A life spent on the run from one thing or another means Jesse knows his body well. Knows how to slow down his breathing to stay hidden or land the perfect shot. Knows when he can walk an injury off and when he needs to hail a medic. Knows how to care for himself when there's no one else he can rely on.
So he might not be able to put his finger on it, but he knows something's off.
He first blames his recent dietary habits- you can only take in so much take-out before your entire body revolts, after all. Then he considers going for a physical in case it's the warning bells of something serious. Only when he wakes up after an entirely sober night to the acidic tinge of nausea on the back of his tongue does he suspect the handsome, naked archer curled against his back.
Jesse waits, says nothing as briefings, meals, and training exercises roll into each other. While Hanzo's out on a ramen ramble with his brother, he slips into the bathroom of their shared quarters and asks Athena for a test. She asks no questions and offers no judgments, bless her electronic heart.
It's a neat system that the medical team revised and improved from the old days, step-by-step instructions and instant results for every minor thing from STIs to low blood sugar. Jesse sucks on his pricked finger and wonders if it'll flag on his personnel file, but supposes Angela will find out one way or another.
The screen above the little hatch where he inserted the lancet beeps at him after what feels like an hour. Pregnant. 6-7 weeks. Please report to medbay at your earliest convenience.
Maybe one more, just in case.
Another poke. Another wait. Another beep. Pregnant. 6-7 weeks. Please-
Okay. Maybe it was foolish to not have considered this possibility, but it seems implausible, at least. His thirties are officially in the rearview and the crimson tide had long ago dwindled to an erratic, occasional annoyance. What did it matter if they didn't always bother with protection?
A fucking lot, apparently.
Jesse McCree would normally recoil from the thought of losing his touch, but a man can be forgiven for getting deep into his thoughts and not hearing familiar footsteps. And for leaving the door open. “Jess? What are you-”
In the future, he hopes to laugh about the way Hanzo's face blanches when he claps eyes on the screen, but right now it's followed too quickly by a crease of hurt and fear to be even slightly funny. “How long have you known?”
Jesse eyes the small clock over the sink. “'Bout five minutes.”
“That's not-” Hanzo's lungs seem to force him to suck in a breath. “Why didn't you- I wish you had told me.”
“I didn't want to get you all worked up over nothin'.” Jesse pushes past his partner, the bathroom suddenly too claustrophobic. “Thought I was being paranoid, guess not.”
He stands in the centre of the room, arms tight across his chest, not looking at Hanzo. Not able to, even when he speaks. “Whatever you choose to do, I will support you.”
“That so?” Jesse's voice sounds distant to his own ears, like a radio on in another room. This call was so much easier to make when he was young, dumb, and alone. “Suppose I want to keep it, how would you feel about that?”
Hanzo carefully sets down his bow and quiver, drawing near but stopping short of Jesse's personal space, a wistful rasp in his voice. “When I was a young man, I anticipated having a family of my own one day. That was the expectation placed on me, to marry and sire more heirs, to secure our power.” A dry, short chuckle breaks up his words. “After Genji- I abandoned all of that. I'll admit, I haven't thought of it often recently, but I used to quite look forward to becoming a father.”
Jesse glances back at him. “No kidding?”
Hanzo nods seriously, though his words are light and longing. “Yes, despite all the eventualities, I thought I would enjoy it. I believed it would make it all worth it, if I had even one child to come home to.”
“But do you want one now, with me?” Jesse paces forward, needing to move as his throat thickens. “I love you, Han, but I can't do with less than an eighteen year and nine month commitment. I'm not doing this on my own. Not now, not ever.”
“In our lives, I can only promise so much,” Hanzo replies after a gut-deep sigh, slowly coming closer until his hand is on Jesse's hip, his forehead resting between his shoulderblades. “But nothing short of death itself will keep me from your side. Through every procedure, every long night, every heartache, I will be with you. This, I can swear.”
Jesse lets the fierce sincerity of the words cut into him, his eyes swimming with hot tears. “Christ. Come around the front of me if you're gonna say shit like that.”
Hanzo does, and holds him for hours and hours. Eventually their lights are out, their clothes shucked into the laundry basket, and they talk until they can't anymore, counting the minutes until morning.
