Actions

Work Header

Blood Life

Chapter Text

 

          Sakurai Atsushi watched as Issay and Uta bickered over what Issay was asserting as inconsequential and trivial in regards to the household staff.  Resting his head in his hand, Sakurai sat slumped in his chair, one leg thrown over an arm, watching as the two men started to push and shove at each other, he was growing tired of the scene being played out.

          “ENOUGH!” he roared. “Issay, go away. I don’t care where you go, but leave me now. Uta, you and I will have words.” Sitting up, he glared at Issay who started to protest, his eyes darkening dangerously, enough so that Issay hesitated to speak. “Go away.” Sakurai said. “Fine, but this is not over Acchan!” In a huff and with a twirl of his robes, the man left the room.

          Uta approached Sakurai, “He’s such a pain in my ass! Why is he even still here? He’s not your blood spouse, I am.” Sitting on the floor next to Sakurai, Uta crossed his arms over his chest and sulked. He was tired of Issay’s intruding on his relationship with his lover, always backstabbing and throwing jealous accusations around, in an attempt to get Sakurai to leave him. But it ultimately backfired each and every time, as it did today.

          Uta looked up at Sakurai, “He has no right to dictate what the staff does or doesn’t do, he is not master of the estate.” What Uta wanted to do is demand that Issay be dismissed and forced to leave the estate, but he held his tongue. “Issay has been with me for a long time, it is not that easy to have him leave me.” Sakurai reached down to stroke Uta’s silky black hair. “But you do not love him,” Uta pouted. “I love him as a master loves his creation, but no, I do not love him as I love you.”

          Uta took advantage of Sakurai’s soft tone, moving to sit in the man’s lap, offering his neck without even thinking. “Not right now my love, later.” The older man whispered against Uta’s neck. “First we must deal with what is happening with the staff, tell me what the problem is.”  The household staff was comprised of people from the local village, that arrived every morning but left well before dark. “The boy that is taking care of the livestock … I believe Issay has seduced the boy, he had marks on his neck when I saw him today.”

          This got Sakurai’s attention quickly, “Is the boy still here?” Uta nodded, “Fetch him for me please.” Uta got up from Sakurai’s lap and left the room, “I know you’re listening, Issay.” Sakurai snapped. The beautiful man walked in from a side room, “Did you bite the boy?” Issay smirked, “a little drink was all, and a bit of a tumble in the hay barn, nothing serious Acchan.”

          Before Sakurai could answer, Uta came into the room with the stable boy who looked a little dazed. “Boy, what is your name?” Sakurai asked softly, “Kenta, my Lord.” The boy started to shake, “Am I in trouble, my Lord?”

          Sakurai got up from his chair and approached Kenta, “No my boy, you’re not in trouble.” Sakurai slowly raised his hand, and pushed back Kenta’s hair, looking at the boy’s neck; the marks were deep, they were not fresh holes, there had been more than one little drink taken. “Kenta, please go to the kitchen and ask Kai-san to make you a large basket, then I want you to go home today and rest.” Sakurai petted the young man’s hair. “Yes, my Lord.” Kenta bowed and left the room.

          As soon as the door closed, Sakurai whipped around and rushed at Issay, grabbing the man by the throat, shoving him roughly against the wall, “What the fuck have you been doing to that boy? How many times have you taken him?” Issay eyes were wild, his feet kicking as Sakurai lifted him off the floor. “Only a few times! I swear!” Issay’s hands were grabbing at Sakurai’s wrist, trying to wiggle free of the Ancient’s grasp.

          Sakurai snarled, “This isn’t the first time, Issay! How many will it take before you drain one? Before they die in your arms?” He took Issay by the throat and threw him across the room, the man crashing into a china hutch, which toppled over, trapping the man underneath. Uta stood behind Sakurai’s chair, shaking in fear, his lover’s temper was not to be tested, ever. Issay groaned as he threw the china hutch off him, the large piece of furniture crashing into the wall. “You say you’re done with me, Acchan? That’s a joke, you’ll never be done with me, you created me…you brought me into the blood, that tie will never be severed.”

          Issay stood and advanced on Sakurai, a malicious grin on his face. He glanced over at Uta, who was still cowering behind Sakurai’s chair, “You…you little piece of shit, this is YOUR FAULT!” Sakurai stepped in front of Issay, preventing him from getting near Uta. “Leave…now.” Issay lifted his hand as to strike his maker, hesitating at the last second thinking it unwise to anger Sakurai any further. “Get your things and leave, Issay. Do not return, ever. This is the last I will speak to you.” Sakurai turned his back on the man, going over to sit in his chair, reaching for Uta and drawing him into his lap.

          “You’ll regret this, Acchan. I will make sure you regret this every day for eternity.” Issay turned and walked out of the room. Uta had his head buried in Sakurai’s neck, “He means it… you know he’ll do something,” he murmured. “No worries my love, he has no power over me.” Sakurai held Uta close to his chest, “I won’t let him harm anyone.”

           Dawn was breaking and it was time to retire for the day. Sakurai drew the heavy black out curtains across the windows, before changing into pajamas. Uta had already drawn the curtains around their bed, burrowing down into the deep comforter as he waited for Acchan.  “Hurry Acchan, it’s getting too bright in here!” the younger man whined. Climbing into bed, Sakurai pulls the last curtain closed around the bed, the darkness a relief for them both. Pulling Uta into his arms, Sakurai kissed him deeply, “I love you, Uta.”  The younger man murmured, “I love you too.”  

 

          Issay was on a spree, grabbing anyone that was warm with blood, dragging them off the street and into an alley, draining them as fast as he could. He was angry, and the human race was paying the price for Sakurai Atsushi’s dismissal of Issay, “Leave him? Never speak to him again? That’s a fucking joke! That asshole brought me into the blood, that tie will never be broken.” Issay had other darker ideas flying through his mind, visions of a new family to bring back to Sakurai.

           Throwing his latest victim to the ground, a young woman in her 20s, Issay kicked her next to a dumpster, leaving her half naked and splayed out like a mannequin, pasty white and fake looking. “Piece of shit, not worth the effort,” Issay spat on the body.

          Leaving the alley, making sure his clothes and appearance didn’t betray his recent activity, Issay started walking towards the center of town, back to the hotel he had checked into. Without acknowledging the greeting from the front desk, Issay took the elevator to his floor. Stepping out on the 8th floor, Issay took out his room key and inserted it into the slot. Turning the handle, he paused, the hairs on the back of his neck spiked, walking into the room, he stopped, “What the fuck are you doing in my hotel room?” Issay started shaking. 

          Sitting in a chair next to the small table, a man with long dark blonde hair, dressed in a tailored three-piece suit, immaculate in his style. He smiled at Issay, “Sit down, Issay. I’d like for us to talk for awhile.”

          “Fuck you, I have nothing to say to you.” Issay snapped. "Are you so sure? You wont give me a minute of your time to listen to what I have to say?”  Something told him the man was worth hearing out. “Fine, what do you want?”

          The man gestured for Issay to take a seat across from him, “I’ve been told you’re having problems with Sakurai,” the man said, “I would like to offer some assistance, as it were.” Issay’s breath caught. 

          Issay was instantly suspicious, “Who told you I was having problems with Sakurai?” Yoshiki chuckled, “The underdark is a wealth of information, and it travels quickly. Let’s just say a little black rat told me. Are you interested in hearing what I have to offer?” Issay didn’t like the vibe he was getting, something felt very wrong. “No, I think not. I have nothing more to say to you, so if you please… good evening.”

          Yoshiki looked at Issay, he wasn’t surprised at the man’s reaction, quite the contrary, he had expected some resistance. Standing up, Yoshiki took a card out of his breast pocket, handing it to Issay, “If you ever change your mind, please don’t hesitate to contact me, I can guarantee you that it will be worth your while. Good evening.” Yoshiki bowed and walked towards the door. “Oh, before I leave… not only can I help you with Sakurai, but I can take care of that little problem with Uta as well. Think it over.” The man bowed lightly then walked out.

          Issay locked the door, taking out his phone he started to dial Sakurai’s number…then snapped it closed. “Shit. Not like I can call him now.” Issay started to pace the room with his phone in his hand, stopping every few minutes and looking through his contacts. Who could he trust enough, that wasn’t in Sakurai’s back pocket? “Pfft, everyone defers to him, stupid reverence for Ancients.”

          Looking at the time, he knew he had to sleep…the sun was creeping higher in the sky. Closing the curtains, Issay arranged the blankets on the bathroom floor. There were no blackout curtains in the hotel room and the only truly dark place would be the bathroom. He’d find better accommodations the next day, so this would have to suffice for now.  “Look what you’ve done to me, Acchan. I’m sleeping on a bathroom floor.” Issay said sourly. “I hope you’re happy now, asshole.” With no more thoughts of Sakurai, Issay closed the door and turned off the light.

 

          Yoshiki turned and looked up at the hotel, a smirk on his lips. “I give you four days max, you’ll call me and beg me for help.” Making his way to his car, his phone buzzed in his pocket. Looking at the number he chuckled.

Hello there, I wasn’t expecting you to call me today. No, I just left. Surprisingly, he didn’t take the bait, but I suspect I will hear from him in the next few days. Yes, I think we should arrange a meeting, no… don’t call him in yet, I want to wait a little longer. Thank you.”

          Closing his phone quietly, Yoshiki made his way to the parking lot. Standing next to a sleek Cadillac, a man in a dark blue suit with long wavy black hair, opened the door for Yoshiki, “Master, where would you like to go?” Closing the door and going to the driver’s side, the man got behind the wheel. Looking into the rear-view mirror, the driver waited for instructions. “Kaoru, take me to see him, I need to have a chat with the esteemed gentleman.” Kaoru nodded, “Yes, Master.”

 

         Yoshiki sipped his tea and listened as Imai ranted incessantly about Sakurai Atsushi, hundreds of years worth of jealousy and hate that had not lessened. “Really…Imai? The information I just gave you does not at least please you?” Yoshiki chided. “Fuck no it doesn’t please me, if you want to please me make sure to have Uta in my possession within the week. If you can’t do that for me, you’re worthless.” Imai growled. “A week? Surely you understand it’s going to take more than a week to put any plan in action, Issay was just dismissed earlier this evening.”

          Imai glared at Yoshiki, “Fine. I’ll wait…but you will deliver Uta to me, there are no excuses for failure. I don’t give a shit what you do to Issay, he’s your problem.” Yoshiki inclined his head, “Thank you, I will gladly accept that problem. You must be patient, Imai. We can not just waltz into Sakurai’s estate and take Uta by force, Sakurai is much too powerful to attempt that, you know that as well as I do. I do not wish to witness another immolation of someone who has pissed Sakurai off.”

         Yoshiki and Imai both had witnessed what happens to another immortal that angers Sakurai Atsushi; the burning of a vampire is not a pretty sight.

         Imai sighed, “You’re right, of course. What happened to Tangier was justified, but none the less disgusting.” Imai was tired of waiting for the opportunity to seek revenge on his former lover. The hundreds of years that had grown between them had been regretful, and as Imai saw it, unjustified or at the very least, unwarranted. “Why did he have to create Kai and then Issay? Was he so destroyed when I left, that he had to bring someone new into the blood? Tell me, Yoshiki…why?”

          Yoshiki could only guess, “Imai, I can’t say what his mindset was at the time, I’ve only known him with Issay, and now with Uta. I’m going to assume that your disappearing for a few hundred years with no communication, his loneliness overshadowed everything. He’s a sentimental man, prone to depression, that’s why he created Uta. You know all of this Imai.”

         With the chiming of the large grandfather clock in Imai’s study, Yoshiki realized the day was getting longer, “I need to go home and get some rest. If I hear anything from Issay, I will contact you. We will deal with this together, I promise.” Getting up he bowed to the older man, turning to leave the room. “You will have Uta, one way or another.”  

        Yoshiki’s driver Kaoru, was waiting just outside the door, “Take me home please.” Kaoru bowed and led Yoshiki to the underground parking lot and into his car. Yoshiki felt his years at that moment, the infighting between the Ancients was starting to wear on him, leaving him to want to disappear as Imai had. Settling back in his seat, he thought of his own plans to disappear, as soon as he could settle the problems with Issay and Imai, “Then I can rest.”  

 

                The Ancient’s were few, but were known to every vampire around the globe. The Ancient’s dominated their world, they were not to be crossed or challenged, they had survived for over a millennium, their words were truth and their wrath deadly. Sakurai Atsushi was the oldest of the Millennium, brought into the blood in the 10th century, by a vampire who did a hit and run on the man. In his travels in those early decades, Sakurai had met Imai, seeing the beautiful man stagger out of a seedy house that reeked of stale alcohol and sweat.

          Sakurai gathered up Imai, taking him to the room he was renting and seduced the man. It wasn’t until the early morning hours before dawn that Sakurai brought Imai into the blood, it was his first selfish act as a vampire; creating an immortal companion. The two men traveled throughout Japan in that early century, wreaking havoc with indiscriminate killing of mostly criminals.

          As time wore on, Imai became bored with his maker, Sakurai hunted less and less, preferring to take the little drink and leave his victims alive. He no longer wanted to rampage through a town, leaving a trail of death, rather he remained at his family’s estate, employing people from the village to work for him, only leaving at night to feed.

          It was this return to an almost pastural life that irritated Imai to no end, often provoking Sakurai into a fight so he would have a reason to leave, sometimes for decades. Both Sakurai and Imai were brought into the blood in the 10th century, and as the Ancient’s age, their need for blood diminishes greatly, but in some the desire for feeding, the power and the sexual energy remains. Imai was of the latter, he loved nothing more than the power of hunting a victim, especially beautiful young boys and men, getting into their good graces and seducing them, then taking the little drink, or in some cases getting carried away and killing them. This was Imai to the bone, and Sakurai had no need of it, waving off his creation’s pleas to come out and feed.

          “You have become a boring old man, Acchan. You act as if feeding is something that is a duty, a drudgery that has to be tolerated. What happened to you? Do you not love me any longer?” Imai would sit at Sakurai’s feet, his hand running up the older man’s thigh, teasingly, “My dear Imai, I simply do not need to feed at the moment, stop whining about it.” Sakurai would dismiss his lover, usually by getting up and leaving the room, Imai still sitting on the floor.

          On a cold December evening, Imai came to Sakurai, begging him once again to join him in an outing. “Come, Acchan…let us dress warmly and go into town, perhaps have a few drinks at that lovely establishment with the beautiful boys that serve, we have not been out together in decades.”

          Sakurai continued with his book, flatly ignoring Imai, “No.” Imai walked over and took the book out of Sakurai’s hand. “Acchan, you’ve done nothing but read and ignore me, let’s go out! I’m tired of staying at the estate all the time!”

          With the hyper speed of an Ancient, Sakurai rose and tore the book from Imai’s hand, grabbing him by the throat and throwing him to the floor, “You will leave me be, Imai. I don’t want to go trapesing about the countryside looking for whores to feed on. If you want to go out, then go,” he snarled in Imai’s face.  Getting up slowly, Imai turned to leave the room, stopping to look at Sakurai, “I’m going to make you regret this decision, Acchan.”

          Watching Imai’s back as the man walked out of the room, Sakurai felt nothing other than annoyance, picking up his book he returned to his chair. Drawing in a deep breath and leaning his head back he closed his eyes. The memories of the day he brought Imai into the blood, filled his vision. He had been so lonely, his Maker had left soon after his body had died, giving him only the basics of vampire knowledge. He had tried and failed many times in those first years, some of it coming naturally, other parts still foreign yet.

          The love he had for Imai was fleeting, finding himself bored with the young man after only fifty or so years, the man was vain and impulsive, with little control. Imai killed more often than needed, Sakurai abhorred that about the man. With a great sigh Sakurai rose from his chair, feeling wearier than he really should. Moving to the back of his house, to the internal room that allowed no light, Sakurai readied himself for bed. He knew Imai would be back the next evening, after gorging himself on how ever many hapless victims crossed his path. The man would come crawling, seducing Sakurai with tales of his night, then plead to be made love to. It was the same routine they had shared for over one hundred years, with no change in sight.

 

Image result for sakurai atsushi top hat Vampire Acchan.       

  Image result for Imai buck tick Our young and vain Imai     

    Image result for issay der zibet Bratty Issay 

 Image result for uta 9goats black out Lovely Uta. 

 

Image result for X japan young yoshiki Yoshiki

 

 

Chapter Text

 

          Imai had vanished after the fight, not that Sakurai had cared much, he rather enjoyed his solitude, the constant bitterness of Imai had become a distraction, would put the man in a foul mood most of the time. As the decades wore on, Sakurai dealt with the trivial matters that come up when one is an immortal and the owner of a large estate. There was the constant rotation of daily workers coming to the estate early in the morning but leaving before dusk, the same family had served Sakurai for generations, the young replacing the elderly. Initially the towns people talked of how long-lived Lord Sakurai was, that his appearance never changed. Rumors had been started by people who worked for the great Lord, early in his immortality, but soon the rumors had ceased, the people had come to realized that there was no cause for fear or concern of Sakurai. When the Lord went out at night to feed, he was very discrete, there were never any dead bodies, no one had their throats torn out, no villagers had gone missing.  After several decades, the common feeling among the villagers was to ‘live and let live’, and there was nothing more than a great deal of respect for Lord Sakurai Atsushi.

          During famine or war, the villagers knew they could rely on Sakurai, for he often opened his estate for the starving or the wounded. He was known to pay the debts of families that had suffered some tragedy, be it the death of a household member, or one that had been deceived by an outsider, whatever the case Lord Sakurai was the benevolent but largely silent caretaker of the people in his village.

          During the first few decades since Imai’s departure, Sakurai filled his days with gentlemanly pursuits; calligraphy had always been a hobby of his, writing poems that betrayed his dark heart at times. Sakurai had a life long love affair with cats, be they of the common domestic barn cats (who were well taken care of), or the more exotic.  Sakurai was once gifted a Siamese cat, brought to him by a man who was a merchant sailor who had grown up in the shadow of Sakurai’s estate. Lord Sakurai always had at least two or three cats in his home, that shared his bed in the long daytime hours. Throughout his life, Sakurai Atsushi was never without a feline companion for long.

          As an Ancient, Sakurai Atsushi had the use of the cloud gift of flight. This gift allowed him to travel great distances in short periods of time, something he found useful when he felt the need for new blood. It gave him the ability to travel to places such as Europe, other Asian countries and to the America’s before the sacking of the continent by the foreign explorers.

          Europe was where Sakurai felt most at home when he traveled from Japan. The large European cities, Paris, Amsterdam, London and Rome, offered Sakurai the style and cultures he normally would not have been exposed to as a mortal. At times he admitted to himself, that he was lonely…that he wished Imai could see the wonders of the world. “Imai, my love…you would have swooned over this,” he would murmur while walking through a gallery of art.

          The cities were vibrant at night, loud and boisterous, the streets filled with people attending the opera or enjoying an evening meal at an outdoor café. These nights made for plentiful opportunities to feed, if he felt so inclined, as an Ancient Sakurai did not have the need for blood, it was more of a luxury, something he had as a late evening snack. He never left his victims drained, that would be in bad form for a foreigner to do such. The young men of Paris were beautiful, the Roman’s tasted of herbs and spices they did not have in Japan. The Bohemian life of the people of Amsterdam, lying in a boat on a canal with a beautiful young man in his arms, plied with wine or other such alcohol, the little drink was taken and never noticed by the helmsman. As he left the boat, Sakurai would offer a generous tip for the helmsman, “He has just taken too much wine for one so young, let him sleep.”

          If there were immortals in Europe, they never made their existence known to Sakurai, though there were hints of activity everywhere. Unnatural deaths would plague a city, with reports of the manner of death, ‘the victims throat torn out’. Sakurai hesitated to actively search for the other immortals, he was certain that they were aware of his presence, though his status of being an Ancient most likely kept them away.  Paris is where Sakurai felt the most comfortable, the steady night life with crowded café’s, museums open late into the night and there was always an opera to attend.

 

          It had been over fifty years since Sakurai had been home, constantly traveling the European continent, and a certain feeling of wanting to return to Japan had come over him one night in London. He had a young man in his arms, having just taken a little drink, the man swooning with the loss of blood. Sakurai carefully put the man into his bed, covered him with blankets, then he moved to sit in a chair in front of a large window that faced the streets. He had been thinking of Imai as he fed on his victim, wondering if the man had returned to the estate, only to find Sakurai gone. “Where are you, Imai?”

          At that moment Sakurai felt completely alone, with no direction or purpose in his life, no confidant to have quiet talks, no one true lover. He knew his estate was being maintained by the same family generation after generation, though he thought about the beautiful cat he had left behind, Ming, long dead now. Rising from his seat, he looked at the young man in his bed, “He is not Imai, he is not even Japanese.” Looking at the time, Sakurai knew he could start traveling at that moment, returning to Japan before the sun rise.  Leaning over the bed, he kissed the boy once more, leaving what money he had with him on the night table, then walked over to the balcony and slowly rose into the air. It was the year 1228.

 

          The melancholy mood stayed with Sakurai Atsushi, even after he had returned to Japan. He had welcomed the new generation of staff who were ancestors of his original household, informing them of the hours he kept and letting them perform their duties with no interference from him.

          In this current generation of staff, there was a young man who worked in the kitchen, assisting the cook. Kai was learning the trade from his grandfather who would soon be retiring. Sakurai had some instances where he praised the young man highly for meal’s he had prepared. “Kai-kun, come here please.” Sakurai called to the boy. “I must say, this was a superb dinner, thank you.” Kai bowed low, “You’re welcome my Lord. I had hoped that you would like some of the changes to the flavors. I prepare food a little differently than my grandfather or my father.”  Sakurai smiled, “You shall cook how you like, I have no issue with you controlling the kitchen, you obviously love what you do.”

          Sakurai had taken to walking his property in the evenings, surveying buildings for damage, peeking into the barn in hopes of glimpsing one of the feral cats. It was a form of meditation for Sakurai, he hadn’t felt the urge to feed in some time and his life had become rather bland. The life of an immortal was susceptible to boredom as any other living creature. It was during one of his late night walks when Kai approached him just as he was leaving through the gate. “Sakurai-sama, do you have a moment?” Kai bowed low.

          “What is it, Kai-kun?” Sakurai could see that the young man was holding a small bag, “Sir, this was found in the barn today.” Standing closer, Kai held open the bag, “The boy tending the barn found them,” inside the bag were two very tiny kittens, still with their eyes closed. “He was going to drown them, he said he found the mother’s body behind the barn, it looks as if a fox might have killed her.” The kittens were shivering, crying in very small voices. “I told him that he would be dismissed if he had killed them, I knew I should ask you first.”

          Sakurai reached out for the bag, “My tiny little koneko’s, such a rough introduction to life you have had,” looking up at Kai, he smiled, “thank you Kai-kun for making that decision, it is obvious that you know of my love for cats. Can I bother you to stay a little longer tonight? I may need some help getting these babies to eat.”

          The only concern for the remainder of that night was to get the two tiny kittens to eat and with Kai’s help, the two men were able to get enough goat milk in them, to satisfy their hunger. Sakurai sent Kai home early in the morning, “I will take them with me, so you may sleep, my Lord.” At that moment, Sakurai was certain that Kai understood who Sakurai really was. “Thank you, Kai-kun, I shall see you this evening.” Sakurai retired to his bedroom, closing the heavy curtains that surrounded his bed and blocking out all light, it took Lord Sakurai only moments to fall asleep.

 

          For the next two weeks, Sakurai and Kai were consumed with keeping the tiny kittens alive, Sakurai spending his nights nurturing and feeding, then turning them over to Kai to care for them in the morning in the kitchen. When the kittens were finally able to move around on their own, Kai built a small barrier to keep them in a room next to the kitchen, where he could watch them through out the day. When the sun disappeared below the mountains, Sakurai would rise, making his way to the kitchen area, anxious to see the small kittens… and as it turned out, anxious to see Kai as well.

          “Konbanwa, Kai-kun. How are our children this evening?” Upon hearing Sakurai’s voice, the two kittens ran on stubby legs and stood up against the barrier, crying to be picked up, Sakurai doing just that. “Noisy, my Lord, and they believe they are starving as I am constantly stopping to give them whatever I’m making at that moment. Today they have had fish, goat’s milk and some rice, I am surprised they can walk at all.”

          The kittens gently batted Sakurai’s face with tiny paws, as they nuzzled the man. “I believe we need to give these little terrors names, we can not call them our children forever,” Sakurai looked up at Kai, “unless of course you’re willing to move into a relationship with me.” Kai’s eyes went wide, “I um…my lord…” he stuttered, his face flushed with heat, Sakurai could smell the boy’s blood humming in his veins. “Breathe Kai-kun, I am teasing you,” Sakurai bowed lightly. “I have yet to ask, do we have boy or girl neko-children?”  Kai was still blushing, “They are both girls, my Lord.” Sakurai placed the two kittens back down on the floor, “I shall think of names tonight,” he paused, “How long until you serve dinner, Kai-kun?”

         

          Sakurai was on the floor of his study, propped up on one elbow, trailing a bit of yarn around as the kittens chased it, falling most of the time as young children do when learning to walk. “My Lord, do you require anything else of me tonight?” Kai came into the room, bowing low to his master. Sakurai smiled, “Kai-kun, come and sit with me.”  Kai hesitated for a half second, then did as his master asked, sitting close to Sakurai, watching as one of the tiny kittens ran over to the young man and climbed into his lap.

          Sakurai sighed, “I do not want you to be frightened of me, Kai-kun and as such I offer an apology for my remark earlier this evening. I should know better; my sense of humor is rather odd.” Kai was holding the kitten up to his face, “I was just caught off guard, my lord, I didn’t um…” Kai put the kitten down. “If my lord wishes to me to be in a rela…” he looked up at Sakurai.

          The scent of Kai’s arousal filled Sakurai’s mind, the hum of his blood throbbed in the man’s mind, “Kai, do you understand what it would mean, for you to commit to a relationship with me? Truly understand?” Kai nodded, “I would be with you forever, I would become a…” Sakurai rose from his place on the floor, picking up the two kittens and taking them to their room off the kitchen. Returning to Kai who had not moved, Sakurai held his hand out. “Come with me, Kai.”

          He led the young man to his bedroom, sliding the door shut. “I want you to think about what you’re saying, Kai, I will give only this to you tonight.” Reaching up, he cupped Kai’s face in his hands, slowly leaned in, “You smell divine,” running his tongue over Kai’s lower lip, he pressed his lips softly to Kai’s, the boy instantly melting into his arms. The slow seduction Sakurai had planned would either seal Kai’s fate to his, or drive the boy away, though his nightly fantasies played out with Kai staying by his side. Sakurai didn’t love Kai, there had been no other to touch his heart but Imai, but he did desire the young man, he wanted Kai to be a part of his immortal life.  Now with the warm mortal body in his arms, Sakurai wanted Kai even more, determined to bring the boy to the edge and back all night.

 

          As dawn approached, Sakurai pushed Kai’s hair out of his face, “Kai, my love…it’s nearly morning. I want you to take the kittens home with you, rest for the day and return tonight. I do not need anything before I rest.” Kai whimpered, “Can I not stay here with you, my lord? Do you really want me to leave?” Sakurai chuckled, “My love, I am not going anywhere. Yes, I want you to stay with me, but you must think over what has happened this night before we make that final decision. Go now.” With one last kiss, Kai gathered his clothes and left Sakurai’s room. Getting up to close the heavy curtains on the windows, Sakurai stretched, “You’re feeling your age, old man.” Drawing the curtains around the bed and sliding back under the covers, it wasn’t two minutes before Lord Sakurai succumbed to sleep.

          Kai’s mind was churning as he walked home, the two tiny kittens in a small bundled up blanket. “Should I say yes, babies?” he mumbled. The night he had spent with Lord Sakurai was beyond what he ever imagined, the sensual feel of the cool skin against his own flaming passion, did not repel him, it excited him to the point he had lost control. He had thrown his head back and offered his neck to the vampire lord, there was no denying what he wanted Sakurai to do as he had pleaded for it.

          The vampire lord had been sorely tempted, the pale tender skin on Kai’s throat was more than arousing, the jugular vein throbbed with heat, and it had taken everything he had, not to bring Kai into the blood at that moment. “No, my lovely boy, not to night.” He whispered in Kai’s ear as the young man begged. “You will leave me in the morning, you must think of what you’re asking, with a clear mind, not one that is sated in sex.”

 

          The sound of the kittens crying woke Kai. “Yes babies, I hear you.” He groaned as he turned over to stand, his body feeling the love pains from the night before with Sakurai. He had lain awake for quite some time before sleep took him, the words of the vampire lord playing in his mind. Placing the kittens on the floor, Kai walked into the tiny kitchen of his home, reaching for a bowl and pouring goat milk, he placed it in front of the kittens. “I shall not return here, my tiny’s.” he murmured.  A letter left for his family, the kittens in a small box and carrying a bag with his small worldly possessions, Kai silently closed up his home and started on the short walk to Sakurai’s estate.  

Chapter Text

          Sakurai held Kai as the young man’s mortal body died, keeping Kai from thrashing around. “It will be over soon my love…” he murmured in Kai’s ear. “My lord…please…why does it hurt so?” Kai clung to Sakurai, crying out in pain as he writhed in the vampire’s arms. “Your mortal body is dying, it is something we all go through, it is but a short moment in your new immortal life, the pain will cease quickly.” Sakurai had come to Kai that evening, as he stood in the kitchen preparing food for the two small kittens.

          “You’ve thought over this proposition carefully, did you not Kai? Is this still what you wish, to become immortal and share your life with me?” Sakurai asked. Kai nodded, “Yes, my lord, please…tonight?” Taking Kai by the hand, Sakurai led him to his bedroom. Guiding the boy to the futon on the floor, the vampire turned to Kai, “I need to explain how this works, Kai-kun.” Sakurai went through how Kai would feel, “Do not be afraid for I will not leave your side.”  Kai assumed it would be quick and easy, of course he assumed wrongly.

          The vampire lord made love to the boy first, the heating of the blood always made things more pleasurable for both, it took the fear away from Kai as he was impassioned and lustful. As he had the night before, in the thralls of orgasm he threw back his head and bared his neck, and Sakurai took advantage of that pale beautiful skin, biting into the jugular vein. Kai’s orgasm intensified at the bite, but then the pain began. Clutching at his lord’s arm, he whined, “My…my lord…hurts!”

          As Sakurai drained Kai’s body of blood, the boy stopped thrashing around, slowly going limp with each beat of his heart. Sakurai cradled Kai in his arms, he raised his head, “My love, you are so close to death, but I will give you the dark gift.  You only need drink from me…then you will live forever.” Slicing open his own wrist and placing it against Kai’s mouth, “Drink deeply, boy,” he growled. Kai’s eyes fluttered as the first taste of blood entered his mouth. He sucked greedily, the blood flooding his mouth, warm with the taste of iron, he drank deeply for it was his only means of survival.

          Now his mortal body had died, he lay still in Sakurai’s arms as his fleshed changed from a warm soft brown to a pale porcelain white. “Kai-kun, open your eyes, my child.”  Kai’s eyes fluttered, “My Lord? Is it…have I changed?” Sakurai brought Kai to his chest, kissing the young man. “You are now my child, my creation. In you, flows the blood of an Ancient. You will have certain powers that others will not. You will forever be connected to me, but that does not mean you will always be by my side…I will not hold you hostage as your Maker.”

          Helping Kai up from the floor, Sakurai took him by the hand, “Let me show you what the world looks like through your vampire eyes.” Leading Kai outside, Sakurai guided him through the property, the young man amazed, “Everything is so bright my Lord! I can feel the air.” After thirty or so minutes, Kai started to shake, something that frightened him. “My Lord…I don’t feel well, what’s wrong with me?” Sakurai took Kai’s hand, kissing the back, “You are hungry my child. Now I will show you how to feed.” For the remainder of the night Sakurai Atsushi brought his child fully into the blood; teaching Kai how to feed on animals first. “If you are ever in need yet have no humans available, animal blood will sustain you.”

          The couple went into the village, “I will show you how to feed off of humans, but I warn you, do not kill the people in this village. It is simple enough to take the little drink and leave them breathing.” Leading them to the small village pub, Sakurai was greeted and given a cup of sake. “Watch and learn.” He invited an older man to have a drink with them, inviting conversation about local events. Kai watched his Maker carefully, feeling the energy and the pull on the villager’s psyche.

          Paying for their drinks, Sakurai offered to help the elderly man to his home, which was greatly appreciated by the man. Walking outside, Sakurai put his arm around the man, pulling him close, the man stumbled and the vampire lord kept him standing.  A quick glance to Kai, and without the elderly man noticing, Sakurai gently pushed him against a wall, leaning in to bite his victim. There was no struggle, there were no cries that escaped. Sakurai fed for a few moments, then gently helping the gentleman as he slid down the wall.

          “You only take what you need. He will wake up with what he believes is a hangover, there will be no marks, they will have healed on their own.” Arranging the man’s hands in his lap, Sakurai and Kai moved on, walking to the opposite end of the village. “Now you will feed, this will be a different, more pleasurable experience” He winked at Kai.

          They walked towards the last house in the village, Sakurai stopping and knocking quietly. The door slid open and a middle-aged woman answered. “Lord Sakurai, konbanwa. You are not who I expected at my door so late. And is this not Kai?” Sakurai nodded. “I am in need of your services please, Yuki.” The woman stepped back and allowed the two men to enter her home.

          Yuki served them both sake, sitting near Sakurai quite close. “Are you hear for yourself, my lord?” the woman purred in a sensuous voice. Sakurai leaned over and nuzzled the woman’s neck. “Not tonight, but I would like you to service Kai-kun please.” The woman pulled back, giving Sakurai a questioning look, “Is Kai-kun…?” The vampire smiled, “Yes, and you will be his first.” Yuki looked over at Kai, “You’re a very handsome young man, Kai-san.”           

          The woman crawled over and sat next to the boy, then looked at Sakurai. “Shall we?” Yuki reached up and caressed Kai’s cheek, then slowly turned and offered her neck. Kai’s brow furrowed, ‘My Lord?” Sakurai nodded. Kai turned back to the woman, without knowing why, he licked up her neck, then slowly bit into the tender flesh.

          The explosion of taste and temperature in his mouth was beyond arousing, Kai’s cock twitched in excitement. Yuki had her hand on Kai’s arm, stroking it softly. After a few moments, Sakurai spoke, “That’s enough, Kai.” He said. It took everything Kai had to pull away from Yuki’s neck, but he did as he was told, then gently laid the woman down.

          Panting from the lustful feeding, Kai turned to Sakurai who winked, “Exciting, isn’t it? I can see your arousal,” he nodded at Kai’s crotch, “My Lord…like nothing I’ve ever experienced before,” catching his breath, Kai asked the inevitable, “Who is Yuki, my lord?” Sakurai pushed back a bit of hair from Yuki’s face and covered her with a blanket. Reaching into his pocket he pulled out some coin and placed it on the small table. “Yuki is a dear friend, who knows who and what I am. She has, over the last twenty-five years, offered her services, well her neck, to me any time it is needed. She is not frightened of me, and as such she was not frightened of you. I will caution you; do not use her services unless you are in dire need of blood, that you have exhausted all other options, please remember that.”

          Until the early breakings of dawn, Sakurai schooled Kai on the critical basic needs as a fledgling, reminding him that as his Maker, he would always be there. “It matters not where you are in the world, if you are desperate and call for me, I will make every attempt to reach you.” Sakurai cupped Kai’s cheek, sliding his arm around the young man’s waist, the vampire kissed his newly created child.

 

          For the next fifty years, Sakurai and Kai lived a life of quiet solitude, Sakurai teaching his young fledgling what he needed to know to survive as an immortal. The kittens grew, lived and died and were replaced by others, though Kai was especially attached to the first pair, crying through the night when the kittens died hours apart. “She couldn’t live without her sister, Acchan.” He told his master, “It wasn’t even twelve hours separating them in death.”

          Lying on his futon, Sakurai had Kai nestled in his arms, both on the verge of sleep with the early morning light coming over the horizon. Gently sliding his arm from under his sleeping lover, Sakurai got up to close the shades that almost blocked out the sun. As he moved back to the futon, closing the room darkening curtains, he looked down at Kai.

          Slipping back under the comforter, he pulled the young man back into his arms, “Kai-kun,” he whispered. “Mmm? Yes Acchan?” Kai mumbled. “Kai-kun would you like to go to Europe with me?”

 

             The restless spirit of Sakurai’s heart was churning once again, the year was 1278.

 

          Seeing Europe again but through Kai’s eyes, brought new excitement for Sakurai, showing the young man the cities that he had come to love, the nightlife and culture was all new to Kai, though the young man noticed the stares he and Sakurai were receiving, some people openly gawking at the two finely dressed Japanese men. Sakurai had always preferred more colorful haori’s, instead of the standard black or gray. “Kai-kun, ignore the stares, they are not used to seeing anyone outside of their own culture. Imagine what you would think if you saw one of them in our small village, would you not stare as well? Smile and bow lightly is the best advice I can give you.”

          They walked the streets of Paris, standing at the construction site of The Cathedral of Notre Dame, wondering at the size and scope of the huge church. “They put much stock in their god, do they not Acchan?” Kai asked as he walked around the building site. “It seems as much, they do not know the word simplicity when it comes to their religious buildings.”  Sakurai threw his head back and laughed, “I believe we do the same, but perhaps not in such a grandiose manner.”

          Kai was fascinated with the food served to those who could pay the price, which Sakurai could; gold spent the same in France as it did in Japan. The amount of food served, the rarity of some of the meat, are what drew Kai in. “This is wonderful Acchan! Please taste this!” was Kai’s on-going dialogue.  While Sakurai found it amusing, Kai brought it to his attention that when they fed on the humans in France, it could be determined the class of the person, simply by the taste of their blood.

          Once such incident had made Kai very ill, “I don’t know what he was eating or drinking, but I do not feel well, Acchan,” he remarked about an hour later, wanting to return to their hotel and lie down. “What did it taste like, Kai? Was it some sort of strange alcohol? Spoiled meat?” Sakurai hovered over Kai throughout the night and made sure to wake during the day to check on his lover. Making a note for the future, Sakurai promised Kai they would be more considerate in their choosing of people who they fed from.

 

          Having settled in Paris, renting a private home from a minor nobleman, Kai and Sakurai ingrained themselves into the local culture, being known by the inhabitants as ‘the two Oriental men.” They were not outcasts, as with their dining experiences, gold paved the way to acceptance quite easily. They had but one servant, an elderly grandmother type who did the basic cleaning, knowing to leave the master suite closed up during the day, as the men kept late night hours due to their ‘business’ (something that was not spoken about in proper circles.)

          The two vampires had taken to going to small theaters to watch plays and comedic retelling of old folk tales, on a weekly basis. Some nights they stayed in, drinking wine and playing cards, Sakurai having found a local artist to create a special deck for him. It was during one of these quiet nights that Sakurai suddenly stopped in the middle of a game, “Acchan? What’s wrong?” Kai saw Sakurai’s eyes grow distant. “Acchan?” Kai asked again.

          “Come with me, Kai.” Getting up rather quickly, Sakurai grabbed a long coat and left the house, with Kai scrambling behind him. “Acchan, what’s wrong! Tell me.” Sakurai walked with a determined purpose towards a group of buildings, several blocks away from their home, then stopped suddenly in the middle of the street.

          Kai caught up with him and was going to speak, when Sakurai had him remain silent. “Immortals, I can hear them speaking…they know of us.” Sakurai took one step forward then quickly turned to his left, seeing only the edge of a cloak disappearing down an alley. With preternatural speed, he ran to the alley, catching only a glimpse of a person. “Shit,” he swore.  He then realized he had left Kai standing in the street unprotected, “Kai!” he shouted, running back to the main road, where he found Kai leaning against a building.

          “I’m sorry, I should have never left you alone. Let us return home.” Taking Kai by the hand, they walked back down the street, Sakurai not speaking until they were safely inside. “Listen to me carefully Kai. You will not go out alone, is that understood?” Kai nodded, “Yes, Master.” Sakurai began to pace the room, muttering under his breath. “Master, what were the voices saying?” Kai asked nervously. Sakurai said nothing as he continued to pace. Moving towards the front of the room, Kai closed the heavy curtains, and moved to a chair against the wall and sat down and started to wait for his master to come to him. Once Sakurai had stopped pacing, the expression on his face sent shivers own Kai’s spine, and a great deal of fear growing in his heart.  

 

Image result for the Gazette Kai  Vampire Kai. 

Chapter Text

          Sakurai held Kai closely as they laid in bed, “They know we are here,” he told Kai. “We must be vigilant and cautious, as I feel they mean us harm.” Kai shivered. “Who are they, my lord?” Kai moved as close to Sakurai as possible. “I don’t know, I can’t hear individual voices, just a collective anger. There is no one voice that is stronger than another, they may be rogues with no master.” This frightened Kai, as he had never seen another vampire other than Sakurai. “Why would they want to harm us? I don’t understand.”

          Sakurai didn’t understand the motive either. “If I could sort out one voice, it may give me a clue but as of right now, I don’t know.” Sakurai had spent the night pacing the room, trying to sort the voices and decipher the words but failing. Kai had sat in the chair and watched his maker, growing more frightened by the hour. By sunrise with no answers, they finally succumbed to their weariness and fell into a restless sleep.

 

          The voices were silent for the next five years, there were no more partial sightings of other immortals. Sakurai and Kai started to breathe a little easier, believing that it must have been a rare occurrence, though Sakurai still demanded that Kai never be alone. They spent their days traveling the countryside but always returning to the city, to their humble flat in a quiet neighborhood. Kai had started to collect various recipes that he knew he could re-create in Japan, “You’re going to get fat Acchan, if I keep cooking for you,” he teased his maker, “Perhaps then I should make love to you every night, just to burn off the excess fat.” These statements usually ended in Sakurai doing just that, ravishing his young lover nightly after they had fed and their blood was still hot.

          On a warm summer evening, Kai had pleaded with Sakurai for them to dine at one of his favorite small bistros, claiming that he wanted to study a particular dish in hopes of being able to find the ingredients in Japan. Taking an outside table, Sakurai ordered wine and Kai asked for the special meal, as he described it to the waiter in very broken French. “I am surprised that we have never been accidently poisoned, our French is barely passable.” Sakurai joked.

          Mid way through the meal, just as Sakurai was pouring another glass of wine, he stopped, his body going rigid. Kai was chattering on for several seconds before he noticed his maker, as he was going to ask, Sakurai stopped him, “Do not look at him, keep your eyes on me and only me. There is an immortal standing across the street watching us. Keep speaking in the same voice, do not show your fear or awareness.”

          The young vampire started to quiver, returning to the conversation they were having, with a small voice he pleaded, “My lord, what do we do?”  Sakurai reached over and caressed Kai’s cheek, “We do nothing. He is aware of the fact that we know he is there, he has not moved nor has he made an attempt to contact me.” Sakurai turned and glared at the man standing across the street, as if challenging him to approach. “Finish your meal Kai, then we will return home.” Walking back to their home, Sakurai had his hand on Kai’s back the entire distance, the young man needing the reassurance of his master’s protection.

          “Why do they not approach us, I don’t understand? Are they dangerous?” Kai was still trembling with fear. “This I don’t understand myself, I mean them no harm of course, yet they block their minds to me.” Sakurai answered with a shrug, he was getting tired of this stalking type behavior from the other immortals. “I believe it is getting close to our time to return home. We should be there for the next generation of my staff, I do not like to surprise them unnecessarily. Let’s say within a year?”

         

          The year went by quickly much to Kai’s disappointment. He loved Paris; the food was superb, the architecture and museums, and he had hoped to stay in France long enough to see the completed Cathedral of Notre Dame. “It will be here when we return, not to worry my love.” Sakurai comforted him.

          As a last night out, Kai and Sakurai attended a comedic play in a mid-sized theater. They had a private box, as was Sakurai’s norm for the extravagant. Kai was leaning on the railing, watching the play intently, his master watching his child enjoying their outing. Late into the last act, Sakurai felt an uncomfortable sensation behind him, a creeping crawl up his spine. He immediately understood what he was feeling, though he could not pinpoint the location.

          Rushing home after the play, Kai not questioning Sakurai until the front door was closed and locked. “We leave tonight, go through your things and take what you cherish the most, leave everything else behind. I will have it shipped later.” Kai opened a large trunk that sat at the foot of the bed, taking out a heavy cloak and a small travel bag, filling it with small treasures. “My lord, what did you hear?” Kai asked without looking up, continuing to pack quickly. Sakurai sat on the side of the bed, raking his hair through his hands. “I heard two things, one that I never thought I’d hear again.”

                                      “Japanese Vampire”

                                                “Imai”

 

         

          They had spent nineteen years in Europe, most of those years in France. Kai had come into his own self as a fledgling vampire, not needing his Maker to hold his hand any longer. The quick departure from France was a bit disturbing, Sakurai hearing the voices and this time, deciphering what those voices were saying. At the time of their flight, Kai hadn’t asked about the person he named as ‘Imai’, not wanting to upset the Ancient, but whomever it was, they carried a great weight for Lord Sakurai. The year was 1297.

 

          Sakurai returned to the habit of walking his property late in the night, checking on the outbuildings, the estate being maintained but not groomed. As always in his nature, he looked in the barn for the current family of feral cats, hoping to find a kitten or two to bring into the house, he was lonesome for a feline companion. Kai had returned to his kitchen, making use of the skills he had gained while in France, their meals had become more lavish than what was the cultural norm for Japan in the 13th century. The great Vampire Lord made the effort to meet the new generation of servants that worked at the estate, finding them just as competent as their predecessors and just as discrete.

          The village had not changed much, perhaps the commercial buildings may be slightly improved, but there was a definite dividing line between merchant classes. Yuki had grown too old to serve Lord Sakurai any longer, but he still relished her as a friend and made sure she was kept comfortable and fed in her old age. Her death in the year 1300 saddened Sakurai, as he felt his vampire childhood had finally disappeared completely. In a rare act of kindness, Sakurai Atsushi had Yuki buried on his property, in the small cemetery that lay on the east side of the estate. There were rumors of course, but the respect for Lord Sakurai still held people’s tongues.

          Once he felt settled back in his home, Sakurai took to traveling the country, both by the cloud gift and by horseback. Kai felt that his master was searching for the person he named ‘Imai’, but to what end he did not understand. He bravely asked his Maker about the person, after Sakurai had been gone for over two weeks, returning looking a bit harried and haggard.

          “My Lord, please this is of no disrespect to you, and you may tell me to mind my own business, but who is the person Imai that you are seeking?” Kai fidgeted with the hem of his apron as he gazed at the floor. “Do you really wish to know?” Sakurai asked. “Tonight, I will tell you the story of Imai, but first I want one of your delicious meals and some wine.”

 

          Relaxing in a warm room with Kai in his arms and a glass of wine in his hand, Sakurai told the story of Imai, the first person he brought into the blood. There were no graphic tales of the sex and the violence that embattled the two men, the tale was one of loneliness, desire, a healthy love hate relationship and finally one of loss. “Imai always begged me to traipse around the countryside looking for victims. He was one that almost always killed his chosen ones, never satisfied with the little drink. I grew bored with that quite quickly, and started refusing to go out with him.”

          Kai’s heart wept for his master, “I can’t imagine waking up and not knowing what to do or how to live, not when I had you as my teacher, my guide through the darker world I, live in now. I would even now be lost without you.” Sakurai cupped Kai’s cheek, kissing him deeply. “You are my true first child, Imai was created out of my selfish desire to have a companion, I did not know of him before I brought him into the blood.”

          The story wove its way through the decades, past one hundred years of companionship, up until the final night. “It was not even a particularly bad argument, though for whatever reason, I had enough of his bullying, his lack of morals and his attitude. I told him to leave me be, those were my exact words. The year was 1163, and that was the last time I saw Imai.” Sakurai sighed and leaned his cheek on Kai’s head, “I had not heard his name uttered by anyone other than myself, until that night in Paris. If the words Japanese Vampires had been the only message, I would have had us remain there, but when his name was uttered, I felt a cold dread build in my heart and the need to return to Japan. We are safe here; no danger can reach us.”

          Sakurai’s sad tale ended just as the streaks of light came over the horizon. “Time for sleep my love.” Sakurai slid the dark covered doors closed, Kai snuggled under the comforter, waiting as his master walked the house, making sure it was secure. Coming to bed, he pulled the heavy curtains around the bed closed, quietly sliding in next to Kai. “I love you, Acchan.”  

Chapter Text

          The clan wars of the 11th century, had dissolved and had been replaced by the new shogunate ruling class. This did not directly affect the estate of Sakurai Atsushi, as he was not inclined to follow any type of rulers that were militarily based.  It was as if the small village near the estate lived in a vacuum, with rare encounters with outsiders, and almost zero contact with any of the military ruling government. This was not to say that there were no strangers that came through the small village, though any time one did, they were usually shown the way out of the village with a few provocative words.

          It was such a stranger that arrived in the village in 1301, though he was determined to become a permanent resident, ignoring the warnings of the village elders. Word reached Sakurai that a stranger had come through but refused to leave, the elders asking the vampire lord to come into the village to speak to the man. “Please my Lord, we are wary of this man, he is not a common vagabond and he speaks as someone who is educated.”

