Chapter II – Part 2

Aiji hated mornings. Not just because it was way too bright, for his way too hungover brain at most times – although this was a strong case against it – but because he ran in to so many happy and motivated people on his way to the coffee shop on the corner. Now this would have not been a problem, had he not had the pleasure of the foulest mornings of all. He was not hung over today, he was shaken up. And that was worse because the coffee shop he frequented was adamant in not putting any liquor in his order before noon.
It was a nice little cozy thing, tucked away in an old building that was way past it’s prime, pretty quiet as it was located in a more hidden corner of the street, not on the main road. He discovered it when he moved in to the penthouse and he could not sleep properly for days. In his frustration, he roamed the streets at night till dawn broke, when he was not chasing down god know what creature that is. Having this job, mostly required to work at night, fucked up his sleeping schedule royally. But back to the shop…he found it because albeit the late hour it was the only thing open. A little warmth in the cold city with it’s orange lights and cozy decor. Normally, when he got here at night, he would stay in one of the corner booths, jut sipping on his spiked liquid to sooth his soul. There were few others with the same nightly routine it seemed. A tall lean figure, dark brown hair always in a bun, typing away on a beat up laptop. Writer maybe? Journalist? Who knows, but they have seen each other come and go so many times that they nodded when Aiji plopped down on to his usual place. Nothing was said, just a nod. A silent acknowledgement of their presence in the same space. The other that came by, short, red hair and bright green eyes, older than himself, maybe forty-something. He always asked for to-go, but always stayed in font of the café drinking it. By now Aiji also learned the barista’s names, four of them rotating the night shift. He met the owner as he too, came in the late hours, not to check on them, but to make himself comfortable and have a drink in piece, reading a book. There were many it seemed, that couldn’t catch sleep at night and for them it was routine to visit.
At nigh.
Because this morning rush was just unbearable.
Aiji did wonder what he should get for Isaac. If he should get him anything at all, but he guessed it would be common courtesy, since he was here anyways. So he went with something popular, warm and sweet. He didn’t wanted to open the floodgates of thoughts why that made him think of the young boy in his guestroom – Isaac’s room, now. And why he felt the need that if the younger has trouble sleeping, he would bring him here too. He would be a nice addition to the collection of people that only reared their heads that late. But this was a thought for another day, Aiji’s was already starting on a bad foot as it was anyway.

He should have silenced his phone. He should have just tossed it across the room when it rang in the early hour yanking him from a sweet dream. Or at least he should have just checked who was calling but after a mere 4 hours of sleep, he was not thinking, just abiding to his muscles automatically picking up, eyes still screwed shut. Being used to emergency calls from Damian was not helping either.
– What? – His voice was hoarse he noted, dry and it was hard to speak. He tried to swallow to ease his vocal cords.
– Good morning, Aiji. – Came a familiar sound, a voice he haven’t heard in years. One he ignored every time. His eyes flew open. – You still sound half asleep.
– And you sound way too pleased with that. – He groaned back sarcastically. Finding his spite in a mere moment.
– I thought I’d try calling when you’re most out of it. It also aligns with my lunch break. – Oh he could hear the smug grin, much like his own sometimes.
– Well, you got me. Congratulations. What do you want Ryou?
Silence. Maybe he didn’t even know. Maybe he was so stunned that Aiji actually picked up that he didn’t knew where to go from there. Maybe this is why Aiji hesitated to hang up, because he knew that after years, it was hard to gather one’s thoughts so suddenly. Then he heard a heavy sigh.
– I’ll be flying there this weekend for work. I want to see you.
Now that was a bad idea. But he also noted, that it was not a question.
– What makes you think I want to see you? – It was cruel, how he put it. He didn’t meant it to sound so mean. But Aiji’s walls were slowly crumbling and he had to put them up again.
– Because you owe me this much. To see you are fine, with my own eyes. You have no idea how worried I was. – A soft tone. A more than believable excuse. He should say no. And the final blow. – I missed you.
He should have said no. He should have ignored the whole call. He should have hung up. For years he could avoid it, but once they started talking, it was over. Aiji knew this would happen, this is why he ignored the other. And now he had to think about what to tell him. How to explain the changes, the scars on his face, the penthouse and everything. Because Ryou will not let it go now. In this, they were the same, and Aiji hated it.
The weekend. He had a few days to mentally and emotionally prepare. And coffee helped with that.

