesse only laughed.

“You shoulda seen how big your eyes got just now,” he said mirthfully.

“Hey, it scared you too,” Genji shot back.

“Looks like Sojiro doesn’t approve of us,” Jesse said, looking over at the donkey. “Mind your own business. Genji laughed. His hand remained in Jesse’s pocket.

“Too bad. He’s not my real dad,” Genji joked. Jesse snorted, and turned back to face him.

“We really should get back to work though,” he said reluctantly. “Cute as you are.” Genji glowed at the praise.

“Fine,” he said. “Oh! By the way, when did you wanna do that second date? I’m dying to know where you want to take me.”

“Well, it’s looking like the weather is gonna be perfect this sunday, so how about then?” Jesse suggested.

“It’s outside?” Genji asked, surprised.

“Yep. Wear closed-toed shoes,” Jesse instructed.

“Alright,” said Genji. “Anything else you’d like me to wear for you?” He winked, proud of the blush that spread across Jesse’s face.

“Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves,” Jesse said, obviously flustered.

“Hey, I didn’t say anything dirty, you inferred that on your own,” Genji teased. Jesse pulled his hat down to hide his red cheeks, uselessly since he was so much taller than Genji. Genji laughed, and patted him on the back.

“Be nice t’me,” Jesse said, even as a smile spread across his face. Genji leaned over and kissed him on the cheek.

“I’m always nice,” he said. “And you’re cute when you’re embarrassed. But really, is there anything else special i need to wear?”

“Long pants, something you don’t mind gettin’ dirty,” said Jesse. “And don’t forget sunscreen.”

“Gotcha,” Genji said with a nod.

“I’ll remind you again at some point, don’t worry. I’m lookin’ forward to this,” Jesse said with a bright smile. Genji felt his heart flutter.

“Me too,” he said cheerfully. Fuck, he really had it bad, didn’t he? If just a smile from Jesse could make him feel like he was having heart palpitations, what was he supposed to do about that? It was all very new to Genji, and he was starting to think he must be in love. He felt his face flush, and Jesse raised an eyebrow, amused.

“You okay there hon?” he asked, and Genji quickly nodded.

“Yeah? Why wouldn’t I be?” he laughed. “C’mon, we’d better actually do some work or my uncle is gonna think we died.” Jesse shrugged, and thankfully went over to get them each a hoe. They each went to separate fields, and once he was hidden among the chile plants, Genji rubbed his face thoroughly. Was he in love with Jesse? How was he supposed to know for sure? As he began to weed, his thoughts ran wild with questions. Maybe he would ask one of his friends. Definitely not Hanzo. But most of his friends were just as loose as he was, if he was being honest. Very few of them actually had steady partners, except Jamison. But as much as he liked Jamison, he was probably the last person Genji would ask for advice about literally anything.

Maybe this was just something he would have to figure out on his own.

Though Genji was considerably faster in the fields than he used to be, Jesse was faster still, and by the time Genji finished with the chile field, Jesse had finished both of the other fields. He approached Genji, removing his hat to wipe sweat from his brow, and Genji felt his heart pounding in his chest again. It just wasn’t fair how gorgeous Jesse was, even sweaty and dirty from a day of hard work. If anything, he was even more tantalizing.

“Alright, let’s run the sprinklers, and call it a day,” Jesse hummed.

“On it,” Genji said quickly, nearly stumbling over his words. He really needed to pull it together, lord. Genji walked over to the sprinkler controls and switched them on.

“Alright, I’ll see you tomorrow,” Jesse said warmly, placing his hat back on his head.

“See ya,” Genji said with a wave. Jesse winked at him, and Genji’s breath caught. Fuck. As Jesse walked toward his house, Genji stared so long at his backside that he nearly forgot to shut the water off. When he realized, he cursed under his breath and quickly switched off the sprinklers.

When Genji went back inside the farmhouse, Ichiro gave him a knowing look, prompting Genji to walk faster toward his room.

“So,” Ichiro mused before he could reach safety.

“So?” Genji asked innocently.

“You two have been taking a lot longer lately,” his uncle said with a sly grin. Genji refused to rise to the bait.

“Have we? I haven’t noticed,” he said, digging dirt from under his nails.

“Of course,” Ichiro hummed. “I just hope you’re being safe. With work.” Genji choked on air.

Ichiro ,” he said emphatically. No way. He was not having this conversation with his uncle right now. Or ever.

“If you ever need me to pick up some-”

“No. No, we definitely don’t need you to pick up condoms for us. We aren’t having sex, and trust me , I am more than familiar with how to do it, so let’s never, ever talk about this again, okay?” Genji said insistently. At this point, they were both red in the face. Ichiro looked away, and Genji glanced to his room longingly. 

“Alright,” Ichiro said awkwardly. “As you were.” Genji took that as his cue to scurry back to his room and tightly shut the door. God dammit. He was nineteen, he thought he was in the clear from ever having to have The Talk again. He pulled out his phone and started typing a message to Jesse.

Genji Shimada: So my uncle definitely noticed we’ve been taking forever the past couple days…

Jesse <3: uh oh, are we in trouble?

Genji Shimada: No, but he did offer to buy us condoms, so that’s mortifying.

Jesse <3: jesus. he knows i’m 24 right? and i have my own car?

Genji Shimada: You’d think. I basically told him I’m a slut and I know what I’m doing and he clammed up.

Jesse <3: glad i missed that whole conversation. sorry

Genji Shimada: It’s not your fault :*

Jesse <3: is that a kiss face?

Genji Shimada: Ya

Jesse <3: aw :*

Genji smiled at his phone. He could go for some more smooches right about now, though that was all the time lately.

Genji Shimada: Wish u were here.

Jesse <3: you just saw me honey

Genji Shimada: Yeah and?

Jesse <3: ...fair point

Genji Shimada: I’m excited for our date!

Jesse <3: me too :)

Genji’s mind wandered to all the possible places Jesse could be taking him. What could they be doing that was outside, would get them dirty, required closed-toed shoes… suddenly it dawned on him, and he went stock stiff.

Genji Shimada: Are you taking me horseback riding?

Jesse: dang, i was hoping it would be a surprise

Genji lay back on his bed and groaned. Though he didn’t like to admit it out loud, the horses still kind of scared the shit out of him. But he couldn’t rain on Jesse’s parade either, he seemed so excited about it. And riding together could be romantic, he supposed.

Genji Shimada: Are we riding different horses or the same horse?

Jesse <3: we can both ride on miss peacekeeper. are you nervous?

Genji Shimada: Kinda…

Jesse <3: i won’t be upset if you just wanna drive

It was very tempting to just take that offer, but Genji knew Jesse would probably be disappointed. And riding with his back pressed to that broad chest… he could probably get over his fear for that.

Genji Shimada: No, let’s do it. I trust you not to let me die.

Jesse <3: you definitely aren’t gonna die, sugar. it’ll be fun <3

===

The days leading up to sunday dragged on for Genji, despite the fact that he still saw Jesse every day. When the day finally came, Genji got up and started getting ready for work, but Ichiro interrupted him as he was lacing his boots.

“Hey, I meant to tell you, Jesse asked me if you could have the day off today for your date. You two should go before it gets too hot outside,” Ichiro said. Genji couldn’t help the grin that immediately split his face.

“Really? Thanks Ichiro,” he said.

“Think of it as an apology for the other day,” his uncle said. Genji put his hand up before he could say any more.

“Gotcha. Now let’s go back to never talking about it again,” he said. “Seriously, thanks. I’ve been looking forward to this all week.” Ichiro smiled, and leaned on the doorframe.

“Have fun, alright? I’ll see you whenever you get back,” he said cheerfully. He closed the door to Genji’s room, and Genji quickly stripped out of his work clothes. He’d already picked out an outfit the night before: black skinny jeans, a snug light green t-shirt with a dragon winding around it, and his work boots. He wasn’t about to risk getting his other shoes filthy, and he knew Jesse wouldn’t judge him. Genji teased his hair a little, giving it a bit of texture, and slipped on his corded bracelet. He wished he had his eyeliner right about now, he was willing to bet that would knock Jesse flat on his ass. Maybe he’d have to go get some sometime.

Just as he was finishing up getting ready, Genji heard a knock on the front door of the farmhouse. That must be him. A surge of excitement welled up in his chest, and he hurried out of his room to see his uncle opening the door.

“Hi there,” Jesse said smoothly. “I’m here to pick up my date.” Ichiro stepped aside, and Genji had to suck in a breath at the sight in the doorway.

Jesse was decked out in a full cowboy ensemble, complete with a woven serape, spurs, and chaps that hugged his thighs deliciously. He looked like he was born to wear it. Oh, Hanzo would be so jealous !

“Hey,” Genji said, a smile spreading across his face, as often happened when Jesse was nearby. “I think I’m underdressed.” Jesse laughed softly and extended a gloved hand.

“You look perfect, hon. You ready to go?” Jesse asked. Genji’s cheeks flushed red, and he took Jesse’s hand. Perfect? Gah. How was it that Jesse always ruined his composure with just a few words? He was supposed to be the charmer, here. Ichiro just smiled at them knowingly.

“Y-yeah, I’m all set,” Genji replied. Fuck. He stammered? He never does that. Get it together, Genji!

“Let’s ride then,” Jesse said, tipping his hat to Ichiro. “Thanks again for the day off.”

“Not a problem,” Ichiro assured him. Jesse led Genji outside, and after Ichiro closed the door, swept him up into a kiss. Genji felt like he would melt right there in his arms.

“I’m real excited to show you this place,” Jesse said, squeezing Genji’s hand.

“Me too-” was all Genji managed to say. Jesse chuckled and led him to where Peacekeeper was hitched up next to the house. She was outfitted with an ornate leather saddle and saddlebags. And she was still uncomfortably big. Genji swallowed.

“You sure you’re okay riding her?” Jesse asked, sensing his apprehension.

“Yeah, I’m good,” Genji insisted. “How do I get on?”

“Here, I gotcha,” Jesse said. He stepped into the stirrup and swung up onto Peacekeeper with practiced ease before offering his hand to Genji.

“Take my hand, I’ll pull you up.” Genji steeled his nerves, and took Jesse’s hand. In an instant, he was being hauled up onto the horse’s back to sit in front of Jesse in the saddle. His heart raced as Peacekeeper shifted beneath them. “There you go, sugar,” Jesse said amiably.

“Uh-huh,” Genji breathed. This wasn’t so scary. He could do this.