          While not overly concerned with a stranger coming through the village, Sakurai recognized the apprehension in the elder, the man was shaken for some reason. “Of course, when you see him next, tell him to be at the izakaya two hours after dusk tomorrow night.  I will speak with him then.” The elder thanked Sakurai and went on his way. Kai had been listening to the two men speak, “My lord? Is there something wrong?” He asked casually, hoping not to show any worry in his voice.

          “I don’t believe so, no. A stranger has been in the village for some days and the elders are worried, he does not appear to be a vagrant. I will go and speak to him, I’m sure I can find out his intentions.” Sakurai took Kai into his arms, kissing him gently. “Do not worry so, I don’t like seeing that frown on your face, show me that cute dimple of yours,” the vampire lord teased, causing Kai to laugh. “Acchan…seriously,” with another quick kiss, Sakurai left Kai to his cooking.

          With a promise of caution for his safety, Sakurai walked the short distance to the izakaya the next night, wanting to arrive before the stranger. Watching the door from a corner and a bottle of sake at his table, Sakurai waited. Three of the village elders were seated at another table.

          As he was served another bottle of sake, a man he did not recognize came into the izakaya, glancing around he then moved to the table where the elders sat. There was a short conversation and he was then brought to Sakurai’s table, “My Lord Sakurai, this is Issay, the stranger.” Sakurai inclined his head, “Please, sit down. Would you like something to drink?” The stranger nodded, as Sakurai poured him a cup of sake.

          The man was shaking as he lifted his cup to his lips, “What is your name?” Sakurai asked softly. “Issay, My lord.”

          Sakurai continued, “Why are you in my village? What is your purpose here?” Issay didn’t respond right away, taking time to gather his thoughts. “I want to find someplace safe to live out my days, my lord,” Issay took another drink of sake.

          “Are you a criminal, Issay?”

          “No, my lord, I am an educated man who has lost everything in the clan wars. I will not return to my homeland.” Issay was still trembling slightly, the penetrating gaze of the vampire lord unnerved him.

          Sakurai poured himself another cup of sake, “Tell me how you lost everything, Issay.” He poured Issay another cup. “I am from the south, my lord was a wealthy merchant that sold supplies to various clans, he tried to remain neutral throughout the conflicts,” Issay drank, “a month ago, there was a band of Ronin that came through the city and sacked everything, killing indiscriminately. No one was safe, women, children and the elderly, they butchered them all.”

          Issay’s hands started to shake, he closed his eyes tightly as if trying to keep the visions from appearing. “My lord was in his home, with his wife and three children. The Ronin came through the front gate, battering it down and rushed the house.” Tears started to form in Issay’s eyes. “My lord, they killed everyone, they slaughtered my master first, raped his wife and slashed her throat,” Issay was openly sobbing, “they ran the youngest child, a boy…they ran him down on horseback. The daughter was taken, she’s only 13, I doubt she is alive, and his eldest son was given a katana and made to battle the leader of the group. He held is own for a few moments, but he was no match for the Ronin, they cut off his head and then kicked it around the courtyard.”

          Sakurai’s heart wrenched, “How did you manage to escape?” Issay drank two more cups of sake before answering, wiping his tears on his sleeve. “I hid under the floor in the kitchen, it was a sort of storage area where food was kept. I could see the courtyard, I could hear the screams of the other servants, but I still hid. I am a coward, I am not a violent man, I am a scribe by trade, I wrote letters for my master…” Issay could no longer speak, he laid his head on the table and the tears flowed freely.

          Sakurai looked at the table of village elders, they had listened to Issay’s tale and themselves had tears in their eyes. The story was common, there had been rogue bands of Ronin swarming the country, and now it had come close to their village. “Issay, stay here please.” Sakurai reached over and patted the young man on the arm, then he walked to the other table.

          “I do not believe that this man is a threat to our community, he is just another casualty of the ridiculous wars that have been raging through our country. If you still do not feel comfortable with him living within the village, I will take him to the estate, it is your decision.” The elders all looked at one another, “Lord Sakurai, we have no job for him here, he would end up as a vagrant, we do not wish him harm but we can not provide for him, please…take him to your estate and give him gainful employment if you will.”

          With a nod and a bow, Sakurai went back to the table where Issay had dried his tears but looking defeated. “Issay, go to where ever you are staying and retrieve your belongings.” Issay looked up at Sakurai, “My lord?”

          “You will be coming with me to my estate. I will find a suitable position for you and you will live under my care. You have experienced and seen things that no one should be forced to see. I would like to offer you a refuge as your story has stroked my heart. Please, be quick and retrieve your things, I will wait here for you to return.”

          Standing quickly, Issay bowed low, “Thank you my lord! You will not regret this I promise you. I will be a faithful servant to you for the rest of my life!” Standing up, he smiled, then quickly left the izakaya, “I’m sure you will.” Sakurai murmured. He sat back down and finished the last bottle of sake, his blood temporarily warmed by the alcohol. In his mind he went through the various positions that his household staff held, thinking of Issay and his education and where it may fit.

          Sakurai didn’t wait for long as Issay was back within fifteen minutes, carrying only a small bag with him. “My lord, I am ready.” Issay bowed low again. “Come then, we shall talk, it is only a twenty-minute walk to my estate.” Guiding Issay out of the izakaya, the vampire lord led the way back to the estate, answering Sakurai’s questions about his education and what duties he performed for his former master.

          Entering the gates of the estate, Issay stared wide-eyed at the main house. “M…my lord!” he gasped, “Yes it’s rather large, isn’t it?” Sakurai smiled. “Much larger than my master’s home.” Issay then dropped his eyes quickly, “I apologize my lord, I didn’t mean…”

          “Issay-kun, it is of no matter. Please, come in and we will have Kai-san make you something to eat.” Issay bowed lightly, “Thank you, my lord.” Sakurai led Issay into the house, showing him the way to the kitchen, “Kai-kun, this is Issay.” Sakurai introduced the two men. “Would you please give him something to eat? I will be in my study.” Sakurai leaned in and kissed Kai on the cheek, wanting to gage Issay’s reaction. “Of course, Acchan. Issay-san please, come in and have a seat.”

          Sliding the door to his study closed, Sakurai moved to sit at the small desk on the floor, wrapping a warmer kimono around his shoulders. “Issay…what to do with you?” he murmured. The story the young man had told was one that had been told countless times before across the country, but this was the first time the horrors of war had reached the estate of Sakurai Atsushi and the small village he kept safe. Issay had a haunted look in his eyes, the look of one who had seen such horrors that they would never be erased completely. The man would suffer from the visions and most likely the nightmares for the rest of his life.

          “My lord?” Kai knocked on the door gently. “Yes, Kai-kun?” Sakurai answered. “Where shall I have Issay-san sleep? He’s finished his meal and he looks like he may fall asleep in the kitchen.” Kai grinned. Sakurai thought for a moment, “Put him in the center room along the back hallway please, Kai.” Sakurai turned back to his desk, Kai silently closing the door. Taking out a large ledger, Sakurai studied it carefully. “An educated man does not belong in the barn with the livestock,” he chuckled.

          As the night wore on, Sakurai and Kai lounged in the spacious main room, playing cards and talking quietly. “It is a wonder that Issay-san has not lost his mind in what he saw,” Kai mused. Sakurai had just opened his mouth to answer when they both heard a blood curdling scream coming from the area of Issay’s room, “Shit.” Both men jumped to their feet and ran towards the screams. Sliding the door open violently, they found Issay huddled in a corner, his face hidden against the wall, his body wracked with sobs and fear.

          Sakurai slowly walked towards Issay, murmuring soothing words as he reached for the man, “Issay-kun, look at me my boy, come now…there you are. Sshh, everything will be alright, it was just a dream love, come now, that’s it,” Gathering Issay in his arms, Sakurai picked Issay up and carried him out of the room. “Get another futon and put it in the corner of my room, please Kai.” The young man moved quickly out of the room, Sakurai walking carefully towards his own bedroom, Issay’s face buried in his shoulder still sobbing.

          Kai was laying out the futon, as Sakurai entered the room, “would you please make some of your sleep tea for him? Perhaps a little stronger than you would normally make, I don’t want him waking up again tonight.” Kai nodded, leaving the room. “Issay-kun, I’m going to put you down, ne? You’re in my room and you will sleep here tonight, Kai-kun is making his special tea that will take away your horrors tonight.”

          Sakurai gently laid Issay on the futon, covering him with the heavy comforter, “My lord…I’m…I’m sorry to trouble you on my first night, please forgive me?” Issay’s voice hitched, he was battling with his emotions, trying to contain them. “Issay-kun, please make no mention of this. I know what you have witnessed and I know it will take some time for you to erase those memories.” Before he could continue, Kai was back with the tea. “Drink this Issay-kun, it will help you sleep tonight,” Kai kneeled down next to the man and helped him drink the tea that was laced with valerian, a natural sleep aide that Kai had discovered when they were in France, and brought home with him to grow on the estate.

          Sakurai sat next to Issay, gently stroking his forehead and carding through his long black hair, Kai excusing himself and going to his room. Looking down at the troubled man, Sakurai could see the beauty hidden behind the tears and trauma, Issay was more than merely attractive, he was stunningly beautiful in Sakurai’s eyes. A familiar twinge in his abdomen betrayed his vision, “Stop it you fool,” he chastised himself. The last thing he needed to be thinking about was having sex with this boy.

          In his current state, Issay looked as young as sixteen or seventeen, though Sakurai guess the man to be in his early twenties. “You may have sixty more years of these visions and nightmares, young one. How do I keep you safe and happy if you can see nothing but blood every time you close your eyes?” It was that night, as he gazed down at the troubled young man, that the seed was planted.

Chapter Text

 

          Sakurai watched as Kai took Issay through the household duties, happy to delegate some of the more menial tasks that took Kai away from his kitchen. Issay had taken to drinking the valerian tea every night before he slept as it kept the night terrors and dreams from wreaking havoc on his mind and his body. The young man had been embarrassed to be seen as weak, in front of his new master, Lord Sakurai assuring Issay that what he had witnessed would give anyone horrific dreams and he did not think the man any lesser for his experience.

          Things were going smoothly for the first month or so, Issay either did not notice or chose not to speak, when he saw that both men slept during the day light hours, neither Kai nor Sakurai offering any explanations. It wasn’t until Issay made a trip into the village to the small izakaya one afternoon, that information was revealed by one of the elderly residents.  Sitting alone at a table, an old man came into the izakaya and asked for a drink and some rice, seeing Issay and remembering him from his unannounced arrival in the village some time ago.

          “Issay-san? How fairs life at the estate? Our Lord Sakurai is a kindly man, is he not?”  The old man sat across from Issay, slowly eating his rice and hoping for a little gossip.  “Lord Sakurai is a pure gentleman, Kai-san is also very considerate and pleasant to work with, I have no complaints, though I wonder about…” Issay stopped, he did not want to say too much to the wrong person. “You wonder about the hours they keep, ne? The closeness of the two men? There are secrets hidden at the estate, yet they are of no harmful concern. Lord Sakurai has been our benefactor for well over two-hundred years now, he cares for the village and its residents, you have nothing to fear my boy.”

          Issay assumed the old man meant the Sakurai family had taken care of the village, no single man could live that long, it wasn’t humanly possible. Before Issay could ask any questions, another elderly man came to speak to them. “Ignore Gen, he is old and his mind is fuzzy with age. You will find no better person than Lord Sakurai and Kai-san, that is truly all you need to know.” Taking Gen by the arm, the man led him off to sit at another table.

          Issay left the izakaya with more questions than he had arrived with. Why did Gen say Sakurai lived for over two-hundred years, if he meant the family and not the individual? Entering the kitchen, Kai-san was already awake, working in front of the large kamado, (stove). “Konbanwa Issay-san, dinner shall be ready soon, Lord Sakurai is in his study.” Issay stared at Kai, trying to see if there were any obvious signs of age or unworldly things. He saw nothing.

          Kai noticed though, he could hear Issay’s heart beating rapidly, the blood rushing threw his veins causing the man’s cock to twitch with arousal. “Issay-san, could you please stay right here and watch that this does not boil over, please?” Issay just nodded, moving towards the kamado. Kai bowed and left the cooking area, quickly walking to Sakurai’s study. “My lord?” Kai knocked softly. “Yes Kai?” the younger man slid the door open quietly. “Acchan, we may have a problem,” Kai stepped into the room, “There is something peculiar with Issay’s behavior. He stared at me quite intently just now, I could hear his heart beating rather fast and the blood,” a soft moan “Acchan, his blood was pounding in my ears.”

          Sakurai sighed, it had only been a few weeks and now he may have to reveal the truth to Issay much sooner than he had planned. “Let us wait and watch, perhaps he’ll come to you or I and ask some leading questions. For now, we wait.”

          Kai made his way back to the kitchen, “Thank you Issay-san for watching my rice!” Kai patted Issay on the shoulder, with a cool hand, something that the young man noticed right away. “You’re welcome Kai-san, do you need anything more of me?” Kai thanked Issay again and dismissed him. Issay made his way to Sakurai’s study, his heart still beating rapidly. He had to look the man in the eyes, there had to be something there that would tell him if the old man was right.

          He knelt down next to the door, “Lord Sakurai? May I speak with you for a moment?”  Sakurai could hear Issay’s blood rushing and his heart beat just as Kai had, “Yes, please come in, Issay.” The vampire lord moved away from his small desk, turning to greet Issay.

          “What can I do for you this evening?” Sakurai’s voice was measured and showed no emotion. Issay bowed low, touching his head to the tatami, “I’m confused my lord, I don’t know what to think.” Sakurai could hear the thoughts in Issay’s mind, “Confused to what, Issay?” The young man raised his eyes to Sakurai’s, his hands visibly trembling, “Tell me, what have you heard about me?” the vampire asked.

          The young man’s eyes grew wide, “My lord?” he stuttered, “how did you…” Sakurai chuckled, “You went into the village and went to the izakaya, no? I’m sure you probably met Gen, did he sit with you and eat rice and had a little sake?” Issay nodded, “Yes, my lord. But it was what he said about you, that has me so confused.”

          “What did Gen tell you?”

          “That you, Lord Sakurai, have been taking care of the village for over two hundred years! That’s not possible, he must have meant your family!” Issay’s voice shook with emotion. It was time, Sakurai knew that it would be worse for Issay to continue to be ignorant of his situation, than not.

          Before Sakurai continued, Kai was at the door, “Come in Kai,” Sakurai said without breaking eye contact with Issay. “You wanted to see me, my lord?” Kai moved to sit down next to Sakurai. “Yes, it seems that Issay has spoken to Gen at the izakaya earlier today.” Kai nodded, but not speaking.

          “My lord, we should probably explain to him, it does us no good to hide, if he is going to continue to work for you.” Kai said.

          “Tell me what?” Looking wildly between the two men, Issay’s fear started to creep up his spine. “Leave me for now, Kai.” Sakurai leaned over and gave Kai a sensuous kiss.

         

          Once they were alone, Sakurai moved closer to Issay, sitting next to him. Reaching out to push a stray strand of hair behind the man’s ear, caressing his cheek. “You’re a handsome man Issay-kun, I’ve had to rein in my desire for you on more than a few occasions.” Leaning into Sakurai’s hand and closing his eyes, “My lord…” Issay murmured. The seduction was quick and easy, Sakurai having Issay writhing under him in a manner of moments. Slowly trailing his hands over Issay’s chest, nuzzling his neck and breathing in the scent of his blood, Sakurai’s teeth ached to bite into the tender flesh of the young man’s neck. “My…lord…” Issay whimpered as he turned his head, baring his neck and reaching up to twine his fingers in the vampire’s long silky hair, “No my child, not tonight…” he whispered into Issay’s ear, “tonight I will make love to you, then if you so choose, I will give you the dark gift.”

          As he had done with Kai, Sakurai made loved to Issay that night, bringing him to the edge and falling with him. At the end of the night Issay was almost comatose, his breathing deep and even. “Acchan, it’s nearly dawn. Would you like me to take Issay back to his room?” Kai sat outside the door. “Yes please, Kai, then I want you to return to me,” Kai smiled. “Yes, my lord.”

          Kai stepped in and scooped up the nearly unconscious Issay, taking him to his room and putting him to bed. He had listened and felt the love making between his Master and the other young man, the heat was palatable throughout the house. Returning to Sakurai, Kai crawled into the futon with his lover. “Kai, you shall have him tomorrow night, and I can guarantee you will never have one sweeter tasting, it was exquisite. But then we must come to an agreement, do we allow him into our little family? I feel that I am being greedy, almost too much so.”

          “I will agree to whatever you desire, if you want you to bring Issay in, who am I to refuse?” Kai nuzzled Sakurai’s neck, “Acchan…I love you, you will always be my master, my maker, I am under your control always and forever.”  Sakurai hugged Kai tighter, “Would you like to be the one to bring Issay into the blood? I would be there to guide you if needed.” Kai pulled out of Sakurai’s arms, sitting and staring at the vampire. “Me? But why Acchan? It is not my place to have my own fledgling…no Acchan, that is for you and you alone to determine.”

          “Do not say no yet, Kai. Tomorrow night, I want you to make love to the boy, then if you still have strong feelings, I will be the one to bring him into the blood. But this will be my last creation, and he will be shared by us. We are in no need of anyone else in our small family.” He reached out for Kai, who laid back in Sakurai’s arms. “Let us sleep, tomorrow will be the deciding day.”

 

          Issay woke in the pre-dawn morning, the birds were just starting to sing, the sound of crickets still filled the air. As he rolled over a sharp pain shot up his back, his breath hitched in fear, what had happened to him last night? Laying on his futon he tried to bring the memories to mind. Visions of speaking to the old man Gen, at the izakaya, words that could not be true. Kai-san in the kitchen, standing in front of the kamado, asking him to keep watch on a boiling pot. Sitting with Sakurai-san in his study…the man leaning over to kiss him, his body flushed with heat and a burning desire to submit to all things asked of him. The vision of his beautifully dark master asking things of him that no man had ever asked, the coolness of his lord’s skin under his hot hands. The orgasms that seemed never to stop, brought to the edge again and again, and having Sakurai push him over…then tenderly catching him as he fell. These were the memories of the night before.

          Getting up off the floor took some effort, Issay wanting nothing more than to soak in the hot springs pool located behind the main house, he carefully dressed and made his way outside. Dropping is yukata, on a large rock, he gingerly stepped into the pool, the steam and heat making its way up his legs and relaxing the muscles that were strained from lovemaking. Easing himself into the water, Issay reclined against the side of the pool, laying his head back. As he closed his eyes, he could see Sakurai over him, bending down to capture his lips in a kiss, the shine of his fangs glinting in the… his what?

          Issay sat up quickly. “Fangs? Nooo…” Trying to clear his head, it was obvious that he was so tired and worn out that his brain was now playing tricks on his mind. He leaned back and closed his eyes again, breathing in the steam rising off the water.

          A small splash startled Issay, his eyes flashing open to see a small cat sitting on a rock opposite him. “Koneko-chan, there are no fish in this pond my friend.” With a heavy sigh, Issay got out of the pool, wrapping himself up in his yukata and quietly made his way back to his room. The time in the hot pool had relaxed him somewhat, but there was a definite ache that remained in the lower half of his body.

          Moving through the remainder of the day, he was on watch for the first signs of stirring from Sakurai and Kai’s bedrooms, worried what to say to the man that had taken him to a sensual place he’d never been to before. The other thing he wanted to watch for, were the fangs… or the lack of. He shook his head roughly, “There were no fangs you idiot.” It was truly not possible for… was it?

Chapter Text

 

          Peering at the sliver of light coming from under the bathroom door, Issay guessed it was close to dark. Rolling over and reaching for his cell phone, he checked the time 5:12. His slumber was finally over, though he did not get much in the way of sleep. The floor of a bathroom, even one covered with blankets did not make a suitable nor comfortable bed, but it was what he could manage at the time.

          The argument he had with Uta, rang in his ears. The words that his maker had thrown at him, burned in his dark heart; “Get your things and leave, Issay. Do not return, ever. This is the last I will speak to you.Unlike in the past when there was an argument, this felt different, there was a tired finality to Sakurai’s words. He was sure that over the last seven hundred years, the Ancient had become weary of the fights and disagreements between Issay and the vampire’s blood spouse, Uta. Kai-san was done as well, he had tried to mediate for the threesome, though inevitably it had come to this; Sakurai chose Uta over Issay.

          The rage that had filled Issay’s mind the night before, had left him. He was still angry, he still wanted revenge and misery to befall Sakurai Atsushi. His mission now was to find a way to truly hurt the Ancient, something that would be difficult at best. He knew he could not do any physical damage, Ancient’s were almost beyond killing, no he had to strike at the thing that was closest to Sakurai’s heart; Uta.

          As he dressed, he found Yoshiki’s card in his pocket. The man said he had known of Sakurai for eons, as such he was assuming that the man was an Ancient, but not as old as Sakurai. The man had offered to help him with his problem, but Issay had shut him down before he could explain. The fact that the other vampire knew that he had fought with Sakurai, unnerved him. The underdark’s web of communication was well known, but it had been less than twenty-four hours that he had left Sakurai’s house.

          Still, the offer intrigued Issay. There were other pressing matters to deal with; finding a suitable place to live was first and foremost on his list. Looking through the contacts in his phone, Issay found the one name he knew he could rely on.

          “Do you have time to see me tonight, it’s important.”

 

          The motorcycle was idling in front of the hotel, its rider clothed in black leather with his helmet the same color. Without so much as a greeting, Issay climbed on the back and the pair roared off into the dark. The ride was short as the motorcycle wound its way through the densely populated streets of Tokyo and out into a warehouse district near Tokyo bay. Pulling into a large service dock, the motorcycle’s engines were cut, as the motorcycle glided into an elevator, the pair stepping off the sleek bike. The man clothed in leather pushed the call button and the elevator slowly climbed up the floors.

          Leaving the bike in the elevator, the rider took his helmet off and walked towards a door at the end of a long hallway, Issay following without a word. Opening the door, they entered a large loft, the man flipping on the lights. Turning to look at Issay, the man wore a cheeky grin, “Let me guess…Uta right?”

          Taking off the leather jacket and tossing it onto a couch, the man walked over to a bar area and poured himself a glass of whiskey, offering one to Issay, who politely declined, “Who else is there but Uta? Last night was different, he was dead serious this time. I need a place to live for awhile until I can get my life arranged again.”

          “Shouldn’t you know better by now, Issay? Uta is Acchan’s blood spouse, there will be no other unless Uta dies, and I don’t see that happening any time soon...” Heath’s brow furrowed, “You’re seriously not thinking of that, are you?”

          Issay shrugged, “It would make things a lot easier if he wasn’t around, if he accidently was killed, I’m not going to shed any tears over it.” This was something new to Heath. He had known Issay for over seventy years, he knew the history between the man and his Maker, it wasn’t pretty by any means. “You surely don’t mean that, killing another just for some cock? That’s low even for you, Issay.”

          Issay made a rude noise, “Can I stay in your extra room or not? I slept on the bathroom floor last night, which is fucking degrading as hell.”

          Heath put his hand up, “Yes, please make yourself at home. I’m just going to pretend I haven’t heard a word you’ve been saying.” The long-legged man turned to the kitchen area, “Would you like something to eat? I can tell you’ve been feeding so I know you don’t need any blood right now.” Issay kindly accepted, then made himself at home.

          Taking another chance, he pulled out the business card, and handed it to Heath. The moment that the name was said, Heath froze. “Yo…Yoshiki? Why do you have his card?” This wasn’t good…this was dangerous. Issay didn’t see the hesitation in Heath’s step, nor the concerned look on the man’s face.

          “He was in my hotel room when I got in last night, said he could help me with Sakurai, the information he got came from the underdark. Believe me, I was just as surprised when I saw him.” Trying to keep a neutral expression, Heath turned to face Issay, walking over and putting the sandwich he had made in front of his friend.

          “I’m only going to say this once, and that’s it. Don’t fuck with Yoshiki, ever.” Heath picked up his beer, taking a long drink. Issay reached for his food, Heath shook his head, “You know better than this, don’t fuck with him, don’t see him or agree to anything he says, you know he’s dangerous, Issay.”

          Leaning forward, Issay saw fear in Heath’s eyes, "Yes, he is dangerous and maybe that's what I need to take care of my problems, someone that will stand up to Sakurai Atsushi." 

          Heath shook his head,  "I highly advise you to stay away from Yoshiki, that’s all I'm going to say,” Heath got up and walked back to the kitchen, “I’m going out for awhile, here,” he tossed a set of car keys to Issay. “It’s the black Nissan next to the dock, there’s a key to the loft as well.”  Picking up his leather jacket and his helmet, Heath waved as he walked out of the loft, slamming the door.

          “I need to talk to you about Issay.”

 

          Sitting in front of the large picture window that overlooked the city, Yoshiki slowly drank his wine, as Imai paced the room, muttering angrily to himself about Yoshiki’s lack of competency. “Imai, if you do not like how I am handling this, then I suggest you take things into your own hands and leave me out of it.”

          Imai stomped over and stood in front of Yoshiki, “You said you would have Uta in my arms within a week… you said you wou…” Yoshiki’s eyes narrowed, “I said, if you don’t like how I am dealing with this, then do it your own damned self. I said I would deliver Uta to you, I never said within any time period. I can not just rush into Sakurai’s home and grab the boy, you know that as well as I do, so shut your mouth, Imai.”

          Although Imai was older, he knew to respect Yoshiki’s powers, which were not much less than his, even at one hundred eight years older than Yoshiki, the man’s power matched his if not exceeded it.

          “I’m sorry…I’m just frustrated Yo-chan. I want that boy, I want Sakurai to suffer the loss I have suffered,” Imai rubbed his face, “do you think Issay will contact you?”

          “Yes, and if he doesn’t, then we will come up with another plan to bring Uta to you, do not worry so much my friend, we have all the time in the world.”

 

          He bowed low to the Ancient lord in front of him, touching his head to the floor and waiting for a word before he would look at the vampire. “It has been a long time since I’ve seen you Heath.” Sakurai said. “This is not a random visit.” Uta was standing behind Sakurai’s chair, the man in the leather unnerved him for some reason.

          “Sakurai-san, no this is not a random visit, it’s a warning.” Heath sat up and stared Sakurai in the eyes. “Issay is staying with me at my loft,” Heath needed to be careful how he worded his information, “He plans on harming Uta, but I’m sure that’s nothing new to you.” Sakurai nodded, “No, he’s said it many times before, but there is something else?” Heath nodded, “Yoshiki.” Sakurai’s body went rigid, “Yoshiki, what about him?”

          “Issay told me that last night when he went to his hotel room, Yoshiki was already there. I guess Yoshiki somehow knows that you two are having problems, and he offered to help him. That’s all I know.” Heath wasn’t about to get in the middle of a battle between the Ancients, he was still a very young vampire, not yet three hundred years old and he wasn’t ready to give up the immortal life.

          “Why would he agree to having Yoshiki help him?” Sakurai’s voice was betraying his anger.

          “I don't know, he knows that he's dangerous and shouldn't be getting involved with him.” Heath was breathing erratically. The thought of Yoshiki scared him, and he worried about the safety of both Issay and Sakurai.

          “So, the mongrel has come home,” Sakurai murmured, “is that all? You have no other information on the whereabouts of Yoshiki?” Heath shook his head, “No, my lord I don’t, I’m sorry.” Sakurai waved off the apology, “It is more than enough that you came to me with this. I thank you, Heath. I know we don’t run with the same crowd, but I do appreciate you coming to me with this.” Sakurai inclined his head.

          Heath walked out of Sakurai’s home quickly, the faster he was away from the man the better. They were not friends, but also not enemies. Sakurai was right, they ran in different circles. He did not want the Ancient to think ill of him, as he did remember what had happened to Tangier. Pulling on his helmet, Heath straddled his motorcycle and kicked it to life, tearing out of the area as quickly as he could.

 

          He knocked on the hotel room door, a quiet ‘come in’ came from the other side. He paused as he reached for the knob, “Issay, please join me.” He frowned, then opened the door. “Please come in, would you like something to drink?” Yoshiki sat in a large deep wing backed chair, a bottle of champagne cooling in a bucket on the table. “No thank you,” Issay said roughly. “I’m just here to see what you have to say, I’m not promising that I’ll agree to whatever plans you may have.”

          The vampire smirked, “Oh, you’ll agree because you want revenge, you want Sakurai to feel the same pain you do, correct?”  Issay said nothing, keeping his face free of expression. “How do you know this?”

          “That's a silly question, we all know you want to be his only lover, that’s all you’ve ever wanted from the day he brought you into the blood. You even had designs on getting rid of Kai-san, did you not? You didn’t because you knew that would destroy Sakurai.”

          Yoshiki leaned forward and poured himself more champagne, “The loss of Uta would be the ultimate pain for Sakurai, he would not recover if his beloved spouse died, and that’s what you want, because you have never recovered from not being the chosen one as his blood spouse. You thought that once he brought you into the blood, you would replace Kai, in his bed and in his heart.”

          Issay looked down, his face flushed with anger…at the truth. “Why would you help me, why would you be interested in helping me destroy Sakurai Atsushi?”

          Yoshiki had his fingertips on his chin, “I’m not doing it for you, Issay.”

 

Related image  Vampire Heath. 

Chapter Text

           The sun was slowly melting into the shadows of the mountains to the west of the large estate of Sakurai Atsushi. The lord of the estate would soon rise and start his night, with Kai-san preparing the meals and Issay making himself available to his lord for whatever the man needed, though Issay’s mind was still plagued with the happenings of the night before. “Konbanwa Issay-san, did you sleep well?” Kai walked into the kitchen area, startling Issay with the question.

          “I um, your tea helped a great deal, thank you Kai-san.” Issay bowed lightly. “Is there anything you require of me at the moment?” He was trying hard not to stare at Kai’s mouth. Kai smiled, “No, though I do believe that Lord Sakurai may want to speak to you after the meal. I shall call for you then. Thank you.” Kai turned his back to Issay, effectively dismissing the man.

          Going back to his room, Issay started to pace. His mind was screaming at him, his heart was thrashing in his chest, everything was telling him to leave, to pack his bag and run, whatever this dark gift was, Issay was sure he wanted no part of it. He needed to just make it through the night, once dawn was on the horizon and Sakurai with Kai would then retire to their rooms, Issay would raid the kitchen and leave the estate and the region.

          A soft knock on the door made Issay jump, “Excuse me, Issay-san? The meal is ready, would you care to join us?” Kai asked. “Um, yes…one moment please.” Issay listened as the quiet footsteps moved down the hall. Smoothing down his yukata, mentally erasing any fear or deception from his face, Issay slid the door open and walked to the living space. “Konbanwa Issay-san, I hope you slept well.” Sakurai smiled at Issay, he could feel the fear and apprehension emanating from the man.

          “Ye…yes I did, Kai-san’s tea helps a great deal, it keeps the horrors away.” Issay’s voice was shaking, he was sure the other men noticed. As with Kai, he tried not to stare at Sakurai’s mouth when he spoke, instead looking down at the meal placed in front of him. “Kai-kun, this is delicious, the rosemary adds a nice touch,” Sakurai praised Kai. “Would you like some sake, Issay-san?” Kai leaned in to pour a cup for Sakurai, offering it to Issay. “Yes, please…thank you.” Issay’s nerves were strung to the point of breaking, the sake could help tame his frantic mind.  There was no small talk as the meal was eaten, Sakurai exchanging glances at Kai, who would smile and nod, Issay’s focus was on his meal and nothing else.

          Pushing the small table to a corner, Kai then sat next to Sakurai, almost on the man’s lap, draping himself across the vampire’s lap. “Issay-san, you look concerned. Is there a problem this evening?” Sakurai asked softly. Issay looked up at the man, “My lord,” he began, “last night…I remember most of what took place, but there is confusion in my mind with some of the details.”  

          Sakurai cupped Kai’s chin, bringing the man’s face to his and kissing him deeply. Issay’s breath hitched, this answered at least one question. “Issay-san, do you regret what happened last night?” Sakurai asked, as he trailed his fingers along Kai’s chest. “No, my lord I do not regret it, but there was something you said that I do not understand.” Kai sat up and poured another cup of sake for each of them. Issay drank the sake in one sip, Kai reaching over to pour yet another cup.

          “What did I say that confuses you?” Sakurai murmured. As Kai refilled the cups, he moved to sit next to Issay, putting his arm around the man’s waist, “Issay-san, you are a handsome man,” Kai whispered as he leaned in to kiss Issay, who did not object but moaned in Kai’s mouth as he reached up for him. “Kai-san?” Kai brought his lips to Issay’s, this time the kiss spoke of want and need, Kai pulling the young man closer. “You taste lovely, Issay…Lord Sakurai was not lying when he told me of your beauty.”

          Issay struggled slightly, “My lord,” he whined as he tried to sit up, “please, tell me what you meant by the dark gift?” Kai captured Issay’s lips again, holding the man tight in his arms. Sakurai looked at Kai, an unspoken word released Issay from Kai’s lustful arms. “Issay, what do you believe is the dark gift? Are there other questions that you would like answered?” Issay sat up when Kai released him.

          “In my mind, my memory,” Issay started to shake, he feared the answers to the questions he had, “in my memory, you…you were kissing me, teasing me and licking my neck, you said that it wasn’t time for the dark gift.” Issay dropped his head into his hands, “I remember seeing…fangs,” he whispered.

          Sakurai said nothing as he reached out for Issay, drawing the man to him, the vampire lord caressed Issay’s cheek, leaning in and kissing Issay with a passion that was meant to stun the man. “Issay, what do you see when you look into my eyes? Is it a horrific sight, am I hideous to gaze upon? Were you repulsed last night by my body, did you wrench yourself out of my arms?” Issay shook his head, “No, my lord.” Sakurai kissed him again.

          Without noticing, Kai had moved to sit next to Sakurai, the two exchanged a heated kiss, Kai then leaning down and kissing Issay again. “Issay-san, would you like to stay with us forever?” Kai nuzzled Issay’s neck, licking it as Sakurai had. The slow seduction to lull Issay into a state of complicity was not a difficult act, Issay had reached for Sakurai, whining for another kiss, though this time, Sakurai’s fangs showed themselves, causing Issay to gasp and try to pull away.

          ‘You…you have fangs!” he struggled in Sakurai’s arms, “Why do you…why?” Sakurai allowed Issay to sit up and move away an arms length, Issay then looking to Kai, who’s fangs were also showing. “Do not be afraid, Issay-san, you are in no danger from either of us.” Sakurai said. “Do you remember what Gen said to you at the izakaya? That I have protected the village for over two-hundred years? How incredulous that sounded?” he paused, “Issay, I have lived now for 323 years,” he looked at Kai. “Would you believe me if I told you that Kai is seventy-three years old?”

          Issay glanced at Kai, who appeared to be about twenty-three. “How…?” Issay stammered, then turned to look at Sakurai once more. “Issay, what do you know of blood drinkers…vampires?” Issay’s face went white, “vampires? My lord?”

          The tale that Sakurai told Issay on how he was brought into the blood was short, “I never knew my maker, he instilled in me some natural instincts and then he left me to fend for myself.” Issay was stunned, “What about Kai-san, my lord?” Kai chuckled, “I asked Acchan to bring me into the blood,” This was the first time Issay had hear Sakurai’s nick name. “So, you are the same as he?” Issay guessed, Kai nodded. “Yes, I am a vampire as well.” His mind was burning with the facts that were just handed to him. “Into the blood? Is that what you mean by the dark gift? You will make me a vampire as well?”

          “If you so wish it, yes I will give you the dark gift. You will stay by my side forever, we will be a small family of three, always there for one another. There shall be no jealousy nor possessiveness, I will share my bed with both of you.” Sakurai’s attitude had changed. No longer the seducer, he was the Sakurai Atsushi, vampire lord of his estate. “But you must ask me for the dark gift, I will not force you into immortality.”

          “Is that what you wish of me, my lord? I am to be your immortal lover?” The thought of remaining as he was now, young and beautiful and to remain by Sakurai’s side as his lover, Issay was torn. The chance to be immortal was appealing, to stay by his lord’s side, to be his lover was also very appealing. The act of drinking blood however, was not.

          Kai moved closer to Issay, “I want to make love to you tonight, Issay-kun, Acchan says you are exquisite and wanton,” Kai nuzzled Issay’s neck, the seduction had started again. Sakurai had let Kai know, he wanted to bring Issay into the blood, Kai having turned down the honor, “Let us show you true desire, Issay-kun.” Sakurai whispered as he reached out to run his hand inside Issay’s yukata, drawing a moan from the man.

          If seductions were rated, the seduction of Issay would be high on the list, both vampires knowing exactly what the other wanted, and how to drown Issay in lust, bringing him to the edge and back. It was this lust that drove Issay to throw his head back and bare his neck, “Is this what you want Issay-kun…my love, do you want the dark gift?” Sakurai murmured as he licked the man’s neck, “Please…Acchan yes…please.” Issay moaned. At the moment of orgasm, Sakurai bit into Issay’s neck with a groan, Kai bringing him to orgasm with his mouth. Issay grabbed at Sakurai’s yukata, arching his back against his maker, Kai holding his hips as Issay came.

          Sakurai gently laid Issay down, “You must drink now my love,” slicing his own wrist open, he dripped the blood into Issay’s mouth, who then grabbed the wrist and started to feed, “Yes, Issay-kun…this is your life now.” He murmured as the young man drank. “This is enough for now.” Sakurai pulled his wrist away. “What will happen next will hurt, but only for a short time. Your mortal body must die, Issay, but Kai and I will be here to hold you.

          Kai vividly remembered when his mortal body died, and as such, he drew Issay into his lap, “I will hold you, it will only be a few moments of pain in the span of an eternity.” As Issay went through the change he cried out, reaching for Sakurai and clinging to Kai.

          Once it was over, Issay lay panting in Kai’s lap. “Look at me Issay, open your new vampire eyes and look at me.” Sakurai asked. Issay shook his head, “I’m frightened, my lord.” Kai stroked Issay’s cheek, “Come, look upon your new world, Issay-kun.”  Issay opened his eyes, the first thing he saw was Kai’s face, and it had never been so beautiful. “Kai…” he whispered, then turned his head and looked at Sakurai. “Acchan…”  The next several hours were spent guiding Issay through his first hours of his new life. Much as Sakurai had done with Kai, he took Issay out into the night, giving his new fledgling guidance, which was more than his maker had done for him.

 

          By sunrise, Sakurai believed he had prepared Issay as best as possible. Teaching the man how to take the little drink, which animals had the most nutritious blood in case of not being able to find a human. The emphasis of leaving the victims alive, “It would not bode well for dead body’s to be piling up, it is unnecessary to kill them.” Sakurai had not come across another person such as Yuki, though he did tell Issay about the woman. “She was a wonderful friend as well.” This idea struck Issay as a bit odd, “Why would she allow such a thing? Was she that depraved?”

          “No, she was not depraved at all. I had helped her family through the years and at one point she had found me in an alley one evening and brought me to her home, the person I had taken the little drink from had been ill. We had an arrangement that benefited both of us. I dearly miss the woman.” Sakurai sighed.

          Sakurai finally guided Issay home, telling Kai that he was going to let the young man sleep with him. “Tonight, we shall go out together, ne? I want us to experience his new life as a family.” Kissing Kai good night, he took Issay to his room. “My lord, I’m so very tired.” He mumbled. “Yes, the first few days you will be, it takes time to adjust. You have both myself and Kai to care for you, do not fear.” With a tender kiss and taking Issay into his arms, Sakurai closed his eyes and fell into a deep sleep.

Chapter Text

 

          As it is with one that is immortal, time is of no essence, a year might as well be ten, fifty no different than one hundred, this is how life with Sakurai Atsushi progressed. Five years had passed since Issay was brought into the blood and he had slipped into the life of a vampire more easily than either Sakurai or Kai could have imagined. There were no hesitant steps when the new member of the family was taught how to feed, only taking the little drink with Sakurai’s absolute edict that no human was killed, echoing in Issay’s ears, he was not willing to experience the consequences should he make that mistake.

          As for the carnal desires of the three men, they were shared equally for the most part, though both Kai and Issay desired more time with Sakurai, than with each other. If Sakurai did not care to sleep with either man, Kai and Issay sought each other out to fulfill their sexual needs. Kai remained in charge of the kitchen, with Issay using his education as a scribe for the management of the estate.

          There were kittens to be raised, all three men taking an active role in this. The current feline residents were three tiny black and gray striped kittens, whose mother had been killed most likely by a fox. “Why are the mothers always killed?” Issay asked one evening as they were lying on the floor playing with the three small cats. “I believe that the mother can smell the fox, and tries to lure it away from her babies.” Kai answered sadly. “Then this happens frequently?” Issay had one of the tiny kittens on his chest, “Yes, unfortunately, but we are always there to take the babes into the house.” Sakurai smiled with the memories, as he listened to Kai explain the days leading up to him being brought into the blood by Sakurai.

          Issay continued to ask questions that night, wanting to know the history of how his new family was created. He was however shocked to hear how Sakurai was brought into the blood. “Was it so terrifying, my lord? I can not imagine being left to discover how to live this life, on my own.” Sakurai heaved a great sigh, “He stayed with me for less than one night, shoving my face into learning to feed. He viciously killed his victims, usually by tearing out their throat, it was at that point that I swore I’d never resort to that method and why it is so important that you understand.”

          “Acchan, do you remember his name?” Kai had never asked Sakurai questions about his maker. “I have yet to utter it since that night,” he whispered as if saying the man’s name may strike him dead, “his name is Ryuichi.” Without an explanation, Sakurai got up and left the room, leaving Kai and Issay to wonder if they had crossed an unspoken line.

          Sakurai had walked out into the garden to visit his fish, the moonlight reflecting off the koi pond. Sitting on a low stone bench next to the pond, he splashed the water softly, and several of the larger koi came swimming towards him. “I never thought I’d have to say his name again.” It had been over five hundred years since he had spoken the name aloud, Sakurai attempting to burn the name from his memory. The name was the only link he had to his birth as a vampire, there were no long talks, no stories or histories. Ryuichi had come in the night, seduced Sakurai and at the height of passion, the vampire had taken his victim.

          “Acchan, please come inside, Kai-kun is upset,” Issay walked up and sat next to the vampire on the stone bench. “He believes he has insulted or hurt you in some way by asking that question, please come inside.” Shaking his head, “It is not that he hurt me, Issay-kun, it just has been a long time since I’ve faced that name. Yes, I will come inside.” Getting up, he put his arms around Issay’s shoulders, walking inside to reassure Kai that he had done nothing wrong.

           

          The turning of the decades brought in new staff to Sakurai’s estate, each person an almost genetic copy of their relative before them. The year was 1489 and Sakurai had grown listless, going back to his routine of wandering the property until just before dawn, Issay and Kai would watch Sakurai from the house, “He’s always done this, even before I came to the estate.” Kai remarked one night as Sakurai left the property through the main gate. “Is he seeking solitude or is it something else?” Issay worried about his master. “This time I’m not sure, though it has been a long time since we were in Europe.”

          An idea sparked in Issay’s head, “Was he happy in Europe, Kai-kun? Truly happy?” This question puzzled Kai, “Yes, I believe we were happy. There was a problem towards the end that caused us to return to Japan, but over all we enjoyed ourselves a great deal.” Issay’s face had a crooked grin on it, “Thank you, Kai-kun!” he said enthusiastically, then turn and ran from the kitchen area. “What are you planning, Issay?” Kai murmured.

          With a quick run to the garden, Issay stopped in front of the rosemary bush, breaking off a large stem and placing it in the pocket of his yukata. “What else?” Walking slowly through the garden, “Perfect!” He stopped at a large flowering bush, tearing off several small stems, moving to another smallish plant and picking just one of the berries. “This should be enough!”

 

          He watched as the mother cat moved her babies, carefully picking each one up in her mouth and carrying it behind a large barrel in the barn. “Mama-san, I will not hurt your tiny kits, you will always be safe here in the barn.” Sakurai whispered. Leaning back against the door of the barn, the vampire lord closed his eyes a sort of melancholy had settled over him after the revealing of his maker’s name.

          Ryuichi had been brutal in his attack on Sakurai, plying him with alcohol then using his psychic powers of seduction. Sakurai had not seen the man as a predator; Ryuichi was close to the same age as he in the year 978. There was really no warning from the vampire, Ryuichi had Sakurai on the verge of orgasm when the nuzzling in his neck turned to a painful bite. He struggled with Ryuichi, but the vampire overpowered him as he drained Sakurai’s body of blood.

          “You need me now little one, if you want to live you must first feed.” He whispered as Sakurai’s eyes began to roll back into his head. Ryuichi sliced his wrist open with his teeth, dripping blood into Sakurai’s mouth, “Taste me, little one…taste the power in my blood, the power I am giving to you,” he whispered.

          Just as Kai and Issay had suffered when their mortal body died, Sakurai also suffered. Unlike his own fledglings, Sakurai had no one to comfort or to reassure him he would survive that death. Ryuichi leaned against a wall and watched with an uncaring and callous eye, waiting for the end so that he could take the newly formed vampire and teach him to hunt. The other ignored Sakurai’s screams, his begging and pleading for comfort, for concern, what he got was contempt and scorn. “Hurry and die little one, I want to feed.”

          Once Sakurai’s mortal body had shed and he viewed the world for the first time with his vampire eyes, his mind filled with rage. “What have you done to me?” He growled at Ryuichi. “You’re now immortal, one that lives by the taking of other’s blood. You will now live forever, or until someone more powerful than you or myself, hunts you down and kills you.” He smiled wickedly, “Come now, let us hunt. I will show you the joys of a fresh kill.” Grabbing Sakurai by the arm, Ryuichi dragged him from his home and off the estate, to roam the countryside, feeding on those who crossed their path.

          When they could feed no more, when Ryuichi’s violence filled lust was sated, he dragged Sakurai back to the estate. “You must sleep in the daylight, black out your windows, cover your head or sleep in the dirt, I don’t care. Sayonara little one.” Before Sakurai could answer, Ryuichi was gone.

          “Acchan?” Kai gently shook Sakurai’s shoulder, “Oh, yes Kai-kun?” Tears had fallen unnoticed by Sakurai, Kai gently wiping them away with the sleeve of his yukata as he kneeled down beside his lord. “What is wrong, Acchan? It’s almost daybreak and we need to get to bed.” Kai stood up, holding his hand out for Sakurai, “Come, let us have some tea before sleeping.” Helping Sakurai stand, the man embraces him, “Acchan, I love you,” he kissed his young lover softly, “Let’s go inside.”

 

          The list of duties and responsibilities was long, though entirely unneeded, “My lord, do you not trust me after all these years? Have I ever let you down before? Please, take Issay and enjoy yourselves, but I want a detailed report on the Cathedral Notre Dame, I’m sure it’s beautiful.”

          After much begging by Issay and speaking with Kai about the matter, Sakurai finally bent to Issay’s demands and they were about to leave to go to Europe. “Shall I bring you home a gift, Kai-kun?” Sakurai held Kai’s body against his, his arms wrapped around the slender man’s waist. “A small trinket if anything, do not worry about me, Acchan. Go and show Issay the sights you showed me.” A rather long passionate kiss followed his request.

          “Issay, take care of our Acchan, do not let him get fat off the wonderful food and do not let him take too much drink.” Kai said. With one more kiss for Kai, Sakurai and Issay started their journey.

          The initial rush of the cloud gift excited Issay, until they reached the highest limits for travel. “My…my lord, are we so very high up?” Issay buried his face in Sakurai’s chest.       “There is no need for concern Issay-kun, you are safe in my arms.” Issay looked up at Sakurai, the older vampire gently caressing his cheek and kissing him. “Just sleep if you can,” he murmured to Issay as he held him tenderly in his arms.

          Issay had fallen asleep as they moved through the clouds, Sakurai watching the land beneath him for specific landmarks. He had told Issay that they would first go to France then if he wished they would travel to other countries as well. The gold in Sakurai’s pocket and the money he had transferred to banking establishments would secure them in funds for the time they were away from Japan.

         

          As it was with Kai, Issay stared in wonder at everything around him. The crowded streets, the shops and buildings were always busy. “My lord, this is…” Issay stuttered, at a loss for words. “Yes, it is,” Sakurai laughed lightly. “It’s a bit overwhelming, is it not?” They walked through the crowded streets, hostile stares from the locals followed them. “My lord?” Issay said nervously. “Yes, I can feel it as well. Shall we go and visit Notre Dame? Kai-kun will want a description of the completed work.” Issay gladly followed Sakurai, the surroundings of the city felt unsafe to him.

          Looking up at the great Cathedral, Issay was in awe, “This building is for their god? Does he require such a statement as this?” Sakurai grinned, “I don’t believe their god has any idea what they are doing. Much like the nobility, the religious hierarchy tends to think of these buildings as symbols of their prosperity and not of their piousness.”

          They walked around the grounds, getting as close as they could in the night without being discovered. Sakurai had an uneasy feeling that they were being watched, but he said nothing to Issay, wanting the young man to enjoy himself, but there was someone just out of his eyesight. Issay had pulled Sakurai’s arm, pointing at something when someone stepped out of the shadows, standing in front of them.

