...

Si vis pacem, para bellum

...

As soon as Nisei had wrapped up the business with the driver, he could hear himself being called by Mimuro. One swift look later he found the blonde waving at him from a seat in the middle of the coach and his sacrifice… Well, he had a hard time stifling a giggle at the sight of a very uncomfortable Seimei squirming in his seat next to a girl apparently ready to devour him.

He almost went up to discourage her from further harassment but then remembered Seimei's fuss about the baggage and simply strolled to Mimuro. Solving a problem on his own would do his sacrifice some good and hopefully would not end up too bad for the girl.

For the first five minutes, Seimei had managed to ignore the admiring glances he had been receiving. Or rather, lustful stares. No need to sugar-coat.

Finally, the girl worked up the nerve to initiate a more vocal contact.

"Hi", she chirped in the way that reminded him of the times when Nisei was doing his best to appear silly, "I'm Kawate Michiko-chan."

Seimei arched an eyebrow at the girl. Whoever named her a "beautiful wise child" either had a sick sense of humour or no ability to influence the fate.

Her radiant expectant eyes could be probably called beautiful, though somehow, Seimei had to admit, he found rounder eyes much more endearing. Those were just making him squirm. And demanded an answer, which he would rather not give.

"Ishida Satoshi", he kept his tone both smooth and bored. As if the girl was intelligent enough to get a hint.

Besides, the name never sounded as intimidating as "Aoyagi Seimei". As much as he had little fondness for his family name, he rather liked his given name. It had a nice ring to it. Unfortunately, he couldn't exactly go by the name of a murdered person, now could he?

How Nisei had got him the false ID and a passport was another secret of his, just as the details of the murder. All Seimei had managed to learn was that the newly-acquired identity was perfectly safe, as no one would ever find anything amiss with the documents. In fact, he had been hotly assured no one would ever dare to look too closely. Apart from that the best thing (though equally as suspicious – why no one would ever look closely at him?) about being "Ishida Satoshi" was a perfect record of educational successes and sadly deceased relatives.

Of course, as he reluctantly had to admit, it had been Nisei's idea about getting the ID. Seimei's plans had never really gone beyond his supposed death. But Nisei, despite his outward craziness, was an undoubtedly practical person. That, or he was simply lazy and unwilling to go through any additional troubles that may keep him away from his laptop, books or shopping. One day, when Seimei had been still "alive", the fighter had pointed out (in the break between two parts of the match between Barca and Real - always the peak of his energy that even though death was certainly a one-time in life experience, it would be nice to exist after a fake one. He had claimed he would rather solve that little problem right away than wait for it to come back to bite Seimei in his tailed arse.

Though he probably should have, Seimei had never quite found the courage to ask how much keeping his arse in one piece had cost Nisei. Nisei despised any talk treating money as anything other than an abstract concept. The sacrifice knew his fighter would never bring the subject up, which did not exactly make him feel as anything better than a cowardly parasite.

"You coming to the seaside?", the girl's high voice shook him out of his musings.

No, he's just riding there and back to the city because he had a lot of free time and no social life.

"Yes", he gritted out, avoiding an eye contact. Gods forbid she thought he was flirting. He had never flirted in his whole life but was not that desperate yet.

The girl, Michiko-chan, must have thought him a shy brooding type just waiting for a bright princess like her to awaken his deeply-hidden passion. For the sake of them both, Seimei prayed she would not succeed.

He turned to the window. Anyone would read it as a sign of disinterest.

"Oooh, what a nice t-shirt!"

He counted to ten. Then to twenty. Then he jumped up when her hand touched his thigh, *not* accidentally. The girl had a weird way of appreciating a t-shirt as an upper part of the wardrobe.

An idea hit him.

He smiled pleasantly at her.

"Thank you", he said solemnly and somewhat shyly, "My boyfriend gave it to me."

He almost burst into laughter when he saw her shocked expression. Then he cursed.

He had done exactly the type of thing for which he would scold the living hell out of his potential client. How many times had he repeated during his internship at the chambers that when you are coming up with an alibi or an excuse, keep it as simple as possible? He should have said his girlfriend gave it to him. Boyfriend? Now he would have to pretend to be gay. He wasn't sure he was that good of an actor.

Maybe at least he would get rid of the girl.

Sadly, she collected herself pretty quickly. Then, she grinned at him.

"Ooooh, such a nice boyfriend you have!", she seemed to be that annoying type of girl ready to fawn over any pair of boyfriends more swiftly than over a handsome footballer.