“Just let me know when you’re ready to go, okay? Take your time,” Jesse said right in his ear, sending a chill up Genji’s spine. Mm, having Jesse pressed against his back was well worth it, he decided. He took a few deep breaths, trying to calm himself, and leaned back against his boyfri- wait, no. Jesse wasn’t- fuck.

“Go ahead,” Genji said after a moment. Jesse clicked his tongue, and gripped the reins, boxing Genji in comfortably against him. That comfort vanished, however, when Peacekeeper started to walk. As her weight shifted, Genji gripped Jesse’s arm tightly in fear of losing his balance.

“It’s alright, Genji,” Jesse said patiently. “You ain’t gonna fall.” Genji nodded weakly and relaxed his grip so Jesse could control the reins. Gradually, Jesse increased their pace, with Genji’s stomach turning all the while, and soon they were at a canter.

“Are we going to be going much faster?” Genji asked, his voice shaking a little.

“Nope, this is it,” Jesse reassured him. “Now, just try and relax and enjoy the view. We’ll be there soon.” Genji took in a deep breath, and leaned back, trusting Jesse. He was okay. He was safe. And as they rode off into the desert, Genji’s excitement slowly returned. Whatever Jesse had in store for them, he was sure it would be perfect.

Chapter Text

The longer they rode, the more comfortable Genji became with the whole situation, and the more breathtaking the scenery became. They rode up into the rocky hills, and Genji saw mountains as far as the eye could see.

“Still doin’ alright honey?” Jesse asked, his voice smooth as silk and right in his ear. It made Genji shiver.

“Yeah, I’m great now that I’m used to it,” Genji said as Jesse led them through a pass between two rocky crags. “Do you go out riding like this a lot?”

“Whenever I need some alone time,” Jesse said. “It’s peaceful, y’know?”

“Yeah, I think I’m starting to see why you stick around here,” Genji murmured. They turned, and started descending into a deep canyon. The layers in the canyon walls were so smooth and perfect it was as if they’d been painted there. A stream ran through the center of the canyon, and Jesse started to follow it at an easy pace. Genji heard a soft chuckle behind him as he looked around in amazement.

“Beautiful, right?” Jesse asked. One of his hands left the reins and came to rest on Genji’s thigh.

“I’ve never seen anything like this in person,” Genji said softly, his heart fluttering at the unexpected contact. “I can’t believe this is just right in your backyard.”

“Just wait till you see where we’re going,” Jesse hummed.

“This isn’t it?” Genji asked. He had almost forgotten they had a destination at all.

“Naw,” said Jesse. “Soon, though.” Movement above them caught Genji’s eye, and he gasped at the sight of an eagle soaring high above the canyon.

“Jesse look,” he said urgently, pointing skyward.

“Oh hey,” Jesse said enthusiastically. “That’s a golden eagle. Huge sons of bitches. Ain’t she beautiful?”

“Yeah. We don’t have a lot of exciting wildlife in San Francisco,” Genji laughed. As they trotted along the river, he caught the sound of rushing water on the wind. “Hey, I think I hear a waterfall,” he said.

“Right you are,” said Jesse. They rounded the bend with the river, and Genji’s breath caught in his throat at the sight. Before them was a clear, shallow pool fed by a thin waterfall, which cascaded from a prominent overhang. “So, what do you think?” Jesse asked.

“It’s gorgeous,” Genji blurted out. “How did you find this spot?” Jesse halted the reins, and Peacekeeper came to a stop. He jumped down from her back, and opened his arms for Genji.

“My family used to come here when I was a kid,” Jesse explained. Genji cautiously swung his leg over Peacekeeper’s back, and jumped down into Jesse’s waiting embrace. Strong arms closed around him, and he nestled into his date’s serape.

“So this must be a pretty sentimental spot for you, huh?” Genji asked.

“It sure is,” said Jesse. Genji squeezed him gently. Jesse must like him an awful lot if he was bringing him to such an important place. At least he hoped that was the case. “You hungry? I packed us lunch.”

“Mm, not quite yet,” Genji said, looking up at Jesse, who frowned slightly. “First, I think we should go for a swim.

“A swim?” Jesse’s eyebrows rose. “Shit, I haven’t gone swimming here since I was maybe ten. I didn’t bring my trunks-”

“We can improvise,” Genji said, pulling away from Jesse to shed his shirt. “Long as you’re not wearing white underwear it should be fine.” He flashed a grin.

“I’m not, but I’ve got so much on,” Jesse reasoned. Genji bent down to untie his boots, and kicked them to the side.

“You need some help getting out of it, cause I am more than willing,” Genji offered, making Jesse’s face flush pink. Genji laughed, and shimmied out of his pants. He stood before Jesse in nothing but his green boyshorts, and Jesse bit his lip.

“I got it, just give me a sec,” he laughed after a moment. He started unwrapping the serape from around his shoulders, and Genji punched the air excitedly.

“Yes! I haven’t gone swimming yet all summer,” he cheered. He walked over to the water’s edge and dipped his foot in. “It’s not even that cold.” Genji waded into the lagoon, and to the center where the water was about waist high on him. He glanced over at Jesse, who was currently wrestling with his chaps, and laughed, sinking down to float on his back.

“Hey, don’t laugh at me,” Jesse said, though he wore a smile. “I’m gettin’ there.”

“Hurry up,” Genji urged in a teasing tone.

“You just wanna see me in my underwear,” Jesse shot back. Genji kicked water in his direction, though none of it actually got to him.

“Well I’m not gonna deny that,” Genji said, and Jesse barked a laugh. “But it’s not like you hate seeing me in mine either.”

“Alright, guilty as charged, sugar,” Jesse chuckled. He unbuttoned his shirt, exposing a delightfully hairy chest, toned stomach, and deep hip lines that made Genji’s mouth water. Jesse shrugged out of the shirt, and the muscles of his arms and shoulders rippled in a way that should have been illegal. Genji gaped at him for a moment before regaining his composure, and Jesse definitely noticed. “Like what you see?” he teased.

“Shut up,” Genji said petulantly. Jesse unzipped his jeans and stepped out of them with a self-satisfied grin. Out of courtesy, Genji didn’t let his eyes linger on the imprint of his dick at the front of his red boxer briefs, but one glance answered his curiosity: Jesse was packing some serious heat. Fuck. Long, thickly muscled legs carried the cowboy toward the pool, and Genji’s heart raced. “Took you long enough,” he teased, and Jesse bent down to flick water at him as he waded in.

“You were right, the water is nice,” Jesse sighed. He approached Genji, who drifted over and stood up to embrace him. The skin-to-skin contact was electrifying, and Genji hoped Jesse couldn’t feel him shiver.

“See? This was a good idea,” Genji said. Jesse’s arms wrapped around him and he rocked them gently. Genji’s eyes closed and he relaxed against Jesse.

“Yeah, yeah,” Jesse murmured. “Now I can see how you always get what you want. It’s hard to say no to you.”

“So I hear,” Genji said cheekily.

“Psh. Don’t get too many ideas,” Jesse laughed softly, kissing his temple. Genji couldn’t help blushing again. All of Jesse’s touches were so intimate and sweet, unlike the hurried, lustful gestures he was used to. It threw him off his game entirely. He was used to having his partners wrapped around his little finger, but right now, if Jesse said jump, he would ask how high.

“I have the feeling you’ve got the same ideas as me,” Genji said, his hand moving to Jesse’s hip.

“Yeah? And what ideas are those?” Jesse asked, his rough hands running up and down Genji’s waist and lighting up every nerve in his body.

“Kiss me,” Genji murmured, leaning in close. That was all the direction Jesse needed before capturing Genji’s lips in a searing kiss. Hotter, more passionate than anything they’d shared in the barn. There was nobody to find them now, nobody to tell them how to spend their time. The moment was theirs.

They stumbled to the shallows, and Jesse pulled Genji down to lay against the cool rock at the water’s edge. His larger, stronger body bore down on Genji’s, and Genji thought he might faint away. He kissed Jesse urgently, trying to convey to him just how strongly he felt for him, how he never wanted this moment to end.

“Honey,” Jesse breathed when they finally parted. Genji was hopelessly wrapped around him, legs trapping Jesse’s own in place.

“Yeah?” he panted, gazing up at Jesse. Was something wrong? His brow furrowed.

“Can I touch you?” Jesse asked, and Genji felt a jolt straight through his body to his groin.

“Please-” he said quickly, and that was all the permission Jesse needed, for he reached down and gripped Genji’s erection through his thin, wet trunks. Genji’s breath hitched, and his eyes fluttered shut. “Hah-” He remembered what Jesse had said about his touch not being delicate, and it rang true, but his touch was far from unrefined. Every ministration seemed designed to unravel Genji at his core, and soon, he was moaning and arching his back, seeking more.

“Feel good, honey?” Jesse asked, voice low and husky, right in his ear. Genji could only whimper and nod as Jesse increased his pace. “Not used to someone taking care of you?”

“Not really,” Genji said breathlessly.

“I’m gonna change that for you, if you let me,” Jesse purred. Genji could only rock his hips into the delicious friction provided by Jesse’s hand.

“Please,” Genji urged. Jesse kissed his ear, and Genji moaned shamelessly. He was putty in kJesse’s hands, and though he was usually the one in charge, he was more than happy to surrender himself to the wonderful man above him.

“Can I take your briefs off?” Jesse asked, and Genji nodded urgently.

“Yeah,” he said quickly, and Jesse chuckled, kissing his neck as he freed Genji from the confines of his underwear. To Genji’s absolute delight, Jesse relinquished his own boxer briefs as well, freeing his mouthwateringly thick cock.

“Can I-” Jesse began.

“Yeah- come here,” Genji urged, and Jesse slotted their hips together, grinding against Genji in the most intoxicating way. God, yes. Genji tossed his head back and moaned, not at all concerned with appearances. Why would he be? It was Jesse. He could trust Jesse. He could be exactly who he was around Jesse.

“Darlin’,” Jesse gasped. He rolled his hips in a slow, deliberate rhythm, and Genji closed his eyes in bliss. The water made the slide of their cocks all the more marvelous. Little gasps and feathery moans escaped Genji as Jesse worked his magic, and Jesse began to stroke his hair gently.

“That’s it,” Jesse purred. “Let me hear you, honey…” He picked up his pace, and Genji groaned, reaching down to grab a handful of Jesse’s perfect ass. The hot sun was rising in the sky now, and a bead of sweat rolled down Jesse’s temple as he moved.

