Chapter I – Part 3

Aiji stretched a few times before his brain registered where he is. Yes, he remembered falling asleep on the couch last night. He vaguely remembered a certain blonde that refused to let go of his top then the whimpers and finally settling in.
His hands reached up but he could not find him. ‘Hmmm?’ He cracked one eye open, expecting to be met with the morning harsh light, but it wasn’t there. He sat up, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, the living area was as he had left it, thick blanket over his lover half. Suddenly there was some movement in the corner of his eyes. Looking over to the far end of the kitchen he saw his newly acquired flatmate, picking up a big plate, with something on it and a few bottles. He watched half awake as Isaac put the plate and all down on the big dining table where there was two set of plates, cutlery and two mugs. How cute.

Aiji blinked a few times before Isao noticed him staring, a small blush creeping up on his cheeks. He came closer to the back of the couch where Aiji was leaning over.
– I’m sorry, but Chino said I can use the kitchen…I wanted to thank… well, everything you did yesterday so… – he stepped aside so Aiji could see the steaming mugs and fresh pancakes on the table.
In a moment’s realization, Aiji eyes turned soft and as he stood from his place, he smiled a warm smile.
– You made, all this? – He asked, stalking over to the table he himself rarely used.
– Yes – there was a hint of pride in Isaac’s voice. – I hope you like it! – such a cute genuine smile graced his face, Aiji swore he took an arrow to the heart. He made his way to the seat across from him and sat down, Isaac following suit, eager eyes watching him pile his plate, squirting a few lines of honey on there and taking the first bite. Aiji was in heaven. His taste buds were at least. Isaac was watching his reaction eagerly.
– Well? Is it any good?
Aiji looked over with shocked eyes, swallowing the bite. – Any good? Isao, these are the best goddamned pancakes I’ve had!
– Really? – the younger boy laughed. – I’m glad. I hoped I can at least make your morning nice, you know, after you had to save me….
– I appreciate it, but you know, you don’t have to do me favors to thank me right?
– Oh, I know, but I was thought to always be grateful. And I am very grateful for your help. I don’t know what would have happened to me if you didn’t … – He didn’t wanted to say it. ‘Kill’ is a violent word that was not common for him. – …shown up.
– Isao. – Aiji looked at him seriously. – I know last night was not ideal, but you do know, why you are here right? Why you got this internship?
– I only know that I am supposed to learn some specific programming stuff. I don’t know what they expect me from my internship. I thought it would be some IT stuff. Labor for the monthly expenses.
Aiji sighed a little, continuing with his breakfast.
– Well, you’re not wrong there. But I would not call it IT stuff…
– Oh? Well I can do a lot of things.
– Yes, I saw your file…
– I have a file? – he crocked his head.
– Oh shit.

They were staring at each other for a moment. Wondering which one of them will break first.
– I suppose there’s no harm in telling you. – Aiji spoke first, gesturing with his fork in his hand. – But I would need to start from the beginning.
– Okay…
– What you saw me doing yesterday, was basically just a Saturday night for me. I have been doing this for four years, with excessive training in between. You probably know there are numerous creatures living among us, you being a seeker and all.
– Yes, I saw a few in my hometown too. But we are a very small town so there weren’t many.
– There are two kind of these creatures we separate. Ones that belong to our world, and the ones that came from other planes. Those who originate from our plane are now few and far between. The majority have died out, most left to secluded areas as humans overpopulated everything. We are an invasive species but the local creatures didn’t really put up a fight. The problem is the ones coming through various portals. They are usually aggressive and come here to conquer. That’s what the organization that I am working for helps in. Remove these invaders so humans can live their lives in peace and ignorance.
– So you’re like a soldier protecting our borders?
– Something like that. My boss, Damian Roux, is just one head of this organization. Le Sang, means the blood, has three heads, each have their own region to manage. The name comes from the saying, ‘The blood of the coven is thicker than the water of the womb.’ Basically, he searches out talented people, train them in this field and in exchange provides them with a pretty nice life. – Aiji motioned for his surroundings – We usually meet up at night, there’s a bar he owns, Crimson Bar, we meet there and I get an assignment. Yesterday’s was to pick you up. You’ll have an appointment to meet him today.
– So he’s handpicked me, but to be what? I can’t fight, I can only do things with computers. I doubt you would need that in this.
– I have to be honest with you, I have no idea. He did say he wanted us to work closely together. He might have a new agenda….it will be all cleared up tonight when we meet up with him.
– I would be working with you? – Isaac couldn’t help the interest in his tone.
– That’s what he said.
Isaac swallowed hard.
– After almost getting killed, I don’t know if that’s good.
Aiji turned to him, leaving his now finished plate.
– Isaac, I promise you, you won’t get killed as long as I am there. – There was such seriousness in those dark blue eyes, Isaac felt like the world could crumble and Aiji would still be there, keeping his word. Why am I this important?