Once he made it back to the penthouse, he noticed Isaac was already up too. Bundled up in a blanket on his couch, flipping through his phone. Aiji made sure to make his presence known before he approached and talked, as a way to not startle the boy.
– ‘Morning. – Big honey-brown eyes looked up at him. His cheeks were puffy. – I don’t know what you prefer but I bought coffee. – He handed him the untouched cup. – I went on guess so you don’t have to drink it if it’s something you don’t like…Or god forbid allergic to … You’re not, right? – He rambled on. What the hell was he thinking, he didn’t even knew if the boy liked coffee.
– Oh, thank you. – A small smile graced his tired face. – I’m sure it’s fine whatever it is. I’m not picky. And no, I’m not allergic to anything either. – He took a sip and his face brightened up. Cheeks still puffy but now adorned with a bit of blush from the hot beverage. Aiji noticed that the boy’s skin blushed easy and somewhere in the back of his mind, he wanted to test just how many pretty shades of pink it got to. Stop it.
– This is really good actually. Thank you. – God forbid anyone to take that smile away from him.
Aiji took a seat in the armchair positioned a little askew, carelessly throwing his wallet and phone on the coffee table. He still looked at the offending device like it had done something wrong.
– Didn’t sleep well? – Aiji looked up and saw that Isao has abandoned his phone screen and has been following him with his eyes. Frustration must have been clearly written on him. So naturally, Aiji deflected, you know, like the adult he is.
– Did you? I tried not to wake you when we got home. – Ah perfect, a new tint of a blush crept up on Isao’s cheeks.
– Ah, I was a bit restless. I’m sorry, you must have had to carry me up… – What was it? Shyness? Shame?
– It’s nothing. I’m used to it. – He laughed. – I’m pulling Nyans to his bed every other weekend because I can hold my liquor better than him. I’m used to carrying the dead weight.
– Nyans is… – Isao thought hard, he knew he should pinpoint a face to the name, but didn’t knew which one.
– The other one with the guitar. Black hair. – Aiji explained. – You’ll get used to them soon enough. Nobody will hold it against you if you are a bit overwhelmed with all the new names and people. – He tried to reassure him. He was not doing a good work, seeing as Isao’s gaze fell on Aiji’s leg that was bouncing on it’s own rapid beat.
– Did something happen? – Isaac raised his gaze to Aiji’s face. For a moment his eyes glinted. Aiji only heard for seekers and their natural perception, but seeing that glint he realized that this natural skill was very similar to his own heightened senses. Almost instinctual in nature, had it been not for his training to control it. Isaac had no such training, not that he knew of or mentioned in his file, so it must be innate for him.
Aiji let out a huff and found something very interesting to look at over on the wall. Anything but to look into the eyes of the seeker with those pupils that see everything. For a moment Aiji thought if seekers can be used as lie detectors. They probably could.
– Nothing that should concern you. – It was not a lie. – It’s a personal matter. Nothing noteworthy. – He forced his leg to still.
– Okay… – The boy didn’t sound convinced but saw that he should not push this one. He went back to his coffee and phone a moment later and Aiji was glad that he did. He didn’t wanted to lie to him, but the situation with Ryou was far too complex to tap in to.

***

The week seemed to rush by with how much they had to do. The distraction was a welcome guest, for Aiji it took his mind off the impending meeting on the weekend and for Isaac, well he had little time to think about his evident trauma from his arrival.
Isaac planned to get everything he needed once he got his bearings in his new living situation, so the only thing that he bought was that one suitcase of clothes and essentials. He had a bit saved up to do just that, what he didn’t expect that he didn’t had to even touch that amount in his bank. Because Aiji didn’t let him. “Don’t think of it as me paying, think of it as Damian giving you a little advance payment. Comes out of his pocket anyways.” He has stated ginning. Thou Isaac did insist buying at least lunch for them, if not for the full cart of distorted items ranging from simple household items to some clothes and decorations, then for the fact that Aiji chauffeured him around all day.