Just perfect.

"You must tell me everything about him! He's so lucky to get such a yummy cake as you!"

Before he knew it, he had her arms all around him. Where the hell did the famous Japanese aloofness go?

That was going to be a very long ride.

...

Not to sound possessive or pesky, but what exactly was that girl thinking embracing his sacrifice? Watching Seimei fidget with that hopeless expression of his had been amusing but how had the Bastard caught a date already while he was stuck with Mimuro whining about Seimei's unfairness?

One more word from the blonde and Fearless was going to wish for a pink unicorn. Nisei could already guarantee him a rhinoceros.

The guy was as thick as Seimei. They both seemed to be convinced that whenever he said "shut up" he meant "I love the sound of your voice and can't get enough of it".

Speaking about which, the girl apparently loved the sound of Seimei's smooth baritone and the Bastard had nothing against her squeaks. Because it so wasn't like Seimei to let someone bother him unless he wanted them to, was it? He could be as rude as threatening. If he had wished her gone, he would have already made her cry.

Nisei crossed his arms. Seimei was too young for girlfriends! And he definitely deserved better than a pink tart with pigtails. He deserved someone more… Classy. Sophisticated. Better dressed. With a semblance of a fashion sense. Maybe he should just go and scare her off. Say some creepy comments or just ask her to change the seats with him because he preferred riding closer to the front of a bus. Seimei would be pissed, but didn't he, as his fighter, had the right to help him decide who to elope with?

He was so engrossed in his mental ranting he hadn't realised that Mimuro had made a table out of his knees before he stretched and felt something slick sliding down his forearm. Absent-mindedly he picked it up. A tomato?

"What the hell?", he glared at Mimuro when he took in the variety of food cosily snuggling to his cashmere sweater.

The blonde gave him a funny look.

"I told you we're eating. You nodded."

He really had to control his zoning-out. He sighed. Mimuro gave him a part of a baguette with pepperoni. The bus jumped on something on the road. A slice of tomato landed square on his chest.

That's going to be a long ride.

...

To his surprise, the bus stopped soon after. It turned out that two of the passengers were the driver's friends catching a ride home and got out on the outskirts of Tokyo. In their place, an elderly couple entered.

The woman was a small lady with silver-white hair. She was helping her husband who was propping himself on a crutch. They were a smart, politely smiling pair. She was apparently scolding him for whatever reason and he soon silenced her with a kiss.

Normally Nisei did not give a damn about people around him, young or old, but the couple reminded him of his grandparents. The same manners, the same act. He quickly looked around and sadly noted that the two empty seats weren't next to each other. One of them was next to a middle-aged man reading a book and the other next to a small kid playing some game on his portable playstation.

Salvation.

He glanced at Mimuro. They had just finished their little picnic and the blonde was apparently ready to start another Aoyagi-is-an-arsehole tirade. Nisei smirked.

"Hey", he jumped to his feet, startling the blonde and earning disapproving looks from the couple. He may not know how to properly address strangers, but this time, he had good intentions. Maybe not exactly altruistic but the effect was the same, "Come sit here, my friend and I will give you our places", he beamed at them.

The woman smiled at him gratefully while her husband seemed a bit shocked by the young man's eagerness. At the same time, Seimei looked at him as if he had lost his mind and Mimuro was giving him glances of pure admiration for his new-found altruistic side.

"Is that really alright with you?", the man frowned.

"Claro, no problemo", he nodded happily, "We're moving."

Not waiting for any of them to voice their doubts or agreement, he scooped up Mimuro's shopping bag and dumped it onto a seat next to the kid. He may be altruistic, but he was not a masochist.

Still beaming in a bit more subdued fashion, he strolled to the seat next to the reader.

He plopped down and began reading over the man's shoulder. Some B-class crime novel, but better than staring out the window. Unfortunately the guy soon decided that his new companion's lack of respect for the private space disturbed his quality time and closed the book angrily. Nisei pouted, indicating he should have waited till the end of the chapter.

He checked out his two sacrifices. Seimei was deep in a conversation with the Pink Pigtails (Pink Pig for short) and Mimuro was squirming more and more away from the boy who apparently lost his game and was beginning to get sick in protest.

Nothing too attention-grabbing. So he picked up his mobile and looked at the time. 11.35. So it should be… The middle of the night in Geneva. He sank down in his seat and began to type a text.

...

Sometime after his number got blocked from the other side, Nisei fell asleep.

...