It was always dark in the Crimson, but it was a special kind of dark when it’s owner was there. The place was somehow cooler, most felt uneasy. Now, it was just the opening staff, getting ready for tonight, but they too felt like a pray, threading carefully in the presence of the predator, that lets them live, just because it is simply not their turn to be on the menu.
Deep, in the back, a thick wooden door, slightly ajar, key still in the lock. That’s where a luxurious office was and only one person could open it. He made sure to grind this in everyone’s head that came in contact with this place. Walls painted black, with dark wooden trims, a big and heavy desk to the right, sofas in front. Behind him walls upon walls of books and dossiers. On the left, another set of sofas and a lamp, dimly lit now, that there was a presence there besides him.
As soon as Damian Roux came through the main entrance, there was a man following him to his office, no questions, no discussions. Tall lanky frame, unreadable expression as he entered just behind his boss. There was no need to lock the door, for everyone present knew their relations and nobody dared to disturb his meal.

Damian hungrily sucked the tall man’s neck, blood bubbling past his lips. Usually he was not this sloppy, but today was a bit demanding. Moans escaped his prey, as if he was enjoying the intrusion on his veins, but he was also very, very aware of his predicament, feeling the blood leave his body, traveling down his shoulder. Despite the violent nature, this was a very intimate moment, both being the most vulnerable in this position. This is why Damian only took one or two humans as his bloodbanks. They needed to be trustworthy and resilient. Because he might not know when to stop. Like now.
There was a light tap on his chest as he held the tall man to him.
– Mr. Roux, please stop now. – The voice was panting and hoarse, not bigger than a whisper, but Damian heard it. He always did, took good care of what was his. Licking the last of the blood to leave the two puncture wounds on the neck, making sure to stop the bleeding. This earned him another moan.
– Thank you, Sorel. Your contribution is well appreciated. – The vampire praised him, moving to sit back down to one of the plush sofas, eyes glowing red in the dark. One clawed hand reached out, tracing the buttons of the black shirt down till they reached the crimson colored dress pants, that seemed to have a disrupting bulge in them. Sorel took in a sharp breath from the touch, then for the lack of it. As Damian sat back into the sofa, reaching in his pocket, pulling out a pure white handkerchief, tapping the corners of his mouth, he eyed the younger man who’s eyes were almost pleading.
– You can take care of yourself here. – He said as he watched Sorel sit down opposite him, legs open, hand already undoing his pants. Seemed like a rush, a primal need to touch his length, stroking in long strides, all the while holding eye contact with the man who just took his blood, red eyes boring into his own dark ones.