          Issay immediately stood behind Sakurai, “What do you want?” Sakurai ask tersely. As the person came out of the shadows, both Sakurai and Issay were surprised to see a female…and she was a vampire. The woman was tall, taller than Sakurai, with long red hair and fine features. “Who are you?” Sakurai demanded. The woman said nothing but kept walking towards them, Issay making small whimpering sounds behind Sakurai. The woman stopped about fifteen feet in front of the two men, she peered at them through violet eyes. “He wants to speak to you.” She said in broken Japanese.

          “Who wants to speak with me?”

          “Yoshiki” she hissed. “I know no one by that name, leave us be.” Sakurai turned to walk away, keeping Issay in front of him. Before either could blink the woman was in front of them again, using the predatory speed of a vampire. “Stay here,” she hissed. Sakurai roughly shoved Issay behind him again.

          “My lord, what do we do?” Issay whined. “Just stay quiet,” Sakurai ordered. As the minutes ticked by, Sakurai growing angrier and Issay more frightened, a figure started to emerge from the shadows.

          “Lord Sakurai, a pleasure to meet you. I am Yoshiki and I have a message for you.” The man continued to walk towards Sakurai, “I just need a moment of your time, then you can be on your way.” Stopping about ten feet in front of the two men, Yoshiki glanced at Issay. “And who is this young man?” he asked, a terse grin on his lips. “He is none of your concern, what do you want?”

          “He may be of concern to someone you haven’t seen in some time.” Yoshiki was obviously Japanese and also a vampire, but Sakurai had no knowledge of this man. Issay was clutching at Sakurai’s arm, whispering that he wanted to leave.

          “I have a message for you,” Yoshiki stated simply, “Imai wants to come home. It’s been over six hundred years and he longs to see you again.”

          Without a moment’s hesitation, “Tell Imai to fuck off, he’s not welcomed in my home.” Sakurai snarled, and without any warning he grabbed Issay and rose into the air, disappearing in a matter of seconds.

          “Imai’s not going to be happy with that answer, Sakurai Atsushi. You’d better watch your back, and those you love.”

          The rate at which Sakurai lifted them up, was almost painful for Issay who had his face buried in Sakurai’s chest and had his arms tightly around the man’s waist. “Acchan?” he tried to speak to his master, but there were no words coming from Sakurai’s mouth. Imai, why? Six hundred years and you think you can just come home to me? No, that’s not going to happen.

          With more than unusual speed, Sakurai crossed the thousands of miles from Europe to Japan in record time, setting down on the estate just before daybreak. Grabbing Issay by the hand, Sakurai led him into the barn, “Feed now.” He pushed the man towards a goat. “What? Why would I…” Sakurai turned on him, “You have not fed in several hours, we need to get inside before the sun breaks the horizon, do it now Issay.” The viciousness of Sakurai’s command shocked Issay but he did as he was told, taking only enough from the goat to sustain him comfortably through their sleep.

          “Acchan? What’s wrong, why are you here?” Kai had heard his master and rushed outside. “I don’t want to talk about it now, but ask some of the men to stay here through out the day and do not let anyone onto the grounds of the estate, I want that front gate locked and men surrounding the house, do you understand?” Sakurai snapped. Without knowing why, Kai did as he was told and ran off to the house to speak with the staff.

          Sakurai held Issay by the shoulders, staring him in the eyes, “Go to my room and get ready to sleep, I will be there in a moment.” Issay nodded and walked down the hall without another word.

          Looking for Kai, Sakurai saw that the day workers were already shutting the gates and speaking among themselves, “My lord, they’re ready and armed as well, are we expecting some type of violence or attack?”

          “I don’t know. The reason we are home is that we were approached by a vampire just outside of Notre Dame, a man by the name of Yoshiki, he told me he had a message. Imai wants to come home, here.” Kai gasped, “Imai? You’re joking? That’s a ridiculous and outrageous thing to ask of you, and now I understand the need for the men. I will keep one near my room to report to me, you and Issay need to rest” Kai cupped the back of Sakurai’s head, bringing their foreheads together, “He won’t come anywhere near here, I promise Acchan.” Throwing his arms around Kai, Sakurai hugged the man tightly, “I love you, Kai-kun. Please take care of yourself while you sleep.” With a brief kiss, Sakurai turned and walked down the hall to his room, hoping that he could comfort Issay enough so they could both sleep.

Chapter Text

 

          The over-reactive precautions that were put in place that night, were just that, over-reactive and unnecessary. Imai did not return to the estate, he did not attempt to contact Sakurai, and there were no whispers or wild rumors floating around. It did take almost ten years to calm Sakurai’s nerves, and to relax the precautionary measures he put in place for both Kai and Issay. “You will not go out to feed alone, period. We will go out together or we will feed on the livestock, I want to take no chances with either one of you. I have no idea what Imai’s intentions are, and I don’t trust Yoshiki as I do not know the man.”

          They kept close to the estate, only traveling outside the small village to feed and always just the little drink, returning home quickly. As a result of the disturbance, neither Kai nor Issay had been invited into Sakurai’s bed, leaving both men frustrated, and seeking each other out to engage in some rather rough sex. The tension at the Sakurai estate carried on for what felt like a moment, but lasted for almost fifty years.

          During those tense decades, Issay had grown petulant and spoiled, demanding Sakurai’s attention for the littlest of things, when the vampire lord would take Kai to his bed, Issay would sulk and in turn deny Kai sex. In the beginning Sakurai humored Issay, teasing the man by being affectionate to Kai, then in turn taking Issay to his bed. Kai for his part, was tired of the games and it came down to him not wanting Issay in any way. It took but fifteen years until Sakurai had had enough, exploding in anger over some small incident between Kai and Issay, getting up and leaving the room.

          Issay of course blamed Kai, throwing a tantrum and stomping around like a toddler. One particularly vicious argument ended with Issay leaving the living area, going to his bedroom and packing a small bag. “If you can not treat me with the respect I deserve, then I will no longer live under your roof.” Sakurai and Kai watched as Issay walked out of the front gate and into the night. “Don’t worry Acchan, he will return before morning.” Kai reassured his master.

          But Issay did not return at daybreak, in fact he didn’t return for two years, randomly showing up in the village izakaya one evening and asking someone to speak to Sakurai, as he wasn’t sure he was welcomed back into the vampire lord’s home. As he sat and waited, all the different scenarios flashed in his mind so loudly that he did not see Sakurai enter the izakaya. “Issay-kun?” The man spoke softly. “M…my lord! You should not have had to come, I asked…” Issay stumbled over his words. Sakurai sat down across from his fledgling, a sad smile on his lips.  Issay’s tears touched Sakurai’s cold vampire heart enough that he said nothing, merely standing up and reaching out for Issay’s hand. “Sakurai-san?” Issay reached up and took the hand of his master. “Let’s go home, Issay-kun.”

 

 

          The next several years could be printed on film and played in a constant loop of repeating events; Issay being jealous over Sakurai’s affection for Kai, and Sakurai’s weariness of Issay’s childish behavior. “What do you want from me Issay?” Sakurai leaned against a wall in the barn, a place that had become somewhat of a refuge for the man after a night of petty arguments.

          “I want you to spend more time with me, Acchan, just me and not Kai! Is that too much to ask of you?” Issay whined. “Yes, it is too much to ask of me. I try to spend equal amounts of time with each of you, it seems that you believe you deserve more of my time than Kai, why is that?” Sakurai looked at Issay, his dark eyes burning. “Kai is just your servant, your cook. I am your equal in all social matters, I am educated and well read…Kai is a peasant.” With the preternatural speed of a vampire, Sakurai had Issay by the throat, pressed against a wall with his feet kicking in the air. “You will not speak of Kai-kun in that manner, ever.” Sakurai growled lowly, “He has been with me longer than you, and he will always remain by my side and in my bed as I desire. Do you understand this Issay?”

          Issay choked out a garbled ‘yes’, crashing to the ground as Sakurai releases him. “If you can not accept Kai’s place in my life, perhaps you should find yourself another master to serve. Perhaps you should return to a larger city, somewhere more suited to your education and intelligence instead of this small backwater village.” Sakurai stated sarcastically.

          Issay crouched down on the dirt floor of the barn, rubbing at his neck. “You think Kai is superior to me? You prefer that peasant over me? Fine. Thank you for showing your true colors, Sakurai Atsushi.” Standing up, Issay brushed the dirt off his yukata and left the barn, leaving Sakurai to rub the bridge of his nose in frustration. “I made a mistake with that one,”

          Issay stomped through the house towards his bedroom, muttering darkly under his breath, “He thinks he can treat me this way? Fuck him, I hope Imai shows up and burns the damned house down, precious Acchan deserves it.” Tearing things out of the small chest, throwing them on the floor, Issay ranted loudly as he destroyed his room. “Issay-kun?” Kai looked into the room, “Wha…” before Kai could finish the word, Issay rushed him and threw him through a door, pouncing on him as he hit the floor. “This is YOUR FAULT! You are not qualified to be in Sakurai’s presence! YOU’RE A WORTHLESS PEASANT!”

          Issay was strong, but Kai being first born was stronger, throwing Issay off and back into the bedroom. “What the hell is wrong with you?” Kai rose from the floor assuming a fighter’s stance. Issay turned on him and rushed Kai again, “YOU’RE WHAT’S WRONG!” The fight between the two vampires raged through the narrow hallway of the house, the fragile paper doors and walls tearing and breaking down with little force.

          Kai had Issay on the floor, trying to choke out the man, though a futile attempt, the two men struggling against each other. Sakurai had heard the fighting from the barn, heaving a great sigh he walked quickly up to the house. Walking in, he could hear Issay screaming at Kai, words that Sakurai could not understand.

          He stood there, watching his children fight, his arms crossed over his chest. “Children, stop fighting. You look ridiculous, two grown men, 200 years old and rolling around on the floor like toddlers.”

          Kai slapped Issay hard then stood up. “You can pack your pathetic ass and leave this house NOW! I will not have you slandering Sakurai Atsushi’s name, EVER!” Kai roared. “Get up!” Kai reached down and grabbed Issay by the front of his yukata, pulling the man to his feet. “Get out.” Issay looked at Sakurai, “You will regret this, Acchan. I will make sure you regret this.” Now it was Sakurai’s turn, his eyes growing black, “Do not dare to threaten me, Issay. That is something I will not forgive, know your place.” Issay sneered at Sakurai, “What would you do? Kill me…I’m your creation Sakurai Atsushi, there is no doubt in my mind that you would never commit that crime, it is not in your soul.”

          Sakurai started to advance on Issay, who stumbled backwards, tripping on his ripped yukata and falling. “I would have no problem killing you Issay, if you angered or crossed me. Keep that in mind, you are not immune to anything.” Sakurai squatted down next to the man, “I created you, I can and will destroy you without hesitation. Remember that.”  Issay glared at him, but said nothing, getting to his feet and going into his room to gather his belongings.

          Kai stood near the wrecked walls, his arms crossed over his chest tightly, he did not speak to Issay, just watched as the man made his way out of the room, then following him to the front of the house. “You’re still going to regret doing this, both of you are.” Issay said as his last parting words.

          They watched Issay walk through the front gate of the estate, Kai sighing in relief, “What has happened to the young man we knew, Acchan? How did he become such a spoiled brat? Was it something we did?” Kai leaned his head against Sakurai’s shoulder, the older man reaching out to pat Kai’s arm. “I’m not sure really. His jealousy towards you is unwarranted, as is his absurd accusations of you being a peasant, but to what caused this to become his end? I don’t have an answer.” The year is 1499.

 

          With the fall out with Issay securely in the past, Sakurai suggested to Kai that they do some traveling through the country, going to Europe was still out of the question for Sakurai, he didn’t need to hear the name Yoshiki and certainly not Imai. “Do you believe that he is in Japan?” Kai wondered aloud. “No, if he were, I would think I could sense his presence,” Sakurai thought often of his first love, his first child, though not always in a pleasant way. If Issay was petulant and spoiled, Imai was a delinquent.

          For the next ten years, the two vampires explored Japan; Avoiding the Samurai district cities, the wars were still raging, opting instead for the merchant districts and the various ports of call. Kai learned the hard way not to feed on sailors, as their blood was tainted with bad diets and too much alcohol, leaving Kai very ill one night.

          “Never again,” he moaned in his bed. He had taken ill early in the evening, Sakurai concerned enough to use the cloud gift and rush them home quickly. Feeding Kai miso soup, and trying to get him to eat a little rice, Sakurai fell into the roll of nursemaid quite easily. These quiet years suited Sakurai and Kai nicely. Kai training new staff every fifteen years or so, taking in the kittens from the barn if their mother fell to a fox or other animal. It was during these quiet times that Kai had heard a rumor while he was at the izakaya one evening. “I want to surprise Sakurai-san, so please keep this information to yourselves.” He asked.  

          “I will be gone tomorrow night, I have heard of a rare herb that was brought to another city that I’d like to try.” Kai announced one night during their dinner. “Oh? Do you need me to go with you?” Sakurai didn’t think it odd that Kai wanted to travel alone. “No, it’s of no great importance, it will not take me more than a few hours, I will be home before daybreak.”

          Rising at his normal time, Sakurai made his way to the kitchen area to warm water for tea. The house was quiet, the staff having left for the day and Kai obviously already gone. “What do you have up your sleeve, Kai-kun? There are no special herbs that you have not heard of in this country.” Sakurai could only guess what his child was doing away from the estate. After Issay’s abrupt departure, Kai had worried about Sakurai, he knew it couldn’t have been easy to threaten a vampire that he created, with death. Issay had left a hole in the vampire lord’s dark heart, one that Kai would go to great lengths to fill, just as he was doing that night.

          At some time around 2am, Sakurai heard Kai enter the house, “Acchan, don’t come into the kitchen please!” the man called out. “Yes, Kai-kun.” Kai was digging around in the kitchen area, with a muttered swear word now and then. “Acchan, please go to your room, I will be there in a moment.” To my room? Now this is different.  Sakurai did as he was told, going into his bedroom and laying out two futons, not knowing what Kai had in mind. “Are you in your room, Acchan?” Kai was almost giggling, piquing Sakurai’s interest even more.

          “Kai-kun, just come to my room boy,”

          “Close your eyes, Acchan.” Kai giggled again, “Really Kai-kun?” Sakurai again, did what he was told. Kai peeked around the corner then stepped quietly into the room, kneeling down he put a bundle in Sakurai’s lap. “Acchan, open your eyes.”  Sakurai Atsushi gasped, “Kai-kun!” The bundle in his lap contained two very small kittens, with very blue eyes, that were gazing up at him, tiny cries coming from both. “Where…?” looking up at Kai, who had tears in his eyes.

          “There was a rumor at the izakaya that a sailor had come home with kittens that had blue eyes. I had to go see for myself. I got there and the man was going to just turn them loose in the fields, but I persuaded him to let me take the two babes. Are they not beautiful, my lord?” Picking one of the kittens up and looking at it, Sakurai was stunned, “Blue eyes? I have never seen such a thing in my life, they’re beautiful,” he put the kitten back in his lap, “But why? We have many cats here on the estate, why go to such trouble?”

          Kai scooted closer to his master, “Because I love you Acchan, there is no other reason. I want to make you as happy as you have made me, I want to see you smile again.” Moving the kittens out of his lap, Sakurai reached over and grabbed Kai, pulling him into a tight embrace, “Kai-kun, thank you. I love you as well, not only as my creation and my child, but as my friend. Thank you.”  There was some serious kissing that ensued, at least until the kittens reminded the pair that they were in the room, and that they were hungry. “I think this will have to continue later, our little babes need something to eat. What shall we name them?” The year is 1536.

Chapter Text

          They moved through the village silently as they walked the main street to the izakaya, both men greeting those who they passed along the way. The village elders had sent a message to the estate, requesting that either Sakurai or Kai come to the izakaya to speak with them on an urgent matter. “I haven’t heard of anything that’s been out of place recently. It couldn’t be Issay…could it?” Kai sighed at the thought of the bratty vampire returning and wanting to come home.

          “He is not in the vicinity, so it must be something else.” Sakurai couldn’t feel the presence of his rebellious child, not that he would let the man back into his life at this point. “Let us just go and see what it is that is so urgent.” Sakurai opted for Kai to accompany him into the village so that they could get away from the mundane nightly life at the estate.

          “Konbanwa, Sakurai-sama, Kai-san. Would you please join us for a cup or more of sake?” The head of the village bowed low to the two vampires, leading them to a table in a corner and pouring both a cup of wine. After exchanging a few pleasantries, the head elder spoke of their dilemma.

          “One of the farmers found him sleeping in his fields three days ago, a boy of about sixteen or perhaps seventeen. The reason I say boy, is that he has a child like appearance, he’s thin and very delicate. The farmer brought him here that night, unable to get the boy to speak. He had cleaned him up and given him new clothes and fed him, but the boy just sits and stares blankly, with almost no expression on his face. Other than being thin, the boy is in good health.”

          Pouring another round of sake, the elder continued, “The farmer’s wife tried to get the boy to speak without much success, until she started to talk about his family. My lord, the boy started to cry…sobbing his heart out from what I’ve been told. This alarmed the good woman a great deal, she even went as far as to hold the boy and rock him until he stopped crying. She asked him questions, which she only got a nod or a shake, but from only that much, we believe his family has been killed in the wars and that he is the only survivor.”  The moment the elder spoke those words, Kai and Sakurai looked at each other; it was Issay all over again.

          Sakurai sighed, “What do you want of me, old man?” Kai reached over and patted Sakurai on the thigh. “Can I see him please?” he asked. With a word spoken to one of the other elders, the man got up and left the izakaya. “The boy understands basic commands, we don’t believe him to be illiterate, just in a state of constant shock. Can you find it in your heart to employ the boy? He can do menial labor, he would work well with taking care of your livestock.” With the memories of so long ago, when Sakurai took in another man that had seen murder and bloodshed, and what had happened as a result…Sakurai was not eager to agree to take this boy in.

          The conversation while they waited on the boy was general gossip related; who had a new baby in the home, someone’s chickens were killed by a fox and of course as with all pastural people, what the weather had in store for them for the remainder of the year. Sakurai’s attention was taken with one of the elders when he heard Kai gasp. “My lord…” he murmured.

          Sakurai turned to look at the boy, he too gasped, the elder noticing the reaction immediately. “Boy come here.” The elder waved the young man to the table. As he approached, he looked directly at Sakurai then looked away as if he was scared. “The boy’s name is Uta, he can write and read but that’s all we know, isn’t that right Uta-kun?” The boy nodded, his long black hair falling into his eyes. There was an unhealthy paleness to Uta’s skin, his eyes sunken, dark and haunting, the boy’s lips were rough and chapped. It was obvious that Uta’s memories held something disturbing, Sakurai could see it in his posture and in the way Uta looked around the room, almost in a panic as if searching for a hiding place just in case…

          The fact that Sakurai was speechless amused Kai a great deal, “Uta-kun come here please.” Kai held out his hand. “Uta-kun, would you like to go with me to Sakurai-san’s estate? You would work with me in the kitchen and maybe a little bit with the livestock, would you like to live with us?” Kai spoke softly. Uta peered up through his hair and briefly looked at Sakurai then back at Kai, he nodded and gave them the tiniest of smiles.

          Kai turned to his master, “I’d like for Uta to come with us, my lord, I will train him to work in the kitchen. Our current day cook is getting on in years and could use the extra help.” Kai had other intentions for Uta as well, but that would take time and planning. Sakurai sighed, he could rarely deny Kai anything, “If you wish, Kai-kun,” he looked at Uta, “Uta-kun, if you would like to come and live with us and work at the estate, I would be happy to have you. Not only will you live there, but you are paid for your work. Would you like that, boy?” Uta blushed and nodded his head.

          Since Uta had been found in a field, he had no possessions, and left the izakaya with Sakurai and Kai, walking close to the cook. “Uta-kun, you can read and write?” Uta nodded, “That will help a great deal when we’re cooking. Do you like animals?” a broad grin was answer enough. Kai kept up the one-sided conversation as they walked back to the estate, Sakurai trying to ignore the feelings that were already welling up in his chest.

          Walking through the main gate to the estate, Uta stopped and stared, his mouth making a small O, “Uta-kun?” Kai put his hand on the young man’s back, Uta looking back at Kai and nodded. “I will leave you to show Uta-kun the estate Kai,” Sakurai turned to walk into the house when his arm was grabbed, stopping him. Uta nodded at Sakurai then bowed deeply in thanks. “You’re welcome Uta,” Sakurai stroked the boy’s hair, “You go with Kai-san, I will see you again soon.”

         

          The first month that Uta was at the estate, he was taught by Kai the basic routine of the household, without really explaining why he and Sakurai slept during the day. Having the old cook stay late, Kai introduced her to Uta, “He doesn’t speak right now, but he can read and write, so there should be no problems.” Both Kai and Sakurai were sure that the old cook and some of the other household staff would tell Uta about his new masters, with the hopes of the boy not being afraid of working for them.

          The old cook reported to Kai one evening that Uta was fully trained and ready to take over when she was ready to retire, “He’s quite the lad really, very polite and kind. I believe he will be able to speak soon, he would grow so frustrated sometimes.” Kai thanked the old woman, “I’m sure he will speak as well, he just needs time.”

          Now that Uta was fully trained, the old cook had started to come in later and leave earlier, as a way of passing the kitchen to him. Kai noticed that Uta was staying up later than what would be normal, sometimes staying until late evening, always watching Kai and Sakurai secretively if he was in the house, or wandering outside to the barn. Uta loved the goats that lived in the barn, he could often be found playing with the various baby goats that were born each year.

          Sakurai’s two Siamese cats made it known that they were both madly in love with Uta, often leaving Sakurai’s room and slipping into his room to sleep rather than with Sakurai. “Ming loves you more than Acchan, Uta-kun.” Kai told him one evening. “Zuki not as much, but probably close.” Uta would silently giggle, nuzzling whatever cat he had in his lap, whispering kisses in the cat’s ear. “Uta-kun,” Kai was going to push a little, “Did you have your own cats at your home?” Uta shut his eyes and nodded, holding up three fingers. “I bet you miss them, it’s nice to have Ming and Zuki here isn’t it?” Uta’s eyes were still closed, he nodded.

          Through the first few months, Kai gently probed into Uta’s past, just for the most basic of information. He was almost eighteen years old, he had two younger sisters, his mother and father and grandmother lived with him at their house in a small village about fifty kilometers from the estate. Kai didn’t push any further than that, worried that asking may bring back the terrifying memories of the death of his family.

         

          “Why won’t you even look at him Acchan? I wouldn’t be surprised if he believes you don’t like him.” Kai and Sakurai were playing cards late one night, Kai teasing his friend about his aversion to Uta. “Kai-kun, you know exactly why I don’t approach the boy. Stop being an old miai.” Sakurai had the decency to blush slightly. “Is it that bad, my lord?” Kai asked softly. “Yes…it is that bad Kai-kun. There are memories both good and bad when I think about Uta, those I brought into the blood who are no longer with me. I promised myself it would not happen again, ever.”

          Kai rose to get another bottle of sake, leaving Sakurai to set up for the next game. “Here, drink this.” Kai poured him another cup. Before Kai could sit down, someone started to scream as if they were being stabbed, “What the hell? UTA!” Kai dropped the bottle of sake and sprinted down the long hallway towards Uta’s room, roughly sliding the door open. Uta was twisting his body in odd angles trying to kick the comforter off his futon, his eyes squeezed shut as he screamed different names. “UTA!” Kai ran to the young man, throwing himself over his body, trying to keep him from thrashing around. “Kai!” Sakurai came into the room, rushing to Uta’s side and grabbing him by the face, “UTA, look at me!!” It took a good five minutes before the young man stopped thrashing around, his screams turning into gut wrenching sobs of loss.

          “I’m going to get some of my tea, stay here.” Kai quickly got up and trotted down the hall. “Uta…look at me boy… come now, I am here for you, yes love…that’s it, just look at me.” Uta reached up for Sakurai’s face, “My…my lord…” he whispered. “Yes, my love, Kai-kun will be back in a moment, he’s got some wonderful herbal tea that will help you sleep, that’s it…just keep your eyes on me,” Sakurai crooned, as he brushed the hair away from Uta’s sweaty brow. Uta whimpered, leaning hard into the vampire, “Sakurai-san, I’m sorry to be such trouble, thank you for everything.” The words just rushed out, they had been held back for so long that Uta felt the need to say everything at once.

          Carefully carrying a cup of tea, Kai slowly kneeled down next to Uta. “Drink this, it will help you sleep and will keep the terrors away.” Uta nodded and took the cup, sipping it carefully. Sakurai still had Uta in his arms, “Uta love, do you want to tell us about it? Sometimes speaking of an incident, keeps the night terrors away.” Kai almost giggled at what his lord was now calling Uta, smiling to himself.

          Uta swallowed hard, then told the story of his family and how they were killed and he survived. The story brought Sakurai to tears and left Kai sobbing in grief, the story was possibly worse than Issay’s. “I hid in the fields, I knew my family was already dead so I ran as long and as far as I could, and I passed out where I fell.”  Uta drank his tea, this eyes slowly starting to droop. “Kai, go get two more futons, bring them in here, I think we need to stay with Uta-kun tonight.” Sakurai asked.

          Putting the futons next to each other on the floor, Kai and Sakurai put Uta in the middle, the young man still clinging to Sakurai as Kai snuggled up behind him, throwing his arm around Uta’s slender waist. “I’m sorry, Uta-kun, that you had to go through that.” Kai murmured against the boy’s neck, a shiver going through Uta’s body. “You’re safe with Acchan and I, we won’t let anyone hurt you ever again, you’ll be with us forever.” Kai peered over Uta’s shoulder at Sakurai’s face as he spoke, seeing his master’s body heave with a deep sigh. Uta mumbled something that neither man could hear, then a soft snore came from the boy. Sakurai looked at Kai, “I know what you’re thinking, and yes I do.”

 

          He could sense that something was different this time, the man wasn’t acting the same as he had with Issay. Kai knew that the feelings his master had for Uta, were deep and true, and for his part Kai couldn’t be happier for the man. On the other hand, Sakurai was conflicted; he wanted Uta more than he had wanted even Kai, but it was that same person that he was worried about hurting the most.

          Uta woke up alone, the morning after his nightmarish return to being able to speak again, Kai and Sakurai having went to their own rooms for the day. He remembered being held as he slept by both men, who held a softly whispered conversation over him. Uta had heard terms that he did not understand, ‘into the blood’ being the most repeated. There was some anger and hostility between the two men, Kai telling Sakurai that he understood and accepted the fact…the fact of what? The sleep tea that Kai had given him, kept him from waking up enough to ask the two men what ‘into the blood’ meant, if it was something that would tie them together, Uta wanted it to be so, he wanted to stay with the two men forever.

          After they were sure Uta was fast asleep, Kai and Sakurai went back into the living area. With a bottle of sake and some deep discussion, Kai finally got his master to verbally admit, that he was taken with Uta. “Damn it, Kai… yes! There are you happy? I’ve kept my distance from Uta for a good reason, so stop pestering me about it.” Kai laughed, “Acchan, just say it. You. Want. Uta. How difficult is that to admit?” The older man groaned, “Because I don’t want to hurt you, Kai-kun.”

          Kai’s brow furrowed, “Hurt me? How would it hurt me for you to bring Uta into the blood?” Sakurai crawled to Kai’s side, pulling the man into his lap, “Because I don’t want to lose you, ever. I love you as a child, you are my creation. I love you as a lover would, I love you as my best friend. I will not trade the love I have for you, for anything in this world.” Kissing Kai, he knew that there would be no other, even if he had to sacrifice himself for Kai’s sake.

          Trailing his fingers through Sakurai’s long hair, Kai’s heart felt like it would burst. With the release of the kiss, Kai caressed his lover’s cheek. “Acchan, that will never happen. I will always remain by your side. You are also my father, my lover and my best friend. I will always be faithful to only you. If you love Uta, and you would take him as a blood spouse, I would be thrilled to see you that happy. I will follow you where ever you go, as long as you want me.” Sakurai choked a sob back, then wrapping his arms around Kai, pulled him into a crushing embrace, “I love you, Kai-kun.”

 

 

          Without any hesitation at all when he left Sakurai’s, Issay went directly to Kyoto, a large city with plenty of opportunities for a scribe, even if he was a vampire. The journey to Kyoto had been rough, with Issay having to rely on feeding from animals and the occasional vagrant in various small villages. He slept in abandoned houses and barns, having to resort frequently to digging himself a hole, pulling debris and groundcover over him to escape the sun. Once he had Kyoto in sight, Issay breathed a small sigh of relief; here is where he would start his new life.

          Waiting until darkness had fallen before venturing into the city, Issay watched the main road as people rushed inside the city walls, not wanting to be left out in the countryside when night fell, slipping in behind an ox cart, Issay entered Kyoto. Smelling the warm blood of the people around him, Issay’s first task was to feed, even before looking for a place to hide, or some sort of employment.

          Walking towards a seedier district on the very outskirts of the main portion of the city, Issay walked slowly, scanning the street in front of him for anyone, someone that wouldn’t fight back, and that he could drain the life from. Passing an alley on his right, he heard the unmistakable sounds of a prostitute servicing a customer. He entered the alley quietly, hiding behind a bend in the wall, watching as the prostitute finished her job on her knees.  She stood and Issay heard the clink of coins being exchanged, the woman mumbled something and the man slapped her across the face hard, almost knocking her down. That alone was enough for Issay to choose his victim. He approached the man, “You dare hit a woman?” he snapped at the man.

          The prostitute stared at Issay as if he was mad, then backed away from him and stumbled down the alley. The man was laughing, “She’s a fucking whore, what the hell do you mean woman, she didn’t do a good enough job on my cock, so I paid her what she was worth which wasn’t much. Why do you care?” The man was bigger than Issay, but he was drunk, the stale smell of some sort of alcohol fuming from his mouth.

          “How about I finish what she started?” Issay stepped closer, “I’m sure I could do much better for much less,” he purred. The man laughed and opened his yukata, “Here yah go boy, give it your best shot.” Before the man could take another breath, Issay was on him, his arm wrapped around the man’s neck as his teeth slashed the throat, the man’s arms flailing in front of him.

          It took but a minute for Issay to drain the man’s body of blood. The taste was a little rank, obviously the man had a poor diet and drank too much, but it was warm and it was fresh. He dropped the body, kicking it into a wall, then wiped his mouth and started to leave the alley.

          “Is he dead?” a female’s voice sounded behind him, “Are you sure he’s dead?” Issay whipped around, looking at a small woman, dressed in a man’s yukata. “Why do you care if he’s dead or not?” Issay snarled, “It’s none of your business, go away little woman.” Without even seeing her move, the woman was standing in front of him in a blink, “Because if you start leaving dead bodies laying around, my master is going to be upset, and believe me, you don’t want to see him angry.”

          She was tiny, maybe five feet tall, and had unnatural colored hair, a deep burgundy. Her features were angular and sharp, she could almost pass as a boy. “Who the fuck is your master?” He snapped. The woman’s dark stare unnerved Issay, “Come with me, he wants to see you,” she told him… not asked. “If you refuse, you will not live through the night, so you don’t have many options right now.” The petite woman turned away from Issay and started back down the alley, not looking back to see if he was following. His mind screamed at him to run, his gut told him that this would be his salvation. He hesitated one step and sighed, and followed the woman down the alley into his unknown future.

Chapter Text

 

          Issay followed the small woman through the dark streets of Kyoto, each twist and turn brought them deeper into the lawlessness in the underbelly of the city. The woman looked around before she stepped into what appeared to be a geisha house, nodding at Issay to follow her, as she wove her way through the hallways and past the small rooms that the geisha’s used to entertain the customers. The woman stopped in front of a door, turning to look at Issay. “Wait here, do not move…you’re being watched.”  Issay peered around him, looking for an exit if any trouble were to arise, but the only obvious exit was through the door in front of him, if it were even an exit at all. He leaned against the wall and waited for the woman to return, wondering who this vampire lord was, “Does Acchan know of him?” he whispered.

          Issay heard footsteps and as he backed away, the woman opened the door, “Follow me, do not speak unless you are asked to.”  As they went down two sets of stairs, it was obvious that the geisha house had more than one level, albeit underground. The smell of moist soil, smoke and a slight scent of blood, hit Issay’s senses quite rapidly as they moved through another hallway with solid doors on each side.

          Taking a sharp left turn towards a set of double doors, the woman stopped Issay. “No questions, just answers…is that clear?” she said seriously. “Yes,” he replied. The woman knocked on the door twice, and one side swung open and she led Issay into a large room. “Master, this is the one.” The woman bowed low and left the room. Sitting behind a desk, a middle-aged man dressed in an expensive hakama, a pile of papers to one side of the desk and to the other, a tea set. The man was leaning forward, his chin resting on his hands, he stared at Issay for a few moments then leaned back in his chair.

          “Name?”

          “Issay.”

          “Who is your maker?”

          “Sakurai Atsushi.”

          “Why are you in Kyoto?”

          Issay hesitated, “I’m seeking a new master who can appreciate my talents as a scribe. I am educated and well read, I have experience managing households. I want to live in Kyoto and work.”

          The man said nothing for a while, just staring at Issay. “Why did you kill that man in the alley?”  This was not the question Issay thought he would be asked, “I needed to feed and he was abusing a woman, so I chose him.” Issay stated as if it were something that was done on a regular basis.

          Issay’s answer intrigued the man behind the desk, “She was a prostitute, why defend her of all people?”

          Issay shrugged, “Are they any less a person? I would have defended her regardless of my situation, it just seemed a good time to feed, and it was an easy choice.”

          “What year were you brought into the blood?”

          He didn’t know why he answered the way he did, “1301, my lord.” Issay was rewarded with the raise of an eyebrow. “Sit, Issay.” The man pointed to a chair near the desk. “Yes, my lord.” Issay bowed lightly then sat down.

          “Issay, my name is Reo, and you have walked into my territory uninvited, so I’m sure you understand why I had you brought here.” The older vampire was taking stock of Issay, “My lord, if I may speak?” Issay bowed his head again.

          “The woman that approached me in the alley, is only the third vampire I’ve ever seen, you are the fourth. I have only known two of our kind for over two hundred years, so may I offer my apologies for my disrespect, though it was not intentional.”

          There was a long stretch of silence before Reo spoke again. “You do not have to answer this, but why did you leave your maker?”

          Issay mulled over the question, he knew that Reo expected an answer. “My lord, he was more inclined to deal with peasants than with someone of my education and status. I will leave it at that.”

          Reo knew that it was jealousy that drove Issay away from his maker, nothing more or less. The vampire had an elevated opinion of himself, which may be acceptable if there was evidence that it was indeed true. “What do you propose to do for me, Issay? What benefits would I gain by accepting you into my clan and under my protection?”

          Issay knew he had to be careful how he spoke next, “My lord, I am educated, I can read, write and good with numbers. I have kept the books for my both my human master and my maker. I am sure you have many different business enterprises and I would be able to assist you in keeping your books in order.”

          “What guarantees do I have that you will not return to your maker?”

          In a level tone, Issay answered, “None my lord Reo, only my word that I have no desire to ever be in the same room with Sakurai Atsushi ever again.” Reo chuckled at Issay’s bravado. Issay heard the door open behind him, but did not turn around, the light footsteps of the woman, and two sets of heavier steps belonging to men.

          “These are my chiefs; Jyou is in charge of the geisha’s, she works directly with Miko the mama-san.” Jyou bowed to both Reo and Issay.

          The next man stepped forward, bowing to Reo, “This is Asanao, he’s my clan chief. He will be obeyed without hesitation in my stead, is this clear?” Issay stood and bowed deeply to Asanao, “Asanao-sama, I am at your call.”

          “Arimatsu is in charge of the streets, he misses nothing.” Again, Issay stood and bowed.  “Questions, Issay?” He had several but kept his tongue for the moment. “Perhaps the laws of which you govern, and a suggestion for housing is all I require.”

          Asanao cleared his throat, “The rules are simple; You can kill rivals, feed on them or not but be wary, some of them are into dangerous herbs. Leave the geisha’s alone, both male and female, if you seek comfort of that nature, go to Jyou. Lastly and most important, you are not allowed to bring anyone into the blood, that is Reo-Sama’s ultimate law, the consequence of breaking it, is death.”  Without a spoken word, the three chiefs were gone.  “I am willing to give you a chance, Issay. If you do your job well, you will be rewarded,” Reo paused, “you will live here, I keep my people close at hand. Jyou will show you to your room. Stay there for now, and tomorrow I will have Arimatsu explain my business in depth. You may go.”  Issay rose from his seat and bowed deeply, “Thank you my lord Reo.”

          As soon as Issay had left the room, Asanao was at his lord’s side, “My lord, is this wise? We know nothing of him or his maker, do you sense something in him that makes him trustworthy?” Reo nodded, “Issay is searching for something that he could not get out of his maker; validation, and if I offer that, he will remain loyal to us. I am not telling you to give him free reign, keep your eye on him for the time being, he will either succeed or fail immediately.”

          “This is your room, please remember where it is located, if you have problems you can put one of these on the door.” Jyou handed Issay a dark blue omamori. “Thank you.” Sliding the door open, he found a generous sized room, a luxuriously soft futon and comforter, a small table and a small alcove and a wardrobe for personal items. The fact that it was underground negated the need for curtains to black out the daylight. “You may take your meals here in your room, or in the common room on the next floor, it is your choice.” Issay bowed, “Thank you, Jyou-san.”

          “Arimatsu will come for you tomorrow night, please feel free to visit the common area but do not venture outside until your situation is settled.” Jyou bowed and left Issay standing alone in his room. Sliding the door closed, Issay noticed that the small bag he had left in the alley was now in his room. Kneeling down on the tatami, he pulled out his things and put them away. In no mood to venture to the common area, he suddenly felt very tired. The futon was already laid out and it beckoned to him, “This is much better than hiding in a barn buried under dung.” Removing his clothes, Issay slid into the futon, pulled the comforter up and was asleep in less than a breath.

 

 

          Sakurai watched Uta in the kitchen with Kai, the quiet gracefulness of the young man was not one of serenity but of grief. Kai was showing Uta the different herbs he used in the rice for added flavor, “This will make it sweeter, but you want to balance the flavor so it’s not too sweet.” Uta was soaking up the information, surprising both Kai and Sakurai with his natural ability towards cooking. “My obaa-chan used to let me help with the meals sometimes,” Uta told Kai one evening as they were just finishing their meal.

          Uta was not free with his memories of his family, their murders too fresh in his mind. There had been several late nights that Kai and Sakurai could hear the boy crying in his room, tearing both at their hearts. “Acchan, do something…please.” Kai would beg. Sakurai would go to Uta’s room and slide the door open just an inch or so, peering in to see if the boy was having night terrors or was awake. Several times he had found Uta sitting up, hugging his knees with his face buried in his arms, “Uta come with me, let us get Kai to make you some of his tea, ne?” Every fiber of Sakurai’s being wanted to scoop the boy into his arms and kiss the desperate memories and dreams away. But he always restrained himself, he still could not commit to taking Uta as his blood spouse, when there was still conflict in his heart.

          Kai’s part in all of this was one of resigned frustration. “Acchan,” Kai would growl at the man as he watched Uta cross the garden, “you must seduce the boy as you did me! Standing around and looking pathetic does none of us any good.” Sakurai would always have one excuse or another, “He’s not old enough. He’s too fresh. He’s a virgin.” It was always something for the man. “Would you rather I seduce him so he does not come to you as a virgin?” Kai teased. Sakurai would turn and snarl at the man, “You will not touch him, Kai!”

          Uta was not oblivious to Sakurai’s attention, or lack of. “Kai-san, did I do something to upset Sakurai-sama?” he asked one evening as they were in the barn collecting eggs. Kai’s instant reaction was to say no, “Sakurai-san can be a bit, how should I say, petulant at times. He comes across as this horribly strict lord of a great estate, yet you can catch him playing with his cats, or sitting at the pond feeding the koi. He is not upset with you Uta, quite the opposite, he’s very fond of you.” Kai knew he was treading into dangerous territory, but he was tired of seeing Sakurai unhappy and conflicted.

          “Fond of me?”

          “Yes, he’s very taken with you Uta. You’re a beautiful boy, anyone would be blind if they did not see that, and above all, Sakurai is not blind.” Just stupid. “Yet he is careful, you’re very young Uta and what life you have experienced so far, has been anything but normal.” Kai walked to where Uta was standing, reaching up he caressed the young man’s face, “You’re an attractive young man, Uta…both Sakurai and I would love to take you, but it is not my place to do so.” Without any further explanation, Kai turned and walked out of the barn, leaving a slightly confused young man standing with a basket of eggs in his hand and questions in his mind.

 

          Out of necessity, Sakurai and Kai had taken to using the cloud gift for travel when they needed to feed. The little drink was enough for both, but they could not always feed in the village, it would become suspicious if every few nights there were people apparently passed out in an alley. Using the cloud gift, they could travel farther distances and expand their hunting grounds. Traveling caravans were always ideal, merchants that were passing through with their wagons laden with various goods, always stopped on the road for the night. It was easy enough to slip in while the travelers were sleeping, taking the little drink without waking them.

          It was one of those evenings that Kai and Sakurai had been away from the estate that they had noticed the house oddly quiet upon their return. Kai checked the kitchen where he would normally find Uta preparing a light meal for the two men, but found no one. “Uta?” Kai walked through the house calling for the boy and getting no response. “Acchan, Uta’s missing.” Kai peered into the man’s bedroom.

          “Missing? What do you mean missing?” Sakurai’s heart jerked. “He’s not in the house, where else could he be? Have you checked the barn?” Kai grinned, “We do have a newborn set of twin baby goats, I’ll be right back.” Uta had a deep love for all the farm animals, and especially for the goats, with their clown like antics.

          “Uta, how are the…” sliding open the door to the barn, Kai can see that Uta is not sitting with the new mother and her kids, “Where…” a shiver ran up Kai’s spine, as he turned to walk the property. “Uta?” Kai called out. Moving quickly through the front of the property, Kai called out for the missing young man. “Kai?” Sakurai was on the steps to the house. “He wasn’t in the barn, I don’t know where he is…can you go to the pond and I’ll check the garden?”

          As they wandered through the property, calling out Uta’s name, the fear in their hearts grew. “Where the hell…” Kai stopped suddenly, “ACCHAN! THE GARDEN!” Kai screamed for his master, dropping to his knees in front of Uta’s prone body lying face down near a row of vegetables. “Uta, what’s wrong…Uta, look at me.” Sakurai was kneeling next to Kai in a matter of seconds. “What’s wrong, is he hurt?” Gently turning the young man over, Kai gasps, under Uta’s body and clutched in his hand were mushrooms…”No, please…” Kai whined. There was a distinct foam around the corners of Uta’s mouth, “These are poisonous, Acchan…he’s eaten poisonous mushrooms! I showed him which one’s were safe!”

          Sakurai scooped Uta up in his arms, moving with the hyper speed of a vampire, he took Uta to his bedroom. “Quickly, Kai give him something…you have something that will reverse this, hurry!” Sakurai carefully placed Uta on his futon, then looked over his shoulder, “Kai NOW!” he yelled. The other vampire slowly shook his head, “Acchan, there’s nothing I can give him.”

          “Kai…do something! There has to be some herb that we have that will cure him… please Kai-kun he’s dying!” Kai’s eyes were filling with tears, “Acchan, there is nothing…” They watched as Uta’s breath slowed, “Saku…” Uta’s eyes fluttered, “Sorry…hurt you,” he whispered, “love…”

          Sakurai looked at Kai, “I don’t know what will happen,” turning Uta’s head, Sakurai leaned down and sunk his teeth into the boy’s slender neck, “Acchan!” Kai reached out, Sakurai slapping his hand away. Kai watched in horror as Sakurai drained Uta’s body of blood, almost to the very limit of death. Releasing the boy’s neck, the vampire lord quickly cut his own wrist and placed it over Uta’s mouth, “Drink boy…this will save you, please Uta my love, drink!” he begged. They watched as Uta struggled to open his eyes, to reach out and grab Sakurai’s wrist, “That’s it Uta, drink boy…yes…” Uta’s eyes opened further, they were clouded in fear but he continued to feed from Sakurai’s wrist. “That’s enough Uta-kun,” Sakurai pulled his wrist away, licking it once to seal the wound.

          “My lord?” Uta was shaking in fear, “Uta listen to me carefully,” Sakurai picked the young man up and pulled him into his lap, “You’re going to experience some pain, but do not be afraid, it is temporary, Kai and I will stay with you, do you understand?” Uta nodded, “Yes, my lord…I’m sorry Kai-san, I didn’t mean to eat the wrong mushrooms, I was confused in the dark.” Kai reached out and caressed Uta’s cheek, “We found you in time, Uta…this is a better way.” Sakurai tenderly held Uta in his arms, knowing the boy would be suffering in a matter of minutes, and when the first stab of pain hit Uta, the arms around him tightened. “Why…it hurts, I’m scared…what’s…” Uta’s body started to writhe in pain, his eyes grew wild as he clutched Sakurai’s arm tightly. With soothing sounds and soft words, Kai petted Uta’s head, trying to calm the young man as his body died. “How do you feel Acchan? That was a stupid and dangerous thing you did.” Kai was angry with his maker, “I had no choice Kai.”  

          “I will not let this matter drop, as soon as Uta has changed, you will feed on me, my lord, do not attempt to get out of it, you need fresh pure blood.” Kai snapped. “We will use it as a teaching tool,” Kai was more than just angry at his maker, the reckless act of bringing Uta into the blood when the boy’s body was full of toxins, could have killed the vampire lord. How this would affect him was unknown, and as Kai remembered becoming sick in Paris, from feeding on someone with too much alcohol and bad food in their system, he could only guess what feeding on Uta would result in.

          Uta’s body had died, the boy had yet to open his eyes but spoke instead, “My lords, what am I?” Kai looked to Sakurai, “You are now an immortal, Uta-kun.” Kai whispered, “You will stay with us forever, isn’t that what you wanted?”

          Uta still had his eyes closed, “Yes,”

          Sakurai still held the boy tenderly in his arms, “Uta, look at me please,” Uta’s body stiffened, “I’m scared my lord,” he whimpered. “Uta, open your eyes,” Uta’s body relaxed a bit, then he slowly opened his vampire eyes for the first time, seeing only Sakurai gazing at him. “Acchan…” he whispered, “Mmm, that’s right, it is no longer my lord or Sakurai-sama. As of this night, you will be my blood spouse, you are linked to me by more than just a maker is to his creation, you are my body, heart and soul. There will never be another in my bed, or my heart.” He slowly bent down as he gathered Uta in his arms and kissed the young man sweetly, the boy moaning against his lips.  

          Without noticing Kai had left the room, leaving his maker with his newest creation. A small break in his heart was felt, but he knew without any doubt, that he was never meant to be Sakurai’s spouse, so he was genuinely happy for the man. Walking to the kitchen, Kai heated water for the tea to give to Uta.

          “…and you didn’t give me the time to seduce you, I had planned on…” Kai slid the door open. “You can talk later, this we need to do now.” Kai said crisply. “Uta, you need to drink this, then you’re going to watch and we will teach you how to feed.” Sakurai raised an eyebrow, “Don’t think you can get out of this Acchan, we don’t have any knowledge of what could be going on in your body,” Uta moved to sit next to his maker, holding the cup of hot tea in his hands, “Is something wrong with Acchan?” Kai had smiled at the ease of which Uta slipped into using the loving nickname he had given Sakurai so many centuries ago.

          “Because you were poisoned before you were brought into the blood, we are uncertain of the possibilities of Acchan becoming ill due to the poison in your bloodstream.”

          “Fine, let us proceed,” Sakurai grumped, “Uta, I want you to watch carefully, this is your first lesson.” Uta nodded, not trusting himself quiet yet to ask any questions.

          Kai scooted over next to Sakurai, who took him in his arms. He licked Kai’s neck, nuzzling his ear, then bared his fangs and sunk them into Kai’s neck, causing him to moan. After a few moments, Sakurai released Kai, licking the wounds to close them, Kai feeling a little wane and feverish.

          Sakurai carefully laid Kai down on the futon, “I’ll get you some tea.” Uta crawled on his hands and knees to sit next to Kai. “Kai-kun,” reaching out Uta stroked Kai’s hair, “I’m fine Uta-kun, we did this just to make sure that Acchan had fresh clean blood, just as a precaution. Now I will stay here and Acchan will take you out and teach you to hunt.” Kai paused for a moment, “Uta…Acchan has loved you since the moment he saw you in the izakaya that night, he has desired you from that moment until tonight, he did this to save your life. You are his spouse, his only love in this world. He still loves me as his child and as his best friend, but I will not come to his bed anymore, it is not my place, I want you to know this. There is no other in the world, but you for our Acchan.”