“Fuck,” Genji breathed. “I’m gonna-” Jesse’s only response was to move even faster, rubbing Genji just right, until he was arching his back and spilling between them. Jesse kissed his cheek, his ear, his temple, and slowed his hips as Genji rode out his orgasm. Genji clung to him, panting heavily, and Jesse slowed to a stop.

“There you go,” Jesse said sweetly into his ear.
“I usually last longer than that,” Genji said breathlessly. Jesse laughed softly and cradled Genji’s face in his hands, kissing his forehead reverently.

“We’ll have plenty of chances, sugar,” Jesse reassured him. Genji lay back for another moment, catching his breath while Jesse planted kisses all over his face. The cool water washing over his hips was an immense relief from the heat rushing through his body, and Jesse’s body covering him made him feel blissfully secure.

“Did you..?” Genji asked. Jesse shook his head.

“Naw, I said I’d take care of you, so don’t worry about it,” he said. Genji frowned, and pushed Jesse to sit up.

“No way, here, you lay back now,” Genji instructed. Jesse’s eyes lit up slightly, and he lay down on the shore as he was told. “Unless you don’t want me to?”

“No, no, if you wanna, then be my guest,” Jesse said, smiling wide. Genji took a moment just to take in the sight beneath him, Jesse laid out and glistening with water droplets, his large cock laying heavy against his stomach… Genji had to get his mouth on that. A lesser man would be intimidated by Jesse’s size, but not him. He bowed his head, and lifted Jesse’s flushed length to his lips. “Darlin’-” Jesse choked. Genji glanced up at him.

“Yes?” he asked, his tone mischievous.

“N-nothin’, just didn’t expect…” Jesse trailed off. Genji’s tongue darted out and swiped across the tip of his cock, and Jesse sucked in a breath.

“Now I get to take care of you,” Genji hummed. He dove down, and before Jesse could blink, Genji’s mouth was halfway down his shaft, the back of his throat contracting around the head in ways that made his toes curl. Genij wasted no time dragging his tongue back up his cock, swirling it around the sensitive tip, and sinking back down even further than before. With his size, there was no way Genji could take him all, but already he was doing more than most could manage.

Genji couldn’t help but feel smug as Jesse whimpered and fought to keep his hips still. He knew he was a natural at giving head, and he had been itching to demonstrate that to Jesse for a while now. Genji pulled back and sucked greedily at the soft head, laving his tongue over the slit.

“Genji-” Jesse gasped, and Genji looked up at him with a half-lidded gaze. Jesse’s face was flushed, his usual easygoing expression was gone and replaced with a daze of pleasure. Genji sunk down as far as he could again, and Jesse let out the most satisfying moan Genji had ever heard. He bobbed his head faster, and cupped Jesse’s balls, rolling them in his hand as he worked him over, and before long Jesse was near shouting his name. “Genji- Genji I’m close-” Jesse said hurriedly.

“Mmm,” was Genji’s only response. He kept at it, and within moments, Jesse’s hips were stuttering as he came down Genji’s throat. Genji swallowed with ease, and suckled gently at his tip until Jesse hurriedly tapped his shoulder.

“T-too sensitive,” Jesse whimpered, and Genji pulled back with a satisfied grin. He licked his lips again just for show, and Jesse lay back again, going limp against the rocky shore and staring up at the sky.

“Feel good?” Genji asked smugly.

“What do you think?” Jesse chuckled. He sounded exhausted. Genji laughed and lay down next to him. “I said I’d take care of you but shit, honey… my whole body’s tingling.” Genji took Jesse’s hand in his own, and squeezed gently.

“I’d say we took pretty good care of each other,” Genji said, closing his eyes. The water washing over his legs was so relaxing, and the sun was warm on his chest. He could easily fall asleep here with Jesse in post-coital bliss.

“So much for swimming,” Jesse said.

“Yeah, we didn’t really do that, did we?” Genji laughed.

“I think this was better,” said Jesse.

“Mmmhmm.” Genji agreed. They lay there for a while longer, just coming down from their high, until Jesse finally sat up.

“I don’t know about you, but I’m starving now,” he said. Genji sat up and stretched. He glanced down at himself, and realized he was still slightly messy from earlier, so he splashed some water on his abdomen before standing.

“Yeah, I could definitely eat. What did you bring for us?” he asked.

“Spicy chicken sandwiches,” Jesse said. He walked over to Peacekeeper, and produced two plastic containers from her saddlebags. He handed one to Genji, who sat down on a nearby boulder. He grimaced as his bare ass made contact with the sandy surface.

“Ugh. Should have put pants on first,” he groaned. Jesse laughed, and sat down beside him, also still naked.

“We can just get in the water again after we eat. Maybe do some actual swimming,” he suggested. Genji smiled.

“Yeah, that sounds good,” he said. He opened the container Jesse had given him, and took out one of the neatly cut sandwiches inside. They smelled delicious, and Genji wondered if Jesse’s mom had made them or if Jesse had done it himself. Just as he was about to take the first bite, Jesse spoke again:

“D’you wanna go steady with me?” Genji’s eyes went wide and he nearly dropped his sandwich.

“Like, be your boyfriend?” he choked. Jesse blushed lightly, and glanced away.

“Yeah… no pressure, just-”

“Yes,” Genji cut in. Relief visibly washed over Jesse. “Definitely. Hell yes. I just wasn’t sure if you wanted to since I’m only here for the summer, and I’m so much younger, and all that.”

“We can make it work,” Jesse said, smiling brightly enough to rival the hot sun above them. “I just like you an awful lot. I mean, every minute I spend with you, I’m havin’ a great time, so…”

“It’s the same for me,” Genji said eagerly. “I’ve pretty much had a huge crush on you since I met you.”

“Really?” Jesse asked, leaning in to peck Genji on the lips. He laughed gently, low and warm, and Genji felt his chest tighten. Boyfriend. He had a boyfriend, a beautiful, wonderful, charming, sweet boyfriend who cared for him. As Jesse pulled back, Genji chased his lips, kissing him deeply. Jesse hummed, and melted into the contact.

“Yes really,” Genji giggled when they parted. “You’re really okay with doing long distance when I have to go back?”

“Sure I am,” Jesse assured him. “You think there’s any way you could come back next summer? Or at least for part of it?”

“Definitely,” Genji said without hesitation. “Not only would I get to see you, but I’d probably earn some serious brownie points with my dad if I offered to help Ichiro again.”

“Well, by this time next year, we might have moved east a little,” Jesse said, his expression sobering.

“What? Why?” Genji asked. “Your mom isn’t thinking of selling the farm, is she?”

“She might have to,” Jesse sighed. “The other day, the owner of those horses we’ve been boardin’ came by and took ‘em back. Said we won’t see a cent of what we were promised for taking care of ‘em. We were kinda counting on that to stay afloat, and-”

“How much were you supposed to get for that?” Genji interrupted. Jesse shook his head.

“Don’t you worry about it, hon,” he said, forcing a smile. “Really, we’ve got a backup plan, my aunt said we can stay with her for a while. It’s not like we’ll end up on the streets, we’ll just have to downsize.”

“And sell the horses?” Genji asked.

“Well… yeah.” Jesse glanced sadly at Peacekeeper. Genji shook his head.

“How much do you need? Seriously, if I ask my dad- you’ve helped my uncle probably more than I have, I’m sure he’d help you out,” he urged. Jesse hesitated before speaking.

“About six grand,” he said. Genji bit his lip. Asking his father for six thousand dollars might be a bit of a reach. But if it was to help someone, then maybe there was a chance. It couldn’t hurt to ask.

“I’ll talk to my dad,” Genji said. Jesse’s eyes shone, and Genji wasn’t sure if it was just the light or if he actually had tears in his eyes.

“It’d mean a lot to me, I don’t expect nothin’, but the farm means a lot to me, and more to ma, so… thank you,” he said quietly. Genji smiled reassuringly.

“Of course,” he said. “I’ll call him tonight. But for now, do you wanna get back in the water? I have so much sand on my ass.” Jesse cracked a smile.

“Sure, honey. Whatever you wanna do,” he said, popping the remainder of his sandwich into his mouth. Genji abandoned his own sandwich on the rock, and waded into the water with Jesse. They made their way to the center of the lagoon, where the water was deepest, and Jesse embraced him tenderly. Genji rested his head on Jesse’s chest, and they rocked gently back and forth as the water flowed around their bare bodies. The sun was high in the sky now, but it wasn’t what warmed Genji to his core. He was certain now; what he felt for Jesse could only be love.

Chapter Text

“Absolutely not,” Sojiro said with finality through the receiver. Genji’s heart sank. “You have demonstrated to me that you cannot be trusted with my money. If you recall, you spent your last semester’s textbook money on-”

“A party bus, I know , I’m sorry!” Genji huffed, flopping backwards on his bed. “That wasn’t even my idea, my friends all know I’m from a rich family so they ask me for stuff.”

“Then you need to set them straight and tell them it is not your money to spend,” Sojiro said sternly. 

“But Jesse actually needs help,” Genji reasoned. “He’s going to lose his house if I don’t help him.”

“You mean if I don’t help him,” Sojiro said dryly. 

“It’s not like I have six thousand dollars,” Genji pleaded. “Dad, please, he’s a really good guy. He helps uncle Ichiro just as much as I do, and he doesn’t even get paid for it. He doesn’t deserve this!”

“Genji, my answer is no. Six thousand is no small amount of money. I am sorry for your friend, but I am not a bank you can simply take from whenever you see fit. You should not have gotten his hopes up by telling him you would ask me,” Sojiro lectured. Genji rolled his eyes emphatically. 

“Okay,” he said sullenly. “But you know you can afford it. You could help him but you just aren’t.”

“Genji,” Sojiro warned. 

“I’ll talk to you later, Dad,” Genji said. He didn’t even wait for his father to respond before hanging up the call. His stomach was in knots at the thought of going back to Jesse empty-handed. He thought of how at home Jesse was in the countryside, how much he loved farm life. It wasn’t fair. There had to be something Genji could do to help. 

He got up and walked to the kitchen, where his uncle was chopping vegetables for dinner. 

“Hey Genji,” Ichiro said amiably. “What’s wrong? You look like you’ve got something on your mind.”

“Ichiro, how much money are you paying me at the end of the summer?” Genji asked. 

“Oh, I never told you? What I discussed with your dad was twenty-five hundred,” Ichiro replied. Genji bit his lip. Nowhere near enough, then. 