After a slightly-awkward conversation, multiple tests, and an ultrasound that feels like she's trying to push the wand out the other side of him, Angela pronounces Jesse and his new roommate 'quite healthy and progressing normally' in that brisk, reassuring way of hers. “But I've been smoking this whole time, and I've drank, it's not like I've been careful-”
Thank god things have been quiet since Talon's implosion, but he's trained the same way he always has. Falling and wrestling and going to bed feeling like a tenderized steak. If anything were to happen, if it were his fault-
“We can't change any of that now,” Angela interrupts with a gentle shake of her head. “All I can tell you is what we can do going forward. You know I wouldn't bullshit you if I had any reason to be concerned.” She taps a few keys, bringing one of the best sonograms up on her screen and flipping it around to face them. “Honestly, this embryo is so average that I could put it in a textbook.”
“How big did you say it was?” Hanzo's hand is tight in his, eyes wide and his voice almost dazed.
“About the size of a raspberry.” Angela smiles, demonstrating with thumb and forefinger. “Most of the organ and nervous system development happens at this stage. After that, it basically just gets bigger and stronger until it's ready to be born.”
A plan is drawn up of regular appointments and tests and abstinence from pretty well all of his vices. Angela dips out to grab some folic acid and iron supplements and Hanzo kisses him so tenderly, caresses his good hand as if he's something divine. Jesse nearly chokes, goddamn hormones. “You still wanna do this?”
“Yes,” Hanzo answers eagerly, gazing at him with a very Shimada-type intensity. “Do you?”
“Yeah,” Jesse manages, shifting on the examination table. He started getting excited last night, but that excitement keeps getting yoked by fear. “Just worried, is all.”
“No one needs to know yet.” Hanzo presses another gentle smooch to his cheek, speaking with a kindness that does not condescend. “Just imagine, in less than eight months, we'll have a little you.”
Christ, this guy. He had better goddamn well stick around till he's ninety-five, because he's gone ahead and ruined Jesse for anyone else.
Jack is the first to know by necessity. Alien-looking blob or not, no baby of his is going to come second to duty or any other damn thing. Plus, the surprise on his face is kind of funny.
“Well, I can't say you won't be difficult to replace on missions.” Jack pulls up a screen and taps around, digging at his one of his eyes. Satya and Angela collaborated on some contacts to help his diminished vision, but he's been a big whiny baby about actually wearing them. “I'll pull you from everything except target practice, but I'd like to keep you in on the briefings for as long as possible. I don't want to lose your intelligence just yet.”
Jesse chuckles, kicking one foot up on Jack's desk. “So you're not mad, then?”
“No, of course not-”
“What? No, that's-” Jack huffs a cranky old man sigh, leaning back in his big, important chair. “I would have had kids myself, way back when, if things turned out differently. I'm happy for you, and I'd rather see you safe here until we've squashed the last of the splinter groups.”
“Awh, but I thought we were all your kids?”
Jack pinches his scarred nose. “McCree, please.”
“I came here to give you good news and honestly, I am so hurt right now.”
“Yeah, Jack.” Gabriel's voice materializes ahead of him as he fades in through the wall vent, eyes glowing dimly red. He strikes significantly less fear when dressed in all-black sweats as opposed to his old get-up. “Nobody likes a deadbeat dad.”
“Goddamnit, Gabe!” Morrison turns his chair sharply to hide how he'd totally flinched. “How many times do I have to tell you to use the door? How many times?”
“Like you wouldn't do the same thing.” Gabe looks past him to nod at Jesse, a faint smile catching his lips. “All good, kid?”
“Oh yeah. I best get going and leave you two lovebirds alone.” Jesse smacks his knee and stands, leaving them to their banter. The shared low laugh that slips out as the door slides shut is enough to make his eyes roll.
The schedule change is hard enough to explain away, but Jesse's quiet relishing of his barely-there morning sickness ends swiftly when the scent of Lúcio's delicious feijoada sends him running to the toilet. Soon, even a whiff of cooking meat turns him green and he has to eat in his room, Hanzo waiting for their food to cool before bringing it to him.
Even still, Hanzo lets him decide when to break the news. “It's all up to you. You're the one doing the hard work, I'm just waiting to collect on a deposit I made two months ago.”
“You got that right.” Jesse laughs, eyes shut while Hanzo runs his hand over Jesse's bare stomach. There seems to be the slightest curve now, but that might be wishful thinking. “Hey, you think it was Berlin?”