Chapter Text

 

          Much like Issay before him, Uta had little in the way of struggles coming into the blood, as he learned to feed easily and loving Sakurai had come naturally. Uta had some guilt in the beginning, as he learned that Kai had been Sakurai’s lover in addition to being his best friend and long-time companion, “Kai-kun, do you still love Acchan? I feel as I am replacing you in his heart.” Kai was touched by Uta’s concern but tried to dispel his worry, “As long as he allows me to be by his side as a friend and companion, I’m happy as I am, please don’t worry over it.” Uta often worried about the other vampire, expressing his feelings to Sakurai, “He’s lonely Acchan, he needs a lover just as you needed me, can we please find someone for him?”

          Uta’s concern for Kai touched Sakurai’s heart, “Uta, we can not just randomly find a lover for Kai-kun, if he wants to find one himself, then he will. Please my love, do not worry yourself so much.” Sakurai had come to love Uta deeply in the first few months after he was brought into the blood, the boy made him happier than he could ever imagine. The ill affects of the poison mushrooms did not seem to have any lasting effect on Uta or himself, Kai’s pure blood could have been the reason but it wasn’t an obvious cure.

          In the first months of Uta’s new life as a vampire, he often teased his lover, “You said you were going to seduce me, what took you so long that it had to happen after you brought me into the blood?”

          Kai laughed, “He was scared, Uta-kun. He gave me every excuse he could think of you were too young, you were a virgin. It was rather amusing to watch him suffer from afar.” Sakurai scowled at Kai, “I was being very cautious and you know the reasons why, Kai-kun,” This sobered up the conversation quickly, Kai smiling sadly and bowing to his master, with Uta feeling that there was something left unsaid. It took three years before Sakurai felt comfortable enough to speak of the two that came before Uta.

          The conversation that night began with Kai telling Uta about their travels to Europe, and his discovery of new herbs and spices that he had brought back with him. Uta was lying in Sakurai’s arms when he felt the man’s body tense slightly. Looking up at his lover with a questioning gaze, Sakurai leaned down and kissed the boy before he started to speak.

          “Kai, I believe it’s time.” He announced, Kai nodding. “What is, Acchan?” Uta sat up and turned to look at the older man. “Sake first then I’ll tell the stories.” Kai had gotten up and fetched a fresh bottle of sake, sitting down and pouring three cups. Sakurai started to tell his story of being brought into the blood by Ryuichi and the subsequent abandonment by his maker, “He just left you alone?” Uta couldn’t fathom learning to be a vampire with no instructions. “Yes, it was not even a full night before he left me. I was alone for several years after that.” His story continued with the selfish act of bringing Imai into the blood solely as a companion, “You were lonely, that’s understandable Acchan.” Uta kissed his maker.

          “Imai started to vex me in many ways; his fondness for killing his victims rather than taking the little drink, his wanting to traipse across the countryside to feed on whores and towns people. It came to a head one evening and the argument that ensued was the end of our relationship, Imai left and I have not heard from him in over four hundred years now.”

          The story of Sakurai and Kai created a warm feeling in Uta for some reason, perhaps it was as a love story for a married couple telling their child how they met. Sakurai looked over at Kai, “I will always love you, Kai.” Knowing how his lover felt about the other vampire, Uta could sense a feeling of guilt and maybe loss. “Then there was Issay.” Sakurai said in a huff.

          “Issay?” Uta asked. “He was my third child and just as much of a disappointment as my first, another mistake made out of the need for companionship.” Sakurai told Issay’s story which was much like Uta’s. “His night terrors were as horrific as yours, though the people were not his direct family, but his employers. The murder of the family however, was brutal.” Sakurai’s mood darkened while he spoke about Issay.

          “Why did you bring him into the blood?”

          “Stupidity, selfishness, insanity perhaps. It was a mistake to be certain. He became as bad as a jealous fishwife, revolting jealousy anytime I spent with Kai-kun. He would say terrible things about Kai and at one point, he and Kai had a physical fight and I ordered him out of my house and out of our lives. We have not heard from Issay since.”

          Uta had mixed feelings about what he had heard, “You won’t make me leave, will you?” he whispered. The question startled both Kai and Sakurai, “Why would we make you leave, Uta? There’s nothing in this world that would cause me not to have you by my side forever!” Sakurai grabbed Uta and hugged him fiercely to his chest. “My love, why do you believe we would do that?”

          “If you become angry with me, or I do something wrong…you will banish me from your home.” Sakurai looked at Kai, “Uta-kun, look at me please,” Uta looked over at Kai, “Acchan banished Issay because the man became violent and had inflated notions about his status, Imai was banished because of the way he lived his life as a vampire. You have none of those traits, unless you would do something horrific which I can not picture you ever doing, you will be with us for eternity. Both Acchan and I love you, Uta, never forget that.”

          Kai glanced at Sakurai, who then nodded. “Uta, come here,” Kai held out his arms as the young man scooted closer, leaning into Kai. “There is no chance of either Acchan or myself, of forcing you to leave us.” Slowly Kai cupped Uta’s face, bringing his lips to Uta’s in a slow burn of a kiss. Kai understood why his master was allowing this, to quell Uta’s fear that Kai was lonely and felt displaced by his master’s spouse.

          Uta moaned in Kai’s mouth, reaching for the older man as he tried to get closer. Kai pulled away, “No, Uta-kun…that was the only taste I will have.” He tilted Uta’s head down and placed a soft kiss on his forehead. “You are Acchan’s blood spouse, you are tied to him and only him for eternity, though I will also be tied to you, as your friend.” Uta returned to Sakurai’s side and they continued telling Uta about their lives before he became part of their small family.

 

          The year was 1630 and the decades had rushed by with nary a notice for the three vampires. As he had with both Kai and Issay, Sakurai had decided to take Uta to France to show him the world, leaving Kai with the care of the estate.

          Traveling on the wind currents, Sakurai and Uta set themselves down one evening, just outside the city of Paris. Uta concerned with their appearance, worried about being attacked at random, which Sakurai reassured him would not happen. “Kai and Issay both traveled with me, and we had no problems with the local people. We are seen as oddities and are commonly called the ‘oriental men’, but gold speaks louder than fear.”

          Uta clutched at Acchan’s hand as they made their way into the city, where they did attract a certain amount of attention, but of which was then ignored with a well-placed gold coin. Walking the busy streets, Sakurai chose at random what appeared to be a well-appointed hotel. Approaching the gentleman at the desk, Sakurai asked for a room in passable French, as the man stared at them. There was a pause before Sakurai took out his money pouch and laid gold coins on the desk. “Monsieur?” The man’s head snapped up, “Pardon, moi bien sur,” the man then handed Sakurai a key with a number on it. “Arigato gozaimasu,” Sakurai smiled and bowed lightly, taking Uta by the hand, and walking up the stairs that were next to the desk.

          “How did you learn to speak French, Acchan?” Uta was more than surprised, “Kai and I spent many years in France, and it is just something that after a time you begin to understand.” Finding their room, Sakurai opened the door and Uta followed him in, “Oh!” he gasped, “This is so strange, but it’s beautiful. Is this the bed? It’s not on the floor!” Uta walked over and sat down on the bed, “Acchan it’s so soft! Oh, curtains, Acchan the bed has curtains!”

          Sakurai sat in a very ornate chair and watched as his young lover went through the room, amazed by everything. “This is so different, we have nothing like this at home. Can we live here forever, please Acchan?” Uta sat in Sakurai’s lap, wiggling against the man’s crotch, “Uta…” Sakurai moaned, “Stop moving so much my love, we still need to hunt tonight, then we will return and I will make you scream my name over and over.” A quick cuddle with some random groping, and Sakurai had to remove Uta from his lap.

         

          Uta was more than a little nervous as they ventured out that night, he had never seen that many people, nor that many tall buildings in his life. “I’m frightened, Acchan…I don’t think I like Paris,” he whined as he clung to his lover. “Let us stay the night, if you still are uncomfortable, we can always go home.” And as the nigh went on, it was obvious to Sakurai that Uta was not the type that would be able to enjoy the city of Paris. After they hunted, which was more than easy enough, they returned to their hotel. “We shall leave tomorrow night, I’m sorry this wasn’t a pleasant trip for you love, but I do understand.” Pulling the heavy curtains over the windows, and closing the bed curtains, Sakurai and Uta snuggled deep in the bed, “Can we have a bed like this at home, please? This is soo…” Uta’s words trailed off as the young vampire was claimed by sleep.

         

          Kai was startled when he saw Sakurai and Uta walk into the house, “You’re supposed to be in France,” he frowned, “It wasn’t the immortals again, was it?” Kai hugged Uta tightly in his arms, kissing the young man on the forehead. “It’s my fault, I didn’t like Paris at all.” Uta explained. Kai looked at Sakurai, mouthing ‘what happened’. “Paris is not the same city we knew when last we were there, it is extremely crowded, the streets are now filled with people and it was just too overwhelming for Uta.”

          Kai pushed Uta back at arms length, “I understand completely, you didn’t have any experiences with large cities before you came into the blood, but did you at least enjoy the food?” It was always about food for Kai, which is why Uta described what he had had to eat in vivid descriptions. “But the people tasted off…their blood tasted like it was tainted with something.” Kai once again looked to Sakurai for an explanation.

          “I’m thinking it had to be the wine, everyone now drinks it as if it were water or tea, something else that has changed.” Sakurai went on to describe the city and the newer culture, throwing some disparaging remarks on the current fashion trends, “The women wear these ridiculously tall wigs upon their heads, and their dresses have so many layers, I’m sure it takes them over an hour just to put them on.”     

          It was Uta that wanted to tell Kai about the hotel room they stayed in, “The bed Kai! Oh, it was marvelous, it was on a tall platform, and it had the softest futon that you sunk into when you got in, and the bed had curtains all the way around to block out the light,” Uta then blushed, “it was wonderful for Acchan and I, no hard floor to lay upon while we um…” the young vampire looked at the floor. “No need to explain Uta, I think Kai-kun understands.”

          After a small meal, Uta and Sakurai retired to bed, Sakurai exhausted from using the cloud gift. “Can we have a platform bed, Acchan? I’m sure someone in the village could make us one and we could put two or three futons on it…wouldn’t that be nice?” Uta snuggled into the futon, waiting for his lover to pull down the room darkening shades, “Perhaps, I will look into it soon…now my little traveler we need to sleep, it’s been a busy day.” Throwing his leg over Sakurai’s hip and wiggling close, Uta was asleep within a few moments, Sakurai taking longer as his mind was filled with questions, “Am I being too selfish to you both?”

 

          “I’m going to Sendai.” Sakurai randomly announced one evening. “Why Sendai?” Kai pouring another cup of sake for each of them. “I have some business to take care of, I should only be gone a short time, there’s no need to worry.” Since the night that Uta and Sakurai returned home from Paris, the reaction Uta had to the crowded city had weighed on his mind. He feared he was keeping the two people he loved most in the world, in isolation by continuing to live in the remote countryside of Hokkaido.

          Kai was suspicious, he knew that Sakurai had no business interests in Sendai, “Acchan,” he squinted his eyes, “what business do you have in Sendai? I’ve been by your side for four hundred years, this is the first I’ve heard you mention Sendai and business in the same breath.”    

          The older vampire sighed, he knew Kai would never believe his flimsy excuse, “Fine, I’ll tell you, but I need more sake first.” Uta had remained silent, he knew in his heart that this was something that his elders needed to discuss and that he had no say in any of the matter. Kai returned with a fresh bottle and poured them each another cup, “Go on…” Kai said.

          “When I took Uta to Paris, I had no thoughts to him being uncomfortable in crowds, nor did I expect the overwhelming amount of people that now live in the city. It hurt my heart to see Uta frightened in the city that you and I love, then it came to me. Uta was frightened because he had never seen that amount of people in one place before, and he is much younger than you, even when I brought you into the blood.”

          Sakurai poured himself another drink, looking at both men carefully, “I am going to Sendai in hopes of purchasing another home for us.” Kai almost dropped his cup and Uta gasped, “Why? Why do we need to move!” Sakurai held up his hand to quiet them. “My love, you are still very young, I do not want to keep you or Kai in isolation any longer. We need more than just our small village, we need fresh hunting grounds as well. Living in Sendai, we would blend easily with the population, I am still thinking of an estate, and not a home within the city limits, so we would still have a large piece of property.”

          Looking at Kai, Sakurai could not read his emotions, “Kai-kun? What do you have to say about this proposition? Would you like to live in Sendai, I of course will not force you, you may stay here at the estate if you wish.” Uta whined, “No! Kai has to come with us…Acchan no…” Uta crawled over to where Kai was sitting, “Kai, please you have to come with us, I don’t want to go unless you do!” Uta turned to his master, “This isn’t fair, what if Kai doesn’t want to leave? I’ll stay with him Acchan, you can’t force me to leave the estate!” Uta stood up and ran out of the room and down the hall to his bedroom, slamming the sliding door.

          Sakurai rubbed his face roughly, “That did not go as I had expected, the exact reason I wanted to go to Sendai alone.” Kai poured more sake, “Acchan, why are you doing this, really?” Sakurai chuckled, “Truly, it is because of the forced isolation we have here at the estate. There is no chance for you to find yourself a mate or companion, Uta is constantly fretting about the fact that you are alone, and I fret as well. You deserved be loved in the manner of a spouse or lover, not kept here alone.”

          Kai shook his head, “Would it not be simpler for me to leave, to find my own home? I would rather do that than to rip Uta away from his home.” Sakurai snorted, “You heard the boy, he’d rather stay here with you, than leave you alone, no Kai-kun…we are a family and we shall stay a family, if you do not wish to leave then we will stay here.” Sakurai got up, walked over to Kai and kneeled next to him, “I love you, Kai-kun…I truly do not wish to be separated from you ever. You are my child and my best and most trusted friend.” Slowly raising his hands to cup Kai’s face, Sakurai kissed him softly. “We will stay here in Hokkaido,” Standing up, Sakurai went down the hall to his bedroom, to seek out and comfort his distressed lover.

Chapter Text

         “Acchan, can I ask you something and you promise you won’t be angry with me?” Uta snuggled in his lover’s arms, they were lying in the large western bed Sakurai had made for their new house. “I wouldn’t be angry with you for asking a question, Uta.” Sakurai nuzzled his young spouse’s hair. “Where did your wealth come from?” Uta didn’t want to be nosey, but felt that he needed to ask. “My father and his family. We were of minor nobility, my father was a craftsman and an artisan, he made kimono’s for different daimyo’s and a few shoguns, he was also literate and wrote books of poetry.”  Uta was satisfied with the answer, he had wondered how Sakurai was able to afford to buy the new estate.

          It had taken two years for the small family to move to Sendai, Sakurai buying a former samurai’s house, and having it remodeled and updated. Moving personal items, a little at a time, having to cross the Tsugaru strait at its narrowest point which was still nineteen kilometers, and took several hours to cross. Uta was unhappy that Sakurai chose to give the livestock to some of the villagers that were in need, “We can always buy more, Uta,” he gently scolded the young vampire. “We will have all the animals that you wish for.”

          To Uta’s great delight, once they arrived and Uta was exploring, Sakurai heard a squeal of delight, and his name shouted rather loudly. “ACCHAN!” Kai laughed at his master, “He found it…” Following Sakurai, they went to the bedroom where they found Uta lying in the bed, with the heavy curtains drawn around it. “This is perfect! How did you find one?” Kai went to the other side of the bed, lying down next to Uta, “I have one as well, and you’re right, they are so soft and comfortable.”

          “I spoke with a local woodworker and explained in detail what I was looking for, he was apprehensive of course, telling me that we would be cold, with the airflow going underneath the bed. I had the comforter made with goose down and flax seeds for added weight. Do you like it?” Uta’s response was to grab the front of the vampire lord’s yukata and drag the man into the bed, snuggling between the man and Kai. “This is kinda nice…don’t you think, Acchan?” Uta wiggled close to Sakurai while he reached for Kai, a soft moan escaping the vampire’s lips.

          Sakurai scolded his lover, “Uta, shame on you, do not tease Kai like this.” Kai sat up in the bed, smacking Uta lightly on the hip, “Naughty boy, now look what you’ve done!” There was a rather large protrusion beneath Kai’s yukata, Uta looking at it and licking his lips suggestively. “Kai-kun, you may want to start a late meal, while I take care of this disgusting boy in my bed.” Sakurai grinned. With a giggle and a wave, Kai left the bedroom, so his master could punish his young lover.

          It wasn’t until Kai was in the kitchen, that the grin faded and he sighed heavily. He was lonely and finally admitting that he wanted someone of his own, but the prospects of bringing someone into the blood for himself, he wasn’t sure he was ready to commit to that decision. The other dilemma was where to find someone that he could spend eternity with, “Not like they’re arriving on our doorstep,” he muttered to himself. If he wanted a companion or a spouse, Kai knew he would have to take it upon himself to find one. The year was 1632.

 

 

          Sakurai Atsushi had decided before they made the move to Sendai, that he would have no others in the house, but he, Kai and Uta, that he would manage the estate himself. Kai was not certain that it was the best way to work, “My lord…Acchan, you will work yourself weary and I do not want to have to drag you out to feed because you have been working too hard. We have the room, we could find assistance here in Sendai, why not do that?”

          “It is simply easier, Kai. I do not wish to have outsiders that do not understand who or what we are. It is already an issue that we are viewed as strange and as minor nobility, that gad about on horse back late at night, it is not a normal thing people do and definitely not in Sendai. No, Kai, I will manage everything myself,” Sakurai insisted. Kai threw his hands up and growled as he walked away. Neither Sakurai nor Kai knew that Uta was listening from another room, now worried that the two men in his life were at odds with each other.

          Walking out to the barn in the moonlight, Uta usually visited his own small horse every night, always with some sort of treat in his pocket for the dark chestnut horse he called Rai. “Rai-chan, how’s my boy this evening?” the small horse nickered as he saw Uta walking towards him. “Do I have anything for you tonight? You know I do…silly horse.” Rai nuzzled Uta’s hand, gently taking the apple in his mouth.

          “What do we do Rai-chan? Kai and Acchan are arguing again, about stupid things.” Rai nudged Uta’s hand, looking for more apple. “We need to get away for a night, not only to feed but just to get out.”  Kissing the small horse on his velvet soft nose, Uta walked back up to the house with thoughts of planning a night out.

           Once Uta explained what he wanted to do for Sakurai, Kai immediately agreed, “I think we all need to have a little fun tonight.” Shortly after the sun had sunk into the western sea, Uta had gotten the horses ready and was waiting outside the house. “Acchan, I think Shoda needs to run, he’s being a bit obnoxious right now.” The larger horse was pulling at his bridle as Sakurai walked up to him. “Shoda-kun, really? You know better than to misbehave.” Kai’s placid older horse Goro, quietly stood where he was and didn’t cause anyone any problems.

          Sakurai and Shoda pulled ahead of Uta and Kai’s horses, the older man letting the horse have his head and run, the worries of the estate draining from his body by the exhilarating speed of the horse. Only when he had lost sight of Uta and Kai did Sakurai rein in his horse, waiting for the other two men to catch up.

          “Do you think he’s had enough, Acchan?” Kai laughed as he pushed Goro into a trot. “For now, I’m sure by the time we’re ready to come home, he will want another run.” Sakurai already felt refreshed from the thrilling ride, albeit now hungry. Staying off the main road, they wove their way through the trees, stopping every so often just to listen…and to smell. “Near the road, about a kilometer…” Kai whispered. Sakurai nodded, putting his fingers to his lips, he quickly got off his horse. “Stay here, I want to make sure it’s safe.” Giving Shoda’s reins to Kai, Sakurai then quietly slipped deep into the forest, without making a sound.

          Walking as if on air, the vampire lord peered through the dense brush at the small caravan of travelers, taking in the scene and the possibilities for a successful hunt. Three men and a woman, no dogs and the woman sat on the ground, bound hand and foot to the back wheel of the wagon, slumped over as if she were sleeping. Sakurai watched as one of the men got up and walked over to where the woman lay, kicking her in the legs, “If you want to eat, you’d better wake up,” he growled at her. He kicked her again when she did not respond, the only sound that came from the woman was a painful moan. 

          “If you keep beating her, we’re not going to get much when she’s sold,” One of the other men snapped. With another kick to the woman’s legs, the first man walked away. “She can die for all I care, she’s more a problem than anything.”

          After the first kick, Sakurai’s eyes went black, with the second kick his fangs dropped quickly, the burn in his heart had flooded his body. Turning back and making his way to where he had left Kai and Uta with the horses, Sakurai paid no mind to how much noise he was making. “Well…Acchan what’s wrong?” Kai saw the darkness on his master’s face. “Three men and a woman, we need to draw two of them away so I can take care of the single male, then we need to grab the woman and take her home.”

          “Take her home? Why would we do that?” Kai said incredulously. Sakurai turned on the other vampire, “Because I said so, that’s all you need to know.” He snarled, as Kai took a step back, “Acchan, what’s wrong…what’s happened?”

          “They have a woman, bound and tied to the back wheel of the wagon, I believe her to be unconscious, one of those animals kicked her twice and got no response other than a moan.” Kai gasped, “Acchan, we have to save her… kill the others I don’t care, but we must get that woman away from those monsters!”

          Uta was quiet as he watched Kai and Sakurai go back and forth. “Um, how do we get her? I mean we can’t just walk in and grab her…can we?” Sakurai glanced over at Uta, “No, Uta-kun, we can’t.” The anger slowly left Sakurai’s body, “But we have to get her away from those animals.”

          “Can we distract them long enough to grab the woman?” Uta suggested. Kai looked at Sakurai, “If we could draw two of them into the woods, you could easily feed off of one, then grab the woman.” Throwing out ideas, they quickly came up with a plan, using Kai and Uta’s horses as bait, “I don’t like this…I’m just speaking my mind right now. You two be very careful.”

          Leading the horses to the edge of the woods near where the travelers were camped, Kai and Uta let the horses wander off as if they were lost. The three men saw Goro and Rai, and immediately two of them started to run towards where the horses walked into the woods.

          Sakurai had tied Shoda to a tree near the back of the wagon, then ran towards the remaining man, grabbing him from behind and sinking his fangs into the man’s neck. The man flailed against Sakurai for a moment, his arms slowly starting to fall to his side as Sakurai drained the man completely, then threw his body off to the side of the fire pit.

          Quickly walking towards the woman, Sakurai untied her hands and feet first, then lifted her face. “My dear, you poor thing…let’s get you home.” Scooping up the woman in his arms, Sakurai walked back to where Shoda was standing, the horse snorting and backing up as his master approached. “It’s okay, easy boy.” He murmured at the horse, looking around for Kai and Uta.

          “Acchan!” Kai called out, “Over here!” Looking behind him, Sakurai watched as Kai and Uta came from the other side of the camp site, leading the horses. “We need to put her on Goro, Kai…Shoda’s not having anything to do with her, and Goro won’t care. Get up and I’ll hand her to you.”

          Uta held the horses, while Sakurai and Kai got the woman in the saddle in front of Kai, “Ride slowly, Kai-kun. I’m going ahead and getting one of the extra rooms ready, Uta...stay with Kai.” Sakurai held Rai as Uta mounted, then jumping on Shoda, Sakurai kicked the horse hard as they turned for home.  Kai gently nudged Goro with his heels, “Stay next to me Uta, just in case…”

 

          Taking the woman out of Kai’s arms, Sakurai carefully carried her into the house and into one of the spare bedrooms. He had warmed the room with extra lamps and candles, and layered two futons on the floor. Uta and Kai took the horses to the barn, cleaning them up and giving them extra grain for their effort that night.

          Kai had said nothing to Uta, but he had sensed something was off with the woman, but he had to see it himself, to make sure he was correct. Stopping in the kitchen, Kai went through his cabinet, looking for anything that may ease their patient’s pain.

          Sakurai had waited until Kai arrived before doing anything, “She still hasn’t woken, Kai…why?” Kai shook his head, “I won’t know until I look at him…” Uta and Sakurai stared at Kai, “Him? How do you…” Uta asked. “His blood, I don’t know what we’ll find, but there’s a lot of blood on his body, and I’m sure it’s his and not one of those men.”

          Kai started by carefully opening the man’s bloody and torn kimono, the amount of dried blood on it was startling. Pulling away the material, Uta was the first to gasp, “Oh god…” he whimpered into his hand. With hot water and some herbs, Kai wetted a rag, wringing it first then slowly started to wipe away the dried blood on the man’s face, his body and his genitals, the bruising and some bite marks started to appear under the blood, the scent of which was painful for the three vampires, but they were beyond being aroused.

          It was a painstaking process, at one point the dried blood had caused part of the clothing to embed itself into a rather nasty gash in the man’s side, “This should have been closed with twine, but it’s too late now.” Kai muttered angrily as he carefully removed the offending clothes. Taking over an hour to clean the blood off the man’s body and inspect his wounds, Kai looked up at Sakurai, “We have to turn him over Acchan, I’m frightened that if we don’t and we miss something, he may die.”

          Sakurai’s face blanched, then he looked at his young lover, “Uta, could you go and get one of my clean yukatas please,” he didn’t want Uta to see what injuries were hidden. Uta figured as much and quickly left the room. “Put your hands under his shoulders and I will roll him towards you,” Kai instructed. As he started to turn the man to his side, he started to see blood…a lot of blood. “Shit,” Kai looked at Sakurai, “I need to lay him on his stomach, I have to see what’s bleeding.”

          Carefully, as they moved the man onto his stomach, he cried out in pain, Sakurai bending down next to his ear, murmuring soft words of comfort. Kai sat back on his heels as he viewed the wounds on the man’s back, which was crisscrossed with lash marks, old and new. There was obvious damage done to the man’s anal area, positive signs of multiple rapes showing. “Stay with him,” Kai ordered as he got up to get more hot water.

          “My dear boy, what has happened to you? Who has done these terrible things to you?” Sakurai placed a soft kiss on the boy’s cheek, stroking the boy’s hair. “Acchan, is he…?” Uta was standing in the door way. “My love, come here please,” holding his hand out to Uta, “I want you to watch his face for any signs he may be waking, ne?” Sakurai knew giving Uta a sense of purpose would help the boy deal with the unspeakable trauma of the man’s injuries.

          It was nearly an hour before Kai and Sakurai could slip the man into a clean yukata, and turn him back over on his back, “He has a lot of tearing, but I’m certain there will be no more bleeding, not tonight.” Kai leaned against the wall, exhausted physically and emotionally.  “He has been raped, I can’t tell what was used on him…I’m not sure I want to know.”

          Kai had Sakurai carefully pick the man up and carry him to his room, “I can feel if he wakes, it will be best if he is not left alone though I doubt he will wake anytime soon.” Putting the man in Kai’s large western bed, and pulling the curtains closed, Sakurai and Uta left the two men alone, going to their own bedroom before the break of dawn.

 

          He could smell food…good food and not the rank mystery meat that his captors had been throwing on the ground in front of him for the last two weeks. He tried to move but was met with instant pain, causing him to scream, tears starting to stream down his cheeks. He wondered if he had made it to the daimyo’s estate, if he was now going to be the male concubinus for the warlord.

          Uta heard the scream as he was walking towards his and Sakurai’s bedroom. Deciding to look in on the young man before going to Kai or Acchan, Uta slid the door open slowly, peering into the still darkened room, “Um…are you alright? I heard you scream, is there something I can do for you?” Uta stood in the doorway, the man still on the bed behind the drawn bedcurtains.

          “Wh…who are you and where am I?” the man asked in a shaky voice, “My name is Uta, and you’re at my master’s estate, his name is Sakurai Atsushi.” Uta stepped into the room, “Would you like something to eat? I’m sure Kai-san has some rice for you.” Reaching out to the curtains, Uta gently opened one just enough to see the young man. “You look much better than you did last night when we found you.” Seeing the young man awake, Uta was surprised that even with his injuries, he was in fact beautiful enough to pass as a woman. “What’s your name?” Uta inched a little closer, hoping to befriend the young man, “Um, Toshiya…I’m…” before he could speak further, Kai came into the room walking slowly towards the bed.

          “Konbanwa, my name is Kai, would you like something to eat or drink? I’m sure you’re hungry.” Of course, when Kai smiled, his face could brighten any room, and Toshiya felt a little more at ease. Uta carefully sat on the bed next to the young man, “Kai-san makes the best tea, it helps you sleep and keeps away the nightmares,” looking at Kai and smiling, “He’s a decent cook as well.”  

          “I’ll be right back.” Kai left the room. Toshiya looked down, twisting a corner of the comforter, “How…how did I get here?” Uta reached out his hand, covering Toshiya’s, “I’m going to let my master tell you that, I’ll go get him.” Toshiya nodded, “Okay.” Looking around the room, Toshiya marveled at the bed he was in, it was off the floor and had strange curtains on every side, the bed itself was soft and deep, more luxurious than he had ever seen.

          A knock on the door as it slid open, “Toshiya-kun, I’m happy to see you awake,” Sakurai bowed, “My name is Sakurai Atsushi and this is my home, Uta tells me you have some questions.” Sakurai’s heart skipped when he first laid eyes on the man, he was as beautiful as any woman, and obviously that is what had gotten him into trouble.

          Toshiya blushed when he looked at Sakurai, “How did I get here? Did you buy me from those men?” Sakurai sat down on the edge of the bed, “No, Toshiya-kun, I did not buy you. Those men were evil and I convinced them to let me take you, no money was exchanged, but you do not have to worry, they will no longer be a threat to you.”

          “Did you kill them? Please say you did!” He started to sit up and reach for Sakurai, when a blinding jolt of pain shot through his back, causing him to fall back, clutching at his stomach. “Toshiya-kun, do not worry about those men, they were taken care of.” In Toshiya’s mind, the tone in which Sakurai spoke, led him to believe that the men were in fact dead, but he said nothing more.

          “Why were you with those men in the first place, Toshiya? It’s obvious you were their captive, but why?” Sakurai asked, “I was to go to a Daimyo in Kyoto…as a concubinus, I was sold to those men by my former master.”

          “How did you receive your injuries, Toshiya-kun. We saw so many last night when we brought you here…Kai cleaned and dressed your wounds…who hurt you?” Sakurai asked in a tender voice. “The men that were my captors,” Toshiya’s voice fell to a whisper, “they raped me, over and over, sometimes using things…when I fought back, I was beaten.”

          Unbeknownst to Sakurai and Toshiya, both Uta and Kai were standing outside the room, listening quietly but horrified at what they were hearing.

          “They tried to sell me to a whore house, but I fought back again and I was cut badly on my side, they also used pipes to burn my skin and make it so nobody would want me.” Toshiya took a breath and wiped his eyes with his sleeve. “One of the men sold me to a soldier, who bought me for his his Daimyo, my captors were going to deliver me to the warlord in Kyoto but I got sick, I stopped eating and well…they just tied me up and would throw food at me, so I just stopped eating so I would die before we got to Kyoto.”

          Sakurai sighed, “Toshiya, if you wish you may stay here with me, Uta and Kai. You are not a servant, nor do you owe me anything, I will consider you a friend that I am helping out at a rough time. You can stay or go whenever you please. Would you like that?”

          Kai and Uta came into the room, “Please say you’ll stay, Toshiya-kun…I think you’ll like it here, we have lots of room, I know you don’t remember but we even have three horses, some goats and we have cats as well. Please say you’ll stay with us.” Uta leaned on the bed, his grin ear to ear. “I would like you to stay as well, Toshiya-kun.” Kai said softly, “If you choose not to stay, will you at least wait until your injuries are healed? I wouldn’t want you out on the road in your condition.”

          He couldn’t believe what was hearing, less than twelve hours before, he was starving, had serious injuries and was bound hand and foot. Now he was in a wonderfully soft bed, with three handsome men begging him to stay and live with them. Looking at each one carefully, Toshiya smiled, “Thank you, I’d like to stay here with you.”

 

 

Related image I wanted to use an early image of Toshiya, especially to play upon the fact that he was mistaken as a woman when he was rescued. 

Chapter Text

 

          It had been three months since they had rescued Toshiya from his captors; three months of recovery and healing, gaining most of his weight back, Toshiya was healthier than he’d been in over a year. Sakurai had given Toshiya his own room, “I’m sorry we do not have another of our tall beds, but perhaps in time I will have another made for you.” Sakurai had grown fond of the beautiful young man in a very short time. He felt nothing in his heart like he had from Imai or Issay, Toshiya was a kind soul who had a rough start to his adult life.

          Kai was an entirely different story, he had come to care for Toshiya deeply while he nursed the young man back to health. Sleeping in Kai’s bed for the first few weeks while the more serious injuries healed, Kai was haggard and drawn from sleeping so lightly, any move Toshiya made woke Kai in a matter of seconds. “You’re too kind to me, Kai-san, thank you.” Toshiya would say after every bandage change or wound wash, “I would do this for anyone that needed it Toshiya-kun, there is no need to thank me.”

          In the evenings, Toshiya would eat the evening meal with the other men, watching the play between Uta and Sakurai, “It’s not fair, Acchan. You’re older than I am by a few hund…” Uta would catch himself before the sentence could be completed, hoping that Toshiya hadn’t caught the slip up. Kai would immediately jump in and cover the mistake, “You weigh more Acchan… by a few hundred kilos,” Kai would then pour another cup of sake for everyone or change the subject quickly.

          It was obvious that there was something strange about the other three men, something that Toshiya couldn’t pinpoint. They slept during the daylight hours, their schedule almost perfectly reversed from day to night. He had learned quickly to sleep during the day in order to have companionship at night. Uta once complained that it was the heat of the day time that he hated, “It’s not fun to see the animals or go for a walk when it’s hot, it’s much nicer in the evening.” Toshiya would hum in agreement, but able to see that Uta was lying.

          One night while they were visiting the horses in the barn, Toshiya finally asked, “Uta, what are you hiding from me?” he was petting Shoda, who had become his favorite of the three horses. “Um, I’m not hiding anything from you Toshiya-kun…” Uta stammered. “Yes, you are,” Toshiya stopped petting the horse and looked at his friend. “I know you’re different Uta, Kai and Acchan are different as well. I’m not stupid you know.”  

          Uta sighed, “I know you’re not, Totchi,” Uta used the nickname he had given Toshiya, “please, let me talk to Acchan and Kai first before I say anything, ne?” Uta knew the time had come.  “Thank you,” is all Toshiya said.

         

          “We have to tell him…he knows something’s not right, he’s asked me more than once.” Uta was laying in Sakurai’s arms one evening before they rose for the night. “He has a right to know, even if he doesn’t stay, I doubt he’d say anything…who would believe him?” Sakurai sighed, “Yes, that’s true. It would be hard to find someone that would believe such a fanciful tale of blood drinkers. Let me talk to Kai once more, then we shall speak to Toshiya over dinner.”

          “No! I don’t want to tell him, we should just lie and make up some story of to why we are asleep all day…no Acchan, he will leave me…us if we tell him.” Kai’s reaction was expected, though Sakurai could not agree to his terms. 

         “Kai-kun, he may choose to stay, we won’t know until we tell him. We will discuss this after dinner.” Kai snarled at Sakurai then fled to the kitchen to hide the hot tears burning his eyes.

          The subdued expressions of Sakurai, Uta and Kai gave Toshiya the warning that he needed. After dinner and with a few cups of sake in them, Sakurai turned to Toshiya, “I have a few questions for you, before we say anymore, Toshiya-kun.” The young man nodded,

        “Have we ever caused you any fear while you have been in my home?”

        “No, I have never been afraid of any of you.”

        “What I am about to tell you will sound outrageous and unbelievable, but I can guarantee you that it is all the truth.”

       “Acchan, please… no.” Kai whimpered. Toshiya looked at Kai, the man was crying softly, his gaze to his hands in his lap.

       “Toshiya, Uta, Kai and myself are immortals, do you understand what that means?”

      “Immortals? I understand the word of course, but now how it would apply to people.”

     “Does the words blood drinker, mean anything to you, Toshiya?” Sakurai’s body tensed in readiness if Toshiya became violent from fear.

          Toshiya paled at the sound of the word, “Yes,” he whispered, “Are you…?” Sakurai nodded, “we are, is that a problem?”

          “Of course, it’s a problem, it’s not natural for anyone to drink blood!” Toshiya snapped, his voice betraying his fear.

          “Totchi…” Uta whined, “We’ve never hurt you, have we?”

          “That’s besides the point, Uta. You’re immortal and that is an unnatural state of life. How long until you drain me of blood?”

          Kai gasped, “We would never do that! If we had wanted to do that, we would have killed you along with those other men. Think for a moment, Toshiya…I nursed you back from near death, I let you sleep in my bed, had I wanted to drain your body of blood, I had ample opportunities to do so.” Kai got up, “I thought better of you than this, I was wrong.”

          “You thought better of me? I am not the blood drinker! I thought better of you…all of you!” Kai watched as Toshiya got up and left the room. “I told you we should not have said anything.” Kai said sadly as he walked towards his bedroom. Uta fell over onto the floor, “That did not go well, did it?” he looked up at Sakurai. “No, my love, it did not.”

          Toshiya came back into the room. “Thank you for saving me, thank you for caring for me, but I can not in good conscious stay here, I hope you understand.”

          Before he walked away, Sakurai tried once more, “We would have never forced you into the blood, Toshiya. You are more than welcome to live here unmolested by any of us, this is your home just as I offered it that first day. Remember that… we are always here for you if you need us.”  He stared at Sakurai and Uta, then bowed and left the house.

          He was just short of running, the burn of fear in his gut kept him going when he was almost at a loss of breath. After almost an hour, Toshiya stumbled and fell to the ground, exhausted. Laying on the ground, dirt embedded in his face, Toshiya’s heart was done, broken beyond repair. “Why…why did you have to be monsters?” he wept into the dirt, his eyes closing slowly.

          “GET UP!” someone shouts as pain shoots through Toshiya’s back. He tries to roll over only to have another sharp blow rain down on him. He’s screaming and trying to scramble away, clawing at the dirt as he gets up on his hands and knees. He looks back for a half second, then a kick to the face. Shit, I’m going to die. Crawling faster he’s able to get his feet under him and stand, but is grabbed from behind, and swung back to the ground, “You’re awfully pretty for a boy, but I don’t mind, a hole is a hole as far as I’m concerned,” the man is tearing at Toshiya’s yukata, pulling on the sash, and pushing him to the ground, “Just lie still and it will be over quick,” the man growled.

          He didn’t have the fight in him anymore. Praying for it to be quick and painless, Toshiya did as he was told, closing his eyes he thought about Kai, laying in the deep soft bed, the man tenderly washing his wounds, “I’m sorry Kai…” he whispered, as he waited for the rape to begin. It seemed like hours until he heard the man make a sound, but it wasn’t anything that was registering in his brain. He opened one eye just enough to see where the man was. When all he saw was the night sky above him, he opened his eyes wide and sat up on one elbow and looked around. The man was gone.

          A rustling noise in the bushes to his left caused him to jump, turning over he struggled to his feet, grabbing the front of his yukata and started running. “TOSHIYA WAIT!” someone called out his name, but he didn’t trust that it was someone safe, so he kept running. Looking up, standing a few yards in front of him was Kai, leaving Toshiya to skid to a stop. “What…?”

          Kai held his hands up, “Are you okay, just tell me he didn’t hurt you and then I’ll leave you alone.” The worried expression on Kai’s face puzzled Toshiya, “I um, I’m okay, he didn’t hurt me…not like that.” He quickly grabbed the tie for the yukata and covered himself, “Did he hurt you anywhere else? Are you okay?” It wasn’t until Kai asked that Toshiya reached for his face, “Uh…he kicked me in the face…I’m not sure.”

          As the adrenaline rushing through his body started to drain, Toshiya lost the ability to stand, falling to his knees in front of Kai, who ran to his side. “Are you okay, Totchi? Look at me please…I just want to make sure you’re not hurt then I’ll leave.” The young man sat back on his heels, letting Kai check him for injuries, “Why…how did you know?” he mumbled.

          Pushing his hair back, Kai tipped Toshiya’s face left and right, rubbing a thumb over what was going to be a nasty bruise under his left eye. “I don’t know…I was in the middle of looking for eggs, and a sudden pain hit me in the back,” satisfied that the young man was not injured too badly, Kai stood up and stepped away. “I could feel you getting hit, and so I just started running,” he held his hand out to Toshiya, helping him off the ground. “I grabbed him off of you and threw him against a tree, I didn’t kill him Toshiya.”

          Before Kai knew what had happened, he had an arm full of sobbing scared young man, “Kai…I’m so sorry, I should have just listened to you all. Please, can I come home? I don’t care if you’re immortals, I don’t care what you do, please…just let me stay with you,” Kai hugged Toshiya tightly, “Of course, Totchi…we love you…I love you,” holding the young man at arms length, Kai looked him in the eyes, “We would never force anything on you, Totchi, you’re free to live as you wish, but know this…I’m in love with you,” Kai wanted nothing more than to kiss Toshiya, but he held himself in check, “I will not force myself on you, always remember that.”

          Taking Toshiya by the hand, they walked back to the estate, arriving just before daybreak, “I want you to eat something, then I want you back in your bed to rest. I will be here when you wake up.” With a quick kiss to the forehead, Kai went to his bedroom and slid the door closed. Going into the kitchen area and grabbing a quick bowl of rice, Toshiya played the words Kai had said, over in his mind, ‘I’m in love with you’ and what did it mean for an immortal to love a human?

          Finishing the rice, Toshiya’s body was screaming for sleep as he washed the dirt from his face before shuffling off to bed. Throwing his bag into the corner of his room, Kai’s confession still rang in his ears, ‘I’m in love with you’. He took off the torn and dirty yukata and balled it up, throwing it on the floor next to his bag. ‘I’m in love with you.’ Toshiya kneeled down on the futon, pulling the comforter back, ‘I’m in love with you.’ Sitting back on his heels, he looked over his shoulder at the door across from his room, Kai’s bedroom. ‘I’m in love with you.’

          Kai was claimed by sleep quickly, his emotions having wrung out his energy, he was asleep before his head hit the pillow. He didn’t hear the door slide open, he didn’t feel his bed move when Toshiya pulled back the comforter. Through the haze of exhaustion, Kai felt an arm wrap around his waist tightly and the soft breath on his neck and the pressure of another’s body wrapping around his. “Toshiya…” he murmured sleepily, “Mmm,” Kai smiled and snuggled further down into the bed, his arm laying on top of Toshiya’s. “I love you,”

 

          He felt like he was waking from a beautiful dream that had actually come true; Kai was waking with Toshiya in his arms, the young man had come to the vampire just before the sun slipped behind the western mountains. Without opening his eyes, Kai drew Toshiya close, nuzzling him just under the ear and kissing his long slender pale neck. “Totchi…” Kai murmured, “Hmm?” Toshiya leaned into Kai, “Why are you naked and in my bed?” Kai teased. Toshiya sighed, “because I didn’t have anything clean to wear, but I will leave if you want me to.” He pretended that he was going to slip out of the bed, making Kai growl, “No…you’re mine now, I’m not letting you out of my sight.” He held on to the man tightly.

          “That’s going to be hard if you need to go and hunt, I don’t think your intended prey will like having a voyeur.” Now Kai opened his eyes, gazing lustfully at Toshiya, “You risked quite a lot by coming to me naked, how did you know that I would or wouldn’t ravage you?” Toshiya snorted, “You’re not that kind of man, Kai-kun, immortal or not you would never force yourself on me, I know that as the truth.”

          Kai giggled, “You’re right of course, I’d never do anything like that to anyone, even before I was an immortal.” The vampire leaned in, “May I kiss you, Toshiya? It may sound like a simple request being that you are naked and I can feel your cock pressing against my thigh, but I am a gentleman above all else.” Before Kai could do anything, Toshiya rolled over and pounced on the vampire, “You might be a gentleman, but I’m not.” The faux struggle that ensued was loud enough to wake the dead… Uta and Sakurai laughing at the sounds.  “I believe that Kai has captured the heart of our dear Totchi,” Sakurai kissed Uta soundly before rising from the bed.

          A sudden flash of a naked ass ran by Sakurai as he opened his bedroom door, “Sorry Acchan! Just getting Totchi a clean yukata!” Kai following right behind his new lover. “Take your time, Kai-kun, Uta and I can wait a bit.”

          It took some time before Kai and Toshiya came to the living area, both men flushed in the face and wearing bright smiles. “I’m glad you’re home, Totchi.” Sakurai said fondly. The young man had the sense to blush, “I was a fool and too judgmental. Please accept my apologies, I have no right to tell you how to live.” Kai reached out and caressed Toshiya’s face, “Let me tell you about how I came into the blood,” Sakurai held up his hand, “No, Kai…the story starts with me.” Kai nodded, “Yes my lord.”

          Sakurai told his tale of Ryuichi’s attack in great detail, making sure that Toshiya knew he was forced into the blood, “This is nothing I would have ever wanted on my own,” he continued. Sakurai was brief when speaking about Imai, “He was my first mistake,” he said, “But I see Kai as my first born, truly created out of love.” The story of the two kittens that brought Sakurai and Kai together, touched Toshiya’s heart, “I see why you have such a fondness for cats, my lord.” The use of the honorific surprised Sakurai, “Totchi, you do not have to use that, I am Acchan to you now, not my lord or Lord Sakurai. You are part of the family, and you have the freedom to call me what you will.”

          Uta leaned over and whispered to Toshiya loudly, “Call him an old man, he hates it.” Toshiya’s hand flew to his mouth to stifle a giggle. The story of Issay angered Toshiya, “Peasant?” there were muttered curse words and a vow to repay Issay if he ever came across the man, Kai patting him on the leg.

          “Now there is this bratty child of mine,” Sakurai chuckled as he pulled Uta over his lap, smacking his lover on the ass. “In all seriousness, Uta was brought into the blood to save his life.” At the conclusion of Uta’s story, Toshiya had his young friend in his arms, “You almost died, you stupid boy!” he cried as he kissed Uta’s head. “Yes, Totchi…but now I’m here and I will not be separated from you.”

          Now was the difficult conversation; Did Toshiya want to be brought into the blood and by whom, and surprisingly he was the one to start the conversation. “Can you explain to me what it would be like to be brought into the blood?”

          Kai gasped, “Totchi…no!”

          “Hush Kai, I’m asking Acchan,” Toshiya scolded, “explain it to me please Acchan.” Sakurai bowed his head, then went through the process step by step. “It’s painful, but it only lasts a little while,”

          Kai was looking down at his hands, shaking his head. “Totchi, I don’t want this…” The young man turned to face Kai. “You don’t want this? What about what I want? You say you’re in love with me, if you are wouldn’t you want us to be together forever? How can you say you don’t want this? You stay beautiful and young for eternity, as I get old, withered and eventually die? Who’s being selfish right now Kai?”

          Uta reached over and took Toshiya’s hand in his, “Totchi, it’s okay.” The young man snatched his hand away from Uta, “No, it’s not okay! If he says he loves me, then why wouldn’t he want to be with me forever?” he turned to look at Kai, “You’re not being fair, Kai. If you don’t want me as an immortal, I’m going to guess you don’t want me at all.” Getting up from the floor, Toshiya turned and walked away.

          Kai buried his face in his hands, “I don’t want this Acchan…not for him, he’s too good and kind to become like us.”

          “Kai, you’re being selfish, you are not the one who has the last say in this. If you love Toshiya, truly love the boy…then let him make his own choice.” Sakurai felt for Kai, but he also knew that Toshiya would likely not survive as a mortal for very long. “I’m going to go talk to Toshiya.” Uta gave Sakurai a quick kiss then went towards the kitchen.

          He knew where Toshiya would go, out to the barn to cuddle with Shoda, and sure enough, that’s where he found his young friend. “Totchi, please don’t be angry with Kai, he’s scared for you that’s all.”

          “Scared of what? That I’ll leave? That I’ll hate being an immortal, what the hell does he have to be scared of. If he loves me, then why wouldn’t he want me to be by his side forever?” Toshiya was brushing Shoda’s mane.

          “I think he’s afraid you’ll regret it, that you’ll turn on him and blame him for bringing you into the blood.”

          Toshiya turned to look at Uta, “Do you really think I’d regret something like that? Do you regret it? Does he?” Uta sat on a small barrel, “No, I don’t regret it, but at the time I had no choice in the matter, I was dying. Kai had told me the night before that Acchan loved me, he even admitted he was going to seduce me and ask me to be his blood spouse, but I went and did something stupid so he had no chance to ask me. To be honest, I’m glad he did, I was almost dead when Kai found me. No, I don’t think he regrets it at all, he wanted me as his spouse, that’s not something that’s taken lightly.”

          “That’s what I want, Uta. I want to be Kai’s blood spouse, not just an immortal. I never want to be with anyone but him, can Sakurai do it?”

          “To be a blood spouse, no…Kai has to bring you into the blood. All I can do is talk to him, Totchi. I’m sure Acchan is doing that right now. Let’s give them a little time, it looks like Rai and Goro are jealous of all the attention Shoda’s getting.”
          Uta was right, Sakurai was talking to Kai. “Why do you think this is wrong, Kai? Do you not realize that if you don’t make him your blood spouse and he leaves our home, that you have essentially killed him?”

          “How do you come to that conclusion? How would leaving our home kill Toshiya?”

          Sakurai smiled sadly, “What happened to him when you found him last night? What did you stop from happening? Rape by a larger man, ne?”

          They argued back and forth for twenty minutes before Kai surrendered, “Will you do it?” he asked Sakurai. “No, I will not. If you want him as a blood spouse, it is you that brings him into the blood, he will be tied to you. Do you really want to live for eternity without someone by your side, Kai?”