“Okay, thanks. I just wanted to know,” he said. There was no way he could ask for more than that. Ichiro wasn’t rich like his father, and Genji didn’t want to look greedy or ungrateful.

“How was your date? You went straight to your room when you got home, so I didn’t get the chance to ask,” Ichiro said, scraping the vegetables into a pan. 

“It was great,” Genji said, perking up a little at the thought. “He took me out to a little private waterfall in a canyon, and we went swimming and had lunch.”

“Sounds like a great time,” Ichiro hummed. “I’ve been to that waterfall. It’s a romantic spot.”

“He asked me to be his boyfriend,” Genji continued, a smile spreading on his face. 

“And? What did you say?” Ichiro asked knowingly. 

“I said yes, of course,” said Genji. Ichiro smiled brightly.

“Well, congratulations,” Ichiro said, patting him on the shoulder. “I’m very happy you’ve found a reason to enjoy your time here. I was worried you would be miserable the whole summer.”

“Yeah, so was I,” Genji laughed. “No offense.”

“None taken,” Ichiro hummed. “Will you saute the veggies for me while I tenderize the steaks?” He stepped back from the pan, and Genji took his place. 

“Sure thing,” he agreed, quickly becoming lost in thought as he pushed the vegetables around the pan. There had to be another way for him to raise the money. Three thousand, five hundred was a little more attainable than six thousand. And he was free in the evenings, he could theoretically pick up a second job…

Genji’s phone blipped. He pulled it out with one hand, and smiled at the screen. 

Jesse <3: miss you already sugar

Genji set the spatula down for a moment to type out a quick reply. 

Genji Shimada: You’ll see me tomorrow! But today was amazing <3

Jesse <3: can’t believe you’re my beau

Genji’s heart fluttered. Jesse was so cute and old fashioned. The sizzling in the pan grew louder, and Genji quickly pocketed his phone to continue stirring the veggies. 

---

That night, Genji stayed up late perusing job apps. One posting stood out to him: a server at a steakhouse. Genji knew he was good with people, and a more expensive restaurant would mean bigger tips. If he played his cards right, he might just be able to raise enough money to help Jesse by the end of the summer. He quickly built a profile on the app, and clicked ‘apply’. 

Even if he did get another job though, he doubted he could hide it from Jesse. He knew that if his boyfriend found out, he would feel guilty that Genji was going to such lengths for his sake. However, suddenly being much less available and refusing to explain why would probably hurt Jesse’s feelings. He would have to mull it over. 

In the morning, when Genji made his way out to the barn, Jesse was already there waiting for him with a warm smile. “Howdy, gorgeous,” Jesse greeted, and Genji couldn’t help but laugh. He opened his arms as he approached the cowboy, and Jesse wrapped him up in a tight bear hug. 

“Morning,” Genji said brightly, kissing Jesse on the cheek. “Hope you didn’t miss me too much.” Jesse chuckled, and gave Genji a peck on the lips. 

“Oh you know, I’ve been wasting away without you,” Jesse joked. They parted, and Jesse opened the barn door so they could begin their chores. 

“You poor thing. Well I’m here now,” Genji laughed. Then his expression sobered. “By the way… I talked to my dad.” Hope flickered across Jesse’s handsome features. 

“Yeah?” he asked, sounding almost nervous. 

“I asked him about the money,” Genji began. “He told me he doesn’t trust me with his money, especially that much. I tried to tell him it wasn’t for me, but he wouldn’t budge… I’m sorry Jesse.” Jesse hid his disappointment well, but Genji could see in his eyes that he was let down. 

“I didn’t figure he’d want to give up 6 grand for a total stranger,” Jesse said calmly. “It was a long shot. But it was still real sweet of you to ask, hon. Thank you.” He lifted a full sack of chicken feed onto his shoulder, and Genji couldn’t even bring himself to ogle him. 

“Ichiro says he’s giving me twenty-five hundred at the end of the summer, though,” said Genji. Jesse’s eyes widened. “It’s all yours. I don’t need it, it would have just been fun money anyway.”

“What? No- Genji, I can’t take your pay for the whole summer. That ain’t right,” Jesse protested. He dropped the feed on the ground and opened the bag. Genji went to the coop and opened the door, freeing the chickens from inside. 

“It’s my money, and that’s what I want to spend it on,” Genji said insistently. 

“Sugar…” Jesse looked away. “Are you really sure about that?”

“I’m sure,” Genji promised. He walked over and hugged Jesse again, and his boyfriend’s arms wrapped tightly around him. 

“You’re too good to me, Genji,” Jesse murmured, voice barely above a whisper. “Means a lot to me.” Genji rubbed his back reassuringly. 

“Do you want to know why my dad doesn’t trust me with money anymore?” Genji asked, a hint of mischief in his voice. Jesse nodded against his shoulder. “Last time he cut me a check, it was for textbooks. I may have spent it renting a party bus for my friends instead.” Jesse snorted, and shook with quiet laughter. 

“You would do that,” Jesse remarked. 

“I would and I did. It was awesome. My dad was pissed though. My dumb friends tagged me in all the photos, so of course he found out. I half expected him to show up at my dorm and

drag me home the next day,” Genji giggled. 

“You’re lucky he didn’t,” Jesse laughed along with him. 

“I know. But the moral of the story is, I don’t need two thousand five hundred dollars, because I would probably just do something even dumber with it if I had it. So don’t feel bad, okay?” Jesse gave him a squeeze. 

“Thanks, honey,” Jesse said, looking into his eyes. Genji smiled brightly, and leaned up to kiss his boyfriend gently on the lips. 

“Don’t worry about it,” Genji hummed. “We’d better get to work though, I know my uncle can see us from the house if he looks.”

“Right,” Jesse said, pulling back and straightening his hat. The two of them set about their daily chores, settling into the easy routine they had built over the weeks they had been working together. And predictably, they took plentiful smooch breaks. 

After they finished with their work, Jesse slipped his hand into Genji’s back pocket, and leaned in close to his ear. “Come by my barn around 8 tonight, if you wanna spend more time together,” he said, voice low and sweet. Genji blushed lightly. 

“You can count on it,” he said, not bothering to hide his excitement. 

“Then I’ll see you later, honey,” Jesse said, tipping his hat with a wink. Genji laughed, and gave Jesse one last peck on the lips before starting toward the farmhouse. 

“Later, cowboy,” he called behind him as they passed each other. He headed back to the house, and made a beeline for the shower as usual, but when he took off his jeans, something small and silver fell out of his back pocket. Had Jesse slipped something in there earlier? Genji bent down to pick it up, and his face bloomed red when he realized what it was. Jesse had given him a condom. And not just any condom, but an XL condom, undoubtedly a perfect fit for Jesse. 

Genji quickly hid it in his pocket again, his mind racing as he stepped into the shower. The message was clear, and Genji couldn’t keep from becoming hard at the thought. Jesse wanted to have sex, and not only that, but he obviously intended to top. Genji turned the water temperature down a little. Fuck. The image of Jesse’s naked body was clear in his mind from yesterday, and just the thought of having that big cock inside him was making Genji sweat. And Jesse was so smooth about it too, that sly cowboy! Slipping him a condom and waiting for him to find it and bring it to him. Genji desperately wanted to touch himself right then, but he willed himself to wait. He was sure Jesse would take good care of him later. 

Waiting for 8 PM to roll around was pure torture for Genji. He pestered a few friends, but nobody replied, so he pestered Hanzo instead. 

Genji Shimada: Hanzo guess what?

Asshole: You mailed out my jeans, finally?

Genji Shimada: No, I keep forgetting. 

Asshole: Then what do you want?

Genji rolled his eyes at the screen. Hanzo was in a mood apparently. 

Genji Shimada: I’m dating the cowboy!

Asshole: Congratulations. 

Genji Shimada: You don’t sound very excited for me :p

Asshole: Just keep in mind that this summer is going to end. I don’t want to see you get your heart broken.

Genji scoffed. Like Hanzo cared about that. He was probably just looking for a reason to lecture him. 

Genji Shimada: We talked about it already. We’re going to try the long distance thing. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll survive.

Asshole: If you’re sure. 

Asshole: Do you have a picture of him? 

Genji quickly pulled up a photo of Jesse he had taken, and sent it along. 

Asshole: Alright. I concede. I would have a hard time letting go of a man like that too.

Genji couldn’t help laughing to himself. He and Hanzo had always had the same taste in guys, it was part of how he figured out his brother was gay before Hanzo had even admitted it to himself. 

Genji Shimada: I told you. He’s got way more than just looks, too. He’s the sweetest guy. He called me his beau today.

Asshole: Wow. That’s… actually pretty cute.

Genji Shimada: Not to mention he’s hung as fuck. 

Asshole: Genji I swear to god, if you tell me one more detail about your sex life I will mail you a live crocodile.

Genji laid back on his bed, laughing even harder. Hanzo was so fun to bother. He kind of missed having him around. Huh… he really just thought that, didn’t he?

Genji Shimada: That’s not really a threat, but okay. 

Asshole: I have to go for now, dinner is ready. 

Genji Shimada: Okay, seeya.

Genji stared at the ceiling, bored again. It really was nice to talk to Hanzo now and then. During his first year of school, they didn’t really communicate much, both being so busy. Genji was on the go so often, he didn’t really think about his brother much at the time, but now he was realizing that he actually missed talking to him. Maybe he would make more of an effort to stay in touch with Hanzo from now on. 

To pass the rest of the time until his meeting with Jesse, Genji played his favorite farming simulator on his Switch. Ironic how much he enjoyed it considering what he spent every day doing. It was just so easy to become immersed in pixelated small town life. 

Finally, after what felt like ages, 7:30 rolled around. Genji saved his game, shut off his Switch, and set about getting ready. He shouldn’t wear Hanzo’s pants on his way to get laid, but they really did make his ass look amazing. He just wouldn’t tell Hanzo, he thought as he set them aside. For the shirt, definitely a cropped tank top. He picked out a peach colored one, and set it on top of the pants. Flip-flops would work, for easy removal, and he could forgo accessories. And as for the underwear, Genji picked out a pair of snug pink boyshorts. He stripped out of his loungewear and started to get dressed, smiling at his reflection as his look came together. He looked sexy. The tank top stretched tight across his pecs, and Hanzo’s pants really did look fantastic on him. After pocketing the condom Jesse had gifted him, Genji tousled his hair a little, not bothering with gel in case Jesse wanted to play with it. He felt a stirring in his gut at the thought. Tonight was going to be amazing.