The other fun thing was that Chino actually accompanied them. It was a bit strange, seeing the little cat trot around in such a huge and industrial environment, looking completely out of place browsing though the kid’s clothing – because that was what fit her true form. Isao watched in ave how almost nobody batted an eye at the small creature who’s cat ears moved naturally to the sounds and even indicated her excitement when finding something of interest, perking up.
– Oh, I don’t look like this for them. – She chirped happily gesturing round them as she held up an outfit to herself looking questioningly at Aiji who shook his head. – I have a disguise when going out so people see me differently, more human. I’m surprised you still see though it thou. It must be tiresome. – She put the dress back after a little contemplating.
– I’m not really doing anything. – Isaac said as he looked at her, her ears picking up as she found something white on the rack. – I mean I don’t do it purposefully. At least I don’t think so. – He looked around them to see if anyone was listening in on their not so ordinary conversation. Neither Aiji or Chino bothered to not talk about these things out and about. He guessed, that if anyone human were to listen it, it would just confuse them anyway.
– Hmmm, I think you are hyper-focused. You have done it for such a long time, you don’t even know how to let it go now. How to see just the veil and not beyond it. Which is good on one hand, evidently you see more of the truth than most. But on the other hand, your senses didn’t relax for a while now. Only when sleeping I suppose. That takes up a lot of energy and can cause side-effects. Like being irritable or thinking slower even exhibiting lack of judgement.
Chino held up the white top, this time her questioning look directed at Isao. It was a nice little thing, a loose fit with cute flowers on all the edges. Isao nodded in agreement and Chino seemed happy. Was that a purr?
– Try to relax your eyes a bit. I don’t want to help with it, because then you will never learn.- She said going back to the cart, standing next to him as Aiji wondered around the accessories, picking up sunglasses and trying them on.
– I don’t know how, really. I mean do I just think about it? Or is there something I need to do?
– Hm, well, it’s like trying to control your breathing. Like when you’re agitated and want to calm down. – She said, a finger on her chin thinking.
– Yeah, that’s not going to happen. I can’t calm myself down from a simple anxiety either. – He said with a small sad smile at her.
– Then what happens when it’s too much? – She asked, ears going down.
– Ah..well I pass out when I’m at the limit. I have some pills for it too, but I don’t like to use them. They make me drowsy, which probably is the point, but still feels like it’s not me. – Isaac sighed. He didn’t wanted to go into detailed about passing out when he had exams coming up or the number of doctors that tried to admit him in to psychic wards before he realized he’s better off if he just kept quiet.
– I’m sorry. I hoped humans would be much more perceptive to learning about the world they don’t see by this time, but there are only a select few who are willing and don’t see it as a threat. – She continued with that honest tone of hers.
– Is that why you choose Aiji? Because you saw him as perceptive? – Isao followed Aiji though the isles, keeping a bit of distance. If the mentioned hunter wanted to listen in, he could.
– It was a part of it. Some people start to see when something happens in their lives that ‘open their eyes’ to it. When we met he was already at this point but unlike you, had a better contoll over it. Choosing not to see. Honestly I was just intrigued.
She left it at that. They went back to small-talk after that, Aiji specially silent while he was driving them and Isao was sure he caught a glimpse of worry in the small cat’s eyes. As the week progressed he admitted that the hunter was acting out of character, for what he came to know of him at least. But when Chino’s worried look flashed across the usually content face, Isao knew he was not wrong in his assumption. However he didn’t felt like he was close enough to probe. Aiji said before, that it was nothing concerning him, so he took his word.

There seemed to be other distractions too throughout the week. Ever since the first night at the bar, Aiji’s phone was constantly beeping with messages. Specially in the late afternoons. At first Isaac thought it was something work related, but soon found out it not to be the case.
– Should you be somewhere else? – He asked when the nth little cling of a message came. Both boys took to a small habit of sitting in the living room couch, content with each other’s company, silently doing whatever. There were times they were showing each other fragments of their life, like Aiji showing off photos, mostly with his band mates, some even with chino, both as a cat and human. Chino looked exactly like she could be Aiji’s little sister as a human. Japanese features, long black straight hair and a small frame. The only thing that didn’t change was her eyes, shining blue and yellow. Aiji then showed photos of his actual sister, who did definitely not looked like him at all. She had different features all around and lighter hair, light brown and striking light blue eyes. Later pictures and a quick search for her social media showed her recently with bright pink hair.
“Karin was adopted when she was little. – Aiji explained – Her parents were close to mine and it was not a question when both of them died in a car accident that she would join our family.” He explained.

