A/N: This is a Bleach/Angel crossover. Neither are my property (dammit).
This is the first time I'm writing Lorne, so for those who know who the hell I'm writing about, do tell me if I'm writing him OOC. And of course, from Bleach, I'm featuring Aizen and Gin. I never get tired of them.
Okay, enough blabbering from me. Here we go!
Lorne studied the night's clientèle turnout. Not bad for a Tuesday; it wasn't packed, but the karaoke machine was still getting a workout. The Jukkiln daemon was slurring slightly, its tusks an unavoidable obstacle in the path of clear enunciation. Still, if Lorne was any judge of music (and of course he was, darlings, he was Krevlornswath of the Deathwok clan), the Jukkiln daemon was going to get lucky tonight.
"A round of applause for our toothsome friend!" he announced once Chain of Fools was completed. No Aretha, of course, but fair effort, fair effort. The Jukkiln daemon nodded and bowed at its friends, and especially at the gorgeous Kuannan parasitic demon in table four. "Now, as I always say, this karaoke machine isn't here to sit pretty, so step on up and give us a round!"
The Jukkiln waited patiently until Lorne directed him to the side table, while a – yikes, banshee – took the microphone and began belting out Love or Let Me Be Lonely. Thankfully the banshee was there only to let her hair down and not to actually kill anyone (though she was actively killing the song) because Lorne could only talk so fast at any time.
The Jukkiln was satisfied easily with the promise that he would be laden with a parasite that very night, if he bought a drink for the red-furred Kuannan (hey, a business was still a business) and listened to it instead of jumping straight in with the pickup line of "Get stuck to me!"
Then two gentlemen walked down the steps into Caritas.
Lorne waltzed over to welcome them and was struck by how... normal they looked. The brunet had dark brown wavy hair, which he had slicked back, and the pale platinum blond wore an inscrutable smile. But they had gravitas and plenty of charisma.
They passed the non-existent bouncer and peered around the karaoke bar. Lorne wasn't sure why, but he could have sworn the air got a little chillier in Caritas. Okay, that could have been the new air-conditioning, but still.
The platinum blond, who was wearing a deep blue-green shirt with black slacks and expensive-looking leather shoes, asked for an out-of-the-way table for two.
"Sure, here we go, and I'm pretty sure I haven't met you two before. New in town?"
The older man, with the brown hair and dressed in a slate gray suit, smiled. "Visitors, actually. We heard about Caritas from some old friends in the area. It feels..."
"Welcoming," supplied the blond.
Lorne grinned. "Of course it is. Caritas is a sanctuary for everyone, and I do mean everyone. We have a standing no-violence policy. I'm Lorne, by the way, and I have to say that the vibrations you two are sending off are real powerful. I'm all giddy! Sometimes I talk too much, or so my friends try to sign to me. Would you like a drink?"
The blond laughed, a light sound that sounded – arrogant? Amused? "I'm Gin, and this is Aizen. We're from Japan," he said and shook Lorne's hand. "I'd love a drink, but what would you recommend? What would you like, Aizen-sama?"
Aizen looped his arm lazily over the blond's shoulder. "Single malt Scotch."
Aizen-sama? I know only half a teaspoon's worth of Japanese, but this Aizen fellow must be someone important. And there's something odd about them.
Gin bit his upper lip. "Hmm... Kir martini, please."
Lorne sent the order on and observed the two discreetly. The Wolfram and Hart newbies got off the podium to scattered applause, their song slightly spoiled by a colleague's sudden liquefying. He didn't offer to read them; by the looks of terror on their faces, they knew they were doomed. But then, what else did you expect working for Evil Incorporated?
He left the two alone for three more songs and a reading before 'wandering' over. "So, kiddos, enjoying yourselves?"
"Oh yeah," chirruped the blond. Lorne couldn't help noticing how Gin's left hand was clasped in Aizen's hand and resting in the older man's lap. Aizen's right arm was resting on the back of Gin's chair. "I didn't know Ryziol demons sang in harmony with themselves. And the liquefying act was terrific! If this happens on a Tuesday night, I can't imagine a Friday performance!"
Ah. Now I have confirmation. "You're not alive, are you? You seem too comfortable with the scaries and the demons, and even the lawyers. Vampires?"