The whole way to Jesse’s barn, Genji felt like he was walking on air. He couldn’t recall a time when he’d been this excited to sleep with someone. Jesse just did things to him. As he approached, the upper story window of the barn swung open, and Jesse leaned out. 

“Hey sugar!” Jesse called. A smile spread across Genji’s face. 

“What are you doing up there?” Genji laughed. 

“Waiting for my date to arrive,” Jesse said as if it were obvious. “There’s a ladder in the barn, you should come up.” Genji opened the barn door, and blinked in surprise. There were dim electric lanterns scattered around the barn, giving it quite a romantic atmosphere, for a barn. Genji closed the door behind him, and started to climb the ladder. Above him, Jesse shut the heavy wooden shutters of the window, leaving them in darkness except for the lantern light. Genji climbed up into the hayloft, and Jesse greeted him with a kiss on the lips. 

“I got your present,” Genji giggled, pulling the condom from his pocket. Jesse took it back from him, and led Genji by the hand to the corner of the hayloft. He had arranged the hay bales into what looked like a bed, covered in woven blankets and surrounded by flickering artificial candles. Genji blushed darkly, Jesse had clearly put a lot of work into this. 

“Hope it wasn’t too presumptuous of me, darlin’,” said Jesse. “If you want, we can just snuggle. Maybe open the window and watch the stars come out.” Genji leaned up and kissed him firmly, determination in his eyes. 

“That sounds great too, but I definitely want to have sex,” he said bluntly. He could see Jesse’s cheeks darken, even in the dim light. 

“Well,” Jesse laughed, pulling Genji into a hug. “Alright then- let’s do that.” Genji chuckled and kissed him again, deeper. They shuffled toward the makeshift bed. 

“Masters of seduction, aren’t we?” Genji teased as he moved to lay on his back, arms framing his head. Jesse’s rough hand slid up his shirt, and his pulse raced. 

“Hey, I thought the condom was pretty seductive,” Jesse defended. Genji arched up into Jesse’s touch as his thumb brushed against a nipple. 

“Mmm, yeah, okay. That was good,” Genji admitted. Jesse’s response was to ruck up his shirt and latch onto Genji’s nipple with his mouth. Genji moaned, his chest had always been sensitive, and the gentle scratch of Jesse’s beard was perfect against his bare skin. “Fuck,” he breathed. Jesse hummed, and his large hands roamed Genji’s body freely. Genji wiggled his hips as Jesse felt up his thighs, desperate to have his (Hanzo’s) pants off so he could feel Jesse’s skin on his. 

“You’re so responsive already,” Jesse murmured, kissing the center of his chest. “I can’t wait to see what you’re like in a few minutes.” Genji’s breath caught in his throat, and he wove his fingers into Jesse’s thick hair. 

“Shit,” was all he managed to say, and Jesse chuckled, a low rumble next to his heart. He undid Genji’s jeans, and Genji lifted his hips to help him get them off. 

“The pink underwear’s cute,” Jesse commented, moving down to kiss just above his waistband. Genji couldn’t stop himself from giggling a little, he was ticklish on his stomach. Jesse smiled up at him adoringly as he tugged the borrowed jeans off of Genji. “You’re damn cute too,” he added. 

“Aren’t I?” Genji said cheekily. Jesse smirked, and started tickling his waist. “No!” Genji shrieked, curling up on himself.

“Adorable,” Jesse laughed heartily. 

“This is not seductive!” Genji protested, trying to wriggle away from Jesse’s tormenting hands. After a moment, Jesse had mercy on him and stopped, leaning down to kiss Genji’s thighs instead. “Rude,” Genji huffed, out of breath. 

“Sorry sugar pie, couldn’t resist,” Jesse said. Genji folded his arms, pouting, but he couldn’t hold the expression for long before a smile crept onto his face. 

“I’m gonna get you back when you least expect it,” he said. His body relaxed, and Jesse continued kissing at his inner thighs. 

“I deserve that,” Jesse said agreeably. “But I’ll make it up to you. Can I take these off?” He hooked his fingers into the waistband of Genji’s trunks, and Genji nodded. Jesse slid them down and off, and Genji finished removing his tank top. The air was warm against his bare skin, and the blankets beneath him were soft and comforting. Jesse resumed kissing his thighs, mouth moving closer and closer to Genji’s half-hard cock each time. 

“You’re so beautiful,” Jesse murmured against his skin. He kissed up the length of Genji’s shaft, eliciting little gasps with each press of his lips. Soon, he was fully erect, fluid beading at the tip, and just as he thought Jesse was going to take him into his mouth, his boyfriend sat up. Genji frowned, about to comment on Jesse being a tease, but his attitude changed when he heard the cap of a bottle of lube click open. 

“Hey, you’re still dressed,” Genji said, though his heart was pounding in his chest. Jesse spread the lube on his fingers, and Genji shivered in anticipation of having them inside him. 

“Heh, I guess I forgot. I was too busy focusing on you,” Jesse admitted. 

“Here, let me get the buttons for you,” Genji offered, sitting up to start opening Jesse’s flannel shirt. Jesse kissed his neck gently as he worked each button open. 

“I can’t wait to be in you, baby,” Jesse whispered in his ear. Genji’s breath audibly hitched, and he caught Jesse’s lips in a heated kiss. Somewhere along the way, one of them managed to get Jesse’s shirt the rest of the way off, and Genji ended up on his back again. He eagerly lifted his legs, and Jesse kissed the inside of his knee. 

“Aah-” Genji breathed as Jesse’s finger breached him. He willed his body to relax at the intrusion. It had been a bit since he’d done this last, but he was determined to take all of Jesse. 

“Mmm, honey,” Jesse purred, lifting Genji’s leg onto his shoulder and kissing along his muscular calf. “You look so good right now. Wish I could take a picture.”

“You can if you want,” Genji said. “I know you won’t go showing it around.” Jesse’s eyes widened. 

“Really?” he asked in disbelief.

“Yeah, take as many as you want,” said Genji. Jesse reached for his phone with his free hand, and his hand trembled slightly as he lined Genji up in the frame. Genji tilted his jaw, his lips parted slightly, and he heard the shutter sound once, twice, three times. Jesse set his phone aside and let out a shaky breath. 

“You’re so gorgeous,” Jesse said reverently. “How’d I end up as your boyfriend?” 

“I have a weakness for cowboys- ohhh,” Genji cut himself off with a lascivious moan as Jesse slid another finger into him and curled them. 

“I’m gonna treat you so right tonight,” Jesse continued, pistoning his fingers in and out of Genji’s body. Genji gripped the blankets above his head, sighing in satisfaction. 

“Tell me more,” Genji encouraged. Jesse nipped at his thigh, and spread his fingers, dragging another moan from Genji’s throat. 

“Mmm… once I’ve got you all nice and open for me, I’ll slide all the way in, nice and deep,” Jesse continued. He slipped a third finger in alongside the first two. Genji arched his back needily. “Give it to you however you want, whether that be sweet and slow, or hard and rough, whatever you need, sugar.”

“Nothing wrong with a little of both” Genji said, feeling his face heat up at Jesse’s words. 

“Alright,” Jesse hummed. “And I know you’re flexible, so maybe I’ll put your other leg up on my shoulder, and really give it to you, does that sound nice?”

“Mmhm,” Genji agreed, voice bordering on a whimper. Suddenly, Jesse’s fingers were gone, and Genji could feel his hole clench around nothing. Thankfully, Jesse had already rolled the condom on and shucked his jeans and boxers around his thighs while Genji was lost in the moment. He felt the broad head of Jesse’s cock press against his pliant entrance, and he wiggled his hips impatiently. 

“Ready, gorgeous?” Jesse asked gently, and Genji looked up at him with a soft expression. Jesse always asked. He always made sure Genji was happy, every step of the way. 

“Yeah,” Genji said. “Go ahead.” Jesse rocked forward, pressing into Genji at a maddeningly slow pace. Inch by inch, it felt like forever before Jesse’s hips met Genji’s thighs. As soon as he bottomed out, they both sighed in unison. Genji felt marvelously, overwhelmingly full, and from Jesse’s expression, his boyfriend was experiencing a similar level of pleasure. 

“Fuck,” Jesse said through his teeth. 

“Feel good?” Genji asked, his eyes hazy with lust. 

“Heavely, sugar,” Jesse said honestly. He planted another kiss on Genji’s calf, and drew back. Slowly, he started to rock his hips, and Genji’s head fell back. The angle provided by Jesse holding one of his legs up on his shoulder was mindblowing already, and they had only just started. 

The mood lighting, the soft, cozy blankets beneath him, and Jesse’s gorgeous form above him… Genji’s senses were inundated with pure romantic bliss. He moaned unabashed as Jesse rocked into him in a steady rhythm. This was nothing like the quick fucks he’d had in dorm rooms, with sleeping roommates only a few yards away. Nothing like sucking off a stranger in the alley behind a club. This was thousands of times better. He felt cared for, for once. 

“Harder,” he urged Jesse. He wanted to feel this tomorrow. Walk with a reminder of Jesse’s touch affecting every step. Work be damned. 

“Your wish is my command, honey,” Jesse purred. He slammed his hips forward, and Genji gasped, his back arching off the bed as Jesse nailed a sensitive spot deep inside him. 

“Yes-” he choked, and Jesse chuckled as he drove in deep again. Genji’s eyes rolled back, and he grasped at the blankets for some kind of stability. Jesse’s new rhythm was quick, strong, and overwhelming, and Genji was just hanging on for the ride. True to his word, Jesse lifted Genji’s other leg onto his shoulder, and his next thrust hit an even deeper place inside him. “Fuck- Jesse,” he whimpered. His usual chatty demeanor during sex was gone, knocked out of him, even. Not only was the sensation immense, but the sentiment, the care that was placed into this setup had him speechless. 

"You're so good honey, so good," Jesse breathed. "So gorgeous-" Jesse's strong thighs drove his hips home with perfect precision, sending his cock deep inside Genji in the most delicious way. He felt like he was being stirred up inside. "You flexible, baby?" Jesse asked above him. Genji nodded, and Jesse leaned forward to kiss him, practically folding him in half. His movement didn't stutter for a moment, and Genji was lost in pleasure. 

"Jesse-" he whimpered as their lips parted. 

"Yeah?" Jesse asked, those lusty golden eyes gazing into Genji's deep brown ones. 

