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Empire of Dirt

Chapter Text

“Don’t speak. Don’t make eye contact. Don’t wink. Don’t laugh. Don’t smirk. Don’t roll your eyes. Don’t whistle. Don’t do that dumb hand gun pointing thing, McCree.”

“Anything else, dad?” Hana complained.

“Yes. For fucks sake. Don’t. Speak,” Soldier 76 punctuated the last two words deliberately.

Lucio and Hana feigned exasperation. The team was gathered in the briefing room before leaving for a meeting with a prominent yakuza family in Hanamura. A deal had already been brokered, and they were about to settle on the final terms. Morrison called a meeting to set up expectations and ground rules.

“So, have you decided yet?” Hana pressed. She leaned forward across the table.

“On points from the negotiation? Yes,” Morrison intentionally misdirected the question so that he could review. “The Shimada family will collaborate with Overwatch against our mutual enemies. Overwatch will look past any of their other dealings as long as we deem them harmless.”

“And the agent that you will send, in exchange for one of their agents, as a sign of good faith…” Hana encouraged.

“Who will be a total badass and get to work with the yakuza…” Lucio added.

“Pharah.”

“What?! No fair!”

“Aw man!”

Morrison glowered at them. Fareeha sat straighter and preened.

“Why does she always get the cool missions?”

“Because she always takes them seriously,” Jack snapped. “And frankly, it’s concerning that the two of you are so excited by the prospect of working for a criminal organization.”

Lucio rolled his eyes. “Technically we are a criminal organization right now. Just not a cool one.”

Hana huffed. “Blow up one little building and all of a sudden you’re ‘not taking things seriously’, and you ‘make bad decisions’.”

“T’be fair, that lil’ building was the Canadian parliament,” McCree took a long drag from his cigarillo.

“Whose side are you on anyway?” Hana pouted. “I got the omnics, didn’t I?”

“And if Winston hadn’t made it on time, you would have also ‘got’ half of their House of Commons,” Pharah retorted.

“The Prime Minister thanked me!”

“Because you gave him a concussion and he thought you were the King of England!”

“Enough!” Jack slammed his hand on the table. “We depart at 0700. Dismissed. McCree.”

The gunslinger stopped at the door, hearing his name.

“Best behaviour.”

“Y’got it, pardner,” McCree answered breezily.

Morrison’s long sigh indicated that he didn’t believe him.

---

They arrived at Hanamura a day later, landing the jet at the agreed upon location. They were met by several men in black suits, who reported that the head of the Shimada family would be ready to meet with them in two hours. They were shown to their individual quarters in Shimada Castle, a modest, but beautiful estate in the middle of the town.

The jet ride had made McCree restless. Making sure to ask permission first (he had promised best behaviour, after all), he grabbed his smokes and decided to take a walk in the garden. The spring breeze was pleasant, but strong that day. It caught the brim of McCree’s Stetson, took it clear off his head and brought it to the feet of another garden patron. The man bent to pick it up, and looked at it curiously.

“Sorry ‘bout that,” McCree walking over to apologize (best behaviour). He stopped in his tracks. The other man was dressed in a robe that only covered one shoulder (and loosely at that), revealing nothing but sculpted muscle. The ornate dragon tattoo on his arm stretched below view in the fabric, as if just daring you to imagine how low it went. McCree looked down to meet the dark brown eyes, and was met by an amused smile and a devilishly handsome face. The man’s hair was tied back with a long, yellow silk ribbon.

Jesse swallowed hard.

Best behaviour.

“Hey, beautiful…day,” he corrected himself before he could flirt.

“Indeed, cowboy,” The handsome man smirked. McCree twitched, already knowing he was in trouble. “Tell me, is it just the clothes?”

“Beg pardon?” McCree was confused. The man put the Stetson on his own head, grabbing at the rim. It looked absolutely perfect on him, but McCree had a feeling that he would think anything that man wore looked perfect.

“Do you just dress like you are from the wrong era, or do you actually ride?” The way the word ‘ride’ fell off the man’s tongue should have been illegal.

McCree wondered dimly whether it would still be his fault if the other man had started flirting first. Knowing Morrison, the answer was probably yes.

“I’m pretty handy with a gun, too,” he answered, lamely.

Stupid, stupid, stupid answer.

It didn’t seem to bother the other man. He took off the hat and walked closer, pressing it to McCree’s chest. Jesse could feel the warmth of the other man’s hand burning through it, even though he knew it was just in his head. He was beginning to think that not answering the challenge would just be cause for regret later. And he wasn’t very fond of regrets.

Oh fuck it. When am I gonna be here again.

He grabbed the other man’s hand before he could retract. The man looked surprised, but allowed it. McCree gave him an easy smile.

“How ‘bout you, darlin’?” he purred.

“I am ‘handy’ with many things,” Handsome man answered with another arrogant smirk. “Pity we are out of time.” He nodded towards the garden entranceway.

McCree turned to find Soldier 76 staring at him, arms crossed. McCree ground his teeth.

Goddammit that man is everywhere at once.

“We will have to pick this up later, cowboy,” The man had already turned to walk away, and Jesse knew better to follow.

---

They were summoned exactly two hours later, as promised, and escorted to a large open room with a long table.

Several men in black suits were lined up just inside the door, along the wall.

The Overwatch team walked silently in single file, led by Soldier 76. As they drew closer, McCree recognized one of the men standing at the door. His hair was now slicked back, and he had changed into slim-fitting suit, crisp and immaculate, but the chiseled features were the same.

McCree gave a whistle. “Well, howdy again,” he drawled, making eye contact with the handsome man. With his flesh hand, he pointed with his index finger and thumb extended, as though his hand was a gun. “Didn’t get a chance to say earlier, but the name’s McCree.” He winked.

Lucio leaned over to Hana. “I believe that is bingo.” He took out a bingo card, crudely titled “’Ways McCree will Fuck Up’ Bingo”, checking off all the rules that Morrison had listed off the day before that the gunslinger had disobeyed all at once. It did indeed make a straight line.

“No fair!” Hana hissed back. “Best out of three!”

“This game doesn’t work that way,” Lucio was triumphant.

McCree could hear Morrison let out a long, belabored hiss from behind his visor.

“What a charming team,” the handsome man smirked, observing the entire gong show. He sat down at the head of the table.

Oops.

McCree didn’t turn to face Soldier 76, who had turned his head excruciatingly slowly to look at him. It was times like these that he was glad he couldn’t see the other man’s face.

“Welcome. I am Shimada Hanzo,” the head of the Shimada family leaned forward, crossing his fingers as he placed his hands in front of him on the table. His eyes were fixed on Jesse the entire time, narrowed with interest, like a wolf sizing up its prey. “Shall we begin?”

McCree gulped again, feeling the same dread from earlier. He was definitely in trouble.

---

Several hours later, and even Morrison seemed to tire of the meeting’s minutiae. Hana and Lucio had started shifting uncomfortably an hour ago.

“The final point in our contract,” Jack’s voice sounded relieved.

Hana let out a soft breath in relief as well.

The long meeting had been uncomfortable for McCree in a different way. While Hanzo had immediately focused on the business at hand once the talks had started, the damage was done. McCree could feel every last syllable that man spoke course through his body, and began to daydream, wondering what it would be like to run a hand through that long black hair. It didn’t help that every once in awhile, when the attention was not on him, Hanzo would shoot Jesse the most sinful, most devastating look possible. Jesse swallowed hard and undid the top button to his shirt. Hanzo arched an eyebrow before turning his attention back to the conversation.

Goddammit!

“The agent who will join my ranks?” Hanzo inquired.

“Yes. Agent Fareeha Amari will act as your bodyguard,” Morrison confirmed.

Pharah stepped forward and bowed stiffly, both arms at her side.

Yoroshiku onegaishimasu,” she spoke to the floor. Hana and Lucio gaped at her. McCree snorted, unsurprised. She had worked in international security for years, and likely knew several languages he didn’t know about.

Hanzo looked impressed. “Thank you agent Amari. I know of both you and your mother. Your portfolio and skillset are most impressive.” The corner of his lip was tugging upwards. McCree tried to puzzle out what this meant.

“Show off,” Hana muttered.

“But I am afraid that there will not be a suitable place for you in my organization.”

A heavy silence descended on the entire room.

“No. I think that man will serve our needs better.”

All in one motion, the Overwatch agents turned their heads to stare at Jesse.

“McCree?” Soldier 76 was uncharacteristically incredulous.

“Is that his name?” Hanzo answered, nonchalant. “Fine, yes, him.”

“But…why the fu—yes, if you think it is for the best,” Morrison conceded. It was one of those times where Jesse wished he could see the other man’s face.

A green haired man beside Hanzo snickered. He looked a bit younger, and McCree noted that he was the only one on Shimada’s side of the table with his shirt untucked, and his tie askew. The younger man said something in Japanese to Hanzo. McCree picked up the word “cowboy”, pronounced with an intentional, exaggerated drawl.

Fareeha cleared her throat.

McCree raised his eyebrows. He knew her well enough to recognize that sound was one she used to cover up laughter.

I’ll have to ask about it later.

“And in exchange?”

“In exchange, you will take my brother, Genji.”

The green haired man stopped laughing. He said something else directed at Hanzo, tone more sharp.

Genji, I presume.

Morrison huffed. “I wouldn’t want to take away someone so important to your organization.”

“It is how I choose to show my good faith. Please take care of him.” While it was subtle, McCree noticed that the second sentence was delivered more quietly, as if speaking it with too much force would cause the words to disappear.

Genji continued to speak to Hanzo in Japanese, more agitated. His voice grew louder. Hanzo’s men shifted uncomfortably.

Hanzo barked out a short phrase in response, and the other man fell into silence, face red, hands clenched on his lap.

---

“I’m not going,” Genji spat with force and venom, as if he could change his fate by pure willpower. It was one of his brother’s greatest weaknesses, Hanzo thought to himself, affectionately.

Thinking that he had control over his own life. A luxury of the second born.

“You’re going,” Hanzo’s response was blunt and even, but somehow still held greater weight. Genji slammed the table with both hands and growled in frustration.

“Aniki—“

“It is what you’ve wanted from the start, is it not?” Hanzo interrupted, sitting deathly calm. “It is why you proposed that we form this alliance with Overwatch.”

“Don’t fucking suggest you know what I want,” Genji’s face betrayed his words, however. “I wanted the alliance because Overwatch can help us take down the assholes who have been fucking up our family and waiting for an opportunity to kill us both since father died.”

“Don’t fool yourself,” Hanzo snorted. “You have never cared about the reputation of the Shimada family.”

“You’re right, I don’t give a flying fuck about reputation, but I care about you, you dick!”

Hanzo stiffened, his act of composure interrupted. It did not escape his younger brother’s notice.

Genji sighed, shifting tactics. “You can’t possibly take on all of those pieces of shit by yourself.”

“You’re right,” Hanzo allowed. “I cannot.”