“Even if it wasn't, I'm going to pretend it was.” Hanzo's chuckle rumbles through him, ticklish lips brushing the back of Jesse's neck. “I suppose I should apologize for not pulling out, but-”
“Don't even try, you shit.” Jesse brings Hanzo's hand up for a kiss, still in love with the feeling of those calluses against his lips. “Do you think they'll like having us as their dads?”
“Well, no one gets to choose who they come from.” Hanzo hums, lost in thought for a moment before his arms tighten around Jesse. “All we can do is love them, and raise them as best we can.”
“I guess you're right.” Jesse sighs, trying to drag his thoughts towards sleep and failing. “Oh fuck, if this kid does half the shit I did before the age of ten, I'll have a stroke. My poor Gram, she deserved a medal of valour for what I put her through.”
Hanzo's laugh is bright and only a little resigned. “You still made it to adulthood, I'm sure we'll survive.”
Ana is the next to know, and so delighted that Jesse feels warmed to his very core. “Anything you need, anything you want to ask me, just let me know. I'm here for you, Jesse.”
“I appreciate that, I really do.” Jesse ducks his head, sheepish and a little cheeky. “Would uh, now be a good time?”
“Of course.” Ana smiles, standing and kissing his forehead. “I'll make us some tea.”
Gabe is surprised (thanks, Jack) but seems happy, his expressions no easier to gauge now that he's partly incorporeal. Fareeha jumps up and down like she's twelve again. Telling Reinhardt almost negates the need to inform the rest of the base, but every surprised shout and smiling hug adds another brick to Jesse's foundation, leaves him feeling a little less shaky about their future.
They tell Genji early on, and he laughs in near-disbelief, scratching his scruffy chin and shaking his head. He mumbles briefly in Japanese before lifting his shining eyes. “So you're naming it Genji Two, right?”
“Not a chance.”
“Come on! I'll start a college fund for them!”
While they bicker, Genji's dragon slips off his lap to give Jesse's midsection a curious sniff, Hanzo's dragons looking sternly on from Jesse's shoulders. The blue noodles are sneaking out more and more often these days. It's sweet, but Jesse would really prefer to go back to using the bathroom alone.
The little buggers are good at letting Hanzo know when he's ruminating, too. Slipping out late at night when he's staring into the dark wondering how he'll ever explain the blood on his hands, the things he did to survive. Wondering if the little bean inside him will grow into an adult who can only look at him in disgust.
“You are a good man,” Hanzo whispers across the sheets, cradling him close and brushing his worries away. “Honest and true. You will be a wonderful father.”
Jesse would accept those words from no one else but Hanzo, even though he strains to believe them. His archer is without artifice, literal at times, and only able to lie when he's angry. But his temper is exceptionally restrained as their little one grows, even when some irritation is warranted.
Like when Jesse wakes Hanzo before their alarms for the third day in a row, pushing up his sleep-shirt and kissing down his happy trail. “Fuck, honeybee, I need you. Please-”
“You're so horny it's borderline concerning,” Hanzo grumbles, eyes half-open but smiling as he sits up. “Come here.”
Hanzo's favourite post-ravaging activity quickly becomes reading all that he can on pregnancy and parenthood. Jesse has a similarly studious impulse but, after a few encounters with the worst possible outcomes, decides he's happy to hear the information secondhand. “Did you know blood volume increases by fifty percent during pregnancy?”
“That explains my perma-boner,” Jesse chuckles, stretched out on his back and rubbing the small round of his belly. It's barely there, but it keeps his hand busy when he's aching for a smoke.
Threading his fingers through Hanzo's greying hair is another nice alternative, especially with how he pushes into it, lazily flicking to the next page on his tablet. “Did you know twins have been observed cuddling and even fighting while in utero?”
Jesse snorts. “Thank god we're only having one.”
The first trimester is kind enough, save the hormone surge at twelve weeks that Angela had warned him about about. Nothing strips dignity away quite so effectively as crumpling to the floor of one of the shared base washrooms. With Hanzo away on a mission, Fareeha is kind enough to follow him in and rub his back while he coughs and dry-heaves.
“Do you need anything?” Jesse hears Ana's voice over his pulse thudding in his ears.
Fareeha answers eagerly, her backrubs not ceasing. “Yeah, an old priest and a young priest.”