When the bus stopped, Seimei sprang to his feet not even giving Michiko a chance to exchange phone numbers with him. He needed to see a familiar face. Now.

He took a step and bumped into Fearless. Not that kind of familiar face.

"Fearless, getting senile in your old age?", he sneered noting a big stain of something orange and sticky on the blonde's shirt.

"An accident", the other gritted out.

"You're awfully prone to those", Seimei commented absent-mindedly, trying to locate his fighter, "Starting with the accident your birth was."

Mimuro would gladly reply but was busy glaring daggers at the boy to whom he owed the stain and at his parents who found it all very sweet and amusing. He would not be spared the explanations, though.

"Mimuro?", Nisei materialised behind him, "What's happened to your shirt?"

"What happened to yours?", Seimei cut in, pointing to the landing place of the tomato.

"The kid happened", Mimuro snapped at the fighter, holding him personally guilty of his misadventure. Him and his bloody sympathetic side.

"He threw up at you?", Nisei's eyebrows rose and Seimei doubled over with laughter.

"No!", he felt his cheeks flushing, "He startled and spilt his juice all over me…"

Nisei bit his lips to stop his bubbling giggles. Seimei had no such qualms.

"So you're now up to scaring children and biting animals?"

"Yes", the blonde snapped again, "So be careful around me."

"Yeah, you do look ill to me", Seimei gave him a pitying stare, "I wouldn't want to catch something", he was walking down the coach's steps now.

"Please", Mimuro huffed, "I wouldn't risk biting you. *You're* certainly rabid."

"Guys, we need to talk about something", Nisei was trying to get their attention now that they were apparently losing their touch with the insults, failing, "That's quite important…"

"You certainly attract all the wounded females", Mimuro continued.

"At least I attract those of a fertile age", Seimei grinned. As far as he now, except a crush on the Beloved fighter, Mimuro had never been involved with anyone. And he wasn't going to get involved with Nisei, if he had any say in that.

He did not notice when Nisei had positioned himself between them.

"We need to talk", he narrowed his eyes, daring them to oppose. They didn't, smart guys that they were, "Basically, Mimuro, I want you to call him Satoshi", he nodded to Seimei.

"Satoshi?", Mimuro frowned, "Oh, I see", he added smugly, "Some of us are criminals on the run."

Nisei sighed.

"Tsk, tsk", Seimei leaned towards Mimuro, "You should realise that 'criminals on the run' are desperate. Desperate people to desperate things", he smiled darkly.

Mimuro gritted his teeth, glaring defiantly at the younger man. Aoyagi might be used to people being afraid of him but Mimuro could find him nothing but pathetic.

"Could you spare us the trouble of getting reported and quit those threats when we're in public?", Nisei threw up his hands, "Come help me with the baggage."

Smirking at Fearless for the last time, Seimei followed him, forgetting to protest at being forced to do manual labour yet again.

...

"Was it wise to tell him?", he questioned his fighter as they were taking out the bags from the locket.

"Wiser than to keep him in the dark", the thin boy shrugged, "Better not to utter your real name in public at all. And he has that nasty habit of calling you by your surname. Let me think why", the fighter glared, "Maybe because you're an antagonistic prick towards him."

Convinced he had the right to antagonise people without his fighter's written permission, Seimei carried on his trace of thought.

"Now he has every reason to run to the police", he informed calmly, though inwardly he was cursing Nisei's naivety. For a supposed sociopath, he was more than too gullible.

"The police would be quickly discouraged from investigating it, if he did", Nisei declared the conversation closed by turning his back on Seimei.

Maybe he was too gullible. But his imagination and self-entitlement surely matched the description.

...

Seimei knew there was something wrong the moment the receptionist opened the reservations book. Clearly checking up one surname did not require so many stolen glances and turned pages. He couldn't really help scowling at her antics but Nisei kept a straight face. A very open polite face. How he had ever learnt to school his expressions like that was beyond Seimei. Nisei was far more easily frustrated than him (or at least he liked to think so), yet whenever they came out together the fighter made new acquaintances at every café while Seimei ended up snapping at every unfortunate soul bumping into him on the pavement. Of course Nisei never tried too hard to stay remotely civil to him, what apparently escaped Fearless who still held him responsible for each and every sour day in the history of Beloved.

"So", the receptionist had no excuse for further delay, "The three of you have the reservation under the name Akame?", she clearly hoped they would deny it.

"Yes, we do", Nisei smiled at her. Seimei would have already demanded to know what was her problem.