“And to send me away would be suic—“

“Would mean that one of us could finally escape,” Hanzo cut in quietly. Genji’s eyes began to glass over. He bit at his bottom lip, a motion that he saved from childhood for instances when he was the most upset.

“Aniki. With Overwatch’s help—“

Hanzo laughed, but it was hollow. “And you think that this Overwatch can send help faster than our relatives can send hurt?”

“If we go away together, yes,” Genji urged.

“If I stepped away, then our name is as good as finished.”

“And would that be so bad?” Genji pressed.

Hanzo turned away. “We are not finished yet,” he answered cryptically.

“Goddammit, aniki!” Genji was shouting again, temper escaping his control. “This family has fucked both of us up. What could possibly be worth salvaging?”

“If you have to ask, you would not understand,” Hanzo snapped back. He drew in a breath to regain his own poise. “You have always been the better person, Genji. You can do good in this world. Join Overwatch. Earn for both of us what we’ve long desired.”

“And what do you think that is?” Genji’s voice shook. He seemed already to know the answer, and the implications that this answer held for his brother seemed to horrify him.

Hanzo stood and turned to look out the skyscraper window and the twinkling lights below.

“Freedom.”

---

McCree took a long drag from his cigarillo, back against the wall, arms crossed. Things had gotten serious fast.

There was a mighty loud racket coming from the elder Shimada’s office, but he could understand none of it, despite being the only one in listening distance.

Without warning, the door flew open, hitting the wall behind it with a resounding slam. The younger Shimada stormed out and flung his weight into the door so that it slammed the other way as well, screaming something in Japanese before the gap closed. McCree looked over the younger man’s face with interest. His shoulders were trembling, his face flushed red in anger. The rim of his eyes were redder still, and unwept tears still clung to his lashes. Those eyes flashed up immediately to meet the cowboy’s. McCree tipped his hat in apology for staring.

“Cowboy.”

McCree could tell that the younger ninja was doing his best to reinforce his voice with authority, to stop the shaking, but was failing miserably to do so. McCree gave him a sympathetic smile.

“Yes, Shimada-sa—“

“Do not *ever* address me by that name,” Genji snarled, momentarily finding the steel that his brother’s voice had carried earlier. He bit it back. “Call me Genji.”

“Genji.”

“You are to be Hanzo’s bodyguard?”

“That’s what they tell me.”

“Then promise me,” McCree was surprised by the sudden desperation that crept into Genji’s voice.

“Promise me on your life, that you will keep him safe.”

Jesse was at a loss, not expecting this sudden, very genuine, very nervous plea.

“You think he’s in danger?” he asked, snapping to attention, Overwatch agent instincts taking over.

Genji did not answer.

“Who’s after him?”

The younger man hesitated.

He’s been instructed not to say. McCree realized.

“There is no one that my brother can trust, other than myself,” Genji said at last. He looked into McCree’s eyes, pleading. “He has no one else. He is a good man. He is trying—“

They were interrupted by the sound of the door opening. Hanzo stood at it, looking at both of them impatiently. He spoke in English.

“Genji. I was expecting the Agent McCree 15 minutes ago. Do you not have packing to do, or must you continue to hinder me until the minute you leave?”

Instead of taking the bait, McCree noticed, the younger man had deflated, looking to his older brother with a great sadness. He said something softly in Japanese, which made Hanzo’s shoulders draw up in tension, and left swiftly, saying no more.

Hanzo watched his brother’s retreating form for a moment, before turning his attention back to the cowboy.

“Jesse McCree.”

McCree pulled the rim of his hat down in acknowledgement.

“Come in.”

---

McCree entered the stylish, yet sparse, office. He tried to maintain his usual confident saunter, but something about the way Shimada was holding himself now put him ill at ease. Any trace of the playful smirk was gone, replaced by an air of cold, perfunctory command. Hanzo sat behind his desk and motioned for Jesse to sit in the chair across from it.

“Your commander insists that you must act as my bodyguard, Mr. McCree.”

“No ‘Mister’. Don’t reckon I deserve a title like that,” Jesse tried with a winning smile.

It was not returned. Hanzo looked at the cowboy appraisingly, but continued. “While I appreciate his concern, I cannot see a need for your service. I can take care of myself.”

“The commander was fairly…insistent about this point, Shimada-san.”

”Fuck this up, and I’ll kill you myself, McCree,” had been Morrison’s exact words in his quarters right after the meeting, shortly before flying out with the rest of the team.

“I understand the position in which this puts you,” Hanzo looked disdainful. “But rest assured, I will not be reporting your duties and progress to your superior. As far as I am concerned, you are off the hook.”

“’fraid that’s not the way I see it, Shimada-san.”

The other man scowled at the response.

“I’ve given my word that I will protect you, and that is what I intend to do,” Something about this entire situation—how Genji was the one sent away, Genji’s plea just moments ago, and now this insistence that he would need no protection—something didn’t sit right. “If you would like to take it up with the commander—“

“No that will not be necessary,” Hanzo waved a hand, eyes still narrowed. “If you will not change your mind, then I am not sure there is anything else to discuss.”

McCree was uncomfortable with the way the conversation was going. He wasn’t sure why Hanzo was suggesting he didn’t need the help, when it was Hanzo himself who had approached Overwatch first. There was also…

“Shimada-san. Earlier, in the garden…” McCree wasn’t entirely sure what he himself was trying to ask.

“Just a simple test, nothing more.”

The words were spoken with the same terse rhythm as the rest of their conversation: just a little bit too even to be entirely innocent.

“A test? Did I pass?” The gunslinger changed his approach, flashing another charming grin.

Hanzo’s gaze had a calculating intensity. “You are here, are you not?”

Those words, too, were impenetrable, evasive. They told the gunslinger nothing about what he had been tested on, and why the test was needed in the first place. McCree frowned.

“My brother. He spoke with you earlier.” The casual tone was anything but.

“Yes sir?”

“What did he tell you?”

“Nothin’ of interest,” Jesse replied. Hanzo scowled.

Two can play at this game. McCree smirked inwardly.

“Very well. If there is nothing else, I will have someone show you to your quarters.”

“Nothing else, Shimada-san. Oh, just, what time will you be needing me tomorrow?”

“Be ready by 8:00,” Hanzo stood, indicating that their conversation was at an end.

“Of course. Good night, then, Shimada-san.”

McCree turned to leave.

“Don’t reckon I deserve a title like that.”

Jesse froze at the exaggerated drawl. He turned to find Hanzo sporting the same playful grin that had made him weak in the knees that morning in the garden.

“B-Beg pardon?”

Just as quick, it was gone, once again leaving McCree to puzzle at the meaning.

The man gave him nothing more. “Call me Hanzo.”

Chapter Text

Jesse had a gut feeling that he should be ready earlier than agreed upon, and as often was the case, he was right. He left his quarters at 7:00am the next morning, already prepared to leave, and found several men in suits, bustling in the halls. Hanzo was almost at the door when the cowboy caught him. He had just thrown a long overcoat gracefully over his shoulders. It, of course, looked too damn good on him, in McCree’s opinion.

“Shim—Hanzo,” McCree corrected himself.

The other man stiffened, obviously not expecting to hear his voice.

“I know we said eight yesterday, but I’m an early riser. Have plans changed?” McCree asked innocently.

Hanzo did not turn to look at him. “Yes. Come now.” He continued to walk to the car.

“Yes sir,” McCree grinned. Something about this felt like victory.

They entered the expensive looking black car with a driver and one other guard. Hanzo and Jesse sat in the back. The yakuza leader barked a few instructions to the driver, and they were on their way.

Without looking over, Hanzo took out a slim cigarette, and pointed it at McCree.

“Wha? Oh,” McCree fumbled a bit before realizing that the other man was asking for a light. He reached into this serape and pulled out a matchbox. Hanzo looked over and snorted.

“What?” McCree asked, defensive. “Ain’t never seen a light before?”

“Nothing so crude, no,” Hanzo reached inside his long coat and pulled out a silver lighter. He threw it at the cowboy. “Keep it.”

It looked expensive. “I couldn’t possibl—“

“And I couldn’t possibly be seen with a bodyguard who looks like he’s about to light a campfire instead of my cigarette.”

The other men in the car began to snicker openly.

McCree’s lips started to curl. “Now listen here—“

“If you do not think that you can adapt to the way we do things here, McCree, then perhaps you should go home,” Hanzo interrupted again, coldly.

Anger started to bloom in Jesse’s chest. He clenched his fist hard, and was about to show the smug son of a bitch exactly how well he adapted before the man’s words from the previous evening returned to him.

He’s trying to get rid of me, just like he got rid of Genji. Jesse realized.

A different sort of feeling began to spread throughout McCree’s body, one that he couldn’t quite identify.

“Beg pardon, Shimada-san,” he drawled, exaggerating the syrup in his voice. He intentionally used Hanzo's last name instead of his first as he flipped the silver lighter open expertly.

Hanzo’s eyes darted quickly to meet McCree’s in annoyance. Jesse felt a small triumph at that. Just as swift, the irritation smoothed into practiced indifference. The Shimada snorted again, holding up the cigarette without a word, and turned to look out at the moving world beyond the window.

“Where’re we goin’?” McCree asked after some time.

“To make the rounds.”

“The rounds?”

“You will see.”

They first stopped on a street lined with small food shops. It was already full of life as the store owners hurried to prepare for the new day.

Hanzo spoke in Japanese to his other men, and they nodded in response, staying by the car.
Hanzo motioned for McCree to follow him, and the two of them walked about half a block before entering a small shop that was mostly empty. The owner greeted Hanzo warmly in Japanese upon arrival, and gestured that they should sit anywhere they would like. Hanzo sat on a stool at the counter, and Jesse sat beside him.

The shop owner came over immediately to take their order, which Hanzo gave with a few Japanese phrases.

This was just as well: McCree had taken a quick look at the menu to find it incomprehensible.

“Are we…on business here?”

“I had assumed that your attempt to catch me meant you had not eaten,” Hanzo took a sip of his tea without turning to look at Jesse.

“Would’ve had time for breakfast had you been honest about when you were leavin’,” McCree grinned.

“Yes, I would have also,” Hanzo turned slightly to glare at the cowboy.

Definitely feels like victory.

The shop owner returned with two identical trays of food.

McCree looked curiously at the items. There was a small bowl of rice, covered with an egg, sunny side up. Beside it was a smaller bowl of what looked like brown beans, and a plate with a small piece of grilled fish on it.

He watched as Hanzo mixed the beans into the rice and egg, and followed suit.

Itadakimasu!

Hanzo turned to look at the cowboy again, raising an eyebrow.

McCree grinned, silently thanking Hana for making him sit through an entire season of her favourite J-drama.

He tried some of the rice, and nearly coughed it back up.

“Something wrong?” Hanzo asked, voice calm, continuing to eat.

Son of a—

The other man’s demeanor looked far too placid, far too practiced. This had to have been intentional.