"I think I love you-" Genji's face flushed even more than it already was, and Jesse's rhythm stuttered, then. 

"Y'do?" he asked, sounding amazed. 

"Yeah- yeah, I'm not just saying it either, aaahh... I've thought about it a lot-" Genji managed to string together a full sentence. 

“M’close babe,” Jesse breathed, his voice low and rough. Genji could only nod as that thick cock slammed into him again and again, leaving him breathless. Jesse’s thrusts became quicker, more erratic, and Genji whined at each brush against his sensitive prostate. 

“Jesse-” he gasped, as his boyfriend buried himself deep, cock twitching with his release. Genji lay beneath him, hair disheveled and cock hard and flushed against his stomach. 

“I love you too, darlin’,” Jesse said breathlessly. He wasted no time reaching down between them to grip Genji’s cock, wrenching another moan from his throat. 

“Aah,” was all Genji managed to say. His legs jerked against Jesse’s shoulders as his boyfriend skillfully stroked him. “Coming-” He had barely gotten the word out before he was spilling all over Jesse’s hand. Jesse only laughed gently and sat back, lowering Genji’s slightly sore legs down. He moved to pick up a box of tissues he had brought up, and Genji was silently impressed. Jesse really had thought of everything for this little tryst. 

“You okay, sweet thing?” Jesse asked gently as he cleaned himself and Genji up with the tissues. “You’re a little out of breath. I didn’t overdo it, did I?” Genji only laughed. 

“You don’t have to worry about that,” he said, still catching his breath. “I can take whatever you can dish out. That was fantastic.” Jesse smiled and lay down beside him, gathering Genji up in his arms. Genji nuzzled into his neck happily. He was already feeling sleepy. Jesse seemed to be feeling the same, judging by the yawn his partner let out. Jesse pulled a heavy blanket over them, and kissed Genji on the forehead. 

“I hope tonight was special for you, honey,” Jesse said softly. 

“I didn’t even know sex could be like this,” he admitted. Jesse smiled, and kissed the top of his head a few times. 

“I love you,” Jesse murmured. Genji squeezed him tightly. 

“You do?" he asked softly. Nobody had ever said that to him in a romantic context. 

“Yeah,” Jesse said, stroking Genji’s cheek.

“I love you too,” Genji said resolutely. Jesse’s face lit up. “And I don’t care if we have to be long distance for a while. I’ll be back next summer, and the next, and the one after that too.” Jesse smiled brighter than the sun, and kissed him passionately. They kissed for a long while, until both grew sleepy, and eventually settled down to rest. Jesse drifted off first, and Genji gazed at him adoringly. He was starting to think that summer wasn’t just a season, it was a state of mind, and Jesse certainly felt like the sun in his sky. Maybe this summer didn’t have to end after all. 

---

Midway through the night, Genji woke up, needing to use the restroom. He glanced over at Jesse and smiled gently at his lover’s peaceful, sleeping face. He leaned over the side of the makeshift bed to check his phone, and the icon for the job app he had downloaded caught his eye. He clicked the notification, and his eyes widened. 

Hello Genji, we have reviewed your application, and we would like to meet with you for an interview. Would you be available this Monday at 4:00 PM?

Genji nearly dropped his phone in his haste to reply. 

Yes, I will be there, thank you.  

He turned to look at Jesse again, a grin splitting his face. Maybe he could save Jesse’s farm after all.

Chapter Text

“Hey Ichiro, can I borrow your car on Monday around 3:30?” Genji asked his uncle over dinner the following day. Mercifully, Ichiro had not poked fun at him or tried to give him another “talk” following him spending the night with Jesse.

“Sure,” his uncle replied. “Do you have another date planned?”

“Not this time,” said Genji. “It’s a job interview.” Ichiro’s eyes widened.

“What do you need a second job for?” he asked. “Won’t that be hard on you when you already work for me all morning and into the afternoon?”

“I can handle it. I just want a little extra money is all,” Genji said. Ichiro looked skeptical.

“What sort of job is it?” his uncle asked.

“Server at a steakhouse,” Genji replied. “I think I’d be good at it. People like me.”

“I don’t doubt that, but I don’t want you wearing yourself out. And you just started a relationship, I would have thought you’d want to spend that time with Jesse,” Ichiro pressed. Genji sighed.

“There’s a good reason, okay?” he conceded. “Jesse and his mom are gonna have to sell their farm soon if they don’t get 6 grand. I’m already giving them my pay for the summer-”

“Wait, you are? Genji, that’s your money,” Ichiro said, concerned.

“Yeah, so I can give it to them if I want,” Genji said defensively. “I already asked my dad to help them and he said no, so I’m going to.”

“Genji, that’s very kind of you, but-”

“I’m doing it,” Genji insisted. “Jesse and Kasa are good people. They don’t deserve to lose their home, and if I can do something about it, I’m going to.”

“Okay,” Ichiro said hesitantly. “You may use my car for work if you get the job. But please don’t overdo it.”

“Thanks Ichiro,” said Genji. “I can handle it. Don’t worry about me.”

---

The day of Genji’s interview, he found himself at a loss for what to wear. He hadn’t packed any professional looking clothes. Dark jeans should do for pants, and simple converse would suffice for shoes, but he needed a polo or something. He tried on a few of Ichiro’s shirts, but his uncle had a much slighter build than Genji did, especially with the muscle he’d put on recently. He looked utterly ridiculous in his uncle’s clothes, so he texted Jesse.

Genji Shimada: Hey handsome, do you think I could borrow one of your button-ups today?

Jesse <3: sure thing sugar, how come?

Genji bit his lip. He didn’t really want to tell Jesse he was getting another job lest his boyfriend feel guilty, but he didn’t want to lie to him either.

Genji Shimada: I have a job interview today.

Jesse <3: a job interview? what are you doin that for?

Jesse <3: this isnt about my situation is it? honey youre so sweet but you really dont have to do that

Genji Shimada: I know I don’t have to but I know you don’t have time to take another job when you’re working on two farms. I have time, so I’m doing it.

Jesse <3: darling…

Genji Shimada: And before you suggest paying me back later, I don’t need that either. I’m doing this cause I love you.

Jesse <3: i love you too baby. just promise me youll quit if its too much?

Genji Shimada: Don’t worry, I can handle it. I’m on my way over to get a shirt, ok?

Jesse <3: see you in a few, sunshine

Genji pocketed his phone and walked over to Jesse’s house, hoping his boyfriend wouldn’t try to talk him out of it again once he was there. His mind was made up, and he didn’t want Jesse feeling guilty about it. As he approached, he could see Jesse already standing outside waiting for him, and Genji waved.

“Hey you,” Jesse greeted, sweeping him up in a tight hug when he arrived. Genji giggled, he loved being held by those strong arms.

“Hi,” he said brightly. “Did you pick out a shirt for me?”

“I got a few, but I’m bigger than you, so hopefully they don’t look goofy on ya,” Jesse said. “C’mon in hon.” He let go of Genji, and led the way inside.

“Is your mom home?” Genji asked.

“Naw, but you don’t have time to mess around, do you?” Jesse chuckled. Genji blushed.

“That’s not why I was asking,” he said quickly. “I just wanted to ask if you’d told her about the job thing.”

“Oh, heh. Sorry, my mind’s in the gutter I guess. No, I didn’t tell her yet,” Jesse replied.

“Can you please not? I don’t want her feeling bad. I didn’t really want to tell you either, but I didn’t want to lie to you either,” Genji explained. Jesse sighed.

“If you’d rather, I won’t say anything to her,” he agreed, sounding reluctant. “Thanks for being honest with me though, hon. Even if I’m not wild about the idea, I’m glad you told me.”

“It’ll be okay,” Genji reassured him, taking his hand and giving it a squeeze. “It’ll only be for about a month and a half.”

“I know,” Jesse said gently. “But… call it selfish, but I was hopin’ to spend as much time with you as I could for that month and a half.” Genji looked away, guilt jabbing into him. It was true that he would be sacrificing a lot of time with Jesse to do this. But…

“I know it’ll suck not seeing each other as much… I’m sorry,” Genji said. “But this is your home. I want to help you keep it.” Jesse pulled him into another tight hug, and Genji burying his face in his boyfriend’s warm chest, breathing in his comforting scent.

“I dunno what I did to deserve someone like you,” Jesse murmured. “Anything I can do to make this easier on you, just say the word.” Genji gave him a squeeze.

“Even if it’s after work foot rubs?” he joked. Jesse laughed softly, and kissed the top of his head.

“Yeah honey, if you want foot rubs I think I can manage that,” he said. Genji looked up at him and smiled.

“Can I see those shirts now? If I let myself canoodle with you any longer I’ll miss my interview,” he said. Jesse let go, and turned to his bed, where he had three simple button-up shirts laid out. One in forest green with short sleeves, one blue with long sleeves, and one red plaid with short sleeves.

“Here, take your pick sweet thing,” Jesse offered. Genji smiled at the pet name, he loved how creative Jesse got with his romanticisms. He made a beeline for the green shirt, and shed his tank top to try it on. Jesse whistled, and Genji laughed.

“Hey, no time to mess around, remember?” he teased. Jesse chuckled as Genji pulled the shirt on and started buttoning it.

“Doesn’t mean I can’t look at my pretty boyfriend,” Jesse said. Genji blushed lightly, and gently whapped him on the arm.

“Hey, you’re making this difficult,” he whined. “How am I supposed to not make out with you when you say stuff like that?” Jesse laughed harder, and leaned in to kiss him on the temple.

“That shirt actually fits you better than I thought,” he remarked, changing the subject. Genji turned toward the mirror and admired himself. The shirt was a little bit long on him, but he filled it out pretty well.

“Yeah, this’ll work,” he said, satisfied. “Thanks Jesse. I’ll text you and let you know how it goes.”

“You could always just come over afterward. I will need the shirt back, and ma’s not due back until late,” Jesse suggested. Genji grinned, he knew exactly what Jesse was after.

“Alright, you convinced me,” he hummed. “I’ll see you in a bit then.” He turned to face Jesse, and leaned up to peck him on the lips. Jesse chased him for a deeper kiss, and patted him on the shoulder.

“Good luck, baby. You’ll do great,” he said confidently. Genji smiled.

“I know,” he said cheekily. “See you later.” He leaned up for one more kiss before leaving, back to the farmhouse to get the keys from Ichiro.