          Uta and Toshiya walked into the living area just at that moment, Kai turning to look at the beautiful young man who he knew he couldn’t live without. “Toshiya,” Kai held out his hand to him, “Sit with me,” Toshiya hesitated for a moment before he sat down. “I’m sorry I’m being so negative about this, I truly only care how you’re feeling. That being said, I will ask you this; Toshiya, will you be my blood spouse?”

         The year was 1632.

Chapter Text

 

          Bowing to Miko, the mama-san for the geisha house under Reo’s control, Issay took the accounts ledger and made his way to his master’s private room. Knocking twice he opened the door, seeing that Reo was standing behind his desk. “What is it Issay?”

          “I have the totals for the month, my lord. Miko-san has done well with the new girls and the profits are up significantly.” Issay laid the book on the desk and bowed. “If you have nothing…” Reo turned around, “I want you to stay for a moment Issay. Please take a seat.” Without questions, Issay sat on a cushion that was next to the wall and waited silently.

          Another knock on the door and Arimatsu with Asanao entered the room, bowing before their lord. “What have you found?” Reo returned to his chair. “There are two of them, one could possibly be an Ancient, the other is his creation and it appears his lover.” Asanao sat in one of the chairs in front of the desk.

       “They’ve been in town now for three days, only venturing out of their boarding house at night to feed, then they return,” Arimatsu reported. “No one has approached them as yet, I wait for your instructions.” He bowed and moved off to the side of the desk,

     Reo’s face darkened, more so than normal, “Were you able to get names?” Arimatsu nodded, “The older is Imai, his companion is Tangier.” At the sound of Imai’s name, Issay gasped loudly, then averted his eyes to the floor quickly.

     “Issay? Is there a problem?” Asanao asked. “I um, I know the name Imai,” he replied, “He is Sakurai Atsushi’s first creation, I would consider him an Ancient as he was brought into the blood over six hundred years ago. The other I do not know of.” He shifted uneasily in his chair, “What else is there, Issay?”

     “It had slipped my mind, it’s been a long while,” he stammered, “Sakurai had taken me to France, we were not there for long. We were at a cathedral and a female immortal approached us.” Issay was shaking, the memory flooding back into his mind. “Go on,” Reo said. “She said that her master wanted to speak to us, she had us wait and after a few moments, a man appeared out of the shadows, he was Japanese and his name was Yoshiki.” He heard the intake of a sharp breath, Asanao looking at Reo with concern written all over his face. “Is there more Issay?” Asanao prodded.

     “Yoshiki said that he had a message, that Imai wanted to return to Sakurai’s side, that he was lonely. Sakurai got angry and we left at that moment and returned home. It was about one hundred fifty years ago, my lord.” Issay was shaking inside, the sound of Imai’s name grew fear in his gut, he wanted to scream at Reo to kill the other vampire, that he was a threat, but he held his tongue.

     Reo sat back in his chair, “Don’t do anything as of yet, I want you to put some people on him Arimatsu, both day and night. If either one of them venture out other than to feed, bring them to me here.” He turned to Issay, “Issay thank you for the information, you’ll be rewarded, perhaps the new boy that Miko-san has now? I’ve heard he’s very pretty, I will have Jyou send him to you.”  That was his notice of dismissal, “Thank you Reo-san, I only wanted to make sure you knew of the man’s background, and thank you for the boy as well.” He stood and bowed low and left the room.

     As Issay’s back disappeared behind the door, Asanao instantly turned to Reo, “If Yoshiki is involved, I’m not sure we should approach this man. I don’t know if he is friend or foe of Yoshiki’s, something doesn’t add up.”

     “I agree, something is just off right now.” Reo looked at Arimatsu, “See what these two’s choice of victims are, if we can use that to our advantage somehow. Twenty-four hours, then report back to me. I’ll decide what to do then.” Asanao and Arimatsu bowed and left the room, as Jyou entered, “Master, you called for me?”

     “Tonight, let Issay have the new boy that Miko just brought in.”

     “I don’t mean to question you, but why?” Jyou knew how far she could go. “He provided information on the two men that arrived in town, and somehow Yoshiki is connected but at what level we don’t know yet. Be aware of the names Imai and Tangier, Imai could be an Ancient, his maker is Sakurai Atsushi but they had a falling out some six hundred years ago.”

     Jyou sat in one of the chairs, “Six hundred years is a long time to hold a grudge, but as you say, if Yoshiki’s involved we must proceed carefully.” She watched her master closely, “That’s not all is it?” Jyou was closer to Reo on a personal level, she was his only female creation, brought into the blood in the year 1242. Reo found her in a brothel as a young woman who was worn well beyond her years. She had lost the will to live and once she realized what Reo was, she begged him to take her life and end her misery. Instead Reo made her his child, and gave her life a purpose.

     Reo smiled softly at Jyou, “No my love it’s not. But I do not want to make any guesses on what the man wants to do. He is unpredictable as you know. If he approached Sakurai Atsushi in France, to my mind that means he’s watching him carefully. If he is in league with Imai, all that does is spell instant trouble.”

     Reo stood and moved from behind the desk, kneeling in front of Jyou, “Do not worry my love, I will not put any of my children in danger,” He caressed the woman’s face, “Now, go retrieve that pretty boy and take him to Issay, he deserves a little gift for his information.”

 

     Arimatsu gave the instructions to his network of informants, “Watch them carefully, watch the boarding house as well. If anything seems out of place, contact me immediately.” He didn’t like the way the mood had changed, there was an air of hostility and that meant violence, something that Arimatsu would avoid at all costs, as he had no ambition to prove himself on the battle ground, that life was over for him.

     Jyou went to Miko and asked for the boy, “Reo has decided to give him to Issay for the evening, is he still a virgin?” Miko smiled at the woman, “I believe he is, at least for a man, though my girls are fond of him, Ayato is as pretty as any one of them. I would appreciate it if he does not come back to me marked in any way, no bites of course, but no bruises as well.” Bowing to Jyou, Miko went to retrieve the boy Ayato. Watching the other geisha’s as they moved through the upper levels of the house, Jyou could close her eyes and see her self as she was before Reo found her. “That’s over, you have nothing to worry about anymore.” She murmured to herself.

     Miko came towards Jyou, a slender pale boy with luscious lips and feminine features trailed behind her, “This is Ayato, he’s only 17 and fairly pure-hearted.” The boy kept his eyes glued to the floor, not daring to look at Jyou. “Please have Issay send him back well before dawn so he may bathe.” Miko turned to Ayato, “Go with Jyou-san,” the boy nodded, “Yes Mistress.”

     Jyou stopped just short of Issay’s room, “Ayato, you’ll be spending the evening with Issay, if there is any problem what so ever you come to me, is that clear?” The boy nodded, ‘Yes, ma’am.” Jyou knocked on the door.

    “Issay, this is Ayato. Miko-san wants no marks on him at all, please respect that. If at anytime Ayato feels uncomfortable, he has been instructed to come to me directly.” The tone in Joy’s voice was a clear threat and a reminder to Issay that he was still not part of the tight inner circle of Reo’s clan, that he could be removed in an instant.

 

     Ayato stood near the door with his eyes cast down, he had no idea what would happen that night and he was terrified to be in the presence of one of Reo’s men…he knew what they were.

    “Come here boy and sit with me, don’t be afraid I will not hurt you.” Issay could feel the heat of fear radiating from the young man, his blood smelled pure and untainted. Ayato did as he was told, sitting next to Issay on a cushion, his eyes still cast down. Issay reached out and put a finger under Ayato’s chin, lifting it gently, “You are so beautiful. I’m sure you’ve heard that a lot these last few days, ne?”

     The boy blushed furiously, “Yes, Issay-san,” he whispered. “Where is your family? I can’t believe that your Kaasan or Tousan would let you come to a large city like Kyoto on your own.” Ayato closed his eyes and shook his head roughly, leaving Issay to back off quickly. “Would you like a drink, Ayato?”  Issay spent the next three hours trying to coax Ayato into relaxing, plying him with sake, and touching him gently. He wanted this boy… he was so pure and fresh it made his fangs itch, though there was a slight tug to his heart. The overwhelming desire to protect the young man almost (not quite) outweighed the lust in his heart.

     The first kiss was tender and sweet, just a brush of Issay’s tongue over the boy’s lips, “You taste so good, Ayato-kun…let me kiss you more.” Cupping the back of Ayato’s head, Issay gently pushed the boy to the floor, lying across his body. “You’re so beautiful, I want to make love to you, but you are not ready for this…are you?” The boy whimpered, he might not be ready for sex, but he had the desire building in his groin, “Touch me… please Issay-san…”

     Issay’s seduction was born from passion and nothing more, the feelings he was experiencing were reminiscent of what he had felt with Sakurai Atsushi, a burning desire to love and protect Ayato as well as possess the young man. He did everything he could to bring Ayato pleasure, but without the final act of penetration. “You are not ready yet, my lovely boy. I will speak with Miko-san, I want to be your first.” Issay slept with Ayato in his arms until just before dawn, when Jyou returned for the boy.

     “He is free of any marks or bruises, the boy is technically still a virgin,” Issay told Jyou, “I would like to speak to Miko-san about having the honor of taking Ayato’s virginity, but at a later date, he is still so young and tender, I don’t believe he is ready for that level of intimacy as of yet.”

     Issay’s care and concern for Ayato surprised Jyou, “I’m not sure Miko-san will honor that request, the taking of the boy’s virginity could bring a high price from the right person, but I will mention it to her.” With one last kiss and a promise to see him soon, Jyou took Ayato out of Issay’s room and back to the geisha house.

    “Did you enjoy your evening with Issay?” Jyou wanted to get a read on what the young man’s emotions were. “Yes Ma’am, Issay-san treats me very well, he um…it felt nice.” Ayato blushed a deep pink. “Would you like to spend more time with Issay-san?” Ayato looked up wearing a bright smile, ‘Yes ma’am! I would love to,” he lowered his gaze again, “though I’m not sure Miko-san has that in mind for me.” This struck Jyou as an odd comment, “Why do you say that, Ayato?”

     He stopped, “I see how the men look at me when they come in for the girls, I’m sure I will be given to one of them if he pays enough. It’s usually what happens to the pretty boys.” The young man walked down the corridor and into the geisha house, leaving Jyou to wonder if perhaps she should speak to Reo about the fate of the boy.

 

          Issay’s emotions were coursing through is body like warm blood after feeding, the sensation that would make his body vibrate with arousal. “Ayato…” he whispered the boys name. During his seduction, Issay had quickly made up his mind to ask Reo if he could possibly have the boy, but under what conditions, he wasn’t sure. He knew that he would not be able to bring the boy into the blood, that was probably the worst idea he could have. Now as he lay on his futon, crazy ideas ran through his mind; taking Ayato and running back to Sakurai, to be under his protection. Bringing Ayato into the blood and going to the furthest point in the country…though he knew in his heart that Reo would hunt him down, kill him and take the boy back.  Letting sleep take him, Issay vowed to figure out a way that he and Ayato could be together, a way he could bring the boy into the blood and stay with him for eternity.

 

          Imai paced around the small boarding house room he shared with Tangier, chewing on a nail and swearing under his breath as his young lover watched from the bed. “Are they going to hurt us?” the young man asked, “As long as we conduct ourselves appropriately, we should be fine. But I need to see whom ever the clan leader is for this city, I can sense his anger.” Tangier wanted to go home to Fukuoka, he didn’t like the bustling city of Kyoto and wanted nothing to do with the local clan. “Can we just go home, please Imai? I don’t trust these people, they seem dangerous.”

          “I need to speak to the leader before we can do that love, as soon as I do, we can go home.” Imai understood the boy’s fear; the undercurrent of hostility was palatable and the eyes were constantly watching them. “I believe we will just have to stand out in the open and wait to be brought to their leader, I doubt he will come to us.” Holding his hand out to his young lover, Imai hugged him before leaving the room. “Stay near me at all times, do not look anyone in the eye, and if someone speaks to you look at me first before saying anything.” He caressed Tangier’s cheek, kissing him on the forehead before walking out the door.

          The two vampires stood stock still in front of the boarding house waiting for someone to approach them, and it took less than a minute for Arimatsu to do so. “You will follow me, don’t speak to anyone unless you are asked a direct question.” Imai bowed lightly, and taking Tangier by the hand, followed Arimatsu through the darken alleys to the geisha house.

          Tangier’s hand was clenched tightly in Imai’s, small whimpers coming from the boy, he was too young when he came into the blood, but Imai had been lonely, much as Sakurai had been. Imai put his arm around Tangier and kissed the side of his head trying to comfort the boy.

          Noticing that they were now several levels beneath the street, Imai’s keen vampire hearing could tell that the geisha house was a front for prostitution, not that it was anything new to the Ancient. “Wait here, do not move from this spot you are being watched.” Imai nodded, leaning over he whispered to Tangier, “Just look at the floor and don’t speak.” The boy nodded.

          The door opened and Imai and Tangier were ushered into a large room. A heavy desk stood near the back wall, a man of undeterminable age sat behind the desk. “Please, come in and have a seat.”  Imai kept his emotions close, not wanting to alert the man to anything obvious.

          “My name is Reo, I am the clan leader. This is Asanao, he is my clan chief.” Imai bowed his head. “I already know much about you, Imai-san. I know your maker is Sakurai Atsushi, and that you’ve had a falling out with him some time ago.” Reo paused, anticipating questions…he got none.

          “I also know that you are acquainted with a man named Yoshiki,” another pause, again nothing. “I am.” Was all Imai said. “Why are you in Kyoto?”  Imai had noticed Issay, who was not introduced. Tit for tat questions.  

          “Why I am in Kyoto is none of yours.” Imai retorted.

          “That’s where you are wrong, Imai-san. Kyoto falls under my watch, everything here is under my control. An unknown vampire comes uninvited into my territory, it is of my concern. What do you want?”

          “I want Yoshiki, or any information I can get about him. He approached me in Paris, he was the one that informed me that Sakurai was in the city, but had another immortal with him.” Imai glanced over at Issay, “I’m assuming it was you, you fit the description and I can smell his blood on you.”

          Reo leaned forward, resting his elbows on the desk, “Why do you need information about Yoshiki? What exactly do you want from the man?”

          “To put it simply, the man makes me nervous. I had no knowledge of him before he approached me, but he knew who I was and who Sakurai was, but he would not tell me how. I want to know where he stands in the grander scheme of our …um peculiar lifestyle.” Imai wanted everything out in front of him, he held nothing back. “I had told Yoshiki that I wanted to mend the riff with Sakurai, he told me that he was in the city, with another immortal.”

          Reo leaned back and sighed, “Well, I’m going to have to disappoint you Imai-san, to be honest I don’t know much about the man, myself. He’s dangerous, I can give you that, untrustworthy and deadly, if you cross him, he will kill you. How he knew about you and your maker, I don’t have an answer for that either.”

          Imai sighed, “Do you know who is maker is … or was?” Reo shook his head, “No, I don’t and I wouldn’t advise you to ask him, I have a feeling that may be part of the danger about him.”

          Imai frowned, “Do you know where he is at the present time? I’d like to stay way from him if I can.”

          Reo shook his head, “He’s not in Kyoto, nor anywhere within ten kilometers of the city, but that does not mean he’s not in Japan.”

          Imai turned to Issay, “How is Acchan?”

          Issay snorted, “I haven’t seen him in over twenty years, I’m assuming he is still living with that peasant Kai and is still in Hokkaido at that worn-down estate.” Imai cocked an eyebrow, “Kai?”

          Reo cleared his throat, “Gentlemen, can we get back to the problem at hand?”  Issay murmured an apology and Imai returned his attention the Clan leader. “What information do you have on Yoshiki, if you are willing to share it with me?”

          “He’s an Ancient, I know that much…I believe from the 10th century, again I do not know who his maker is, but I’ve seen the destruction he’s wreaked on people that cross him. He has the fire gift and he does not hesitate to use it.” Reo paused, “Imai-san, I suggest you take your lovely boy here and go home. Stay away from Yoshiki at all costs if you want to survive. That’s really all I can give you at this point.”

          Imai sighed, then stood up and bowed low, “Thank you Reo-san, Tangier and I will leave tomorrow evening. I do appreciate you and your clan for our safety while we were in your city.”  Reo bowed as well, then instructed Arimatsu to take Imai and Tangier back to their boarding house.

          Asanao watched them leave the room, “I don’t like this, Reo-san. If Yoshiki finds out that someone is digging into his past, it could cause problems, you know that.”

          Reo sat back down behind his desk, “Yes, I know, but I could not at least warn the man to stay away from him. All we can do is hope that Yoshiki never comes to Kyoto.”

Chapter Text

          “Edo? Really?” Uta couldn’t believe what he was hearing from Sakurai. “Yes, I think we need to get away for a bit,” turning to Kai he winked, “Look at is a favor for Kai, he and Toshiya have not been alone since they were joined.”

          “I’m a little jealous, Uta-kun, I’d love to go to Edo with you, but I think it would be best for Totchi and I to remain here at the estate. If you would please, buy any spice that you believe I’d like, and perhaps a trinket or two for my love.” Kai asked shyly.

 

          The trip to Edo was quick, using the cloud gift Sakurai and Uta arrived in a few hours, leaving plenty of time to find a ryokan and feed before they slept. Sakurai telling his young spouse what entertainment they would experience the next evening. “We will be going to the kabuki theater in the early part of the night, then perhaps a tea house and of course shopping for Kai and Toshiya.”

          Although he was tired from the journey into the city, Uta found it difficult to fall asleep, his body tingling with anticipation of the next evening. After squirming around for fifteen minutes, Sakurai finally had to pin Uta down and with a few rounds of passionate love making, the young vampire succumbed to sleep.

          “That was amazing! I can’t believe that the woman… wasn’t a woman but a man pretending to be a woman? I couldn’t tell the difference, other than the smell of his blood.” Uta had been captivated by the Kabuki performance and marveled at the fact that the actors were all men, with some having played the female roles.  Sakurai smiled softly, “Indeed, the actor was completely believable and the costumes were exquisite.”

     As they left the theater, they walked down the wide street, stopping at the different stalls that peppered the city, Uta on a mission to find the perfect gift for Kai and Toshiya. Slowly going stall to stall, Uta bought a hand painted fan that Uta knew Toshiya would squeal in delight over, some random spices and two new knives for Kai.

     “I’m sure both Kai and Toshiya will appreciate your thoughtfulness Uta,” Sakurai had Uta’s small hand in his as they walked back to the ryokan*, Uta prattling on about something or another. “Do you think Kai will…” Sakurai stopped walking and put up his hand to silence Uta. “Wait,” he said quietly as he glanced around them. “What’s wrong?” Uta asked. Sakurai put his finger to his lips, “Voices, whispers of names,” Tightening his grip on Uta’s hand, Sakurai pulled the boy along quickly, “We need to return to the ryokan right now.”

     Uta knew better than to question Sakurai’s command, a small sharp point of fear was growing in the young vampire’s mind, he knew about the whispers from other immortals when Kai had gone with Sakurai to France.

     Once inside their room, Sakurai secured their door and turned to Uta, “Get your things together, we’re leaving.” Uta’s mouth hung open, “Why? Whose name did you hear?” Uta grabbed his small bag, putting his purchases in, “Two names that I don’t even want to think about; Imai and Issay.”

     Both those names shook Uta to his core, “were there other names?” he tied up his bag, “Yes, two others; Reo and Jyou, these names are not known to me. Are you ready to leave?” Uta nodded. Sakurai led him out of the city into a quiet side street, taking Uta into his arms, Sakurai rose into the air rapidly, his young lover burying his face in the older man’s chest.

 

 

          The relationship that Kai had formed with Toshiya as his blood spouse was deeper than any other that Kai had ever had, even with Sakurai Atsushi. When the time came to bring Toshiya into the blood, Kai was scared that he would some how hurt his young love, the pain of the mortal body dying is something that remained vivid in Kai’s mind, and he wanted nothing like that for Toshiya.

          “Kai, I’ve had things done to me that I’m sure hurt worse than what will happen now, remember how you found me?” For Toshiya’s part, trying to reassure his lover was not fully successful. “Totchi, the process is painful,” Kai turned to Sakurai, “Acchan, can’t you please?” Sakurai held up his hand to stop Kai’s whining, “No Kai-kun, I can’t. I’ve explaine it to you already, if you want Totchi as your blood spouse, you must do it. He would be just another child if I turned him.”

          It was of course, more painful for Kai than it was for Toshiya, who weathered the death of his mortal body with more ease than they expected. “I don’t think I want to know what you experienced in life that made bringing you into the blood so easy…almost painless.” Kai held Toshiya in his arms, “Maybe one day I’ll tell you my full story, but now I’d like to hunt.”

          It was during one of those hunts that something unexpected came face to face with Kai and Toshiya; a young woman…another immortal. Kai smelled her before she came to stand in front of them, thirty or so feet away. Kai put his arm out across Toshiya’s chest, “Stay back,” he said roughly. The young woman looked as if she would run if they approached her any closer.

          “Who are you?” Kai asked first.

          “Na…Naoto, you’re like me…you won’t hurt me will you?”

          Kai said nothing at first, “Who is your maker?”

          The young woman looked down at the ground, “I don’t know his name.”

          “Kai, I don’t like this, she looks scary.” Toshiya whined.

          “Where are you living? I have not seen nor smelled you in the area.”

          “I hide during the day, anywhere I can. I’ve had to bury myself at times. My village accused me of being a namanori*, and chased me out of my home, I don’t understand anything that’s going on, can you help me please?” The young woman fell to her knees, “I’m tired and hungry, I don’t know what’s happening, am I going to die?”

          Kai looked at Toshiya, “Stay back, I’m going to go to her.” Toshiya gasped, “NO! She might hurt you, please…don’t…”

          “Will you trust me?” Kai asked Naoto, “Yes, if you’re going to hurt me please just kill me,” This hurt Kai to his core, “I’m not going to hurt you Naoto, I promise.” He carefully walked up to the girl and sat down next to her, “Tell me what happened.”

          Naoto’s tale sounded similar to Sakurai’s, a strange man and a seduction which led to a bite, one lesson on how to survive, then a disappearence. “How did your village discover you?” Kai asked.

          “They saw my eyes right after he turned me into this…” she looked down at her body, “they told me I was a namamori and they came after me with knives and katana, I just ran until the sun came up, I found an old hut and buried myself under the dirt.”

          Kai reached out and covered Naoto’s hand with his, “If you’d like, you can come with us and we will give you a safe place to stay and food to eat, I will take you hunting tomorrow night.” Kai looked over his shoulder at Toshiya, who had hid himself behind a tree. “Toshiya is my blood spouse, he’s frightened of you but I do not fear you, you are of no threat to either of us.”

          Kai stood and offered his hand out to Naoto, who hesitated for a moment, reaching up she let Kai help her to her feet. “I will not harm either one of you, I can tell you’re older than me, and I honestly don’t have the strength to do anything.”

          Naoto followed Kai to where Toshiya was hiding, “Totchi, she’s coming home with us. Naoto needs food and sleep, we will wait until Acchan and Uta come home before deciding anything, and she is no threat to us.” Kai’s voice told Toshiya that his decision was final and there was no arguing the point.

          Talking to the young woman on the way back to the estate, Kai found that Naoto was about the same age as Uta, “My lord’s blood spouse was the same age as you, so you don’t have to worry about being surrounded by old people.” Kai teased. This brought a small smile to Naoto’s face.

          Arriving at the estate, Kai made sure to have Naoto eat some rice, then showed her to a bedroom. “These blinds pull down to block out all light. I will wake you sometime this evening and will help you to hunt.” With a heartfelt thank you, Naoto slid into the futon. She sighed as she snuggled down into the soft bed, her heart a little lighter and with a bit of hope to what would happen in the future.

          “How do you know she won’t come in here and kill us! Seriously, I don’t feel safe wit…” Kai grabbed Toshiya and shoved his tongue down his lover’s throat for a good minute. “You need to stop overthinking this, you need to stop talking… the only sound I want to hear from you is moaning, and calling out my name.” Kai nibbled his way down Toshiya’s body, with the intent of silencing him with sex.

 

          He could smell her, a female immortal in his house, something that put Sakurai on edge and walking straight to Kai’s bedroom and opening the door without knocking. “Who is in my house? Where did she come from?” he demanded. Kai struggled up through sleep, “Her name is Naoto, we found her as we were out feeding, she’s of no threat Acchan, please let us just leave it for tonight.”

          Sakurai wasn’t thrilled with the idea of an unknown immortal sleeping within the walls of his home, but he trusted Kai’s judgement, “I want you up as early as possible, we need to talk about other things than just this stray girl.” Kai didn’t like the tone of Sakurai’s voice, but dawn was coming and the need for sleep was overpowering his thoughts.

 

          Naoto sat near the table in the living area, with her eyes cast down, listening to Kai and Sakurai discuss her future, the eldest vampire glancing at the young woman, “Naoto I am not angry with you, just surprised. I did not expect to return to my home and find a female immortal in one of my rooms.” He saw a tear fall from her eyes.

          “Tell me about the night that you were brought into the blood, Naoto. Describe who this man was and how he got into your home.” She nodded, “Yes, my lord.” The story that followed could be a repeat of his own life the night that Ryuichi brought him into the blood. “He looks a lot like you, my lord. He’s very attractive and the fact that he was paying attention to me and not one of my sisters…I’m sure you can imagine how I would feel.”

          Sakurai sighed, “Yes, I can understand that, he is a very seductive man, he’s following the same pattern. Did he leave you soon after you were brought into the blood?” Naoto nodded, “it wasn’t even an hour, he grabbed one of my sisters and instructed me how to feed, then he killed her in front of me,” Naoto took a breath as she wiped her eyes, “he laughed when I begged him not to kill her, then he just threw her body in a corner and vanished.”

          Uta hid his head in Sakurai’s shoulder, “What happened with the villagers?” Naoto sniffled, “They claimed I was a namanori and came after me with knives and katana’s, I ran until dawn started to break. I found an old stone hut and buried myself under the floor. That’s where I have lived until Kai-san found me.”

          Kai had left the room to retrieve some tea, assuring Naoto that it would calm her nerves. Looking at the others, Sakurai made his decision, “Naoto-chan, you are welcome to live here under my protection, and you can join my family as one of my children if you so desire. You will come to no harm while in my home, you have all of us that will stand in the way of anyone that tries to hurt you.”

          “Thank you, my lord,” Naoto’s voice wavered with emotion, “I will pledge my loyalty to you and my brothers, in turn I will protect you with my life as well.” Naoto bowed low, her forehead touching the floor. Uta and Toshiya were moved by the young woman’s story, Toshiya with some amount of guilt for his untrusting thoughts from the night before. “My lord, it seems that we are to become a family built on the foundations of rescuing of the strays in life.” Kai pointed out with a chuckle.

          “I could do worse in life than that, Kai-kun, you were not a stray but Uta and Toshiya here, and now Naoto needed something, and I was able to give it to you all.” He looked fondly at his small but growing family, wondering how many of Ryuichi’s stray creations he would come across.

 

          Uta and Toshiya took Naoto to hunt, while Kai and Sakurai stayed behind to discuss exactly what was happening. “Why are you home so soon Acchan? What happened in Edo?” Kai had an idea but wanted to hear what his master had to say before speaking. “The same as in France with both you and Uta; the whispering of names though this time I could easily understand what was being said though some of the names are of strangers.”

          Sakurai went through the short time they were in Edo, the Kabuki and teahouses, “Uta chose some nice gifts for you, I’m sure he’ll be wanting to give them to you later tonight.” Kai’s eyes brightened, “I hope they are useful gifts,” he paused, “what names did you hear? I’m almost scared to ask.”

          Sakurai frowned, “Yoshiki’s was the first, nothing more than what sounded like a chant of his name, but then the other two that worry me; Imai and Issay.” As he spoke the names, Kai gasped, “Issay and Imai? What could be the connection between those two? And now we have to worry about Ryuichi as well?” Kai leaned back in his chair. “I don’t like this Acchan…something’s coming and it’s not going to be pleasant nor will it be easy.”  

          “I’m concern on how many more has Ryuichi turned? He seems to be doing it randomly and at will. How many are there beside myself and Naoto, we can not be the only one’s brought into the blood by that monster!”

          “What do you have planned…if anything?” Kai needed reassurance that there was in fact, a plan of some sorts. Sakurai didn’t’ say anything for some time, deep in thought about just that…what to do about Ryuichi.

          “If we come across any others that have been made by Ryuichi, if they are not hostile or threatening in any way, I will offer them protection here at the estate. I would rather keep them close, than have them influenced by someone else to do harm.”

          Kai felt this was something he could agree on, “What about Imai and Issay? We have no idea where they are or if they are planning anything, do we go and look for either one of them?”

          Again, Sakurai was silent, “I don’t know, Kai. They are my children even though we are separated, I brought them into the blood and I am not like Ryuichi, I have not abandoned them, rather I forced them out due to their obnoxious and unreasonable behavior to myself and you. What I will do if I come in contact with them, I have no answer yet.”  The year is 1650.

 

Image result for Naoto exist trace no makeup Naoto of Exist Trace

Chapter Text

           “I will lose a significant amount of money, this is not the ideal outcome nor path I want for the boy.” Miko was standing in front of Reo, arguing her point for the taking of Ayato’s virginity by Issay, she was completely against it. Miko knew she could find the right customer that would be willing to shell out a large sum of money for the privilege of de-flowering the beautiful boy. Issay sat against the wall, watching the negotiations carefully, Ayato was standing behind Miko.

          Reo raised an eyebrow, “You will be losing money?” he leaned forward, “May I remind you who you work for, Miko-chan? Who took you from that shitty whore house you were working in and put you in charge of the girls in my employ?” Miko shifted uneasily, “Lord Reo,” she said in a tiny voice.

          “Would you rather someone who paid for the boy, believe that it was within his right to do what he would? The possibility that the boy could be hurt, ruined or perhaps killed, does it not bother you?” Reo didn’t appreciate his subordinates growing cocky and arrogant, exactly what Miko was doing right now.

          Looking at Ayato, who stood motionless with his eyes cast to the floor, Reo took a different approach, “Ayato, look at me boy,” Ayato looked up, “What do you want?” Ayato stared at the man as if he’d grown another head.

          “I have no say in the matter, I’m nothing and you own me,” his gaze returned to the floor, “I am the illegitimate child of a geisha, I’m a whore or I’m homeless, it is your choice.” He said in a defeated voice. “Thank you, Ayato. You may return to your room.” Reo dismissed the young man, waiting until he is out of the room before speaking.

          “Please my lord, let me have Ayato,” Issay starts to beg his master, “I’m losing money if you allow this Reo-san.” Miko argues back, glaring at Issay, “There is no valid reason why he should have the honor of taking the boy’s virginity!”  Issay snorted, “Honor? You speak of honor but then talk about how much money you’d be losing, you speak of honor when you do not know if the boy will be abused during this act, please Miko-san do not try to hide your truth.”

          Reo closed his eyes and leaned back in his chair, “Issay is right. You have no guarantee that the boy would be handled with care, you are only concerned about how much the boy would fetch, you are not concerned on what happens to him after you’ve taken the money, which by the way is MY money…not yours. I’m the person that would be losing money, you work for me Miko, you are under my protection. If you want to try to go independent there is a price, that I’m sure you are not willing nor able to pay.”

           With those last words, Reo dismissed everyone, “I’m done with this for today, you will have my answer by the end of the night.” Miko and Issay bowed to their lord and left the room, Issay taking care to stay away from the mama-san.

          “What do you think? Shall I give Ayato to Issay?” Reo spoke softly, Jyou had been observing from a corner of the room. “I don’t like the way Miko is trying to set rules for the running of your business, she works for you.” Jyou had never had much of a problem with Miko, other than the woman’s attempt to promote herself into a more valued position than what she held. “Issay has been loyal to you, has always done what he was told and in the past he has provided you with valueable and helpful information,” she paused, “Give him Ayato, at least as a lover. I feel that Issay will take better care of the boy than if he goes into the geisha house, he may be ruined or as you said, perhaps killed. He is a fragile young man, it would not take much effort to break him.”

          Reo frowned, “Just as a lover, nothing more?” Jyou smiled softly at her maker and master, “I can’t tell you what to do, my lord. I’m sure Issay would beg you to let Ayato be brought into the blood, but at what price? Talk to the boy, see what he wants.” The elder vampire nodded, “It is unusual, but I believe that it should be done this way. I have something crawling across my skin in regards to Miko, watch her for me.” Rising from her seat, Jyou bowed to Reo, “I will have Ayato brought to you in your private room, my lord.”

         

        Walking down the dark stairs, Ayato’s mind whirled in confusion, was he about to be told that he would be sold off to the highest bidder? “Of course, you will be, you’re nothing more than a piece of meat to them.” He muttered as he stopped in front of Reo’s door, “sumimasen.”

          “Enter,” gently sliding the door open, Ayato first bowed to the older man, then moved to sit next to him. “Don’t be frightened, I’m not here to harm you, I just want to talk to you a bit about what happened earlier tonight.”

          “Yes, my lord.” The young man sat down next to Reo, his hands in his lap and his eyes to the floor. “First off, look at me boy,” Reo didn’t need the submissive young man accepting his fate blindly.

          “This evening there was a bit of a split on what should be done with you. I had you brought here for a specific reason.” Ayato was sure that it would be Reo who would take his virginity, thus ending the argument between Miko and Issay…or so he thought.

          Reo looked the boy in the eyes, “Do you understand what I am…what Issay and Jyou are?”  The question caught Ayato off guard, this was not what he had been expected to asked. “I do, my lord, though I don’t understand most of it…but is it such a terrible thing?” Reo chuckled, “No, I don’t believe it is, but I had no say in my change, but that’s another story entirely. How do you feel about Issay?”

          This brought a smile to the young man’s face, “He treats me like I’m a person and not just something to fuck. He had the opportunity that night, but he chose not to…he said I wasn’t ready. He asked me to come back, that he cared for me deeply. He was not what I expected at first, I guess I believed he was some sort of monster that would force me and hurt me.”  This was a typical opinion of those who knew nothing about the underdark world of blood drinkers. “What do you think of Jyou, or Arimatsu? Is this something that interests you?”

          “Jyou-san has always been nice to me, she told me that if Issay-san made me uncomfortable that she would come and get me. I do not know Arimatsu-san other than by sight,” Ayato hesitated for a moment, “will you tell me about it? Explain what it all means, please.” What Ayato was asking, humbled Reo in a way. He had not been asked or consulted or even told, what was going to happen. As with the others, his being brought into the blood was a hit and run attack, a mere ten or fifteen minutes. No words and no guidance.

          Reo smiled and started explaining the life of a blood drinker, the torments and passions, the pain and the ecstasy, he did not romanticize the act, nor did he paint it in gore, he just gave Ayato the facts. The boy listened intently, waiting until Reo was finished before asking any questions.

          “Can I stay with Issay or do I have to go back to the geisha house?” was his first question. “If you chose to do so, you may stay with Issay.” Chewing on a nail, Ayato thought quickly, “How will I earn my keep?” This question shouldn’t have surprised Reo but it did. “I’m sure you can do something to assist Jyou in daily work, you do not have to worry about that, Ayato.”

          “Will Issay change me?” he asked quickly, “No, Issay will not be the one to bring you into the blood, that would be me. I do this to keep things in order, I can not have my people randomly bringing others into the blood. Are you saying that you want this?”

          Without even a heart beat between the question, Ayato answered, “Yes please. Can we do it tonight?” Reo laughed, “No my dear, we will wait until tomorrow night, I want you to be rested and I will make some other arrangements. I will also be speaking to Miko-san, after tomorrow night you will stay with Issay in his room. Tonight, I want you to stay here in my room, I don’t entirely trust Miko to try and thrust you together with some random customer, it will be safer for you here.”

          Ayato’s body sagged in relief, “Thank you, my lord. I was worried that she may try to do something like that, even if it would be against your will and mine.” Reo did something that even surprised himself, reaching over he cupped Ayato’s face in his hand and kissed the boy lightly. “You are truly beautiful and I’m sure Issay will be over the moon to have you as his own. I am happy to call you my child.”

          With another quick kiss, Reo told Ayato to make himself comfortable, “I’ll have Jyou go and retrieve your things, and don’t worry about Miko, she will not harass you now that you are in my room.” Ayato thanked Reo again, then pulled out a futon and made ready for sleep, the anticipation of both being brought into the blood and having Issay make love to him, burned in his heart, he knew it would be difficult to fall asleep that night.

 

          “Where is Ayato? Why haven’t you brought him back?” Miko was watching as Jyou went through Ayato’s sleeping quarters, gathering the boy’s belongings. “Where he is, is none of your business, if you have a problem then I suggest you speak with Reo-san.” Jyou took the small bag and pushed past the mama-san, “Do not think about retaliation, Miko…you do not want to cross Reo-san, ever.”

          Jyou had quietly spoken to Reo about Miko, “I just get the feeling that we should expect some sort of retribution, in what form I don’t know. I’m going to ask Arimatsu to put someone on her.” Reo sighed, “She’s getting brave enough to think she can stand up to me, it may be time to move her out and get someone else to replace her. Tell Asanao as well, in the mean time I’d like for you to look for a suitable replacement.”

          Ayato had spent a restful night in Reo’s private room, with no fears of being dragged out of bed to service a customer, he had slept through the night peacefully. “Ayato-kun, come here please.” Reo held his hand out to the boy. “Jyou is going to stay here with us for support, ne? Remember what I told you, the death of your mortal body is painful, as small and fragile as you are, it may be more intense.”

          Ayato nodded, “I understand my lord and I’m ready for this please.” With another soft kiss, Reo gathered Ayato in his arms, licking up the side of the boy’s neck and as gently as possible, sank his fangs into the boy’s vein. Ayato whined at first, then slid his arm around Reo’s neck, clinging to the vampire as he drained the blood from his body. Just as Ayato was near death, more pale than he had ever been, Reo sliced his wrist open and held it to the young man’s lips, “Drink boy…drink so you can live.”

          Ayato held Reo’s wrist against his mouth and started to drink, the warm blood flowing softly over his tongue, a flush of arousal in his groin, “That’s it…that’s enough boy.” Reo took his wrist away, licking the wound closed. “I’m going to let Jyou hold you, the pain will start soon.” Though Ayato thought he was prepared for his body to die, prepared for the pain that was to come, he had underestimated that pain. “Jyou-san?” he stuttered, “Mmm, it’s going to be okay, Ayato. You are not alone in this.” The scream that came from Ayato’s mouth was gut wrenching, his body contorted in convulsions as he thrashed in Jyou’s arms.

          Issay had been inside the geisha house with Miko, working on the ledger when he heard the first scream, “Who is that?” he looked over at the woman, “Most likely it is your precious boy, it seems that Reo decided to change him, and rob us of a great deal of money.” Issay’s head whipped around, “That’s Reo-san to you, Miko. Do not get overly familiar with our master.” Grabbing the large book, Issay left Miko sitting alone in her room to fume over what was being done to Ayato.

          The closer he got to Reo’s room, the stronger the scent of Ayato’s blood became, Issay moaning at the perfume. Standing in front of Reo’s door, he heard Ayato’s cries and he reached out for the door, “No Issay, return to your room.” Reo commanded from the other side. “Yes, my lord,” he obeyed immediately, turning away quickly.

          Unsure why Ayato was being brought into the blood, Issay’s mind raced with different theories; Ayato was going to be Reo’s blood spouse, or his concubine. Maybe Issay would be allowed to have the young man, to take his virginity from him, and yet he would not belong to Issay. He could still hear Ayato’s cries, though he could sense that the transformation was almost complete. Waiting to be summoned seemed to be an eternity before Jyou came to him. “Come with me.”

          Opening the door to Reo’s room, Issay found the young man sitting in Reo’s lap and his heart dropped; Ayato was to be Reo’s. “Oh, don’t look so sad, Issay-kun, this is not as it appears.” Reo chuckled. The young man looked at Reo who then nodded. Ayato got up and walked towards Issay, “I’m to be yours now, forever.”

          Issay’s mouth dropped, “Wha…what did you say? Reo-san?” he looked at his master. “It is as Ayato said, he is yours to love and to cherish, Issay. I expect you to treat my child with respect and love, or you will deal with me if something goes amiss, is this understood?” All Issay could do was nod.

          “Why my lord? Not that I don’t appreciate the gesture, but why did you do this?” Issay was having a difficult time processing the act. “Several reasons. I didn’t like the way Miko was handling the entire affair, I had valid concerns that she would have just given the boy to anyone for the right price, and that’s unacceptable. You have proven yourself to be a great asset and a loyal part of my clan, and you deserve to be rewarded.” Reo looked at Ayato, “This boy has seen enough tragedy in his short life, I wish to give him a new life and new hope, although I know that sounds a bit odd, coming from a vampire. He expressed his desires to be with you, Issay. He told me how you treated him the night he had spent with you, that you could have taken him, yet you did not and you gave the excuse that he wasn’t ready. That gave a great deal of weight to my decision, and now I will leave you both to your desires.” With a stiff bow, Reo left the room.

 

          “Foolish girl!” Miko slapped the young lady, “You could have made extra money if you would have only done what he asked!” The young geisha bowed to the ground, “I’m sorry Miko-san, he was being rough with me, I didn’t think you’d like to see him mark me!” the girl cried. “Just go get cleaned up and go back to your room.” the mama-san snapped.

          Miko was angry, the loss of Ayato was huge. She now had to explain to the customer she had lined up, that the boy had been given away and was no longer in her house, she only hoped that the man would not see Ayato on the streets. It wasn’t just the loss of the income (that she had planned on pocketing half of) it was the loss to the damned vampires. She hated working under Reo, but she owned him her life and there was simply no way out of what she had created for herself, short of running away and living in the streets again.

          “No, that I will not do. You will repay me Reo-san, it may not be tomorrow, but I will make sure to get my revenge on you.”  The year is 1652.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

          Watching his lover lying on the floor playing with a small cat, Inoran smiled contentedly, Yusuke had not lost his child like innocence even after five hundred years. “Watch for the koneko-chan’s claws my love, even one so small can wreak havoc.” Yusuke rolled over on his back, “No less damage than you can cause me, need I remind you of the episode at the ryokan in Inokuchi?” the young man teased.

          Inoran snorted, “That was three hundred years ago, how often do I have to apologize? I was young and you were just as sexually deviant as you are now. I did no permanent harm, you need to let this go.”

          Yusuke turned over and crawled on his hands and knees towards Inoran, “Sexually deviant?” he purred as he climbed into his lover’s lap, “I’ve never heard you complain once about my deviance, quite the opposite…my name is the only word you speak when I fuck you into the floor.”

          Yusuke leaned into Inoran, nuzzling the man’s neck and nibbling on an earlobe, “Yusuke…” he whined. The young man pushed his maker back onto the floor, straddling Inoran’s waist. “Shall I fuck you into the floor now?” he slid his hand inside his lover’s yukata, “I want to hear you beg for it, Inoran…”  Inoran could never deny Yusuke, no matter what the man asked for, he willingly gave into his desires.

          The first time he gave into Yusuke’s demands was the night he brought the young man into the blood, Yusuke seducing Inoran the night he came down out of the Hida mountains and into the small village of Inokuchi, in the year 1103. Inoran had spent the first one hundred years alone, feeding off animals to survive and fearing human contact.

          His tale of being brought into the blood had a familiar ring to it; a beautifully handsome man appeared in the court of Minamoto no Yormitsu*, a regent of the Fujiwara Clan in Inokuchi, worming his way into the favor of the daimyo.  Inoran was the son of one of Minamoto’s many concubines, living in better conditions than most of those in the small village.

The man’s name was Ryuichi and he claimed to be a renowned poet from the south, and he did perform for Minamoto and his court, and the man was given a room of his own and a few servants.

          Inoran could feel Ryuichi’s eyes on him constantly in the evening while he was going about his nightly duties. The poet slept during the day, in a room that was darkened further by heavy cloth hung over the doors, Ryuichi explaining that as a traveler, he had become accustomed to performing at night, and thusly sleeping during the day…no one questioned him on this claim.

          It was during one of those evening hours when Ryuichi approached Inoran, “Pardon me young man, could you show me to where the baths are?” A simple enough request of a visitor, Inoran bowed and escorted the man to the back of the house, where a natural hot spring pool was located. “Is there anything else you require, Ryuichi-sama?”

          “Would you sit with me, Inoran-san? I tend to get a bit lonely during the night, it’s not an ideal schedule for one who sleeps during the day, it leaves me with not many people to talk to.”  Inoran agreed and took a seat near the edge of the pool. “Your daimyo has a lovely estate, so many beautiful concubines. Is one of them your mother?”

          Inoran found himself telling Ryuichi more than he should, to a stranger. There was something hypnotic about the poet as his words flowed softly in his ears. “Come and join me Inoran-san, this is a lovely pool and I’d like to share it with you.” Inoran’s brain screamed at him to run, get away from this man…but he found himself unable to do anything other than what Ryuichi asked.

          Dropping his yukata to the ground, Inoran eased himself into the hot spring pool, Ryuichi moving to his side quickly, “You’re a very handsome man, Inoran-san,” the man was next to Inoran in an instant, his arms sliding around the young man’s waist as he pulled him close. “You want me, don’t you?” Inoran nodded his head, “yes…”

          With preternatural speed Ryuichi was on Inoran in half a second, sinking his fangs into the boy’s neck.  He tried to fight back, but the slow draining of his blood weighed him down as the light in his eyes started to fade to black. As the sounds around him started to echo, the sudden taste of blood filled his mouth. He could hear Ryuichi telling him to drink, that it was his new life, “come boy…if you want to live then you have to drink.” The taste was sweet and heady as the blood flowed warmly across his tongue.

          With a wrenching pull, Ryuichi growled, “Enough!” he pushed Inoran away, letting the man to flounder in the pool. “What have you done to me?” Inoran gasped as he reached up to his neck, “I’ve done you a great service Inoran, you will forever remain as beautiful as you are tonight, for eternity.”

        Inoran was just going to speak when the first pains of his mortal body dying, hit hard, as he doubled over in pain. “Come here, you silly boy, let me hold you through your change.” Grabbing Inoran around the waist, Ryuichi lifted him and got out of the pool. Sitting on a large rock, Ryuichi held Inoran in his arms as the boy cried out in pain, “Wha…it hurts! Why does it hurt so much?” Ryuichi said nothing, just holding the boy tightly in his lap.

       For the next three hours Ryuichi did what he had not done for his other children, he stayed by Inoran’s side and taught the man the basics of living as an immortal, yet he could not understand why Inoran was special. This young man kept his attention, he did not feel the instant repulsion that he had felt with his other creations, Inoran was truly his first child.  Inoran was repulsed by his new body, the heightened senses that flooded his brain and made his body buzz with heat. The acts that Ryuichi was teaching him, were revolting, but at the same time he craved the sweet taste of the warm blood.

       Watching as Ryuichi finished drinking from one of the household guards, and throwing the body in a ditch behind the main house, Inoran swore to himself, he would never feed off a human. “You will at some point my child.” Ryuichi heard his child’s thoughts, “There is nothing like the taste and thrill of youthful blood crossing your lips, your fangs will itch for it, you will crave the taste…animal blood will sustain you, but to feed from a human is what makes you an immortal.”

      As the soft light of dawn was creeping over the eastern mountains, Ryuichi instructed Inoran on how critical it was for survival as a fledgling vampire to sleep during the day. “I will leave you with the room your daimyo gave me, it is as dark as night. You will not see me again.” With those last words, Ryuichi lifted into the sky and disappeared. The year was 980 and Inoran was 24 years old.

 

          Inoran had spent the next one hundred years traveling through the country, trying to find Ryuichi, with little success. He had come across elders of villages that told stories while sitting in a dimly lit izakaya, stories of a handsome man that came through, staying only a few hours only to disappear, and leave behind a young one that had changed into something they didn’t understand.

          Inoran understood; Ryuichi was haphazardly bringing people into the blood. The ancient was creating brothers and sisters for Inoran, but not all survived. He had heard stories of one young girl who had gone insane and sat out in the sun literally burning to death, the ashes of the girl were collected and blessed, then spread into the sea.

          He had come close to finding Ryuichi only once, in Kyoto in the year 1049. He could sense the other as a new fledgling, but the anger and violence that went a long with that person, was enough to scare Inoran into not seeking him out, instead he moved on, following another cold trail.

          On and off over the years he would find himself near Inokuchi, often watching the estate of his father. He understood that in 1021, his father had died and a new daimyo had taken over, though the family was still part of the Fujiwara clan. He had seen his mother only once, in the pool behind the home, she was bathing with some of the other concubines. Inoran thought she was still beautiful, but he could see the time worn creases in her face. He gave her a silent goodbye with the knowledge that he knew he’d never see her again.

          Living in solitude was slowly causing Inoran physical pain, hunting and feeding only on animals, he swore he’d never feed on a human and kept away from them intentionally. But it was a night where his thirst could not be quenched by any horse or cow, no goat or dog. He knew he needed human blood and it scared him to think how he was going to get it.