If you think I’m gonna give up that easy…

“I’ve never had anything like it, is all,” McCree took a sip of tea. He looked at the bean concoction again, with determination, and took a smaller bite, chewing thoughtfully.

“A bit like okra,” McCree said slowly, trying to wrap his head around the taste.

A few more bites, and he was eating with enthusiasm.

“This is not bad,” McCree managed between mouthfuls. “What’s it called?”

“Natto,” Hanzo kept eating, small furrow forming on his brow, having been beaten.

Jesse couldn’t help but think it was adorable.

---

After breakfast, they made their way up the street, stopping at every stall. McCree noticed the owners greeted Hanzo warmly. They would speak in brief, in a friendly manner, before Hanzo carried on to the next shop.

“You start by greetin’ the neighbours?” McCree asked with uncertainty.

“My family deals in protection,” Hanzo answered, without stopping. “My grandfather thought it to be a more honourable business that our more traditional dealings. He made the change, and we have continued to do so ever since.”

“A lot of money in protection?”

Hanzo smirked. “That would depend on the size of the company you are protecting. But just because our client list has expanded does not mean we forget our very first.”

McCree nodded.

They had reached the end of the street.

An elderly woman, standing in front of a small cart, greeted Hanzo by his formal title. For just a split second, before he remembered his guest, Hanzo’s face lit up, his lips quirked in a genuine smile instead of the twisted sneer Jesse saw more often. He began to speak with the woman in a far more familiar manner than he had used with the shopkeepers earlier. The lady turned her gaze to McCree, and asked Hanzo something.

McCree grabbed the tip of his hat, nodding in greeting.

Hanzo answered, and the woman seemed delighted at the response, to what seemed to be Hanzo’s dismay.

As they left, the lady handed each of them a flat pastry. Hanzo looked at it with the same glassy-eyed excitement from earlier. They thanked her and moved on.

“What’s this?” McCree examined the pastry, turning it around. It was still warm.

“Dorayaki.”

McCree noticed in amusement that Hanzo had already finished his. He took a bite.

“This is a really good pancake!”

“It is not a pancake,” Hanzo corrected him sharply. “It is dorayaki.”

McCree laughed, drawing an even bigger scowl. “Sorry, darlin’. Say, was she sayin’ something about me?”

“Yes. You are loud.”

“But I wasn’t even talkin’!” Jesse protested, feigning offense.

That rare playfulness returned, briefly. “You didn’t have to. She could tell.”

They continued bickering until the car came into view. To McCree’s disappointment, Hanzo increased his speed so that he was walking in front Jesse, and fell silent.

--

They would start every morning with breakfast, before continuing on with whatever minor errands Hanzo had to complete for the day. When his men were out of earshot, Hanzo would allow McCree to draw him into conversation. It was comfortable even from the first day. After a few weeks, it became easy routine.

It was a week later that Hanzo finally called for Jesse in the evening. McCree arrived in the hallway to find the man already impeccably dressed, more so than usual, and this was the first sign that there was something off. The men who were accompanying them today were more visibly armed. Hanzo carried a long, hard leather case with him, slung over his shoulder. They entered the car in silence.

“Where we goin’?” McCree eventually asked.

“We are meeting with my uncle. I am about to reveal to him that I know of his dealings in the drug trade, contrary to my father’s orders. He is about to reveal to me his belief that he would be better suited as the head of the family.” Hanzo’s face did not betray any emotion. His eyes were fixed on the lights moving past the car window.

May as well’ve been talkin’ about the weather. McCree mused.

“If we require a show of force, anyone on his side of the table, excluding my uncle and the two sitting immediately to his left and right, are fair game.”

“Uh…by fair game do you mean—“

“Use whatever force you deem necessary,” Hanzo waved a hand dismissively.

Jesse nodded, thinking back on his conversation with Genji that first evening. “Y’can count on me, pardner. You gonna be alright?”

Hanzo flicked his eyes to the gunslinger at the response, brow furrowed to show he did not understand.

“Dealin’ with family in this way.”

Hanzo snorted. “This is the Shimada-gumi. We are all family. When family is wayward, this is the necessary consequence.”

The response only worried Jesse more, but he knew the other man well enough now to know not to press. He answered instead in the same manner he approached all tense situations: by attempting to defuse the tension.

“Family? Me too, darlin’?” he purred.

Hanzo looked over again, startled. Jesse paled, and was about to apologize when a faint pink flush began to spread across the Shimada leader’s cheeks.

Well I’ll be.

Jesse was struck by how pretty the colour was, set against the man’s pale skin, and against the falling twilight outside.

Just as quickly, Hanzo turned his attention back to the car window.

“Do not be ridiculous.”

The retort lacked its normal bite.

---

They arrived at a large estate, not quick as grand as Hanamura, but impressive just the same. Men in black suits met them at the door, and ushered them into a large room with a long table. Hanzo sat at one end of it, closest to the door. McCree noticed that his men kept standing, and he did likewise, making sure though that he was closest to the seated man. Hanzo turned to look at him. His lips twisted slightly, not necessarily to indicate that he was upset, not necessarily readable. McCree grabbed at the rim of his hat in acknowledgement, and gave a reassuring nod. Hanzo nodded back, but turned away without any other response.

An elderly man in a yukata eventually entered, flanked by a man and a woman in matching black suits. Three other guards followed.

The man greeted Hanzo warmly by his first name before taking the seat opposite from him at the long table. His eyes rested on McCree for a moment, and the smile grew. He switched to English.

“It is always good to see you, my favourite nephew. Tell me, what brings you here today?”

“Your retirement, uncle.”

The ice in Hanzo’s voice did not deter the older man. He simply raised an eyebrow.

“I would have thought that you would need my help now more than ever, now that Genji is gone.”

“Word travels fast,” Hanzo observed, his voice remaining stoic.

“As it must in this family,” his uncle laughed, and he looked directly at McCree. “You have a new man.”

“Yes.”

“An Overwatch Agent.”

“If you say so,” Hanzo gave a careless shrug.

“You would prefer to side with a foreigner rather than your own family?” An air of threat caught the edge of Old Man Shimada’s voice. McCree curled and uncurled his fingers, ready to draw.

“Only when my family betrays my trust,” Hanzo’s voice grew soft, yet dangerous.

His uncle dismissed his statement with a wave. “This is about the drugs? We can come to an agreement, surely.”

“And what kind of agreement would that be, uncle?” Hanzo’s voice continued to be impassive.

His uncle’s eyes narrowed, and a sneer crossed his lips. “One where you let me take care of everything.”

“Please do not do this,” Hanzo said simply.

“You are stubborn, as your father, Hanzo,” the old man’s smile was slow and deliberate. “He, too, never saw it coming.” He lifted his hands. Weapons were raised all around the room, including Peacekeeper.

There was something wrong. Old Man Shimada did not look worried at all by Hanzo’s other guards. A quick assessment of the guard’s faces confirmed what McCree guessed to be true.

These aren’t Hanzo’s guards. Not anymore.

Shit.

Jesse’s throat felt dry, observing that the two men behind Hanzo had their guns aimed at their master instead of at his uncle.

Hanzo didn’t even flinch.

“Before we begin, I ask that you let my American go,” Hanzo said, voice still stoic.

My American.

McCree felt a thrill go down his spine.

“You do not want to raise the ire of an international organization by killing one of their agents, uncle. On the other hand, they will not care about your betrayal.”

But I will. McCree could feel a reverberating growl forming deep in his stomach, set off by a sudden surge of protectiveness. His fingers twitched against Peacekeeper’s trigger.

Genji was wrong to think Hanzo had no one else. He has me.

Hanzo’s uncle laughed. “Such courtesy towards the stranger. Why, if I didn’t know you better, I would think that you liked him, nephew.”

Hanzo’s scowl deepened at the comment, but he said nothing.

“Very well. American. You may go.”

Hanzo met McCree’s gaze, and flicked his eyes to the door.

Jesse said nothing, but his mind was racing.

Five guards. Five guards and six bullets.

He had one chance. He nodded at Hanzo. The man raised his eyebrows, clearly not expecting him to acquiesce so easily.

McCree turned and slowly made for the door.

“One thing first, Hanzo. Y’asked me what your brother said to me before he left.” McCree kept walking.

Ten paces forward.

“Yes?” Hanzo asked with impatience, but his voice seemed tense with something else.

“He made me promise.”

Ten paces, halt.

McCree stopped, right at the door.

“Promise what?”

“Promise on my life. To keep you safe.”

Draw.

Jesse turned around with remarkable speed, Peacemaker steadied on his mechanical arm.

High noon, motherfuckers.

There was a quick series of shots, then a pregnant pause. All five guards fell to the ground at once. McCree reloaded with one swift motion. The two men beside Hanzo’s uncle reached for their guns, but McCree had his trained on their master, and clicked his tongue, indicating that they should keep their hands still. They raised them.

Hanzo had not moved through this entire ordeal. Old Man Shimada’s jaw looked like it was about to hit the table.

“Uncle. Your retirement,” Hanzo said again plainly. “I hear that Okinawa is lovely this time of year.”

“How did you know?” The old man was still agape.

“How could I not?” Hanzo smirked. “What my father lacked in compromise, you made up for in arrogance. He always said you aren’t as smart as you think you are. I am glad to prove to him today that he was correct.”

Hanzo picked up his case from the floor and stood, turning away from the table. He looked directly at McCree.

Something flickered in his eyes, once again indiscernible.

I’ll figure you out yet, darlin’. McCree promised.

“Isn’t it funny then, that your father is the one in his grave and I am the one—“

The old man’s words were interrupted, stopped by an arrow through his throat. He began to choke on his own blood.

McCree turned to Hanzo in shock. He hadn’t even seen the man open the case to load his bow, but there the weapon was now, held taut, task complete.

“I gave you a chance because you were family. It is unfortunate you did not decide to take it.”

The other two remaining agents gave a gasp and reached for their master frantically, trying to stem the bleeding.

Hanzo turned to McCree.

“We are done here.”

---

Back in the car (which Hanzo was now driving, as his driver was dead), the two men sat in silence.

McCree glanced over at the other man in concern. He noticed that his hands were shaking badly on the wheel.

Jesse didn’t realize he was reaching to steady one of those hands until he felt it shaking beneath his. He felt it jerk suddenly at the touch.

“What are you doing?” Hanzo snapped, but without bite.

McCree took this as permission to keep his hand where it was. When there was no further argument, he lifted this hand and put it in his lap, still encasing it firmly with his own. They sat this way until they got home.

---

Much later that evening, McCree got out of bed, unable to sleep. Something about the day’s incident tugged at his chest. Not necessarily conscious of how, he ended up at Hanzo’s office door, to find the light on. What could he do but knock?

“Come in.”

The voice was a bit less clipped than usual, McCree noticed. He opened the door to find Hanzo sitting at his desk with half a bottle of whiskey.

“Yes?” Hanzo tried to narrow his eyes, but just looked more tired. McCree realized he had no excuse for standing in front of the man, and also that he had not said anything for just a little too long. He closed the door behind him.