Currently Isaac was typing away at his laptop, rows of codes in front of him, and Aiji was sitting on the other end, making sure not to pry, scribbling away on paper. From the occasional frowns and paper crumpling up, there wasn’t much other noise coming from him and with Isaac’s rapid typing it was a nice harmony. If not for the beeping every few minutes. Aiji looked up then looked at his phone groaning.
– No, it’s just Nyans. – His voice was strained a bit, but held no real displeasure. – Don’t get me wrong, he’s a good friend…probably my best friend to be honest, but he’s been insufferable the last few days.
Aiji picked up his phone to look at the messages. A small grin spread on his lips as he scooted closer to Isaac, showing him the phone. There were numerous messages from the other party, all seen but never graced with a reply.

Isaac chuckled a bit but looked at Aiji with a scrutinizing look.
– At least tell him I’m here of my own free will. – He giggled.
– Sure, I just need a good enough excuse as to why. He’s the only one that knows nothing about what we really do. For him, it’s just a nice little band with a few chill nights. Honestly, that kid has no idea how blind he is. – Aiji said laughing while he sent a text back. “Use your brain. You’ve been here a million times.”
– Just tell him I’m working with you and Damian asked you. No details. – Isaac offered.
– That could work. – A text came in “Get me off the street? T.T “ which Aiji sighed at.
– It will. Trust me, I’ve been hiding things my entire life. – Aiji looked up at him, searching his eyes.
– You okay with him here? Nyans will probably have a lot of questions for you.
Isaac nodded, smiling at him. He didn’t mind, they will probably spend a lot of time together anyway. Better get to know each other.
Aiji actually went down to get him, despite acting like he could care less, but it seemed that this was their dynamic. Their arrival was heard all the way from the front entrance as Nyans was kicking his boots off and throwing very heated and very foreign arguments at Aiji.
– Don’t yell at me in languages I don’t understand. – Aiji answered with an amused smile. – Man this really got you worked up.
– Worked up? I almost had an aneurysm when I heard it. Sometimes you are so careless. – Nyans motioned at his face, surely poking at the many scars that were there. When he got to the living area and Isaac went up to meet him -again- he let out a last huff in Aiji’s direction and turned with a beaming smile to the young boy.
– Hi! I’m sorry I just invited myself – He was cut off.
– You had no problem with that when I lived alone. – Aiji deadpanned at him.
– As I was saying, it’s nice to meet you again, I’m sorry we’ve been preoccupied the first time around. I hope to get to know each other soon.
Aiji looked at the other shocked. Never in his life saw this man be so proper.
Isaac held out his hand for him for a handshake that he gladly took.
– It’s nice to meet you again. I’m Isaac Brooks and yes I am passed legal age. – Aiji almost fell to the ground at the face Nyans made as the color left him and realized that the boy did in fact see his outburst of texts.
After the awkward moments till they got their bearings and sat down talking, it was evident that Nyans and Aiji were closer to brothers than friends. Poking fun at one another without any real malice. Isaac also noticed that they are not shy of touch either, which was probably the result of both of them having such a laid back attitude towards it. Nyans was comfortable putting his legs in Aiji’s lap when sprawled across the couch and Aiji was not shy to take the other man’s cold feet and warming it with his hands. It seemed a very solid friendship, it could be even interpreted as something more if not for the fact that Nyans lamented to the older how he should come out with him in the weekend clubbing, cause he needed a wingman to get a girl. It was then that Aiji said with a frown that he had a personal obligation at the weekend.
– What? Who’s more important than your bestes buddy? – If puppy eyes were a person, Nyans would had been it.
– Ryou called, he’s in town. – There was a long silence between them and it was not mentioned again. As to who Ryou was, Isaac never asked. It seemed too sore of a spot. Maybe after Aiji got home.
Luckly Nyans was very easy to talk to, he himself seemed an open book, and Isaac found the they did share some interests, like video games. This revelation quickly turned into a full on game-night where the two of them glued themselves to their controllers and had a mini-tournament right there on the living room floor while Aiji watched and cheered, turning on Nyans real fast when he was getting the upper-hand. It was the most fun Isaac had since getting here, laughing carefree.
Aiji wanted to hear more of that laugh. It was intoxicating.