As the gastric upsets subside, his waistline expands. A proper beer belly soon enough, seemingly getting a little bigger each day. Even before his joints start aching, Jesse finds himself perpetually tired. Naps are essential, lest he reach the level of pissed-off that can damage relationships. Cravings cease being a joke when his desire for peanut butter and pickle sandwiches with extra sugar becomes a daily necessity. “This can't be healthy, right?”
Ana shrugs, crunching on popcorn while they sit with their feet up in front of the TV. “Just as long as you don't start craving things that aren't food. That's what happened when I was six months gone with Fareeha, I had to go on supplements.”
“Oh yeah? What were you craving?”
“Chalk, of all things! Sam caught me chewing on a stick I stole from a board room and brought me to the doctor. Poor guy thought I was losing my mind.”
Jesse is grateful for someone to laugh with, someone who gets it, especially on long nights when Hanzo is away. No amount of stealthily-sent texts make up for his absence.
HS: En route to base, how are you feeling?
JM: Fat, tired, and I'm pissing like a racehorse
JM: I can't button my fucking jeans anymore, they fit literally two days ago, this sucks
JM: Hurry up and come home ffs
HS: I'll buy you new pants, my love. Just be patient.
Genji, good guy that he is, puts up with Jesse's sharp tongue long enough to pick out only the most acceptable paternity wear- overalls, jogging pants, and an oversized t-shirt emblazoned with a seahorse dad (at Genji's insistence, but it ends up being his comfiest shirt). They call attention to his stomach, but Jesse likes to think it helps him assert dominance when he preg-spreads on the rec room couch with a pint of ice cream and a mood that no amount of friendly cheer can penetrate.
It's not all bad, but sometimes he wakes up with a tingling chest, an ever-lengthening list of things he can't do, and a loss of control over his body that burrows under his skin and hangs out like a worm in an apple. He hopes the baby can't pick up on his feelings, or else it'll come out with frown lines.
“Look at you,” Hanzo remarks in the shower while they're scrubbing each other up. He runs soapy hands through the layer of hair Jesse has developed over his stomach, the weird dark line down the middle barely visible under the fuzz. “Are they turning you into a werewolf?”
“Maybe,” Jesse snorts, appreciating the warmth of Hanzo's broad hands. “My hair's thicker too, and my beard.”
“So it is.” Hanzo reaches up to where Jesse's sideburns have flared out magnificently, cupping his jaw and gazing at him for a moment before leaning in for one kiss that turns into ten. “You are so gorgeous.”
Jesse smiles as the hot water rushes over them, kissing Hanzo back. They both have a lot of yesterday behind them, but there's a glimmer in Hanzo's eyes he's never seen before. He's sleeping consistently, neglecting himself less, he just looks healthier, and Jesse's so glad to see it.
Genji notices it too, mentioning it during a round of video games, his dragon curled against Jesse's gut. “Well, even if he can't do it for his own sake, I'm just happy he's doing it at all.”
And good lord, if Hanzo's impulses don't kick up to eleven when he finally feels the little bugger kick for the first time.
It took Jesse a while to distinguish them, given the amount of gas moving through his system on any given day. But quickly, flutters become distant bumps, which give way to thrusts of feet or hands- Jesse can't be sure which. All he knows is that every movement is a relief, a somatic confirmation that the baby is okay and developing as nature intended.
“Oh.” Hanzo gapes, speechless even as Jesse keeps his hand pressed at an awkward angle against the side of his belly. “Oh, god, you have a person growing inside you.”
Jesse laughs, sprawled out in a tank top and boxers, open box of cookies within easy reach. “You need a minute, hon?”
“Maybe?” Hanzo's laugh sounds half-delirious as the baby continues drumming against his hand. “Active little one, aren't you? Take it easy, your father's insides aren't a dancefloor.”
From then on, only his foulest moods can keep Hanzo's hands off his middle. Watching TV, sleeping, even subtly during team gatherings. Jesse does it back to him once, for the express purpose of being an ass. “And how far along are you, hm?”
“It's sympathy weight,” Hanzo smacks his hand away, rolling his eyes when he keeps it up. “I don't mind, I might need it to fall back on when we're sleep-deprived.”