"A family weekend?", she rearranged her glasses.

"Unfortunately", the fighter nodded, "I know our surnames don't exactly match, but that's just a prize from a lottery."

"Oh, that's not a problem", she bit her lip, "But I'm afraid we don't have any free rooms left", she smiled apologetically.

Nisei was momentarily taken aback so Seimei used the pause to glare at the woman.

"What do you mean by 'no free rooms'? Isn't our stay already booked?"

She glanced from one boy to another, then focused on Nisei. Out of the three of them, he looked the most sensible and agreeable.

"Of course there is a room booked for you", she showed him the reservations book, "But it's a family room."

"What's the difference?", Mimuro spoke up for the first time, puzzled.

Both Nisei and Seimei knew what the difference was very well but neither was too keen on breaking the news. Let the receptionist do the dirty work. Her position guaranteed an endless record of placating dissatisfied clients of all occupations and nationalities. Besides, she had an advantage of not being able to do anything about it without calling a manager. And she wouldn't be spending two days with the blonde.

"Well, a family room has a double bed."

...

"I'm not sleeping with any of you", the fighter announced knowing full well he had been placed on the double bed as soon as they had learnt about it. Which didn't mean he wasn't going to put up a fight.

"Nisei…", Mimuro was already placing his rucksack on the left side of the bed.

"You're absolutely right."

Two pairs of saucers turned to Seimei.

"Well, you won the stay", he said matter-off-factly, "You are entitled to some pampering", he smiled at his fighter and sent Mimuro a smug glance. Could he say he was treating his fighter unfairly now?

Besides, the two of them would only sleep together over his dead body!

"You're seriously planning on sleeping with me?", the blonde crossed his arms standing protectively in front of the bed as if Seimei was to swallow it whole.

"Sleeping on the same bed. Unless you'd rather take the floor", the brunette smirked, the fighter he had just been showering with affection long forgotten.

Sensing a long exchange, Nisei strolled to the bathroom, whistling. The less you know, the shorter the interrogation. Just in case they actually ended up killing each other.

"Aren't you afraid you'll catch something?", Mimuro mocked, having heard some unbelievable stories about Seimei's phobias. Unbelievable in others' opinion. Mimuro was pretty willing to believe in anything he could use against the bastard.

"Should I be?", the other sacrifice asked coolly, depositing his glasses on the night table.

"Shouldn't I worry more about your germs?", the blonde attacked, "Haven't you been touching some corpses recently?"

"I find your obsession with crime highly disturbing", Seimei stated calmly, reaching for a cigarette.

"No smoking in the room", Mimuro showed him the balcony door in his full environmental friendly mode.

"Afraid of the toxic fumes?", the brunette waved the cigarette in front of his nose, "Really, Fearless, an activist like you should always be ready to manacle himself to a factory."

"Cigarettes are death", Mimuro informed him in a tone suggesting he would clap his hands if Seimei dropped dead where he was standing.

"He's right, sabes? You should get out if you have to smoke so badly", Nisei silently appeared in the bathroom door looking very cross.

Seimei wondered if they had arranged it to harangue him.

"You too?", he glared at the fighter, "Forgive me for not caring about your opinion", especially if it was influenced by Fearless.

"How dare you?", not giving Nisei a chance to defend himself, Mimuro took a threatening step towards Seimei.

"I'm serious about it, Seimei, get out", the fighter had had enough of playing a damsel in distress. Especially since his knights in shining armours were definitely from a different tale and kept mistaking him for their white steed.

"Make me", the sacrifice mocked him, taking a lighter out. Honestly, Nisei should stop this act. He understood he wanted to maintain the pretence of disapproving of lethal addictions but even Mimuro wasn't stupid enough to believe he didn't condone them on daily basis.

"Get out!", both Nisei and Mimuro shouted in unison, the fighter dashing to his sacrifice's side.

The moment the fire alarm went off Seimei realised what exactly was making Nisei that serious.

...

"You're the biggest idiot I've met, I hope you're aware of it", the fighter informed as they sat down at a table in the SPA's bar.

Sorting the little fire problem with the management and getting themselves dry and presentable made them lose all the SPA services they had booked for the day. Seimei could say that Nisei didn't give a damn whether he got the mud massage or not but Fearless had certainly added the incident to the Black List of Aoyagi's Sins. He probably lamented at the loss of contact with nature or whatever it was fanatics like him took algae as.

"At least I'm memorable", the sacrifice growled at him, "Besides, I did fix it in the end didn't I?"