          The opportunity came to him as if the Kami’s themselves heard his plea. In a no-name town, Inoran was skulking in the shadows of the darken streets, when someone approached him, “Konbanwa…can I offer you some comfort, Nii-chan?” a soft lilting voice came from behind him. Inoran stopped and turned to look at the man. He was tall and slender with delicate features and deep set dark brown eyes, his hair was cut asymmetrically, “What can you offer me?” Inoran waited for the man to approach him.

          The young man chuckled, “Whatever you crave this evening, a hard fuck or a warm body to lie with.” Inoran stood still as the man came closer, “What if I told you I desired a hard fuck and not just your warm body but your blood as well, would you agree to this?” Now that the man was in front of him, Inoran could see that he was truly handsome. “Why don’t we discuss this in my home, ne?”

          Reaching out the young man took Inoran by the hand, “Your hand is cold, you must need something to warm yourself up.” Inoran chuckled. “It’s going to take a lot to warm me…what is your name?”

          “Yusuke.”

          Yusuke’s home was nothing more than a three walled hut, with a heavy piece of canvas as a door. The near squalid conditions concerned Inoran. “This is your home?” he asked. “As much as a home can be, yes. I’m sorry that it’s not to your liking, my lord. It’s obvious that you have some wealth. Now let’s stop talking and get on with warming your body a little.”

          Yusuke pulled Inoran down onto a worn and dirty futon, sliding his hands into the man’s yukata, “Mmm, you’re so cold, you’re not ill, are you?” Inoran nuzzled Yusuke’s neck, “No, I’m not ill, shall I tell you why I’m cold?” he licked the man’s neck, nibbling on the flesh of his collar bone, “I doubt you will take it as the truth,”

          Yusuke sat up on his elbow, “Try me…you may be surprised on what I will believe.” Inoran sat up, “What if I told you I’m an immortal?” Inoran waited for the laughter, or the fear. “I’d say that sounds interesting, yet I’m not sure I believe you. Is there a way you can prove it?” Now Inoran laughed. “Other than showing you these…” Inoran bared his fangs, “the only other way is by feeding on you.” Inoran felt no sense of fear from Yusuke, it was disquieting.

          “Will you kill me?”

          “No! Why would I do that?

          “I would assume that I would become your victim.”

          “What utter nonsense! I can feed on you without killing you.”

          Yusuke laid back down and smiled, “What if you fuck me first, then we’ll talk about the other thing.” Inoran couldn’t pass up the offer, and the possibility of a willing victim.

          Yusuke proved to be a bit of a deviant, his sexual proclivities leaned towards domination, but he submitted as well. Inoran had never had a lover such as this, as he had never had a male lover, he was surprised at some of the acts the man performed on him.

          After sating themselves on sex, Inoran needed to feed, whether it be Yusuke or someone else. “Will you let me feed on you? It’s now or it will have to wait, I need to feed soon…before the sun comes up.”

          Yusuke studied Inoran, the man was intriguing, sexually satisfying and someone he didn’t think he wanted to lose, “Can you make me like you?” This question horrified Inoran, “No! I will not do that!” the vampire started to get up, Yusuke grabbing him by the wrist at the last moment pulling him back down. “Are you alone? Are there others like you?”

          Inoran closed his eyes and sighed, “Yes, but I don’t know how many. My maker is creating others like me at will, why do you ask?” Yusuke said nothing for a few moments. “Are you happy being alone with none of your kind to keep as a companion? Do you not long for someone to sleep your days away and one to love you throughout the night?”

          How did this young man know where to hit Inoran in the heart? “No, I’m not happy…but asking this of me is beyond what I feel I can do, please do not ask this of me.” Reaching up, Yusuke cupped the back of Inoran’s head, pulling him down into a heated kiss. “Feed on me then…see if you can stop before I take my last breath, then and only then do you decide. If you want a companion for eternity, I am offering myself to be that companion, I have nothing else to live for truly.”

          Inoran sighed, this was not what he had planned for, but Yusuke’s words rang true in his heart; he was lonely and he did not want to go through eternity alone. “If I do this, you will lose everything from your mortal life, including your body. It will die and it is not without a great deal of pain. You will live your life in darkness and shadows, your life will depend on draining blood from other humans, animals if we can not feed normally…are you sure Yusuke?”  With a crooked little grin, Yusuke pulled Inoran down for another kiss, “Shut up and bite me.” The year was 1103.

 

 

Image result for inoran luna sea Inoran                 Image result for yusuke lynch.  Yusuke     

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Related image Ryuichi, the Primogenitor.

 

Image result for reo lynch Reo

Image result for asanao lynch Asanao

 

Image result for arimatsu vamps Arimatsu

 

Image result for miko exist trace Miko

 

Image result for ayato datura Ayato

 

Image result for dir en grey kaoruKaoru

 

Related imageTangier, (Toman from XOX)

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

          Ayato walked through the shop as he waited for the order he had for Jyou-san to be collected, looking at the various trinkets that were on the shelves. This was his normal routine for the week, Jyou sending him out to run errands for her. This night he was picking up the order for the special makeup the geishas used, and some new hair trinkets as well. It had been two years since Reo had brought Ayato into the blood and then given him to Issay as a lover, two years of happiness.

          “Ayato-chan, I have your order complete.” The merchant called out to the young man, “Please give my regards to Jyou-san.” Ayato smiled, bowed and thanked the man for his service. The streets were still busy in the evenings, crowds of people shopping before going home for the night after long hours at work. The capital city of Kyoto was becoming more crowded each year, travelers coming in from the countryside to do their yearly business and to enjoy the developing theater arts district.

          Weaving his way through the crowded side streets, it was slow going for Ayato as he made his way back to the geisha house. Had he waited until later that night, he might have noticed the rough looking man that was following him, but without warning, his thoughts of what he and Issay would be doing later that evening, where cut short by a hard blow to the back of his head.

         

          Miko frowned, “I sent him to the merchant for items for the girls, that was several hours ago, Issay-san, he never returned.” Issay left the room without a reply, going out to look for his young lover. It had been over three hours since anyone had last seen Ayato, Miko claiming to have sent him to the merchant on the main street. As Issay turned the corner, he saw a small silk bag, its contents strewn across the ground. Picking up the bag, he knew this was what Ayato had been carrying, there were makeup items lying near by. “Ayato…”

          Making a quick surveillance of the small alleyways, Issay knew that Ayato was not just a victim of theft or mugging, the boy had been taken. “Fuck,” picking up the items on the ground, he quickly turned and went back to the geisha house. Passing Jyou in the hallway, Issay snapped at her, “Someone has Ayato.” He pushed past her and went into Reo’s private room without knocking.

          Reo glared at the man, “Issay-san, this is rather rude of you, wha…” Issay put the silk bag on Reo’s desk. “Ayato’s been missing for at least three hours and when I went to go search for him, I found this on the ground.”

          “What did Miko say?”

          “She said she sent him to the merchant for some items for the girls and he never returned. She obviously didn’t think of sending someone out to look for him, nor did she come to me or Jyou.” Issay’s voice was on the edge of panic. Reo snapped his fingers, “We’ll find him, Issay.” The man just nodded.

          “You called for me, Reo-san?” Miko entered the room. “Where’s Ayato?” the clan leader snapped. “I don’t know where the boy is, I sent him to get…” Reo stood up, moving slowly towards the geisha. “Where is he?” he repeated. “I don’t know where the boy is.” Miko said confidently. With a wave of his hand, Reo dismissed the woman.

          Just as Miko opened the door, both Arimatsu and Asanao came into the room, Miko bowing to the men. They waited until the door was closed, “Ayato’s missing and I believe that she has something to do with it. Find him, and bring whomever has him to me…mostly alive.” The two men bowed and left the room. “Do you believe she ordered this, Reo-san?” Issay asked.

          “Once I see the person that took Ayato, I will know if it’s Miko or not. Unfortunately, we need to wait this out, I’m sorry Issay, truly.” Reo liked Issay, and he knew how the man felt about Ayato, but he also knew how Miko felt about them both, she felt cheated out of Ayato’s virgin price and she resented Reo for bringing the boy into the blood and then giving him to Issay, essentially for free. The fact that she thought she could successfully go against Reo, more than just irritated the vampire lord; this would mean death if it was found she was involved.

          “Miko-san, there is a gentleman that wishes to speak with you.” Omi slid the door to the mama-san’s just enough to speak to the woman. “Show him in please, Omi.” A rough looking man with scars that crisscrossed his face, stepped into the room, bowing to Miko. “Tan-san, thank you for coming this evening.” Nodding towards the door, the man winked in acknowledgement. “How is business going for you, Tan-san? I haven’t seen you in the shops as of late.”

          Tan bowed lightly, “Miko-chan, it has been busy and a little messy, we’ve had some disagreements on where the new product should be placed, my partner would like the product put on permanent display for everyone to see, I would rather keep it under wraps, as a specialty item and charge more money for people to see it.”

          Miko frowned and shook her head, “It seems you’ve come to an impasse then, perhaps you need a second opinion. I suggest you contact the original owner of the piece and ask them their opinion on the placement, I think you may be surprised to what they suggest.”  

          Tan chuckled, “I’m going to guess that the original owner would be willing to buy the piece back, I’m going to guess that they regret their actions of a year or so ago, ne? If they would like to buy the piece back, could you suggest a price?”

          Miko cocked her head, “At least 100 koban*, this piece is unique, though it is no longer pure it still carries great value to the original owner.”

          Tan nodded, understanding what Miko had directed him to do. “Thank you, Miko-san, for your advice, I believe I will contact the original owners of the piece and advise them of what I’d like to do.” Getting up and bowing to the geisha, Tan let himself out.

          Taking a deep breath, Miko sat back in her zaisu*, 100 koban would be a great deal of money, she could easily escape Kyoto and make herself a new life in a distant part of the country. She was certain Reo would pay the ransom for the boy, Issay would beg him to save Ayato, now it was just a waiting game, to see who would strike first.

 

          She quietly left the geisha house, making her way through the still crowded streets of Kyoto to a pre-arranged location; an izakaya on the far side of the city. Taking care with the way she walked, stopping at certain stalls where she knew Arimatsu’s people were located, Omi waited until she knew that each of his men were following her, making sure that she arrived safely.

          “Konbanwa, Arimatsu-san.” Omi bowed to her master, “Omi-chan come in please.” Omi bowed and sat down across a small table from Arimatsu. “What information do you have for me?”

          Omi gave a detailed account of what she had overheard between Miko and Tan, “You can not mistake him, he has several scars that crisscross his face, he is an ugly man,” she scoffed. Going through the details, she was upset that there had been no information on where Ayato was being held. “I’m afraid for the boy, it sounds as they may hurt him. The amount they want is absurd, 100 koban.”

          Arimatsu assured Omi that they would take Ayato back, without the ransom, “There’s no way Reo-san will allow this, Miko has just signed her death warrant.” Leaving separately, Omi made her way back to the geisha house, stopping along the way as she did before, hoping that Reo would grab Ayato before he was hurt or killed.

 

          As Arimatsu arrived back at Reo’s private room, Jyou was just leaving, “Careful, he’s not in a good mood,” she warned the man, “I don’t doubt it.” Entering the room, Reo had his back turned to them. “This is more than a grab for money, this is a personal attack on me and my operation.” He turned to face Arimatsu, “Tell me what Omi found.”

          Arimatsu went through the discussion, making sure to describe Tan. “I know exactly who he is, Reo-san. Tan is dangerous and brutal, he would as soon as kill the boy than to give him up without a fight. We need to move tonight, I fear if we wait much longer…”

          Reo-held his hand up, “I need to find the boy first, then we move.” Arimatsu bowed and left the room. “If he harms that boy, there will be a wrath that this town will not soon forget.” Reo’s eyes flashed red, a sure sign that this was of no small matter.

 

          Jyou was running down the stairs, almost colliding with Arimatsu, “I just got this,” she waved a piece of paper. Following her back into Reo’s room, Jyou gave the vampire lord the paper. “We need to find him tonight, Reo!” Asanao and Arimatsu both gasped at Jyou’s lack of using the honorific, “He’ll put Ayato outside, the boy will burn in seconds!”

          Reo read the note, then walked to Jyou and embraced her, “Do not worry love, we will find him before dawn, even if I have to shield the boy myself.” Jyou rarely let herself be seen as vulnerable but she had become very attached to Ayato in a short period of time, and she knew that if something happened to the boy, Issay would seek a swift and deadly revenge. “Get out there and find the boy now, do not come back until you have, I want everyone you have working on this.”

          Issay had been inconsolable since the moment he knew Ayato had been taken, Reo ordering him to stay in his room, “I will not lose you to anger or revenge, you will stay here until we get Ayato back, is that clear Issay?” Reo ordered the man in a gentle tone, “I will not let them harm the boy.”

          Issay lie on his futon, his heart boiling in grief, Ayato meant everything to him, he loved the boy with a passion that usually was reserved for blood spouses. The young man had captivated him from the second he saw the boy with Miko, and now that evil bitch had taken Ayato from him. “If you prove that she was the one to do this, if Miko ordered this, you must give her to me… I will be the one to wreak revenge, my lord.”  Reo did not agree or disagree, he just patted Issay on the shoulder and left the room.

          Hearing the charged voices coming from Reo’s private room, the running footsteps of Arimatsu and Asanao, even Jyou’s pleas haunted his mind. “Where are you my love? Have they hurt you? Throwing his arm over his eyes to stem the flow of tears, all Issay could do is wait.

 

          Ayato’s mouth was full of dirt, he was face down in some sort of shack, his arms were bound behind his back and his legs were tied. He opened his eyes to try to figure out where he was, but it was still dark, and the only light he could see belonged to the moon, peeking in through the slats of the door. Straining to hear any sounds that he could pinpoint where he was, all he heard was the rustle of the grass in the wind, the call of the night birds and the crickets.

          He had regained consciousness as he was bumped along over the shoulder of a large man, his head throbbing in pain from where he was struck. Innately knowing not to struggle or give away the fact that he was awake, Ayato tried to open his eyes and look around, but could only see the dirt road on which they were walking.

          The large man opened the door to the hut, and roughly threw Ayato to the ground, kicking him for good measure in the side. “Don’t even try to get out of here, I’m sitting just outside. Be a good boy and we’ll treat you nicely, cause problems and I’m throwing you outside as the sun comes up…I’ve never seen a blood sucker burn before, it might be fun to watch.” He laughed and left the shack, slamming the door closed and rattling it with some sort of lock.

          Ayato struggled to sit up, getting his legs under him he managed to lean against a wall, spitting as much of the dirt out of his mouth as he could and wiping his cheek with his shoulder. The ropes that were binding his hands behind him were not especially tight, if he could stand up, he may be able to pull his arms under himself, he was after all young and flexible, something that Issay always appreciated.

          Before starting, he sat still and listened again for anything that could tell him if the man was still outside. Nothing, no sounds but those of the night. Twisting his hands, he could loosen the ropes slightly, giving him more wiggle room to get his hands in front of him. It took ten minutes of breathing hard and bending in weirder ways than he had even with Issay, but he finally got his hands in front, bending down he untied his feet.

          Standing up, he moved to the door, peeking through the cracks in the wood, and pushing just hard enough to see outside. He was alone. How to get the door opened if it was locked? Ayato looked around the shack, noticing a small broken slat of the wall next to the door. The wood was weather beaten and old, he could kick his way out if he tried hard enough. Trusting that the rough man was gone, he sat back down on the floor and kicked the wall.

          With one good last kick, he had hit two boards that had just come off in one piece, just enough room for him to slide through the hole. Once outside, he looked around. Where the hell was he? He looked behind the shack, “Shit…” he was only about a hundred yards from the main road into town. Checking his surroundings, he decided to run towards the road, hoping to blend in with the crowd who were streaming into the city for the night.

          Walking next to a wagon, near the oxen, Ayato carefully made his way back into the city. Once the buildings became more familiar, he looked for one that he thought he could trust the people inside. He stayed next to the ox cart, keeping his head low and his hands hidden inside his yukata’s sleeves.

          The owner of the ox cart stopped at an izakaya that Ayato had only been to once before, with Jyou on business. He peered inside, he didn’t notice anyone familiar, with a sigh he turned around and started to walk towards the next building. There were no familiar people in the streets, nobody he knew in the shops and as he got closer to the geisha house, the fear started to rise. If the rough man saw him, he knew he would be killed.        

          Hearing voices that sounded unfriendly, Ayato took a chance and walked into a ramen hut, bowing at the proprietor. “Konbanwa, Ojisan.” The man looked at him, suspiciously, “Ayato-kun?” a female voice from behind startled him, whipping around he see’s Omi, a girl from the geisha house. He panicked and tried to push past the girl, but she was quicker, “Stop…let me take you to Reo! Don’t make such a scene, here put this on!” She took her hat off and put it on Ayato’s head, “We’ve been searching for you, let me take you to Reo.”

          Ayato almost started to cry, “You won’t hurt me? You won’t let that man kill me?” he stuttered through his tears. “No! I need to get you to Reo, and let Issay know we’ve found you, follow me and keep your head down.” Linking her arm in Ayato’s Omi started towards the geisha house, but taking an alternate route.

          “Omi, is he okay?” a harsh whisper sounded behind them, “Just get us to Reo before anyone else sees him.” Omi snapped. With a man behind them, Omi rushed them down a side street and came around to the geisha house from a different side, bypassing the entrance that would normally go right past Miko’s room.

          Omi dragged Ayato behind her, opening a door he had never seen, a door that opened in Reo’s private room. “AYATO!” Issay screamed, running to his lover and taking him in his arms just as the boy collapsed. The ensuing confusion and shouts lasted for a few minutes, Omi trying to get to the ropes on Ayato’s hands, Issay holding the boy and rocking him, Reo asking a million questions.

          “Ayato-kun, are you alright, are you hurt? Look at me boy.” Reo kneeled next to Issay, tipping Ayato’s face up, “Who did this to you, do you know who it was?” Ayato shook his head, “I’ve never seen him before, but he had scars all over his face, and he said if I tried to escape that he’d throw me out into the sun, that he’d never seen a blood sucker burn.”

          Reo stood up, nodding at Asanao who left quickly. Issay untied Ayato’s hands, rubbing his wrists and fretting over the rope burns. “My love, are you alright? Did they hurt you at all?” Ayato reached up and touch the back of his head, “I have a pretty big bump, and my cheek hurts some. I’m tired and I’m hungry…but I don’t want to go out to feed, can I just have some food please?”

          “Omi, stay here, I don’t want to alert her that you are here. Issay, take him back to your room but do not come out until Jyou comes to get you, is that clear?” Issay nodded, standing up he scooped Ayato into his arms and quickly carried him to their room. “This is going to be fun.” Reo said wickedly.

          They were all in their places by the time that Asanao had brought Miko back to Reo’s room. She bowed to her master, “Reo-san, what can I do for you this evening?” Reo indicated for her to sit, which she did. Miko looked around and saw that Omi was present, but not Arimatsu.

          “Omi, you should go back to your room, you will have customers in an hour.” Miko said sharply. “No, she’s here on my orders, Miko.” Miko looked back at Reo, “Oh, it is not like you my lord, to want one of my girls, but if Omi is who you desire I will not argue that.”

          “You are also here on my order, Miko. Tell me what you know about the missing boy? You must have heard something from the girls or their customers, it’s not as if the geisha house is immune to gossip.” Reo was playing it cool, his face was expressionless. “I have heard nothing myself, Reo-san. I have not questioned my girls and I never question customers.”

          Reo smiled, “You had a visitor tonight yourself, I didn’t know you still entertained customers, aren’t you a bit old for that?” Hitting Miko where it would hurt the most, her vanity. “I beg your pardon, Reo-san, I am still requested though I am particular about the men I entertain,” she snipped.

          There was a knock at the door, “Come.” Arimatsu and Asanao entered the room, dragging a rather large man between them. “I’m sure you are familiar with Tan-san, Miko? You spent quite a bit of time with him tonight, discussing business. Something about a priceless object and it’s worth to the original owner?”

          Miko paled, “I do not know this man, I have never seen him before and he certainly has never been in my house let alone my private room.” Arimatsu grabbed the man by the hair, “He says other wise, Miko.”

          “She’s the one that ordered it, she said she would split the money with me and I could have the boy.” Tan mumbled through a mouth with some very obvious signs of missing teeth. “He’s lying! You would take the word of some common thug over me? I have always been loyal to you my lord; how can you take his word against mine?” Miko was stumbling over her words.

          Reo nodded at Asanao, then at Omi. “Reo-san takes my word over yours, Miko.” Omi moved to stand in front of the geisha. Without being heard, Jyou had entered the room bringing Issay and Ayato with her. “I heard every word that you said to that man, talking about the merchandise, the 100 koban, the original owner would be happy to pay any price for the piece. Remember Miko? I’m the one who showed him to your room. Are you going to stand here and now call me a liar as well?”

          “That’s the man, Reo-san. He’s the one that put me in that shack, and I’m assuming he’s the one that hit me from behind.” Ayato pointed at the man. Miko looked around wildly, looking for an escape route but finding none.  She started to back away from Reo, “You can not prove I did anything wrong! The boy is obviously fine, how do you know he didn’t do this to earn himself some sort of gain? He probably did this to get away from that pathetic excuse for a man!” she pointed at Issay who snarled and bared his fangs at her.

          Asanao and Arimatsu dragged Tan out of the room, with Reo walking slowly towards the geisha, “You have tried me one too many times. Questioning my judgement, making financial arrangements without my consent that would cost me money, trying to take this boy away from Issay, you threatened to let him burn to death in the sun, you exposed your lord and master to those who have no business knowing who or what we are. I can not let this go unpunished.”

          Nodding to Jyou, Miko tried to run to the door, but Jyou was on her in an instant, sinking her teeth into the woman’s neck and draining her life away. Ayato looked on gleefully, “Yes!” he whispered as Issay held him in his arms. “Dump her body outside the city, let the animals feed off her carcass. Jyou picked up Miko’s body with ease and dragged it by the hair out of the room.

          Without warning, Ayato pried himself out if Issay’s arms and threw himself at Reo, hugging the vampire lord tightly around the waist. “Thank you, Reo-san!” Reo’s eyes grew soft, “My boy,” he pushed Ayato back by the shoulders, “You are my child, that goes beyond your love for Issay. I will protect you for eternity no matter the situation, I love you as a master loves his creation. Go now and reunite with your lover, I will see you tomorrow night.” Reo kissed Ayato softly, then patted him on the ass as he sent him back into Issay’s arms.  The year is 1654.

Chapter Text

 

          Reo sat at his desk, looking over the list of retainers, both human and non-human, reevaluating who he had working for him. It had been sixteen years since the incident with Miko and the kidnapping of Ayato, and Reo had been taking a close look at who he had working for him. He trusted both Asanao and Arimatsu, though he believed they needed new blood in their network of protectors and spies.

          Once Miko had been disposed of, Reo had put Omi in charge of the Geisha house, and much to everyone’s surprise, the revenue started to increase, something that Issay brought to Reo’s attention quickly, “The profits are up about 33% from when Miko was running the house. That says to me that either she was skimming off the top, or she had some side business going, though I believe she was just outright stealing from you. Omi is loyal to you and Arimatsu, you will have no problem with her.”

          Reo had asked Omi, shortly after the incident with Miko, if the woman was interested in coming into the blood. She politely declined, “Reo-san, it is not my wish to live forever, though I truly thank you for the offer. I will work for you until my death and I will make sure to have another to replace me that will serve you with the same diligent loyalty as I have.”

          In gratitude, Reo gave Omi a substantial amount of gold, which she immediately protested, “Omi, you’re a valuable asset to my business, you are a good friend as well, let me reward your loyalty, just take the money.” Omi bowed low, took the money but not before she kissed Reo on the cheek, “Thank you, Reo-san.”

          Reo had tasked both Arimatsu and Asanao to put the word out that they were looking for solid loyal retainers to join the Aichi Clan, though there was one issue that needed to be settled, “Do we look for someone to bring into the blood?” Arimatsu had no qualms in asking his boss this as it was rather important.

          “Case by case. It would depend on the background of the person and what their situation was.” Reo wasn’t opposed to bringing in new blood, but he also wanted to be very careful. “Reo-san, I hate to bring this up; should we not increase our forces as a way of being prepared for anything that Yoshiki may due in the future?” This was always an issue, Reo never knew when or if the dangerous and unpredictable vampire would appear. “You have a valid point, but at the same time I do not want to bring in random people. Let us choose carefully.”

          It was one of those case by case incidents that brought Reo out into the countryside. A man who worked for Arimatsu came to him one evening with some information. “We have found a samurai, but he is near death. He is in the ruins of a temple about 3 kilometers outside the city, what do you wish me to do?” Arimatsu went straight to Reo who simply replied, “Take me to him.”

          At the ruined temple, Reo found a man stretched out on a torn mat, his weapon still in his hand. He glared at Reo, “If you’ve come to kill me, be quick about it. I would do it myself but I do not have the strength.” The man had a deep wound to his chest that was draining the life from him.

          Reo sat next to the wounded man, “What is your name?” The samurai glared at him, “Nishimura. Who are you?” The man coughed and grabbed at the wound in his chest, “My name is Aichi Reo, head of the Aichi Clan in Kyoto.” Reo stared at the small man who was covered in tattoos, “You’re dying Nishimura-san.”

          “Tell me something I don’t know, it’s obvious I’m dying you idiot.” He coughed again, his voice becoming weaker as the moments past. “What would you say if I told you I could make you immortal?”

          “I’d say you’re insane and should be confined,”

          Reo chuckled, “I can do this for you, but you would be sworn to loyalty to my clan and accept me as your lord.” The dying samurai looked at Reo, “How do you do this thing, of making me immortal?”

          “Nishimura-san, you do not have the time left in your life for me to go through the procedure step by step, either you want to be immortal or I will simply leave you to die.” Reo was becoming impatient with the man.

          The samurai hesitated, “Will you allow me to seek revenge on those that have driven me to this point in life?”

          “On your own time, of course. You will be working for me but what you do on your own time, is just that…your own.”

          The samurai closed his eyes, Reo believing for a moment that the man had died, “I don’t care what you do, but if you can allow me to seek my revenge, I wish for whatever it is.”

          Reo nodded to his men, who then gently picked up the samurai, Reo grabbing the man’s weapons, they quickly walked back into the city and into Reo’s private room. Lying the man on a soft futon, Reo ordered the others to leave the room. Looking down at Nishimura, Reo asked him, “Are you sure this is what you want? There will be a great deal of pain during the process.”  The man scoffed, “Am I not already in a great deal of pain? Get on with it.”

          Reo was impressed with the strength and fortitude of the Samurai, throughout the process of bringing the man into the blood, there was no screaming in pain, there was no thrashing about, just a silent resilience that marked the man as a true warrior. As Nishimura’s mortal body was ending its cycle of death, the huge gash across the man’s chest started to heal, the small wounds that had covered his body disappeared, the man breathed easier.

          “How do you feel?” Reo asked his latest child. “Strange but nothing extraordinary. I am hungry, is that normal?” Nishimura asked. “How long has it been since you last had a decent meal?” The man shrugged, “Weeks, living mostly on berries I found along the way.”

          A light knock as the door slid open, “Master,” Jyou was kneeling in front of the door. “Jyou this is… what is your first name?” Reo was not one to use honorifics nor family names, “Kyo, as I am originally from Kyoto.”

          “My dear could you help Kyo-san to the baths and then have a hot meal served in his room, I’m sure we have more than a few to choose from.” Reo smiled at the young woman. “Yes Reo-san.” Kyo got up, looking around for his weapons, “Will you keep this safe for me Reo-sama?” he picked up his sword. “You may leave it in your room, I know that a warrior feels naked without his equipment close by.”

          Reo watched as Jyou led the samurai away, satisfied with the addition to Clan Aichi. “Reo-san?” Asanao and Arimatsu entered the room. “How fairs our newest clan member?” Arimatsu had hoped that Reo would recognize him for his find. “Arimatsu, he will fit in perfectly, just the exact type I was hoping for. As a samurai, Kyo-san will be a great asset to our clan, well done.”

          Arimatsu beamed, “Thank you, Reo-san. I am hopeful that we may find others now that the wars have calmed slightly. I would assume that most samurai would love to be able to seek revenge on those who wronged them. It will be something I will tell my men to be watchful of.” Arimatsu bowed deeply.

           The Aichi Clan was coming together nicely. The always present nagging fear of Yoshiki coming to Kyoto was now tamed somewhat. Yoshiki was unpredictable, and now Reo felt a little more comfortable with the knowledge that he had another soldier in his army.

 

 

          The horses galloped at a ground covering speed, Naoto and Uta laughing as they raced across the countryside in the dark of the early evening. Pulling the horses up on a small hill, Uta stopped his horse. “Let’s let them catch their breath,” he said to Naoto as she came trotting up behind him. “Naki is tired, she can barely keep up with Rai.” In the twenty years that Naoto had been living with Sakurai and his small family, the young woman had learned to trust and had become best friends with Uta.

          The original horses that Sakurai had bought when they first moved to Sendai were long dead, though every new horse Uta had was always named Rai, “Rai’s spirit is with all my horses, so why not keep the name?” Naoto had her own small mare, one that Rai was fiercely protective of. Uta spent hours with his young friend, teaching her to ride and not to fear the small horse. “Naki is so sweet, she can feel that you’re afraid of her.”

          Turning the horses towards home, they talked about the next family trip into the city of Sendai, Naoto wanting to look for hair trinkets, Kai ever searching for new spices or food and Toshiya and Sakurai indulging them all. Walking along at a slow pace, Naoto and Uta talking about the trip, both Rai and Naki suddenly stopped in the middle of the path.

          “What…?” Uta looked up as Rai snorted and pawed at the ground, “Get behind me Naoto,” he snapped. “Who are you and what do you want?” There were two men standing in the middle of the path, with no obvious signs of aggression. Naoto backed Naki up, ready to bolt if she needed to get away quickly. Uta was just starting to back Rai up, when one of the men spoke, “You are immortals,” it wasn’t a question as much as a statement. Uta said nothing. “We mean you no harm, but would like to speak with you and if there are others, we’d like to meet them.”  

          Uta looked at Naoto, he didn’t trust the two men and he knew that he would not be able to protect his friend if they decided to attack. “If you will wait here, I will tell my master that you wish to speak, do not leave this area.” Uta wheeled Rai around and shot off at a gallop, with Naoto and Naki closely behind him.

          “Could they not tell we are immortals as well?” Yusuke asked Inoran. “I’m sure he knew, but is obviously protective of his companion, we’ll just wait here and see where this goes.” They made themselves comfortable, sitting on a log that lay near the path, and waited.

          “Acchan!” Uta jumped off Rai quickly, throwing the reins to Naoto, “ACCHAN!” he yelled again. Kai peered out of the barn, “Uta? What’s wrong?” Naoto had gotten off her horse and led both into the barn. “Get Acchan’s horse ready, and I need to borrow yours, Rai is too tired.”

          “Uta? Why are you screaming?” Sakurai had heard the shouting from the back of the house, “We ran into two immortals, up near the hill that looks over the city. They didn’t threaten us, they asked to speak to you and any other immortals we know! Acchan what are we going to do?” Uta was scared, he had never seen another immortal other than his lover and his friends, and to have two just randomly show up was more than a little unsettling for the young man.

          Sakurai frowned, “Kai, you and Toshiya come with me, Uta I want you and Naoto to stay here, lock everything up and wait for us…do not leave the house!” Sakurai, Toshiya and Kai made their way to the barn, not bothering to saddle the horses, merely putting a bridle on and swinging up bareback. “Don’t leave the property!” was the last thing Sakurai said to Uta and Naoto, holding hands as they watched their loved ones leave at a gallop.

         

          “Are you sure this is wise? We have no idea who will come, they could be ravenous and evil.” Yusuke was rarely disturbed by anything, but this was different, they were meeting other immortals, something they had never done regardless of how much they had searched over the centuries.

          Inoran shrugged, “Even if they were ravenous and evil, I have sufficient power, as do you, to overcome almost anyone, unless they are older than I and I don’t see that happening.” Inoran leaned over and kissed Yusuke’s fear away. “Do not worry so.”

          The sound of rapid hoofbeats broke the kiss between the two men, “They are riding as well? What an odd thing to do.” Yusuke mused. “Just stay quiet, I will handle this.” Inoran patted Yusuke’s hand. The horses had just come over the rise, when Sakurai stopped just short of where the men were sitting. The stared each other down, neither one getting any feelings of hostility, “Stay here.” Sakurai mumbled as he swung down off his horse, giving the reins to Kai.

          “My name is Sakurai Atsushi,”

          “Inoran, this is Yusuke my lover.” Inoran stood up. “May I ask you who your maker is?”

          “I never knew his name.” Sakurai sensed that there was something different about Inoran. “Who is yours?”

          This is different, Inoran thought. “A supposed poet named Ryuichi.”

          Sakurai pushed one step further, “What year were you brought into the blood?” This would explain quite a bit to the man. “The year 980, in Inokuchi, or Gifu as it is called these days. And you?”

          “Hokkaido, in 978.” Sakurai was now sure that Inoran’s maker and his were the same person. “We need to discuss this further, I have a lot of questions. If you would follow me to my estate it is only about a kilometer from here. You will come to no harm while you are in my home, I promise.”  Inoran bowed, “I accept, I do believe we have something in common, Sakurai-san and I would also like to explore this.”

          Sakurai walked just in front of Inoran and Yusuke, with Kai and Toshiya behind them on horseback. Inoran held Yusuke’s hand, “I’m sure we’ll be fine, I do not feel threatened by the man, though he is two years older than me.” Inoran smiled, nudging Yusuke in the side with his elbow.

          “Do you think it’s going to be safe?” Toshiya leaned over to Kai, “Acchan wouldn’t have invited them if he thought that there would be trouble, lets just go along with what he’s doing, keep your eyes on him in case something does happen.”

 

          Uta and Naoto were on the porch in the front of the house, as the men came onto the estate’s property, Uta shivering in fear. “I don’t like this! We don’t know anything about them.” He whined. “Acchan wouldn’t bring them here if he thought they would harm us.” Naoto tried to reassure her friend.

          Kai took care of the horses as Sakurai invited the two men into the house, “Naoto, could you please get us some sake.” He smiled at the young woman. “Yes Acchan.” She bowed and left the room. “Excuse me for a moment, make yourselves comfortable.” Sakurai bowed. “Uta my love, come here please.” Sakurai knew his lover would be hiding in the bedroom. “No, I don’t want to talk to these men, Acchan.” The young man was in bed with the duvets pulled over his head.

          “Uta, now.” Sakurai said gruffly. “Fine, but I don’t trust them.” Uta regrettably got out of the bed, and took Sakurai’s hand. Rejoining Inoran and Yusuke, Kai and Toshiya were sitting against a wall and Naoto poured everyone a cup of sake. “This is Uta, he is my blood spouse. Kai and his blood spouse Toshiya, and this is Naoto, she is my adopted daughter.” Sakurai made the introductions, then waited for Inoran to speak, “This is my lover Yusuke, he is also my child.”

          The awkwardness held for a few moments before Sakurai broke the silence. “You said you know your maker, tell me about him please.” Inoran was somewhat surprised, but did as he was asked, and told his story. “He stayed with me for about two hours, then just disappeared,” he paused, “Why are you so interested in him? He is of no consequence other than being my maker.”

          Sakurai thought for a second before he spoke, “I am certain that this Ryuichi is also my maker, your description of him fits the man that seduced me. Our ages are only two years apart, and the hit and run nature of his actions aligns with my experience.”

          Inoran nodded, “Have you ever come across any other of our kind?” Yusuke and Uta were exchanging glances, Uta trying not to stare at the other man’s tattoos. “I have once, in Paris in 1498 when I was there with one of my other children. He approached us and had a message for me…his name is Yoshiki. Is this someone you may have seen as well?”

          Inoran hesitated before he spoke, “Only once, and it was brief. About one hundred years ago, in Nagato. Yusuke and I were in a smaller village at an izakaya. I heard the whispers from more than one person, and one of the names that were being said was ‘Yoshiki’. I have not seen the man face to face, and I don’t believe I want to.”

          “Acchan, the whispers when we were in Paris, could they have been saying the same thing?” Kai murmured. Inoran raised an eyebrow, “When was this?” Sakurai looked at Kai, “Perhaps.  Kai and I were in France for quite some time, over twenty years. This was four hundred years or so ago, and during that period we had occasion to hear whispered voices, such as you said. We saw only one other immortal, but I could never speak to any of them. The only clear words I heard were “Japanese Vampire, and Imai.”

          Inoran’s interest piqued, “Imai?” Sakurai nodded, “He was my first creation after coming into the blood, he stayed with me for about one hundred ten years, then we had a falling out and I have not seen him since. This is whom Yoshiki had a message from. Do you know of Imai?”

          Yusuke gave Inoran a strange look, “I believe that we’ve seen him in the last fifty or so years, just outside of Kyoto, he had a very pretty young man with him.” Uta quickly reached over to grab Sakurai’s hand. “Describe him please.” Yusuke’s description left no doubt in Sakurai’s mind, that it was indeed Imai that they saw. “He did not approach us as his young man was dragging him away, I believe they both feared us.” Inoran surmised.

          Sakurai offered another round of sake, giving each of the men time to collect their thoughts. “May I ask what your life has been like since you were brought into the blood by Ryuichi?” Sakurai was interested if Inoran had lived as he had, happy and comfortable.

          Inoran’s story was unlike his hosts. There was constant movement, never staying in one place long enough to establish ties, “My family was of no help as I was the child of a concubine in Minamoto’s home, the only reason I lived was that I was male.” He explained how he denied himself from feeding on humans, “Until I met this beautiful man,” Inoran reached out and stroked Yusuke’s face.

          Uta cleared his throat, “Can I ask about your tattoos?” Yusuke smiled, “Do you like them?” Uta nodded, “I have a fetish of sorts, anywhere I find a man that can do this type of work, I always add more.” Uta smiled, “They’re beautiful.”

          The tension in the air had receded a great deal, everyone breathing a little easier. Kai offered to cook some dinner, which was accepted. “It is getting late, I can offer you a room if you like, we have the ability to shut out all the light in each room.” Inoran and Yusuke graciously accepted.

          “I appreciate that you accepted my offer to talk this evening. I have one last question though,” Sakurai paused, “how many other immortals do you believe there are and where? Are they kin to you and I?”

          Yusuke chuckled, “He believes that we all are, or at least the ancients.” Inoran scoffed, “It is my opinion that we are neither the first nor the last creations attributed to Ryuichi, he seems to be so haphazard in what he is doing. But until we flush out other immortals, that will be a long lying question.”

          It was close to dawn when Kai showed Yusuke and Inoran to their room, Toshiya still feeling uneasy as they retired to their own room, “I’m just being cautious Kai, you know I don’t like strangers.”  Kai tried to reassure his young love, which eventually led to a heated exchange of kissing and groping him into submission.

          Uta and Sakurai were a little more relaxed, “I don’t think they will harm us, Inoran seems to be in the same mind as you. I think whomever Ryuichi truly is, he’s a dangerous man,” Uta snuggled into Acchan’s arms, “what do you think about Imai? He has a lover it seems; do you see him as a threat?”
          “Imai would not come against me, that much I know. He had a chance when we were still together and yet he chose to flee like a criminal. No, Imai is not the threat…but Yoshiki is, he is the unknown in all this and it is Yoshiki that I believe is going to be a serious problem at some point in the future.” The year is 1670.

 

Image result for Exist trace omi Omi. Picture her in a kimono if you can. 

 

Related image Kyo as a Samurai... kinda...without the leather jacket. 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

          The two men watched the crowds along the street as they sat at a small table in front of the Prins Hendrik Hotel in Amsterdam, each with a pint of beer in their hands. The night was chilly, but the temperature wasn’t affecting the two men, they had long been dead, only warmed by the taste of blood. Though they appeared to be the same age, one was significantly older, “The plans seem to be falling into place, Master.” Yoshiki said as he watched a very tempting young boy cross in front of them.

          “I feel as if some of the clans are lacking in soldiers, specifically Imai and Inoran,” Ryuichi paused, “you yourself have no one, that will not do if we are to succeed. You must have a blood spouse or lover, even a child would do.” Yoshiki sighed, “I do not have the temperament to deal with a spouse, they are frightfully clingy. Just look at Sakurai’s attachment to that child of his, it’s sickening how much he dotes on that boy.”

          Ryuichi chuckled, “Your jealousy is showing my dear boy.” Yoshiki held his tongue. “You know I am not one for sentiment, I don’t care about anyone other than myself, even you do not hold weight in my heart, Master.”  He glared at the older man. “But I will take a child or two for my own, do you have any type that I should be looking for?”  Ryuichi frowned, “How would it be if I told you who to bring into the blood, trust your own judgement, child.”

          He was always straight forward with Yoshiki, this was his true child, one that he had personally led into this flock of fledglings, the child that he had nurtured into what he was at that moment; terrifying and dangerous. “If you are truly going to gather an army, you need to be at home, not in this den of filth. Why are we even here? The blood in this city is tainted with something that I can not pinpoint, I have not had a clean feed since we entered the city.”

          “Then let us go home. If you want me to build an army, I need to be in Japan, I won’t bring foreign blood into our war.” Yoshiki got up, “I’m going to feed before we leave.” Moving faster than the human eye could see, Yoshiki left Ryuichi sitting in front of the hotel, to ponder his plan. He thought back to the day he brought his protégé into the blood, finding that the man was as violent and dangerous as he was, potentially more so.

          Leaving the area of the hotel, Ryuichi stalked the streets of Amsterdam, looking for a likely victim that no one would miss. This was his favorite part of feeding; stalking the victim. Once a victim was selected, Ryuichi took great pleasure on inciting fear, following closely and whispering breaths on their neck, the blood starting to churn as the victim started to run.

          That night was like countless others; a young prostitute not connected to a house, was standing outside a pub, casually speaking to a possible client when Ryuichi started whispering in her ear, darting back and forth so fast that he was not visible to a normal human. The girl pushed off the wall and followed the voice, leaving the customer standing with his mouth hanging open. The girl couldn’t pass up the offer Ryuichi was making, it was more money than she’d see in a year. Ryuichi thought it would be a shame that the girl wouldn’t live long enough to realize the danger she was in.

          The death was quick and easy, the girl’s blood tasted young and sweet. The vampire laid the girl down, propping her against a wall, so that she would be found, but there would be no evidence of cause of death. The primogenitor didn’t need to feed as often as his children, but he still loved the hunt and felt it kept him sharp and aware. Now he needed to find Yoshiki so they could return to Japan.

          “Look no further my master.” A voice from above spoke, looking up Ryuichi saw his child casually sitting on the roof of a building, he frowned, “Such a rude one you are, watching your master enjoying a meal,” Slowly Ryuichi rose into the air, to hover in front of Yoshiki, “Let’s go home my child, I am weary of this nest of deviants.”

 

          Hayashi Yoshiki was Ryuichi’s third creation and the first he truly loved as his child, and this was not to do with anything other than the man’s lust for power and violence. Yoshiki was the eldest son of a powerful Daimyo in what is modern Chiba. He had two younger brothers and a sister, his mother was beautiful but unkind, sending her children to be wet nursed by concubines. Yoshiki and his siblings never felt one ounce of love nor affection from either parent, and very little from the concubines that raised them.

          What Yoshiki did feel was the wrath of his father over the fact this eldest son, the one deemed to take over for him after his death was thin and frail, more like a woman than a man. The father pushed his eldest son aside for the second son, raising him to be the next Daimyo in their area. Yoshiki didn’t really care, he abhorred violence, instead taking naturally to music, much to the delight of his sister.

          It wasn’t until a man presented himself at the gates of the Hayashi estate early one evening, that Yoshiki’s abhorrence of violence would come to an end, being replaced by revenge followed by viciousness and savagery.

          The man’s name was Ryuichi, and he claimed to be a retainer of a daimyo far to the south, one that was looking to gain some ground against a war that was waged in his city. At the mention of war, the senior Hayashi’s eyes glistened, “What does your master need?” he asked Ryuichi. “Men, horses, samurais, anything that could assist him with this rogue problem in his kingdom.”

          Yoshiki had been sitting on a pillow in the corner as his father discussed the problem with Ryuichi, who had seen the lovely young man. “Is this your son?” he asked. “Yes, he is my eldest but not my heir, he is too weak and feminine to be useful as a daimyo.” He called out to his second son and presented him to Ryuichi, “This is my heir, my general. He would be leading my men to assist your lord in his quest.”

          Yoshiki was boiling inside, the dismissive attitude from his father still stung, though there was no love loss between the two men. The terms were being worked out, and the money being exchanged before Ryuichi asked for a room, “I have traveled non-stop and wish to sleep through the day, could you please have one of your servants cover the door with some canvas, I sleep lightly and the daylight would keep me from resting.”

          Accommodating Ryuichi was of no problem, Yoshiki’s father took the man’s word and explanation on his sleeping requests. The next day the senior Hayashi brought his family together and his advisors to discuss the arrangements being made with Ryuichi, though his wife and children sat silently in a corner, not allowed to offer any suggestions or objections.

          The guest woke in the early evening, just as the sun had sunk behind the western mountains, making his way to the main room to speak to the senior Hayashi once again, but stopped short as he saw Yoshiki sitting on the porch just outside his room. As he had done with Inoran, the stranger complimented Yoshiki. “You’re a very lovely young man, Yoshiki-chan. It is a disappointment that I will not be able to spend time with you.” He complimented the young man, sitting down next to him.

          “You will have my brother to spend time with, my father has no use for me, I am of no importance to you or his quests.” Ryuichi could hear the hatred and resentment in Yoshiki’s voice. “Would you have turned me away? Do you not agree with what your father has offered to do for my master?”

          “I don’t agree with anything that man says, he’s a rash thinker and overly fond of money and power.” Yoshiki snapped. This was Ryuichi’s in with Yoshiki; his need for money and power. “You would receive everything if both your father and your brother were dead, perhaps I should ask your father to join me?”

          Yoshiki scoffed, “My youngest brother, my mother and sister would get everything if he were gone, I am to get nothing. That is how far my father’s hatred goes for me.” Ryuichi knew that he would be meeting with the senior Hayashi at any moment, “I would like to speak with you further Yoshiki-chan. I may have some information that would benefit us both.” With a bow, Ryuichi left Yoshiki standing alone.

          The negotiations were finalized and the senior Hayashi retired for the evening, leaving Ryuichi to lounge alone on a porch overlooking a lavish garden and koi pond. “I see you’ve decided to join me,” he said without looking at the young man. “What is this information you have?” Yoshiki asked as he lowered himself down to sit next to the stranger.

          Ryuichi’s seduction started. “What if I told you I could give you everything. Power beyond compare, the money and the estate, with no interference from your family. What would you say?”

          “I’d say that you are insane. My father would as soon kill me than give me anything, the same goes for both my brothers. They would never allow that.” Yoshiki had thought that the man was not of his right mind.

          “If they were dead, all of them…everything would go to you. There would be no one to block you from being the head of the estate.” Ryuichi started to dangle the prize in front of Yoshiki’s eyes. “My family? Dead, all of them? Then what? We still have a great many loyal retainers on the property, they would kill you before you could do harm to my family.”

          “What would I have to give you for this power as you say?”

          “Give me your soul and I will give you power and immortality.” Ryuichi smiled seductively. Yoshiki smirked, “My soul? I have none to give, I was born without a soul, just ask my father.”

          Ryuichi leaned closer, “Do you want this? Do you want to have power and immortality? Do you want to avenge yourself against your family? Say the word and it will be done.” Yoshiki believed Ryuichi to the point of accepting, but he hesitated, “How does this thing happen?” Ryuichi smiled, scooting closer to Yoshiki, “It’s just a gentle bite,” nuzzled the younger man’s neck, licking and gently biting, Yoshiki shivered, a small moan escaping his lips, but then there was a sudden sharp pain.

          “Wait! What… what are you doing? Please no!” He started to struggle in Ryuichi’s arms, but the vampire was stronger and closed his arms around the smaller man. It took but a few minutes for the blood to be drained from Yoshiki’s body, almost to the point of death. Ryuichi laid the boy back on the floor, then slicing his wrist open, he laid it across Yoshiki’s mouth, “Drink if you want to live, if you want power and immortality, drink boy!” he growled.

          Yoshiki’s eyes were starting to roll back in his head, Ryuichi slapping the man across the face, “Drink you fool, or you will die!” Yoshiki heard the growling voice, the warm taste of blood flowing across his tongue. Ryuichi’s command became clear and he started to suck. “That’s right my child, drink and live forever, your power will be great and your life will be for eternity.”  Ryuichi allowed Yoshiki to drink deeper than any of his creations before, wanting the young man to become the second most powerful vampire on earth.

          “That’s enough Yo-chan,” he pulled his wrist away from his fledgling’s mouth, licking it to close the wound. Yoshiki laid gasping on the floor, “Yo-chan, the pain will start soon,” Yoshiki’s eyes darted around in panic, “What will…” a sudden jerk, a fiery pain in his stomach causing Yoshiki to grab at his stomach and ball up, “it…it hurts…why?” he gasped. Picking him up, Ryuichi cradled him in his arms, “Your mortal body is dying, it will pass quickly.”