For Isaac, nights were spent in dreamless sleep, tired from the day’s happenings. He also noticed Chino, as a cat, made a habit of sleeping at the end of his bed. He had a suspicion that his dreamless nights were somehow connected to her. He still felt on edge, specially when he was alone so whatever Chino did, he was grateful. Until one night she stopped.
She had to leave for something – the little spirit not often telling where her daily escapades took her. Isaac didn’t asked her what it was either, but when she asked if he would be fine, like the stupid liar, he said yes. Not wanting to inconvenience anyone. Same thing when Aiji asked, because he had that meeting with Ryou. A personal meeting. “I’ll have my phone if you need anything.” He reassured Isaac but that just made it more solid in the young boys head that he should not bother Aiji tonight. It looked important and Isaac didn’t wanted to be any more of a burden than he already was. What could go wrong anyway? He’s in a secure place, no-one should be able to get to him.
He didn’t account for his own mind.
It must have been around ten when the first sings started. Nothing much, just a hint of a movement in the corner of his eyes as he sat in his room, illuminated by his screen. A few more of this and his breath was getting a bit labored.
– Come on, there’s nobody here. – He told himself. But even if he did so, he got up and moved around the penthouse, looking at the locks. He shuddered a bit when he heard a thunder, miles away.

***

The place Ryou set up to meet at was fancy, a high-end bar with private rooms and very advanced reservations. Aiji was familiar, it was a month’s wait time, so if Ryou managed to get in at a week’s notice, well he had to pull some strings. And just to mess with the staff, Aiji pulled up on his motorbike. No valet parking for his baby, if he needs to leave, then he will without waiting for anyone. He stepped in, helmet in hand, not planning to give it up either.
– Reservation for Sato? – Was what he asked. And the girl who stood at the front flushed a crimson red, looking up at him.
– Yes, yes please come with me, Mister Sato is already here. – Aiji smiled at her, but she was a true professional, getting over her stutter and leading him to the back of the bar. A private room even, man Ryou really didn’t spare a cent on this. Usually these were used for corporate outings, not private affairs.
The hostess left him before he would enter, and he waited till she was out of sight, shamelessly watching the knee-length skirt flow around her tights and round bottom.
The private room was the epitome of luxury. A round table, with seating for up to six people in the middle, large plants as decoration, a big folding door to an outside area and a tea-table with sofas under the covers there. The light inside was bright and cascaded outside to reveal Ryou in a fitted dark blue suit, standing up to greet him. Then stopping mid step as he saw Aiji, eyes wide.
Aiji felt like he was looking in a mirror that took him back a few years. The identical dark blue eyes looking back at him, the upturn of his own grin slowly fading from the other’s mouth as he took in the sight. Aiji made it to the table inside, pulling down his gloves as well as resting the helmet on the table, before he heard the other speak.
– Dear God. What the hell happened to you? – It didn’t had the accusatory tone he expected. In fact, Ryou was full of concern when Aiji dared to look up to his eyes, too late to stop the other marching over and pulling him in to a tight hug.
– Nah, you should see the other guy. – Aiji grinned but patted the other’s back.
Ryou pulled back, holding Aiji at an arms length, looking him over once again, Aiji doing the same. He haven’t seen his twin in years, there weren’t big changes, not like on himself with all the scars and tattoos, but he did change. He looked more mature and grown up now and he could see a hint of dark circles under his eyes. Looking at his dark oceans closer, he could see the hurt in them, all the years of silence. They said: How could you do this? Why did you do this?
– Come on, you got me here – Aiji sighed. – I’ll tell you everything.
– You better.