It was Mimuro's turn to growl.

"Yeah, you threatened to sue them for repeated harassment and disrespect of human rights."

Seimei really had no idea why the blonde sounded as if it was something to be disapproved of.

"And you made me look retarded", his fighter had probably expected to play a more intimidating role in the little story Seimei had made up, especially since it had been only for his quick reflexes and fighter powers that they had not been gifted with a bill for a fire-fighters' intervention.

"I saved our arses", the lawyer-to-be hissed, "Sorry I wasn't creative and respectful enough while keeping your bank account from ruin."

"But you didn't have to say I was handicapped!", Nisei shrieked, causing few patrons to stare at him. After a vicious kick under the table, he sulkily played his role and uttered some intelligible sound. When the clients lost their interest like every other good citizens facing a case of a mental impairment, he resumed his now whispered tirade, "You made all those clauses up anyway!"

"There are pretty few sensible excuses for why someone mistakes a lighter for a pen. And no, I didn't", Seimei protested with a self-satisfied smirk, "I just misinterpreted them."

Nisei, well used to recognising a battle he couldn't and didn't care to win, simply rolled his eyes but Mimuro let his irritation be known.

"And that's where our taxes go", he grimaced, shooting Seimei a dirty look.

Aoyagi had always deemed his tax money lost and never displayed any interest in their further usage. He had never seen Nisei taking care of it once he thought of it, so he just had to assume he displayed a similar attitude, assuming he paid it at all. No wonder neither had any idea how to react to Mimuro's indignation.

"Go where?", unlike Seimei, Nisei had no problems with admitting his ignorance. After all, it was one of the reasons Mimuro found him irresistibly cute.

"The state pays liars like him to defend criminals", the Fearless sacrifice spat.

Seimei growled lowly, ready to punch the walking political brochure but this time, even Nisei was suspicious of his catchwords.

"Isn't it like, a human right? The UN's convention or something?"

"They hurt the citizens, who later pay for their defence?", Mimuro was becoming worked up. Seimei was beginning to wonder whether someone from his family had got unjustly convicted or something. Such interest in the establishment could only be born from a personal grudge.

"They may be very well innocent", Nisei narrowed his eyes at him, "That's what the court has to find out. Besides, as far as I know, the victims also get help from the state."

"Innocent? You know it's not what I'm talking about! I'm talking about criminals who break law!"

"That is all to be decided", Nisei said flippantly and Seimei knew he's trying to change the subject, "Would you like me to get convicted without any means of proving myself innocent?"

Mimuro opened his mouth and then closed, which reminded Seimei of that flat-faced fish that spend their lives glued to aquarium's walls. Finally, he pressed his lips together, apparently not keen on discussing the possibility. The dark-haired sacrifice would gladly ask him how the hell could he stay so fond of Nisei to whom law was a kind of guidance you could accept or disrespect depending on your current mood.

"Don't worry", he smiled sweetly at the blonde, "You may leave him without help, but I'd be still there."

Both boys gave him funny looks. In the end, Nisei decided to risk it and carefully embraced him.

"Thaaank you", he sang in his ear as if Seimei had truly just spared him from the capital penalty.

"Don't mention it", he smirked at the watching Mimuro, "I'll send the bill later."

Nisei showed him his tongue and quickly let go as if he burnt. After all he wasn't all that fond of physical contact.

"To your knowledge", Seimei spoke to the blonde, "I'm going to have my own chambers. Don't fret about me misusing the state's hard-earned money."

He really couldn't guess why Fearless lit up at this. Maybe he was simply stupid.

"Oh, so you're actually going to work for the poor and wronged?", he sounded like he believed it and while Seimei managed to keep a straight face, Nisei found this hilarious.

"No", the sacrifice gave the blonde and indulgent look, "I'm going to work for those who can afford my fee and don't have 'guilty' written all over their forehead."

Mimuro's ears fell a little (did he truly expect he's going to find a common ground with Seimei?) and Nisei felt compelled to explain.

"Don't mind him, he's just enthusiastic", that was an euphemism, "Mimuro here is going to be a politician one day", the fighter gave the blonde an encouraging grin. Whether he was encouraging him to start a politician career or stay enthusiastic remained unclear.

Seimei had heard it before, more times that he was able to count. Personally, he thought that all politicians were corrupted liars. Nisei, on the other hand, knew that they were. That's why he found the fighter's determination to defend the blonde weird – and suspiciously similar to a blind infatuation.