“You should keep it, s'cute.” Jesse smirks against Hanzo's neck, making him snort, but he means it. Hanzo's always been a stunner, and the chub only adds to his appeal. Equal parts ripped and comfortable, skilled assassin and dad-to-be.
Jesse's gut, on the other hand, leads him to waddle. It takes significant convincing from Genji to try on a belt that resembles a strapless velcro bra for a large uniboob. But once he does, he decides he's not taking it off until the kid comes out. “What's this thing called, again?”
“A hara obi.” Genji grins, their stroll around the outer deck enjoyable instead of tiring. “In the old days, they'd wind ten feet of white fabric around the stomach to protect the baby. The new ones are much more comfortable.”
“No kidding. And what's with the cartoon dog?”
“For good luck! Dogs are said to have easy births.”
“Well not to jinx it, but I'm not having a litter, so I think I'll be fine.”
Genji's laugh rings out as the sun melts into the ocean, the Gibraltar winds whipping up the scent of salt and summer all around them.
Jesse isn't as confident in his words as he pretends to be. He never misses an appointment, lest he face Mercy's wrath, but sometimes he wanders in, ashamed of his own nerves yet desperately afraid that something is wrong. All of Ana's stories and advice can't reassure him when he gets like this, but Angie is a sweetheart and lets him wear the heartbeat monitor or does a quick ultrasound to put his mind at semi-ease.
“What's that noise?” Jesse sits up once when the monitor turns on, a rhythmic hitch in the baby's whooshing heartbeat.
Angela listens closely and beams. “They have the hiccups. Want me to record it so you can show Hanzo?”
“Sure.” Jesse fidgets, easing himself back slowly. “How can they get the hiccups?”
“By this point, fetuses are drinking the amniotic fluid and excreting it back out. It helps their kidneys and digestive system prepare for life outside.”
Jesse's mouth pulls to one side. “So you're telling me my kid is peeing inside me and then drinking their own pee like, constantly.”
“Being a mammal is so fucking weird.”
Angela shrugs. “Look on the bright side, at least you're not a platypus.”
Baby showers are not on either of their agendas. Being the centre of attention quickly turns Hanzo into a stressed-out parrot that plucks its own feathers, and Jesse's relationship with gifts is more than a little bit fraught. But their friends find ways to support them, and Jesse learns to let himself receive the love in every contribution.
“Jesse, look!” Fareeha jogs down the brightly-lit, pastel store aisle with a pair of duck-print socks clutched in her hand. “Look at how cute these are, you need these.”
“I'm gettin' a little concerned about your impulse purchases, 'Ree.” Jesse half-frowns as the cart fills with pacifiers, washcloths, and adorable necessities of all sorts. Fareeha hadn't exactly threatened him out of paying, but she had locked his wallet in the trunk of the rental car and refused to give up the keys.
“Dude, let me have this.” She picks up a rattle and shakes it with interest. “I dunno when I'll get to do this for myself.”
Jesse smiles slow, squeezing the shoulder of the closest person he's ever had to a sibling. “You're gonna be a great mom someday.”
Fareeha's smile is so sweet that it damn near breaks his heart. “Pft, thanks, Jess.”
Their largest gift is probably the sidecar cot, but Reinhardt and Brigitte are a hard pair to refuse.
“And it attaches like so,” Reinhardt narrates while his weathered hands clamp the baby cage onto the side of their bed. “You can unlatch it with this button, and this one takes the brakes off the wheels for when you need me to babysit!”
“With a few extra parts, I can convert it to a toddler bed when they get older.” Brigitte adds with an eager thumbs-up. “Wherever you end up, let me know and I'll come fix it for you!”
They likely won't be leaving for maybe a year yet, Jesse isn't about to move until he's fully recovered, but the conclusion was reached during a late summer night on the roof, over a few boxes of pad thai.
“I have accomplished what I came here to do,” Hanzo had said, wiping sauce from his beard. “I can do many other things, so long as they let me build a home with you.”
Jesse hummed, stretching his legs over Hanzo's lap and gazing up at the stars. “Maybe not too far away, though?”
“No, not yet, at least.” Hanzo huffed a laugh, almost to himself. “I have grown fond of this place.”
Understatement of the year. It took more than fondness to turn Hanzo from Genji's hard, rarely-speaking elder brother to the guy who spends all breakfast proudly showing off sonograms to the whole team and all afternoon assembling a changetable-dresser combo and laughing while Hana helps and reads dad jokes to him.