-Why do you insist on calling me that? – Isaac asked.
– Well, your real name is rather a mouthful. Isao is just easier for me. Rolls of the tongue a bit better. Call it a nickname.- Aiji turned to him. – But if you want, I can stop it. You just didn’t seemed to be that bothered.
– I’m not, it was just strange. But you can use it.
Their day consisted of letting Isao know of a few details, that he might have not known. Like why there are portals to other places, where they are, magic does exist but it is rare, we are using modern weapons to fight sometimes medieval creatures. Chino sat with them too for a while, explaining in length how the world on the ‘other side’ worked, how she had contact with many of the hidden races, visiting them from time-to-time then coming back to her ‘owner’. Aiji even showed him some security footage of a few missions. One had a part, where he clearly got hit in the back by a bullet, so he showed the wound on his back.
– You should know, that I can’t die that easily. Humans are fragile, but one of the perks working for Damian is that there is this special serum. I’m not saying it makes humans immortal, but damn it heightens some skills.
– He uses his own blood for it. Essentially not turning anyone into anything but lending some powers to keep them alive. – Chino said with a face of disgust. – I always feel it on you, but I know it is a necessity. – Then she looked over to Isaac – You however should not have that. Never drink it.
– What is it like? – Asked Isaac, but nodding to the valuable information the little spirit provided.
– Like your senses are more clear. You feel more stamina too, pain is just a secondary thought. Damian said that it is similar to how he feels constantly. Nothing gets past you. It’s not like superhuman strength or anything, but since the pain from straining yourself is less, I could do more than just the average human. Of course later it hurts like a bitch…excuse the language.
– It’s okay. Most of my teen years were spent with older boys, I’m used to it. – Isaac shrugged his shoulder. – So I take it, Mr. Roux is not human? Given your description.
Aiji and Chino looked at each other for a moment, before the latter just jumped down the seat, turning back into a cat and leaving the two to their own devices.
– Oh no, he’s a vampire. All of the organization heads are…. – Aiji was lost in though, naming the other two and what each branch was doing and what regions were they controlling, but Isao was not hearing any of it by then. Blood has left his face, making him pale and his ears were starting to ring.
Hey, kid. You with me? Aiji’s voice was so distant, as his world slowly shrank and blank spots formed in his vision.

-So much for not freaking him out. – Aiji muttered to himself as he held up an unconscious Isao, who seemed to have fainted. Reaching under the boy he picked him up, bringing him up to the guest bedroom. – Who would have though that in all of this, the vampire triggers you the most. – He chuckled to himself. He really didn’t wanted to shock the boy, he took last night’s events pretty well considering that he was not used to any of it. Even being a seeker, seeing most of the things that other people would run from, or make them go mad, it was a hard night. If Damian really intended for them to work closely, he would have to get used to the violence. Aiji himself was not all that kind out on the field.
He lay the boy down on the still untouched bed, propping up his legs. He looked over Isao with curious eyes. That ID picture in his file must have been a few years younger, because the boy looked more mature now, the babyfat on his cheeks were nowhere to be found. Still had a angelic face, one that seemed ageless, pretty much androgen too. Light gold locks framed his face, making his skin seem more darker than it actually was. Freckles spotted all over his face, down his neck and suddenly Aiji felt the need to count them one day. He was very much drawn to the boy, not just simple attraction, although blondes were his soft spot, but something he didn’t felt ever since he left his old band.