"The day he gets elected I'm emigrating", he said tightly, "As far away as possible, least he starts a war with that country."

"To Spain, right?", Nisei piped in hopefully.

"Sure", he replied warmly, glaring at Fearless.

"I think I'm going to help you with the campaign", the fighter informed his friend benevolently and was honestly surprised when he received a murderous glare back. Really, those sacrifices could never make up their minds.

"I think", Mimuro took a deep breath, probably avoiding a confrontation now that he was outvoted – good luck arguing against Nisei's condo-in-Barcelona-and-paella-and-fiesta plans, "I think we could all use a good drink."

That was unexpected. Fearless had come up with something sensible (even though potentially dangerous – hatred and alcohol mixed could only give two results: close friendship or premature death). Not that Seimei had anything against it, unless it would result in the former. He could see, however, that his supposedly infamous and depraved fighter was going to treat them with 'no alcohol in my presence' talk any second now.

"We could", he cut in smoothly when Nisei was already shaking his head, "Look", he turned to the brunette, "Why don't you bring us something? You probably have the vastest experience."

"I'm not buying liquor for a child", Nisei sneered, not so-subtle allusion to Seimei's 21th birthday that had only been two months ago. Since when did he have a bloody conscience?

"You're not of age yet, Aoyagi?", Fearless smiled broadly like a good uncle, "I'm so sorry some of us still won't be served at a bar."

"Thanks for your concern", the other sacrifice growled, his age a sore spot for him, especially given Mimuro's impressive 25 years and Nisei's declared preference for older lovers, "I'm perfectly and legally capable of buying a drink."

"I somehow doubt it", the blonde taunted, ignoring the fighter who was now pretending to bang his head on the table repeatedly, "Even though you've somehow acquired a passable ID, I bet you've never ordered anything without Nisei's aid."

That was outrageously unfair! It wasn't Seimei's fault Nisei had a never-ending supply of wine and there had never been a need to get anything on his own. It was a normal human cunningness to let a person who recognises Chinon from Beaujolais with one sniff order their drink.

"I don't know what you're suggesting", maybe he should play it cool. Only he never had any cool to speak of once his competence was questioned, "That I don't know how to order a drink?"

Mimuro gave him a 'you're so brilliant' look.

"Exactly. Did I hit a sore spot?"

"You wish", Seimei folded his arms.

Mimuro stretched in his seat.

"Then go and buy our liquor."

Seimei scowled and Nisei took it as a clue to speak up. It wasn't that he wanted to spare his sacrifice embarrassment. It was just that since they had decided to drink, he preferred to get something drinkable.

"I'll go", he offered, already standing up.

"Don't bother", his sacrifice hissed, straightening his shirt to give himself more dignity in the face of the impending humiliation, "I'll take care of it."

Nisei's expression made it clear he doubted it, but he obediently sat down. Little shit. He couldn't wait to see the outcome.

Feigning self-confidence and boredom, Seimei lazily strolled to the bar, mentally going through everything he knew about alcohol. Were there some rules he was supposed to obey? Nisei had said something about white or red wine going well together with pork or fish, but he soon realised that this trace of thought was flawed. Nisei never drank anything other than wine. He hoped he could simply order a bottle and be done with it, but to impress Fearless he should probably try something more sophisticated. He smirked to himself – Nisei would yell at him that wine was as sophisticated as alcohol could get had he heard that. But Fearless would probably say he took an easy way out if he bought a single bottle.

Then, he found himself at the bar and had to say something. He couldn't just stand there and look as lost as he felt.

"Excuse me", he called out and winced at his ridiculously faint tone, "I'd like to order- Oh!", he blinked when the barmaid turned to him, "Michiko?"

"Satoshi-chan", the girl chirped, smiling brightly. He had to admit that she didn't look half-bad in a grey hotel uniform, "You didn't say you're staying at the SPA", she chided and Seimei rolled his eyes. She hadn't exactly given him a chance to say anything at all, "So, how can I help you?"

"Well", he wanted to run. Making a fool of himself in front of the girl he had previously called (indirectly, but still) an idiot wasn't one of his priorities. But Aoyagi Seimei never chickened out. Plus, running back to the table meant admitting Fearless was right for once. "I'd like to order some drinks", suitably specific yet comfortably vague.

"Sure", she smiled again, "That's what I'm here for", she winked and Seimei's cheeks flared up. Gods, and he hadn't even drunk anything yet.