“Just saw your light on and was wonderin’ if you were still awake,” he tried lamely.

Hanzo snorted. “And I suppose you now want a drink?”

“I didn’—yes, that would be fine, thank you,” Jesse corrected himself.

Hanzo poured generously, and gestured to the chair in front of him. They clinked glasses and sat in silence. McCree eventually filled the empty space.

“How’d you know?”

“Hn?”

“That I’d be able to get us out of there.”

“You are a talented Overwatch agent. I assumed a certain level of skill of you.”

McCree could recognize the perfunctory emptiness of those words.

He didn’t know. He was prepared to die.

Genji’s anger from the other day suddenly made a lot more sense to Jesse. McCree could feel that same anger starting to bloom in himself. Hanzo interrupted his thought before he could pursue the topic further, however.

“When I was six, he taught me how to fish one summer,” his eyes were transfixed on his glass.

“Yer uncle?”

“And when my mother died, my aunt took us into her own home, as my father was too busy,” Hanzo continued, not answering. McCree waited patiently. “And I killed her last week.”

“I’m sorry,” Jesse said at last, not certain how else to react.

Hanzo replied by emptying his glass again, and pouring more. Jesse emptied his own.

“Why…”

“Because someone has to do it. And because of our agreement.”

“Our…you mean with Overwatch?” McCree’s shoulders stiffened.

“Who better to dismantle the Shimada organization than a Shimada himself? Besides,” Hanzo took another gulp. “I owe it to them. To do it by my own hand.”

“Now just hold on a minute,” McCree stood, leaning forward. He grabbed Hanzo’s hand before he could pour again. “I thought the agreement only involved our mutual enemies.”

“Elements in my own clan have become the enemy. We have fallen, and there is no other way.”

Hanzo tried to snatch his hand from the cowboy’s grasp. The sway of it caused him to topple. McCree swore under his breath and reached out to steady the man. He could sense that they were talking about different things, that Hanzo meant something that McCree did not fully understand.

“No other way for what?” He kneeled down to try to catch the other man’s gaze.

“For redemption.”

Chapter Text

McCree had been unable to coax anything else from Hanzo after that. He eventually helped Hanzo to his bedroom and tucked him under the covers as best he could. The creases on Hanzo’s brow did not lessen even in sleep. Before he could stop himself, Jesse realized he had reached to smooth his fingers across those lines, gently caressing Hanzo’s forehead. The other man flinched, but did not seem to be awake.

The next morning, neither man mentioned anything that had happened the previous night. McCree was summoned to the yakuza leader’s office, and arrived to find the room already lined with his men, standing at attention.

Hanzo himself swept into the room moments later, looking impeccable, as usual. Instead of sitting, he stood in front of his desk, and began to pace, staring down the line of agents.

“I am going to say this in English to accommodate our guest, and because it is important,” Hanzo began, steel in his voice. “I am aware that some of you no longer feel as though you can serve my branch of the family. If this is the case, then I offer you this opportunity to step away.”

The men shuffled uncomfortably, shooting glances at each other.

“If you feel the need to leave, then it is I who have failed you,” he continued. Most of the men turned to him, confused. “As it is I who have not inspired your faith and loyalty. I take this mistake to heart. Walk away now, but know that if we face each other later in life, I will not be so kind.”

Shimada stopped his pacing and stood rigid in front of his desk.

McCree silently wondered at the move. The yakuza were not known for their generosity to traitors. This did not seem like standard protocol.

One of the men slammed his hand hard on the wall, and began to speak loudly and angrily in Japanese. Jesse’s fingers twitched on Peacemaker’s trigger, but he soon realized that the man was addressing the other yakuza, not Hanzo. His body language suggested he was speaking on Hanzo’s behalf, likely threatening the life of any who would defect. A quick survey of the room suggested that the rest of the men were in agreement.

Jesse turned to gauge Hanzo’s reaction. Hanzo turned to meet his gaze, rolling his eyes at the theatrics. His lips were curled up in amusement however, almost fondness.

He stopped the other man’s tirade by raising his hand.

“Good enough. You honour me with your trust. Let’s celebrate this tonight. Dismissed.”

The men cheered, chattering amongst themselves as they exited.

“I don’t know much ‘bout how y’all do things here, but that never woulda happened in the gang I ran in,” Jesse mused.

Hanzo huffed. “Loyalty inspired by fear is temporary at best. Loyalty inspired by bribery, despicable.”

The archer all but spat the last word, bringing Jesse back to last evening.

“Y’alright?”

“You ask that question frequently,” Hanzo observed, revealing nothing.

“Only when it needs to be asked,” Jesse pushed the brim of his hat upward, sliding his eyes to regard the other man without turning his neck.

“Yes.” The man answered in that same impassive tone that Jesse was beginning to recognize to mean that he really wasn’t. Then, after some thought, with more sincerity. “Thank you.”

---

They had barely entered their karaoke room that evening before Hanzo’s agents began to push drinks on Jesse with boisterous excitement.

“It means they like you,” Hanzo answered the perplexed question written on McCree’s face as he held a shot of whisky in each hand. “They have heard that you saved my life.”

“That must mean they worry ‘bout you too.” He had seen the admiration in the men’s eyes earlier that day, when they were addressed as though they mattered. He could see now their excitement at even just being in Hanzo’s presence. The entire scene had only made the yakuza leader seem even more human to Jesse, even more like someone who deserved to be protected.

Hanzo frowned. “They worry about their employment.”

“Sounds like they can get employment elsewhere, if last night were proof.”

Hanzo’s expression darkened.

“My point bein’, they don’t. The ones here I mean,” Jesse added quickly. “I saw the way they looked at you earlier. In a gang, that means something, don’t it?”

McCree was not given time to hear the answer. The yakuza had figured out the karaoke machine, and several of them began to haul him over to it. Jesse could swear though that he felt the heat of Hanzo’s stare on the back of his neck the entire way.

Defeated, he laughed at their insistence, and scrolled through the available songs. He loaded up his karaoke song on the machine, and sat back comfortably on the sofa.

“Y’all in for a treat,” McCree announced.

As it was several songs away, McCree agreed to learn a drinking game that the other men were playing, remembering too late that he was very bad at drinking games. He was so far gone after just half an hour that he missed the familiar guitar intro. Someone else took the mic. He was brought back to reality when the other men began to nudge each other, having taken notice of the singer themselves.

I hurt myself today to see if I still feel. I focus on the pain, the only thing that’s real.

McCree’s throat felt dry. Hanzo’s voice wrapped around the words, as smooth as silk, as ethereal as smoke.

Everyone I know goes away in the end. And you could have it all. My empire of dirt,” his eyes were half closed in concentration as he aimed for the centre of each pitch. Jesse could feel the vibration of Shimada’s voice run through his body like electricity, culminating down low, far too close to his groin. He shivered.

I will let you down…I will make you hurt.

There was something in that voice, some pain, something mournful, something else.

McCree had a theory: that to sing a song of this caliber in its proper way, you had to actually mean it—you had to be singing it to someone.

But who?

Hanzo’s eyes flickered up to meet McCree’s, and all of a sudden Jesse had his answer.
Shimada looked away, almost in anger, and put the mic down. His men had begun cheering in the background, but he dismissed it with a wave, sitting back, and lighting a cigarette.

---

After recovering from an impressive, pounding, beast of a hangover, Jesse realized that this entire situation was something he could no longer deal with himself. He took out his tablet and put a request into the Overwatch channel. Morrison’s face appeared within seconds, like he had been waiting for the call. Jesse wondered whether this was what the man did in his spare time.

“McCree. You’re early with the report.” The man sounded surprised.

“Nothin’ to report yet this week. I’m actually lookin’ for Genji.”

The old soldier grumbled, and the screen went black. Jesse was greeted by Genji’s wide smile when it turned on again. The younger man had been freed from his black suit, and had settled for what looked like white training clothes with a wide, orange collar. It clashed horrifically against his bright green hair, but Jesse guessed that Genji was just the type to do this on purpose. The younger Shimada looked pleased to see him.

“I’m surprised you didn’t call sooner.”

“Why’s that?”

Genji laughed. “My brother is not an easy man.”

“Ain’t that the truth,” Jesse snorted.

“But he likes you,” Genji returned to his knowing smile. “And that is rare.”

“Not sure I’d say he likes me,” Jesse frowned.

“You are still there, aren’t you?”

“Yeah, but that’s not from lack of tryin’ on his part.”

Genji grinned even wider. “Then perhaps this will work even better than I imagined. He needs someone who won’t put up with his bullshit. He talks about you.”

Jesse sat up. “What’s he say?”

“That you are ‘irritating’. The fact that he’s talking about you at all is practically foreplay coming from him,” Genji added, seeing Jesse’s face fall.

“Foreplay?” Jesse laughed nervously. “I think you misunderstand my intentions—“

“Oh no, I think I understand your intentions perfectly. Better than you do,” Genji’s smirk turned wicked.

“Now listen here—“

“Tell me then, why’d you call?” Genji asked innocently.

Jesse sulked.

“Come on, don’t be like that,” The younger man chided. “You want to know something. You want *advice* even.”

“On why your family’s tryin’ to kill him, not on gettin’ into his pants!”

Genji sobered. “What?”

“We took down your uncle the other day, but if we didn’t, he wouldn’t have taken Hanzo out instead.”

“My brother mentioned that there was a confrontation and that you helped,” Genji frowned. “He didn’t say uncle was trying to kill him. We assumed he was planning to, but he has never actually moved to do so.”

“Well, he tried. And now Hanzo tells me we’re meetin’ your cousin tonight.”

“Which one?” Genji demanded. “Kojuro?”

“Millicent. Why?”

Genji’s shoulders relaxed, but only an inch. “They’re all assholes, but Kojuro’s the only one with half a brain.”

“You think he might be next?”

“I’m sure of it. If uncle’s made an attempt, the rest will follow. That slippery bastard has had it out for us since he was born, but is always two steps ahead, so we can never catch him. He’s always thought that his branch of the family should be calling the shots.”

“That’s what the old man thought too,” Jesse mused.

“That’s what they all think,” Genji scowled. “We have get Hanzo out of there.”

Jesse recognized the same plea from the day they met.

“I’m on it. No one’s gonna hurt him on my watch,” he assured the younger man.

These words reminded Genji of his earlier purpose. A Cheshire grin flashed across his face.

“Your brother would sooner skewer me,” Jesse rolled his eyes, seeing where this was going.

Genji snorted. “You’d like that, wouldn’t y—“

“Christ Almighty, *now* I know why he sent you away,” Jesse threw his hands up in exasperation.

The younger man only laughed. “Look. You want this advice, even though you’re not asking. If my brother is interested in you, he’s not going to admit it. He has been of two minds, ever since our father passed. He used to tell me everything, but after father’s death, he’s…closed himself.”

Jesse could sense that Genji was reaching for a phrase that was not easily translatable.