***

Isaac moved to the couch sometime before midnight. In hindsight it might have not been the best choice, because this space was bigger, with more doors and even more shadows that could move in his peripheral view. That’s why all the lights were on. The kitchen, the dining area, even the light leading up the staircase. It was a quick fix to sooth out the shadows that danced there before. He also had the tv on some late night comedy show, his phone next to him on the couch, looking at it every five minutes. To say he was anxious was an understatement. With the lights and noise, he could trick his mind thinking he was not alone, that’s why he was still so put together, but it was slowly falling apart, as the night crawled on in an agonizingly slow pace.
The rain was coming down hard outside. In the last hour, the storm that brewed miles away had moved over to the city, enveloping the outside world in it’s fury. The thought that he was going to be alone till morning crossed his mind. Chino definitely had to stay where she went and Aiji might too. He was truly alone. For a moment his hand hovered over his phone’s screen that has his contacts but decided against it.
The lights helped. He will not sleep, but at least he still had a sense of control. It was not like he didn’t had nights were he worked till morning. He looked down at his phone. He can do this, without calling anyone for aid. He was not a kid anymore. He was capable and that shadow in the kitchen definitely is not a tall long eared drow holding a knife.
Isaac stood up from his spot, phone in hand. – Maybe I should just… – He mumbled to himself as he made his way to the entrance where his backpack sat under the entry table and mirror. Rummaging through a small pocket in it, he found the small tin box, opening it and staring at the little white pills. – I mean, it’s this or… – He could not continue this trail of thought.
Suddenly a large lightning enveloped the city and with a big crackling sound everything went silent and dark. For a few moments, it really was a deafening silence, Isaac’s body refusing to move to pick up the little pills or the phone that scattered across the hallway when he jumped from the sudden crack and darkness. He was frozen there, hands clutching the little box and slightly shaking.
His trance was cut when another lightning enveloped the now dark floor in a sudden lilac light, because all the shadows now looked like moving figures and when it was dark again he didn’t see them. But they were there, his mind screamed at him. The first sound he heard again was his own shallow breathing, his heartbeat in his ears and the harsh pattering against the windows as the rain came down. If sounded more and more like quick small footsteps, not unlike some nasty spirits made as their claws hit the hard wood floor. Hi eyes darted to every other corner of the space and his legs slowly started to move. Move damn it! Another lightning and crack and he darted, up the stairs, haphazardly pulling a door closed behind him, leaving only a crack. Isaac vaguely noted that his own room didn’t had a closet this close to the bed, that his wall above the bed was not black and he didn’t have a plush rug underneath the bed, but it didn’t matter. The one thing that mattered was that his back was pushed against the wall, to his left there was a wardrobe, to his right a nightstand and he could see the door from here, wide honey brown eyes never leaving it.