Aiji reached out a hand and pushed some stray hair out of Isao’s face, sneaking a light touch with the back of his hand. So soft.
Isaac stirred leaning into the touch as he was coming back from his blackout, giving a small groan.
– Welcome back. – Aiji said, taking his hand away.
– This is becoming very inconvenient… – Isao groaned – I’m sorry, I don’t know what came over me.
– Probably all the new shocking information, topped with some pre-existing anxiety towards mythical beings. Once you get over these, it’ll be alright, I promise. – He laughed.
– I think the fact I’ll have to meet a vampire face to face was too much. I could feel the blood leave my body. – Isao hung his head in defeat. He was beyond embarrassed that he reacted this way, but vampires were one of the things he was always afraid to meet, always looking out for one in his little hometown. He wasn’t sure how much from the folk tales were true about them, but one thing surely was, they drank human blood. And Isaac was shivering even at the thought of a needle, not to mention fangs.
– You don’t have to be afraid of him. – Aiji patted the top of his head. – Most of the urban legends are true, but some are a bit exaggerated. He won’t take your blood, he usually drinks from a cup. Plus he’s a picky eater, I never saw him drink from anyone and I’ve been around him for years. So you don’t have to worry.
They both fell silent when there was a muffled ring through the room, a light little tune that was coming from a phone. A too familiar tone for both of them. Isao’s eyes widened in realization, flashbacks flooding his mind as his things were bought up to the room, his phone in his hand, then in his sweater pocket, sweater tossed on the chair in front of the desk, completely forgotten when he took a shower.
“Joshua Isaac Brooks, don’t you dare get into trouble. And call, as soon as you are there!”  Rang in his ear again, kicking him back to reality. Isaac scrambled onto his feet, almost tripping over his own legs as he made his way to the chair, digging through the pile of clothes, almost missing the last ring of the phone as he picked up.
– Mom! I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry! – A woman’s voice was heard on the other side, clearly upset but also relieved to hear her son’s voice. Aiji smiled to himself. I guess that’s an universal trait. Remembering his own mother’s concern when he left home. – I didn’t mean to make you worry, honest! I was just so tired after getting here! I’m sorry. – But he’s a better son than I am I guess. – I’m fine, really, uhm….yes I settled in a bit already! I even have a cool flatmate! Everything’s fine. – A lie, Aiji thought, but convincing enough it seemed. – I will definitely! Love you too! – Isao stared at the phone as the line disconnected, only then he let out a breath.
– I completely forgot to call…
– Well at least she can rest easy now. It was convincing, you saying everything’s fine.
– Yes, well, what am I supposed to say? I can’t talk to her about all this, she already had to deal with that kind of stuff when I was little. When she became so concerned to take me to doctors, I stopped mentioning the stuff I saw.
– Interesting. So she doesn’t see them? What about your father? – Aiji asked, immediately seeing that he hit a nail.
– He left when I was very little. – Isaac smiled, but this time it was a sad smile – I don’t even remember him, I only know that he gave me my first name. That’s why I don’t use it.
– I didn’t mean to pry…it’s just that, one of them had to be a seeker. It’s genetic, for you to be one, one of them had to be one too.
– That doesn’t justify him leaving.
– No it doesn’t.