“He’s trying to do something he hates and be someone he’s not. And he’s succeeding.” Genji turned his eyes down, humour lost. “I have been watching my brother die slowly for years. This stops now.”

Jesse could see that same anger from the first day they met threatening to boil over, and he was beginning to feel it in himself again as well.

“I hear ya.”

Genji looked up. “He’s going to push you away. Don’t let him.”

Jesse hesitated, and Genji sensed it.

“You wouldn’t still be here if he didn’t like you,” he insisted. “Keep him safe, but just…keep him there cowboy. Until I can find out what’s happening. Until I can set him free.”

---

Jesse walked away from his conversation with several realizations, the first being that he really, truly *did* have feelings for Hanzo. He had been obviously from the first day they met, but it had only gotten worse (or better, depending on when he was looking at it) the more he got to know the man. This lead to several other, more uncomfortable thoughts (that Morrison was going to *kill* him, for example), the most pressing being that he needed to talk to the man. The tricky part was figuring out what to say.

He tried to swallow down any doubts with his morning tea. Hanzo turned to look at him, raising an eyebrow. The tea had been hot. Jesse was coughing. Shimada handed him an extra napkin wordlessly.

“Thank you kindly,” Jesse managed, taking it from him.

“You wish to say something.”

Jesse blinked. “How’d you know?”

“Your mouth has been opening and closing like a hungry fish ever since we left the car,” Hanzo continued to eat his rice.

Jesse chuckled at that, but his mind was reeling for an answer. He couldn’t openly admit his feelings to Hanzo, not yet. If what Genji had said last night were true, then his older brother might shut him out completely if he were direct. No, he would have to draw Hanzo out first, to make him feel more comfortable being himself instead of the cold leader that he needed to be.

He must have been silent for too long: Hanzo put down his bowl of rice and shift his entire body to look at him curiously. Luckily, by this time, Jesse had an idea.

“Ya done? Come on, let’s go!”

He settled the bill with some of his own money for the food, and grabbed Hanzo’s wrist, a bit surprised, but overall pleased when the older Shimada let him do so.

“Where are we going?” Hanzo snapped as they practically ran down the street.

Jesse didn’t answer, too busy praying silently to himself that the cart would be there.

It was.

Hanzo’s eyes widened when he saw that Jesse was leading him towards the dorayaki cart. The old woman’s eyes widened when she saw them barreling towards her, practically holding hands. The look of surprise softened into an encouraging smile.

Jesse greeted her and placed his order in Japanese, once again paying with his own money.

“What? That’s too many!” Hanzo protested.

“Naw, you like them.”

The old lady turned to Hanzo and gave him a pretend frown, chastising him.

“What’s she saying?” Jesse had picked up quite a few basic Japanese phrases, but still had trouble holding a conversation.

“That you are excessive,” Hanzo hissed.

“That he should not turn down a gift,” the woman corrected calmly.

Hanzo blinked at her. Jesse burst into laughter.

“You’ve come to my shop for decades, and you never figured out I could speak English.” The woman’s eyes were twinkling.

“It never came up,” Hanzo muttered at his feet. “I apologize.”

“An apology is not necessary.” The woman bagged up their order, handing it to Jesse with a knowing smile instead of to Hanzo. “Just remember that all one must do sometimes to find their answer is to ask.”

She turned to give Hanzo a pointed look at this last sentence. Hanzo avoided it, much in the same manner that a young child avoids such unspoken prompts.

Jesse thanked the lady, and handed the bag to the other man, eyes lit up with excitement. Hanzo fought it: McCree watched closely as he tried to exert control over ever last muscle on his face. Slowly—and if you were to ask Jesse, beautifully—he loses, enticed by the smell of fresh sweets, and that smile from the very first day wins out.

Both Jesse and the old woman breathed a sigh of relief.

Hanzo snatched the bag from Jesse, and grabbing the first of many dorayaki, took a huge bite. Jesse is finally offered one when Hanzo is on his third.

“Thank you,” Hanzo added, between bites.

And it was amazing how those two simple words made Jesse’s heart soar.

---

“What in the name of all things holy *is* this place?”

Later that evening, they arrived in a garishly anachronistic lobby that looked like it was trying to mimic Victorian English sensibilities, but then found that baby pink paint was on sale by the gallon. Every last corner of the room was drenched in the colour, and every last bit of fabric was bordered with lace.

“We are here to visit my cousin, Millicent,” Hanzo reminded him. “Please be prepared. She is, as you Americans say, ‘armed to the teeth’.”

“Armed with what? A Pottery Barn Kid’s catalogue and a lace and sparkle gun?” McCree asked incredulously.

Hanzo furrowed his brow. “I do not understand. Why do you store pottery in a barn?”

“Never mind.”

“Also, do not underestimate her sparkle gun. It does a surprising amount of damage.”

“What—how the—wait…” McCree sputtered until he turned to see the smirk on Hanzo’s lips. He laughed, feeling the giddiness that he always felt when Hanzo told a joke. It was becoming more frequent, Jesse noted with pride. “You got me there, darlin’.”

Hanzo snorted.

“Millicent’s parents died suspiciously when she was very young. There was a mysterious explosion.” Something about Hanzo’s voice suggested the circumstances were not as mysterious as they sounded. “She has been raised by servants. Her eccentricities reflect some of this.”

“Spoiled brat?”

“To put it mildly.”

“So…we’re here to threaten a child?” McCree sounded hesitant.

“Do not be fooled by the décor, or by her appearance,” Hanzo replied. “She is 29.”

They were escorted into a smaller room, where the walls were striped with pink and black paint. An ornate Victorian day-bed was placed in front of the wall opposite the door, and on it, sitting primly, was a girl with ridiculously huge golden curls. Her hands were folded carefully in her lap, pressing down on a puffy, black lace dress.

“Hanzo-kun!” Her voice was full of syrup, and was two octaves too high.

“Millicent.” Hanzo walked forward, eying the two black chaises in front of him with open disdain. He opted to stand instead. Jesse stood behind him. Millicent’s gaze slipped meet his, as she appraised him with interest.

“I haven’t seen you since Uncle’s funeral.”

Hanzo’s shoulders drew even more stiff, as if that were possible. The girl noticed, and her smile widened.

“What brings you to my palace?” She cooed.

“Your arms deal with Talon.” Hanzo got straight to the point. Jesse raised his eyebrows at the detail, but said nothing.

“Girl’s gotta eat.” She fluttered her long eye lashes at him.

“You hardly seem to be starving,” Hanzo observed mildly.

“What do you have against Talon all of a sudden?” Millicent’s eyes flickered over to McCree again for a moment before returning to meet Hanzo’s.

Jesse began to suspect the entire Shimada family knew by this point that he was from Overwatch.

“That is not your concern,” Hanzo answered. “You should be concerned instead with stopping.”

“And if I don’t?” An air of menace descended on her features.

“Do you remember that winter we spent together?” Hanzo asked suddenly. “After your parents died, and father took you in.”

Millicent looked confused. “Yes.”

“And my father said that family was not just the shared blood that ran through our veins. That it was duty, protection, honour-bound. Do you remember your reply?”

Millicent’s lips pulled up to form a cruel smile. “’Wish I’d known sooner’?”

“I should have killed you right then and there,” Hanzo narrowed his eyes, taking a step forward.

Millicent reached behind her dress to pull out a remote and pushed a button.

“Don’t. Even. Move,” She warned. With each word, a panel in the wall opened, revealing a mini-rocket launcher that shifted to aim directly at Hanzo and Jesse.

“Sweet baby Jesus, you have gotta be kidding me,” McCree muttered. The way in which Millicent’s parents had died became far less of a mystery all of a sudden.

“I told you not to underestimate her,” Hanzo replied under his breath. He did not seem surprised. “It is time for Plan B.”

“Plan B? You never even told me there was a Plan A…err…oh.”

Jesse could feel his face start to burn. Hanzo had stepped in front of him protectively, and was pressing firmly back against him.

The archer’s eyes narrowed. “You will not touch him.”

His cousin’s eyes widened. She squealed.

McCree was very, very confused.

“Hanzo…are you alri—“ McCree yelped as Hanzo’s hand suddenly tightened firmly on his ass.

Millicent raised her fists to support her chin, shutting her eyes tight. “Just like my Blu manga!!”

Hanzo took this opportunity to reach down for his bow, just as Millicent’s eyes flew open, and she pulled a pistol from behind her dress, aiming it straight for his forehead. Her face fell serious. “Just how stupid do you think I am?”

Hanzo smirked. “You really want me to answer that?”

“Oh, how boring.” Millicent pulled the trigger.

From Jesse’s point of view, the rest happened in slow motion. He leapt at Hanzo, knocking the man to the ground, and felt a sharp pain burn through his shoulder.

McCree fell to the ground with a gasp. He thought for a moment that it was he himself who had cried out, but realized that the sound came from Hanzo, who had scrambled to shield him from other shots with his own body.

“Jesse—“

“Just a scratch. I’ll be fine, darlin’,” McCree tried to smile in reassurance, but ended up wincing instead.
Hanzo’s cousin laughed gleefully. “So you do care for him. I would have never expected you of all people, cousin, to have a cowboy fetish.”

She smiled sweetly. “Well, at least you will get to die together.”

Hanzo leaned forward to whisper into McCree’s ear. “Jesse.”

“If I had to die, darlin’, I’m glad I get to do so beside you,” McCree once again tried to smile. He felt the archer’s hand begin to snake around his waist and he twitched a little. “Now I wasn’t expectin’ this, but I suppose if y’wanted to try and get a quick one in before—“

“Shut the fuck up,” Hanzo whispered, the tone of his voice not betraying the snap of his words.

“Peacemaker.”

“Oh…” So this was just for show. Jesse’s heart fell. He led Hanzo’s hand to the holster.

Millicent cooed again. “I never knew you were such a romantic, cousin! How could I deny you one last kiss before your death?”

Hanzo ignored her completely. “Look at me,” he whispered to Jesse. His eye lids were lowered, anxious. He drew closer.

Doesn’t feel like actin’. McCree thought hazily to himself. He let himself be drawn forward. He could feel Hanzo’s fingers wrap around Peacekeeper’s handle. “Be gentle wit’ her,” he heard himself mumble into Hanzo’s lips. “Never felt another man’s touch.”

“Seriously, McCree? Right now?” With a hiss, Hanzo swung them around so that his body was still shielding Jesse’s, drawing the gun in the process. One shot, one scream, one soft thud to the ground. McCree recalled commenting on how good Hanzo was with a gun, but was uncertain as to whether he said this out loud before losing consciousness.

---

McCree awoke to find himself staring at a ceiling. He tried to sit up, but was halted by a sharp and overwhelming pain in his left shoulder.

“Stay still,” a voice snapped. A warm hand pressed itself to his chest. Hanzo’s face appeared above him soon after.

“Must have died and gone t’heaven,” McCree murmured happily. He yelped in pain as Hanzo intentionally shoved at his wound, albeit lightly.