          The ten minutes it took for his body to die, Ryuichi murmured in his ears, “Once this is finished, you and I will secure your power, you will have everything and they will die.” As the pain subsided, Yoshiki sat up and gazed up at his maker. “What have you done to me?” he demanded quietly. “I have given you immortality and a great deal of power. You will now live forever, you will rule over others in your domain, you will be one of the most powerful beings on earth. You are second only to me, in what your abilities are as a blood drinker.” It took Yoshiki a few moments to process what the man had said, then he looked up at his master. “Tell me how to kill my father first, then we can move from there.”

          The next two hours were nothing short of a killing spree, a blood festival of inhuman proportions. Yoshiki systematically went through his family and killed each one, taking delight with the killing of his father. There was a struggle, the senior Hayashi fighting back and trying to scream as his son tore out his throat, “You never gave me a chance, now I repay you for that.” Throwing his father’s body on the ground, Yoshiki went through the house and killed the remainder of his family with not a single guilty thought, even as his sister begged him not to hurt her.

          Ryuichi watched Yoshiki move through the house, as he took his time with a rather pretty house maid, draping her across his lap as he punctured her throat several times, sipping small tastes of her blood.  Yoshiki’s new found blood lust was at its peak as he moved through the estate property, randomly killing or feeding. “Yo-chan, are you still hungry?” Ryuichi stood and let the girl in his lap fall roughly to the ground, stepping over her body, the man reached out to his new child.

          ” Come, let’s take what we can find that will keep us comfortable, money and other such things. We may return to your home some time in the future, but now we travel. Let me show you what it is like to live in darkness.”

          After scouring the house and pocketing what they could find and carry, “Do you ever wish to return?” Ryuichi asked. “No, this is no longer my house, and it was never my home. There were never any acts of love or comforting here, I will not return.”

          Embracing Yoshiki tightly, Ryuichi turned and glared at the house, and in an instant, it was in flames, “This is one of the gifts I have given you, the gift of fire, it is rarely given to a fledgling.” Rising into the air with Yoshiki in his arms, the last thing the newly born vampire saw was his family’s house burning to the ground. The year was 1108.

Chapter Text

 

          Once Reo brought Kyo into the blood, the ex-samurai was given the duty of keeping all Reo’s business interests running smoothly. Kyo would make nightly rounds to the various merchants and shop owners, speaking to the managers of the different izakaya’s in the town. It was one of the izakaya’s that Kyo found an unusual problem; a Ronin had started to frequent the small shop.

          “Kyo-san please, would you take care of this man for us? He is coming in every other night or so, getting roaring drunk then when we ask him to leave, he starts to threaten the staff. He’s starting fights with the locals and on one night actually ended up hurting one of my serving girls, though not on purpose.”

          Kyo listened carefully, making mental notes, the fact that the man was being identified as Ronin, piqued his curiosity. “What’s he look like?” Kyo asked. “Longer black hair, medium height, slender build but strong, he also has um…” the man started to stutter, “he has the same type of tattoos you do.” This got Kyo’s attention quickly. “Does he have a neck tattoo?” The man nodded. Kyo stood up, “When he comes in next, send for me.”

          Kyo left the izakaya and went straight to Reo. Jyou was standing outside the door, “I need to speak to Reo,” he said gruffly. Jyou knew that Kyo never used honorifics with anyone, “Is it important?” Kyo narrowed his eyes, “Do I ever come and ask if it’s not, of course it’s important!” he snapped.

          Jyou grinned, she loved getting a rise out of the small man. Opening the door, she announced him, “Kyo…” the short man pushed past her without ceremony. “I’ve just come from Kei’s izakaya, we might have a problem.” Jyou smiled at Reo then left the room.

          “It must be a hell of a problem for you to come to me, what is it?”

          “A Ronin has been coming in and tearing up the place for the last week or so. He gets drunk, gets in fights and one of Kei’s girls got in the way and was injured.” Reo thought this to be a trivial matter, “Why come to me? Handle it as you always would.”

          Kyo huffed, “I think I know who the man is, and he would be a good addition to the clan if you’re interested.”

          “Oh, who is he?”

          “His name is Hazuki, we served the same master in the last war. We were in battle together, but lost each other on the field, I thought him to be dead. The man is as good a fighter as me, maybe better but only because he’s taller.”

          Reo sat back, “Why would I bring him into the clan? Are you suggesting to bring him into the blood as well?” Kyo nodded, “He’s going to want to avenge our master, but he is probably more loyal than even I am, not that you have anything to worry about. He is honorable, he will do as he is ordered, he is a strict military man. If he knows he can wreak havoc, he will agree to most anything.”

          “Bring him to me.”

 

          It wasn’t until two nights later that Kei, the izakaya owner contacted Kyo, “He’s here and he’s already drunk!” Kyo shrugged himself up and walked towards the small shop. As he pushed the door aside, he just missed being hit with a sake bottle that came hurdling at him. “Woman, give me more sake!” A drunk man was advancing on a serving girl, “HAZUKI!” Kyo shouted. The man stopped, turning slowly to look for who called out his name.

          “Kyo-san?” Hazuki’s eyes grew wide as he saw his fellow samurai, then rubbed his eyes as if he was seeing an apparition, “Kyo,” he said again as he stumbled towards the shorter man. “You’re dead, I saw you fall…there is no way you survived that injury!” Kyo wanted to tell the other man that yes, he was dead, but he held his tongue.

          “Why are you here Hazuki, being a drunken asshole? Have you no honor left at all?” Kyo asked as he took the man by the shoulder, “Have you truly stooped so low as to forget everything?” Hazuki’s gaze dropped to the floor. “You don’t know what I’ve been through, do not judge me.”

          “Then tell me, tell me how you’ve become this dishonorable man.” Kyo’s voice soften. “Come with me, we need to talk.” Kyo turned to leave the izakaya, turning to speak to Kei, “Everything will be paid for, send a bill to me.” The izakaya owner bowed deep.

          Hazuki tried to speak to Kyo as they walked, but the shorter man ignored him, leading him towards the geisha house. “In here,” The man looked up at the building, “Seriously, Kyo-san?”

          “Shut up and follow me,” Kyo snapped. Taking Hazuki to his private room, he called for Omi to have a girl send them tea and rice, “You don’t need anymore sake,” Hazuki looked around the room as he took off his sword and laid it aside, “This is very nice, you have geisha’s serving you? You’ve moved up I see.”

          A knock at the door announced their food had arrived, “Kyo-san? I have your tea and rice,” Ayato slid the door open, “Thank you Ayato,” Kyo took the tray from the boy, “Will you need anything else?” Kyo dismissed the boy with thanks.

          “Who is that? He’s beautiful!” Hazuki asked, “That is Ayato, he belongs to Issay.” Kyo watched as Hazuki hastily ate the rice, “This is so good,” he said through a mouthful. “You look like you haven’t been eating regularly, just alcohol. Where have you been?” Drinking several cups of tea before answering, Hazuki started telling his story of the last few years after the war.

          “Seeing you on the battlefield, I basically lost hope. You were dead, or at least dying and I had no one to serve. I did what we all did in those first months, I hired myself out. That went well for awhile, I made enough money to eat but I was still sleeping in barns or just out in the open.” Hazuki’s story was much like every other samurai who had lost their masters, their reason to live.

          “Tell me how you lived after receiving that injury? You were dying when I left you, how did you survive unscathed?”  Kyo wasn’t sure the man was ready to hear his story, “I don’t think I want to get into that just yet.”

          Hazuki frowned, “What do you mean? Are you into something shady?” Kyo sighed, “I think you need to meet my master, all your questions will be answered.” Kyo had one of the geisha’s show Hazuki to the baths and gave him a clean yukata to wear while his clothes were washed.

          An hour later, a refreshed and decidedly better looking Hazuki re-joined Kyo in his room. “I have forgotten how good a hot soak feels, I’ve only been bathing in cold water streams.” Kyo had one last thing to tell Hazuki before he took the man to meet with Reo.

          “I want you to keep an open mind when you speak with Reo, there may be some things he says that will sound fantastical, but believe me when I tell you, that they are true.” Hazuki frowned, but said nothing.

 

          Reo was waiting for Kyo and Hazuki, with Asanao and Arimatsu standing on either side of him and Jyou sitting on a cushion against the wall. “Reo-san, this is Hazuki, he and I fought in the war together.” Hazuki bowed. “Reo-san,” The head of the Aichi clan looked at the Ronin standing before him, the man was as Kyo had described him; slender but with defined muscle and at least as many tattoos as Kyo.

          “Kyo-san tells me you were a samurai and served the same master. How is it that you were not with Kyo when he was injured?” Reo went straight to the point, a discussion on loyalty. Hazuki stood tall, “It was obvious that Kyo was not going to survive the wound, his chest was torn open. I have no medical training, not even field medicine, I left him as comfortable as I could and returned to fighting. I am as surprised as anyone, that he survived.”

          “What have you been doing since you abandoned Kyo-san?” This would be a true test, using words that were inflammatory, “I have been searching for those that killed my master, working where I can, drinking as much as possible. As for abandoning Kyo-san, that’s not true. I did not abandon him, he was dying, what good would it do for me to sit with him and watch him succumb to death, when I could be avenging him?”

          Reo smirked, it was a good answer, “What do you have to offer my clan?” Now it was Hazuki’s turn, “I will ask you the same; what does your clan have to offer me? I have not heard of Clan Aichi; the name has no meaning to it. What are your business holdings?”

          Hazuki was quick, a small snort of humor coming from Asanao. “We will discuss that at a later time. Has Kyo-san explained our special situation?” Reo knew that Kyo would not have, not without his express permission.

          Hazuki glanced at Kyo, “No he has not.” Was all he would say. Reo nodded at Jyou, then turned back to Hazuki. “I’m sure Kyo did tell you to keep an open mind, did he not?” Hazuki was starting to become a little anxious, “Yes…” Jyou came back into the room, bringing Issay and Ayato in with her.

          Jyou had informed both men what Reo had wanted from them. Ayato blushed as he stood close to Issay, the act they were about to perform was always sensual and usually ended with love making, but now they were to do it in front of a stranger, something that aroused Ayato even more.

          Reo had expressed his concerns to Kyo prior to speaking to Hazuki, reminding him that if the man became a problem, it was his responsibility to neutralize that problem, without any hesitation. “What you’re going to see is part of being in the Aichi clan, while it is not a requirement, it does have it’s long term benefits. I’ve allowed for Kyo-san to avenge his master, on his own time, I would allow you to do this as well.”

          Reo nodded to Issay, who sat down and drew Ayato into his lap. He kissed the boy, stroking his face and running his hand up the inside of the boy’s thigh, Ayato squirming. Then with a last kiss and a nuzzle, Issay sank his fangs into his lover’s neck, Ayato arching his back with a moan. Issay fed only lightly on his lover, the boy was slender and small, taking too much blood would harm the boy.

          With a lick of the wound, and another kiss, Issay held his lover in his arms, the boy a bit paler than he had been before. “Thank you Issay, and thank Ayato for me as well.” Issay nodded, Jyou moved to help him up as he cradled the young man in his arms, Jyou opening the door for them.

          Reo had watched Hazuki carefully, as had Kyo, during the exchange, watching for signs of repulsion. He was pleased when there was nothing, just a mild curiosity. “Do you understand what you witnessed and do you have questions?”

          Hazuki turned to Kyo, “Are you one of them? Do you drink the blood of others?” Kyo nodded, “I do, as does everyone else in this room.” He looked around the room, noticing the subtle differences. Reaching out, he touched Kyo’s arm, somewhat surprised to find the flesh much cooler than expected.

          Kyo thought his friend was taking everything rather calmly. “When Arimatsu found me, I was as close to death as you could be and still be breathing. He asked me what in my life had happened to get me to that point. Then Reo-san came to see me, he asked if I wanted to avenge our master, if I did, he would do something to guarantee that.”

          Hazuki looked over at Reo, “Did you change him into an immortal?” Reo nodded, “As I did all of the people in my clan save for Issay, he came to me as an immortal. There are different situations for all my people, some I did to save them from death, as with Kyo-san, another I saved from a hellish existence. My question is whether or not this would be something you are interested in?”

          “Why me? I’m neither living a hellish existence nor am I close to death. Would you allow me to walk away from here unharmed or would you take me by force?” Hazuki wanted all the answers before deciding anything.

          “You’re a warrior, you know how to handle yourself in extreme situations such as during battle. I need strong people in my clan, there will at some point be a war within our own community, but we have no idea when it will begin.”

          This caught Hazuki’s attention, “How many others are there?” Reo shrugged, “I don’t know, but there is a common factor and that’s all I can say at this time.”  Hazuki seemed to struggle with the information, “and you will not take me by force?”

          This seemed to insult Reo, “Of course not. We do not do such things, as it has been done to many of us. You will not be brought into the blood by force.”

          Hazuki appreciated this, but still… “Can you give me some time please?”

 

          Hazuki left the geisha house and Kyo behind, “I need to think about this, it is a lot to consider.” Kyo understood, had he not been so close to death, he may not have agreed, but the lure of being able to avenge his master and live, was too tempting. Watching his friend walk away, Kyo was torn. He knew that Hazuki would be a valuable addition to the clan, but the man was neither injured nor near death, and he didn’t envy the choice that had to be made.

 

          “Immortal? To live forever…is that what I want?” Hazuki had walked for several hours, lost in thought about the choice before him. To avenge his master, the man he had sworn to protect and failed through no fault of his own, was heavy on the list. The erotic scene between Issay and Ayato was alluring, but was it always that way? Would he ever have a wife or children? That was redundant he knew, as a Ronin the possibility of keeping them either healthy and happy was almost zero, the life of an ex-samurai was not one of great wealth nor stability.

          He had seen the woman Jyou, the fact that she was an immortal, forever beautiful was appealing, as an immortal, he would remain as he was now…forever. “I would remain strong and healthy, no diseases of the elderly to weigh me down.”  

          He found himself in front of a small shrine erected on the side of the road, to some random kami he did not know. Did it matter? All kami would listen to their children, regardless of what they were asking for. Hazuki kneeled in front of the small shrine, bowing his head and clapping his hands. Asking for guidance, for a sign that it would be favorable to the kami that he avenge his master’s death.

          Sitting back on his heels, Hazuki leaned forward to touch his head to the ground, “Show me what I should do…is this the path I should follow?” There was no answer, he really didn’t expect there to be. His relationship with the kami had fallen apart on the battlefield, as he had watched his comrades and friends dying by the scores. Why should the kami help him now? At that moment he knew there was truly only one path to follow, as he stood and brushed the dirt off his clothes, he turned and started back towards the city. He had an appointment with a vampire. The year was 1674.

 

Image result for hazuki lynch Hazuki

Chapter Text

          Morrie muttered under his breath, his surging temper just below the surface, “What the hell are you doing now?” he asked his lover. “What do you mean? I’m painting your portrait, the same thing I’ve been doing for the last six months.” Tatsurou snapped, “do you expect me to finish it in a day?”  It was the same argument they’d been having since Morrie brought Tatsurou into the blood two hundred odd years ago, “I would have thought by now, you’d know exactly what my appearance is, why do I need to sit here in this ridiculous position?”

          Tatsurou put his brush down, this was not about the painting. “What’s bothering you so much today? You’re in such a foul mood.” Pushing his way onto the chair Morrie was sitting on, Tatsu leaned over and kissed his lover…his maker, his blood spouse. “I haven’t heard from him in over three hundred years, it’s unlike him to go that long and you know I don’t trust him, especially not around you.”

          It was true that Morrie had not heard from Yoshiki in centuries, his maker had dumped him when it was obvious that he did not share Yoshiki’s bloodlust in the manner that he fed on his victims, “How did I create such a weak and pathetic child, you’re nothing like me.”  Yoshiki laughed, “You don’t have the determination to kill yourself, you’re weak and simple, you have no taste for what the life of a blood drinker truly is. You’ll waste away to nothing before you’d kill yourself.” And with those last words, Yoshiki vanished. The year was 1493.

“You should be happy that he hasn’t come around, maybe he’s dead!” Tatsu smirked. Morrie knew better, “It would take the hand of a kami to kill that man. I’m surprised he even brought me into the blood, he’s not actually the affectionate type you know.” This was an understatement. Yoshiki’s only reason for creating Morrie was, as he put it, “My maker was being pushy, saying I needed a companion… and look what I ended up with, you. I should have walked away from you and left you to die in that forest, you’re worthless.”

Morrie had the whereabouts to distance himself from Yoshiki as soon as it was feasible to do so, which meant less than 24 hours after he was brought into the blood. Much like his own maker Ryuichi, Yoshiki cared nothing for his creations, they were just another member of an ever-growing army for a war that would pit vampire against vampire sometime in the future.

 

The years that followed Morrie’s transformation into a blood drinker, had been filled with loneliness and solitude, sleeping in the shadows of the deep forest, mostly feeding on animals or on the rare occasion a hunter or lone traveler. After one hundred years of wandering aimlessly, he found himself in the small village of Takata. The wars of the daimyos had passed through, the village population was of the elderly, the war swallowing up the young men, their women and young children following.

It was easy enough for Morrie to find a small unoccupied home outside the city, a village elder telling him, “You might as well live there, the family was taken by the war, either killed or forced into battle. Move in if it pleases you.” With a dismissive wave, the village elder left Morrie standing on the porch of his new home.

Before Morrie had been brought into the blood, he had been a retainer of the daimyo Hosakawa Masamoto, a man who eagerly sent his men into battle without a thought to whether his forces were capable. Morrie had been an academic, hired to teach the daimyo’s children, and to help around the estate when needed. When a more powerful lord came through their area, he made sure to wipe every known person off the face of the earth, there were no prisoners and no mercy given to anyone; women and children included.

Morrie barely escaped with his life, though seriously wounded and playing dead until the massacre was over, he then crawled into the forest to die peacefully. When Yoshiki found him, he was as near death as one could be, with only minutes to live. The instant flash of pain when the vampire stuck his fangs into Morrie’s neck, barely registered with him with more than a weak and futile struggle.  Then he heard the soft voice whispering in his ear, telling him to “Drink and you will live.”

Why he did as he was told, would baffle and aggravate him for eternity. The soft warm flow of Yoshiki’s blood washed over his tongue and filled his mouth, the sensation likens to the growing burn of arousal. But there was no sweet repose after the sensual act, there was no comfort or care. Yoshiki simply dumped Morrie out of his arms and stood, watching with a truly uninterested gaze as Morrie’s mortal body lay dying. “Wha…what have you done to me?”

Before Yoshiki could answer, the first wave of intense pain passed through Morrie’s body, causing him to curl into a fetal position and scream. “You’re dying… well your body is dying actually, it will pass soon enough.” Yoshiki looked around and found a small log on which to sit and watch as his first creation went through the process.

          Breathing hard as the pain left his body, Morrie opened his eyes for the first time as a vampire. Turning to glare at Yoshiki, he demanded answers, “Tell me what you have done!”  Standing on wobbly legs, Morrie looked at the wounds that had sent him towards death, they were slowly healing on their own, closing as if magic. “You are now immortal and I am your maker. My name is Yoshiki and you are my child,” the man smiled, “come, I will show you what it is to live in the darkness.”

          The next hours passed quickly, Yoshiki making his way into the village where the warriors had ransacked the buildings, leaving the dead and dying. “Well this makes things a little easier, they won’t struggle as much.” Yoshiki stepped into a small hut, finding a woman and two small children, crying over the body of a man. Without much ceremony, Yoshiki grabbed the woman and lifted her, sinking his fangs into her neck as she screamed and struggled. Drinking his fill, Yoshiki tore out the woman’s throat and carelessly threw her into a corner, turning to look at the children who were cowering in a corner.

          “Come, your first meal will be simple, just follow what I do.” He picked one of the children up into his arms, the young boy screaming and thrashing about, “Take the other in your arms,” he ordered Morrie. “No…I will not!” Morrie moved to stand in front of the other child, blocking her from Yoshiki.

          “You’re already challenging me? Very well,” Moving quickly, Yoshiki did the same to the child as he had done to the mother, throwing the small body into the corner. “You will do this or you will die.” Shoving Morrie aside, Yoshiki took the young girl into his arms, then pushed the girl towards Morrie who held her as she would have fallen to the ground. “Now drink from her.”

          Morrie stared at Yoshiki, then looked down into the face of the young girl, “I’m sorry, it won’t hurt for long.” The girl nodded. Morrie kissed her on the cheek then turned her head gently, nuzzling her neck he sunk his fangs into her vein. The girl gasped once, then went limp. Kissing the girl tenderly on the forehead, Morrie laid her down next to her mother and brother, “I’m sorry.”

          Yoshiki scoffed, “Is this how you will live? Passively feeding then apologizing to your victims?” Morrie turned and looked at his maker with so much hatred that even Yoshiki was surprised. “I will never be the monster that you are.” With those last words to his maker, Morrie left the small hut and disappeared into the night.

 

          “It’s unlikely that he would just randomly turn up, he was lucky he escaped that night.” Tatsu snuggled in Morrie’s arms. “Why would he risk coming back to see you?” Morrie kissed Tatsu’s head, “To try to kill you again? A false statement about how he has changed? I don’t know, but I feel something is not right.” Yoshiki had came back into Morrie’s life, but with violent consequences.

Tatsurou had been a court artist for a daimyo in another part of the country. Once the wars started, he left the the daimyo’s estate knowing full well he would have been pressed into military duty and as an artist, that was not in his nature to kill, he would rather take the chance of traveling alone.

Finding himself in the small village of Takata, Tatsu went to the village elders and asked about work, “I’m sorry young man, we have no use for your talent, there are only old people and death left here. You may want to go to Morrie-san’s estate, perhaps you could paint for him.” Tatsu thanked the elder and went in search of Morrie’s estate.

Morrie was instantly struck by Tatsuro’s beauty, the long dark hair and deep brown eyes, the way the man carried himself; graceful and without effort. “May I interest you in allowing me to paint a portrait, Morrie-san?” he asked softly. If agreeing to this would keep Tatsurou by his side, he would sit for eternity.

Tatsu was enamored with Morrie as well, wondering how long he could stretch out the time it took to paint his portrait. “There is one small issue I must disclose.” Morrie said to him one evening as they sat and talked. “You will be working at night, I am not a day person, as such that I sleep during the daylight hours. Will that be a problem?”

“It may be strange, yes, but I do not have any objections. It might work better for the paints that I use; the sunlight is not kind to them.” Tatsu didn’t care if he had to hang upside down to paint, he wanted nothing more than to stay by this man’s side. “My former master was the reason I have changed my hours, he also slept during the day, believing that being awake at night gave him an advantage over others.”

         

     The weeks past as Tatsu and Morrie became more acquainted with each other, Tatsu setting up his equipment while Morrie went out to check the property, which was just a ploy to go out and feed at night. What Morrie didn’t know was that Tatsu could see a change in the man each night. At first break of twilight, Morrie appeared considerably paler, than when he returned from checking the estate, he could not pin point what the reason may be for the change.

     It was one of those nights that Morrie returned looking almost flushed, Tatsu could keep silent no longer, and steeled himself to ask the important question. “Morrie-san?” His model was sitting at a small writing table, “Hmm?” he didn’t look up. Tatsu put down his paint brush, walked over and kneeled in front of Morrie.

    “I want you to tell me, tell me the truth to why you look different, not just from living in the darkness, but from the time you leave until you come back from checking the estate,” Tatsu could see Morrie stiffen, now he worried that he had crossed the line. “I’m sorry, forgive me for intruding. What you do is your own business.” Tatsu placed his hands on his thighs in ready to stand, Morrie reached out quickly and covered Tatsu’s hand with is.

     Tatsu looked down at the hand, it was pale and chilled, “You will be disgusted with me and leave.” Morrie whispered sadly. Tatsu placed his other hand over Morrie’s, “You believe me to be so shallow of a person? I have lived with you for weeks and you have been nothing but gracious and friendly, there is nothing you could say that would change the way I feel about you.”  Morrie’s head snapped up, “How you feel…?”

     Tatsu nodded, then slowly lifted Morrie’s hand, touching the fingers to his lips, “Tell me what it is, I will not judge you.” The next hour was filled with tears, rage and anger, as Morrie told Tatsu of Yoshiki, the fact that the man found him dying in a forest, “He created me, he turned me into what you see before you, not dead and certainly not living…just existing, until you came into my life.”

     Tatsu said nothing as Morrie told his tale, a few tears slipping from his eyes as he explained the scene with the woman and two children, “I will never become what my maker is, he is a monster, there is no other way to describe him.”  Tatsu asked his final question, “What is it like to be immortal?”

     Morrie thought carefully for a moment, “To be immortal is to live alone for eternity, unless you are gifted a companion. It is to live in darkness, unless you are lucky enough to have someone you love that brings light into your life. For these last weeks, you have been my light.”

     Morrie sighed, “I will give you sufficient supplies and money of course, I do not wish you to struggle when you leave here, I thank you for yo…” his voice was silenced by a soft pair of lips placed upon his, Tatsu slid his hand behind Morrie’s head, pulling the man into an embrace and a deepening kiss that lasted for several minutes. Pulling away, Tatsu looked at Morrie, “I do not wish to leave you, ever. I’ve been in love with you since the first night you sat for me, please do not make me leave your side. I want to become an immortal, like you so that I may live for eternity with the most precious person I’ve ever had in my life.”

     Morrie’s eyes widened, “You do not mean this! You can not be like me, I refuse to create another monster!” Tatsu leaned in and started to kiss Morrie again, pushing him back onto the floor, his hands starting to roam over the man’s body, “You wish for me to leave? You wish to pass this up?” Tatsu reached down and slid his hand inside Morrie’s yukata, grasping the man’s hardening length. Morrie moaned in Tatsu’s mouth, “You’re not playing fair, my love.”

     Morrie wrapped his arms around Tatsu, sliding one hand down to massage the man’s ass, “I want you and only you, if I agree to this there will be no others in our lives save for future children if we so desire, you will be my blood spouse, I will forever be yours.”

     With no more words, Morrie made love to Tatsu, whispered words of what would happen during the change, “I will never leave your side,” he assured the young man. Tatsu could do nothing but nod and moan in lust, begging for it all. “I am giving you one more chance to say no.” Morrie murmured against Tatsu’s neck as he nuzzled the vein, “I want this, I want to be with you for eternity, please…” the man whined.

     Holding the young man in his arms, Morrie sank his teeth into his neck, drinking deeply, Tatsu moaning softly as he was brought close to death. “Now my love, drink and you will be mine.” Slicing his wrist, he put it to Tatsu’s lips, watching as his new blood spouse was born. Pulling his wrist away and closing the wound, Morrie kissed Tatsu, “The pain will start but I will be here to comfort you.”

     Tatsu had never felt pain such as he did when his mortal body died, but with Morrie’s arms around him, holding him close and tenderly, it was bearable. His mind flashed with visions of Yoshiki and Ryuichi, of whom he had no visual knowledge of. With a last gasp of mortal breath, Tatsu lay quietly in Morrie’s arms. “How do you feel, love?” he asked with a kiss to the forehead, “Hungry, a bit confused as to who those men were.”

    “What men?”

    “I saw two men flashing in a vision, I assume one is most likely Yoshiki, he’s beautiful and has honey colored hair, the other was darker and menacing, the look in his eyes was of pure hatred.” Helping Tatsu off the floor, and both men getting dressed again, Morrie embraced his new blood spouse. “I will show you how to feed, but I will warn you; I do not kill my victims, I take only a small sip and leave them comfortable, there is no reason to kill them.”

    Leading him into the village, as others had done before him, Morrie taught Tatsu how to take the little drink, making sure that they were careful about who their victims were, the youngest of the elders that seemed to be in good health, the men sitting in the tiny izakaya, plying them with drinks and offering to escort them home.

    “Animal blood will do us both well enough, lone travelers, a bandit or some other miscreant, those who’s intentions are evil are fair game, but I still do not kill them, just drain them as far as I can.”

     Warm with the blood of their victims, the men returned to the estate, Tatsu now lustful, “You only gave me a little taste of what I can expect, would you like to explore things more thoroughly?” he teased Morrie, who needed no encouragement, he had been alone far too long to give up. “Oh, I’ll be giving more than just a little taste my love, I’ve been alone for over one hundred years, be prepared not to be able to walk for several weeks.” The year was 1596.

 

Image result for morrie creature creature Morrie

 

Image result for tatsurou mucc My vampire Tatsuro

Chapter Text

 

          Sakurai Atsushi was brooding… again. Since the evening they had met Inoran and Yusuke, thirty odd years ago, Sakurai had become pre-occupied and obsessed with finding other immortals, specifically those that were created by Ryuichi. “Why do you care so much, Acchan?” Naoto asked one evening as they sat for dinner. “I care because there are others out there such as yourself. I am sure Ryuichi is your maker as well as mine and Inoran’s. It pains me to think that there may be young ones that have no skills or leadership, that are alone and frightened.”

          “It distresses me that there could be others such as Inoran and myself, who were created by Ryuichi then abandoned to struggle with survival as an immortal,” he said simply, “I created Imai, but he chose to leave me, I did not abandon him.” Naoto understood at the base level, but it frightened her to think that there may be others out there that would harm her or their family.

          The discovery of Inoran and Yusuke touched Sakurai in a way that surprised him. He was sorely tempted to ask the two men to stay with him, to add them to his growing clan, but he understood what drove Inoran and Yusuke to continue their search.  It was the search for others that had driven him to make an alarming decision.

          During that same dinner, he made his announcement, “I’m going to Edo.” Kai was the first to object, “The hell you are! There is no reason for you to travel to Edo!” Sakurai was taken aback by the viciousness of Kai’s objection. “Kai?” Without answering him, Kai stood up and walked out of the room, then the slam of a door sliding hard in its tracks. “Acchan, Edo? Why do we need to go to Edo?”

          “You’re not going anywhere, you will be staying here, I’ll be traveling alone.” Uta’s face paled, “The hell I am!” and just as Kai did, Uta got up and stormed out of the room. “What in the hell is wrong with those two?” He grumped. “They are concerned about you, that’s what’s wrong with them. That and the fact that you just said you’re going, without any explanation, and I’m with them. Poor choice, Acchan.” Toshiya and Naoto got up and left Sakurai sitting alone.

          “I can’t believe him! He thinks he’s going all the way to Edo by himself?” Kai was leaning against the stall door, talking quietly to his horse. “He’s not going anywhere alone, that’s not happening.”

          “He’s an asshole!” Uta stomped into the barn, “Why does he need to go to Edo anyways? He thinks other immortals are just going to walk up and start a conversation?” Angry tears were forming in Uta’s eyes as he went to stand in front of Rai, leaning his forehead on the neck of the horse. “Why didn’t he ask me to go with him?”

          “At the very least he should have asked me,” Kai said, “I will not allow him to travel alone, especially if he’s going to be looking for other immortals, it’s just not safe. He knows how dangerous it was in France, does he really think Edo’s going to be any less dangerous?”

          “No, it’s not going to be any less dangerous.” Both Kai and Uta turned quickly, Sakurai had just walked into the barn. “And neither one of waited until I had finished speaking before you both stormed off like toddlers.” Sakurai stood with his arms crossed over his chest, “I had planned to take you Kai, and possibly Toshiya.”

          “Wait… you’re leaving me here? Why? You can’t leave me behind, that’s not fair!” Uta whined. Sakurai held up his hand, “If you would quit whining like a child, I was going to say that we needed to discuss this as a family.” Now Uta’s face was burning in embarrassment. “Fine, but you’re not going alone to Edo!” Uta once again, stomped off in a huff, going into the house. “Are you going to act like he is?” Sakurai smiled at Kai. “No, but I’m not happy either, Atsushi.”

          Returning to the house, Naoto and Toshiya were waiting anxiously as the others returned. “Now, can we discuss this like adults?” Everyone sat down and waited for Sakurai to start. “Before I was interrupted, I was about to tell you why I wanted to go to Edo and who was coming with me. But due to the serious objections of two of my children, this will be a family trip. Happy now?”

          Naoto and Toshiya looked at each other, “Not really, Acchan. Why do we have to go looking for others? Can’t we just stay here and live our lives normally?”  A soft giggle was heard from Uta, “Totchi, we aren’t normal.” Toshiya just rolled his eyes, “You know what I mean, Uta.” Sakurai raised his hands to calm everyone.

          “Since the evening we had with Inoran and Yusuke, you all know I’ve been fighting an internal battle on whether to search others out, and finally I had to admit to myself, that I want to find other immortals. I have a growing fear in my heart that something is coming, a type of war, and I believe Ryuichi and Yoshiki will be the generals.”

          “A war?” Kai leaned in, “What kind of war? I don’t completely understand.” Sakurai looked down, a heavy sigh, “I believe that Ryuichi is creating an army and that he will be pitting immortal against immortal, and I believe it is for no other reason that his own entertainment. Why else would he be so haphazardly creating more immortals? It’s not out of the love of his children, the man loves nothing but himself.”  

          “The fact that we know nothing of each other, Inoran and Yusuke are the first of our kind, except for Yoshiki and the woman he was with, that we have seen. Yes, we’ve heard whispers of names, and that would lead me to believe that there are more of our kind out there than we believe. This is the reason I want to go to Edo and Kyoto.”

          The remainder of the evening was spent on planning their trip and devising an emergency plan in part because of the unknown. “If any of are injured, you will immediately return to the estate and one of us will follow. If anything happens to me, you will all return to the estate, and live there.” As the words left his lips, the silent tears began, “You don’t really think… there is no way! You’re an ancient Acchan, how could anyone kill you?” Kai asked.

          “There may be others out there that are older than Inoran and myself, that is why I want you to promise me to return to the estate and remain here. If possible, find Inoran and Yusuke, perhaps they would like to live here at the estate.” The mood was somber, none of them wanted to voice their concerns aloud, it felt like if they did it would surely come to the truth. “We leave in two nights, make sure to pack lightly and carry as little as you can. We also take the horses, I want to be able to leave quickly if needed.”

 

          Arimatsu held the woman in his arms, “What have they done to you my dear?” he murmured as he looked at her torn and battered face. She was breathing but just barely, one of his men alerting him about what he had found. Carefully picking her up, Arimatsu made his way back into the city and straight to the geisha house.

          “Omi, help me please.” Arimatsu called out for the mama-san as he slid the door open, “Oh my… who is this?” Omi’s face grew dark as she looked at the beautiful woman, “I don’t know, but she was found just outside the city gates, the way her body was positioned, she looked as if she was dumped from a cart of some sort.”

          “Thank you, Arimatsu-san, I will care for her, but I think you should go and warn Reo-san, she might not be the first nor the last to end up like this.” Arimatsu laid the woman down onto a futon gently. “Let me know how she recovers, please.” Omi nodded. Calling for Ayato, Omi ordered him to heat water and get clean wraps to wash the unconscious woman, Ayato gasping in horror when he first sees her, “Omi, what happened to her?” he gasped.

          “I don’t know, please go and fetch me those things, and a clean kimono as well, go now…hurry.” Omi shushed the young man away. The woman was young, probably not even twenty years old, her long black hair was plastered to the side of her face with blood, which seemed to have no origin of a wound. “Omi…” Ayato carefully set a bowl of warm water down next to the mama-san, “Take some of these wraps and wash her carefully, I can’t see where the blood is coming from. “Yes ma’am.”

          “This is beginning to become a problem, Reo. She is not the only one found like this, dumped just outside the city gates, at least she is alive.” Arimatsu went straight to Reo from the geisha house, not even knocking as he entered the man’s room.

          “Any word on the street as to who is doing this?” Reo didn’t like unaccounted for bodies randomly showing up outside the gates of the city he protected. “No, the girl was not awake, hell she was barely breathing. What do you want to do with her?” Arimatsu didn’t mind violence upon men, but if someone is doing this to women, that was another matter completely.

          “Keep her, give her a spot in the house, I’m sure Omi can use her, but not as a geisha, this one remains a servant, she has seen enough horror in her life,” he paused, “I want Kyo and Hazuki both in on this as well, get the word out to all in the Aichi Clan, this will not happen again, to man or woman.” Reo dismissed Arimatsu. “Would you like me to get Omi-san?” Jyou asked. “Yes, have her come to me as soon as the girl has been taken care of.”

          Ayato had just left the room to fetch another basin of warm water and some clean wraps. As Omi worked on cleaning the woman up, she untied the kimono and started to unwrap the garment. She could see that there was blood between the woman’s legs, “She’s been raped,” she hissed. She turned the woman onto her side and gasped, the pool of blood under the woman’s buttocks was soaked through the kimono, but it was where the blood was coming from that alerted Omi.

          Gently laying her back down, Omi gently opened the undergarments, sitting back on her heels looking at what she found, “This explains a lot my dear.” Ayato knocked on the door, “Ma’am I have the water,” Omi quickly covered the woman. “Bring it in please,” sliding the door open, the young man carried the basin and set it down next to Omi. “Would you please go and ask either Jyou-san or Reo-san to come and see me please?” Ayato nodded, then left the room.

          “I believe I know your story,” she murmured. “Omi? What is it?” Both Reo and Jyou came into the small room, “Ayato, thank you for your help, you may return to the house.” Omi didn’t need Ayato to see what she had found. “Sit please, I have something to show you that may explain what has happened.”

          Unwrapping the undergarment again and pulling it back, Omi exposed the woman’s genitals, to reveal a penis that had a rather nasty gash across the base.  “Oh,” Reo said softly, “This poor child has been anally raped as well.”  The woman that Arimatsu found, was in fact a young man. “I also believe that he has had his tongue cut out, I have seen this before, a customer believes he is going to fuck a woman, and is sent a young man such as this in her place. The damage done here was by the customer.”

          Reo’s face was growing darker by the second as he stood up, “Take care of her Omi, we will keep her with us, she is not to be included in the house. Until I hear otherwise, we will keep her secret. Omi nodded, “Yes, Reo-san. I will keep her with me in my room. Thank you.” Jyou got up and left the room with Reo.

          “I want whomever did this to be found and brought to me…alive.”

 

          Having taken the opportunity to leave the estate in Sendai, Sakurai and his clan traveled at night, and made it to Edo in two weeks, by traveling in the evenings, the heat of the day was missed and the horses were kept fresher. They only experienced a few travelers, mostly men with wagons trying to push on for an extra mile or so and they were ignored. When coming across a camp, Sakurai and the others took the chance and fed lightly as the travelers slept, leaving them none the wiser for a small loss of blood.

          Placing their horses at a stable, the group walked through the darken streets of the large city, both Naoto and Uta terrified of the crowds. Making their way to a local izakaya, Sakurai discreetly asked a server about a decent ryokan to spend the day in. They ate a basic dinner then went back out onto the streets.

          “I do not hear nor feel any other immortals, Acchan. Could it be that there are none in the city?” Kai leaned over and murmured in Sakurai’s ear. “I don’t believe that, and if there are none, there’s a reason. Let us sleep here and leave tomorrow night, while I don’t feel the presence of anyone, this city feels tainted to me.”

          With the doors and windows blocked with blankets, the clan all slept in the same room, much to the chagrin of the proprietor, “My children will not sleep separated, they are young and frightened of the large city. It is safer for them for all of us in the same room.” Sakurai argued.

          With little rest and looking haggard, the clan rose the next night and checked out of the ryokan, and went to retrieve their horses. “That was awful, Totchi how can you sleep with Kai snoring like a bear?” Naoto teased. “I don’t even hear him anymore, or I just poke him until he turns over.”

          The trip from Edo to Kyoto was rougher than the first leg of their journey, the distance greater and the terrain more uneven, it was three weeks until they reached the gates of Kyoto. Once again Naoto and Uta were frightened, Sakurai’s reassurance was not calming this time. “I don’t like this city either, it’s no better than Edo. Can we go home after this, please Acchan?” Sakurai cupped Uta’s face in his hands, kissing the boy softly, “Yes love, we can return to Sendai just as soon as I look through the city.”

          Once outside the city gates, Sakurai had Kai wait with the group as he entered the city on foot, seeking a place to stay for the day. He was observant and cautious as he moved through the crowds, but it took less than an hour until he felt the presence of another immortal.

          He was just reaching for the door of a ryokan when a voice growled at him, “You’d better have a damn good reason why you’re in this city, vampire.” Without turning around, Sakurai answered him quickly, “I do, and I wish to speak with you further on this. My group is just outside the city, if you will follow me you will not be harmed.” The immortal standing behind him chuckled. “As you wish.”

          Sakurai did not turn to look at the other man, he just carefully made his way back to the horses. As they approached, Kai tensed, “Stay alert,” he mumbled. Sakurai walked up to their horses and reached for the reins of his, then slowly turning to face the man who was behind him.

          “Why are you in this city?” The man that spoke was short and covered in tattoos, he had a military presence about him and Sakurai knew the man was powerful.

          “I am seeking out others of our kind, I mean no harm. I just wish to speak to your master, that is all and then we will be on our way.” Sakurai tried to relax his stance, the others were not doing so well, their horses nervously moving around.

          Kyo looked at Kai and the others, he knew Reo would want to speak to these men. “I promise no harm to come to you. Get off your horses, we can lead them to a safe stable where they can rest…then I’ll take you to my master.” Sakurai turned and nodded to the others, telling Naoto and Uta to stay close to Kai and himself.

          They followed Kyo as requested, leaving the horses at what appeared to be a private stable, not one that was used by the general public. “They will be safe here, safer than any other in the city.” Kyo reassured him.  Following the short man, Uta slid his hand into Sakurai’s, Naoto on the other side, with Kai holding Toshiya’s hand following. The young ones, (as Sakurai often called them) were understandably nervous. Kyoto had grown into a major city and for Uta, it was disconcerting.

          Kyo turned down a side street and came upon the doors of the Geisha house, Sakurai raising an eyebrow at the location. “It’s a front,” Kyo huffed. Going down several flights of stairs, everyone realizing that they were now underground, both Uta and Naoto were clinging to Sakurai.

          “Wait here, don’t move.” Kyo stopped in front of a door, knocking once then going in. “Acchan I don’t like this! Can we please leave…I’m scared?” Uta whined. “Let us see what will happen, I do not feel any animosity from this man.” Before Uta could answer, the door opened again, “Please come in.” A young woman stood before them, holding the door open.

          “Welcome.” A middle-aged man sat behind a large desk, leaning back in a chair. “My name is Aichi Reo, and you are in my city uninvited. Would you care to tell me why?”

          Sakurai bowed, “Sakurai Atsushi,” he then introduced the others. “Why I am in Kyoto is for this exact reason. I am searching out other immortals, I feel that we need to speak about a growing threat that is growing in my heart.”  Reo tensed at his name.

          “Who is your maker?”

          “I believe his name is Ryuichi, though that information is new to me.”

          “When were you brought into the blood?”

          “978,” This answer raised an eyebrow with Reo.  “Do you have the same questions of me?”

          “I do, you are one of the few immortals I have met. Do you know your maker?”

          Reo smirked, “As of ten minutes ago, no, though we may have to explore that a little more. I was brought into the blood in 1049.”

          They stared at each other for a moment. “Jyou could you bring us some refreshments please.” The woman standing along the wall bowed and left the room.

          “I apologize for the rather rough treatment that Kyo-san handled you with, we are not acquainted with many immortals outside my clan. It was just a precaution, I’m sure you understand.” Sakurai inclined his head, “I understand, you must protect your loved ones. May I ask how many of our kind live in Kyoto?”  

 “There are eight of us that live under this roof. You’ve met Kyo, Jyou, Ayato and Arimatsu are all my children. Asanao is my clan chief and now that I’ve heard his name, I’m willing to guess that Ryuichi could be his maker as well,” Reo paused, a sly grin appearing on his lips.

          “There is another here, that is not one of my children.” A knock at the door and Jyou returned with a tray, and Ayato trailing behind her, it wasn’t half a second longer and Issay came into the room, “Reo-san, you cal…” Issay stopped mid-step. “Sakurai?” his eyes were wide, “What… what are you doing here in Kyoto?” Issay looked at the others, recognizing only Kai.

          “Issay,” Sakurai smiled sadly. “It is good to see you again, I’m glad you’ve found a new home.” Uta gasped, “This…?” Sakurai reached over and picked up Uta’s hand. “Hallo Issay-san.” Kai smiled and bowed his head, reaching over to hold Toshiya’s hand.

          “Issay, please take a seat, we were discussing the reasons Sakurai is in the city, I wanted you here as well.” Ayato stepped quickly to Issay, sitting behind him as if he needed to be protected. Issay sat up straight, “This is Ayato, he is my lover and Reo-san’s child.”

          “He’s beautiful, I’m happy for you. This is Uta, he is my blood spouse, and Toshiya is Kai’s blood spouse. This is Naoto, my adopted daughter.” Sakurai finished the introductions, then turned back to Reo.

          “What do you know about a man called Yoshiki?”

          “I know he’s dangerous and I have been asked that same question by someone else you’re acquainted with…Imai was here about seventy years ago, asking the same question.” Reo waited for the reaction from Sakurai upon hearing Imai’s name. “It seems that we have a mutual interest in Yoshiki. Was Imai alone?”

          “No, he had a very cute boy with him, I don’t recall his name…” Jyou whispered in Reo’s ear, “Tangier was the boys name, Imai introduced him as his lover. They seemed very nervous, couldn’t wait to get out of the city, but alas, they did not tell me where they were going.”

          With a little more shared information, it was obvious that it was getting close to morning, Uta and Naoto leaning on each other and yawning. “I will invite you to stay here in the house, you will not be harassed at all. You may all sleep in one room if you please.” Reo nodded to Jyou. “Thank you, we accept. May we speak more at length tonight?”

          “I’d like that very much, good evening to you Sakurai-san.”

          “There are enough futons for all, if you are hungry when you wake you can take a meal in your room, please ask before going outside to feed if needed. Oyasuminasai.”

          “Acchan, do you believe we’re safe? And what about Issay?” Kai helped lay out the futons, “I don’t feel as Issay is a problem, though I would like to speak to him, if he will allow it. As for Reo-san, we need to speak further, I want to tell him of my concerns with the possibility of a war.” They settled in for a decent night’s sleep, Uta in Sakurai’s arms, Naoto, Toshiya and Kai snuggled up together. “Let us hope that my fears are unfounded.” The year is 1703.

 

Related image Mana

Chapter Text

          After a decent day of sleep, and being allowed (with stipulations in place) to go into the city to feed, Sakurai and his family were back at the geisha house within two hours, leaving Sakurai to meet with Reo. “If you’d like, I will take you to see your horses while Reo-san speaks to your master.” Kyo offered, which was gladly accepted, “I’m worried about Naki, she’s the only girl and well… she’s special.” Naoto explained timidly, intimidated by Kyo’s gruff appearance. Kyo smiled, “Your lovely girl is safe, I promise you. I’m sure the boys wouldn’t let anyone harm her.”  

          Sakurai told Reo the story about how they met Inoran and Yusuke. “Speaking with him at some length, the man that brought him into the blood fits the description of my maker. Ryuichi spent more time with Inoran; for three hours he taught Inoran the ways of the blood drinkers, but as with the rest of us, vanished without a word.”

          Reo’s brow furrowed, “It is the same with me, he fits the description and his actions perfectly, though he stayed with me barely half an hour. He laughed as he walked away, leaving me to learn on my own.” They looked at each other for a moment, then Sakurai smiled, “I believe we are then, brothers by default, but what a family we have.”

          A light meal and sake were delivered by Ayato, Sakurai smiling and nodding to the boy as he left. “Issay’s boy is beautiful, I hope that they are happy.” Sakurai mused, “how was Issay when he came to you? Did he explain what the conditions were when he left my side?”

          Reo told Sakurai what Issay had said, the reasons for leaving. “Yes, it is true that he called Kai a peasant, but it really was much more than that. He was greedy and self serving, he wanted to be my blood spouse but I did not have those feelings for him, nor did I have those feelings towards Kai.”

          “What is your relationship with your family?” Reo was interested in their family dynamics, as it seemed so different from his own.

          “Kai worked in the kitchen at my estate for quite some time, we were friendly with each other, but it wasn’t until he saved two very tiny kittens from death, that we became closer.” Sakurai went on to tell Kai’s story.

          “It was when Kai and I were in France that we first heard the whispers, and fleeting glances of other immortals.”

          “What were the whispers?” Reo’s voice revealed some anxiety. “We were in a rather large theater, in a private box. It was not until the last act that I felt something was wrong. That’s when I started to hear the whispers, the words ‘Japanese vampire’ and “Imai’ were the clearest. It alarmed me so much that we left France that night and came home.”

          Reo was curious, “How did you and Kai manage to live so long in France? At that time, I’m sure not many people, if any had ever seen someone from Japan.” Sakurai chuckled, “Gold is the international language.” Now it was time for Reo to laugh, “Isn’t that the absolute truth.”

          “In 1489 I took Issay to France as I had done with Kai, though we were not there long. We had gone to the cathedral of Notre Dame, Kai loved the building and wanted a description of the progress. Issay and I were walking the grounds when a woman approached us, she was an immortal of undetermined nationality. She said her master wanted to speak to us, that he had a message.”

          “Yoshiki came out of the shadows and came within a few meters, he then told me that he had a message from Imai, that the young man wanted to come home. I told him that Imai was not welcomed in my home, then told him to fuck off, then using the cloud gift I grabbed Issay and we returned home.”