"Do you have some wine?", he blurted out, "Red wine, preferably?", Nisei may be fond of white wine, but Seimei had a strong suspicion it's going to be him who's going to need the drink especially badly tonight.

"Wine?", she pouted, turning to look at the shelves, "Sure there's quite a lot of it, but…"

"But?", he cut in, his arrogance back once it was her stuttering and blushing.

"I mean", she shrugged, "Is that for you?"

He didn't get it.

"Yeah, I'm buying it, right?"

"No, of course it's for you, just… Who're you planning to drink it with?"

He was missing something there and it wasn't a warming thought.

"I'm going to buy that wine and bring it over there", he explained painfully slowly, pointing to the table at which his fighter and the Fearless idiot were currently giggling like crazy.

The girl almost knocked him down when she leant over the counter to see.

"Oooooh my!", she breathed in, "Is that your boyfriend?", oh, right, that lie he'd fed her with, "That gorgeous blondie-bear?"

What? He almost smacked her for the mere insinuation his taste may be so bad he'd go for Fearless.

"No", he hissed, trying to get her back behind the counter in case Nisei looked that way. The stupid girl wouldn't budge, "The other one."

He was officially nuts. He should have just claimed that they're friends and his boyfriend had stayed in Tokyo. What possessed him to say Nisei's his boyfriend? He didn't want her to think he was with Fearless, that's it. And he didn't want her to come to a conclusion his fighter may be romantically involved with the blonde prick. Or single, for that matter.

"The other?", she wriggled to get a better look, "Not bad, though he looks a bit underfed", hearing him growl, she amended, "Oh! His eyes are to die for", well, there he could agree. Nisei had nice eyes. "And what's with his hair? Is it dyed? That coppery hue is gorgeous", she tended to think everything was 'gorgeous', "Like it was on fire or something, whenever the light gets into it…"

"He's half Spanish", Seimei was watching Nisei with her despite himself. Yeah, the lights were giving that impression, "That's why it's not inky black."

That seemed to be delightful news.

"Spanish? Like that handsome footballer? I should've guessed!", she was swooning over the counter.

Seimei frowned at her. There were probably tons of footballers that were both Spanish and handsome. Though he didn't know whether she implied Nisei was handsome because he was Spanish or Spanish because he was handsome.

Still, she appeared to be waiting for some sort of confirmation.

"Which footballer?", he asked cautiously. Nisei was a football fan, a FC Barcelona fan to be specific but he had not yet managed to infect his sacrifice with his obsession. He would have been more successful if Seimei didn't make it a point to never watch matches with him. Still, whenever the TV was on and some Spanish commentator was talking his head off at a maddening speed, he stayed close, unreasonably jealous of the men in red-blue t-shirts who were the sole objects of Nisei's attention. "Iniesta?", he added after a second. He may have heard this name a bit more frequently than the others, but unfortunately, he didn't know if Nisei's choice of a favourite player was due to his striking looks or good performance.

"No", the girl disagreed swiftly, "My boyfriend has once said something about one guy…"

"Wait, you've got a boyfriend?", Seimei's head snapped in her direction.

"Uhm, yeah", Michiko nodded, "Something's wrong?"

"You have a boyfriend and yet you…", he wanted to say 'were throwing yourself at me' but noticed her clueless stare and only shook his head, "Never mind."

She patted him indulgently as if it was him who was acting in a silly way and carried on.

"Anyway, I'm fairly sure his surname was a bit… Harsher."

Harsher. Did she expect him to know what she meant by it?

"He's really handsome", she nodded solemnly, "Dark hair and gorgeous eyes. A bit like your boyfriend, only he's so much bigger… Oh, I know!", she clapped her hands, finally getting off the counter, "Ronaldo!"

That name really should not ring any bells. Seimei made a face. Seriously, he shouldn't stuff his memory with all that crap his fighter was ranting about.

"He's Portuguese", he said reluctantly, though he couldn't shake off the feeling Nisei would be damn proud of him that he remembered.

"Really? But my boyfriend was talking about him after his trip to Madrid", Michiko furrowed her eyebrows in deep concentration. It looked painful.

"Yeah", Seimei cleared his throat to force out the words he would never utter if any of his acquaintances were present, "Because he plays for Real Madrid", and that automatically made him Nisei's mortal enemy. "Uhm, don't mention him to my boyfriend", he wouldn't put it past her to approach his fighter. And he wouldn't put it past Nisei to insult her. He had once suggested that Real may be a better team, simply to rile his fighter up, and Nisei had been instantly screaming at him to either take it back or leave his flat and never return.