“What were you thinking?” Hanzo leaned in so that the cowboy could feel the burn of his glare.

“That I was your bodyguard and you needed protectin’,” McCree shrugged. Hanzo looked almost crestfallen by his answer. “I mean—“

He had missed the opportunity.

“I had everything under control.”

“You had a death wish,” McCree countered with some heat. He was getting tired of playing this game, and was frustrated that he had not taken the previous chance to tell the man how he truly felt.

“And who are you to judge? You just jumped in front of a bullet like your life means nothing to you,” Hanzo growled back.

“No, I jumped in front of you. You invited that bullet.”

“Then you should have let me.”

McCree tried to sit up with a loud, angry growl, ignoring the sharp stab of pain that shot through half his body. Hanzo leaned in to stop him, McCree used this to pull the other man towards him roughly, so that they were inches apart.

“Quit it,” he snarled.

Hanzo looked genuinely stunned. “What?”

“Quit livin’ your life like it don’t matter. Because it matters to me.”

Both men sat in shock at McCree’s proclamation.

Jesse waited, braced for Hanzo’s barriers to kick into action. They did not in the way that he expected. Jesse had expected anger, cold and resolute.

Instead, had drawn back slowly. He was almost at the door before he muttered a phrase in Japanese that Jesse barely pieced together, but thankfully did.

All the more reason why I do not deserve you.

Chapter Text

Jesse spent the next few days healing. To his dismay, Hanzo did not come by again, although he had ensured that McCree was not left wanting for anything. There was little in the way of entertainment, however, which meant that Jesse had all the time in the world to relive their last conversation. He decided though that he needed to check in with Genji once again before proceeding. As soon as he felt well enough, he pinged Genji’s personal comm that had recently been issued. Morrison answered the call.

“Howdy,” McCree greeted him with a bit of confusion. “I musta dialed the wrong number. Listen, I need to talk to Genji—”

“Genji is missing,” The soldier replied bluntly.

“What?!”

“He’s been missing since yesterday afternoon. Went out for intel and never came back. We found his comm at his last known location.”

Something cold crept at the edges of Jesse’s chest.

...always two steps ahead.

“Athena is running searches based on his previous location. We’ve sent a team to scout it out.”

“Morrison.”

“Yes?”

Jack didn’t chastise him for not using his codename, which was a bad sign.

“I’ll need a team in Hanamura, ASAP.”

---

As soon as McCree finished his conversation with Morrison, he ran to find Hanzo. Seeing the light on in Hanzo's office, he knocked frantically at the door. Jesse was fully expecting to get chastised for the noise he was causing. Instead, he was pulled swiftly into the room, and the door was slammed behind him.

“I just talked to Overwatch, they say that Genji is…” Jesse trailed off as he got a good look at Hanzo. Hanzo’s perfect hair was half falling out of its ribbon. His suit jacket was on the floor, likely thrown with uncharacteristic carelessness, and he was grasping a tablet in his hand so tightly that his knuckles were white.

“…missing,” Hanzo finished for him, lips pursed to form a thin line. He stalked towards McCree and thrust the tablet at him.

It displayed an email with a photo attachment: Genji, unconscious, tied to a chair. The body of the email only contained a single sentence: “Come and get him.”

“I asked one thing of your shitty organization. Just a single thing, and you could not deliver,” Hanzo snarled as he pressed forward.

Jesse raised both hands. “Hey. Hey!” He reached slowly to grasp at Hanzo’s wrist. “Hold up.”

Hanzo pushed Jesse backwards with another growl. He began to pace like a tiger wound up to strike. Jesse put a hand gently on his chest to stop him, and was surprised when Hanzo allowed it. He turned his head to frown up at McCree.

“We’ll get him back,” Jesse promised. “And the sonuva bitch is gonna pay.”

“’We’?” Hanzo’s eyes narrowed. “No. You are staying here.”

“Absolutely not.”

They scowled at each other.

“This is personal,” Hanzo insisted. “And you are injured.”

“This is a trap,” Jesse argued. “And I’ve fought through worse.”

“All the more reason for you to stay. They are after me, and it will stop here.”

“All the more reason for me to come. If they’re after you, they’ll have to go through me.”

“No."

The force behind that single word seemed to surprise them both.

“Well, why not?” Jesse demanded. He had an inkling, but he wasn’t going to let Hanzo get away without saying it himself.

Hanzo clenched his jaw. He was stuck between confessing to whatever had caused him to avoid Jesse for the past few days, or allowing the gunslinger to accompany him.

“We leave in three hours,” Hanzo said at last. Jesse nodded, but was a bit disappointed that Shimada hadn’t chosen the other option.

Several hours later, they took Hanzo’s private car to the financial district in a city adjacent to Hanamura. Jesse quietly activated the homing beacon in his comm to ensure that Overwatch would be able to follow. While his team was likely on its way, they would arrive at Shimada Castle too late. Jesse had a feeling Hanzo’s men wouldn’t be open to divulging where their master was going.

“So this cousin of yours,” Jesse offered once the car was well on its way. “Genji tells me he’s sharp.”

“You have spoken with my brother.” Hanzo was looking out the window, and did not turn to face him.

“Yeah, just a bit,” Jesse admitted.

“Kojuro considers himself a tactician. He would not dirty his own hands unless he was moving in for the final strike.”

“So he thinks he has what it needs now to take you two down.”

“Likely.”

“Well, he didn’t count on me,” Jesse frowned.

Hanzo tried to stifle an odd sound. Jesse blinked and leaned in closer.

Hanzo had covered the bottom part of his face with his hand, and his eyes were pressed shut. He was chuckling.

Jesse grinned.

“As expected of a cowboy. You sound like you just stepped out of an old western.”

“Have a thing for those, do ya?” Jesse asked, remembering back to the first day they had met.

“Hn.” It was neither a yes nor a no. Hanzo turned his attention back towards the window.

“I’ve got your back. You know that right?” Jesse tried more quietly.

“I will not have you jumping into the line of fire for me,” Hanzo frowned without looking at him. “Not again.”

“That’s not what I mean, exactly.” Jesse adjusted his hat. “I just mean for you to remember you’re not alone in this, Hanzo.”

Hanzo made another non-committal sound.

They arrived at a tall building that look as though it had been fashioned out of a single piece of black glass.

Hanzo turned to Jesse. “You alone will accompany me.”

Hanzo’s other men began to protest. Hanzo held up his hand.

“If Kojuro is truly prepared to take me down today, then there is nothing that you can do to stop him. And if that is the case, you will need to disavow working for me to find other employment.”

Hanzo’s men frowned and crossed their arms.

Hanzo sighed, and switched to Japanese. The guards eyed McCree in a way that suggested Hanzo was talking about him. They relented, taking a step back. Jesse could read what they would say if Hanzo were not in listening range as clearly as Genji himself had said it the first day they met. He nodded and tipped his hat in answer.

“I got him, don’t you worry.”

---

They were met by a sharply dressed young man, who greeted Hanzo cordially, and gestured they should take the elevator. He pressed the button to the top floor and took several steps back, bowing as the doors closed in front of him.

“They’re not gonna take our weapons?” Jesse asked under his breath. “Not even an escort?”

Hanzo shrugged. “They believe these are unnecessary.”

Jesse snorted. “Arrogant fucker, ain’t he?”

Hanzo huffed with disdain. “Yes. While it might be his greatest weakness, it is also not unwarranted. Be careful.”

While Hanzo spoke with the same perfunctory sternness as before, there was something softer in—an underlying anxiety.

Jesse took a risk, and grabbed Hanzo’s hand, pressing it softly to his lips with a wink.

“You got it, sweetheart.”

The doors opened before Hanzo had a chance to react. They entered the hallway that lead only to a singular room at its end with double doors. A well-dressed man with silver rimmed glasses stood at the head of the room, in front of a large mahogany desk. If Jesse had to guess, he would say that the man was a few years younger than Hanzo. There was a sharp intelligence in his gaze and a handful of guards stood at his back with their guns aimed at Hanzo and Jesse. Genji was tied to a chair, and he faced them as well, lucid and grim. The doors closed behind them.

“Ah, cousin,” Kojuro greeted Hanzo cordially. “Thank you for joining me.”

Hanzo surveyed the bruises on his brother’s face, and his lips curled into a frown. He tilted his head slightly to narrow his gaze at his cousin.

“How could I decline such an invitation?”

Kojuro laughed.

“Are you suddenly concerned about the well-being of your family members? Such a turn.”

Jesse’s hand tightened into a fist at the taunt.

Hanzo maintained his composure, but Jesse had spent enough time with the man to understand that he was seething with a quiet anger.

“I have always been actively interested in protecting those who matter to me.”

Out of the corner of his eye, Jesse saw Genji twitch in his chair.

“Oh, how cold,” Kojuro offered him a smile that didn't quite reach his eyes. “What are you suggesting then about the blood kin you’ve so heartlessly slaughtered in the past few months?”

“Do not suggest that they were innocents,” Hanzo replied with an equally stony expression. “I do what I must.”

“Is that what brings you here today?” Kojuro gave him a considering look. “That same stubborn sense of honour and duty that has brought your side of the family to where it is?”

“Honour and duty are key values to our family,” Hanzo snapped. “Those who forget this are wayward. Not I.”

“And yet you join Overwatch,” Kojuro’s eyes met Jesse’s. “Do you consider yourself to be a hero, cousin?”

Hanzo flinched. “I have not joined Overwatch, and I deserve no such title.”

“But still all this talk about honour, duty, those who matter,” Kojuro pressed. “Your rhetoric betrays you.”

“I simply act as I was taught to act, as I should act, as the head of the Shimada.” Hanzo’s voice did not waver, and did not leave room for argument. Jesse’s heart fluttered at the pure strength and control in it.

“And how has that been treating you recently?” Kojuro asked with feigned innocence.

“That is why you were never meant to lead, Kojuro,” Hanzo huffed disdainfully. “You never realized that does not matter.”

Anger flashed across Kojuro’s features, and just as quick, it was gone. His laughter rang through the room, a hollow sound and a hollow gesture.

“As you like, then. Since you are so determined to murder your own family, since you have joined forces with an organization so dedicated to saving the faceless sheep that are not worthy of your time, I’ve created for you the best opportunity to do both,”Kojuro smiled again, and took a step to the side, gesturing to Genji. Jesse’s heart fell.

“The office building next to us is wired to explode,” Kojuro explained calmly. “It is simple to disarm. Simply pierce through this device.” He pointed to the device strapped to Genji’s chest.

Hanzo paled.

“I am a generous man, cousin,” Kojuro used his index finger to push his glasses up. Light caught the glass, flashing across his eyes. “So I will give you the choice. Kill Genji, or kill everyone else in that building.”

“You’re not serious,” Jesse shook his head with disbelief, addressing Kojuro in hopes that it would buy them some time. “You’d put hundreds of lives at risk for a game? A family feud?”