There was an awkward silence in the car as Aiji drove them to the Crimson Bar. After their conversation, Aiji didn’t know what to say or how to cheer up Isao. It’s not like they were friends and he knew what to say when he fell into this sad silence. It was pretty straight forward that this was a sore topic, so he wouldn’t push on it. He also knew that joking would not lighten this kind of mood, so he just let the silence escalate. They had dinner in silence, got ready for tonight in silence and now the car ride was silent too. It was deafening.
– I’m sorry, I didn’t know not to bring it up. – That was as long as Aiji could tolerate this. If the boy was mad at least cuss him out or something.
– Huh? – Isaac was blinking at him, face surprised. – Why are you apologizing?
– Aren’t you angry with me? – Aiji peaked over for a moment.
– No? I’m not angry just… – Isao looked down at his hands in his lap – I’m just sad.
– Well I’m sorry I made you sad…
They pulled up to a private parking space behind their destination and they could have just used the back door, but Aiji wanted Isao to have the full experience. Picking up their bags Isao pointed at his.
– What’s that?
– Well, for your information, in the guitar case, there is a guitar. – Aiji answered sarcastically.
– Okay, let me rephrase that, why is there a guitar with you?
– You’ll see. – Aiji flashed him a grin.

The entrance to the Crimson was a simple red door at the front of a big building. No windows to peak in, just plain brick walls, a handful of posters and a few people out front, talking. Two of them had similar uniform-like clothes: Black button down shirts and deep red pants, black dress-shoes. They didn’t had name-tags but seemed like they worked at the place, given the design of their outfit. The other two were dressed just normally, jeans and jackets, much like how Aiji pulled up for tonight.
Aiji grinned at the group, waving to them. – Just a second – He turned to Isao then with long strides rushed next to one of the men standing there, smoking a cigarette. Isaac stayed put at the door, watching as Aiji laughed at their greetings, put a hand around said man and then, like it was the most natural thing to do, took the cigarette from him and sucked in a long drag, much to the amusement of the other guy, who’s face slowly morphed into an irritated expression. From where he stood Isao couldn’t hear what exactly they were saying, but it seemed like a friendly banter. Aiji then put his guitar case on the other guy’s back, ruffling up his short black hair, now happy he got his smoke back, and turned back to Isaac.
– Yeah you better not play with it, or I’m not treating you tonight! – He said it back turning towards them one more time.
– Ready to go? How’s your nerves? – Aiji questioned now his attention fully on Isao.
– Well, I don’t have much choice. Let’s get it over with. – He sighed in response. Seeing Aiji act so casually actually helped calm him a bit.
Going in the red door, they came up to a more grand entrance than Isaac was anticipating. The foyer, because that’s the best term he could use, had crimson red carpet and wallpapers with black and gold accents. There was a huge man standing to the side, probably 2 meters tall, if not more, and pure muscle. Isao knew this because he was only wearing a black shirt and black pants that was hugging his form. He noticed the two gun holsters on his sides too. The big man just nodded once to Aiji.
To the sides there were short hallways, Aiji whispered to Isao that those are the bathrooms and the big man there is Goliath, of course that’s a nickname, but he’s here to keep the piece and not let anyone in that does not belong here.
Aiji pulled Isao to a set of glass doors, pushed them open and they entered what looked like the bar itself. There was a big two-sided bar in the middle, with every drink you could imagine, stools sitting on both sides and a few employees behind there, talking between themselves now, seeing that the night was yet to start. There was a big space between the bar and either side of the room, where booths lined up back-to back behind archways. There were heavy curtains that could block each booth off from prying eyes. Up front there was a stage, just a few feet higher than everything else, brick wall behind it painted black.
On either side of the stage there were each a hallway, engulfed in darkness. Everything seemed to be a specific color, crimson red, black and gold.
Outside Isao didn’t get any glances from those people who Aiji greeted, but here almost as soon as they entered, almost all eyes were on him. He felt like he’s sticking out like a sore thumb with his light clothes.
– Okay, now I’m getting nervous. – He whispered, looking up at the man next to him.
Aiji only smiled and led him to the right side of the stage, going in to that dark hallway. There were numerous doors on either side of them, a slight curve to the path and very faint lights. Isao traced the layout in his head and came to the conclusion that there must be a room behind the stage’s back wall, and the hallway probably goes around to the other side. They came to a stop at the middle of this curve, on one side a simple door, that was towards the stage, the other side, a thick wooden double door, slightly ajar.
Aiji knocked on the door two times, before they heard a deep voice. “Enter”