"No, we're not," replied Aizen, a faint smile on his face. "But we're not demons either, if that's your concern."
"Totally not, I swear," said Lorne. "I'm just rather curious. Part of my job."
Gin leaned forward, placing his glass on the table. "So why do these monsters and demons go on that stage and scare themselves shitless, Lorne? What is your job?"
The anagogic demon studied the pair before him. They looked no older than their early thirties, but (especially with Aizen) there was an indefinable air of experience, which he tended to associate with the older vampires who had, once or twice, dropped by Caritas.
"I read futures, auras, life paths. That sorta thingamajig. I can barely look at you two, your combined auras are supernova-ing my third eye. makes me green with envy, but I suppose that's pretty darn evident!" He decided that it would be better to be honest. Gin's smile was getting to him, but that sincere gaze of Aizen's was even more disconcerting. "However I read people in more detail when they sing."
"Oh?" Gin perked up. "Na, Aizen-sama, why don't we-"
"No. You know I can't sing at all." He sipped his whisky. "Why don't you go instead?"
Gin tilted his head, and the two exchanged glances that looked as if they could read each other's mind. Lorne wondered if that was the case. It wouldn't be the first such pair to walk into Caritas, but by gosh and by golly wow these two were very much the best-looking for a long, long time.
We have to get the better looking people in here. I'm getting tired of being the only eye candy. Lorne smoothed down an imaginary crease on his brilliant jewel-blue suit. It brought out the green spectacularly, Lorne felt.
After the whole intense-gaze and non-vocal communication session ended between the two, Gin smiled at Lorne. "Okay!"
"What song would you like?"
"Um. Good question." Gin frowned as the deejay waited for the word. "I heard this on a TV show sometime ago, but it's kinda sappy. Should I?"
"Hey, we're all big balls of sap within, aren't we? Go on up and we'll – oh. This is a girl's song. You want us to lower the pitch?"
The guitar strumming received the full attention of the customers still around, most of them waiting to hear the voice of the newcomer.
"It's daybreak, and you are asleep," Gin began, and Lorne paid attention. Then his crimson eyes closed, not in an effort to read more deeply, but to enjoy the light and pleasant baritone voice singing to an acoustic accompaniment.
"Before I go, I look at you one last time. I can hear a heartbeat; is it yours or is it mine?"
Finally Lorne focused. Dark, painful images – the past, this is the past; searing cold, fear, hunger, endless hunger – streamed past Lorne's mind.
"I look at your lips. I know how soft they can be. Did they know what they wanted the times they kissed me?" Gin's voice was steady. "And your hands I held in mine; now they're reposing on the pillow. Will they ever miss me sometime?"
The images that flooded Lorne were not steady. Flashes of determined effort, dark seduction, murder – that was a Japanese sword, a katana or something – murders, in the plural; Lorne struggled not to let his expression reveal too much. It wasn't the worst he had seen, but usually these come with the toothy or tentacly fiends.
"Your eyes, that always make me shiver; now they are closed. They just sometimes twitch a little. And your body I could hold for an hour; it sent me to heaven with its heat and power."
And now Lorne's eyes snapped open, the vibrant crimson shade dark with fear and pity. Gin had eyes only for Aizen, however; the bond they shared was almost visible in its intensity.
"I'll remember you. You will be there in my heart." Lorne felt a pang in his when the line flashed another impression into his head. Spartan whiteness, far too much white. "I'll remember you. That's all that I can do, but I'll remember."
Gin hopped off the podium to enthusiastic applause. "So, Lorne, what didja read in my future?"
"Let's come over here," said the emerald-skinned demon. He could lie and spare the world a whole lot of pain, but Caritas was neutral ground and he had to maintain neutrality too. "All readings are private."
After another prolonged glance at Aizen, Gin nodded and followed Lorne to another table, somewhat screened by damask curtains. Once again Lorne had the unsettling feeling that the two were telepathic. Perhaps he could confirm it. "Are you able to communicate without talking and body language? You know, head-to-head?"
Again that mysterious smile. "He's promised not to peek."
"Ah. So you can do the mind meld," Lorne said, filing it away mentally. Hey, he was a sharp dresser and thinker. "Anyway, I'm going to tell you what I saw, and you can make your own decision."
"Okay, oracle, what lies in my palm?" asked Gin, holding out a hand.