---

Genji Shimada: So I nailed it. They didn’t even say they’d call me, they just hired me on the spot :)

Jesse <3: thats great honey! congrats

Genji Shimada: I’m on my way back to your place. See you in a few <3

Jesse <3: cant wait to see you hon

Genji smiled at his phone, and pocketed it before starting the car. Jesse was so sweet. He drove back to his boyfriend’s house, and parked the car out front. Jesse was on the porch smoking a cigar when he got out.

“Hey baby, nice job with your interview,” Jesse said warmly. He took a drag of his cigar, and exhaled a cloud of smoke. Normally Genji wasn’t big on smoking, but Jesse made it look attractive somehow.

“Thanks! I start on thursday. I’m a little nervous, I’ve never had a job before that wasn’t for family,” Genji admitted.

“Aw, you’ll do great,” Jesse said with a wave of his hand. He stubbed out his cigar on one of the deck posts, which looked like it had seen many days of cigars in its time. “You wanna come in?”

“Mhm,” Genji hummed, following Jesse into the house.

“Ma still won’t be home for a while, you should let me congratulate ya,” Jesse said, turning around to wink at him. Genji’s cock stirred in his pants.

“Yeah, I could be talked into that,” he said as they entered Jesse’s room. Jesse shut and locked the door, just in case, and started to take off his boots. “What have you got in mind?”

“I’ll show ya,” Jesse said with a grin. “Cmon, let’s get you outta those clothes. Seeing you in my shirt is awful nice though.” Genji didn’t need any more convincing to start stripping out of his interview attire. Jesse took his time undoing his own shirt and shrugging it off, and he was still working on his belt buckle by the time Genji was naked, laying back on his bed with his flushed cock hard against his belly.

“Hurry up,” Genji teased. Jesse stuck his tongue out, stepping out of his jeans. Genji’s mouth watered at the sight of Jesse’s dick straining at the front of his underwear, remembering how wonderful it had felt inside him the other night. Jesse shed his boxers, and Genji was highly tempted to get on his knees, but Jesse had other things in mind, it seemed.

“Turn over onto your stomach, baby,” Jesse instructed. Genji did as he was told, and Jesse took two handfuls of his ass, massaging and just appreciating his body. Genji shivered when Jesse spread him open, exposing his hole Jesse’s gaze. And then he felt Jesse shift on the bed behind him, and he was about to turn and look when he felt Jesse’s tongue drag over his hole.

“Haah-” Genji breathed. “Jesse-” He felt his face growing hot. Nobody had ever done this to him before, and it felt simulateously taboo and very intimate. Jesse swirled his tongue around Genji’s entrance, dragging more little sounds out of him. Genji hid his face in his arms as Jesse’s tongue worked past the tight ring of muscle and into his body. So dirty- but it felt so marvelous.

Jesse seemed perfectly happy to eat him out for as long as Genji let him, but the stimulation, while amazing, wasn’t quite enough. “Jesse,” Genji urged, lifting his hips a little. “Touch me-” Jesse hummed against his ass, tongue flicking in and out, and reached around to grip Genji’s leaking cock. The moan that came out of him at the contact was so desperate, he had to hide his face again in embarrassment. Genji had never been loud in bed, but Jesse just did things to him that no other partner had managed before.

“Close,” Genji whimpered, only a few minutes into the onslaught of Jesse’s tongue paired with his hand. Jesse pressed his tongue in deeper, jerking him faster, and Genji cried out in pleasure as he stained the woven blankets beneath him. Jesse sat back, wiped his mouth, and grinned brightly.

“Damn, honey,” Jesse purred. Genji rolled onto his back, chest heaving with the intensity of his orgasm.

“What?” he mumbled, suddenly feeling shy. Jesse lay down next to him, careful to avoid the mess Genji had made.

“You’re so responsive,” Jesse said, kissing Genji on the temple. “I could do that all day.” Genji blushed and hid his face. A thought crossed his mind, of him doing homework or playing a game, while Jesse serviced him with his amazing mouth.

“Nobody’s ever done that for me,” Genji admitted. “It was… really good.” Jesse smiled, and petted his hair.

“Congratulations on the job, sweetheart,” Jesse said sincerely. “Now I’m gonna go wash my mouth out so I can kiss ya.”

“Alright,” Genji said, smiling up at his boyfriend as he sat up. Before Jesse returned, though, Genji’s eyes closed, and he drifted off into a peacful sleep.

---

After a long day of work on the farm, Genji typically liked to relax in his room, wind down, and let his sore muscles have a break. But now, he had more work to do. After his daily shower, Genji changed into the serving uniform he’d been given, instead of his loungewear. He yawned as he styled his hair, and pulled on his shoes. But a five hour shift couldn’t be too bad, could it?

Genji drove to the steakhouse and clocked in for the first time. He followed the manager through the restaurant, learning the names of his coworkers and the tasks that would be required of him. It didn’t seem too bad. This was doable.

For his first shift, he shadowed another server as she took orders, delivered food to the tables, and cleaned up after the patrons. He wore a smile the entire time he was out on the floor, fighting back yawns all the while. He was sure he could get used to this, though. It wouldn’t be so bad once he got the hang of it.

By the time Genji returned to the farmhouse, he was barely able to keep his eyes open. He shuffled to his room and clumsily stripped out of his work uniform, not even bothering to change into pajamas before falling naked into bed. He was truly exhausted, but it was worth it if Jesse could keep his home…

---

“Genji, sugar, are you alright?” Jesse asked, worry coloring his voice. Genji blinked up at him from where he was leaning against the barn. He had fallen asleep standing.

“Huh, I’m good,” Genji said, smiling in a way he hoped was reassuring. Jesse looked no less worried, however.

“You need to sit down a second? I can feed the critters,” Jesse offered. Genji yawned.

“I’m really okay,” he insisted. “I can do it.” He started scooping alfalfa to prove his point. Jesse watched him feed the goats with obvious concern. Genji missed the second trough entirely, dumping alfalfa on the ground.

“Honey. Please, just sit,” Jesse said more sternly. He took the scoop from Genji, and ushered him over to a hay bale. Genji sat down, and closed his eyes. Sleep was just below the surface, but he had to stay awake. He had to prove he could do this… “Genji, are you sure the second job thing is a good idea? You really don’t have to do this.”

“I’m sure,” Genji said defiantly. “I’ll get used to it, remember how tired I was the first time I did a day of farm work?” Jesse sighed.

“Workin’ for eight or nine hours out here, and then workin’ five more hours isn’t good for anybody,” he said.

“Please,” Genji said. He paused to yawn. “I can do this, just have a little faith in me.” Jesse looked frustrated, but conceded.

“Alright… lemme take care of the rest of the feeding, you just rest up a second okay baby?” He kissed Genji on the head, and continued about his chores. Genji watched, feeling guilty and so, so tired. His vision was hazy around the edges, and he couldn’t even bring himself to admire his boyfriend’s butt as he leaned over to scoop feed.

“Genji,” Jesse said gently. “Sugar, wake up.” Genji blinked, and looked up at Jesse blearily.

“I’m awake,” he said. “C’mon, let’s go do the fields.”

“I did them already hon. Everything is finished,” Jesse said. Genji frowned.

“Why did you let me sleep through it? I was going to help,” he whined. Jesse came and sat down on the bale next to Genji’s.

“You really ain’t in a state for that. But I won’t tell Ichiro you were snoozin’ this whole time, so you don’t get a lecture from him, okay?” Jesse offered. Genji groaned, putting his head in his hands dramatically.

“I guess,” he sighed, defeated. Jesse was too good to him. But he had to do his part. He had to.

---

The following day, Genji was no better off than before, but he refused to relax for even a moment. No more sleeping on the job. He was young, he was fit, he could power through it. That was the mantra he repeated in his head even as he became delirious with exhaustion. Even if weeding took him twice as long today, he would finish it. And finish he did, pointedly ignoring Jesse’s nervous expression as he shambled back to the barn with his equipment.

During his shower, Genji turned the water down to cold, just to try and shock himself awake. No luck, he still felt dead on his feet. He was honestly starting to worry about driving to and from work, in the state he was in. But it wasn’t too long of a drive, and the country roads weren’t well populated.

Once he was dressed in his work uniform, Genji left his room and went to find Ichiro’s keys. He they weren’t on their usual hook, which was odd, he knew he’d left them there the night before.

“You aren’t driving,” his uncle said simply from the couch.

“Ichiro, I have to go to work,” Genji snapped. He was in no mood for games.

“You are barely walking straight. You’d be endangering yourself and anyone else on the road,” Ichiro lectured.

“I don’t have time to walk, they are expecting me in twenty minutes,” Genji said, irritation rising in his voice.

“I know. I’ll take you, for today. But this isn’t sustainable, Genji. You know that, don’t you?” Ichiro stood up, keys in hand. Genji heaved a petulant sigh, and followed him to the door.

“I’m fine,” he muttered under his breath. “I’m an adult, and I can make my own choices.”

“I know you are,” said Ichiro. “But that doesn’t mean you have to do everything yourself. Come on.”

Genji rode in silence to work, fighting sleep every minute of the way. He clocked in, put on a smile, and headed into the kitchen to receive instruction.

He was sent home two dropped trays, four wrong orders, and one spilled coffee later. Genji waited out back behind the restaurant for Ichiro to pick him up, feeling utterly humiliated. He hadn’t been fired, only scolded and told to rest before work next time, but he felt in his heart that he’d failed. When Jesse’s truck- not Ichiro’s- pulled up, Genji audibly groaned. Now he had to face his boyfriend too?

Genji slunk into the passenger’s seat with chagrin. He had ketchup stains on his uniform, and smelled like the coffee he’d spilled just before his boss had given up on him for the night.

“Hey you,” Jesse said softly. “Don’t look so sad. It’s okay.” Genji couldn’t meet his gaze. He was failing, not only himself, but most importantly Jesse.

“I can’t believe they didn’t even let me finish my shift,” he mumbled. “I was trying.”

“I know you were,” Jesse promised. “Let’s just get you home and in bed, okay?” Genji nodded silently. Jesse rested a hand on his thigh, and Genji placed his own hand over it. A small comfort for the ride home. When they arrived, Genji went for the door, but Jesse caught his arm gently.

“Genji?” he asked, not hiding the worry in his tone. Genji turned to face him. His eyes were bloodshot from exhaustion. Jesse leaned in and kissed him softly. “Sleep tight, sweetheart.”

“Night Jesse,” Genji said quietly. “Thanks for the ride.” He opened the door, and Jesse called after him.

“Love you.”