Inside Damian sat behind his desk, reading through a heavy folder. He sat it down to the side as Aiji and Isaac entered and he locked eyes with the later and as much as Isao wanted to look away, he couldn’t.
– Welcome to the Crimson, Mr. Brooks. I hope your travels were uneventful? – Damian’s word might have been a simple gesture, but as he stared in to Isaac’s eyes, a command formed in the back of his mind. Like everyone else, he was not to enter this office without permission from him. Finishing this imprint Damian looked up to Aiji, as if he were to answer the question he asked.
– It’s a great honor to meet you, Mr. Roux. I can’t thank you enough for choosing me to be in your program. – Isao bowed his head a bit. Somehow he was sure, who this man was, even thou he never met him.
– Go on, sit down, both of you. – Damian offered, motioning for the two seats in front of his desk.
– There was a little inconvenience. – Aiji started, sitting down and crossing his leg. Isaac followed suit, sitting proper and watching the two.
Damian had an interesting face. Although his nose was crocked and eyes had dark circles around them, he seemed handsome in a way. Pale flawless skin, cold grey eyes and dark brown hair with streaks of grey in them. He was also big, tall and broad, nothing like you imagined an urban vampire. The only indication of his un-dead state was the fact that Isao didn’t seem to see him breathe. Otherwise he could just be any other overworked man in his 30’s. And that was a scary thought, that they could blend in so much.
– Yes, the cleanup crew cursed your name as I heard. – Isaac could swear he saw the fangs as Damian spoke.
– What was I supposed to do? Pat him to death? – Aiji laughed. – Do we know who they were? I never seen dark elves around here.
– That’s because they weren’t dark elves. The sample they took didn’t match.
– What? That can’t be, they looked the part.
– Did you understand what they were saying?
– I didn’t really chat with them… – Aiji said, his hand reaching for one of the tattoos on his finger without thinking about it. – I think the one I shot said something… Run…maybe.
– Hm. I’ll look into this more, maybe the others encountered them as well. In the mean time, keep an eye out for the one you let slip away. – Aiji understood being reprimanded without any more words. He did make a mistake.
– Now, on to your internship, Mr. Brooks. – Isaac perked up, listening carefully. – I understand that you have been working hard on your programming skills.
– Yes sir, I’ve been the top of my class and won a few awards in school.
– I also know you’ve been pretty actively working as a freelance hacker, am I right Mr. Glitch? – Damian’s face was expressionless, not like the other two.
Aiji was shocked, to say the least, here he thought this boy was the perfect student and an angel and now it seems, he was far from it. Isaac on the other hand was slowly sinking in his seat, a meek “Yes” coming from him.
– I will be needing your expertise in this department. You can learn all the legal stuff that was in your offer, but I’m interested in a more grey area. Off records of course. Anything you do here, will stay here.
At this point Isao was cracking his fingers. It’s not like he had done too bad stuff. He mainly only did what every other company does, find a loophole where he can sell his knowledge to people who have been hacked or had a compromised device. They didn’t need to know he knew how to solve the problem because he was the one creating it.
– I have no choice in the matter now do I? – he asked, looking up at Damian.
– You do, you would have to drop out of the program of course, but you can still choose. But I do feel obligated to warn you, that after what happened when you got here, you will probably be targeted. And honestly, if I know of your talents, others do too. They will try to recruit you and I’d rather have you on our side, than theirs.
Isaac looked up over to Aiji for a bit, contemplating his options it seemed. He really had no choice, it was just an illusion of options, but the outcome would be all the same. And he would rather work to whoever Aiji worked for than someone he didn’t even knew what their agenda was. These guys kept humans safe, that was enough of a positive.
– I will need equipment, that will cost a lot.
– I believe Mr. Sato here already showed you, how much I’m willing to pay for my employees. Your expenses will be taken care of. College fund, equipment, transportation if need be. My only concern right now, is housing. Given what happened before, you are still a target. If those creatures wanted something from you, then they won’t stop. I’m not comfortable leaving you without protection. – Damian looked over to Aiji.
– I can protect him. He can take over the guest room and I can transport him anywhere.
– I really don’t want to be a bother…
– Shush, you’re not. – Aiji patted his head. – Besides, who else will you assign to him? Kravcs? He’s the only one not working currently. And I can still do business at night as usual.
Damian nodded in confirmation.
– I will prepare everything in a week’s time. Documents, cards and passports. Mr Brooks, settle in these next few days, and we will start after everything is set up. In the mean time, I give permission to Mr. Sato to fill you in some details. – He looked up at Aiji again, eyes flashing red for a moment, giving permission, after the fact. – Make sure he meets the others too. They need to be aware that he’s in contract with me. Should anything happen.
– Sure.
Without another word, the meeting was over. Isaac didn’t knew how he knew that, but both of them left on an unknown command.