“This is no simple feud,” Kojuro raised a remote-control device. “A dynasty is at stake. This is my legacy. My birthright. End this now, kinslayer. Do what you do best. Here. You should use this."

He kicked over a katana that had been lying at his feet. Hanzo and Genji bared their teeth at the same time, suggesting their disapproval at the way in which the weapon was treated. Jesse recognized it as the same sword that Genji had strapped to his back the day he left.

McCree turned to look at Hanzo, panic growing in his chest. The other man had lifted his brother’s sword, but his hands were shaking. This was psychological warfare. Jesse knew that Hanzo could not just let those people die. Yet Genji was the only family that truly mattered to Hanzo—and he had been willing to destroy the rest of the Shimadas one by one by himself in order to save his younger brother from the guilt--likely in order to save his life. Killing his uncle and cousin had already been hard enough on the eldest Shimada. If Hanzo had to kill Genji, it would break him.

Genji was muttering something urgently to his brother. He finished in English.

“My death will not be on your hands! Do it!”

“Either his heart stops, or theirs do,” Kojuro narrowed his eyes, a calculating smile spreading slowly across his face. “What will it be, cousin?”

Jesse’s eyes darted between the Shimadas, hoping for a tell or a signal. He found none. He could maybe still ensure that Hanzo left this room alive, but at what cost? Swallowing hard, Jesse filtered through his options, all of them bad.

“Genji,” Hanzo began, unable to meet his brother’s eyes. His grip around the sword tightened. “I’m sor—“

He didn’t get to finish, as a loud bang interrupted his apology. Hanzo looked up to find Peacemaker raised and smoking.

Genji gasped, convulsing forward in the chair and slumping, the front of his chest turning red from his own blood. The device in their cousin’s hand deactivated. Kojuro looked at it in shock.

“You!” he raised a pistol and aimed it directly for McCree’s head.

But Hanzo was faster.

With a snarl, he propelled himself at his cousin, sword burning with a blue energy.

McCree hastened to tend to Genji. He loosened the bonds and lowered him carefully to the floor, unstrapping the device from his chest. Genji pressed his hands to the gunshot wound and looked up with a thankfulness that he conveyed as best he could in his expression, unable to find his voice.

“Hang in there, partner,” Jesse urged, pressing his hands against wound, but knowing there was little he could do. He triggered the emergency signal for Overwatch.

“Code black. Medical assistance required immediately!”

“Roger,” Mercy confirmed calmly. “Hold on Jesse, we’re almost there.”

McCree turned his attention back to the battle, reaching for Peacemaker. Hanzo’s face was twisted with fury. The first slash had cut the nozzle off his cousin’s gun in one stroke. The next few taken out the guards closest to him. The last went straight through his cousin’s torso, all before anyone else could lift a finger.

Kojuro gasped softly, looking down at the sword still inside him with confusion. He looked up to meet Hanzo’s eyes.

“You.” Hanzo’s voice cracked with anger. “Uncle turned father’s guards against him. Millicent provided the explosives. But you convinced them all to do it.”

An arrogant smirk slowly curled across Kojuro’s lips. “And I provided the cover up.”

“Then you did a shit job,” Hanzo snarled again, pushing the blade in further. His cousin grunted.

“Aren’t you forgetting something, cousin?” Kojuro was speaking with remarkable steadiness. “We did indeed kill you father. But *you* failed to stop us.”

And suddenly, with alarming clarity, everything clicked into place.

Jesse could read the answer and the devastation off of Hanzo’s face, and the sudden trembling that spread through his body. Jesse remembered the conversation in his study, the night after he had killed his uncle. Hanzo insisted on keeping Genji and Jesse at a distance, because he had already failed to keep someone he loved safe. His was adamant that he was the one who should execute his relatives, because he had been unable to stop them the first time.

Redemption.

“With that exact sword, actually,” Kojuro continued. “Your father’s sword. You failed to reach us in time. Just like you failed to reach Genji before I got t--”

“Bullshit!” Jesse snarled. Both Hanzo and his cousin looked up in surprise. McCree stalked towards them and punched Kojuro hard in the face and clean off of Hanzo’s sword. Kojuro gasped, and staggered backwards against a table, holding his abdomen.

“This is not on Hanzo. This is on you the other members of your fucked up family, you piece of shit,” McCree couldn’t remember the last time he had felt this angry. He aimed Peacekeeper directly between Kojuro’s eyes.

Kojuro laughed. It was only then that McCree realized he had thrown his other arm around Hanzo protectively, and that Hanzo was leaning against him for strength.

“Well cousin,” He coughed up some blood, but seemed determined to get the last word. “At least you have found *him* through this ordeal. It is the least that our family can give you, seeing how much we have taken away.”

Hanzo looked up to meet his cousin’s gaze. Kojuro grinned wickedly, his blood pooling on the floor at his feet. Kojuro laughed again. “If you live through this, cousin, be free.”

He turned his head slightly to address his remaining guards. “Kill them all.”

Behind him, his guards raised their machine guns, just as the doors burst open.

“Hands where I can see ‘em,” Morrison roared, rifle raised. The guards did not comply, and took new aim. Lucio slid in along the wall behind Soldier: 76, his skates burning green. The team dodged the first round of bullets easily with the speed boost. Lena zipped forward and into action. Between the three of them, Kojuro’s guards were neutralized in no time at all.

Meanwhile, Jesse and Hanzo dove towards Genji, and Mercy arrived soon behind the others and began to work. Jesse left Genji in her care, and turned his attention to Hanzo instead.

Hanzo was watching Angela quietly, perfectly still. Jesse could see that the hand that was grasping at the katana was still trembling. Jesse reached out to touch it. Hanzo twitched and turned to him in surprise, as though he had forgotten there was anyone else in the room.

“Hey,” Jesse tried. “It’ll be okay. Ange is the best. If anyone can—”

“I’ve already stabilized him,” Mercy cut in with a smile. “We just need to get him back to base for surgery.”

Jesse gently pulled the katana from Hanzo’s iron grasp, and replaced it with his own hands.

“Come on, honeybee. Let’s go.”

It was at that moment that the rest of Kojuro’s guards burst through the doors—guards that they would likely have to fight every single floor down the fucking building. Jesse took a long breath, bracing himself to do battle with one hand while supporting Hanzo with his other. To his awe, however, Hanzo pulled away slowly, steady once again. He picked up the katana without wavering as he stood, and also took a long, reinforcing breath.

“Well?” Hanzo turned and raised an eyebrow at Jesse, who was staring at him, dumbfounded and in love. “What are you waiting for?”

Jesse McCree’s heart nearly burst right then and there from fondness. Sparing each other one final glance, they launched themselves at Kojuro’s guards, the rest of the Overwatch team at their backs.

---

By the time they made it to the ground floor, they were exhausted and covered in blood. The Japanese authorities had cordoned off the entire area.

“Go,” Morrison nodded at Jesse and Hanzo. “Get Genji back to base. I’ll handle the report.”

Jesse nodded, and they followed Mercy and Lucio to the Orca. Lucio had since sped there and back to retrieve a medical gurney. Hanzo spent the entire trip in silence, watching as the medics fussed over his unconscious brother. Jesse knew better than to pry, and settled for leaning against Hanzo, with the other man’s hand in his lap. Hanzo allowed it, and closed his eyes. Jesse imagined he could feel Hanzo leaning ever so slightly into him, but decided it was safer to write this off to turbulence. Jesse barely remembered the rest of the flight: having Hanzo’s warm body next to him was soothing, yet his entire body felt paralyzed: he didn’t want to move even an inch for fear of dispelling the moment. Eventually, they fell into an uneasy sleep.

Once they landed, Mercy and Lucio sped Genji off to the medical wing, assuring Hanzo that they would let him know the moment there was any news.

“No use wastin’ time,” Jesse tried gently. “You’re welcome to use the shower and bed in my room. To rest,” he added, face burning at the thought of being misunderstood.

Hanzo nodded. “Thank you.”

Jesse tipped his hat.

“No.”

Jesse turned at feeling Hanzo’s fingers tight around his wrist.

“Thank you,” Hanzo repeated. His eyes held the thousand words that he did not speak. Jesse could feel his face burn even hotter.

“No thanks necessary,” he murmured, tipping his hat lower to hide his face. “Come on.”

He led Hanzo to his quarters, and gestured that the man should make himself comfortable while he went to look for extra clothes.

“Don’t really have anythin’ as nice as what you normally wear, but maybe these’ll do?” Jesse handed Hanzo some clothes and an extra towel.

Hanzo looked down at the pile of clothing and frowned.

“What’s wrong, darlin’?” Jesse asked, running the numerous ways that he may have offended Hanzo through his head, and scrambling for appropriate apologies.

“I suppose you will give me the cowboy hat afterwards?” Hanzo deadpanned.

Jesse burst into laughter, relieved that Hanzo felt safe enough to let down his guard.

“Naw, you gotta earn that,” he teased back.

“Hmm,” Hanzo hummed, a smile finally breaking across his features. “You will have to tell me how later.”

It was just as well that Hanzo turned towards the bathroom without another word, as Jesse’s brain short-circuited, and he couldn’t have managed a reply if he’d wanted to.

To Jesse’s dismay, Hanzo emerged from the shower with his armor intact again, and all trace of playfulness was gone.

“Has there been any news?” he asked coldly.

“Naw, not yet,” Jesse answered. “Can I get ya somethin’ to eat? It’s not great but the mess hall—”

“Agent McCree,” Athena’s voice interrupted. “Apologies, but Winston has asked whether you are free to give him your report.”

“Can it wait a few hours?” Jesse was reluctant to leave Hanzo alone.

“Policy dictates that reports be given as soon as possible, to avoid memory decay.” Athena almost sounded apologetic. “I can have one of the other team members escort Mr. Shimada to the mess hall?”

“No thank you. I am not hungry,” Hanzo replied.

“I will make alternate lodging arrangements for you in the meantime then, Mr. Shimada,” Athena replied. “And will have someone notify you when it is done.”

“Thank you,” Hanzo answered before turning to Jesse again. “You are pouting.”

“What now?” Jesse asked with mild exasperation, upset to be torn from Hanzo so soon.

“It is unbecoming for a grown man to pout,” Hanzo pointed out. “And you think too little of your hospitality. It is more than I deserve.”

“That’s not true.” Jesse didn’t like where this was going.

“Go,” Hanzo dismissed him as though Jesse were still under his employment. “I will be fine.”

“Alright,” Jesse conceded, rubbing at his neck nervously. “If you need me, just have Athena call.”

Hanzo waved him off without another word. By the time Jesse returned, he was gone.

---

Genji was already awake and wanting to speak with Jesse the next morning, a testament to Mercy’s skill. He seemed chipper when Jesse arrived.

“Good morning,” Genji greeted, already sitting upright in his bed.

“Howdy,” Jesse tipped his hat. “You’re lookin’ well for a man who nearly died.”