***

-I only have one question. – Ryou looked at his twin, trying to stomach everything that was said in the last few hours. – Several, actually, but one is important.
It took a long time for Aiji to tell him everything that happened in the past seven years. The whole truth. It’s not like he ever lied to his brother, not saying anything was not a lie. Now everything was on the table. Chino, Damian and his work as well as his feelings from when he left and felt completely useless to now, where albeit risking his life, he felt he did something worthwhile. He didn’t miss Ryou’s small smile at that.
– I have nothing more to hide really. – Aiji said, sipping on his tea. They ordered tea, because both were driving and Ryou was adamant they did not drink.
They started their talk outside, when the air was fresh and only smelled vaguely of rain. Then as the storm came in, so did the brothers. Now rain was coming down heavily and lightnings adorned the skies.
– Are you happy, like this? – Ryou asked, looking at Aiji who was staring out into the rain.
– Hard to tell. – The other replied honestly. – I feel better. But happy is still a bit ways to go…
The other only nodded. He understood the feeling more than Aiji would have thought. Happiness was always just a second thought for him too.
– You should come home sometime… – Aiji opened his mouth to retort – …wait, hear me out. I’m not saying to move back. I’m just saying, to visit. We all miss you.
– I’m sure you and Karin do. Even mom too, but I don’t think it’s a good idea just yet. But I promise, you will be the first one to know if I plan to set foot in Japan again. – Aiji smiled a sad smile. It would be a lie, that he didn’t miss his home. He did, greatly at times, like when he could not see the stars. He missed their bickering, their sister’s cute enthusiasm, their mother’s care. He did not miss his father’s disappointed looks or his grandfather’s cruel comments.
– Of course, cause you would need the private jet and I’m the only one that would arrange it for you. – Ryou joked with a grin same as Aiji’s – You’re not the only one who has changed thou. Father’s been … better for lack of better words. When you come up he actually has a nice thing to say.
– Suuuuure, like how I’m the disgrace and you’re the perfect one. I remember the lectures. – The tea soured in Aiji’s mouth. There was a big crack and light in the sky, and part of the city outside went dark.
– Aiji. I would in a heartbeat have changed places with you. But it was not easy for me either. – There was that trademark stern look, the Sato gene. Aiji waited for it to rear it’s ugly head all night long. But it only lasted a moment. – And I wouldn’t want to trade you as you are for anything else. I don’t care what father or anyone says.
He didn’t had a comeback to that. It was so raw and true that he feared that if he didn’t move then he might just do something that he didn’t since he was ten. And in no world will he cry at such simple words in front of his brother after he told him he was basically a hardened urban mercenary. So he did the next best thing and got up from his seat, downing the last of his tea like a shot.
– It’s getting late and it’s coming down pretty hard. I should go. – Ryou stood too, not knowing if he said something wrong or not. Aiji’s face was unreadable after the initial shock. Another trademark of the Sato gene, but he would never admit to that.
– Do you need a lift? – He asked eyeing the helmet.
– Nah, I need to clear my head anyways and, forgive me dear brother, your presence will not help me with that. – He did not look at Ryou as he made his way to the table, picking up his gloves and helmet. Another step and he was out the door. – Say hi to mom for me okay?
– Sure… – Ryou stood there, Watching Aiji leave in a haste. He should have just left it at the pleasantries. He always managed to sour the mood and chase Aiji away. But at least he saw him now. At least they seem to be on talking terms now.

Aiji winked at the hostess as he was exiting. He actually had half a mind to ask when her shift ends, but it was too close to Ryou still. He needed some distance, that feeling gripping his throat. Flight. That’s what it was. Because if he fought, both of them would crumble.
The rain was heavy but nothing he hadn’t ridden in before. He remembered when he had to chase down some creature in a storm similar to this. He actually crashed that time, but that was because he had to multitask by shooting the creature too, now it was just a simple ride home. Home to his secure, cozy penthouse, where he could draw a long hot bath and drown his thought of his family. Thinking of home a certain blonde’s face came to him, how he would still be bundled up on the couch in one of the fluffy blankets, either playing a game on the tv or typing away on his laptop. Maybe he would even have a mug of hot coco on the table next to him. That was all Aiji’s mind could come up with. They didn’t knew each other for that long, so this was the most he saw of him so far. But he wanted to see more. Wanted to experience more of the boy that seemed more and more complex as the days went by. By the time he got on the bike and was halfway there his mind was full of the cozy images of the last few days, a strange sense of calmness coming over him. He already saw Isao as part of his life, as part of that space. He just hoped that Isao felt like he belonged too.
When Aiji’s bike zoomed in to the long street the penthouse was on, he noticed it was clad in darkness. Even street lamps were out and the only shine was his headlights illuminating the path and the occasional lightnings high above him. Aiji, reaching in to the back of his mind, sharpening out his senses, to see if there was anything out of the ordinary on the street, but besides a few wondering spirits, there was nothing. Then a simple power outage, good, he was not in the mood to fight.
He pulled up to the building, cursing under his breath that of course, if the power is out then there’s a good few flight of stairs to climb. Suddenly as he maneuvered around the gate, the hairs on his back spiked up. He snapped his head to the depths of the parking lot that led up to the third floor, where he stored all his vehicles. Two bright eyes looked at him, about at waist height. He didn’t see the body, it was too dark. He looked at those eyes, challenging it, making up a plan to at least ran it over if nothing else, should it attack. But it didn’t, instead it waited for a lightning, to illuminate his form, truly strange from a creature who thrived in darkness.
Aiji saw the tell-tale sings. The long upright ears, the black fur, the long tail and black fangs. A hellhound. A nasty creature, but only present if death is. Why is it waiting?
At the next lightning strike, Aiji saw the hound dart, up towards the next floor. Like he was showing where he was going. Why show him? They had only one purpose, hellhounds snatched up souls that passed. Why did it act like a dog that wanted to catch his attention?
Aiji turned the bike to follow it, zooming past cars as the hound ran from him – no, he’s running in front of me, not from me – up the next garage floor. Aiji watched as it waited for him to get off the bike as he reached the last floor. Just for good measure, Aiji reached into the compartment under his seat, pulling out a gun. The hound snarled at him, baring it’s teeth but just continued to dart, in the open door that led to the staircase.
– Where are you going? – Aiji mumbled under the helmet, running after it, taking the steps in leaps. The hound was quick, leaving a dark cloud after his every step. As they reached more and more floors, Aiji’s mind couldn’t shake the feeling, that this creature was leading him to his own apartment. His heart started to race. The unwanted thought that something happened…
Flashes of Isaac’s smiling face plagued his mind as he said “I’ll be fine.” mere hours ago. He doubled his effort trying to catch up to the hound, hearing it’s claws clank on the stairs then coming to an abrupt stop. Standing at the top of the stairs the hound bared his glowing eyes down at him before leaping through the closed door, leaving a puff of black cloud behind him.
– No! – Aiji basically burst thought the door and now more than ever was glad that his own front door had a fingerprint scanner, because he could not bother fidgeting with a key.