Their hoard grows as Hanzo's nesting intensifies, and his dragons spend more time on Jesse's lap or at his heels than they do within their ink-etched home.
“Is the baby enjoying the playlist?” Lúcio asks when he spots the experimental stick-on headphones protruding through Jesse's overstretched tank top.
“M'not sure, but these two definitely are.” He pauses in fixing himself a sundae to point at the blue passengers riding atop his gut, heads tucked against his skin. Good thing they're weightless and cute, because they really aren't much help.
“Kiddo, you're killing me.” Jesse gripes, pillow pulled half over his head as their baby attempts some kind of gymnastics routine using his liver and ribs as mats. “Just go to sleep, please.”
“Let your father rest, little one. You both need it.” Hanzo sits up to massage Jesse's stomach, and he nearly weeps when it actually works. The constant pressure on his bladder makes any sleep disruption that much harder to deal with. “He takes such good care of you, doesn't he? Look at how big you're getting- no, shh, it's bedtime. Do you need Otou-san to tell you a story? Is that why you're so fussy?”
Jesse peers silently up at Hanzo, his face all serene and his hair down as he weaves some tale that will surely knock Jesse out too before long. Bare, broad, and beautiful in the dim, the path of his hands so gentle and his voice so soft. Not for the first time, Jesse's chest aches with joy.
“I can't wait for you to meet him, kiddo.” Jesse hums as he cleans Peacekeeper in bed, Hanzo having piled the pillows up for him before he left. “Only bad thing about him is he eats his cereal with water- which is admittedly pretty hard to get past, but I learned to love him and you will, too.”
The baby seems to do a somersault, registering as a wave beneath the blanket of his skin, and Jesse laughs. “Nah, he's great. You're not even here yet and he loves you so much.” Jesse rubs his stomach with his metal hand and goes back to polishing in silence for a while. “I bet he'll make you laugh for the first time, then he'll have to throw your party for ya. Wouldn't that be funny, hm? We won't tell him, we'll just wait and see.”
A cool, rainy autumn slides over Gibraltar right around the time Jesse becomes truly and utterly sick of being mega-pregnant.
“I'm sorry, darlin',” Jesse whines from where he's sprawled on his side on their couch, his t-shirt yanked up to free his gut. He's dropped, according to Angela, his breathing eased but his general existence still aching, itchy, and non-stop uncomfortable. “You've done nothin' but look after me all week, s'not fair.”
“Don't apologize.” Hanzo stops needlessly tidying to smooch Jesse's temple and sweep back his hair from his tired eyes. “It's a pleasure to take care of you.”
“But who's taking care of you?” Jesse catches himself sniffing. Ah, nice, rational tears. Lovely. “You can't play nursemaid for two forever, you need your own time, too. Otherwise you'll burn out and then-”
It reminds him of being young, standing inside himself as fears that he can't name crash overhead. He hates it, but he can't just come out and say 'what if you want to leave?' because that'll just insult him and wreck things. “M'sorry, but I can't help but wonder if you're putting up a front so you don't stress me out. I don't want that, I want to be there for you, too.”
“Oh, Jesse.” Hanzo kneels beside his terrified, frustrated partner and reaches over to rub his back. “I assure you, that's not the case. You've been here for me all along, but I'm just nervous, the same as you are. I'm not sick or exhausted or- you know, pregnant.”
“Mm, fair point.” Jesse tries to joke, his face mashed against the pillow. He's just so scared of being too much, asking too much. That's when things disappear.
“You know what will be the best part, once the baby's born?” Hanzo smiles when he shrugs, his silver piercings glinting in the light Athena had dimmed for Jesse. “We can have someone else look after them every so often and take the time to look after each other.”
“That does sound pretty sweet, m'not gonna lie.” Jesse rubs his belly to let the kid know he still loves them, so much, he just wants them out.
“Until then, all I want is for you and the baby to be healthy.” Hanzo leans in to brush a kiss across Jesse's brow. “And I'll spoil both of you as much as I want.”
Another loud sniff- yep, crying is a thing that's happening. Okay. “Fuck, I love you. I wouldn't wanna do this with anybody else. Shit.”