Lorne put away his bright smile. "You've done a lot of bad things."
"I didn't think cheating on a test would scar my soul."
"Murders? Arson? Torture? Mind games?" Lorne sighed. "I'm not here to judge, but just to show that all these are going to have an impact real soon."
Gin's smile became more mask-like. "Karma's a bitch."
"Not all the time." Lorne leaned close. "See, the thing is, you're gonna have a choice. Easy way, hard way."
"What's the easy way lead to?" asked Gin. The shadow across his face hid whatever flicker of expression that might have appeared, but Lorne doubted the possibility. This man – both men, in fact – had had decades of control, if he was any judge.
"Easy way means you live longer, happier, but he won't." Lorne licked his lips; he so needed a Seabreeze right now. "In fact, he won't live at all."
"You'll suffer, a hell of a lot, and I don't mean that without meaning that. It will be actual torment, blinding, even." Lorne met the hidden gaze behind the curtain of silver hair. "You'll have to fight for your life for every single day. And you will die by his command."
"He doesn't. And he will retain a chance to attain his dream."
"Just a chance." Lorne arched a brow. "Which he won't get, any other way."
Gin tilted his head, smile widening slightly. "When will I have to make this choice?"
Lorne licked his lips. "You'll know, because it will determine if he continues or if he stops in his chosen path. If you choose to let him continue, he will have to defer his dream, and wait for the second chance. If you choose to let it stop, then you will live a long, happy life."
"Without Aizen-sama?" Gin's smile turned wistful. He rolled his thin shoulders and stood. "Thanks, Lorne. I appreciate the frankness."
As Gin traipsed over to Aizen and Lorne watched the simple holding of hands between the two, he knew instinctively which path Gin had selected. They sat together for a while longer as Aizen finished off another drink. Gin made comments about the other guests, some of which made Aizen grin.
I wish I had someone like that in my life, Lorne found himself musing, especially when Aizen bent close to whisper in Gin's ear. Then they rose gracefully from their seats and Aizen placed a hand on Gin's back to steer through the tables and seats
Ever mindful of his role as Host, Lorne saw them out. Aizen paused at the threshold. "Thank you, Lorne. You have been an impeccable host."
"You guys staying in the city of angels?" asked Lorne. "I liked Gin's singing. It'd be great to have you guys popping in often."
"Much as we'd like to," said Aizen, with genuine regret, "we can't. We have other plans back in Japan. This is just a, well, call it a honeymoon. Besides," he shared a glance with Gin, "we're no angels."
Gin stepped a little closer to Aizen and held out a hand to Lorne, who shook it. "Thank you, Lorne. I enjoyed myself. If you ever come across a real angel in this city, do drop us a note."
"I will, if I know how," said Lorne.
Gin quirked an eyebrow. There was another mind-to-mind moment, Lorne could tell, because Gin then dug in Aizen's back pocket to retrieve a slim cell phone. He then sauntered off a short distance to chat in Japanese.
"Y'know, that whole telepathy thing is really creepy," Lorne remarked. "With extra eep. And I know eep; I'm a red-horned green-skinned demon."
Aizen smiled lopsidedly. "So we've been told. Though not in those exact words."
"Ever the wordsmith," Lorne chirped. As they waited for Gin to finish his call Aizen hummed a soft Beatles tune. Lorne was surprised. "You like the Fab Four?"
"Certain songs. Too bad I can't sing on-key, otherwise I'd let you read me too."
Total lie. Lorne restrained his tongue. "Yeah, too bad."
Then Gin closed the cell and gestured a small masked demon forward.
"This is Pok Grelida," said Gin. "He'll stay around here, and if you ever need him just break a bottle of vinegar and scatter salt outside your door. Pok, this Caritas owner. Good demon. Pok watch. Pok guard."
"Pok watch. Pok guard." The skull-masked demon chattered once, twice, then faded into nothing.
Lorne smiled. "Thanks for the special, guys. I'll drop you a note, promise."
The two strolled off, almost-but-not-quite-touching. They faded into the dying traffic of a Tuesday night. Lorne watched for a long beat.
Then he prayed, for the first time since he was spat into Los Angeles. For the two unalive and not-dead-enough men who would bring havoc to their world, Lorne prayed that they would be able to make the right choice.
Or at least let them make the choice that is right for themselves.