“I love you too,” Genji answered, though he didn’t exactly feel like he deserved Jesse’s affection right now. He trudged to the front door of the farmhouse, and once inside, quickly darted to the bathroom to shower.

He had to be better.

Chapter Text

“Sojiro, do you know what your son is doing?”

Genji stopped short in the hallway at the sound of his uncle’s voice. Discreetly, he pressed against the wall to listen to the conversation.

“No, he isn’t making trouble at all, in fact he has been nothing but diligent and hardworking since you sent him here,” Ichiro continued. Genji’s chest tightened. Those were not words he was used to hearing applied to him. It gave him a sense of pride to hear. “But I need you to talk some sense into him, or something. He picked up a second job two weeks ago, and he has been running himself into the ground. I’m worried that one day Jesse will bring him to the house unconscious.”

Genji sighed quietly to himself. Since the incident where he was sent home from work, he’d been doing better. He was finishing all his work and staying for his full shifts at the steakhouse now, so why did Ichiro have to meddle? Couldn’t he see this was important to him?

“Genji, your father wants to talk to you,” Ichiro said calmly. Genji startled. Busted. He came out from around the corner and sheepishly took the phone.

“Hey dad,” Genji sighed. Lecture time.

“Genji, you are working a second job? How many hours per week?” Sojiro asked. His usual stern tone was gone, and replaced with… worry?

“Twenty-five,” Genji muttered.

“And how many hours are you working on the farm every single day?” his dad continued.

“I dunno,” Genji said. “It depends. Some days it’s like eight, some days it’s more like ten.” Sojiro sighed deeply.

“So let’s say you have a busy week on the farm. Ten hours a day, seven days a week, plus twenty-five hours at your second job. Genji, that’s nearly one hundred hours of work. Do you realize that?” Sojiro asked. Genji was silent a moment. He hadn’t realized that. One hundred hours… that was an insane number.

“It’s only for a little while,” he defended weakly. “I just really want to help Jesse and his mom, okay? I can do this dad, I know I’m not known for my work ethic, but-”

“Genji,” Sojiro cut him off. Genji’s shoulders slumped. His dad never understood. “Stop this. If it’s really so important to you, I will give you the money.” Genji’s eyes went wide.

“What? Really? But you said you didn’t trust me,” he said, starting to pace back and forth energetically.

“I didn’t,” his father admitted. “But everything I have heard from my brother regarding you has been positive. You have surprised me, Genji.” Genji felt tears begin to well up in his eyes, and he vigorously wiped his face to prevent them from falling.

“Thank you,” he said earnestly. “Jesse and Kasa are gonna be so happy- thank you so much dad!”

“You’re welcome,” Sojiro replied. “Now please, quit your second job and get some rest.”

“I will,” Genji promised. “Thank you…”

“I’m proud of you Genji. I mean that,” Sojiro said. The words hit Genji in the chest, stealing his breath and his words.

“I-” he choked. His dad was proud of him? Really? Him? If he’d been asked six months ago if he cared to hear those words from Sojiro, he would have laughed. But now, hearing the praise that was usually reserved for Hanzo, directed at him, Genji was overwhelmed with joy. “Okay,” he managed. “Thanks dad.”

“I’d like to talk to Ichiro again, if you don’t mind,” his dad said. Genji passed the phone back to his uncle and practically skipped to his room to text Jesse. His dad was proud of him. Jesse would get to keep his farm! Genji felt tears slipping down his cheeks. For once he was doing something right, something that mattered, and it was paying off.

Genji Shimada: Jesse! I just got off the phone with my dad and guess what?

Jesse <3: what baby?

Genji Shimada: He changed his mind about the money. He’s giving you the six thousand!

Jesse <3: really? you mean it?

Genji Shimada: Yeah :D he said he’s proud of me and he was worried about me, and told me to quit my job too

Jesse <3: that’s amazing genji :)

Jesse <3: i don’t know what to say

Jesse <3: can i see you?

Genji Shimada: yeah of course, your place or mine?

Jesse <3: mine works i just got lunch ready. there’s enough for you

Genji Shimada: Be right there!

Genji hugged his phone to his chest, jumping into the air with excitement. He couldn’t be happier. And he would get to see the look on Kasa’s face when he told her she got to keep her home. He quickly pulled on his shoes, and jogged over to Jesse’s house.

Before he could ring the doorbell, Jesse opened the door and swept him up into a tight hug.

“Darlin’,” Jesse said softly. “You don’t know what this means to me, that you did this for us.” Genji squeezed him tightly.

“I’m not the one who did it, in the end,” he said. “My dad did. But I’m just glad it worked out.”

“Naw,” Jesse shook his head. “It was you. You did everything you could think of to help us, and he only stepped in cause he saw how much you were doing. You did this honey, you’re amazing.” Genji smiled brilliantly, and Jesse took his face in his hands. “I love you Genji.”

Genji kissed him, radiating with pride, and happiness, and love. Their lips met again and again, both smiling against each other’s mouths, and Genji thought maybe this was the happiest he’d ever been.

“What are you two so happy about?” Kasa asked from the doorway. Genji and Jesse both blushed, and turned to face her warm smile.

“Ma, Genji’s dad is giving us the money we need,” Jesse gushed. Kasa stared for a moment, and looked to Genji.

“Is this true?” she asked, voice coming out barely above a whisper.

“Yeah,” Genji confirmed. “He was so worried about me overworking myself, he decided to just give it to me. It’s all yours, six thousand.” Kasa sobbed, and rushed to hug Genji. He wrapped his arms around her, and patted her on the back.

“You-” she choked. “Thank you- you don’t know what this means to me, to us.” She cried into his shoulder, and Genji rubbed her back gently.

“Don’t worry about it,” Genji said softly. “Least I could do.”

“It wasn’t the least you could do,” Jesse insisted. “You did everything you could think of for us. Thank you, honey. Really.” He joined the hug, patting his sobbing mother on the back. It was cute how tiny Kasa was compared to her son, Genji thought.

The three of them went inside once Kasa had composed herself a little, and celebrated with a delicious lunch of beef enchiladas. By the end of the afternoon, Genji’s cheeks actually hurt from smiling so much. For the first time in his life, he had done something that mattered. Something that would really impact someone, and he’d done it through his own hard work and dedication. It felt amazing. Genji had a feeling that at the end of the summer, he would be starting school with a whole new outlook.

The end of the summer.

Right.

“What’s wrong, hon? You look sad all of a sudden,” Jesse said with a frown.

“It’s just,” Genji sighed. “I have to go home in three weeks. It’s so soon…” Jesse’s frown deepened.

“Oh,” he said quietly. “Right, I didn’t realize how soon you’d be leavin’.”

“I’m really going to miss you,” Genji said forlornly. “Are you sure you can’t just stow away in my suitcase and live in my dorm?” Jesse laughed halfheartedly.

“I wish,” he sighed. “But I got a farm to run. Thanks to you.” Genji smiled a little, and touched Jesse’s hand.

“I’ll come back next year, I promise,” Genji said.

“I’ll be right here waiting,” Jesse said, smiling a little more. “And you know how to reach me. We’ll be okay honey.” Genji hugged him and hid his face in Jesse’s shoulder. As excited as he was for a fresh start back home, leaving his sweetheart was going to be devastating.

“Okay,” he said. “We’ll make it work long distance.” He looked up and offered Jesse a weak smile. Jesse kissed him gently, and mussed his hair, making Genji grimace comically.

“I’m excited to hear all about school when you start up again,” Jesse said. “I’m sure you’re gonna do great.”

“Thanks for having faith in me,” Genji said earnestly. “I don’t know how it’s gonna go, but I want to do better this time.” Truthfully, he felt embarrassed looking back at his previous two semesters. While his friends were studying, he was shirking his schoolwork and finding new ways to have fun with his newfound independence. It just seemed childish now. This year was going to be different, and he had to admit he was almost excited to see what he was capable of when he actually tried.

---

The last three weeks of the summer rushed by in a blur. Ichiro, who Genji now regarded as his favorite uncle, was recovering. The chiles in the field were ripening. Sojiro sent the money, as promised, and Jesse and Kasa canceled their plans to sell the farm. Jesse and Genji were inseparable in the days leading up to Genji’s return home, making love every chance they got.

Too soon, the day arrived, and Genji packed up his things with a sense of melancholy. Funny, how reluctant he was to leave the place he once considered a punishment.

“Thank you for all your hard work,” Ichiro said from the doorway as Genji zipped up his suitcase. “It was a joy to have you here, and get to know my nephew better.” Genji stood and pulled up the handle of his suitcase.

“Aw, it was nice getting to know you too,” Genji said. “Sorry for being kind of a hassle sometimes.” Ichiro chuckled, shaking his head.

“As can only be expected from a nineteen-year-old,” he said. “Come here.” Ichiro opened his arms, and Genji hugged him.

“Thanks for everything,” Genji said. “I’ll see you next year. Don’t expect me to do all the work for you though, you should be better by then.” His uncle laughed, and patted him on the shoulders as they parted.

“The room will be here for you,” Ichiro said warmly. Genji’s phone blipped, and he pulled it out to glance at it.

“Looks like Jesse’s here. I’ll see you around,” Genji said.

“Goodbye, Genji,” said Ichiro. Genji slung his carryon bag over his shoulder, and went outside to where Jesse’s truck was idling.

“Hey sugar, you ready?” Jesse asked as he climbed into the cabin.

“I guess,” Genji sighed. Jesse drove off toward the airport, and Genji took one last look at the landscape as they left town. A dull ache settled in his chest. He didn’t want to leave Jesse.

The two of them didn’t have much to say on the ride to the airport, a quiet sadness settling between them. They had said their goodbyes the previous night, tangled up in Jesse’s sheets and each other’s arms. They held hands as they drove, just trying to enjoy the last bit of contact they’d have for the next year.

When they arrived at the dropoff, Jesse took Genji’s face in his hands and kissed him deeply, longingly. “I love you, darlin’. I’ll talk to you soon,” he said sincerely. Genji felt tears welling up, and swallowed a lump in his throat.

“Love you,” he said with a wobbly smile. “I’ll call you when I get home.”

“Sounds good sugar,” Jesse said, kissing his forehead. “Be safe.” Genji nodded and stepped out onto the sidewalk. He gathered his luggage from the bed of the truck, and gave Jesse one last look. Jesse winked at him, and a tear slipped down Genji’s cheek. He wiped his eyes and turned to go. It was time to go home.