"He doesn't like him?", Michiko giggled, "Is he jealous of his good looks?"

Did that girl measure everything by how handsome or beautiful or gorgeous it was?

"No", Seimei growled. But come on, Nisei wasn't like this. Sure, he was an aesthete but he never reduced anything to its outward appearance only. Especially if it was human. Being human automatically put it very far on Nisei's list of likings. Plus, he was pretty certain the fighter had once said he couldn't see anything fawning-worthy in Ronaldo's looks. "He supports the team that is, well, kinda like sworn enemies with Real."

"I see", she most probably didn't, "It's a bit silly, to dislike someone because of a football team, isn't it? Like all those hooligans they talk about in the TV", she worried her lip between her teeth, casting worried glances at Nisei as if she was waiting for him to start demolishing her bar.

"He wouldn't beat someone just because they support Real", he folded his arms. He would curse them, yeah. Beat them? That involved standing up. "It's just that he doesn't like people fawning over them, alright?"

"Right", she needed a moment to think it over. Or at least she pretended so, "So, about those drinks?"

"Yes", Seimei was awfully glad to be granted a respite, "A bottle of some good red wine."

"Are you sure?", she was giving him that look again.

"Of course I am, what's wrong with it?", he barked out defensively. Fearless must be laughing that he's too short to get served or something along the lines right now.

"I just thought", she sounded apologetic, "That since it's the three of you, all young and good looking guys, you'd want something more… Energetic? Cool? To drink."

Seimei stared at her. Was she accusing him of being boring? But Nisei always said that wine was something that had been served since the Antiquity and since it had lasted so long, it must be the best drink in the world. But he had been brought up in the Mediterranean culture. Maybe he was biased.

"What do you propose, then?", he carefully prompted and she brightened up.

"Oh, some of the cool cocktails, I guess", she winked at him.

He grimaced. Cocktails. Well, he had read that they're pretty good… To get drunk with.

"Why not", he shrugged. After all, they were all grown-up guys. They could if not hold, then at least control their liquor.

"Splendid!", she flashed him a toothed grin, "So, what would you like for your cute little Spanish BF?"

Good question. He had never seen Nisei drinking a cocktail. But as his coffee taste was wild, to put it mildly, he may enjoy the weirdest of concoction.

"What do you suggest?", he countered her question with his own, "He's got a sweet tooth and likes funky things, if that helps", he felt idiotic, discussing his pseudo-boyfriend's likes with a barmaid.

"What about a Sex on the Beach?", she had an immediate answer, "It's pretty sweet. And potent. You know, if you wanted to follow the implication", she wriggled her eyebrows at him.

He wouldn't dignify it with an answer.

"Sounds good", and Nisei was sleeping alone so there was no danger of a certain idiot taking advantage of his intoxicated fighter.

"Alright", she smiled, "And for you?"

"A mojito", he had a reply ready as he had already tasted it.

"Sure. And the blondie-bear? By the way, who's he?", her tone suggested: 'who's he to impose on your romantic date with his blonde presence?'.

"An idiot who's pining after my boyfriend", he shocked himself with answering and actually feeling as if Fearless was truly trying to steal his innocent lover, not trailing after his equally guilty fighter.

"My gods!", Michiko covered her mouth with her hand, "What is he doing here, then? I mean, why are you letting him…"

Again, a good question. He should have simply demanded that Nisei made Fearless stay in Tokyo. It hadn't even occurred to him to use his status as a sacrifice back then.

"My boyfriend thinks they're just friends. He's pretty gullible like that. And that's why I can't really tell the guy to sod off, my boyfriend wouldn't understand it", he said bitterly. He was surprised how similar to the truth that version was. He couldn't tell Fearless to fuck off (and not only because it would earn him a laugh in the best scenario) without risking Nisei's wrath. He may be his fighter, but he would never agree on Seimei choosing his friends. He secretly hoped Nisei regarded Fearless as a friend, not a future lover, though.

"Your boyfriend seems very sweet."

Okay, so maybe his version wasn't that similar to the truth in that case.

"So what do you want for the third wheel?", Michiko took out another glass.

"Any hope of you finding some cyanide and making it look like an accident?"

Michiko gave him a look that caused him to regret his joke-not-really-joke. Then, to his utter surprise, she grinned.

"Not cyanide. That's for those harassing the barmaid", she winked with a newfound wit, "But I've got something else that can look like an accident."

...

A/N Finally a new chapter. God, it took me ages :( Hope you like it :)