Genji laughed. “’Nearly’ being the keyword. Angela has only made me stronger.” He pulled down the neck of his medical gown to reveal a metal plate on his chest with a glowing centre.

Jesse whistled. “That’s quite the new armor.”

Genji nodded, ridiculously proud of the new modification to his body. “Angela said it was necessary to repairing the damage to my chest and heart. Which I do not blame you for,” Genji added, seeing the shadow cross Jesse’s features. “If anything, you’ve saved my life and as well as my brother’s.”

Jesse nodded, but wished he could fully believe him.

“Speaking of which…” The same mischief that Jesse had encountered before gleamed in Genji’s eyes. For the first time, Jesse saw the resemblance to Hanzo’s more playful moments.

“There’s nothin’ to speak of,” Jesse snapped back, perhaps with a bit too much force. “Sorry,” he added belatedly for the harshness.

“Well it’s good to know that some people never change,” Genji rolled his eyes. “I will have to give him the push, or perhaps the smack on the head, that he needs.”

“He’s just not interested in that way, Genji.” Jesse sounded more defeated than he would have liked. “I don’t know why your family keeps insistin’ that he is.”

“Wait.” Genji held up a hand. “What?”

“It’s like you’re all conspirin’ to make fun of me,” Jesse grumbled, putting together how much the entire situation irritated him just at that moment.

“McCree,” Genji spoke carefully. “Just how many of my relatives have suggested that my brother has feelings for you?”

Jesse scrunched his brow and searched his memory. “…pretty much all of ‘em.”

“And you did not take this as a sign? That every *single* one of our relatives, who have known Hanzo for most, if not all, of his life, thought that he likes you?”

This *did* finally give Jesse pause. “…to be fair, yer family’s made up of sociopaths.”

Genji was staring at him like Jesse was an idiot. “…Shit, why did they ever let you into Ovewatch?!"

“Now, hold up!” Jesse shot back defensively. “He’s damn hard to read. Took me weeks before one of the guys told me he didn’t used to eat breakfast while on his rounds—”

“He let you eat *breakfast* with him?” Genji’s voice rose comically high. “He only ever eats breakfast by himself!”

“In that shop that sells natto?”

Genji gaped. “He took you to the shop? He’s never taken *me* to the shop!"

“How the fuck was I supposed to—“

“Why the fuck are you still standing here?! Go. Find. Him. NOW.”

---

Jesse asked Athena for the location to Hanzo’s temporary quarters, and stood in front of the door for a full ten minutes before knocking.

Hanzo opened it, looking nonplussed.

“I was wondering when you would knock.”

Jesse chuckled at being caught. “Just needed a bit to gather my courage, is all.”

“Oh?” Hanzo continued to stand in the door frame.

“…can I come in?” Jesse tried finally.

Hanzo looked up over from head to toe, as though he were confident that he could detect Jesse’s purpose just by sight. Evidently it failed.

Hanzo took a swift step back to allow him entrance.

“Thank you kindly,” Jesse took off his hat and held it with both hands.

“Dr. Ziegler is highly skilled. Genji is already awake,” Hanzo spoke immediately as though he wanted to take control of the conversation. Jesse nodded, glad that Hanzo had already seen his brother.

“She’s a certified miracle worker,” Jesse confirmed.

“We should be ready to leave within the week,” Hanzo continued, almost too casually.

While Jesse should have expected this, panic constricted his throat.

“I would like to thank you again for your service,” Hanzo pressed on with confidence, almost as though he had rehearsed the words beforehand. “I admit that I had my doubts at the beginning, but—”

“The first day we met,” Jesse cut in, knowing he had to stop Hanzo before he convinced himself that his plans were all set in stone.

“I beg your pardon?” Hanzo frowned at the interruption as though it were made by a small child.

“When we first met,” Jesse repeated. “You chose me over Fareeha. Why?”

“I had already told you. I thought that you would serve the needs of our organization better. Which you did, for which you have my thanks.” Each phrase was weighed with a heavy finality that Hanzo was attempting to force, but which Jesse was refusing to give.

“That’s bullshit,” McCree shook his head. “And you know it.” 

“Do not pretend to know me, agent,” Hanzo's voice grew dangerously brittle.

Jesse saw right away that the words were meant to sting, but refused to back down. “You chose me. Why?”

“Because you had shown yourself to be a fool, and I was waiting for you to fail,” Hanzo snarled.

It hurt. But McCree was determined. 

“And what about the garden then? And the breakfasts? Puttin’ up with my bullshit? And that look you get in your eye sometimes when you think I’m not watchin’?”

Hanzo answered with the exact look, but he twisted his face to wipe it away.

“Because—“

“Hanzo.” Jesse put his hands on either side of the other man’s shoulders. He could feel the muscles tense under his fingers, and Hanzo began to pull back. Jesse tightened his grasp.

“You don’t gotta pretend anymore," Jesse chided more gently. "At least not with me."

Hanzo continued to fight him, struggled valiantly against his grip. Jesse could see though that the true conflict was internal, as it warred across Hanzo’s face. Then, all of a sudden, the man was still, although he remained silent.

“In the garden,” Jesse began again, allowing his hands to slide down Hanzo’s arms and grasp each of Hanzo’s own. “Why?”

Jesse searched Hanzo’s expression for the cracks in the mask, for the living, breathing man behind it of who he had grown so fond.

“I just need to know,” Jesse tried more softly. “That I’m not here pinin’ by my lonesome, is all.”

Hanzo looked up, struggling between disbelief and hope. They stood still for what seemed like an eternity before Hanzo finally drew a breath to answer.

“Because I decided that for once in my life, I would allow myself to have what I wanted. Even if only for a moment,” he finally answered. “So perhaps I should thank you for that too.”

“Why only a moment?” Jesse asked just as delicately, as though any pressure would shatter the fragile honesty he had finally earned.

Hanzo took a step back, and pulled his hands from Jesse’s grasp.

“It is for the best. It is what I deserve.”

“Hanzo—”

Hanzo raised a hand, and Jesse stopped to allow him to explain.

“I am, and have always been in the business of protection,” Hanzo answered. “And yet I have consistently failed to protect those closest to me. I have tried my best to do that which is right, and those I love suffer for it.”

"So you think you're protectin' us by pushing us away?"

Hanzo's lips twitched upward in amusement. "How presumptuous."

Jesse realized only then that he had included himself in Hanzo's "us", and flushed profusely. "Well am I wrong?"

"You have met my family," Hanzo continued without faltering, and without answering. "Would you deny that I am the best suited to lead the clan? The one most likely to prevent catastrophe? Keep in mind that you've just observed my cousin attempt to blow up an entire building out of pettiness."

Jesse sighed, running a hand through his hair in frustration.

"That's not what I'm talkin' about."

"Is it not?" Hanzo challenged. "Genji has been pestering me about abandoning the clan for years. Has he not been advising you to do the same?"

Genji had of course indeed begged Jesse to do this exact thing, but McCree was beginning to understand his own endgame, and it didn't seem so different.

"Your brother wants to see you safe, happy," Jesse allowed. "And he's only seen you suffer since you took over. He wants you to leave because it's suffocatin' the man you used to be. He just wants his brother back, Han."

Hanzo's lips curled at the suggestion. "And what of his safety? His happiness? You saw what happened when I tried to keep him safe by sending him away. By my side, he would only be an easier target. I cannot protect those who are close to me, and I cannot lose anyone else."

Hanzo's voice broke slightly at these last words and he bowed his head low. Jesse ducked down to try to meet him.

“But you took a chance on me."

Hanzo's entire body twitched at the suggestion.

"You took a chance on me. If you had to do it again, you would take it back?"

Hanzo was staring at him, mouth open as though his answered was prepared but had stuck in his throat. Jesse took a tentative step forward and reached out both hands, pleading. Hanzo blinked down at them, his lip curling into a snarl that melted slightly with every breath.

"No," he answered finally, as though he were disappointed in himself. "I would not."

Jesse took the last step forward with the intent to gather Hanzo in his arms, but stopped himself. Instead, he held out both hands again, palms up, and waited.

The last of Hanzo's defenses fell away, and he took what was offered, pressing himself aggressively into Jesse's space and claiming his lips with a desperate kiss. Jesse moaned against those lips, relaxing under Hanzo's demanding fingers, his unrelenting grip.

They parted gasping for air, finally, reluctantly.

“This changes nothing,” Hanzo sat up, squareing his shoulders as though preparing for the rebuke. “I need to go back—”

“Is that what you want? Truly?” Jesse asked, keeping his voice light to avoid sounding judgemental.

Hanzo huffed. “What I want does not matter.”

“It matters to me. It seems like this obligation is taking away everthin’ good in your life.”

“It is responsible for everything good in my life as well.”

The fond look that flickered across Hanzo’s face as their eyes met convinced Jesse of the truth of these words. They would never have met otherwise. He knew what he had to do.

 ---

Jesse stood at Hanzo's office door, as he had so many times before, tugging restlessly at his shirt helm. He made a sharp knock once he was satisfied that he was presentable.

“Come in.”

Jesse poked his head into Hanzo’s office.

“You rang, boss?” he drawled.

Hanzo snorted but stood to meet him as the door closed, scanning his entire body up and down with an approving smirk.

“I take you like the new clothes?” Jesse grinned back, standing taller and flexing his chest muscles under the crisp, close-fitting shirt.

“They are adequate,” Hanzo said dismissively, his expression betraying his amusement and interest. He wasted no time in running his hands possessively over Jesse’s torso, “to test the quality,” he insisted.

Jesse had been Hanzo’s right hand man for close to three months now, under the Shimada’s new, extended agreement with Overwatch. Hanzo’s men had been far too enthusiastic about this arrangement for Hanzo’s liking, although much of his sternness had been feigned ever since he and Jesse returned from Gibraltar.

There were branches of the family that were opposed to working with an organization that could potentially stifle their operations, of course, but it wasn’t anything Hanzo and Jesse couldn’t handle together.

"And here I thought we were gonna get down to business," Jesse murmured, pressing himself forward into Hanzo's touch.

"As you like," Hanzo shrugged, backing away to return to the other side of the desk, despite Jesse's exaggerated whine. "What happens later will depend on your performance," he added with a sly smile as he grabbed his coat.

Jesse was once again struck by how things had shifted since their return, how the playfulness that he had once only ever glimpsed in rare moments in Hanzo were now becoming the norm. If Genji's reaction was any indication, this was closer to the man that Hanzo had been before he felt obligated to push everyone away.

Jesse was shocked back to the present when he felt a warm pair of lips on his own. Blinking away his surprise, he found Hanzo just an inch from him, full of affection.

"Daydreaming again?"

"Only of you," Jesse grinned.

Hanzo snorted, pulling back and moving towards the door. "Why? I am right here."

"You sure are sweetheart," Jesse replied happily.

Hanzo gave him another coy smile before turning and throwing his coat over his shoulders. "Come."

Jesse beamed, sauntering forward to follow. "Right behind ya boss."