The slightly mechanical sigh was followed by a gentle hand that landed on his shoulder with a soft click. Genji opened his eyes, feeling like he just came back from a long trip.
“You are getting there.” Zenyatta said, gentle. “But you get too excited at the end. That’s where you lose the connection.”
“I guess—“ Genji grumbled, running an hand up and down his arm. “I’m too impatient.”
“That’s an understandable feeling.”
“I just want to know what he has to say—“
“I know, my student. You will be able to, one day. Let yourself have time.”
Breath in, breath out. He shifted, changing leg position. Closed his eyes.
“Are you sure you don’t want to rest?” Zenyatta asked, softly.
“No. No, I can do this.” Genji whispered. “I have to do this.”
The ground was hot under his feet. Genji walked and walked, but all he could see was dark dirt as far as the eyes could see.
He tried to call out, but no sound came out his throat. The sky was a steel gray, humid air closing in on him. He kept walking.
Then he could finally see it, the thing in the distance. He started to run, before remembering that that was how he lost the concentration, last time. He forced himself to slow his steps.
He walked and walked, but he wasn’t getting any closer. He gritted his teeth, barely holding himself to don’t break into a run again.
He could feel the rage bubbling up from deep within himself. It took a hold of his stomach, crawled up, icy and burning at the same time, seized his lungs, up his throat, an acute pain in his skull. His step faltered as the anger became all seeing, all consuming.
Suddenly, the ground was cold. He realized he had closed his eyes. He opened them.
White, untouched snow under his feet.
“No” He thought. “I don’t want to be here, I don’t want to be HERE—”
Genji dragged a broken, painful gulp of air in, coughing. He wasn’t sitting cross-legged anymore, but on his knees, his fingers had dug ugly scratches on the wood—
“I think it’s time to stop, for today.” Zenyatta said, both hands on Genji’s shoulder.
Genji was shaking violently. He nodded.
He tried to run from the very start, never taking his eyes off it, the thing in the distance. The steel gray clouds rolled, angry, the snow started to fall, rapidly sticking to the ground.
“WHY DO YOU WANT ME TO SEE THIS—” He screamed, as the snow piled on him.
“There’s a rage so deep within you, you are afraid to look at it.”
Genji nodded slowly. Then added in a whisper. “There’s things I don’t want to think about, things I don’t want to see. But it’s all he wants to show me.” A trembling sigh. “I do not understand— Is he trying to hurt me?”
“There must be something else.” Zenyatta said, taking a long pause. “I do not believe he is trying to be cruel— But he must think it is important.”
“Of course it’s important.” Genji’s voice broke. “But I don’t want to live through that again. Not again.”
“I wish I could spare you, my dear student.” Zenyatta whispered. “But you came to me in search of peace. It is not something that can be conquered unless you are ready to face what you fear the most.”
He’d try, and try, and try. he could not escape the snow. The thing in the distance would never come close to him.
He gave up. He stood in the snow, tired.
“Fine, you win.” He whispered. “If you want me to watch this again, I will.”
He walked in the snow, not a single noise, as it became thicker and thicker, until the white was all he could see.
He heard a choked noise on his left, and turned, to see himself, pale and dirty, spots of blood on his body. The image was blurry, as if seen through an old film.
“No—“ The other him sobbed. “No— No, no no no NO! WHAT DID YOU DO?!”
He watched himself stumble ahead in the snow, sobbing loudly. He watched himself clawing at his face, murmuring “no no no no—“.
He watched himself roar in rage and charge something else that came into view into the wall of white.
It was a strange figure, vaguely human shaped. It was pitch black, the edges constantly shifting and vibrating, made of harsh hard lines, like an angry scribble made in dark pencil had come to life.
The other him charged his arm back and threw a violent punch—
The instant his fist touched the edges of the black shape, everything stopped. The snow froze midair, his other self and the dark thing completely still, like statues.
A deafening crashing noise had him jump and cover his ears.
The dark shape crumbled as if made of glass, but his other self was not content. He fell on his knees on the dark shape and kept hitting and hitting and hitting, screaming pure hatred, tears rolling down his cheeks-
Then suddenly everything disappeared, but the white. Genji took in a shaky breath.
“Is this what you wanted me to see—“ He whispered. “Not—”
As soon as the thought had come up, the figure materialized in front of him as if Genji had summoned it, like watercolor spreading on paper. White skin, lifeless fingers slightly curled, a strong and yet fragile body apparently weightless on the fresh snow, black hair on the white that had turned pink— He choked, turning his head away.
“But this is all me, isn’t it?” He asked, in a small sob. “No, you didn’t want to torture me with such a sight— That other thing you showed me—”
He heard chuffing behind him, he couldn’t breath, for a second. Slowly, he turned—
The thing in distance was right there, in front of him.
It was beautiful. A long neck, the blue scales shining like gems, soft fur crawling all the way up to its head. It had a long, strong muzzle, fangs a pure white poking down. It was resting in the snow, paws casually crossed in front of it. The dragon lowered its head, looking directly at him with piercing yellow eyes. Then it spoke, its voice had no real discernible sound, it seemingly came from everywhere and nowhere at the same time.
Genji felt himself engulfed into a warm sensation of love and kindness.
You know what I want you to do, the dragon said.
He heard the soft thuds of boots coming closer, and he forced himself to keep calm.
The steps stopped right behind him. Without turning, he patted a spot as his left.
He could hear the rustle of clothes, but he did not dare open his eyes. A soft grunt, then the silence.
“Thank you for coming.” He murmured. “I appreciate it. Truly.”
A low hum. Genji heard some more soft rustling, then the smell of an incense stick being ignited.
With a tiny, trembly breath, Genji forced himself to open his eyes. In front of him the slab of stone with no name.
His brother’s grave.
A metal arm came into his field of vision, gently putting down the stick of incense in its right place. The metal plates were the same as they had been years ago, so similar to his, but there was an addition. A little dragon, rolling around the forearm, painted in delicate blue tones with clear craftsmanship.
Slowly, he let his eyes roam up along the arm, to a strong set of shoulders, a scarred neck and jaw with a single, beardless spot. The brown hair was long and messy, as usual, gathered in a low ponytail. There was a spot of grey just barely growing at the temple. His hat was sitting on his knees, respectfully, a contrite expression on his face that highlighted the crow’s feet and age lines on the tanned skin. His nose was crooked, and Genji remember the sick crunch of it breaking under his fist as if it had only happened yesterday.
Jesse slowly turned towards him, and their eyes met again for the first time in five years.
“Hi—“ Genji managed to let out, breathless.
“Hey.” Jesse replied, soft.
They sat, in silence, looking at each other until the incense stick had burned completely.
They were going to be fine.