“I love you too, Jess.” It's a little hard to hug with one of them horizontal and a beachball between them, but bless Hanzo for trying his best. His voice is ragged and honest against Jesse's neck. “That you trust me enough for this is more than I could ever ask for.”
The first contraction comes just as they've settled in to watch a movie, sending a shiver of reality running through Jesse. He's a few days past due, but he feels wildly unready. He hasn't finished imagining who they'll be yet, how he'll look after them as they cry and teethe and learn how to be a person. Maybe it's nothing, a warning shot.
Halfway through not-watching the movie, he knows better and swallows hard. “Hon, I think it's time.”
Jesse's never seen a man move so fast in his pajamas before. He's shoeless when they leave, go-bag in tow, but cannot be convinced to turn around, eagerly helping Jesse waddle down the corridor.
Angela is almost too calm- although to be fair, it's a much easier procedure than knitting any of their teammates back together. Jesse hopes this doesn't end in surgery- how will he hold them? He has to take care of them, he has to do right by them. He only gets one try at this.
A needle in his back numbs without paralyzing, easing the pain to a distant, repeating clench. Another in his hand softens the edges of the world just enough. He walks, rocks, and even when the contractions wind him, he can always look up to find Hanzo's eyes gazing back compassionately, his arms holding and comforting him. “You're doing so well. It won't be much longer now, not much longer.”
No matter how visceral and human the process, there is something truly unreal about a baby not being there one minute, and here the next.
Unreal and absolutely, without a doubt, perfect. Squalling louder than anything until he's bundled up and snuggled in Jesse's arms. Big, filmy brown eyes squinting up at him with such curiosity. His face all puffy and his black hair all matted down under his little cap. All fingers and toes accounted for. Even the smell of his impossibly soft brown skin is heaven-sent. A life completely separate and yet of Jesse, of both of them.
“We better think up something to call him,” Jesse whispers once Angela's finished her tests, bid them congratulations, and left them be. “According to his ankle, his name is 'Baby.'”
Hanzo laughs, hoarse and astonished, running a finger up and down their son's cheek. “I suppose we must. Any ideas?”
“I thought I'd know once I met him but- I dunno.” Jesse smiles, his heart in his throat as the baby's gummy mouth stretches on a big yawn. Poor thing must be overwhelmed, it's awful bright out here. “What d'you think? What does he look like to you?”
Hanzo hums, and considers a while, the wheels clicking around in his head. “I've always liked the name 'Hikaru.'”
“Yes, it can be translated as 'shining.' You can write it like this-” Hanzo grabs his phone, drawing a swift 光 with his finger. “That's the character for 'light.'”
“Hikaru,” Jesse tests it out, letting it roll off his tongue and looking down into his son's eyes. “I like it.”
“Really?” Hanzo's voice colours with renewed excitement. “Do you think he will?”
Jesse shrugs, cheeks aching from smiling. “He can always change it when he's older if he doesn't.”
Hours later, Jesse wakes up groggy to an empty bed. Hanzo sits bent in the chair beside, bouncing Hikaru gently as he chatters softly to him, his seven-pound body easily spanned by Hanzo's hands. Jesse can only pick out snatches of words, but there's a gentleness, an all-encompassing love in every syllable, his wide smile, and his wet eyes.
“Babe, you've been awake for thirty hours.” Jesse clumsily pats his arm, his hand still sore from the IV. “C'mon, you need sleep, so does he.”
“I know, I know.” Hanzo sighs, tucking the absurdly tiny infant tight against his chest as he stands. “I just can't take my eyes off him.”
“I know.” Jesse's voice almost catches. He wants to keep eyes locked on him too, but he's a whole new kind of exhausted. “But I need a body pillow, this bed sucks.”
Hanzo scoffs, but lays their son down in his bassinet all the same, no more than an arm's reach away. The twin dragons slip out from his tattoo as he kisses Hikaru's brow, laying themselves along the the plastic edges, much to Jesse's relief. “When does he get his own?”
“A few months, maybe a year, it varies.” Hanzo yawns hard as he crawls in carefully beside Jesse and cuddles close. “But he's already being watched over by them, of that I'm sure.”
Ana arrives in the morning with hot, hearty food, accompanied by Fareeha who won whatever fifty-fifty draw they were hosting in the mess hall during his labour. Her arms shake when she hugs Jesse tight, but she manages to compose herself while holding their little guy. “Oh my god, look at him. He's so cute, I wanna die.”