-Soooo Mr. Glitch, huh? – Aiji chuckled.
– It was harmless, just a bit of extra to help out with finances. Do you know how expensive computers are? Specially the ones I use? – he huffed at the taller man.
– Don’t let me judge you on your actions. You know what I do and how I live.
– So what now? – Isao asked as they made their way back on the dark hallway.
When they emerged it seemed the place had changed in pace. There were quite a few people around now, sitting at the bar and even filling up the booths. Isao looked around, all the people that eyed him when he came in were now busy with their guests. The stage changed too, there were numerous microphones out now, two guitars were sat down one reddish and one pure black, behind those were a simple drum setup. The guy who was smoking outside was up on the stage, plugging in the guitars and tuning the red one. He was as tall as Aiji but more lean, similar black hair cut short and piercing light grey eyes. He seemed to also have the same style as Aiji, at least the top he currently sported was the same kind. The other one who was out there was back at the drums, Isao only saw his carrot-red hair from where he was standing.
Aiji led Isaac to the bar, the side that was facing the stage and sat him down, he himself leaned over the bar, almost reaching what he wanted but before he could a hand smacked his away.
– How many times have I told you!? Ask! This is my domain and you shall not have your hands over this bar Sato! – The man said behind them.
– Aww come on! I’m pretty self sufficient – Aiji coed at him only to earn a slap in his face with the rag that hang from the bartender’s hand.
– Sit down and tell me what you want. Your friend too.
Isaac found the thick accent familiar, but didn’t think much of it before turning back. Then he had to pinch himself.
– Sorel?! – It was a bit hard to tell, but he was sure about it.
– Eh? Isaac? What in hells are you doing here? – The bartender exclaimed. It was hart to tell because the last time they saw each other was when Sorel graduated high school, two years before Isao. They were friends back then and they kept in touch after, but neither has expected to find one another here. Sorel said he was studying abroad and working at a bar part time. Isao had said that he was travelling for an internship and neither thought they would end up at the same place.
– I’m just starting to work for Mr. Roux. What are YOU doing here? Is this the part time bar-tending you talked about?
– You two know each other? – Aiji looked between them.
– We were classmates in school, dare I say friends even. – Sorel laughed.
The two seemed to be happy to see each other, chatting away how this could have been, understanding that neither of them could disclose any specifics, till now.
Aiji grinned at Isao, finally having a smile on his face again. Sorel seemed distracted enough so he tried to reach under the bar again, picking up two bottles and slowly making his way to the stage. If Sorel noticed, he didn’t seem to care, glad to see his old friend.
Isao didn’t even notice Aiji was gone, he was so engrossed with catching up with his friend, finally having a familiar face. He vaguely heard the band tune in, but to be honest he didn’t really care for it.
– Hey are you old enough to drink yet? – Sorel asked him, offering a glass as he pulled out drinks for others too all the while talking to him.
– My ID says I am. – Isaac answered grinning at him. If he knew the correct laws, in this country, he was.
– I can work with that. – Sorel grinned back, and gave him a glass. He also made sure it was not something too strong, knowing how much younger Isaac was, silently looking out for him like back in school.
However Isao could not take his first sip, because his ears now picked up the tune the band started to play and hearing a voice he only heard on record before.

Telling myself I won’t go there
Oh, but I know that I won’t care
Trying wash away all the blood I’ve spilt
This lust is a burden that we both share
Two sinners can’t atone from a lone prayer
Souls tied, intertwined by our pride and guilt

There’s darkness in the distance
From the way that I’ve been livin’
But I know I can’t resist it

Oh, I love it and I hate it at the same time
You and I drink the poison from the same vine
Oh, I love it and I hate it at the same time
Hidin’ all of our sins from the daylight
From the daylight, runnin’ from the daylight
From the daylight, runnin’ from the daylight
Oh, I love it and I hate it at the same time

Tellin’ myself it’s the last time
Can you spare any mercy that you might find
If I’m down on my knees again?
Deep down, way down, Lord, I try
Try to follow your light, but it’s night time
Please, don’t leave me in the end

There’s darkness in the distance
I’m beggin’ for forgiveness
But I know I might resist it, oh

Oh, I love it and I hate it at the same time
You and I drink the poison from the same vine
Oh, I love it and I hate it at the same time
Hidin’ all of our sins from the daylight
From the daylight, runnin’ from the daylight
From the daylight, runnin’ from the daylight
Oh, I love it and I hate it at the same time

*Lyrics by David Kushner

Isao was feeling like the world stopped, like he was the only one between the bar and the stage looking up at the figure who’s voice hadn’t changed from all those years ago. His legs moved on their own as he made his was to the edge of the stage where Aiji stood and watched him, his voice pulling the boy in and when he played the black guitar Isao felt hot tears flowing down his face, biting down on his lower lip, trying to stop them but to no avail. Hearing him live, was vastly different, hearing where he took breaths, where his voices almost failed, all the little details that were lost in recording. Aiji was looking at him all the way, from the first sound till the last, dark ocean eyes boring in to golden ones.
Once the tunes died down Aiji stepped to the edge of his podium, crouching down to be at eye-level with a crying Isao. He reached out a hand, wiping away tears from one of his cheeks.
– I made you sad again, huh?
– I don’t know what this is, but it’s not sad. – Isao managed to squeeze out between hiccups.