The whole apartment seemed still, clad in darkness as he stepped in. Looking up ahead where the hound was, his now smokey figure looking at him before turning and claws patting against the floor coming to a halt under the stairs. Aiji stepped in further, pulling the helmet off his head. He came to and abrupt stop when he felt and heard something crunch under his feet. Taking a risk by averting his gaze from the hound he looked down what he had stepped on. Pills, scattered on the floor. And a phone, Isao’s phone tossed, it’s small led blinking.
– Isaac? – He called out into the darkness. No answer. Looking back, the hound was gone, but so was the feeling of imminent danger that came with it’s presence. – Isaac! – again nothing.
Still holding on to his gun, but now lowering it, he made his way farther into the first floor. A quick assessment of the surroundings: The boy’s laptop on the couch, with a dead battery, the mug on the coffee table, blanket bundled up and pushed aside. He’s not here.
Besides the stairs a plant, toppled over, like someone ran past it and up the stairs from the entrance. It took few quick steps to get to the second floor, Aiji first opening Isao’s bedroom, to see if the boy was there. What was concerning is that he was not, the room clad in darkness, bed still made. The only other space inside was his own room (besides the bathrooms), so he stepped to his door, fixing his gaze in the crack when his eyes met the honey-brown ones. Wide, a glossy sheen to them and pupils so small they almost looked nonexistent. Aiji had half a mind to put his gun away, as a means to not seem threatening to the boy, before slowly pushing the door open, taking slow steps towards him.
It hurt when there was a small whimper from the small form, trying to push himself to the wall even more.
– Isaac, it’s okay. – He tried, voice low. The boy’s eyes darted from his face to his hands to his feet then up again as he came closer crouching down. It was clear he was not seeing Aiji, he was looking at something completely different. But he didn’t had it in him to move away further, like a deer caught in headlights.
Close enough to touch, Aiji bought a hand, then another around him, prying his form from the small space at the wall, enveloping him in a tight hold.
– Isaac, it’s me, I’m home. Nothing will hurt you. – He felt the rapid pulse, the hitched breaths. How long was Isaac here? Afraid from monsters that were not there. And still he felt rigid, still seeing his nightmares.
Bringing his hand to cup the boy’s cheek in one hand, forcing him to look at him.
– Come back to me Isao. You need to wake up. – He begged, looking at those terrified eyes.
Agonizing few minutes have passed when a slow huff of breath left Isaac, blinking in recognition.
– Aiji? – It was barely audible coming out with his next gasp.
– Yes, I’m here. I’m here. – Aiji exhaled, not realizing he was holding his own breath. He pulled back Isaac’s head against him, holding him firmly and close. – I’m here. You’re alright. You’re alright. – not sure who he was reassuring with it.