          Sakurai asked about Reo’s experience with Yoshiki, “When did you first see him?”

          “1313, when he was running amok here in Kyoto, Asanao and I confronted him.”

          “Running amok? As in randomly killing people?” This was disturbing, and a haunted premonition was beginning to form. “I had already met Asanao, he was brought into the blood in 1179, he was living here in Kyoto… well living is a relative term. Ryuichi had changed him and without much thought, dumped him outside the city wall. I was lucky to find him, I was just coming back from hunting and he was cowering behind a tree.”

          Reo paused for a moment, his eyes growing distant with the memories, “I brought Asanao into my home and we started to build the clan from there. Asanao and I heard rumors that there may be other immortals but we never came across any. In 1313 Asanao and I were out, and much like I found Kyo-san, we found Arimatsu, with his throat torn out but still alive. I still do not understand what drove me to bring him into the blood, but I did.”

          “Once Arimatsu had gone through the change, he warned us about the man who did this to him, warned us that he will confuse you with his mind, that he was so beautiful that he could not resist himself from leaving with the man. I asked if he knew his name, he told me ‘Yoshiki’.” Sakurai’s anger began to build slowly with each detail, “Go on.”

          Reo understood Sakurai’s gaze, “It was perhaps a week or so later that dead bodies were being found just outside the city walls, and some in the city in the seedier parts. They all had the commonality of the throats being torn out. Arimatsu was certain that it was Yoshiki who was responsible and I felt it was my duty to seek out this man.”

          Reo stood and started to pace, his mind was flashing with memories, the anger burning in his gut. “It was only two nights before I found him, and even with no one to back me up, I confronted him. I asked him the same questions I always ask, and his answers were similar, he claimed his master’s name was Ryuichi, and that he came into the blood in 1108. That shocked and surprised me, how was it that I was older, yet it seemed that Yoshiki had more power than I. I asked him about the bodies, why he was killing his victims, instead of taking the little drink.”

          “He laughed at me, telling me he didn’t care what he was doing, he told me ‘why should I care? They are livestock, plain and simple, put on this earth for me to feed on. Look at it as population control… what about you Reo? You’re no better, you’re picking up my trash and bringing them into the blood. You’re pathetic.’ It was at that moment I knew that the man was dangerous, that he had powers that equaled the ancients. I believe he intends on using that power for something so totally evil, that I fear for our kind and humanity in general. If we do nothing, there will be war… and even then, I do not believe us to be powerful enough to stop him.”

          “Tell me about your children, your clan.” Sakurai needed to understand where Reo was in the grand scheme of immortal life. “Arimatsu, Jyou, Ayato, Kyo and Hazuki. Both Kyo and Hazuki are Ronin who served the same Master and fought side by side in the most recent wars. You know about Issay, though I have to say, I don’t see why he has so much animosity towards you… you seem like a very nice man.”

          Sakurai laughed, “He was a bit of a handful, he wanted more than I had to give, I think he believed he was to be my blood spouse, but he was wrong. If he is happy here serving you  and with that beautiful boy at his side, I am happy for him.”

          “There is a new problem however, but I do not believe it’s related to Yoshiki,” Reo said, “She is not the first, but perhaps she will be the last, but there was a young woman found by Arimatsu, outside the city walls. She had been raped and beaten, and the worst of it, she had her tongue cut out.”

          “But she was not attacked by a vampire? Who would do such a thing to a woman… wait, I’m not sure I want to know the answer.” Sakurai shook his head.

          “We know her name is Mana, and we also know that physically she is male, but by all outwards appearances, Mana is female and I believe she would rather live as a woman and that’s how we treat her. She is now under my protection within Clan Aichi.”

          This was of some relief for Sakurai, “All other things aside, what will you do about Yoshiki?” Reo shook his head, “Be watchful, cautious and never underestimate him. He did tell me before he left, that he will be back some day…those were his exact words.”

          The one question remaining was motive; why was Yoshiki going on killing sprees? Was he creating as many as he killed, or was he doing something more sinister? “Have you heard anything from our maker, such as his location or if he is still alive?” This question often haunted Sakurai’s thoughts, “I have not. As powerful as he is, I do not believe he is dead, it would take a great deal of power for that to happen.”

          Sakurai nodded in agreement, “Do you believe that you, Inoran and I are the oldest?”

          “At this point, yes. How much have you traveled? There is the possibility that we are the oldest in this country, but in Europe or the America’s, I hesitate to guess.”

          Sakurai shrugged, “Only to France and England, and only in France have I heard the whispers, though before we came to Kyoto, we did stop in Edo. Do you know of our kind there?”

          “There are some, I believe Imai and Tangier might be living somewhere close to Edo, as for others…they have not come to the surface, it leads me to believe that they could be considered feral, not connected to any clan or even family. They are the unknowns that concern me.”

          Reo and Sakurai agreed that they should stay in touch, Sakurai offering to host Reo at the estate any time he’d like, “We should warn each other if there is new information, would you agree to that?”

          Spending one more day resting, Sakurai and his family left the following evening, bound for Sendai, “It was a pleasure meeting you and your clan Reo-san, thank you for your hospitality.” With Arimatsu and Asanao escorting them out of the city safely, Sakurai was confident that they had made allies, if not friends. “I’m glad we stayed, Acchan. I liked Ayato a lot and Mana, she’s beautiful.” Uta sighed.

          “Did you and Reo-san come to some sort of arrangement or understanding, Atsushi?” Kai rode next to Sakurai, “Just in the fact that we are going to keep each other informed of anything out of the ordinary, be it sightings of new immortals or a rash of suspicious deaths.” Something that Sakurai had a gut feeling, would happen sooner than later.

 

          “Do you believe everything he said?” Asanao and Reo were walking back to the geisha house, “I didn’t feel that he was lying, if that’s what you mean. I do trust him to send word if something should arise that may be dangerous. Do you have a different opinion?”

          “No, not really. His family is a little different than ours, Sakurai seems like the caring fatherly type, the fact that he took the girl in and adopted her shows his compassion. I don’t believe a lot of what Issay has said about him, not after I listened to him speak about Uta and Kai.”

          “I believe Issay was just jealous of Kai, which is understandable, the man is handsome, and his blood spouse is as beautiful as our Mana.” Reo mused, “I think we have made an important ally in Sakurai Atsushi, if not for friendship, definitely in case there is some type of war coming, which honestly I’m feeling in my heart every day.”

          “War? Do you really think it will come to war, and when? Next year, one hundred years? Unless someone is creating vampires at an alarming rate, we’re certain we know most of the group, so how does that equate to war?” Asanao didn’t want to believe that a war between the immortals was inevitable.

          “If Ryuichi continues in bringing random people into the blood, then abandoning them without a word, there is going to be fall out, and I for one will be prepared, I refuse to the Aichi Clan be harmed.”

         The year was 1703.

Chapter Text

          Mana’s recovery had been long and difficult, not from any injury from her rape, but from the act of removing her tongue. The slash on her penis healed, the anal tearing as well, but her tongue…it continued to be a problem for some months.

          Reo had spoken to her, offering her a safe place to live, invited her to join his clan and under his protection. She lived in the geisha house, but did not serve in any capacity, usually in the kitchen or laundry. She had made it known that she was frightened to leave the house, but she would leave the house under only one circumstance; that Arimatsu was with her, she trusted only him.

          Ayato had been a welcoming distraction, the young man became fast friends with Mana, even devising a sort of sign language to communicate, which helped her to tell her story. Omi had guessed what had happened; Mana was working as a prostitute, because she was not fit for anything else. The mama-san of the house sold her for an evening with a rather burly customer, who upon discovering Mana was in fact male, went berserk. Not only had he raped Mana, but cut out her tongue, then rampaged through the house, killing two other girls and the mama-san.

          The others in the house were so disgusted and angry, that they loaded Mana up into a cart and dumped her just outside the city walls, she was clearly close to death and they had no compassion.

          Upon hearing this, both Reo and Arimatsu were angered, with thoughts of revenge beating in their hearts. “How could the mama-san do this to her?” Arimatsu shook in anger, “why would she give Mana to a customer like that? Money is one thing but she should have known better.” Reo smiled to himself, he could see the change in his friend, “Shall I ask her?” Arimatsu blushed, “It’s not my choice either way. I just would like to see her smile…just once.” 

          Mana had come to understand the situation out on her own, but asked Ayato for the truth. “Yes, I am one of them, I’m an immortal, and Issay is my lover. Does it frighten you or change your mind on our friendship?” Mana shook her head, telling Ayato that “it doesn’t matter to me, you are my friend first.”

          On a cool fall night, just as the moon had risen, Mana went to Reo. She sat in the man’s lap, kissed him softly on the cheek and bared her neck, Reo looked at her intently, “Are you sure? There is no turning back from this.” Mana nodded. She had thought about what life would be like, living as an immortal, the thought of staying beautiful forever and living with the people she had come to love.  Mana stayed with Reo that night, tenderly being held in his arms, “No harm shall ever come to you again, you will be safe in the arms of Clan Aichi for as long as you choose.”

          Mana had asked Reo not to tell anyone that she had come into the blood except Ayato, due to his being her voice. “She wants it to be a surprise for someone special, Reo-san.” Ayato told his master, “I’m sure you understand the element of surprise, ne?” Reo chuckled, “Yes, and I understand. I will keep it our secret until you say other wise. Now go off to sleep, you’re going to be hungry when you wake and I will have someone take you out to feed.” Mana smiled, kissing Reo on the cheek, “I love you, my father.” she said before she returned to her room.  Ayato nudged Mana’s shoulder, “Maybe you can get him to take you out to hunt? I think he’s going to be shocked, but mostly pleased. I do believe he’s in love with you.” Mana covered her mouth and giggled, blushing like a virgin, then kissed Ayato softly on the cheek, “Thank you for being my friend.”

 

          During her recovery from the serious injuries she had sustained, along with Ayato, Mana had become very close to Arimatsu. Once she had recovered from the wounds, she has asked Omi who had rescued her from death. “Arimatsu found you just outside the city walls, you were near death and he brought you straight to me.” After that, anytime Mana saw Arimatsu, she bowed but covered her mouth, she was still self-conscious.

          One evening having picked up the laundry, Ayato and Mana were walking back into the house, when Arimatsu came around a corner, knocking Mana to the floor and spilling clean linens everywhere. “Mana! Oh shit…I’m so sorry! I didn’t expect to see you!” Arimatsu fell all over himself, trying to help Mana to her feet, and scrambling to pick up the linens. Mana smiled for the first time, and it caught Arimatsu’s breath, “You’re so beautiful…” he murmured, Mana blushed as she bended down to pick up the basket.

          After that one incident, Arimatsu had made himself available to escort Mana anywhere she needed to go, on errands for Omi or even walking her to see Reo. The man was so besotted, he cornered Ayato one day and begged the boy to teach him the sign language they had devised. “Please, Ayato-kun… teach me just the basics…I want to be able to talk with her.”

          For the next week, after Ayato had cleared it with Issay, Arimatsu came to Ayato and began the basics of the sign language. “You’ll do fine, it’s not that hard really, you just have to pay attention to her face, she’ll show you what she’s saying.” The older man was grateful for the instruction. “You really like her…don’t you?” Ayato teased. Arimatsu just nodded shyly, “Something about her makes me want to keep her safe… from everything. I just hope that at some point, she’ll you know…maybe accept me.” Ayato chuckled, “I think she already does, but she’s waiting… she’s worried about her … injuries and that it will repulse you.” Arimatsu’s jaw dropped, “Repulsed by her? She’s beautiful! Why would she think that?”

          “Are you blind? She’s had her tongue cut out, she was raped and part of her that she tries to ignore was sliced as well. You have to look at her injuries from her point of view, and you’re going to have to treat her gently.”

          What Ayato and Arimatsu didn’t know is that both Mana and Reo were just outside Issay’s room, listening to the conversation, Mana hiding her mouth behind a fan, her eyes shining with tears. “I told you he cared,” Reo said softly, then took Mana by the hand and led her back to his private room, where that night he brought her into the blood.

 

          “Hey, Reo wants to see you, says it’s important.” Kyo tapped Arimatsu on the shoulder, the man was watching the crowd at the izakaya, “Important?” Kyo nodded, “Have no idea what it’s about, but Jyou told me to find you right away, so get moving.” Kyo took Arimatsu’s place as a bouncer of sorts, making sure there no fights or anything uglier happening in the izakaya. Arimatsu quickly made his way back to the geisha house, “He’s waiting for you.” Jyou was leaning against the door frame, “Is there trouble?” he asked, wanting to prepare himself for what was coming. “I’m not sure, he just said he needed to see you and that it was important.” Jyou knew what was coming, but she wanted Arimatsu to suffer… just a little.

          Arimatsu knocked on the door first, then entered the room, “You needed to see me, Reo-san?” He was surprised to see both Mana and Ayato, sitting next to Reo. “Yes, Arimatsu, come in and sit down please.” The man sat across from his master, “Is there something wrong, Reo?” This was all too confusing. “Define wrong… personally I don’t see anything that’s…”

          Arimatsu gasps, it hits him…the scent, “You didn’t?” Mana smiles and nods, “But why? Why would you do such a thing to yourself?” He couldn’t understand why anyone would want to be brought into the blood. “To be with you, if you’ll have me.” Ayato translated.  “Me? Why would you want to be with me?”

          “Do you care for me?”

          “Of course, I care for you, I have thought of nothing else these weeks, how to make you happy, to see you smile.” Arimatsu stumbled over his words, “But to do this? Are you certain?”

          “It’s not like I can take it back, silly man. You make me happy, you treat me like a real person and not some freak, you’ve made my life better…all of you have. I don’t think I could go on living knowing that someday I’m going to die, I want to remain beautiful and loved, is that so wrong?”

          “I spoke to her at great length before the change, and she brought up some valid points, Arimatsu,” Reo explained, “If she were to remain human and have a relationship with you, she would age and grow ugly,” Arimatsu started to protest, Reo holding his hand up, “She wants to be with you, she wants you to protect her and care for her, she would not want to leave you saddened by her death of old age.”

          Arimatsu looked at Mana, “I don’t know what I have to offer you but myself, I would take care of you regardless if you are human or immortal. If you are certain I am who you want to be with, I will gladly love and protect you.” He stood up, walking over to Mana he held out his hand. “I love you,” he signed. Mana took in a sharp breath, then looked at Ayato, “He asked me to teach him, he wanted to be able to understand when you spoke to him.” Taking Mana into his arms, Arimatsu pushed a strand of hair behind her ear, “You’re perfect, there isn’t one thing that I would change about you, ever.”

          Reo nodded to Ayato and the two men left the room quietly, letting Arimatsu get used to having Mana fully in his life, “Do you think they’ll be happy, Reo-san?” Reo put his arm around the young man’s shoulders, “I do, because it is about sacrifice, you do that for the one’s you love. It is not an easy thing, as you know, to be brought into the blood, but there are wonderful things that can come out of it. You and Issay, now Arimatsu and Mana.”

          “What about you, Reo-san?” Ayato had always wondered about Reo’s relationship with Jyou, but he was told by Issay, that it was as father and daughter. “I have not yet found anyone that I believe could tolerate me enough to be a blood spouse, Ayato. I’m old and grumpy and not handsome in the least. It is best I stay alone.” Ruffling Ayato’s hair, he sent the boy off as he made his way to his study, missing the obvious conniving glance as he walked away.

 

 

          Hazuki and Kyo were out on patrol the next night, checking with the shop keepers and making the rounds of the businesses that Clan Aichi held in check. “What do you know about Reo bringing Mana into the blood?” Kyo looked at Hazuki, “Um, that’s a random question. I don’t know, maybe she asked?” Hazuki stopped walking, “She just asked? Do you really believe that?”

          Kyo turned back to look at his friend, “Yes, I do believe it. She may have her reasons, but whatever they are, it’s none of our business. Stop being such a woman.” Hazuki started walking again, “How is my interest in Mana come off as me being a gossip? I’m just curious, that’s all.” Kyo side-eyed his friend, “I don’t question Reo, he’s the head of the clan, what he says is law and I’m fine with that. What Mana or anyone else does is none of my concern unless it directly effects me.”

          Hazuki pushed back, “Does Reo have a love interest? Jyou maybe?” Kyo ignored him, “what about you? Who are you interested in? Jyou? Omi?” Kyo started to growl, “stop it, leave me alone.” Just as Hazuki was going to start up again, Kyo whipped around to stare at him.

          “Jyou is Reo’s daughter, he brought her into the blood, so no, that’s not who he’s interested in. I don’t care about any of this. Look at me Hazuki, pfft, like anyone would be interested in this.” He waved his hand up and down his body. “If you’re interested in Jyou, be my guest, but she’s a hell cat and has very long and very sharp claws, and Reo’s her father. If you want to tangle with that? I promise to pick up what’s left of you and give you a decent funeral.”

 

          Late that night, Hazuki went to see Reo, this was a bone he wasn’t going to give up on. “What do you need, Hazuki?” Reo was mildly amused, he could sense what was going on. “I’d like to ask about Jyou.” Reo sat up, straightened his yukata, narrowed his eyes for the aggressive protective father look.

          “What about Jyou?”

          “Does she have a love interest?”

          “Not to my knowledge, why?

          “Do you oppose her having one?”

          “She’s a grown woman, that’s not my business.”

          “She is your daughter.”

          “Yes, but she’s also an adult, if she wants a love interest, the only thing I’d be concerned about is if the person were a human and not another immortal.”

          “So, you’re giving me permission to perhaps become her love interest?”

          “If you are brave enough to face her with something like that? Yes, you have my permission, but I must ask, where do you want to be buried?”  

          Hazuki stood silently, “The Shinto temple near my birthplace in Mei, please.” With a deep bow, Hazuki left Reo’s room with a smile on his face and a new mission in his heart.

          Reo kept it in until Hazuki had left the room, then he burst out laughing, “He has no idea what he’s getting into.”

 

          Hazuki went straight to the geisha house where he new Jyou would be, though he could not just randomly walk in. “Hazuki-san, what can I do for you tonight?” Omi had seen Hazuki lurking in the genkan. “I would like to speak to Jyou-san if I could please.” He was shaking inside, he had never been one that was confident around women, he had always been too busy with serving his master. “Of course, wait here please.”

          Jyou came to the genkan, “Omi said you wanted to speak to me?” she could feel the nervous energy coming from Hazuki. “I would like to speak to you about something personal if I may, Jyou-san.” The woman smiled at him, she was not ignorant to the man’s feelings, she had often caught him staring wistfully at her. “Oh, and what would that be, Hazuki-san?” she said coyly. “I um, well I would like to um… I’ve already spoken to Reo-san, and he gave his blessings, but I’d like to be allowed to court you, if you are agreeable.”

          The formal speech surprised Jyou, Hazuki had been a samurai, then Ronin, she did not believe that he would know how to speak as a cultured man. “And what do you have to offer me if I agree to this?”  Jyou was going to make the man work for it. “Well, an eternity of love and devotion, a constant companion that would lay down his life for you, to protect and care for you. I can not offer you material things as we are of the same situation.”

          Jyou stepped down into the genkan and stood closer to Hazuki, “If I agree, when would this courtship start?” she purred. Hazuki blushed slightly, a little waver in his voice, “I would start immediately…if I was allowed, I would hold you in my arms and kiss you.” Jyou took one step closer, just inches away from the man. “If I were to say yes, how long until you…” Hazuki took that as a sign, slowly drawing Jyou into his arms and giving her a passion filled first kiss.” Jyou didn’t argue this, Hazuki was a very attractive man, the tattoos enhancing his beautiful dark features.

          They parted after a few moments, “I am hoping that this is a yes, if not I may have to try again to convince you.” Hazuki leaned his forehead against Jyou’s, “Maybe I need to be convinced just a little more.” Hazuki leaned in, this time there was no mistake of his intentions.

          Kyo almost blundered into the romantic scene between Hazuki and Jyou, but he caught himself just in time, taking a few steps back, then peeking around the corner. “Good for you, and her.” He smiled, he was happy that his friend could find someone in this dark twisted world they now lived in. He was satisfied with his life, he needed no companion of his own, he had never been in a serious relationship, and it did not trouble him. Or so he thought.  The year was 1706.

Chapter Text

          Sakurai was frowning as he read the letter, muttering something under his breath that Kai didn’t quite catch, “Acchan, why are you growling? Is it such bad news?” Kai leaned over Sakurai’s shoulder trying to read the letter from Reo. “Not bad news per se, worrisome though.”

          Sakurai had been corresponding with both Reo and Inoran since their meetings some fifty years earlier, mostly to keep themselves apprised of possible threats. “He says that he met two other immortals that were unknown to us, his name is Morrie and his blood spouse is a man named Tatsurou.”

          “But?” Kai could hear the edge in his master’s voice, “Morrie was not created by Ryuichi, rather he was brought into the blood by Yoshiki. Let me read you what he’s said.”

          “Kyo and Hazuki brought the two immortals to me, and I asked them the same questions I asked you. Morrie was brought into the blood in 1493, but his maker was Yoshiki and not Ryuichi.”

          Kai swore under his breath, “Yoshiki? What about the other man with Morrie?” Sakurai read through the letter, “Tatsurou is Morrie’s blood spouse, brought into the blood in 1596.”

          “There’s more… just as disturbing. It seems that in 1712, Morrie and Tatsu met Imai and his lover in Nagoya. They spoke briefly and seemed frightened, as soon as they parted, Morrie had made the decision to move to London, he felt that the situation was becoming unstable here.”  Folding the letter and re-tying the string, Sakurai looked up at Kai, “Where are the others?”

          “They are all down at the barn, it seems we have new babies, both kittens and goats. Do you want me to bring them to the house?” Sakurai shook his head, “No…I don’t think I want them to know of this new information, it will just frighten them.”

          A sudden scramble of feet running into the house, startled both Sakurai and Kai, “Acchan, Inoran-san is here!” Uta announced. “Inoran?” Sakurai got up and walked towards the front of the house. “This is a welcomed surprise, Inoran-san!”

          “I’m sorry to barge in, Sakurai-san, but I believe we need to speak on an important matter. This is Heath,” Inoran introduced a man who was standing next to Yusuke, “he may have some information that we need to share.”

          Letting the men rest for a bit, Kai started to prepare a meal, Uta and Naoto helping, Toshiya was sent to prepare rooms for the travelers.  Inoran informing them that he and Yusuke had finally settled down in Nagoya.  “But let us wait until we eat and have a few cups of sake, before we get into any serious discussions, though I would like to share this with you.” Sakurai handed Inoran the letter from Reo. “I received this today, it was waiting for me at the front gate.” Inoran folded up the letter, handing it back to Sakurai, “This is not good news.”

          The meal was quite lively, though Heath was reserved and quiet, Uta making up for it by excitedly asking Yusuke to show him any new tattoos he had received since last they met, and not being disappointed, “Wow, the one on your back is amazing!” he looked at Sakurai, “Acchan I want a…” before Uta could finish, the look Sakurai gave his spouse was one of ‘don’t even ask’, which cowed Uta’s excitement.

          Sakurai turned to Inoran, “What information do you have?”  Inoran sat back and sipped a cup of sake, “Yoshiki is creating fledglings at an alarming rate, even more so than Ryuichi it seems.” He turned to look at Heath. “Heath was brought into the blood just six months ago by Yoshiki, who seems to be following the same pattern as Ryuichi.” Heath shifted uncomfortably, looking to Inoran first before beginning his story.

          “I am from Osaka,” he began in a soft voice. “I was running our family business, we were pottery merchants, my parents have been dead for quite some time. An attractive man with golden brown hair came into the shop just before closing. He strolled through the store, picking up different items before coming to speak to me. He purchased a very simple bowl, then asked where the best izakaya in town was, and I gave him directions. He turned to leave and asked me if I would be interested in having a few drinks with him, that he was a stranger in town and I seemed amiable enough. There were no subconscious warnings, so I didn’t see the harm in agreeing.”

          The remainder of Heath’s tale could have been Sakurai’s, Inoran’s or even Reo’s, though the main player was Yoshiki instead of Ryuichi. The hit and run moments of bringing someone into the blood, did not change. “He left me no more than an hour later, leaving me to learn to live on my own. I regret that I killed my first dozen or so victims, I didn’t know any better, though I did finally discover that I could leave them still living, while satisfying the need to hunt.” Inoran reached over and patted Heath on the leg in support.

          Heath looked up at Sakurai, “Before I met Inoran, I did see two other immortals, both young, but one of them looked to be barely sixteen, the other in his twenties. I was walking through a rather dangerous district of Osaka, looking to feed. We turned the corner at the same time. The older one pushed the young boy behind him, growling at me, then he disappeared.”

          “Imai and Tangier?” Kai asked, “Probably, they fit the description and the reluctance to speak to anyone.” Sakurai sighed, “Why Imai suddenly appearing? It’s been almost six hundred years since we parted.”

          The conversation turned to what Sakurai had heard from Reo about Morrie. “He said that Morrie was leaving and taking his blood spouse to London, that perhaps it was safer there, but safer from what or whom?”

          Inoran and Sakurai talked well until dawn, the others having retired much earlier. “I don’t know what to think, speculation does us no good, but do we actively seek out Imai or Yoshiki?” Inoran asked. “No, not Yoshiki…he is far too dangerous, I doubt Imai would speak to me, but if you are willing and you do see him, question him about what he knows. If he claims he must see me, tell him to meet me at my estate in Hokkaido, then send word to me.”  Inoran thanked Sakurai for his hospitality, and went to his room to sleep.

 

          The three immortals left the next evening, leaving Sakurai with information that was upsetting. “Acchan, what do you think all this means?” Kai leaned in, closer to Sakurai, “Why would Ryuichi and now Yoshiki be creating blood drinkers at random? Are they trying to repopulate the world with vampires?”

          Sakurai’s eyes widened, “Do you remember something Reo-san said about an impending war?” Kai shook his head, “No, but I could have been with the others at the stables. What did he say?”

          “Something that held my attention, he said the atmosphere in Kyoto felt much like it did when the first clan wars started. Not trusting your friends any longer, seeing them as enemies, though he was not referring to his own clan.” Sakurai paused, “I’m wondering if that is what’s behind the drive for Yoshiki and Ryuichi? Have they perhaps challenged each other, who can claim the highest count of fledglings?” Kai shuddered at the thought of the number of unknowns there could be in the country. “All we can do is hope that it is not the case, if it is… there will be war for certain.” The year was 1750.

 

 

          They stood at the front gate, or what was left of it, one hundred fifty years of neglect would destroy almost anything. “Are you sure it’s livable?” Imai looked down at Tangier, “All we can do is go in and look around, I’m sure parts of it are still in decent shape.” Tangier smiled and nodded, he was so tired of running, and wanted nothing more than somewhere that he and Imai could live in peace and call home.

          Squeezing through the narrow posts that still held the gate in place, Imai and his young lover cautiously walked towards the house, Imai taking note that the estate was quiet, nothing more than the rustle of the long grasses that had grown in front of the porch. “I wonder if the water is still running in the back?” he murmured to himself. He had such vivid memories of the good times he had spent with Sakurai in their early days, those good memories overshadowed the bad, the arguments and the final brutal fight.

          “May I go look in the barn?” Tangier asked softly. “Yes, but be careful, it’s not quite dark yet.” He bent down and kissed the young man on the cheek, “Don’t stay in there too long.” With a smile and a nod, Tangier ran towards the barn, Imai sometimes forgetting that he was still so young, even having been brought into the blood some three-hundred years ago.

          Climbing the steps up to the front of the house, Imai walked along the wrap around porch, peering into holes in the doors, smelling the air for any scent of human occupation, “Acchan, what would you say if you knew I was here, that I wanted to use our home as a refuge?” Walking to the back of the house, he was surprised to see water still flowing from the natural hot spring under the house, of course it had created its own small river but the fact that there was still water available caused Imai to sigh in relief. “Imai?”

          “In the back, just follow the porch around,” he waited for the boy. “We have hot water for bathing and cooking, how do you feel about that?” Tangier smiled, “A hot bath when ever I like? Can we live here please?”

          “As long as I can be positive that we will be safe, yes, we can live here, we’re far enough away from town for most not to notice us if we’re careful, that means keeping the lights to a minimum at night.” Taking Tangier’s hand, Imai went through the rest of the house, noticing that the heavy canvas door coverings were still in place, though moth-eaten and ragged. “I’m going to have to fix those right away, I want to never sleep outside or in a barn again.”

          The decades that had passed since Imai had left Sakurai had been rough. He had wandered the country, trying to find a new home and a companion as well. He had finally learned the hard way, not to kill his victims, as he had been chased out of a small village by an angry mob of men with various farm tools, after finding him feeding on a young boy.

          Imai had been able to escape the mob, but it convinced him to change his feeding methods, though at first it was difficult, he had grown to love the thrill of the kill. But it was during those long decades that he had found Tangier, an orphan that was begging on the streets of a tiny no name village near the coast of Edo.

          “Sir, please, rice?” a tiny voice rasped from a dark corner near a hut. Imai couldn’t see who was asking, what he could sense is that whomever it was, didn’t have long to live. “Who’s there?” he asked gruffly, “Please sir…rice?” the voice was weaker this time. Imai stepped closer to where he could hear the voice coming from. What appeared to be a bundle of rags, so dirty that the original color was unknown, he heard the tiny voice whimper again. “So hungry…”

          Imai squatted down and started to carefully pull apart the rags, gasping when he uncovered the boy behind the voice. “rice?” the boy’s voice could barely be heard, “I don’t…come here.” He reached his hand out, but the boy was too weak to move, “going to die.” Was the last thing Imai heard before snatching the young man up in his arms. “Hey, boy…don’t die, I’ll get you some rice! Come on…don’t die please.”

          Imai was confused, why did he care about a boy dying? He routinely tore out people’s throats, fed off their blood and threw the bodies in a ditch, why did he care about this boy? Taking the boy out into the street, Imai searched for an izakaya or even somewhere he could steal some rice, but this was a small insignificant village, not a bustling city.

          The boy looked up at Imai, his eyes starting to roll back into his head, “Thank you.” Imai watched as the boy’s breath slowed, “NO!” what possessed him to sink his fangs into the boy’s neck, to this day he doesn’t have an explanation. The boy was so close to death that there was no struggle left, just a very tiny limp body.

          The young boy’s blood tasted strange, thin with no nourishment and almost no taste. Imai fed until he was sure that the boy could still respond. Falling to his knees, Imai quickly sliced open his own wrist, squeezing his fist to get the blood to flow, “Boy, drink this, please… don’t die on me!” With a few drops of blood in the boy’s mouth, then pressing his wrist against the boy’s lips, Imai whimpered encouragement, “Please, suck on this, drink from me…you’ll live …come on boy!”

          It felt like an hour before the boy made any movement at all, “That’s it… yes!” He could feel the boy’s tongue licking against the wound, then a stronger feeling of sucking, his eyes fluttered, then opened. “Yes love, that’s it…drink and you will live.” When Imai felt that the boy had enough, he slowly pulled his wrist away, licking it once to close the wound.

          “Who are you? What have you done to me?” he whimpered. Imai smiled and kissed the boy on the forehead, “I gave you eternal life, but you need to listen to me. You’re going to be in pain in a few moments, do not be afraid, I will not leave you. I will keep you in my arms until it is over.”

          Standing up, Imai moved out of the middle of the dirt road, and into a field near by, sitting down with the young man still in his arms. As the change started the boy cried out, “it hurts…oh plea…” the young man writhed in Imai’s arms for a few minutes while his mortal body died, finally coming to rest with the boy breathless.

          “How do you feel?” Imai asked softly. “Weird, hungry…but not just for food…why?” Imai cradled the young man tenderly, “What’s your name?”

          “Tangier,”

          “How old are you, Tangier?”

          “Seventeen.” Imai smiled down at Tangier, “You will now be seventeen forever,” the young man gave Imai a puzzled look. Helping the boy to sit up, Imai held his hand and explained what had just happened, the change and what he had become. “I’m never going to die? You’re never going to die either?” Imai chuckled, “No, you’re stuck with me…if you’ll have me.”

          Tangier smiled shyly, “You saved me from death…well mostly from death…am I dead now?” Imai laughed, “No, you’re not dead, you’re very much alive and I’m thankful for whatever force pushed me to look for that tiny voice.”

          They sat together in the field, Tangier telling Imai his story of the death of his parents and no others to care for him. Then his stomach growled…loudly, “I’ll need to teach you to hunt, then when you’ve fed, we can see if we can find something else to eat.”

          “There’s nothing in the barn, old horse poop and that’s it.” Tangier’s voice startled Imai out of his day dreaming. “I’m surprised, Acchan never said anything about wanting a horse.” Imai mused. “Let’s make sure we can black out at least one room completely, then I think we have about two hours until dawn, we can explore the rest of the house.”  Imai had high hopes for being able to stay safe at the estate, though he would never let his guard down. The two ancients always seemed to be at his back, breathing deadly breaths on his neck. This would be his last chance to remain safe with Tangier, his next step would be to go back to Sakurai, something he did not want to do. The year was 1786.

 

Image result for heath x japan Young Vampire Heath. 

Chapter Text

          It had been relatively quiet in Kyoto for the last few decades of the 18th century. Reo’s clan had gained new members, both mortal and immortal. Omi had died of old age and it was decided by Reo and Asanao that there would be no replacement for the mama-san, instead he would let the remaining girls live out their lives in the geisha house, no longer accepting customers. “I just don’t feel that it is necessary to continue with that business, Clan Aichi has other ventures that more than make up for the revenue lost by closing the house.”

          There had been no stirrings from Yoshiki, the impending war was now a questionable issue, “I’m not convinced yet that we are all safe, the man is unpredictable at best, and bloodthirsty at worst.” Reo reminded his clan members to stay vigilant. Mana and Arimatsu were living happily together, as were Hazuki and Jyou, the latter couple offered the entire clan an element of amusement.

          “I’m going to guess you said something wrong to her…that cut is rather deep.” Kyo teased his friend one evening, after hearing a ruckus from their private room, Hazuki escaping the wrath of his lover quickly. “It wasn’t that bad really, she just over reacts at times.” Hazuki said sheepishly as the slashed wound on his face slowly healed. “You know better than to tell Jyou to do something, you don’t tell her to do anything, you ask politely.” Kyo reminded his friend for the umpteenth time. Reo had kept up with his correspondence with Sakurai and Inoran, also making sure to inform his clan members of anything important.  

          Kyoto had seen no more incidents of women (or men) dumped outside the city walls since Mana had been found, even with Hazuki and Kyo searching for the offenders that had cut Mana’s tongue out. But that all changed in 1811, when a new horror was found behind a merchant’s stall on the main street through the city.

 

          The tea merchant Jin, had called for one of the mortals that were connected to Clan Aichi, wanting to report that he had found a dead body behind his shop, and the condition of the body was alarming. Reo’s senior mortal chief Hisao, went to Jin’s shop to see what the issue was; the dead man behind the shop had had his throat torn out. “Hisao-sama, what type of animal could have done this? We have no wolves on the mainland.”

          Hisao knew that the native wolf was not big enough to do the damage that was done to the body. “I’m not sure, Jin-san, but I will report this to Reo-sama. This may be an isolated incident.” Hisao knew exactly what had killed the man and he was worried that this would not be the first dead body they found.

          The report to Reo was made in the early hours after sunset, Jyou bringing Hisao to Reo. “My lord, this was not a wolf or any other animal…that man had his throat ripped out by another immortal, I’m positive.” Asanao and Arimatsu shared looks, this was not what they had wanted to hear. Dismissing Hisao and thanking him, Reo turned to his two senior men, “Tell me what you think, what would be your next step.”

          Asanao spoke first, “Put every available person on the street, both day and night, have someone at both gates into the city, again day and night.” Reo looked at Arimatsu, “I agree with Asanao, whether this is truly another immortal, I won’t believe that until I witness it myself.” Reo sighed, closing his eyes he rubbed the bridge of his nose, “I will not let myself fall to fear.”

 

          For the next several weeks, the city of Kyoto was in a panic, and the Aichi Clan was angry and frustrated; the body count was rising at an alarming rate. Between the day that the first body was discovered, until the third week, 17 other bodies had been found in and around Kyoto, leaving the mortal government agency just as angry and frustrated as the immortals.

          The condition of the bodies was all the same, though some were more abused than others. “Reo, three more this evening, near where we found Kyo-san.” Asanao gave his nightly report to his leader. “All three this time were women, and two of them had been brutally raped.” This was a new development, “Raped?” Reo was stunned.

          “Do you believe this is Yoshiki’s doing? Would he be so brutal as to rape a mortal woman then tear her throat out?” Arimatsu was not convinced, neither was Reo, “I don’t think this is Yoshiki’s doing, it is brutal but I do not sense the man anywhere near Kyoto.”  Reo was at a loss on how to deal with the attacks, “Just keep your men on watch, that’s all I can do for now.”

         

          After two long months and a total of 42 bodies turning up in and around the city, the attacks suddenly stopped. The local government deemed it a random attack, that somehow the perpetrators had either been caught, were dead or just decided to move on, Reo knew better, telling his men to stay aware and not to venture out unless it was to feed or to conduct urgent business. The izakaya’s were thankful that the attacks had stopped, their business had dropped off almost completely, two of the small pubs having to close their doors for good.

          “I need to get out! I’ve been cooped up in the house for months… can’t we ask Arimatsu to come with us, please?” Ayato was throwing a tantrum, bored from weeks of being told to stay indoors, and being watched carefully when he did go out to feed.  “I want to hunt, then I want something other than rice and miso! You promised me that once this all was over that you’d take me out.”

          Issay sighed as he rubbed his face roughly, “Let me ask Reo first. I do not want to go out against his orders.” He stood and walked to the door, “If he says no… that’s it, we will not go out.” Issay left the room, Ayato childishly sticking his tongue out at the door.

          “May I see Reo please?” Issay asked wearily, Jyou smirking at him, “Yes… you may go in.” Issay bowed. Reo was sitting at his desk, “Issay, what can I do for you this evening?” Bowing again, Issay sat on a cushion in front of the desk, “You can please let me take Ayato outside, the boy is bored and driving me insane with his tantrums and ridiculous behavior.”

          Reo raised an eyebrow, “Is he that bad?” Issay rolled his eyes, “Worse…I can understand, though it doesn’t make it any easier.” It had been almost three months since the attacks had stopped, and Reo felt sorry for the man, having a young lover had its perks and its drawbacks. “Yes, please…treat our boy to a night out, but please be careful, be aware of what’s going on around you.” Issay got up and bowed deeply, “Thank you, Reo.”

          “Issay, look! Do you think Mana would like this?” Ayato held up a long decretive hair pin, “I do, would you like to get it for her?” Issay smiled, it had been worth the effort of asking Reo to let them leave the house, Ayato’s face was flushed with excitement from shopping and from having fed as soon as they were outside.

          Walking through the shops and stalls, Ayato chattering like a squirrel, Issay had tried to check their surroundings better, but when they found themselves at the edge of the city, looking in the last stall, the hair on Issay’s neck bristled. Grabbing Ayato without warning, Issay started to drag the boy back to the center of town, “Wait! Why are you… what’s wrong? Issay!”

          “Shut up and just walk quickly, don’t look back,” Issay hissed angrily, he had sensed they were being watched and now the fear of being followed was real, as he dragged Ayato behind him. Just as they turned the corner that led them towards one of Reo’s izakaya’s, Ayato screamed and was jerked out of Issay’s grasp.

          “ISSAY! Help me… noo! I don’t stoppp!” Ayato was screaming, and as Issay turned to reach for him, he was faced with a male and female immortal, but none that he had ever seen before, “AYATO!” Issay didn’t know what to do, paralyzed with fear, he started to reach out for Ayato, but the immortal bared her fangs at him, all the while Ayato struggled and cried out, which earned him a slash of his face by the female immortal’s long fingernails.

           “Issay!!!” Ayato screamed again, “Help me please, Issay!” He couldn’t move, he didn’t know what to do, he knew he couldn’t kill the male immortal who was standing between him and Ayato, “Reo…” he whispered, then turn and ran towards the geisha house, Ayato’s eyes widened and he screamed again, “ISSAY!”

          “Ayato…come on, open your eyes for me, that’s it…” Ayato is being carried, his chest hurts and he feels sick to his stomach, opening his eyes he see’s Kyo…not Issay. “Kyo-san,” he whimpers. “You’re safe, I have you,” Kyo holds Ayato closer to this chest, the boy throwing his arms around Kyo’s neck. “Thank you.” He whispers in Kyo’s ear.

          Arriving back at the geisha house, Kyo gives Ayato to Mana, “Make sure he’s okay, I’ll be with Reo, come and get me if that piece of shit shows up.” He growled, Mana nodded, then reached out for Ayato.

          Blasting through the door, Kyo see’s Hazuki and Arimatsu struggling with the female vampire, Reo standing in front of her. “Who is your maker?” The woman growls at Reo, spitting and speaking nonsense words. “One more time, who is your maker?” thrashing around the woman finally spits out “Yoshiki”  

          The woman wrenches herself out of Hazuki’s grip, turning to slash Arimatsu in the face, and running towards the door. “Asanao,” Reo snaps, and with the speed of an immortal, Asanao grabs the woman and tears out her throat, killing her instantly, throwing the body in the corner.

          “That didn’t go well,” Kyo growled. “Are you okay?” He looks to Hazuki, “Yep…just hope she wasn’t infected with some disease, why else would she be acting like that? It’s as if she had no humanity left.”

          “The other one, the male, was worse…he was strong but less human that she was.” Kyo looked at Reo, “Is this going to be the norm now? Aggressive fledglings with no humanity? Could they be the one’s that killed those people?”

          “Where’s Issay?” Reo suddenly noticed the man is not with them. “I’d like to know that myself, he left Ayato with those things,” Hazuki hissed. Before he could say another word, Arimatsu had already left the room, “Kyo, stay here…Hazuki go with Arimatsu and Asanao, find Issay and bring him back to me.” Reo had some strong words for the cowardly immortal.

          Kyo left Reo and went straight to the geisha house, asking Mana how Ayato was feeling, “He’s upset but not hurt, he went to his room.” Throughout the decades, everyone had learned how to communicate with Mana through her special sign language. “Thank you, would you let me know if you see Issay, Reo wants to speak with him.” Mana bowed and smiled.

          Hazuki, Arimatsu and Asanao split up in order to search the city thoroughly, Hazuki sticking to the main streets, the other two hitting the small narrow lanes that crisscrossed throughout the city. All three men were very interested in what Issay had to say, his excuse for running and leaving his lover to die at the hands of the rogue vampires.

          “Hazuki,” a whispered voice came from between two produce stalls, “Are they gone?” Issay peered out into the street, looking to where he had last seen Ayato. “You bastard,” Hazuki reached in and grabbed Issay by the back of his yukata, dragging him out into the open, “Reo wants to speak to you.” He growled, Issay struggling to shake the man’s hand off. “Get off me, you have no right!” Issay sputtered. “I have every right you maggot, you left that beautiful boy in the clutches of two rogue vampires, and you tell me I have no right?”

          Hazuki shoved Issay in front of him, “Reo wants you, start walking.” Issay started towards the geisha house, every few feet checking to see if Hazuki was still behind him, he could feel the stabbing glare on his back. As they turned the last corner before the house, Arimatsu and Asanao were standing at the intersection. “Well, look what the vamp dragged in.” Arimatsu sneered.

          With another shove, Hazuki pushed Issay into the door of the house, “Where’s Ayato?” Issay demanded. “None of your business where he is, like you really care about his well being…” Arimatsu snapped. Jyou opened the door to Reo’s room, with a sweeping gesture to usher in the four men.

          Reo sat behind his desk, a scowl on his face and his eyes flashing red, “Issay. Explain yourself…why did you leave Ayato with those creatures? Why did you not attempt to rescue the boy?” Before Issay could answer, a yelp and the door slammed open, a fiery and pissed off Ayato storming into the room, walking up to Issay and slapping the man across the face, “I fucking hate you!” Jyou had come up and grabbed Ayato around the waist, “Settle down love, it’s okay.” Ayato’s fortitude crumbled at that moment, burying his face in Jyou’s shoulder and started crying.

          “Answer me Issay…why did you run and leave Ayato behind?” Reo demanded a second time. Issay’s face was bright red, “I did not believe I could have saved him, so I started towards the house to get reinforcements,” he stammered. “When I came back to where Ayato had been, everyone was gone.”

          “You’re LYING! You just ran away and left me with that …that creature! She almost killed me, if it hadn’t been for Kyo I’d be dead! You just left me there to die!” Ayato shouted at his lover, “You’re nothing but a damned coward!” Jyou scooped Ayato up in her arms and left the room, the boy sobbing into her neck.

          Issay reached out as he watched the boy leave the room, “Ayato…” he whimpered. “You’d better have a damned good reason to leave one of my children behind, and in the clutches of a rogue vampire, explain yourself.” Reo’s eyes were now blazing, if looks could kill, (and he could do it) Issay would have burst into flames.

          “I came to the house, I couldn’t find anyone outside, and I didn’t want to take the time to come in and get someone! When there was no one here, I went back to the last place I saw Ayato, after that I admit, I was a coward and I hid, I had no idea what those creatures would do to the city!”

          “In other words, you thought only of yourself,” Kyo came into the room, Hazuki trailing behind him. “You ran away from your lover, you did nothing to try to save the boy, you’re pathetic.” The room erupted in a cacophony of arguments to which there was no right or wrong, just one man’s truth against the opinions of others.

          “STOP IT!” A loud voice came from next to the door. “I want to ask him why…” Ayato walked over to Issay, “why did you leave me? You’ve told me you love me, that you’d do anything for me, that you want to be with me forever, so why did you run and leave me to die?” The sad look upon Ayato’s face spoke volumes to Issay, he knew he had lost.

          Kyo walks over to stand next to the boy, “Are you okay, look at me please,” he asked, as he put his hands on Ayato’s shoulder, holding the boy at arms length, looking him over. Ayato sniffled a bit, then slowly walked into Kyo’s arms, wrapping his arms around Kyo’s waist. “Thank you for saving me,” stepping back he looks at Kyo, “can I stay with you, please?”

          Issay gasped, “What? NO! You can’t stay with him, you belong with me. Let us go back to the room and we’ll talk about this.” He reached out for Ayato, who leaned away, tightening his grip on Kyo, “I want someone who will protect me…who won’t run away when I’m in danger, you’re no longer that person.”

          Issay looked at Reo, “This can’t… he has to stay with me! You gave him to me…” he argued. Reo simply shrugged his shoulders, “You are not his blood spouse, you are not his maker, I am.” Turning to Ayato, Reo bade him to come closer. “What is your desire, my son? Do you wish to go back to Issay and live with him?”

          “No, I don’t. I’d like to live with Kyo-san, if he’ll have me.” Ayato was the same height as Kyo, and the young man looked into Kyo’s eyes, “Can I stay with you, please?” Kyo looked first at Reo who nodded, then at Issay, “Ayato’s mine now, he will live with me and I will protect him. I have no feelings of animosity towards you, Issay, as we are members of the same clan, but from today until he chooses otherwise, Ayato is mine.”

          Reo sent everyone out of the room but Kyo, Ayato and Issay, he had to make sure everything was clear and understood.  “This is of your doing Issay, there is no malicious intent by Kyo, Ayato has made his choice, and as I am his father and maker, I am telling you now; Ayato will live with Kyo from today until he says anything more. There will be no infighting in my clan, if you have a problem with this, you may resign from Clan Aichi and leave Kyoto. If you are agreeable to the arrangement between Kyo and Ayato you can go back to your normal duties. But I will say this once and only once, if I find you are interfering in Kyo and Ayato’s relationship, you will be removed by force from my clan, is that understood?”

          “Yes Reo-san, it is understood. I will have Ayato’s things moved to Kyo-san’s room.” Issay bowed low and without looking at the other two men, left the room quietly.

          “As for you, young man, I expect you to leave all your feelings for Issay behind, and I also expect you not to play one man against another, that is unfair to both Kyo and Issay. You are my child and I can not banish you from my side, but I can restrict your movements. Do you understand this?”

          “Yes, Reo-san… my father, I understand.” Ayato turned to Kyo, “Are you sure you want me?” Kyo’s face soften, “Love, I’ve thought you were the most beautiful boy I’d ever seen since the moment I first laid eyes on you, I am a lucky and blessed man to have you to care for.” Kyo gently reached up and cupped the sides of Ayato’s face in his large calloused hands, and gave the boy a fleeting blush of a kiss, “We will take time to learn about each other, I am in no hurry.” Ayato had other thoughts, leaning in he gave Kyo a rather passionate first kiss, one that left the samurai reeling, and Reo laughing.

          Issay stormed around his room grabbing everything that was Ayato’s and even things that were his, but were now in his mind, tainted. “Little traitor… how the hell would he had lived if I would have been killed? Did he even think of that? Those creatures weren’t going to kill him anyways… liar making shit up, little fuck.”

          What Issay didn’t know was that Jyou was just outside the door, listening to the ravings of an angry and now dumped, vampire. The words that were being thrown around were important, at least in the way of keeping them in mind for the future. Jyou had some misgivings about Issay now, he wasn’t sure the man was as loyal to Clan Aichi as he proclaimed. The year was 1811.