After the humidity of Hanamura, the mountain temperature hit him with the full force of an ice blast. He welcomed it. This climate had become the one to which he had adapted most readily. The crisp cleanliness of the air was a cleansing balm on his troubled soul and the ancient temple that he now called home as solid and permanent as the mountains that surrounded it. The permanence of the building brought a comfort he found in precious few places. He meditated, wrapped in a cocoon of peace and comparative well-being.
Not comparatively enough, it transpired.
“You return troubled, my student.” The voice, when it came, contained as much feeling and empathy as the modulated voice of an Omnic could. For Zenyatta, that was a considerable amount. Perhaps it was the amount of time he had spent around humans. Perhaps there was far more to the Omnic mind than mere mortals could ever hope to understand.
“Yes, Master.” Genji looked up from the shrine, his eyes glittering beneath the mask he wore.
“Then you still have not found your courage.” It was a statement, not a question. The monk moved further into his student’s room, a gentle hum accompanying the motion. “You still do not know how to address this problem.”
“You are, as always, quite correct.” Genji sighed softly and closed his eyes. He had made the journey to Japan several times over the past months, each visit harder than the last. He had been watching the exiled scion with intense interest but still he had not been able to make that all-important move.
For so long the only emotion Genji had harboured against his errant older brother had been anger. A need to hit back for the wrong that had been done to him. But between them, Angela – sweet Angela, whose wisdom was matched only by her scientific acumen – and Zenyatta had brought him round to a new and different way of thinking. She had nurtured his body, Zenyatta had nurtured his mind. He was a different man now. He could see things in a new light.
Such changes had brought a single statement to ponder upon.
He did what he did because he had to.
Did that statement excuse Hanzo’s attempted fratricide? No. It did not; not even remotely. But it went some considerable way towards explaining it. It had always been harder for Hanzo, as the older brother. On his shoulders rested the future of the Shimada clan. He had become serious ahead of his years and by contrast, Genji had become lazy. Laconic, arrogant, smart-mouthed and with a tendency to a playboy lifestyle he felt better suited his status as a son of the family. His diminishing interest in the family’s activities had ultimately brought down the wrath of their father and Hanzo had been his instrument of retribution.
Slowly, with the guidance of his mentor, Genji had taken those feelings one at a time and burned them to nothing. Anger. Hate. The need for petty revenge. His near-death had wrought terrible changes in his physiology, certainly. But his mind had transcended to a new level of self-awareness and understanding. All the negativity had been metaphorically burned to ash that had been borne away by the cool atmosphere.
“Tell me what you saw when you looked upon your brother.” Zenyatta’s voice cut through his thoughts again and Genjiconsidered the question before answering.
“He looks tired. His hair has begun to grey at the temples. He has grown older.”
“Ah. Ageing. This is a failing of humans, I have observed this across the years.”
It was hard, sometimes, to determine whether Zenyatta was attempting humour. Genji allowed a faint smile to lift the corner of his mouth in a half-smile and continued.
“He no longer walks tall and proud. He walks as though he bears a heavy weight.”
“He carries guilt poorly. You have been luckier than he in that you have received support and guidance. He has been forced to bear his burdens alone.”
This statement bothered Genji far more than he could have imagined, forcing a perspective he had been avoiding for a long time. As a very small boy, he had looked up to his older brother in something akin to awe. Hanzo’s first show of control over the Shimada dragons was a memory etched in his thoughts every bit as much when he too had touched that coveted skill. The brothers had been close, once. Then duty had come between them, separating them without care for their feelings in the matter.
Genji tried to recall the last time he had seen Hanzo smile and to his sorrow, he could not.
“Every year…” Genji felt a catch in his throat. His extensive bionic and biomechanical implants may have rendered him physically more of a machine than a man, but his emotions still occasionally caught him unawares. “Every year, he marks what he believes to be my passing. He visits the shrine, despite my father’s orders that he should be killed on sight. He brings tribute and every year, he remembers me.”
“Then that is when you must confront him.”
“I am not ready, master.” Genji’s protest sounded hollow, even to his own ears and he felt a wash of shame. It was less about whether he was ready or not and far more about fear. Fear of what, exactly? Fear of his brother’s fury? Fear that Hanzomay try to kill him again? He doubted that could be a thing: Hanzo was a peerless archer, to be sure, but his own fighting skills had become something beyond human.
Fear, perhaps, of rejection? A deep-seated terror that Hanzowould not be able to look beyond the implants, beyond the mask, beyond the metal that encased his broken body?
His eyes closed and a memory surfaced.
“You bring shame on the Shimada family, Genji. You must bring yourself in line with expectation or there will be… consequences.”
“You do not frighten me, brother.”
“Perhaps not. But you frighten me.”
Even in reflection, Genji had never understood what Hanzo had meant by those words. Now he understood it with perfect clarity. His brother’s deep regret at his own actions had shaped the direction his life had taken. For so long he had blamed Hanzo for the state of his life. It had never occurred to him to accept that he was equally responsible for his brother’s miserable existence.
“Genji, my student.” The Omnic monk reached out a silvered hand and rested it gently on the young man’s shoulder. “You have been ready for this for many months. It is time you and your brother found one another again. You have found peace with yourself. Now it is your duty to help him do the same.” Zenyatta released Genji’s shoulder and floated serenely toward the shrine’s exit before he turned his featureless face once more upon his student.
“It is time,” he said, gravely, “for the dragons, so long parted, to once more become whole.”