“Go for the thigh,” Hanzo advises as she checks both of his cheeks for squish consistency. “That's the good stuff.”
Chestfeeding kinda sucks, turns out day-old babies have vacuum mouths and it's all a bit much. He'd have no one else but Ana coach him through the first, second, third fumbling attempts, but it's still hard. “There's no baby-feeding objective, habibi. Whatever keeps him full and growing is the right thing.”
Genji comes next, all jokes and high spirits with Zenyatta floating in after him, though the excited gasp he lets out when Hanzo lowers his nephew into his arms is nothing less than genuine. “Wow, you guys really did it. You have a kid, I can't believe it.” He runs a thumb over the magnificent unibrow the baby is currently rocking. “Have you decided on a name?”
Genji snaps his head up from his enthralled gaze, a smile cocking his scarred lips. “So you named him Genji Two after all? I'm touched.”
Hanzo snorts, arms crossed but unable to glare. “Don't start.”
“Oh, there's nothing quite so wonderful as a baby.” Zenyatta says, touching a hand to his cheek. He sets their small basket of goodies aside before turning to Jesse. “May I hold him as well?”
“Go for it.”
Zenyatta takes Hikaru carefully in his long arms, cooing at him as the baby stares up at his faceplate. Drawing a harmony orb from around his neck, Zen sends it circling slowly over Hikaru's head, much to his apparent interest.
Hanzo bends at Zen's side, smiling at their son and unwilling to be away from him for long. While the two of them chat, Jesse glances at Genji, his face awash in affection and something like yearning. He can't help but nudge him and whisper. “You want that omnic to put a baby in you, don't you?”
Genji barks a laugh and lands the most loving of punches on Jesse's shoulder. “Shut up.”
Ana returns with more food, along with Jack and Gabe, bearing a stuffed teddy and flowers. One more visit before their last check-up, then Jesse and Hanzo can shuffle their son back to their own quarters. Jesse is still not entirely clear on how he's supposed to get out of bed for longer than it takes to piss, but maybe Angela will shed some light on that.
Reyes takes the chair beside Jesse's bed while the others talk and pass the baby burrito around. He's always been a good listening ear, and with his world tilted sideways, it's nice to have someone ask how you're doing and want the honest answer.
“Cute little guy you've got here,” Jack says after a while of pulling faces for Hikaru's mild amusement. “Your turn, Gabe.”
“Wait, what?” Gabriel freezes up as he bends, sliding the baby insistently into his arms. “Jack-”
“Support his head.” The wispy edges of Reyes' arms sharpen as the nanites surge, his jaw tight, body rigid. But Hikaru doesn't cry, barely even wriggles. All the attention has left him sleepy, and he seems to find this spot as comfortable as any. Gabriel tentatively reaches out a finger to tickle under his chin, only for Hikaru to grab it tight in his little fist and drop into a contented doze.
Jesse lets out a chuckle as the older man remembers to breathe. “Awh, he likes you.”
“Smile, Gabe.” Ana aims her phone at them, receiving a scowl and a peace sign from Jesse in return.
Their quarters might be small and ultimately impermanent, but they're home enough for now. A quiet, warm place for rest and unashamedly sitting on doughnut pillows.
“Shh, Papa's got you.” Jesse gathers Hikaru close after changing his diaper, wrapping his serape around him to keep him warm and kissing his crown. He's so warm, so small and yet so incredibly alive. Gurgling and nestling against Jesse's bare chest as he leans back into the pillows. He wasn't here a few days ago, and yet Jesse feels everything inside him aligned to new north stars that feel as old as his bones- Keep him alive, protect him, make him smile.
“Do you need anything, Jess?”
“Nah, m'good.” Jesse checks the level of his water bottle and pats the bed beside him, satisfied. “C'mere.”
Hanzo finally slips off his legs and curls up next to them, rubbing Hikaru's back as he drops off to sleep. Their overgrown beards catch when he leans in to kiss Jesse, laying his head on his shoulder afterwards, his hand still covering their son. “I'd gladly tell you how amazing you are, but words escape me.”
Jesse laughs, cradled in the centre of the family they'd forged together, and feel dizzy, but also safe, whole, and loved in a way he never thought possible. “You and me both, darlin'.”